Counting My Way

As a huge supporter of abortion access I have contributed to our Pledge- A-Picketer fundraiser every year.

Louisville Clinic escorts started this fundraising idea after 300 protesters came out one Saturday before Mother’s Day a few years back.

Over the years we have seen the numbers of protesters drop off as we have used their presence to fund raise money for abortion access.

They know why we count and they do not like the fact that their presence raises funds for abortion support.

In 2016 since the numbers of protesters were dropping I decided to modify my pledge a little bit and put a monetary amount not only on number of protesters, but signs, amplification, and other harassment techniques they use.

The turnout of antis on the Pledge-A-Picketer, Spooky Halloween Edition was fairly small, probably due to rainy weather and the fact they knew we were going to fund raise off of their numbers.

I pledged $0.25 an anti for a total of $21 for the two days.

But seeing as how dedicated  clinic escorts are for showing up in all kinds of weather and all the stuff life throws at you, I know they are worth so much more.

I decided to pledge $2 an escort and Legal Observer.

Clinic escorts and Legal Observers showed up for choice and access raised $112.

Just doing what you do week in and week out is amazing. I wanted to acknowledge how much I value your presence on the sidewalk.

Not so spooky Pledge-a-Picketer wrap up!

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We want to extend a big thank you to everyone who pledged and gave to this year’s Halloween edition of Pledge-a-Picketer! It’s not too late to play along if you too want to support abortion access by giving an amount based on how many extremists showed up at the clinic this weekend. Click the link above for details on how to make your gift.

and now…….

Here are the numbers…..

Oct 26

  • 24 Escorts
  • 34 Antis – 28 adults 6 kids

Oct 27

  • 39 Escorts
  • 50 Antis – 35 Adults 15 kids

Why are we publishing escort numbers?

Well, we have one loyal supporter of access who has been so impressed by the strength of the clinic escorts, they are working on their own personal pledge based on the AWESOME turnout in support of access here in Louisville. Stay tuned for a special post on that in the coming days.

We love our providers. We love our escorts. We love access to care, on demand, and without apology.

Thanks again!

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Pledge-A- Picketer, Spooky Halloween Edition!! (well, almost)

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Here we are again.  Operation Save America (OSA), under the banner of Operation Save Louisville is going to be in town October 26-27th.  You remember OSA?  The group that was arrested and tried for blockading the clinic in May of 2017?   Well, they are coming back to try to intimidate patients, staff, and escorts, tie up the sidewalk, and make a general harassing nuisance of themselves.

Want to help?  Consider Pledge-A-Picketer

Make a pledge for every protester that shows up. That way the bigger the crowd the more money we raise for abortion access in KY. Historically our community has donated between $.05 to $1 per protester. You can cap the amount of your donation. You can make a block donation regardless of crowd size.  Remember, this is also 40 Days For Harassment….ERRRR… Life AND there will be kids on the sidewalk, and you know we count them too!  In fact since it is Trick or Treat time, kiddos on the sidewalk will be a double donation!   So if you pledge a dollar a kid and there are five kids?  The donation is 10 dollars!  Boo!

To make a donation, fill out the form here. Share the link, ask your friends and family and raise your voice against anti-choice violence by raising funds for abortion access in Kentucky!

 

An open letter to Kelley Paul

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When a Reproductive Justice colleague, fellow Kentuckian, and friend sent a link to this CNN article featuring an “open letter to Senator Cory Booker” shortly after it hit the web, there were a few layers of irony (and expletives) that we had to unpack before settling on how to respond.

What stood out immediately is this quote:

“Preventing someone from moving forward, thrusting your middle finger in their face, screaming vitriol — is this the way to express concern or enact change? Or does it only incite unstable people to violence, making them feel that assaulting a person is somehow politically justifiable?”

What’s striking to me is that these words could be my own, were I making an argument for why we need a Safety Zone in front of Kentucky’s only abortion clinic. If you read our blog, you know that these kinds of behaviors are common, and protected under a thinly veiled claim to “free speech”. People who value free speech AND reproductive freedom know that while sharing opinions and information might be harmless, there is a line that is crossed when demonstrations escalate and we start to see things like blockades, trespassing, assault, threats, and property destruction. We see these kinds of behaviors regularly on Market Street in Louisville, and are told that aggressive protesters are within their rights, and that the volunteer escorts, patients, and their companions outside of EMW Clinic should expect these attacks.

So I have to wonder: why should elected officials who work hard to earn the votes of their constituents be shielded from this “passionate free speech”, while people going to the doctor are subjected to it without consent, almost daily, as though it’s part of a punishment they must endure? How else can people attempt to hold elected officials accountable when they will not acknowledge messages like #CancelKavanaugh, and #BeBoldEndHyde? We know voter disenfranchisement, fraudulent campaign practices, and falsified elections are not imaginary concepts, so until we can trust the electoral process, it seems like other tactics are in order.

There are laws, and resources in place to allow safe passage of elected officials from say, the airport door to the plane, or the grocery store to their driveway. Shouldn’t everyone on our public sidewalks have the protection of the law when extremists are attempting to deliver a message using words and (potentially violent) actions? Where is the balance between safety and expression? Free speech and autonomy?

While brave people like Dr Christine Blasey Ford risk everything to protect our constitutional rights for decades to come, it only seems appropriate that individuals would want to also use their voices to send a message to Senators. I’m not sure why Rand Paul would seek office if he is unwilling to listen to, and represent Kentuckians.

To be sure, Senators Paul and McConnell, Governor Bevin, and other GOP legislators have no problem creating laws that restrict the freedoms of people wanting to control their reproductive lives.

Perhaps those not willing to fulfill the responsibilities of representing their constituents should have a seat. Plenty of fresh, brilliant, justice minded folks are ready to take over.

#GiveForGoodLou

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We want to take a moment to lift up a great opportunity for our local ally organizations.

This Thursday, September 13th is Give For Good Louisville Day!

This local day of giving is hosted by the Community Foundation of Louisville, and is a friendly competition among area non-profits to see who can bring in the most donations. What are they competing for? A slice of over $340,000 in bonus grants! Any non-profit in the Louisville area is eligible to participate, and locals have a lot of fun supporting their favorites. We want to highlight reproductive health, rights, and justice groups that we plan on supporting…… and, yes it’s true that among the 540 non-profits, there is at least one #FakeClinic and other anti-choice groups, so our hope is that by supporting the following groups, the antis will be less likely to get a piece of that prize pool 😉

Hyperlinked for easy access!

  • ACLU of Kentucky – has a dedicated Reproductive Freedom Project, goes to the mat against Bevin n them every time.
  • Kentucky Health Justice Network – runs a practical support Abortion Support Fund providing funding, transport, lodging, language interpretation, and childcare to folks facing barriers to abortion access. Also has a Trans Health Fund, and Birth Control Access program.
  • Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice – does Repro Rights outreach and advocacy and offers faith based, all options pregnancy counseling.
  • A Fund, Inc – provides funding assistance through abortion clinics for Kentucky residents.
  • Kentucky Home Birth Coalition – working to expand birth options, and pass pro-family legislation that will allow CPMs to be licensed in KY, improving maternal health outcomes.

Donations can be as little as $10, and can only be made between midnight and 11:59pm on 9/13/18. Follow #GiveForGoodLou to see if our faves WIN throughout the day!

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I’m Glad You Asked

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It seems everyone today has an opinion on reproductive health choices and access to legal abortion.

Escorting at EMW Women’s Surgical Center, assisting clients get to their appointments with as little interference/harassment from anti-choice protesters as possible, my mind is constantly engaged and thinking. So when this screen capture taken off a video Operation Save America posted and I read that comment from a viewer, I pondered on it.


What was I thinking as I calmly stood there that Friday morning, while Rusty Thomas of OSA (in town for a federal court appearance) bellowed, roared and shamed clients, companions, and escorts alike that morning?

I thought back to May 13, 2017 when this man in front of me chose to break federal law and cross the property line, sitting down with about a dozen followers blocking the entry doors until eventually peacefully removed by LMPD after many polite requests and invitations by the officers went unanswered.

I thought about the dynamics I was watching that Friday morning among the anti-abortion protesters. I watched when the cameras came on and when they had an audience, they kicked it into high gear, yelling shaming, preaching.

I thought about theatrics they love to present: escorts as stone-hearted, cold, uncaring people and themselves as poor put-upon saviors.

I thought about the perception their viewers must have when they watch these videos. I wonder if viewers know how much of a show it is to recruit donations and support?

I thought about the distortions they offer, the narratives they speak when they claim a save. In reality sometimes clients or companions tell them just what they want to hear so they will be left alone.

I thought about clients having to come back for a second appointment because they were tricked into the CPC next door and missed their originally scheduled one.

I thought back to last July when we had a very temporary buffer zone and Federal Marshals on hand. How much safer clients felt when they did not have anti-abortion protesters in their face, blocking their path, leaning over and separating them from their companions.

I thought about Rusty Thomas’ court appearance that Friday morning. I wondered if a federal judge would even think about weighing a First Amendment right to free speech versus the safety of citizens trying to just go to their doctor’s appointment?

I thought about how difficult and how politically weaponized someone who wishes to maintain their bodily autonomy and access the legal right to terminate a pregnancy has become.

I thought about the many difficulties people who choose this option overcome just in getting to the clinic.

I thought about the spectacle to have a small strange man in a cowboy hat yelling at them as they approached the doors, shaming them for the decisions they choose to make for themselves.

I thought about if we accept one person’s decisions and choices in life may not be ours, but those are decisions that must be left up to each individual, what they feel and know is best for their family.

So yeah, thanks for asking. I wish you’d take the time to think it over as well. Too many times one only sees what’s presented, not the whole picture.

THANKS!

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This morning, escorts were greeted by this sweet gift from some kind supporters. We are very grateful, and will happily use these hand warmers in the coming months.

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Generally, Clinic Escorts require very few supplies. Items that stay on our wishlist are:

  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Ice melt/rock salt
  • A Safety Zone outside the clinic entrance
  • Justice and autonomy for everyone

Because of the concerning nature of unexpected packages arriving at abortion clinics, we ask that supporters wanting to help us fulfill our wishes select actions from the following list:

  • Donate to Louisville Clinic Escort’s via paypal to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com
  • Donate to the Clinic Vest Project. Thanks to them, we do not need to pay for our most needed accessory.
  • Louisville residents can sign the online petition asking their Metro Council member to support a Safety Zone.

Again, many THANKS for the ongoing support!

Katie’s story

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The following post is a guest contribution. If you would like to share your story or have a suggestion for a post, email everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com.

Three years ago, on August 23, I had an abortion. Weeks earlier my husband and I were telling our family and close friends we were expecting. We asked those exciting questions, like, “Will the baby be a girl or a boy?” “What year would the baby graduate high school?” “Who would they grow up to be?” All of these questions would remain unanswered.

Our first ultrasound revealed that the baby was measuring ten days behind what I knew it should be. A week later my worst fears were confirmed as the doctor explained that I was having what they call a “missed” or “silent” miscarriage. There was no heartbeat, but my body had yet to recognize the failed pregnancy. I had options: wait it out, take medication, or get a D & C.

Since that day, I have had two more unwanted abortions. In the doctor’s office we use the sugar-coated term “miscarriage”, but all of my paperwork says the same thing: I had a “Missed Abortion.”

Earlier this year we found out we were expecting again. I was so excited, but I also tried my best to control my fears. I didn’t know it was possible for this situation to get worse. The first 12 weeks of my pregnancy were beautiful. I was sick, tired, hormonal and all of the things you’re supposed to be when carrying a healthy baby. I went to my 12-week scan confident, but when the doctor walked in – it was yet again bad news. The baby looked very abnormal – further testing would reveal hydrops fetalis.

That diagnosis at this stage meant a most certain fate: unsuitable for life. The baby’s heart would stop sometime in the coming weeks and there was nothing we could do. I had almost no time to make a decision because the state legislature was in the process of passing a restrictive abortion ban. Even though this was a wanted pregnancy with medical complications, it affected me as well. It’s when I realized that what the legislature didn’t understand is that their decisions affect everyone – and every situation.
Do you know what it is like to carry a very wanted baby and be told its heart is going to stop at any given moment? Do you know what it is like to carry the guilt and emotions this brings? Do you know what it is like to carry on about your life as if nothing is wrong, to cry on your way home from work every day and wake up in the middle of the night sobbing? I know.

I chose to continue the pregnancy because it was what felt right to me, but other women should not be forced to live in that agony if they don’t feel they can handle it. Looking back, I hardly know how I did. Ending a wanted or unwanted pregnancy is not an easy choice to make, but it is a right that every woman should have.

Six weeks after that fateful ultrasound, my baby’s heart stopped, despite my hope for a miracle. Now I had another decision to make: deliver the baby or have a D&E. I wouldn’t judge another person for making either choice. Delivering my baby in the hospital was the worst day of my life and sometimes I wonder if it would have been easier to have been put under anesthesia and forgone the trauma. This was my third failed pregnancy – they never got any easier. Each time I left the hospital without a baby.

Each time, my paperwork said the same thing: Missed Abortion. They were all planned pregnancies. I had no choice in what happened each time, but I did have a choice on the closure to them all. For that, I am thankful and committed to making sure all women have the same choices I did.

This issue, with all its complexities, all its gut-wrenching decisions, all its heartbreak, is not black and white. It is our right – the right to have a choice, to have some control over ourselves and our bodies in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.

A Letter to the Mayor of South Bend IN on the dangers of fake clinics opening next to real ones

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UPDATE*: the Mayor vetoed the bill on Friday evening! See footnote for more details!

Early in the week the South Bend Common Council voted to let an anti-abortion rights group open a new location next to the site of a proposed abortion clinic.

The council voted 5-4 to grant the rezoning which would allow a fake clinic to open a new location at 3527 Lincoln Way W., next door to where Whole Woman’s Health Alliance plans to open a non-surgical abortion clinic.

In Louisville, we frequently see patients deceived by the fake clinic located right next door to KY’s only abortion provider. We decided to add a voice to the efforts asking South Bend’s Mayor to stop this rezoning measure to prevent problems before they start. Here is the letter from one of our ESM volunteers:

Dear Mayor Buttigieg,

I’m writing to urge you to veto Bill 05-18, which would approve a rezoning request and allow a fake clinic to move in next door to the Whole Woman’s Health Clinic. As a clinic escort at Kentucky’s abortion clinic (EMW), I cannot overemphasize the potential problems that Bill 05-18 would pose to the public, and to patients of Whole Woman’s
Health Clinic.

Kentucky’s EMW clinic shares a wall with an anti-abortion fake clinic—John Oliver recently did a segment about fake clinics, which often use deception to pose as abortion clinics, spread misinformation about abortion, offer sonograms without the oversight of appropriate medical professionals, and work to misdirect patients into entering the fake clinic. Though EMW has provided quality care for nearly four decades, patients face many challenges, compounded by the fake clinic next door. Though protesters show up every day the EMW clinic is open, on Saturdays dozens of protesters show up,  necessitating multiple police officers, clogging sidewalk foot traffic, and creating an uncomfortable and unsafe environment. The fake clinic acts as a hub for some of the protesters, and their staff attempt to usher in EMW clients by posting confusing signs about free parking or waving in clients (this is particularly confusing for patients who speak English as a second language)—but there are strings attached. Fake clinics use many tactics to prevent abortion, including offering food and beverages to women so that they cannot undergo general anesthesia, or misleading patients about how far along their pregnancy is: delays to abortion can lead to higher costs or being legally prohibited from obtaining an abortion.

I understand that rezoning requests must be approved if the request would be the “most desirable use” for a property, and rezoning should conserve property values in the area. In my experience, tension between an abortion clinic and a nearby fake clinic has a negative impact on the environment for surrounding businesses, regardless of their stance on abortion. The chaos on the sidewalks  necessitate volunteers like me to reduce (and unfortunately we can only reduce, not stop) the harassment and confusion. Clinic escorts at EMW provide directions, offer to walk with patients and their companions, and provide tactical support—information about parking, reminders about things like bringing IDs, and directions to the entrance of the clinic.

As a graduate student [redacted], I have a personal commitment to advocacy; I love being able to offer support to people from all walks of life at the clinic. But I would give it up in a second if the protesters stopped showing up and I could be confident that patients wouldn’t be misled by the fake clinic. It appears to me that you have an important opportunity to prevent some of the ugliness and chaos that we’ve seen near the EMW clinic, and I strongly encourage you to do that by vetoing Bill 05-18.

To be clear, I am not asking that you pass moral judgement against fake clinics. The protesters at EMW, aided by the placement of the fake clinic next door, are a hazard to public safety, and make the area undesirable, plain and simple. Police officers are frequently called, either asked to support scared or angry clients, to clear the sidewalks of protesters to make foot traffic possible (joggers will often run in the road rather than navigate the maze of protesters on the sidewalk), and even to respond to noise complaints—the loudspeakers street preachers set up in front of the clinic bother guests at hotels blocks away. I’ve even seen one hotel guest so upset she came down (at around 8am) to plead with LMPD officers to get the protesters to turn off their loudspeakers.

I could go on at length about the scene at the clinic, but hope I’ve made it clear why it is imperative that you veto Bill 05-18. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me about this important issue, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Though I’m not a constituent, I hope that I can offer a valuable perspective in this matter.

Sincerely,

[redacted]

P.S. Congratulations on your recent engagement!

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Deception on display at the fake clinic next to KY’s only abortion provider.

*After composing this blog post, we got the following news:

Mayor Buttigieg vetoed #05-18! He even held a press conference and issued a letter explaining why. You can read news coverage here:

https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/south-bend-mayor-pete-buttigieg-vetos-anti-abortion-group-s/article_0b08950f-cd02-5b15-93cf-ff3a29fa2515.html.

ACLU Challenges Kentucky Ban on Abortion Method – UPDATE: Law BLOCKED

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“We’re suing Kentucky yet again — this time to stop state politicians from banning a safe abortion method,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law disregards a woman’s health and decisions in favor of a narrow ideological agenda….Kentucky politicians have already shut down all but one abortion clinic in our state,” said Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky. “Now they want to invade the exam room and stop doctors from providing safe, quality care. It’s shameless, insulting, and dangerous.”

https://www.aclu-ky.org/en/news/aclu-challenges-kentucky-ban-abortion-method

ACLU update: 4/13/18

Available for immediate release.  Under a Joint Consent Order, Kentucky’s new D&E Abortion Ban (HB454) is blocked from enforcement.

A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for June 5, 2018.

A copy of the Joint Consent Order can be found here:

https://www.aclu-ky.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/joint_agreed_order_hb454.pdf

In an attempt to clarify any confusion, please note that we received a copy of the signed order from the court this afternoon, though it appears from the time stamp on the document it was filed after business hours last night.

A statement on the Joint Consent Order from ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project senior staff attorney Andrew Beck can be found on our website:  https://www.aclu-ky.org/en/news/new-abortion-law-blocked-enforcement

More about this case can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/emw-womens-surgical-center-v-beshear-ban-safe-abortion-procedure