Who are the Legal Observers?

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Who are the Legal Observers?

Many people have noticed Legal Observers on the sidewalks around EMW Women’s Surgical Center over the past 3 years. They are wearing caps and/or badges that say, “NCAP Trained Legal Observer”. They carry cell phones and take notes. Who are these people? What are they doing? Are they taking photos of people who have appointments at EMW?

NO, they are not taking photos of people going to the clinic. They adhere to strict guidelines not to take photos of any patient or companion. If you see them with their cell phones up, rest assured they are not taking photos of you entering the clinic. They are taking photos of the protesters and escorts. They do not carry any other cameras either.

The Legal Observers are not connected to any escort group. They are present at the invitation of the clinic staff on the recommendation of the National Clinic Access Project (NCAP). Their focus is the safety of the patients, their companions, clinic staff and escorts.

They will not approach patients for conversation and cannot act as an escort for any patient and/or companion.

What are they doing then?

The Feminist Majority Foundation established NCAP in 1989. It was modeled on the observers for the National Lawyers Guild. These observers are documenting interactions of everyone on the sidewalk. The documentation is reported to the clinic, LMPD and NCAP with their notes on any threats or violations of laws.

Why won’t they talk to me?

The Legal Observers are neutral observers at all times. They have pledged to be strictly non-engaging with anyone on the sidewalk while observing. If someone asks them persistently what they are doing their standard reply is, “We are legal observers. We are not reporters. We are just observing and not interviewing. We don’t want to discuss anyone’s viewpoint.” If they are asked what NCAP stands for, they will reply, “Google it.” Then they will walk away and not have further discussion with the questioner.

When are they present?

Legal Observers are present each week and sometimes a couple of times a week. They are only on duty in the early morning. The clinic relies on their surveillance cameras when they are not present. The Legal Observers are an extra layer of protection for people wanting to exercise their right to an abortion.

For Such Time as This!

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This clinic stays open.
Every client made it to their appointment.
Our doctors, nurses and staff made it to and from work safe and sound.
Every escort made it home.

July 22-29, 2017 EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville KY was inundated by fanatic, anti-choice activists. Because of amazing organizing by Louisville Clinic Escorts, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and the National Abortion Federation, plus coordination between federal and local law enforcement and EMW, no one was denied an abortion. We saw the sidewalk blocked, sound systems turned up to full volume and every attempt made to thwart the work of supporting folks, simply trying to live their lives.

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Pledge-A-Picketer has been one of our tools since 2010 when we began to see increased protesters at the clinic on weekends like Easter, Mother’s and Father’s day. As the crowds increased we decided to monopolize on their organizing efforts.

It’s a simple fundraiser. You pledge whatever you choose for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts and abortion access. Escorts use this fund drive for legal expenses, training costs, safety supplies, parking fees for patients and other miscellany.

And here are the daily protester totals:

Saturday 7/22/2017: 75 protesters
Tuesday 7/25/2017: 175 protesters
Wednesday 7/26/2017: 100 protesters
Thursday 7/27/2017: 115 protesters
Friday 7/28/2017: 200 protesters
Saturday 7/29/2017: 155 protesters

Which gives us a grand total of: 820 protesters.

Based on the pledges that came in from our dear supporters, that will bring in a total of $13,975 for abortion access in Kentucky! WOOOOW!!!!

Emails are going out to those who have already pledged. If you would like to contribute, you may do so through Paypal using everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com.

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Pledge-A-Picketer Summer of Harassment: For Such a Time As This

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Back in 2010 we began Pledge-A- Picketer as a way to flip the script on those holidays we see increased protester attendance. Events on the Saturdays before Easter, Mother’s and Father’s days have drawn hundreds anti-choice protesters. For the last 7 years we have had great success using this event to raise funds for Louisville Clinic Escorts, Kentucky Health Justice Network and other reproductive justice issues. Escorts decided that if the protesters were going to be on the clinic sidewalk in number, raising money off their heads was a brilliant plan.

And it’s again time to count our abortion hating, not counseling, sidewalk preaching, door blocking protesters. And we need your help!

This year we are adding another event to the schedule. July 22-29 Operation Save America is planning a full week of protests. May 13, 2017 ten OSA participants blocked access to the clinic, refusing to move and were arrested. This action was a test for the upcoming July event.

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The concept is simple. Make a pledge for every protester that shows up. That way the bigger the crowd the more money we raise for abortion access in KY. Historically our community has donated between $.05 to $1 per protester. You can cap the amount of your donation. You can make a block donation regardless of crowd size. And this year we also have a way for you to donate an additional amount for every protester arrested.

To make a donation, fill out the form here. Share the link, ask your friends and family and raise your voice against anti-choice violence by raising funds for abortion access in Kentucky!

 

 

Not in My State! ~by KYBorn

So, I’ve been gone for a while.  I have a good excuse that circles back to the title if you can hang in there long enough.

I had an unexpected illness that required multiple surgeries, a long ICU stay and a month long stay in my home state since I could neither stay alone or travel

Anyway, after the insurance sorted out all the things they would pay for I ended up back in my home town doing outpatient therapy.

Being back in my home town for an extended stay brought back a lot of memories. It didn’t take long for me to be reminded of the desperation felt by women who had a 90-mile drive and a time zone to cross. It reminded me of high school girls who went to a subpar practitioner in Lexington because he didn’t check IDs.  It reminded me of why I didn’t have sex until I was over the age of 18 and free to dispose of unwanted products of conception as I chose. Sure, the town had changed in a lot of ways. Heck, they even have a Mexican restaurant that serves margaritas that actually contain alcohol and a Super Wal-Mart. What they didn’t have and still don’t have is reasonable and affordable access to safe pregnancy termination.

I was born and raised in rural Kentucky. I spent part of my adulthood living in a less rural part of the state. Both places lacked convenient and affordable access to abortion care, but most women knew that as long as they were 18 they could go to Louisville, even if at great cost, to terminate an unwanted pregnancy or a wanted pregnancy gone wrong. None of us thought it was right that we should have to travel so far to get legal health care, not to mention walk a gauntlet intended to shame us that has only become progressively worse. I had already left the state before the worst of the TRAP laws that have been thrown down as barriers for all women, but can be particularly difficult for rural and low income women became law. I read as two of three clinics were closed, but at least there was one that had been standing for years. At least there was one clinic left in the state.

Then I read that the new Governor Bevin is ordering it shut down on a technicality. Yes, I got angry enough to throw my shoes. Hard.

Since I would likely be arrested for screaming on my front lawn, I’ll scream it here.

Not in my state!

It was bad enough before with underage girls sneaking to back alley butchers and only the wealthy being able to afford to take the time off to usually spend the night (due to time change, or two nights in the case of a two-day procedure) without choosing between rent and health care.  It was bad enough when women had to walk an oversized block filled on both sides of people shouting obscene dialogue of hellfire, waving fetus porn and surreptitiously directing them to “the clinic next door” where they got everything BUT the abortion they were seeking.

So, I don’t live there anymore.  I can drive and easily pay for an abortion in two locations.  I can get on a plane and use my health insurance at one of over 10 clinics to pay for abortion.  I know who and how to get misoprostol to induce a miscarriage without walking a gauntlet of shame as now required in Kentucky. I wouldn’t be one of those women who ended up dead due to infection from a botched abortion by a quack or ended up poisoning myself by consuming herbs or plants that are supposed to induce abortion. There are a lot of places in the world where desperate women are harmed by resorting to desperate and unsafe measures. The United States is rapidly becoming one of those countries and certainly Kentucky is on the forefront of denying safe abortion care.

Of course, Governor Bevin wants to shut down the last place in the Kentucky where a woman can walk a gauntlet of shame filled with fetus porn, stalkers and statues of the blessed virgin.  No.  It isn’t enough to shame women but they must be denied care they are obviously desperately seeking at all. He wants Kentucky women to be regulated to the status of second-class citizens in a third world theocracy.

NOT! IN! MY! STATE!

This is not what most people want or care about.  They want better education, better job opportunities and training, dealing with drug overdoses rising out of control and better support for women who choose to go to term.  Mostly, they want the government out of their bodies, just like I want the government out of mine.

But it isn’t going to happen in my state (or commonwealth, if you prefer).  The doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate is nothing more than biblical anarchy.  This is what the Governor is buying into.  It may be crap, but your state tax dollars will pay for it while boxes of rape kits sit untested in a basement because that money has been allotted to defend unconstitutional laws and regulations based on religious beliefs.

So now is the time.  To steal a bit from the Reagan years, “Just Say No” to shutting down the last abortion clinic in Kentucky.

 

The Day the Circus Came to Town ~ by Penny

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.  

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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.

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And again, an entire hour before the clinic even opened its doors:
16559425_2351336238425900_1400690639_nAfter 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.”

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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.


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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?

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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?  

 

 

Reflections on Reproductive Justice Activism ~ by MAP

I was first introduced to Reproductive Justice activism in 2006 when I was 19 years old. I had gone to a Feminist Alliance meeting at the time when I was enrolled in the University of Louisville. A friend mentioned that she was an escort at the EMW women’s clinic. I had honestly never thought about abortion, Reproductive Justice or what and how it could affect me in my everyday life. On a Saturday morning in January I went and had my first experience as a clinic escort. On that cold and snowy morning, it was incredibly frustrating to see all of these clients trying to access healthcare and at the same time being judged and harassed by complete strangers, but it was amazing seeing these people helping clients get into the clinic.

I am forever grateful for what I have learned about myself throughout my experience as an escort. Being a clinic escort has made me a better activist and organizer. Over the past 11 years through my introduction to Reproductive Justice activism, my eyes have been opened to how reproductive justice work intersects with social justice, economic justice, and racial justice. Realizing I needed to care for myself I took a step back from escorting at the clinic, but I am involved with transporting clients to and from the clinic through the Kentucky Support Network. Finding out where you can help and do your part, as well as taking care of yourself, is so important. Escorting at the clinic taught me that this type of work is never easy and that at times it can be draining. Putting yourself and your needs first, by practicing self care are imperative to doing this type of work.

If you’ve ever wanted to get involved now is the time. The anti-choice laws that are being passed in Kentucky, in our country and around the world are horrific. These are terrifying attacks on a person’s right to their bodily autonomy and their right to choose whether or not they are ready to be a parent. There are already so many barriers when it comes to abortion access and when it comes to marginalized groups of individuals, that these laws only continue to prohibit people from accessing safe and legal abortions.

If you don’t think you can escort at the clinic that’s okay. There are so many ways to give your time or your money to important organizations such as Kentucky Health Justice Network, Kentucky Support Network, and the A Fund. I am constantly amazed by my friends and their dedication to this work. They continue to inspire me on a daily basis with their commitment in securing Reproductive Rights and abortion access for every human being.

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” -Jane Addams

 

Control Issues ~ by Ferret

I am something of a control freak, and the offspring of a line of control freaks. We used to joke that if one were to look up “Control Freak” in the dictionary, one would find a picture of my grandfather.

In my battles with depression over the years, I realized that being a control freak was contributing to my depressive state. I worked hard at becoming less of one in part to lessen the effect on my mien, with mixed results.

At one point in my life, I was invited to attend a twelve-step group based on Alcoholics Anonymous, called Emotions Anonymous. Either through that group or through my sessions with the counselor who introduced me to it, I learned the idea that while I couldn’t (by their definition) control my emotions, I could control how I expressed those emotions and which of those emotions I focus on at any given time.

I also learned that if I release control of others to those others, I am more able to do what I need to do to control how I present myself.

That led to an interesting revelation~one that I’m sure many have reached: I’m not responsible for any other person’s emotional state. Because I am not responsible for that person’s emotional state, I get to retain responsibility for my own emotional state and whether/how I express it.

This expands to all sorts of realms. Because I wish autonomy for myself, I cannot assume control over others’ autonomies. I have to accept that they will act in what they think is their own interests.

There are limits, of course, as the classic example of freedom to swing one’s arm illustrates: My freedom to swing my arm ends before impact with another person’s face. I don’t have the right to harm others, save for circumstances of self-defense, and even then the force I may use is somewhat limited. I cannot bring harm to you for endangering me once the danger has passed, for example.

The reason I mention all this at the moment has to do with the social discussion around abortion and related women’s rights.

Yeah, who am I, a white male, to talk about women’s rights?

Call me something of an ally.

And call me one who recognizes that, because I insist on autonomy for myself, I believe it is no business of mine whether a woman chooses to abort a fetus. Because it’s not my business, it’s also not the business of the government that allegedly represents me. It’s a decision for her to make, along with people she chooses to consult. Sidewalk “counselors” (religious bullies, for the most part) aren’t part of that circle. Congress Critters/Gynoticians* are not part of that circle.

Does that mean I favor abortion? Whether I favor abortion is immaterial. As I mentioned, I’m a guy and recognize that I have the privilege of not having to face that decision for myself. It means I recognize that her decision is hers to make. I have to assume that she will consider whatever options are valid in her situation.

And there may not be any viable options other than abortion. Sometimes the pregnancy is such that continuing it at all would put the mother at grave risk. In some cases, the fetus can never become viable. Since the percentage of times those happen is non-zero, and since I cannot know the exact situation (indeed, the exact situation is not my business), I cannot assume that any one woman’s situation doesn’t include elements of those factors. I’m not willing to put limits on abortion based on such factors either. It would be heartbreaking enough to have a wanted pregnancy result in such a situation without having to prove such to a gynotician* before earning a pass to have one’s abortion labeled “acceptable.”

* Per the Urban Dictionary: “A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.”

 

 

Anger at the Clinic ~ by Stella

Have you ever been angry? I mean really Mad? I mean Enraged!!! Suddenly. Immediately. Without warning. Something happens. Someone does something and – BOOM – steam is streaming out of your ears. It happens. But – it isn’t supposed to happen when you are an escort at the local abortion clinic.

But it does. It did. To me. The signs, the 4-foot tall signs with abortion porn should not have to be seen by anyone, much less little children. So when a gentleman holding the hand of a little girl walked out of the clinic, and one of the male “counselors” moved his sign so that the little girl would see it, I stood in front of the sign and blocked it from being seen by the child. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t review in my mind my goals for being there. I saw someone trying to abuse a child and acted. It made him angry. I didn’t care about his feelings. I cared about hers and the confusion it could cause her.

I cared about a little girl in the midst of screaming adults with ugly signs. I was not just angry, I was enraged. I didn’t say anything, I just moved in front of his sign each time he moved it until the little girl was out of sight.

I consider his behavior child abuse, emotional child abuse. And worse than that, is that parents bring their own little children down to the clinic to hold signs they are too young to read, to listen to threats of hell and worse, to see all those abortion-porn signs. And they are proud of themselves for doing so. They are exposing their kids to emotional abuse and they don’t see it as a problem.

Adult issues don’t belong in the world of children. What kind of people think such actions are okay? What kind of people think they are doing anything right for their kids?

They make me angry too. But not enraged. Mostly I just feel sick seeing so many little people with their parents making them hold signs, be out in the weather without proper clothing, stand for long periods of time without playing.

When anger goes past enraged, it becomes sadness, sadness that is deep and painful; and there is no way to change the behavior which causes it. Because those people think differently, behave differently, and cannot understand the consequences of their behavior.

So anger is not really uncommon to escorts at the clinic. We just usually handle it well. We don’t lash out, we don’t verbally respond, and we try hard not to laugh – or even giggle at some of the goofy things the “counselors” say. But sometimes, we lose it. And then, we have to depend on the other escorts to help us, to hear us, to hug us if necessary, and to remind us that no one is perfect and that it is all right to walk away and regain our composure.

So yes, I can lose it, but I can trust my fellow escorts to help me do what is best for the clients – which is why we are all there, day after day, each of us doing what we can to support choice for women as they make decisions about their own lives.

Shouting Fire in a Crowded Theater~by KY Born

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances”.-First Amendment of the United States Constitution

Isn’t the First Amendment great?  I have no desire to see it go away. However, like any idea, it can be corrupted just as it is currently being subtly corrupted by antis now.

It was the idea that the First Amendment was some sort of carte blanche that led to the Supreme Court ruling in 1919 known as Schenck v. United States where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes tried to give some clarity to what limits could constitutionally be placed by the government on personal expression in order to protect not only the rights of one person, but the rights of all citizens from the actions of one to impede their freedoms. I have purposefully bolded “by the government” because many people seem to think that private entities like Facebook, Twitter, Target or private citizens’ blogs have some obligation to allow whoever and whatever to be published on their websites, or posted on their private property as part of the First Amendment. This simply isn’t true. Perhaps the most famous quote to come from this ruling is, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

The problem comes that antis are no longer just committing occasional violations or giant violations that make the news, but are committing ever-increasing and bolder violations while still remaining under most people’s radar. When challenged, they wrap themselves in the First Amendment because many local, state and federal officials hesitate to approach the line between “free speech” and “shouting fire.”

We all know about the big events that are used to terrorize women away from clinics so I want to talk about the smaller violations that are often overlooked, but still are used to terrorize women seeking healthcare. The line is crossed more easily than ever due to YouTube and access to internet postings that feature antis screaming that people are murderers, or post their picture and personal information all over the Internet.

Did you know in some locations antis erect ladders that totally block public sidewalks, forcing anybody who needs to use the sidewalks to access the clinic, or simply to pass through, to step around them? They do this so they can peer over fences to film people entering a medical facility, write down license plates and directly harass patients. This You Tube video was taken in Jackson, Mississippi, but happens at other clinics around the country every day.

The even more subtle, which I have witnessed myself, is the slow walking back and forth across driveway entrances, causing cars to slam on brakes in the middle of busy roads and potentially causing accidents. In some communities, the response from public officials is to call it the First Amendment and do nothing to stop it.

Another subtle way that anti organizations intimidate people and obstruct their right to terminate a pregnancy is through Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or similarly called organizations, that try to trick women out of getting abortions. Much has been written about them other places so I won’t repeat it other than to give people this advice about anyplace that claims to provide medical care:  If they do not give you a Notice of Privacy Practices (more commonly known as the HIPAA form) demand all of your personal information, any copies made and walk out. They are not a legitimate health care provider.

I don’t believe we need a lot more new laws, but we need the current laws enforced. None of this would be tolerated anywhere except outside a medical facility that provides abortion services, or at the homes of those who work there.

I guess this is my main point. I use this analogy frequently and I have self-named it the “ex-boyfriend rule.”  If you have already heard me say this feel free to skip over it, but my point is that if one of my ex-boyfriends chose to engage in any of above-mentioned actions under the guise of freedom of speech or religion, they would be served with a restraining order and likely criminal charges. If they and their gathered group of friends who also believe as they do, follow me, surround me on a public sidewalk, prevent me from walking on a public sidewalk, turning into a private driveway, erected a ladder on a public sidewalk to view my activities over a fence on private property, or provided information to people intent on causing me harm, they all would be subjected to restraining orders or criminal charges.

Garbage like this makes me wonder if the end of abortion will not come about from dramatic events like the overturning of Roe or a series of clinic bombings, but the slow, steady and repeated crossing of lines under the guise of “free speech” that is nothing more than shouting fire in a crowded theater.

I took the right to abortion for granted for years.

I will not make this mistake again. I hope you won’t either.

 

Pledge-A-Picketer – The Official Count!

Since the clinic was closed on Derby Day, which was also the day before Mother’s Day we decided to have the Pledge-A-Picketer target date on Saturday, June 18. This is the day before Father’s Day and is one of the days of the year we normally see more protesters at the clinic. The official count of protesters for the day is 45.

We did publish an article on the Every Saturday Morning blog when we launched the fundraiser with the information and why we were especially targeting the Sisters For Life annual fundraiser march to EMW Women’s Surgical Center. If you didn’t see it, here’s a link.  

This article was more successful than we ever imagined! The Sisters For Life changed their march to end at the new Planned Parenthood location in Louisville. That means all 46 of those marchers were not there to harass patients at EMW!

To us it was a definite win-win-win situation.

  1. The patients weren’t faced with large numbers of protesters and we still were able to raise funds.
  2. The 45 who turned up at the clinic were a far cry from the 300 who were there in 2010 or even the 108 who were there last year.  
  3. Their march was postponed long enough so that some of us were able to counter-protest at the Planned Parenthood site when they arrived.

We think this was a very successful year for the Pledge-A-Picketer campaign. We want to thank everyone who pledged and donated to help the volunteer escorts.

Our supporters make us strong!