When you arrive, check in with your escort coordinator.
Your coordinator will give you instructions. If you are an independent volunteer or working with an outside group, check in with security at the clinic. Let them know that you’re there to support them and to act as an escort. If they have any questions or concerns, encourage them to talk to their manager or to whomever is coordinating your volunteer group.
Don’t engage the anti-choicers.
A picket action is one thing, but escorting is done for the safety, security and comfort of the clients. Clients don’t feel safer when their escort is getting in a shouting match.
Wear your clinic escort T-shirt at all times and identify yourself quickly to arriving clients.
They’re going to assume that anyone standing outside the clinic is not on their side until proven otherwise. If there is someone escorting with you (and there should be) walk on each side of the client so the antis can’t get right up next to them. Keep talking to the client as you walk them to the door of the clinic, so they don’t have to listen to the rhetoric being thrown at them by the anti-choicers. Sample (English) script: “Hi, I’m an escort for the clinic; we have some protesters here today, but I’m here to get you inside safely and with as little harassment as possible. You don’t have to take anything they offer you, you don’t have to listen to them. This is your decision to make, and no one has the right to make you feel bad about it. Okay, here’s the door.” (Spanish language options are listed here.)
Bring a camera.
Feel free to take pictures of anti-choicers, especially if they act up. Be very careful, however, not to aim that camera at the patient or clinic staff.
If you see anti-choicers violating federal or state law, let your coordinator know, and take pictures if you’re able.
Clinic access is protected by federal and state law. Read through the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act , or FACE Act (it’s short). Some states have specific laws prohibiting the obstruction of clinic entrances and the threatening of patients and/or clinic staff, other states have an established “buffer zone” that protesters must stay outside. Check http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_PAC.pdf for applicable state laws. As an escort, it will not be your responsibility to interface with police, if that comes up.
Of course you need to take your job seriously, but you don’t have to be fierce or miserable while you’re doing it. It is a well-established fact that anti-choicers HATE happiness; sometimes it even drives them away early. Clients, on the other hand, welcome a smile as they’re entering what may be a stressful situation.