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!
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:
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:
“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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Time off work, and childcare arrangements must be made by most patients.
- 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.
- If they are traveling to Louisville for their appointment, they may need overnight lodging, especially if they are having a two-day-procedure.
- 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.
- Patients are given a follow up appointment two weeks after their abortion. More planning. Another trip to Louisville. More protesters shouting hateful insults.
- 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.
- 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”.
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!
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 tax–exempt 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!
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.
Here are the numbers…..
- 24 Escorts
- 34 Antis – 28 adults 6 kids
- 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.
When a Reproductive Justice colleague, fellow Kentuckian, and friend sent a link to this CNN article featuring an “open letter to Senator Cory Booker” shortly after it hit the web, there were a few layers of irony (and expletives) that we had to unpack before settling on how to respond.
What stood out immediately is this quote:
“Preventing someone from moving forward, thrusting your middle finger in their face, screaming vitriol — is this the way to express concern or enact change? Or does it only incite unstable people to violence, making them feel that assaulting a person is somehow politically justifiable?”
What’s striking to me is that these words could be my own, were I making an argument for why we need a Safety Zone in front of Kentucky’s only abortion clinic. If you read our blog, you know that these kinds of behaviors are common, and protected under a thinly veiled claim to “free speech”. People who value free speech AND reproductive freedom know that while sharing opinions and information might be harmless, there is a line that is crossed when demonstrations escalate and we start to see things like blockades, trespassing, assault, threats, and property destruction. We see these kinds of behaviors regularly on Market Street in Louisville, and are told that aggressive protesters are within their rights, and that the volunteer escorts, patients, and their companions outside of EMW Clinic should expect these attacks.
So I have to wonder: why should elected officials who work hard to earn the votes of their constituents be shielded from this “passionate free speech”, while people going to the doctor are subjected to it without consent, almost daily, as though it’s part of a punishment they must endure? How else can people attempt to hold elected officials accountable when they will not acknowledge messages like #CancelKavanaugh, and #BeBoldEndHyde? We know voter disenfranchisement, fraudulent campaign practices, and falsified elections are not imaginary concepts, so until we can trust the electoral process, it seems like other tactics are in order.
There are laws, and resources in place to allow safe passage of elected officials from say, the airport door to the plane, or the grocery store to their driveway. Shouldn’t everyone on our public sidewalks have the protection of the law when extremists are attempting to deliver a message using words and (potentially violent) actions? Where is the balance between safety and expression? Free speech and autonomy?
While brave people like Dr Christine Blasey Ford risk everything to protect our constitutional rights for decades to come, it only seems appropriate that individuals would want to also use their voices to send a message to Senators. I’m not sure why Rand Paul would seek office if he is unwilling to listen to, and represent Kentuckians.
To be sure, Senators Paul and McConnell, Governor Bevin, and other GOP legislators have no problem creating laws that restrict the freedoms of people wanting to control their reproductive lives.
Perhaps those not willing to fulfill the responsibilities of representing their constituents should have a seat. Plenty of fresh, brilliant, justice minded folks are ready to take over.
We want to take a moment to lift up a great opportunity for our local ally organizations.
This Thursday, September 13th is Give For Good Louisville Day!
This local day of giving is hosted by the Community Foundation of Louisville, and is a friendly competition among area non-profits to see who can bring in the most donations. What are they competing for? A slice of over $340,000 in bonus grants! Any non-profit in the Louisville area is eligible to participate, and locals have a lot of fun supporting their favorites. We want to highlight reproductive health, rights, and justice groups that we plan on supporting…… and, yes it’s true that among the 540 non-profits, there is at least one #FakeClinic and other anti-choice groups, so our hope is that by supporting the following groups, the antis will be less likely to get a piece of that prize pool 😉
Hyperlinked for easy access!
- ACLU of Kentucky – has a dedicated Reproductive Freedom Project, goes to the mat against Bevin n them every time.
- Kentucky Health Justice Network – runs a practical support Abortion Support Fund providing funding, transport, lodging, language interpretation, and childcare to folks facing barriers to abortion access. Also has a Trans Health Fund, and Birth Control Access program.
- Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice – does Repro Rights outreach and advocacy and offers faith based, all options pregnancy counseling.
- A Fund, Inc – provides funding assistance through abortion clinics for Kentucky residents.
- Kentucky Home Birth Coalition – working to expand birth options, and pass pro-family legislation that will allow CPMs to be licensed in KY, improving maternal health outcomes.
Donations can be as little as $10, and can only be made between midnight and 11:59pm on 9/13/18. Follow #GiveForGoodLou to see if our faves WIN throughout the day!