There is a lot of discussion of the buffer zone in front of our clinic right now, since the USDOJ is pursuing federal charges against the 10 people who violated the FACE act on May 13. The Temporary Restraining Order will remain in effect until August 4th, and Federal Marshal will continue enforcing it. Some clinic escorts are concerned that when the lines are removed and all the extra law enforcement and news cameras go away, what will remain could be a quite dangerous situation. We are seeing behaviors this week that really compound the need for a small safety zone that will allow clients and their companions to walk from a stopped car to the clinic door without being blockaded by people who feel entitled to force their views on someone else.
Below is a letter to Louisville’s Metro Council from a veteran escort, urging them to come to the sidewalk and see how essential it is to create safer spaces, and also to assist law enforcement in being able to enforce the laws that exist to preserve everyone’s rights, especially, those of the patient.
July 20, 2017
Louisville Metro Council Members
Dear Council Member:
I was at the Council meeting July 19 for the discussion of a 20 foot buffer zone at EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the abortion clinic. Even if there is no buffer zone created, there are several facts that were not brought up I thought the Council members should be aware of. I am an escort at the clinic. One of the escorts had called to get information about the meeting and was told that there wouldn’t be much time for citizen speakers; therefore, few pro-choice supporters were ready with statements.
As escorts we are not counter-protesters. We’re there to give information to clients about where to park, and to walk with them and their companions to the clinic. We don’t try to keep them away from the “sidewalk counselors.” But the patients are often alarmed and worried about the many protesters present. (They typically outnumber escorts about three to one, especially on Saturdays.) Opposing sides can’t easily be relegated to certain areas because both protesters and escorts are walking with the clients from the various parking areas to the clinic entrance.
When “counselors” talk to the patients, patients often tell them to leave them alone; but the preaching doesn’t stop. Some examples of “counseling” are, “You’ll never get over this”, “Your relationship will never be the same”, “Real men don’t kill their babies”, “Don’t be a wimp”, “He’ll leave you after you have that abortion”, and “Your chances of breast cancer are greatly increased after an abortion” (not true). The patients must pass through a gauntlet of protesters on both sides of the sidewalk on their way to the clinic, only to get there and find a crowd of people they must walk around who are yelling at them (this is typical for Saturdays). It’s really intimidation and harassment. Plus, what an insult to women to assume they haven’t thought long and hard about their situation before arriving at the clinic.
Please come down sometime, and see for yourself what it’s like. But don’t stay in your car. The police stay in their cars across the street or around the corner and don’t see these details. I am glad they are finally paying attention to the clinic; I wish they would get out of their cars and be on the sidewalk.
Very truly yours,
PG [name and address omitted for safety]
cc: Chief of Police
Louisville Police Department
EMW Women’s Surgical Center