In an unprinted letter, submitted June 27, I announced that I’d walk the gantlet outside Planned Parenthood. So I made my appointment to coincide with the first protest after the Portland buffer zone was repealed.

I decided to walk the gantlet for all the women who never could. Protesters who bombard women with ignorant fliers and looming posters dissuade them from accessing the reproductive health care that they have every right to. It is intimidating to walk through, despite the small squad of Planned Parenthood supporters in nearby Monument Square.

I walked that gantlet one day recently, surrounded by people who made me very uncomfortable. I am grateful to the greeters and escorts who were present, the Planned Parenthood supporters, with their own signs, and the police officers.

But none of that could make the experience comfortable. It was a spectacle. My access to health care was reduced to spectacle.

After passing through the gantlet the second time, on my way out, I felt overwhelmed and anguished. There was nothing remotely traumatic about my appointment – I am healthy and it was purely routine.

Nonetheless, my face flushed and fat tears rolled down my cheeks. I cried for the state of women today, with buffer zones crumbling around the country and the Hobby Lobby decision weighing heavy on my mind.

I feel disheartened and even betrayed by my country for putting women – putting people – through this.

Stephanie Harris