Cold and rainy Tuesday morning

Hello, it was raining and cold on Tuesday morning.

Donna needed her hands to clutch her black umbrella, so at least the gruesome CHOICE sign wasn’t around. However, she kept using her body and the umbrella to block the sidewalk. There were only two safety escorts present: a man who has escorted for 11 years and myself.

A young black teenager came around the corner of 2nd and Market, alone, shivering in the cold, carrying her own umbrella. Donna, already blocking the clinic side of the sidewalk, angled in, walking beside the young woman, herding her toward the street side of the sidewalk, and ultimately cutting her off.

Now I ask you to picture this: From the edge of the sidewalk, we have one large tree, surrounded by deep puddles of water on the sidewalk, edged by a young black woman holding her umbrella, who is pinned there by a short and soft-spoken white woman so determined to make herself heard that her own umbrella is layered up underneath the client’s umbrella, while her face is up in the young woman’s face.

“Is she allowed to do that?”

I ask my fellow safety escort. I’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks.

“She can say anything she wants on the sidewalk,” he replies.

I step closer, on the inside track of this sidewalk cowgirl hogtier roper brand ‘em and drag ‘em to the fake woman’s choice clinic person.

To Donna’s left, I am facing the young girl underneath the two umbrellas. Tears are rolling down her cheeks.

“You don’t have to talk to her if you don’t want to. Do you have an appointment at the clinic?” I ask, although I already know in my gut that she does.

She looks into my eyes, nods, wipes the salty pearls from her face, yet cannot move forward without wading through the puddle or somehow pushing past Donna.

I spread my arms, angling my hands toward the sidewalk, my right hand just between the client and the anticlient, and say, “You can go this way if you want to.”

The woman nods, turns to her right, walking past my arms. Donna calls out, loudly for her,

“Sweetheart, she doesn’t care about you. She just wants to kill your baby.”

Later, I warned Donna to not block the sidewalk. I even had to tell her that if, while walking behind me, she ever banged on my shoulders again with the prongs of her umbrella, I would break her umbrella in half. She said,

“Sweetheart, I would not hesitate to prosecute you.”

I only wish.

3 thoughts on “Cold and rainy Tuesday morning

  1. Damn, do I hate it when mean, malicious people use the word “sweetheart” in that saccharine, dismissive, demeaning manner. Garrr.

  2. I can’t find a way to send you a direct message, so I’ll post it as a comment and hope this makes it to your eyes.

    A quick question: Under your list of ‘abortion providers’, why have you not listed Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta? I worked as an RN at FWHC for years. If you’re not familiar with them, you might look them up online ( Just reading through your blog, I think you’d be very impressed with the incredibly comprehensive, compassionate care they provide.

    I’m just recently back in Louisville, so I’m totally naive to the abortion climate here. I don’t even know what the laws are in Kentucky as far as how late an abortion can be performed. I’m going to educate myself, and I’m making some in-roads into getting involved with the clinic and the Kentucky Health Justice Network. Are there ongoing training sessions for clinic escorts?

    I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking over your entries and my heart just hurts. The abortion clinic I worked at NEVER had to deal with the kind of protestors EMW sees on a daily basis. Maybe, *occasionally*, we would get 10 protestors who stood on the opposite side of the street. They mainly just held signs and prayed…there were only a couple of screamers. We took extra precautions around 40 Days of Life, etc., just because it was the smart thing to do, but we never had any real problems. Apparently they used to have really bad problems in the 80’s and 90’s, but things are pretty calm these days. Maybe being an anti isn’t the hip thing to do in Atlanta these days?

    For me to see that this is what women in Louisville have to go through just to get to the clinic door – words can’t express my dismay. Where are the cops? Where is the clinic security guard? What about the FACE act? How is it just okay – taken as a given in your cast of characters- that Mary and her husband knuckle people in the kidneys and kick them in the back? It’s called assault.

    I could go on and on…my head is racing and I can’t eloquently string my thoughts together.

    Let me just end by offering the following thanks: to you for your documentation, to your fellow escorts for the incredible work you all do, and to abortion providers across the country for continuing on in the legacy of Dr Tiller.

    “Abortion is not a cerebral or a reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart. For until one understands the heart of a woman,nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all.”
    Dr. George Tiller

    • Hi fnpbc,

      Thanks for the heads up on the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, I will be sure to check them out.

      We appreciate your good thoughts and support, to contact us directly please email us at

      You have really good questions about why this is the situation here in Louisville, and the full answer is too long to include here, but I think I will answer them more completely in a full blog piece soon.

      But for the time being, the short answer is that we live in a city that is hostile to reproductive healthcare. The political climate is very conservative, even here in Louisville, the most progressive city in the state. There seems to be a fear of sticking one’s nose into such a contentious issue and so it is left alone.

      Assault, intimidation, harassment and bullying tactics are all used by the protesters. These tactics are at the worst supported and at the least tolerated by the powers that be. The FACE act does make all of the behavior at the clinic a federal offense but to see results from the enforcement of that law would require someone to enforce it, and that requires political clout. And women accessing reproductive healthcare are short on political clout these days.

      Send us out an email if you have any more questions and look for our next escort training in January.

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