About wench

Wench is based in Louisville KY. What started as a Selfcare Health Education Collective in 2005 has bloomed and flourished and exploded and re-rooted and bloomed again and again. We now wench (verb) all over the US and beyond. Many are still in KY fighting for abortion access, repro and racial justice, and bodily autonomy for all.



Guest post by Jennifer

The anti-abortion protesters who stand outside of EMW Surgical Center, harassing people who walk in to the clinic, are frequently proclaiming how many “saves” they had. They consider someone that changes their mind about having an abortion a save. It’s pretty difficult to believe that as many people as they claim changed their minds, actually did. I’m sure some of those saves are just people leaving to go home after their appointment. I’d like to tell you about a time recently when I had my own saves…

Last week, while volunteering as a clinic escort at EMW Surgical Center, an incident happened that demonstrates why we as escorts do what we do.  I was positioned by the driveway at the fake clinic, next door to EMW.  My job was to get EMW clients into the building as safely as possible with the least amount of disruption. When a car stopped, I would ask them if they had an appointment with EMW.  If their response was yes, as all of them were, I would direct them where to park and give them instructions on how to safely get into the clinic.  While doing this, one of the women who works at the fake clinic started yelling at me and telling me how rude and awful I was.  I’m not sure what’s so horrible about getting people safely to the place in which they wish to go, but she was really angry and wouldn’t stop yelling at me. During this time, she said that she and another woman there had abortions and that they just want to counsel and help people who are considering abortion. 

Since this verbal assault, I’ve been thinking about her and wondering what it is that makes her think she has the right to choose what’s best for other people. 

Maybe she did have an abortion.  Maybe she wishes she didn’t have one; however, according to a study by UCSF 99% of people feel they made the right decisions 5 years post abortion. 1  If she actually did have an abortion and does regret it, does that give her the right to choose for all other people facing this decision?  What makes her opinion on a total stranger’s reproductive decision more relevant than the person who’s actually in the situation?  Instead of judging, shaming and trying to make reproductive choices for another person, when simply trying to access a legal medical procedure, what if she focused that energy inward?  What if she used it to make herself a better person and heal her own insecurities?  What if all people did that?  Personally, I believe the world would be a much brighter place.  It would also make for an easier and less emotionally painful walk for a client going into EMW.  

So on this day, I saved 2 cars carrying EMW clients from going into the fake clinic. This to me is the real save.

Fake clinic employee harassing clinic escorts.


Escorts supporting escorts


image of a face mask made of orange fabric with black letters spelling “CLINIC ESCORT” on a speckled background. Words on the image say: Escorts supporting escorts. A mutual aid relief effort by & for Louisville Ccinic Escorts. Give at paypal.me/louclinicescorts

We have been coping with COVID-19 since late January. Almost a full year our lives have been disrupted. The escorts stayed home from April 4, 2020-July 1, 2020. Businesses closed. Jobs disappeared. The Federal government stimulus checks are a fond memory, but disappeared quickly. Those able to draw unemployment have reached their limit. Many people have had their work hours reduced or eliminated. The list goes on for those things that have made this year particularly hard for most of us. 

An escort asked recently, “Can we do something?” The answer is, “Yes.”

We are starting a new gift program for active escorts to show our appreciation.

We won’t be able to pay rent, utility bills or even buy a cart full of groceries. What we can do is give a gift of extra cash to spend on a meal, a dessert, donuts for breakfast or other items. The gifts will only be $25 at a time until donated funds run out.

How does Escorts Supporting Escorts work? 

  1. Escorts or friends of escorts can donate to the fund for food or other essentials to benefit other escorts. 
  2. Send a donation via PayPal to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com or click here
    1. Be sure to add the comment you are donating to Escorts Supporting Escorts
    2. Donations can be kept confidential
    3. Donations are not tax deductible

Week seven of no escorts.


Chalk art done with clinic permission by other supporters. “Abortion is essential healthcare.”

Week seven of escorts’ absence from the sidewalk proceeded not much differently than the first six. Antis continue to gather, without masks, getting far too close to one another and to clients and companions and to security. Calls from the community to report this behavior go as ignored as clients’ and companions’ pleas to the antis to please stay away from them.
Tuesday 5/19: 16 antis total
Wednesday 5/20: 12 antis total

Thursday, 5/21: 20 antis total

Friday, 5/22: 16 antis total

A man sits in a chair he has placed beneath the clinic’s awning, in the center of the entrance.

Saturday, 5/23: 38 antis total

It is frustrating for clinic escorts watching from cars as the situation escalates. Our training is to deescalate. While we cannot control the actions of any individuals, the presence of people devoted to calm and safety does make a difference. We are keenly aware that our absence is felt. As restrictions are lifted in Kentucky, we are beginning discussions about what our return to the sidewalk might look like. We will publicly announce those plans when the time comes. For now, we will continue to document and provide updates to the best of our ability.

Week Six with no escorts


This week’s record for one day was SIXTY THREE protesters gathered on 5/16.

We understand that there are only recommendations, and not enforceable laws, calling for a minimum of 6 feet between any two people who do not live together. We get that LMPD can’t force the protesters to wear masks, or give others space.

These facts make a perfect storm when combined with the complete lack of regard for public safety that the protesters have always shown us with their actions.

This week, the congestion caused someone riding a scooter to crash.

In 2019, a protester was hospitalized after an encounter with someone leaving the clinic.

Pre-COVID19 escorts would regularly ask patients or companions to leave their weapons in their vehicles.

Now, everyone is under heightened stress, and there are no escorts to deescalate everpresent tensions. How many injuries will it take before action is taken?

The sidewalk won’t become safer unless two things happen:

Louisville Metro Council takes action by passing a new law creating a safety zone in front of the entrance.

LMPD needs to actually enforce the laws, including the existing noise ordinance, a safety zone, and the full range of blocking, assaults, and trespasses that happen regularly.

Indeed, if they continue to do nothing, we can be sure that more people will be harmed because of the protesters. Please continue contact your Council member and ask them to support a safety zone!

Tuesday May 12th: 17 protesters total
Wednesday May 13th: 13 protesters total
Thursday May 14th: 12 protesters total
Friday May 15th: 20 protesters total. The sidewalk congestion also caused a SCOOTER CRASH this morning.
Saturday May 16th: SIXTY THREE (63) protesters total 🤬

Update: Week Five of no escorts


“Y’all can’t be doin that!” – Gov Andy

As many Kentuckians carefully weigh how and when it may be safe to resume certain activities, the protesters remain consistent in their lack of consideration for the health and safety of themselves or others. Escorts observing from vehicles this week continued to see a variety of behaviors that go against the state, federal, and CDC recommendations. This week, the owners of EMW spoke out, encouraging Louisville Metro Council to bring back the safety zone that was in place following a blockade by extremists, which took place three years ago on Mother’s day weekend, a time known for large protests.

The inaction of Louisville Metro Council, and LMPD has become all but laughable, as they take turns passing around the responsibility to enforce public safety standards. Meanwhile, people still need to go to the clinic. To help further document the problem, the clinic and Metro Council have asked that people report the gatherings to 311 using any of these options:
Tweet @loumetro311
Email metro.311@louisvilleky.gov
Report on the metro 311 App
Submit a report at: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/metro311

Here are just a few of the scenes captured by observing escorts this week:

Tuesday 5/5 – 14 protesters total
Wednesday 5/6 – 10 protesters total
Thursday 5/7 – 12 protesters total
Friday 5/8 – 22 protesters total
Saturday 5/9 – 54 protesters total

Devising a plan


“I think there are ways for people to get safely to those facilities, if they just figure out a plan,” explained Cindi Fowler, Metro Councilor for District 14 at a recent Cafe’ Louie Event. 

Upon being asked about her take on safety legislation, Councilor Fowler admitted that there ARE hostile environments surrounding healthcare facilities, however, it was up to the client to protect themselves. This is in light of the Louisville Safety Zone campaign pushing the council to pass it’s ordinance, which would establish a 10’ buffer zone in front of healthcare facilities targeted by physical harassment and violence. 

Fowler referenced a large parking lot, which I presume refers to the 15 spot gated and barbed wired parking lot where the clinic’s employees park. With growing numbers of protesters;and escalating aggression, directing patients to the back parking lot will increase safety risks, not to mention reinforcing the stigma connected to back alleys and back door entrances. 

The most egregious remark made by Councilor Fowler is her suggestion for patients to “figure out a plan,” while dismissing the planning that already takes place for those accessing abortions in Kentucky.  

An immense amount of planning is required before driving to the clinic. The graphic below from Third Wave Fund is a bit outdated, and not specific to Kentucky, but it is a helpful tool for understanding the planning involved.

How much planning does it take?

  1. The clock is ticking as soon as they learn they are pregnant. They must schedule an appointment as soon as possible, as the development of the pregnancy determines the procedure required, and subsequently the cost. Abortions at EMW cost between $700-$2050. 
  2. Patients have to gather the funding for the appointment. Some people seek funding from nonprofit organizations, because most KY residents’ health insurance will not cover the procedure at all. Many patients seek loans, or make tough decisions about which bills to put off. Some delay care, not realizing that the price of the procedure may increase over time.
  3. KY law mandates informed consent take place at least 24 hours before the abortion – because lawmakers do not trust pregnant people to know what care they need. 
  4. Time off work, and childcare arrangements must be made by most patients.
  5. If the patient is a minor, KY law requires a parent to come to the appointment and give consent for the abortion. If the teen cannot gain parental consent, they will need to go before a judge with both an attorney and a guardian ad litem representing them in order to receive the abortion.
  6. If they are traveling to Louisville for their appointment, they may need overnight lodging, especially if they are having a two-day-procedure.
  7. For medical reasons, surgical patients must be accompanied by a trusted companion to drive them home. This can be very difficult for Kentuckians who do not have support for their decision, or are in an unsafe situation.
  8. Patients are given a follow up appointment two weeks after their abortion. More planning. Another trip to Louisville. More protesters shouting hateful insults.
  9. Many patients travel from all corners of Kentucky or even other states. Some have to seek out a companion with a more reliable vehicle than theirs. Others take busses, or receive rides from Kentucky Health Justice Network volunteers. 
  10. The clinic staff warn patients about the hostile protesters, and the fake clinic that will attempt to deceive them. Patients are advised to look for strategically positioned clinic escorts upon arrival.

What planning does Councilor Fowler suggest for a patient preparing to endure a threatening crowd of protesters? 

Is Councilor Fowler suggesting the patient take matters into their own hands? Should this plan include patients carrying pepper spray to remove protesters from their personal space? Would Councilor Fowler recommend a stronger personal protection plan?

Clinic escort volunteers are trained to de-escalate tension on the sidewalk, and often ask companions to leave firearms in their vehicles, rather than carry them into the clinic. The environment on the sidewalk has already proven to be volatile. The idea of suggesting patients create some kind of plan for personal protection seems far less safe than the proactive solution of creating a safety or buffer zone,to give a clear path for entry while protecting protester’s rights to free speech and assembly. This proactive solution is common and effective, many cities have adopted safety or buffer zones and have seen a decrease in violence following an established zone. 

While all patient’s circumstances are unique, there is no way to know whether someone’s experince seeking an abortion has been easy or overwhelming. Loud and intimidating protesters being allowed to invade and violate personal space can cause emotions to boil over. This puts everyone’s safety at risk. While no one advocates for violence on the sidewalk, the environment surrounding EMW perpetuates it. 

A safety zone is a preventative measure for the benefit of all people on the sidewalk. This solution takes the responsibility of public safety off of an individual, and places it on every citizen, lawmaker, and law enforcement officer, just like in any other area of our “compassionate city”.

Fund Abortion AND Trans Health?


YES! Bodily autonomy is for everyone and Kentucky Health Justice Network’s hotlines support callers facing barriers to care. Want to help them out?

This week an anonymous donor is doubling all donations throughout the entire #bowl19 campaign.Additionally, Kentucky Health Justice Network has the support of a local donor who will double the first $5,000 meaning right now $5=$20, or $100=$400! 

Your gift means so much to KHJN’s callers so we want to be sure you have the opportunity give and to ask friends to join you in supporting this important work. Please donate here, and share Bowl.nnaf.org/KHJN, or your support your favorite team (here is ours!) to help fund direct and practical support to abortion and gender affirming care!

Some good news from EMW…


EMW Women’s Surgical Center and the Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund refuse to back down in the fight to protect women’s access to constitutionally protected, safe and dignified reproductive healthcare. As we await the verdict in 3 federal court cases and continue to legally challenge  relentless new legislation, there is an immediate step you can take personally to ease the burdens placed on women seeking care at the only licensed abortion clinic left in the state. 

Current state laws and lack of access to care require many patients to travel hundreds of miles to EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Patients then endure hostility from anti-choice extremists as they enter and exit the clinic for counseling and procedures. In the last two years, there has been an escalation of aggressive behavior towards patients and volunteer escorts.

EMW would like to provide designated parking for all patients seeking healthcare at the clinic to reduce emotional trauma and increase the safety, security, and convenience of patients and volunteer escorts. By making a taxexempt donation to the Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund you can help alleviate this additional burden.

Donations may be made anonymously either by check or online. Designate your donation to parking expenses by earmarking your contribution as “EMW parking”.




Yes. You can.

A great new resource just hit the web! This one stop info source has get info for how someone seeking abortion care in KY can access the care they need. There is so much mis-information out there, seeing this site (chocked full of accurate and helpful info) was  quite refreshing! Check it out and share it in your communities so folks will be able to find this info if they need it!


Not so spooky Pledge-a-Picketer wrap up!


We want to extend a big thank you to everyone who pledged and gave to this year’s Halloween edition of Pledge-a-Picketer! It’s not too late to play along if you too want to support abortion access by giving an amount based on how many extremists showed up at the clinic this weekend. Click the link above for details on how to make your gift.

and now…….

Here are the numbers…..

Oct 26

  • 24 Escorts
  • 34 Antis – 28 adults 6 kids

Oct 27

  • 39 Escorts
  • 50 Antis – 35 Adults 15 kids

Why are we publishing escort numbers?

Well, we have one loyal supporter of access who has been so impressed by the strength of the clinic escorts, they are working on their own personal pledge based on the AWESOME turnout in support of access here in Louisville. Stay tuned for a special post on that in the coming days.

We love our providers. We love our escorts. We love access to care, on demand, and without apology.

Thanks again!