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!
This morning, escorts were greeted by this sweet gift from some kind supporters. We are very grateful, and will happily use these hand warmers in the coming months.
Generally, Clinic Escorts require very few supplies. Items that stay on our wishlist are:
- Hand and foot warmers
- Ice melt/rock salt
- A Safety Zone outside the clinic entrance
- Justice and autonomy for everyone
Because of the concerning nature of unexpected packages arriving at abortion clinics, we ask that supporters wanting to help us fulfill our wishes select actions from the following list:
- Donate to Louisville Clinic Escort’s via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate to the Clinic Vest Project. Thanks to them, we do not need to pay for our most needed accessory.
- Louisville residents can sign the online petition asking their Metro Council member to support a Safety Zone.
Again, many THANKS for the ongoing support!
As I write this, the D&E ban sits, unsigned, on the desk of our punishing Governor.
According to ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project staff, the law will automatically take effect tomorrow, Tuesday April 10th, 2018. This law will ban the safest form of abortion in the second trimester, while already having been struck down in multiple states. It is not based on scientific or medical recommendations.
We are not surprised, nor are we ignorant of the motives behind this law. It is yet another step in restricting access to safe and legal care for individuals who are perfectly capable of deciding if, when, and how to create or grow their families.
The impact of this law will be that people from all over Kentucky, plus surrounding states throughout the region who would have traveled for care at EMW will be forced to either travel farther (which will have additional increased costs for transportation, lodging, childcare, time off work, etc) or they will be forced to go without care, or take other – potentially harmful measures.
Since Matt Bevin took office, google searches for phrases like “how to self abort” and “home abortion” have been on the rise in Kentucky. Abortions will happen despite legal restrictions. They will just become less safe.
So, what can you do?
Stay tuned, as the ACLU will be taking our state government to court yet again (this will make the forth case in litigation during Bevin’s term) and also DONATE to both the ACLU and Kentucky Health Justice Network, whose Abortion Support Fund will continue supporting Kentuckians even if they have to travel as far as Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, or Washington DC for care – act fast and your donation to KHJN will be matched by generous sponsors!!
As you know, I am very passionate about Reproductive Justice, and am fully committed to abortion access in KY, particularly with additional restrictions currently coming out of Frankfort.
KHJN is nearing the home stretch in our spring Dance-a-thon campaign, which benefits all of our programs, supporting access to birth control, abortion, and gender affirming care for folks facing barriers.
My program, the Abortion Support Fund has seen a drastic increase in calls since the GOP took control in Frankfort and closed the Lexington EMW clinic, blocked Planned Parenthood from providing abortion care, and continually chip away at access while attempting to close the only clinic left in the Commonwealth, EMW in Louisville.
We will continue to offer funding, transportation, lodging, language, and childcare assistance to our callers, even if we have to accompany them to other states.
Can you help us reach our current goal of raising $30,000 by the end of this month? Please follow this link, and share this message in your networks. All donations are tax deductible and secure. If you would rather donate offline, just let me know!
Even small contributions make a difference for our callers. Bowl.NNAF.org/KHJN
Guest post by Crystal Balls
Every client is brought to the clinic by choices she made or was denied.
I got married and had kids very young – my twins were born when I was 19 years old and 17 months later I was pregnant again. The second pregnancy gave me the resolve I needed to escape from my 32 year old husband, and I left him soon after I found out. Like many states, KY denies divorces to pregnant women, so I was to remain legally married until after the birth of my son.
With two babies in tow and expecting my third, I moved in with my parents and enrolled in a welfare program that helped single mothers go to college. I aspired to provide a stable life for my children, so I asked my doctor to do a tubal ligation once my son was born. I knew I couldn’t handle a fourth child. I wanted to get educated, get a career, get off welfare, and get my own house. I was trying to be responsible.
Because I was so young, the physician denied my request. Sterilization in the spring of my reproductive years, he explained, left too many opportunities for regret. I countered that my spring had been as productive as I could tolerate and I was facing three decades of managing my fertility on a pass/fail basis. Pregnancy had taken a toll on my health and I didn’t want to subject my body to another one. He said I would never find a physician to perform the procedure on a woman my age, especially a woman on Medicaid. He was right.
My birth control failed ten years later and I got pregnant. A lot had changed in that decade. I had graduated from college, bought a house, and was working full time as a registered nurse. I had friends. My kids and I were living our lives with all the stability our hearts could muster. The spring of my reproductive years was certainly over—at the age of 31, summer was closing in on autumn. Despite my improved circumstances, or perhaps because of them, I hadn’t changed my mind: I didn’t want a fourth child, and I couldn’t endure another sickly pregnancy.
My two best friends shielded me from the antis screaming other options at me. Abortion wasn’t my first choice of birth control. My first choice had been refused by a medical community that would rather empower me to produce a fourth child on the taxpayer’s dime, just like my divorce had been delayed by a legal community that felt entitled to make me stay married. I was too preoccupied with the challenges of daily life to notice then, but eventually I recognized the barriers that surrounded my divorce, my tubal ligation, and my abortion as institutional attempts to control the fates of pregnant women. To this day, at the age of 48 and in the winter of my reproductive life, that realization inspires me to spend one Saturday a month at EMW.
Like I said, people are brought to the clinic by choices they made or were denied.
With just one clinic in Kentucky, which is under threat of closure by the state and violent extremists, we recognize how important the work of abortion providers is. Even at this moment, Kentucky legislators continue to attack our rights and chip away at autonomy, putting families at risk.
This week (and every day) we want to shout THANK YOU from the roof tops to all the doctors, nurses, administrators, counselors, and building maintenance staff that make sure #EMWStaysOpen!
Abortion providers help ensure that we have the ability to choose when and whether we create families. In today’s hostile climate, they need our love as much as ever! Join us in sending some love to our local staff at EMW by writing them a virtual postcard today! We will deliver your supportive messages to EMW staff this week! Submit messages as comments on the facebook event, this blog post, or email your messages to email@example.com.
Download shareable images from the National Network of Abortion Funds, and follow or join the tweet storm this week at #CelebrateAbortionProviders!
Last week, we blogged about a resolution which was being sponsored by Louisville Metro Council members Engle, Kramer, and Parker. The resolution would give the blessing of our local Metro Government to a bill being discussed in Legislative bodies in Frankfort this session. HB103 would place medically unnecessary requirements on medical professionals and their patients.
Before I share the letter I penned to Louisville Metro Council members opposing the resolution and HB103, I want to highlight another bill that has been filed in Frankfort this session. If it sounds off the wall to you, consider why Rep Marzian would file this bill:
AN ACT relating to medical and nursing schools.
Create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 to require all medical and nursing schools established and assisted financially by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to cease all training of any health care providers and the provision of any health care services; require all medical and nursing schools to refer citizens who are requesting advice or health care services to their state representative or state senator.
Here is my response to the resolution supporting HB103, which for now has been taken off the Government Oversight Committee’s calendar. This letter was intended for each Metro Council Person to be delivered prior to the committee hearing.
Dear Louisville Metro Council Person;
I write as a resident of District 6, a voter, and a passionate advocate for freedom and bodily autonomy.
I write to express my deep concern for the resolution sponsored by representatives from districts 22, 11, and 18, which aimed to endorse House Bill 103, placing additional requirements on patients seeking reproductive care, and the medical staff providing them that care.
In 2017, the Kentucky Legislature passed a similar law, known as the “Narrated Ultrasound Law” which required medical staff to verbally describe an ultrasound image to a patient, prior to terminating a pregnancy. This was one of several efforts by the state to restrict access to legal care while shaming individuals and families. While ultrasounds are commonly performed to determine size and location of a pregnancy, these laws place medically unnecessary punishments in the path of patients, and licensed medical professionals.
Since the passage of the 2017 law, a federal district court has found that law to be unconstitutional. Despite that, our legislature seems determined to leverage their power – at the expense of taxpayers – to continue restricting access to abortion care, and bodily autonomy. In addition to appealing the ruling mentioned above, lawmakers are also attempting to pass HB103 which closely resembles that unconstitutional law. HB103 is only different in that instead of requiring the provider to verbally describe the ultrasound image to the patient (while granting permission for them to close or avert their eyes or cover their ears – which is demeaning, insulting, and patronizing at best), this equally unconstitutional bill requires the patient be given a written description of the ultrasound.
To me, this requirement is eerily similar to behaviors seen on the sidewalk outside of clinics nationwide. In Louisville extremists force their opinions, literature, and physical bodies at individuals seeking care, without their consent. One way that HB103’s attempt at reproductive coercion mirrors the action of dangerous extremists is a complete disregard for whether or not the information being forced on patients is thought to be helpful, or desired by those individuals.
HB103 and similar laws require providers to deliver unnecessary information to their patients, even if they verbally decline. On the sidewalk outside of EMW in Louisville, individuals are forced to endure verbal (sometimes amplified) harassment, physical threats and assault, plus gruesome inaccurate images despite clear requests to be left alone. Considering what patients go through just to get to the clinic, the idea of legislative bodies forcing medical staff to perform unnecessary and undesired actions on their patients is deeply troubling.
In 1973 the US Supreme Court clearly ruled that decisions about one’s reproductive care are to be made by a patient with support from their care providers. Since then, states have erected restrictions designed to make access as challenging as possible. I find this unacceptable, and for Metro Council to be hesitant to put public safety measures in place outside our Commonwealth’s only clinic, while simultaneously endorsing additional restrictions on access is beyond disappointing.
Attached please find the results of a recent study by the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), which examined and scored 40 cities based on 37 indicators in the areas of reproductive health, rights, and justice. Our “Compassionate City” scored 1.5 out of 5 stars, not just due to barriers to abortion access, but also for lacking in areas such as protections for pregnant people, and working parents. I believe Metro Government could do a lot to improve our score in this well researched study. I know that passing a resolution in support of further punishing people seeking reproductive care is not moving in the right direction. When NIRH released their findings last Fall, they kindly created a Model City blueprint to highlight the ways in which truly compassionate cities can step up and take care of their citizens. Please take a look at the Model City profile and think critically about what kind of city we are creating for current and future residents, and how we might improve the expereinces of those individuals and families who call Louisville home.
Resident of D6