Friday, September 11, 2009

I just don't know. I just...shit. I don't know.

James Pouillon was shot to death today.

James Pouillon was an anti-abortion protester who frequented the sidewalk across the street from Ossowo High School in Michigan. He was, according to FOX news (ha) "well-known" in the community; Randall Terry claims to have known him personally.

Nobody knows yet if he was shot because of his beliefs. The nutjob who shot him (equally as nutty a job as Scott Roeder; anybody who shoots other people without the reason of self-defense is crazy) shot one other man and was planning to kill a third when he was arrested.

I admit: When I read the news, I had a brief moment of "Ha. Chickens. Roost."

Then the human side of me took over, and I thought about this guy, confined to a wheelchair and on oxygen, doing the same thing he'd done every day, trying to make people see his side of a contentious argument.

Then the vicious side of me remembered how a colleague's wedding was disrupted by protesters carrying bloody-fetus signs.

I thought about his wife, if he had one, and his kids, if he had them.

I thought about the woman I worked with whose kids were targeted by anti-choice protesters.

I thought about his friends.

I thought about how I'd been followed home from work by protesters and how, nearly ten years after I worked at the clinic, I still occasionally get postcards calling me a baby killer. I've moved three times since I worked there.

I thought about what it must be like to feel the bullets hit, and I wondered if he even knew what had happened to him.

I thought about what George Tiller's wife must've thought when she saw her husband's body on the floor of the church, or what Barnett Slepian's kids must've felt when their dad was shot in the kitchen of their house in front of them.

I wondered if the anti-choice movement would make this man a martyr, regardless of why he was shot.

I thought about how pro-choicers have dealt with the acts of violence at abortion clinics in the last twenty years.

I wondered how many Internet shrines would be created for James Pouillon.

I thought about how it's the doctors who perform abortions, and the staff at the clinics, that show up on websites that call them murderers and say that they have to be stopped by any means necessary.

The vicious part of me, the part that wants to kill people who abuse children or women or old people, the part of me that wants to torture to death men that rape, is happy. It's exultant, in fact, that maybe--just maybe--the people who fucked with me every single day might now feel a tiny shred of the fear that I felt in doing a job I knew was necessary.

That vicious part of me feels like this is payback for the screaming protesters outside the clinic, the shouting people outside my church, the posters that got put up in my neighborhood, the times people from the anti-choice side knocked on my door on Sunday morning, the fact that it's really hard to put the name of the place where I worked--or even the doctor's name--on a resume, for fear of what people will think.

The human side of me wants to weep. Whatever the motivation, this is a waste of a life. It's the waste of a person who believed strongly in what he was doing. Even if we're on opposite sides of the fence on this one issue, I have to respect him for walking the talk. The human side of me grieves that maybe, just maybe, the disagreement over abortion has come to this on both sides. Prior to this, the pro-choicers had the high ground; we'd never killed anybody or perpetrated acid attacks on crisis pregnancy centers or put doctors' home addresses up on the 'Net for crazies to find.

The evil part of me--and don't fool yourself, because every human being has the capacity for evil--is dancing. It's laughing. It's saying "See? See what you sowed? See what you're reaping? Suck on this, motherfuckers! See what we live every day!" It's very, very happy. It's very, very pushy.

The human part of me is so horribly disappointed in humanity. It wants to believe that the proportion of good to evil in the world is always 51% to 48%, with one percent undecided, but it's not sure now. It wants to grieve the loss of another person, but the evil side gets louder and louder.

I am ashamed to admit all this. It makes me feel less humane. Not less human, you understand; if an undergraduate degree in sociology taught me anything, it's that humans, generally, suck pretty hard.

This death, this conflict between my good and evil sides, shows me one thing: I have a huge, deep, dark reservoir of anger and resentment from my year at the clinic and my years at Planned Parenthood. That frightens me. It shows up what I fear I might be capable of.

God help me if Randall Terry is ever one of my patients. I...shit. I just won't know.


me said...

I would never accept an assignment to take care of RT!!!

Anonymous said...

i worked in abortion clinic for many, many years - as lab tech, counselor, surgical tech, manager. i went to med school and marched in DC with Medical Students for Choice. i became an Ob/Gyn in large part because i want to be an abortion provider. i am doing an elective next month specifically in 2nd trimester procedures because i cannot stand the thought that, if we keep going the way we are going, soon there will be no one left in this country to offer that service. when i think about my future, i can't help wondering if i will wear disguises, will have to live in a building with security, will own a bullet proof vest, etc.

i think it's rare that someone can hear another's thoughts and think, "i know exactly what you mean." but i have to tell you - i do know exactly what you mean, how you feel.

and this is anonymous for a reason, sadly...

Bardiac said...

Absolutely abhorrent in all the ways you talk about.

By the way, can I just say thank you from someone who's been lucky enough not to have needed an abortion, but who appreciates the people who make that choice a possibility for those who do.

Thank you. You don't know me, but you've made my life better through your work. And a lot of other women could say the same.

leigh saint-louis said...

head nurse, you rule. you say what's in my heart so much more bravely and compassionately than i ever could. you've kept me going with a vision through many a lonely on-call hospital night. you are my #1 bookmark, and posts like this one are the reason why.
dr leigh

Penny said...

Nor do I.

pelican said...

Hey Jo,

I don't know what you would do if Randall Terry was one of your patients, but I suspect you'd suck it up, provide good (if perhaps slightly more emotionally chilly than usual) clinical care, drink heavily after work, and perhaps take a few days off after he got discharged.

The guy who shot Pouillon also shot someone else, and they've picked him up, so we should know what happened soon enough.

It's certainly possible that Pouillion managed to piss someone off for non-abortion-related reasons sufficiently to get ventilated. Or, it could have been entirely random ... some nut shooting at the school, and Pouillon was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But, I strongly disagree with your statement that he was "trying to make others see his side of a contentious argument."

People who protest abortion that insistently and publicly are trying to make those people who support a woman's right to control her own body afraid. It's not about winning people over to their views, it's about creating terror.

As you clearly know, all too well.

Thanks for having done clinic work in the past- you've helped a lot of people, including people like me.

I live in Canada now. Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who moved to make abortion safe and legal in Canada, was recently awarded the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor. Many people complained, and there was certainly argument. I don't know how many minds got changed, but no one was afraid.

So, I'd say ... it's not humanity, just certain segments of it, that have decided that control over women's bodies should be achieved through fear.

And, for me, while I know well I have the potential to be evil, I also know it's not evil for me to be angry at those who would spread terror.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

shrimplate said...

Turnabout is fair play.

Kimberly said...

I am in nursing school, and have been particulary down-trodden as of late. This reminds me why I want to be a nurse. To provide care. When I was little, my best friend's granddad was killed doing security at an abortion clinic. Ever since then, I have wanted to work at a woman's clinic. Thanks for being so passionate. I didn't know you had worked at one, and that gives me a little boost hearing from someone that has.

jabowk said...

Jo, you have something that the "other side" doesn't, a heart. From all accounts, they only have the hate filled, vicious, psycho side that wants to kill anyone who doesn't agree with them. Judging from the emails they send me, they don't want to think, and are merrily spouting whatever lies Faux News and their churches have poured into their empty heads.

From your previous posts about how folks do not feel it when someone dies, and this post, you prove that you are a warm, generous, always thinking, always feeling person. You can see their actions and try to understand their side, the "other side" does not.

I agree with pelican about the fear thing, we cannot show our Obama paraphenalia, due to the fear induced by the "other side" who cover their trucks and campers with anti-Obama and republican stickers. We also know that they are mostly military retirees and are often armed. I've been verbally assaulted by women in campgrounds, shouting their anti-Obama epithets, not knowing how they figured out I was a progressive, since we show no sign of it, other than driving a Prius, which may not even indicate a bent toward liberalism.

Fear, I feel it every day. We shouldn't have to fear supporting our President, our right to decide what will happen to our own bodies, our choice of no religion. This country was founded on principles broader than right wing fanatacism.

Deana said...

jabowk -

Wow. I am not sure what to say in response to your posting except that you appear to have a very active imagination.

1. I know many people who are pro-life. They don't march in protests, and they understand that women often get pregnant and have conflicting feelings about the pregnancy. They just honor life - in all of its stages. To say that these people don't have a heart is to engage in hyperbole (at best) or even demonization. It isn't attractive or persuasive.

2. Where in the world do you live? I see Obama bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. everywhere and I live in a small to medium sized down in the mid-west. Granted, I have noticed very recently that there appear to be fewer bumper stickers than there were back in October last year but if you are truly scared now, why weren't people scared to sport their Obama gear last year? Weren't all of those "scary" military folks around back then, too? Why are you fearful now? (And that is not a rhetorical question - I really want to know. What is it about now, this moment, that makes you worried when there was little worry about this before?)

3. If you feel such fear, why not contact your representative or senator? Democrats control the White House and Congress. Why not go to the media? There also are numerous special interest groups that are privately funded that would be interested in talking to you. In short, Democrats are not a small, minority party. There are supporters everywhere.

I guess what mystifies me is that you sound very afraid. I would expect this type of feeling from a person in, say, Saudi Arabia who just converted to Christianity, the penalty of which is death.

But you aren't. You are here. IN America. Our President is a Democrat and a liberal one at that. The vast majority of our lawmakers are Democrats. I don't think things are nearly as dark as you paint it.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, Deana. If the President of the United States in a joint session of Congress can have a representative heckle him on national television, we know the level of civil discourse has bottomed out. This are BAD and getting worse. I sincerely fear that people are beginning to not believe in honest political disagreements and have no concept that free speech applies to the other guy too.

First its abortion, then its health care reform. Look at all the crazy folks that believe that protecting your children from deadly infectious diseases is some kind of plot. This has gone beyond a fringe movement that thought adding fluoride to the water was attacking our "precious bodily fluids" to quote Dr. Strangelove. The ignorant and fearful have come out of the closet and begun to push the rest of us around.

Crazed Mom said...

Very brave self dissection of thoughts. I heard about the shooting on CNN and felt many of the emotions you did.

Thanks for bringing up the deeper issues and all sides. Made me think.

snarkygurl said...

You would do your job the best you could, because that is the kind of person you have shown yourself to be. Now what you would do to him if he were OUT of the hospital may be another matter.

Liz said...


I'm disheartened by nearly all these comments.

I appreciate the honesty with which you expressed your point of view in this post, Head Nurse.

I am a pro-life Catholic hospice nurse. I also try not to judge those who have abortions as I truly believe that "they know not what they do". And all of us are capable of most anything when we're desperate.

I also know what it's like to have an unplanned pregnancy at an early age.

I did not rejoice when Tiller died. I did wonder what happened when he 'met his Maker'.

Don't paint all pro-lifers as extremist....that's ridiculous. In all issues, conservative or liberal, there are extremes on either end of a very large middle. Shame on anyone who attempts to condemn all by the actions of a few.

Most pro-lifers believe killing those who are pro-"choice" is murder and is wrong. It's as simple as that.

Good nurses know that whatever any patient is going through, no matter who the patient is, it has no bearing on who we are as nurses and how we practice; so of course we care for all with professionalism and caring.

It's not up to us to judge our patients or punish them, no matter who they are.

We are all guilty in some way or another. Let's be merciful in hopes of mercy for ourselves.