The last weekend in January was a pretty calm one for abortion clinics around the country. The annual anti-abortion March for Life protest, normally held on the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision, was moved to Friday the 25th. Most of our regular antis were in Washington or on the way home instead of harassing clients on the sidewalk in Louisville. We heard from other clinics around the country who saw the same thinning in the numbers of antis. One clinic even reported no one showed up to protest. Not one anti; the embodiment of wishes coming true.
The antis who were here in Louisville did their best to make up for their lack of numbers with volume. Standing by the door of the clinic, we had a small choral group singing hymns where the soapbox preachers usually set up. Who doesn’t want to hear an off-tune rendition of a hymn when they enter a medical facility?
We had three antis taking turns yelling at the door and window of the clinic. “You cannot drown out the voice of God. He is calling you to stop and turn from this sin.” “We know this isn’t an easy thing. That’s why we are here. We want to care for you. We want to help you. We want to invite you into our homes.” “Everyone here today has sinned. We pray you see the light. If not, you are going to hell.” “What you are doing is murder. If you went down to the maternity ward of the local hospital and someone was going room to room cutting up babies, you would think that was awful. Well, that is what is going on here today.” What was going on at the clinic was shaming and harassment.
This is what it was like.*
Interesting things happen when there are fewer antis on the sidewalk. There is a competitive air among them to be the loudest and most sincere sounding. Any client arriving at the doors is instantly surrounded by a group. Sometimes this really works against them.
There was a faked intervention staged on the sidewalk. They took great pains to disguise their purpose, but the cameraman walking backwards and filming raised suspicions at least in the escorts. A woman walking to the clinic had a camera documenting her steps and interactions with the people on the sidewalk. With tears in her eyes, she allowed herself to be led away from the clinic door by a couple of antis. In fact, she had a whole group of antis surrounding her and pulling on her arms. There were no escorts around her. She had waved us away and we went. That competitive spirit of the antis to intervene undid a lot of the work put into faking the walk. We are not sure what they were trying to accomplish, but antis interfered with them so many times they were a slow moving crowd of people by the time the woman reached the entrance to the clinic. Escorts did not interfere and were just observing. It pretty well nullified the “evil escort” trope. Of course, with judicious editing it could be made to appear otherwise.
When she and the people with her were leaving, they told another escort they were making “just a film.” The escort took photos of them and gave the information to the clinic. Of course, when the escort took pictures they took pictures of the escort taking pictures of them. Photo standoffs are common on the sidewalk. It was definitely a photo opportunity day with many cameras and cell phones documenting both sides.
We didn’t have as many protesters out and few of the regular ones we write about all of the time, but it was far from just another Saturday. I found myself envious of the clinic with no antis present.
* Thank you to escort J for capturing this video.