Young Women “Match Harrasment” at Abortion Clinic with Motivational Messages. LISTEN HERE
Charleston, WV – The Women’s Health Center of West Virginia has seen its fair share of heated exchanges. The little building has been the center of some very large confrontations including one that made it all the way to Charleston City Council. The corner of Greendale Avenue on the city’s West Side has become a battleground for those who oppose a woman’s right to choose. As patients arrive they are often forced to listen and walk through intense scrutiny to enter through the doors of the tan building trimmed in green. According to 21-year-old Ann Michelle Mechail of Charleston she along with her friend Kiyia Brandon, 20, also of Charleston, decided to “match the harassment.” Their version was the complete opposite; it was filled with positive and encouraging sentiments.
On October 14, they headed to the clinic with posters and motivation. From the moment they showed up the scene was intense. With protesters on the empty lot across the street demanding clinic goers to change their minds they stood outside of the clinic hoping to encourage the women in their right to choose.
Mechail felt that the anti-abortion protestors simply wanted to see who they could, “piss off.”
The girls filled their posters with uplifting messages like, “I love you“ to remind the women entering that they were beautiful despite the ugly things they were witnessinging.
“They tried to degrade us for just supporting other women, it was just hectic, ” said Kiyia who respects their opinion but thought the way those protesting went about the situation was all wrong. “They always go about it with hate and anger versus compassion and understanding.” Michelle agreed with her reiterating the fact that the protesters “always responded with hatred.” She describes the scene as, “animosity filled.”
Although the young women tried to keep a happy, cheerful vibe on their side of the street they felt as if it was met with resentment and a lack of respect. Both girls agreed that knowing that there were people who were twice their age who brought that much hatred and negativity simply because they did not agree was disheartening. Hearing the protesters shout out to the women there for services that they are going to burn for their choices was disgusting to them. The young ladies who say they tried to have conversations with the protesters but could not find a middle ground that was not overly aggressive.
Michelle stated that the protesters did not know what the women were there for and still chose to harass them. The clinic offers a multitude of services from women ranging from birth control to gynecologic wellness care.
The back and forth with those against the clinic seemed a bit frustrating but both girls found joy in knowing that they provided comfort to some of the women entering the building. A man came back outside to let the girls know their signs and positive messages made a heavy impact on his wife who was still in the clinic. It made the day’s frustrations worthwhile.
“That was something I honestly wasn’t expecting to happen, but it did. And it just blew my mind. The amount of women that we could have possibly encouraged that day.”