The first item in our Points of Unity reads, “Escorts must gain consent from every client every time.” When a patient pulls into a lot or parking space, every escort must explicitly ask if that patient would like an escort to walk with them to EMW. If they accept an offer to escort from me, I’ll generally give them a some brief advice for dealing with the protesters. That advice boils down to, “Anyone not wearing an orange vest is probably a protester” and “you can tell them to go away if you like, but they’ll probably just keep talking to you.”
That advice is based off my observations from my year of experience escorting. While escorts seek active consent to aid in a patient’s healthcare visit, anti-choice protesters will force their agenda on anyone who happens to be on that block. They harass and follow patients even if that patient has told them “leave me alone.” EMW is located in downtown Louisville and they often harass people who work downtown and are passing by, assuming they are headed for the clinic. And, of course, they use loudspeakers to make their harassment inescapable.
When a patient tells me they don’t want an escort, I don’t take it personally and I leave them alone. Seeing that patient then have to walk through a gauntlet of protesters without that basic level of decency is heartrending. When you don’t gain consent, it’s not counseling, it’s harassment.