Escorting is always a high-tension job, even on a relatively normal Saturday. Saturdays always bring out the highest numbers of protesters, and the larger their numbers, the greater their escalations. This past weekend came with new and frustrating challenges – the whole circus came to town.
Operation Save America rode into Louisville this past week in a cargo van emblazoned with headstones and some favorite graphic “dead baby” imagery, with a few lies about breast cancer sprinkled in for variety. While the clinic was only targeted on Friday and Saturday, the protesters did their best to cause as much disruption as possible during their stay.
An hour before the clinic opened on Saturday, they set up two large speakers (each on a six foot tripod) along the edge of the property line just outside the waiting room. Cords were left dangling between these without a care in the world for the trip and fall hazard this creates in a very highly-trafficked area – because nothing says pro-life like harming people.
As soon as the setup was finished, escorts holding the property line were treated to some Christian-soft-rock at a volume which could be clearly heard around the entire block.
And again, an entire hour before the clinic even opened its doors:
After the warm-up tape ran its course, OSA members went on to take turns haranguing escorts and clients about our sinning and iniquity as per usual.
The rhetoric itself is not what made Saturday special. When a national, well-funded group like OSA comes to town, our regular cohort of sidewalk “counselors,” sign-wavers, and other motley shamers gets all stirred up. More of them come. Many of these unfamiliar faces are not familiar with the property line, the FACE Act, or, it seems, common decency. Their heightened sense of importance and urgency, combined with the extra crowding and assaulting volume from the speakers, made it a very nervous morning. There were places where the sidewalk was nearly entirely obstructed, either by too many bodies or so that OSA could make room for the props they brought along for extra “poignancy.”
This is the corner of 2nd and Market – this is what clients had to walk through before even being able to see the clinic’s doors.
And for reference, here is the view around that same corner. See the speakers taking up half the sidewalk? Can you imagine the courage clients and companions have to summon to get through this mess? Can you think of any other medical practice where this intimidation is tolerated?
Yes, the picture above is of a tiny white coffin, complete with plastic fetus dolls along the top in a row, on a tray table pushed out into the path of clients on their way in.
One begins to wonder, looking at their van, their sound system, their tiny caskets – how many women could this money have really helped, if they cared as much as they claim to? How many meals could this have made for a food-insecure pregnant person, how many nice outfits to go on interviews, how many hours of childcare for the babies already in this world? If this weren’t actually about controlling the minds and bodies of women, how much of that lobbying power could they throw behind paid medical leave for all new parents? Looking at the fancy equipment, and the van that’s certainly much newer than any vehicle I’ve ever owned, I have to wonder: what do they believe their GoPros, amplifiers, custom paint jobs, and bags of tiny plastic fetuses are accomplishing?