Not in My State! ~by KYBorn

So, I’ve been gone for a while.  I have a good excuse that circles back to the title if you can hang in there long enough.

I had an unexpected illness that required multiple surgeries, a long ICU stay and a month long stay in my home state since I could neither stay alone or travel

Anyway, after the insurance sorted out all the things they would pay for I ended up back in my home town doing outpatient therapy.

Being back in my home town for an extended stay brought back a lot of memories. It didn’t take long for me to be reminded of the desperation felt by women who had a 90-mile drive and a time zone to cross. It reminded me of high school girls who went to a subpar practitioner in Lexington because he didn’t check IDs.  It reminded me of why I didn’t have sex until I was over the age of 18 and free to dispose of unwanted products of conception as I chose. Sure, the town had changed in a lot of ways. Heck, they even have a Mexican restaurant that serves margaritas that actually contain alcohol and a Super Wal-Mart. What they didn’t have and still don’t have is reasonable and affordable access to safe pregnancy termination.

I was born and raised in rural Kentucky. I spent part of my adulthood living in a less rural part of the state. Both places lacked convenient and affordable access to abortion care, but most women knew that as long as they were 18 they could go to Louisville, even if at great cost, to terminate an unwanted pregnancy or a wanted pregnancy gone wrong. None of us thought it was right that we should have to travel so far to get legal health care, not to mention walk a gauntlet intended to shame us that has only become progressively worse. I had already left the state before the worst of the TRAP laws that have been thrown down as barriers for all women, but can be particularly difficult for rural and low income women became law. I read as two of three clinics were closed, but at least there was one that had been standing for years. At least there was one clinic left in the state.

Then I read that the new Governor Bevin is ordering it shut down on a technicality. Yes, I got angry enough to throw my shoes. Hard.

Since I would likely be arrested for screaming on my front lawn, I’ll scream it here.

Not in my state!

It was bad enough before with underage girls sneaking to back alley butchers and only the wealthy being able to afford to take the time off to usually spend the night (due to time change, or two nights in the case of a two-day procedure) without choosing between rent and health care.  It was bad enough when women had to walk an oversized block filled on both sides of people shouting obscene dialogue of hellfire, waving fetus porn and surreptitiously directing them to “the clinic next door” where they got everything BUT the abortion they were seeking.

So, I don’t live there anymore.  I can drive and easily pay for an abortion in two locations.  I can get on a plane and use my health insurance at one of over 10 clinics to pay for abortion.  I know who and how to get misoprostol to induce a miscarriage without walking a gauntlet of shame as now required in Kentucky. I wouldn’t be one of those women who ended up dead due to infection from a botched abortion by a quack or ended up poisoning myself by consuming herbs or plants that are supposed to induce abortion. There are a lot of places in the world where desperate women are harmed by resorting to desperate and unsafe measures. The United States is rapidly becoming one of those countries and certainly Kentucky is on the forefront of denying safe abortion care.

Of course, Governor Bevin wants to shut down the last place in the Kentucky where a woman can walk a gauntlet of shame filled with fetus porn, stalkers and statues of the blessed virgin.  No.  It isn’t enough to shame women but they must be denied care they are obviously desperately seeking at all. He wants Kentucky women to be regulated to the status of second-class citizens in a third world theocracy.

NOT! IN! MY! STATE!

This is not what most people want or care about.  They want better education, better job opportunities and training, dealing with drug overdoses rising out of control and better support for women who choose to go to term.  Mostly, they want the government out of their bodies, just like I want the government out of mine.

But it isn’t going to happen in my state (or commonwealth, if you prefer).  The doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate is nothing more than biblical anarchy.  This is what the Governor is buying into.  It may be crap, but your state tax dollars will pay for it while boxes of rape kits sit untested in a basement because that money has been allotted to defend unconstitutional laws and regulations based on religious beliefs.

So now is the time.  To steal a bit from the Reagan years, “Just Say No” to shutting down the last abortion clinic in Kentucky.

 

The Company You Keep – by Avocado

Probably the last thing the world needs is yet another dude’s opinion on reproductive rights and abortion access. Unfortunately, that’s all I have to offer as I watch powerful, mostly white men decide the fate of EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Kentucky’s last remaining abortion clinic.

I’ve been volunteering as an escort with Every Saturday Morning (ESM) since July 2016 and ithat short period of time has been a roller coaster.

Sure, there is some good. The volunteers with ESM are some of the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever met. As a man, I was unsure of how welcome I would feel or how well I would fit in with ESM. It is, after all, an organization centered around women’s rights and its membership is comprised mostly of women. I try to live my life by listening, trusting and respecting women, and for that, I was met with open arms. Every day on the sidewalk escorting clients past hateful anti-abortion activists makes me feel like I’m helping in some small way and there’s no one I’d rather do that with than the other ESM volunteers.

And then there’s everything else. The short amount of 2017 that has passed has been a violent, hateful slog. In January, protestor Angela Minter was selected by Bevin to be a part of the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees selection committee. This is the same Angela Minter that harasses women outside of EMW, has been filmed trespassing on clinic property and just a few weeks after this appointment, would be photographed pressing a sign into the face of a clinic escort.

Angela at entrance (3) 02182017

On January 21st, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, a clinic escort was knocked to the ground by Aaron Sabie, a member of Psalm 82 Ministries (or Psalm 82 Reformation Media as they’ve recently rebranded). LMPD has not and will not press charges against Sabie.

P82 joined with Operation Save America (OSA), and OSA held their leadership conference in Louisville in February. Over 150 protestors clogged the sidewalks, harassing patients with graphic signs and loudspeakers. Speaking of graphic signs, OSA/P82 left the clinic and took those signs to a middle school and high school. Their protest outside Noe Middle and Manual High was disturbing enough that those schools sent an email to parents assuring them that their children were safe. After they finished their protest at these schools, they had a meeting with Governor Bevin. The governor offered encouragement to these extremists when he addressed them.
Governor Bevin Addressing Leadership Meeting OSA 020317

Joseph, Aaron, Mason meet Gov Bevin (2) 021417

Which brings us to today. Governor Bevin has described himself as “unapologetically Pro-life” and is attempting to make Kentucky the first state to have citizens without access to abortions. He has ordered EMW closed starting Monday, April 3rd, based on a licensing technicality. This license is good through the end of May 2017, yet the KY Cabinet of Health and Human Services suddenly finds a deficiency with the document.

Their goal is transparent. They wish to end access to safe, legal abortion in Kentucky. Governor Matt Bevin will happily tout that he’s the governor who removed a woman’s right to choose in Kentucky. Will he be there to gleefully accept credit the first time a Kentucky woman dies of sepsis from an unsafe, underground abortion? What about the first time a Kentucky woman suffers genital disfigurement while attempting to perform an abortion on herself because she can’t afford to travel out of state?

No. Governor Matt Bevin won’t be there for the poor, rural citizens of Kentucky that this will affect the most; nor will Minter, Sabie, Joseph Spurgeon, Rusty Thomas, or any of the other toxic company that Bevin keeps.

As a male ally and volunteer, I’m disgusted by the individuals listed above. I walk on that sidewalk every day with my only assumption being that each patient is making the decision that’s best for her.  At the base of all this for me, as a man, is that I can have all the empathy in the world for a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy, but I’ll never truly be able to understand what she’s going through. I listen to women, I trust what they’re saying, and I respect both their thoughts and their bodily autonomy. I wish there was a way I could magically explain that to the people above and I hope any potential ally will read and take that advice.

When I began writing this post, EMW and its supporters were anxiously awaiting to hear if a federal judge would grant a temporary restraining order against the state’s order of closure. Now, several hours later, EMW has its order granted and will remain open for the time being. This will continue to be a fight over the next several months, particularly at the end of May when the clinic’s license expires. And I’ll be there, side by side with some of the strongest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

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Bevin Threatens Last Clinic in KY – by MAP

The EMW Women’s Surgical clinic on 2nd and Market is the last abortion clinic in Kentucky and the threat of closure is imminent because of our Governor Matt Bevin. This is a threat to reproductive justice and abortion rights in our state, restricting access to abortions, creating more barriers for clients to face. Every person should be able to choose whether they are ready to parent a child. Attorneys at the ACLU have filed a federal lawsuit so the clinic can stay open. For more information please go to the links provided below.

Want to know how you can help?

Come rally with us Sunday, 2:00 p.m in front of the Clinic!

Rally for EMW

Donate to the Kentucky Health Justice Network Bowl-a-thon

Kentucky Health Justice Network bowlathon donations

Articles with more information

Courier Journal 

ACLU

Herald Leader

CNN

Insider Louisville

 

Some Thoughts on A Day Without a Woman, and Those Showing Up Every Day – by Penny

If you aren’t living under a rock, you’ve heard about A Day Without a Woman, a day of action scheduled for March 8th (International Women’s Day) put together by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington. According to the WMW’s FAQ page,* the purpose of this action is “to highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.”   To participate, women around the country are called upon to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor, avoid participating in commerce or buy only from local women and minority-owned businesses, and wear red, “a color signifying of revolutionary love and sacrifice,”* as a display of solidarity. Male allies are called to participate as well by speaking up for family leave and equal pay in the office, “leaning in” to childcare and other domestic responsibilities, examining their expectations of the women in their lives – and so perhaps expecting more of themselves – and of course, wearing red.*

While I’ve seen a lot of very positive press regarding Wednesday’s strike, I would be remiss if I didn’t address valid criticisms of this action. You see, I am a privileged woman in that I recently chose to take a few months off from work outside the home. I’m in a stable relationship with a supportive and loving partner who can assume my domestic responsibilities for the day. I know that I can take the day off from caring for my child and that he will still get help with his homework and a balanced dinner.

It wasn’t always this way. The memory of my three year old offering to protect me after watching me get slapped around one too many times is a wound too easily reopened. The time the electricity got turned off for a few days so I could fix my car and keep my job comes to mind. There are other examples, of course, but my history does not negate today’s privilege at all. The thing is, sacrificing a day’s pay for a protest is simply impossible for millions of women, even if we can do so without perhaps losing our jobs altogether. For so many women, eschewing childcare responsibilities for an entire day is a fantasy – hell, for many of us, it would be a luxury to get an uninterrupted shower.

And so I have felt very uneasy about A Day Without a Woman. While I wholeheartedly support its intentions, I am deeply concerned that it excludes those who persist through the greatest amount of injustice. This burden falls disproportionately on women of color, immigrants, refugees, disabled women, and LGBTQIA+ identifying people. As a white woman facing comparatively little oppression, does this make it wrong to participate?

When I asked the women in my life if they would be participating, I was humbled by how clear things became. While I do know some women who are participating on March 8th, and I support them wholeheartedly, again and again I heard from women who are still choosing to work that day. And it has little or nothing to do with all my handwringing and should-we shouldn’t-we. The reason?  Because these women are doing the exhausting, difficult, and so very rewarding work of promoting justice every single day. These are the women who are fighting for abortion access for Kentuckians, who have just one clinic left in the state and a mounting pile of legislation to create economic and geographic barriers. These are the women who fight to offer accurate sexual education, STD testing, cancer screenings, and affordable contraception to anyone who walks in their doors, under constant threat of losing vital funds.

These are the women who are working with local immigrants and refugees in the face of a regime based on fear and hatred of anyone with an unfamiliar accent. These are the women who stand up and speak out against systemic racism and the trivialization of Black lives even though it would be safer to keep their heads down. These are the women fighting for inclusion and accessibility for disabled people in a society that constantly overlooks them. These are the women who are tireless in their advocacy for the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ persons. These are the teachers who love their students so hard it hurts, the social workers who go above and beyond to improve their clients’ lives, the medical support staff who soothe scared children at three in the morning at an inpatient care facility. These are the women who recruit the volunteers, who answer the phones, the ones who organize.

These are the women lighting up the dark corners, without applause and without opinion pieces in all the major news outlets. These are the women who Get Shit Done, and we can’t afford a day without them, because the amount that needs doing only seems to grow with each passing day.

In order for us to have reproductive justice** – in order for all women to have true self-determination in how, when, with whom, or if they decide to raise children – we cannot ignore how multiple layers of oppression intersect.  Isn’t the lack of a living wage then a barrier? Living under the threat of deportation? Living in a food desert? Systemic criminalization of Black bodies? Inability to access necessary medical care? Does constant sexuality-based discrimination impede on your right to become a parent? Or your right to raise children in an environment where they are safe and healthy? What about the near-daily litany of trans people being brutally murdered?

What I have learned – am still learning – from these women is this: while the huge protests, marches, and actions are important, it is those who integrate justice into their daily lives who are making the greatest impact. I do not believe that these ideas are mutually exclusive in the slightest. In fact, the giant events, with their intoxicating feelings of solidarity and empowerment, can help get you through the times when it feels like a losing battle. But you still need to show up for the fight.

After attending the Women’s March on Washington this past January, I made a pact with myself to “make it mean something.” Otherwise all the time, expense, and effort to move my body to Washington felt like a gross display of my privilege, like one of the worst kinds of tourism. I’ve made good on that pact to the best of my ability, and always strive to do more. There are so many amazing local organizations in the Louisville area, and I would be willing to bet there is something to suit any skills, time, or comfort level you may bring to the table. In the past month, I’ve done everything from clinic escorting, to phone banking, to spreadsheet/database maintenance, to canvassing, to delivering furniture for refugees, to baking muffins, to fundraising – among other things. So yes, by all means, participate in the nationwide and international actions, and I’ll be wearing red as well. But on Thursday morning, we take that energy and use it locally. Below are some links to get you started – do some research, send some emails! This is not the easy work, and it’s not the glamorous work, but it is absolutely the most meaningful work there is.

* Women’s March, Frequently Asked Questions

**Trust Black Women, Understanding Reproductive Justice

New Roots

Ky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

ACLU of Ky

Ky Health Justice Network

Black Lives Matter  (Louisville)

Showing Up for Racial Justice   (Ky chapter)

Also visit our How to Get Involved page

 

 

 

Sidewalk Observations, by Skeptical Seeker

I went out to the EMW Women’s Clinic this morning to help escort. It’s not my first time on the sidewalk, but it has been a while — about 8 or 9 years.

Here are a few observations that I made this morning:

It didn’t seem as chaotic to me as it used to. Maybe it’s because I have prior experience, or maybe it’s the training I attended before returning to the line. Maybe it was a strong and organized showing of escorts today. At any rate, this time I had a much better idea of our goals and knew what I needed to do. So I picked a spot at the property line in front of the door and held that space.

Second, I never used headphones before but I found that they are great for staying entertained and for blocking out anti-chatter and rosary repetitions. Also hearing the soapbox preachers set to a dance beat can be fun at times.

I didn’t feel as stressed out on the sidewalk today as I have while escorting in the past. I think a large part of that is that I am now more secure in my convictions. Since the last time I escorted I have been pregnant twice — the first time ending in miscarriage (discovered at the 8 week ultrasound) and medical termination at home. Though that sad experience I discovered first-hand the vital importance of support and empowerment and a good doctor who informed me of all my options and encouraged me to choose the one that was best for me. Happily my second pregnancy resulted in a beautiful, wanted, and loved little girl. In spite of the very different outcomes of these two pregnancies I felt the same vital importance in both cases of empowerment and support though-out pregnancy and birth and new parenthood.

So some things on the sidewalk have never changed, but stand out to me much more starkly now. On the sidewalk you see the sharp difference between those who lecture and shame and assume and try to control, and those who support and make space and empower. I know what side I will be on.

 

The Day the Circus Came to Town ~ by Penny

Escorting is always a high-tension job, even on a relatively normal Saturday.  Saturdays always bring out the highest numbers of protesters, and the larger their numbers, the greater their escalations.  This past weekend came with new and frustrating challenges – the whole circus came to town.  

traveling-van-3

Operation Save America rode into Louisville this past week in a cargo van emblazoned with headstones and some favorite graphic “dead baby” imagery, with a few lies about breast cancer sprinkled in for variety.  While the clinic was only targeted on Friday and Saturday, the protesters did their best to cause as much disruption as possible during their stay. 

An hour before the clinic opened on Saturday, they set up two large speakers (each on a six foot tripod) along the edge of the property line just outside the waiting room.  Cords were left dangling between these without a care in the world for the trip and fall hazard this creates in a very highly-trafficked area – because nothing says pro-life like harming people.  

As soon as the setup was finished, escorts holding the property line were treated to some Christian-soft-rock at a volume which could be clearly heard around the entire block.

loudspeaker-2

 
And again, an entire hour before the clinic even opened its doors:
16559425_2351336238425900_1400690639_nAfter the warm-up tape ran its course, OSA members went on to take turns haranguing escorts and clients about our sinning and iniquity as per usual.  

The rhetoric itself is not what made Saturday special.  When a national, well-funded group like OSA comes to town, our regular cohort of sidewalk “counselors,” sign-wavers, and other motley shamers gets all stirred up.  More of them come.  Many of these unfamiliar faces are not familiar with the property line, the FACE Act, or, it seems, common decency.  Their heightened sense of importance and urgency, combined with the extra crowding and assaulting volume from the speakers, made it a very nervous morning. There were places where the sidewalk was nearly entirely obstructed, either by too many bodies or so that OSA could make room for the props they brought along for extra “poignancy.”

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This is the corner of 2nd and Market – this is what clients had to walk through before even being able to see the clinic’s doors.


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And for reference, here is the view around that same corner.  See the speakers taking up half the sidewalk?  Can you imagine the courage clients and companions have to summon to get through this mess?  Can you think of any other medical practice where this intimidation is tolerated?

coffin-with-bags-of-plastic-fetuses

Yes, the picture above is of a tiny white coffin, complete with plastic fetus dolls along the top in a row, on a tray table pushed out into the path of clients on their way in.  

One begins to wonder, looking at their van, their sound system, their tiny caskets – how many women could this money have really helped, if they cared as much as they claim to?  How many meals could this have made for a food-insecure pregnant person, how many nice outfits to go on interviews, how many hours of childcare for the babies already in this world?  If this weren’t actually about controlling the minds and bodies of women, how much of that lobbying power could they throw behind paid medical leave for all new parents?  Looking at the fancy equipment, and the van that’s certainly much newer than any vehicle I’ve ever owned, I have to wonder:  what do they believe their GoPros, amplifiers, custom paint jobs, and bags of tiny plastic fetuses are accomplishing?  

 

 

Reflections on Reproductive Justice Activism ~ by MAP

I was first introduced to Reproductive Justice activism in 2006 when I was 19 years old. I had gone to a Feminist Alliance meeting at the time when I was enrolled in the University of Louisville. A friend mentioned that she was an escort at the EMW women’s clinic. I had honestly never thought about abortion, Reproductive Justice or what and how it could affect me in my everyday life. On a Saturday morning in January I went and had my first experience as a clinic escort. On that cold and snowy morning, it was incredibly frustrating to see all of these clients trying to access healthcare and at the same time being judged and harassed by complete strangers, but it was amazing seeing these people helping clients get into the clinic.

I am forever grateful for what I have learned about myself throughout my experience as an escort. Being a clinic escort has made me a better activist and organizer. Over the past 11 years through my introduction to Reproductive Justice activism, my eyes have been opened to how reproductive justice work intersects with social justice, economic justice, and racial justice. Realizing I needed to care for myself I took a step back from escorting at the clinic, but I am involved with transporting clients to and from the clinic through the Kentucky Support Network. Finding out where you can help and do your part, as well as taking care of yourself, is so important. Escorting at the clinic taught me that this type of work is never easy and that at times it can be draining. Putting yourself and your needs first, by practicing self care are imperative to doing this type of work.

If you’ve ever wanted to get involved now is the time. The anti-choice laws that are being passed in Kentucky, in our country and around the world are horrific. These are terrifying attacks on a person’s right to their bodily autonomy and their right to choose whether or not they are ready to be a parent. There are already so many barriers when it comes to abortion access and when it comes to marginalized groups of individuals, that these laws only continue to prohibit people from accessing safe and legal abortions.

If you don’t think you can escort at the clinic that’s okay. There are so many ways to give your time or your money to important organizations such as Kentucky Health Justice Network, Kentucky Support Network, and the A Fund. I am constantly amazed by my friends and their dedication to this work. They continue to inspire me on a daily basis with their commitment in securing Reproductive Rights and abortion access for every human being.

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” -Jane Addams

 

Control Issues ~ by Ferret

I am something of a control freak, and the offspring of a line of control freaks. We used to joke that if one were to look up “Control Freak” in the dictionary, one would find a picture of my grandfather.

In my battles with depression over the years, I realized that being a control freak was contributing to my depressive state. I worked hard at becoming less of one in part to lessen the effect on my mien, with mixed results.

At one point in my life, I was invited to attend a twelve-step group based on Alcoholics Anonymous, called Emotions Anonymous. Either through that group or through my sessions with the counselor who introduced me to it, I learned the idea that while I couldn’t (by their definition) control my emotions, I could control how I expressed those emotions and which of those emotions I focus on at any given time.

I also learned that if I release control of others to those others, I am more able to do what I need to do to control how I present myself.

That led to an interesting revelation~one that I’m sure many have reached: I’m not responsible for any other person’s emotional state. Because I am not responsible for that person’s emotional state, I get to retain responsibility for my own emotional state and whether/how I express it.

This expands to all sorts of realms. Because I wish autonomy for myself, I cannot assume control over others’ autonomies. I have to accept that they will act in what they think is their own interests.

There are limits, of course, as the classic example of freedom to swing one’s arm illustrates: My freedom to swing my arm ends before impact with another person’s face. I don’t have the right to harm others, save for circumstances of self-defense, and even then the force I may use is somewhat limited. I cannot bring harm to you for endangering me once the danger has passed, for example.

The reason I mention all this at the moment has to do with the social discussion around abortion and related women’s rights.

Yeah, who am I, a white male, to talk about women’s rights?

Call me something of an ally.

And call me one who recognizes that, because I insist on autonomy for myself, I believe it is no business of mine whether a woman chooses to abort a fetus. Because it’s not my business, it’s also not the business of the government that allegedly represents me. It’s a decision for her to make, along with people she chooses to consult. Sidewalk “counselors” (religious bullies, for the most part) aren’t part of that circle. Congress Critters/Gynoticians* are not part of that circle.

Does that mean I favor abortion? Whether I favor abortion is immaterial. As I mentioned, I’m a guy and recognize that I have the privilege of not having to face that decision for myself. It means I recognize that her decision is hers to make. I have to assume that she will consider whatever options are valid in her situation.

And there may not be any viable options other than abortion. Sometimes the pregnancy is such that continuing it at all would put the mother at grave risk. In some cases, the fetus can never become viable. Since the percentage of times those happen is non-zero, and since I cannot know the exact situation (indeed, the exact situation is not my business), I cannot assume that any one woman’s situation doesn’t include elements of those factors. I’m not willing to put limits on abortion based on such factors either. It would be heartbreaking enough to have a wanted pregnancy result in such a situation without having to prove such to a gynotician* before earning a pass to have one’s abortion labeled “acceptable.”

* Per the Urban Dictionary: “A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.”

 

 

We Don’t Want Your ‘Sorry’ – We Want You to Stop Hurting People {by Huxley}

Volunteer clinic escorts get hit by antis at the clinic pretty regularly. It’s usually petty little garbage, not worth even attempting to do anything about. Heck, it might even be an accident that the same anti stepped on your foot repeatedly, or whacked you with their sign repeatedly, or knocked into you repeatedly because they “just didn’t see you there”! As a general rule, it’s best to stick to our goal of striving for de-escalation and non-engagement when this happens.

elbow

“I accidentally walked into the door, officer.”

Sometimes, though, safety makes it necessary to object to an anti’s behavior. Our clinic has a designated “drop zone” in front of it, a small area between two signs that, on Saturdays, is not supposed to be blocked. Because the clinic is located on a busy downtown thoroughfare, vehicles need to be able to pull into this space, allow passengers to exit, and pull back into traffic. When we have enough volunteers, we station ourselves along the sidewalk in this area. We’ve had more than a few instances of antis creating an actual traffic hazard when clients pull into this space.

 

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Unfortunately, one of the persistent difficulties our antis suffer from is reading comprehension. You see, when we made the mistake of discussing the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE Act) with folks, they seemed to get the impression that the prohibition on people blocking the entrance (this would be them) actually means that volunteers with agents of the clinic (this would be us) cannot help clients get past them when they attempt to block access. So, according to the antis, what the FACE Act really does is protect their “right” to block patients accessing the clinic entrance! If you’ve heard their interpretation of Scripture, this probably doesn’t surprise you.

All of this is to give you some context for what happened this morning. The video is a little confusing if you’re not familiar with the entrance of our clinic. And if you’re not familiar with FACE, the woman anti yelling in it makes even less sense. Please note: the video is chaotic, does depict violence, and there is swearing.  (transcript at the end)

So. The woman, Kellie Sabie, tries to force her way through escorts so that she can jump in front of a patient attempting to walk in the door, and then starts yelling at escorts. Her husband, Aaron, assumes that she needs to be protected from the escorts and wades in. While he certainly knocks into a number of escorts, he actually grabs Pat – 67 years old, 5’2”, and all of 98 pounds – and throws her to the ground.

She’s badly bruised, and grateful for no fractures.

Officers from Louisville Metro Police Department have been stationed across the street on Saturdays for a while now, so an escort who had filmed the assault accompanied Pat to show them the video and explain what happened. Aaron wasn’t arrested, but Pat is pursuing charges. He asked officers if he could apologize to her and she, of course, said no thank you; shortly thereafter, Aaron returned to the front of clinic to resume “preaching” on his loudspeaker.

To be honest, I don’t think any of us particularly care whether Aaron or Kellie is remotely sorry for their actions today, or any day. All we want them to do is to quit breaking laws that are intended to prevent people from being harmed. We want them to not swarm cars as clients try to park or exit their vehicle; we want them to not physically block patients attempting to walk to the clinic entrance, using their huge 4’ x 2’signs as blockades; we want them to keep their assaults at least a little more subdued than what happened today.

As regular readers know, this has been escalating at our clinic for some time now, and it’s thanks primarily to the group Aaron and Kellie are with, “P82 Ministries.” They’ve recently begun working with Operation Save America, and P82’s leader, Joseph Spurgeon, has publicly called on fellow “real” Christians to join them in testing how much law breaking they can get away with in the name of preventing private citizens accessing medical care they happen to not like. They figure with the current and local political climate, no one’s going to really punish them.

So we’re about to find out if they’re right.

We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, volunteer clinic escorts in Louisville and across the country will continue to show up and hold space for clients, whatever that looks like at a given clinic and for a given client. We’ll hope we don’t get hurt too badly. We’ll continue explaining the FACE Act to folks when it’s necessary to do so, and redirect any potential volunteer escorts who think we’re counter-protesters. We’ll continue to have our Points of Unity as our goals. We’ll continue to point out that the behavior in which anti-choice clinic harassers engage would not be tolerated by law enforcement if it were engaged in by other groups of actual protesters. We’ll continue to point out that protest of elected officials for official government acts is in fact an entirely different thing from harassing and assaulting private citizens for their medical choices. As long as clients have to navigate a gauntlet of hateful, yelling bigots in order to access healthcare, we’ll be there in our neon vests to hold the line, and to walk with clients if they want us to.

***********

Transcripts:

Escort Shoved to the Ground

Kelly Sabie: (yelling) Public sidewalk!! You and you!! (pointing)
Escort M: Back off Sabie, back off
(Aaron Sabie comes up from the back, approaching from the left)
AS: All y’all need to get back
Escort M: Back off, Sabie, Back off
KS: Really
AS: ALL y’all
Escort L: You’re going to shove women to the ground?
KS: I didn’t shove anybody
AS: Get out of my wife’s face! (camera shows escort being helped to her feet) Get out of my wife’s face like you going to do something
Escort M: You’re shoving women to the ground
AS: I stepped in here to protect my wife. Y’all got a problem?
KS: Because she (pointing) backed into me!
Escort L: I’ve got a problem
KS: She backed into me
AS: Y’all want to surround my wife like that
Escort L: I’ve got a problem with you shoving a woman to the ground
Escort H: (to other escort) Don’t speak to him, don’t speak to him
AS: You know what, I apologize for that, I apologize for that
Anti on Loudspeaker: This is what’s taking place this is what’s taking place
KS: She’s gonna tell me I can’t walk on a public sidewalk!!!
AS: I will apologize for doing that
Escort M: Keep losing your shit,
KS: walk on a public sidewalk
Escort M: keep losing your shit, go ahead, it makes you look super stable, go ahead, keep losing your shit

KS: Oh I am thank you
AS: Who did I knock down? Because I will apologize because I did not
Escort M: It’s too late, she’s already getting the police, it’s too late
KS: …that she wouldn’t let me walk around the sidewalk. You can’t block a person (slamming her sign against the ground for emphasis) that’s your rule remember? There’s Louisville ordinances that go against everything you guys are doing
(Laughter in the background – at the idea that there are ordinances against what we’re doing)
KS: (to an escort off camera) And I don’t need you telling me what to do
Escort M: Somebody de-escalate this bitch y’all don’t care to de-escalate your own people that are losing their shit?
Escort H: You know they don’t.
KS: You need to stop
Loudspeaker: Here’s where we stand. They do not want these children to live
Escort M: Right Sabie whatever

Aaron Preaching

Obey my commands.

And then my question for you this morning is, do you hear the words of Jesus when he said, “thou shall not murder?” Does that – do those words resonate in your heart? Or have you gone hard, have you given over to a debased mind this morning to believe things that aren’t true? Things like, “it’s OK to murder my child”. TheThe folks in the orange vests, the folks behind the counter, your loved ones that bring you in here this morning, they all lied to you making you think that everything is going to be OK, that it’s just a clump of cells, that it’s just a procedure, but those same…

 

Spotlight on Support: A Fund

With reproductive health services under attack, people want to help.  People want to step up to stop the flood of laws designed to keep us from being able to access abortion.  People want to offer support to people needing to terminate a pregnancy.  Every week, new people reach out to us for information about being an escort.  And we love having new faces joining us every week.

But escorting is only one small aspect of the support that people seeking abortion care need.  TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) and the distortion of informed consent requirements have created huge barriers that go beyond harassment on the sidewalk outside the clinic.  Lack of money is one of those barriers.

Did you know that in Kentucky, Medicaid only covers abortion in the case of rape, incest, and danger to the woman’s life?  And that even in those cases, the patient has to pay for the abortion ahead of time and try to get reimbursed later?  (Emphasis on “try,” since this is difficult, if not impossible, to do.)

Did you know that, by law, private insurance cannot cover abortion in Kentucky?  That’s right, even insurance companies that cover the cost of abortion in Illinois, for example, are barred from doing so in Kentucky.

Did you know that the cost of abortion care in Kentucky starts at around $700?  TRAP laws that require the clinic to meet unreasonable and unnecessary standards of care are part of the reason the cost is so high.  Most people in need of abortion care don’t have an extra $700 handy.  People deplete any savings they may have, borrow money, pawn belongings, don’t pay the rent, skip meals, and take all kinds of drastic steps to pay for an abortion.  And of course the need is time sensitive.  The longer it takes to get the money together, the higher the cost is likely to be.

Fortunately, there are a number of organizations that help with funding abortion care.  One of these is A Fund.  As their brochure explains, A Fund, Inc. is a nonprofit organization directed and staffed by volunteers who raise money to help Kentucky girls and women in need of funding for abortion.  They say:

The typical woman we serve is the sole support of two children and knows she cannot afford a third child.  She does not have a credit card.  How can she raise the $600-$750 cash (minimum) needed to terminate her pregnancy?

The volunteers at A Fund believe that no one should be denied access to abortion because of a lack of money.  Last year, they raised about $50,000 and helped more than 400 women.  Virtually every dollar they raise goes directly to help women seeking termination of a pregnancy.

As escorts, we offer immediate support to patients at EMW as they make the trip up the sidewalk to the clinic.  But we recognize that protesters are not the only barrier, and there are lots of other ways to support access.    We want to support the organizations that help reduce other barriers for people seeking to terminate a pregnancy.   So we’ll be spotlighting a couple of organizations that provide help directly to individual women in need, and making it easy to donate to them from our blog and our Facebook page.  A Fund is the first of these organizations.

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To learn more about A Fund, to volunteer, or to make a donation, you can visit their website, or their Facebook page.   Louisville Clinic Escorts are also starting a donation page here on the blog, and will provide a link on our Facebook page.

It is essential that we push back against the loss of rights that we are seeing now.   We invite you to consider supporting A Fund as one way to do so.

(If you want to volunteer to escort, please email us at everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com)