The client and companion pulled into the drop-off zone to ask where to park. It was about 30 minutes before the doors of the clinic normally open. We discussed options and I gave them directions to the $3 parking lot. Before I moved away from the car, I warned them about the antis not wearing orange vests and that they may approach them to talk and give out literature.
They were starting to pull over to the lot when D approached their car. She was talking to them when I re-approached the car to let them know she was a protester. D turned to me and said, “You are so rude. You had your turn to talk to them. Now it is my turn. You say you are pro-choice. They need to know their choices.” Since I had said what I needed to let them know, I backed off and let her talk.
Escorts watched as the car drove down the street and turned the corner, bypassing the public parking lot. I alerted another escort to the fact they might have been diverted to the AWC lot by D. This is a common tactic we see. They offer free parking in their lot, but it comes with a lot of talking about the “right choice.” It is usually easier to pay for parking than hear the words meant to shame and coerce clients into their clinic.
The other escort was able to stop them just before they parked in the AWC lot. The companion told the escort the woman (meaning D) said they would have to pay for an ultrasound at EMW, but they could get it from AWC free. When it was explained to them that they didn’t have to pay extra for the ultrasound at EMW*, the free ultrasound performed at AWC would not be accepted by EMW* and they would just have to have another one, and AWC was an anti-abortion clinic, they parked their car in the public lot as originally planned.
D arrived at the AWC parking lot just as the client and companion were pulling away. She approached the other escort and asked, “If you die tonight, do you know where you are going?”
The companion was really upset when I went over to help them with the payment box. We discussed what had happened to them. They were mad they were lied to by D. I explained we cannot control what the antis say, but agreed it was frustrating.
As I was leaving, I warned them about the antis approaching their car even in the parking lot and suggested they did not need to roll their windows down if they didn’t want to. I told them we would come get them when the clinic doors opened. Sure enough, shortly after I left the lot four antis surrounded their car trying to get them to roll their windows down. The antis began sticking literature on their windshield without permission.
The companion called the police to report their harassment. Two squad cars arrived within minutes and spoke to the antis. The four antis moved to the corner of the lot and stayed away from the car after their conversation with the officers. We did not hear what was said, but we were able to escort the client and companion without further incident.
When I went into the lobby of the clinic a short while after they entered, the companion asked me why the protesters were allowed to go right up to clients. “There should be a distance they have to stay away. This isn’t right.” I agreed and explained there was no bubble/buffer zone in Louisville. The companion expressed their anger over the whole situation.
I have to agree, lying, shaming, judging and harassment from the antis just makes the day more difficult than it has to be for everyone.
*The ultrasound at EMW is included in the procedure fees. There is no association between EMW and AWC. A procedure done at AWC will not generate a discounted fee from EMW. It will just cause the client to have duplicate procedures.