There were nearly 100 protestors on the sidewalk outside EMW. There were the Catholics praying in parallel lines at the entrance. There were the Immanuel Baptist Church “sidewalk counselors” who wear green safety vests in order to look like volunteers with the clinic. There was the Kentucky Mountain Bible College bus that unloaded a dozen students and faculty members along with dozens of graphic fetus signs. There was an international film crew. There were two anti-choice film crews, one of which was live-streaming patients’ faces as they entered the clinic. There was KY OSA (who use the name P82). There was the sound system they used to preach at 100db for an hour and a half. There were their children they use to hold graphic signs with a doctor’s photo, block the sidewalk, and scream at patients. There was chaos.
This is the gauntlet that every patient of EMW has to walk through to seek safe, legal healthcare. It could be any morning because protestors in those numbers happen frequently.
An escort let us know that an extremely scared patient would soon be pulling up to the drop-off zone. Several of us gathered to meet them. From where we stood, the patient would need to walk only 15 feet to reach the clinic doors, but those are the loudest, most chaotic, and violent 15 feet patients face. When the patient stepped out of the passenger side door, face completely wrapped in a scarf or shirt, the companion wrapped an arm around them to guide them behind the escorts. A street preacher tried to block us from entering the sidewalk using his body and a 4’x 3’ sign. I put my body against his sign to create space for the patient.
Halfway through this 15 foot gauntlet, the patient started screaming. No words; just full-throated terror. The scarf muffled the cry somewhat, but the pain and fright were unmistakable.
I’ve never heard anything like that in my life. I’ve never heard a cry of someone in that much pain. It completely shook me.
And the kicker? The city could help. That 15-foot gauntlet is where a federal judge placed a temporary safety zone last summer when OSA held it’s national convention. The Louisville Metro Council needs to install a permanent safety zone in that space. It would give patients a small amount of space they could walk without being physically harassed.
There is not currently a safety zone proposal working through the Metro Council. What does exist is a resolution put forth by GOP Council members Engel, Kramer, and Parker to support HB 103, a fetal ultrasound bill currently in the Kentucky legislature. This bill would force doctors to perform an ultrasound and provide a written description of the results. Engel, Kramer, Parker, and any Metro Council member who votes with them support extending the harassment of patients on the sidewalk into the clinic.
The Council meets on February 27 to vote on this resolution. Call or write your council member today to oppose the resolution in support of HB 103. Additionally, you can attend the meeting on the 27 in person. Wear orange or pink to show your support for abortion access.