* Louisville’s clinic escorts are a non-hierarchical group of autonomous individuals.
I love the sound of those words ~ “non-hierarchiacal,” and “autonomous individuals” ~ in the same sentence. It’s a mouthful to say, but it has a rhythm and a flow that I enjoy.
We’re not an organization. We don’t have memberships or pay dues. We don’t have people in charge. We’re a group of volunteers who come together to escort women past the protesters, chasers, and pray-ers to their doctor’s appointment.
Having said that – we are a group of volunteers, held together by the Points of Unity. Putting on an orange vest in front of the clinic means that we are there to support access to abortion AND that we agree to follow the points of unity.
Figuring out how to apply the points of unity is a challenge sometimes, and our ideas about it have evolved over time. We’ve spent hours hashing them out, exploring what they mean to each of us, and how to implement them.
Sometimes, we’ve gotten sidetracked during trainings and fallen into some deep discussion ~ maybe pondering what “empower” really means, or how to disengage when we’ve been triggered by something a protester said. I like to say that for every statement I make during a training, two escorts will agree with it, two escorts want to add something or tell a story about it, three escorts have exceptions or a different interpretation, and one will just completely disagree.
This diversity makes for interesting conversations, and I’ve learned so much from the other escorts about non-hierarchical power structures and consensus building and many other things.
We often have people express an interest in volunteering. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to join us any morning.
We provide support for new escorts by asking that you observe a couple of times before you start escorting. After that, we’ll connect you with a mentor to shadow for a time or two. We offer some trainings, but you will learn most of what you need to know on the sidewalk.
We escort Tuesday through Saturday, 6:45 or 7 am to about 815 or 830. We don’t have a schedule, you’re not “expected” to be there any particular day. You may escort once and never come back. You may want to do it every week, or more than once a week. We discourage escorts from coming every day, just because most of us find that overwhelming and lose perspective.
We don’t escort alone. If I’m the only person there at 7, I need to call the back up people. It’s better if I wait in my car until someone else gets there. At the end of the morning, we make sure no one gets left alone at the clinic. That’s for our own safety. Probably not physical safety, but it protects us from false accusations by the protesters or unpleasant situations.
We provide vests when you get there.
On Saturdays, after escorting, many of us go out for breakfast together. Everyone is invited, it’s a good way to debrief and give each other support.