When we first started doing these “Pro-Choice Chalk The Walk” events at Founder’s Women’s Health Center, we had no clue that this was something other abortion clinics across the country were doing. The idea only came to us because the local anti-choice protesters were writing some pretty uncomfortable, inconsiderate things on the sidewalks outside of our clinic.
So the logic goes that if pro-choice activists get to the sidewalks first (at like 5:30 AM), we can cover them with supportive messages before the anti-choice protesters have a chance to write their own nonsense.
But at the end of the day, I don’t care what the protesters think of our artwork. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: It’s not for them.
The true goal of Founder’s chalk events has been to offer visual reminders of support and love - dedicated to the clinic’s patients, volunteers, staff, and neighbors. We’ve received lots of positive feedback from patients and members of the community. It’s a small gesture that means so much to women who are having a rough day.
As the word has spread about this form of artistic pro-choice activism, more and more people have reached out to the clinic to offer their chalking skills. So when my friend Tammy, an instructor from Otterbein University, approached me about putting a “Pro-Choice Chalk The Walk” event on her Gender Studies’ class syllabus, I was delighted to oblige. It took some planning and a lot of will-power on the part of the students and staff who had to wake up at 5 AM on a Saturday, but we finally made it happen on Saturday, September 26.
As each carload of people pulled up to the clinic, Tammy realized that some of the artists weren’t even her students. As I introduced myself to each activist and asked them where they were from, I got a variety of responses:
- “I’m not a student. I’m actually an instructor at Otterbein. I just wanted to tag along."
- “I’m not from Otterbein. I’m a medical student at OSU. There’s a little group of us here today. We heard about it through a friend."
- “I’m from OSU but I’m not a student. I work at OSU and just heard about it by word-of-mouth."
- “I'm not with any school. I was once a patient here and I had no one when I walked past the protesters. So me and my friend came out here to show these women they ARE supported."
I counted about 22 pro-choice activists at the clinic at one point that morning, but there may have been more. People came and went, giggling as they laid down chalk masterpieces and then disappearing into the early pre-dawn darkness to go back to bed.
Later on in the day, I found out that Preterm Cleveland Ohio (an abortion clinic that is not affiliated with FWHC) also hosted a pro-choice chalk event at their clinic on Saturday. If you get a chance, definitely check out the full album on their Facebook page because it is so beautiful, you might cry.
We are so excited to see that this creative form of grassroots activism is spreading happiness in the lives of women here in Ohio and across the country.
Thank you to all of the compassionate young men and women who continue to wake up at the harsh hour of 5 AM and chalk until they have blisters on their fingers. Your kindness is something that is greatly appreciated by the clinic's patients and staff.
Written by: Amanda Patton