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.



In late August, anti-abortion groups successfully purchased the building that Dr Leroy Carhart was operating a clinic in, and terminated the lease abruptly, forcing the clinic to close.

This impacted people from all over the US, and delivered a palpable blow to patients, providers, and abortion funds who had appointments, or made referrals to that clinic.

The good news is: a handful of weeks later (which can translate to higher risk of complications AND a few extra THOUSAND dollars when we’re talking about needing to wait or travel for an abortion) Dr Carhart has been able to secure a new location for his Maryland practice, and is on track to open in just a few days.

This is GREAT news for access! CONGRATULATIONS to all involved in this wonderful development!

What it takes

Infographic from the Third Wave Foundation

Sights from the circus. Worth a million words.


Several of us are still processing the intensity that took place when extremists invaded our city last week. They aimed to close down the clinic, but we are not willing to let them halt legal abortion in our state, not even for a day or a week. Escorts planned, trained, and stood firm for access. Here are some of the images we captured from ground zero. Unless otherwise specified, these pics were taken by individual Louisville Clinic Escorts. All photos shared with permission.

Barely controlled chaos






A busy downtown alley where lots of people drive to their parking spot is not a place for a tailgate party.



On EMW property, blocking staff entrance


Decibels beyond reason.

If you think it looks like they’ve taught their children to harass, you are not the only one thinking that.

Vince Heuser is the local attorney who is currently representing OSA. He also offered to do pro-bono work for Scott Roeder after he murdered Dr George Tiller in 2009. Here he is trespassing at the staff entrance, standing in the buffer zone attempting to negotiate with a US Marshal, and distracting the local bomb squad who were on duty every day, due to the threats made by Heuser’s clients….

The (escorts’) look says it all.



Photo by McCausland





As reflected in our Media Policy and Points of Unity, we are aware that the presence of cameras can be frightening for clients and companions and have real consequences for escorts too. For that reason, we seldom welcome photographers to the sidewalk. On rare occasions, some photographers do behave respectfully and may be unobtrusive. A team of two local folks managed to capture some breathtaking images, and granted us permission to share them. Credit in captions.


By McCausland


By McCausland


By McCausland


By McCausland


By McCausland


Photo by Daniel Hosterman


By McCausland


By McCausland

Sidewalk Snippet 7/29/17


As the week long invasion by extremists piddled on, the feelings stirring in our city shifted a number of times. For me, as the days ticked by it became obvious that OSA has no power here. Their gruesome bullying tactics were not well received, even by some of our regular antis who were pushed out of their favorite posts on the sidewalk, and forced to park further away than usual.

The Clinic Escort’s detailed planning was highly effective, and as the days proceeded and people continually made it to their appointments, some protesters seemed frustrated, while others just seemed defeated.

On their final day, one preacher was positioned in the back alley with a sound system facing the staff entrance to the clinic. He was complaining into the mic about the news coverage from the week, which had started as quite a frenzy, and fizzled out as the news cycled on, like it does. This preacher whined “Why won’t CNN and CBS talk about the real issue here?!?! Why aren’t they talking about abortion??? That’s what we are here to talk about!!!”

Now of course there would be no point in me attempting to explain to this preacher that there is really no news to report about abortion, so I stayed at my post and continued my duties. In my head I had to chuckle about this whiny presentation from a defeated and delusional zealot. The circus being in town was news worthy, until it wasn’t. People making decisions about their bodies and their lives for their families and themselves is not news. That is normal everyday shit. Every day. Normal. Legal. And accessible as can be as long as we can do anything about it.


To: Louisville Metro Council; From: a seasoned and concerned clinic escort.


There is a lot of discussion of the buffer zone in front of our clinic right now, since the USDOJ is pursuing federal charges against the 10 people who violated the FACE act on May 13. The Temporary Restraining Order will remain in effect until August 4th, and Federal Marshal will continue enforcing it. Some clinic escorts are concerned that when the lines are removed and all the extra law enforcement and news cameras go away, what will remain could be a quite dangerous situation. We are seeing behaviors this week that really compound the need for a small safety zone that will allow clients and their companions to walk from a stopped car to the clinic door without being blockaded by people who feel entitled to force their views on someone else.


Below is a letter to Louisville’s Metro Council from a veteran escort, urging them to come to the sidewalk and see how essential it is to create safer spaces, and also to assist law enforcement in being able to enforce the laws that exist to preserve everyone’s rights, especially, those of the patient.

July 20, 2017

Louisville Metro Council Members

Dear Council Member:

I was at the Council meeting July 19 for the discussion of a 20 foot buffer zone at EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the abortion clinic.  Even if there is no buffer zone created, there are several facts that were not brought up I thought the Council members should be aware of.  I am an escort at the clinic.  One of the escorts had called to get information about the meeting and was told that there wouldn’t be much time for citizen speakers; therefore, few pro-choice supporters were ready with statements.

As escorts we are not counter-protesters.  We’re there to give information to clients about where to park, and to walk with them and their companions to the clinic.  We don’t try to keep them away from the “sidewalk counselors.”  But the patients are often alarmed and worried about the many protesters present.  (They typically outnumber escorts about three to one, especially on Saturdays.)  Opposing sides can’t easily be relegated to certain areas because both protesters and escorts are walking with the clients from the various parking areas to the clinic entrance.

When “counselors” talk to the patients, patients often tell them to leave them alone; but the preaching doesn’t stop.  Some examples of “counseling” are, “You’ll never get over this”, “Your relationship will never be the same”, “Real men don’t kill their babies”, “Don’t be a wimp”, “He’ll leave you after you have that abortion”, and “Your chances of breast cancer are greatly increased after an abortion” (not true).  The patients must pass through a gauntlet of protesters on both sides of the sidewalk on their way to the clinic, only to get there and find a crowd of people they must walk around who are yelling at them (this is typical for Saturdays).  It’s really intimidation and harassment.  Plus, what an insult to women to assume they haven’t thought long and hard about their situation before arriving at the clinic.

Please come down sometime, and see for yourself what it’s like.  But don’t stay in your car.  The police stay in their cars across the street or around the corner and don’t see these details.  I am glad they are finally paying attention to the clinic; I wish they would get out of their cars and be on the sidewalk.

Very truly yours,

PG [name and address omitted for safety]

cc: Chief of Police

Louisville Police Department

EMW Women’s Surgical Center


Temporary Restraining Order GRANTED by Federal Judge


Louisville’s Clinic Escorts are thrilled with the news today that Judge Hale has granted the temporary restraining order against the members of the group who were arrested for blockading Louisville’s only abortion provider in May.

We have been paying close attention to the group since the event was announced late last year, and it has long been clear to us that these individuals intend to violate numerous laws in order to disrupt access. To watch them brag about their intent to do so with the expectation that they will face no repercussions has been infuriating. Today they have received a clear message that their interpretation of the Bible does not place them above the law. After having read the orders, we would like to make a few points clear for our supporters and for all those who may find themselves in the area for various reasons during this time.

First, this is a federal matter, separate from the earlier trespassing charges that resulted in the individuals signing an agreement that they would remain across the street from the clinic. It will be enforced by US Marshals, and not by LMPD.

Second, the TRO applies only the named defendants and their associates or those acting in concert with them. The “buffer zone” in front of the clinic that is being enforced by federal marshals does not, per the order, apply to others. In short, the order does not create a buffer zone as most of us are used to thinking of one: it does not establish a space that is to be free of any protesters. This temporary order is in no way related to recent exploratory talks with Louisville Metro Council about a potential safety zone ordinance.

The marshals enforcing the TRO, and keeping those to whom it applies out of the buffer zone area, will have to decide who qualifies. We do not yet know what that will look like.

Finally, the order explicitly confirms the right of volunteer escorts to be present.

Read the official orders here:


PI Hearing

Where would they go? Part Two – The Patients


Please also read Part One – the antis, and Part Three – the clinic staff.

Before I get into where the patients would go in the event that controlling power hungry oppressors get their wish, I want to take a moment to make sure our readers truly realize what it already takes for a Kentuckian to get an abortion. In April, Kentucky Health Justice Network outlined the barriers that many folks face before they even get to the clinic in this post:

The True Cost of Abortion in Kentucky

Effective Tuesday April 11, 2017, due to additional overhead from the new ultrasound law, increased staff needs and legal costs, EMW is raising their prices by $50 across the board.  That means the least expensive procedure (medication abortion, using the pill) will cost $700 per person. Someone at 14 weeks will have to pay $1150. Twenty weeks: $2050.

Those procedures costs are some of the highest in the nation, but there are costs far beyond that. Here is a breakdown of what it really costs:

If someone has a negative blood type, they will have to pay extra for a Rhogam shot. $60 if they are under 12 weeks, $150 if they are over 12 weeks.

If they do not live in Jefferson County, they will have to travel up to 250 miles round trip. That requires access to a reliable vehicle, and usually a companion to do the driving post-op. (So, also factor in gas money. Yes, maybe they could fly or ride a greyhound but would they take cabs to and from the airport, bus station, hotel, clinic, etc?)

The law requires they receive informed consent counseling 24 hours before the procedure. Some people take two trips to the clinic for this.  Some do it via web app but that requires access to Internet or smart phone data, plus a safe environment for a video conference call, which can be a big challenge for people in rural areas.

If they are a parent, childcare arrangement must be made, and sometimes paid for.

They may need to stay in Louisville overnight, which could cost $70-100 per night, plus cost of meals while away from home.

All this could require taking 3-5 days off work, which could mean losing a substantial chunk of income, or risking job loss.

All this to access safe legal care, that insurance could cover if it wasn’t for politicians trying to control our bodies and our lives.

THANKS, KHJN for that informative breakdown and also for running the Support Fund, which provides direct and practical support for Kentuckians facing barriers to abortion access, even when they have to travel out of state for care, which brings us back to our title query: Where Would They Go?

Kentucky is bordered by 7 states.

Indiana is home to four abortion clinics, and VP Mike Pence.  Many believe that if KY loses its clinic, IN won’t be too far behind.  I disagree, but have learned in the last year or so to not be too comfy or confident because those in power do intend to strip every right to bodily autonomy away from us, and they are wealthy, resourceful, and punishing- at best. Abortions in Indiana are only available prior to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Ohio has about 3.5 clinics right now.  One clinic in Cincinnati had to modify their services because of harsh restrictions that have no medical justification. For now, that facility can only offer medication abortion (with the pill) prior to 7 weeks of pregnancy, plus pre-op requirements for patients who live close to there, but then would have to travel to another location in Dayton where a termination can be performed.  For many folks living in Central or Northern KY, these OH clinics would be the closest options.

Illinois has some of the least restrictive laws, and several clinics. It is also the Bluegrass State’s neighbor that is least convenient for most KYians to get to. It’s likely that most people traveling to IL for care would be doing so to access abortions later in pregnancy.  Those surgeries can cost as much as $3600 and are often medically necessary due to a variety of complications and health risk.

Missouri is also home to just one clinic- the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. Anyone accessing abortion care in Missouri will be subjected to a SEVENTY-TWO HOUR WAIT, you know, because grown people cannot be trusted to know what they need when they make their doctors appointments. Seems like there would be similar regulations on things like erectile dysfunction meds…oh, wait.. nevermind, LOL. Due to that wait, I cannot imagine KYians choosing MO for an abortion unless they live very close to that state, and have supportive family or friends they can stay with. That medically unnecessarily waiting period is a huge barrier.

Virginia has several clinics, but they are also heavily regulated. Abortions performed beyond the first trimester must be done in a hospital, possibly with the approval of a second physician. There is a 24 hour waiting period, plus mandatory ultrasounds, and parental consent requirements for minors, among lots of other medically unnecessary laws.  Again, KYians needing care would likely only travel to VA if it were convenient for them personally, which is unlikely for the bulk of KY residents.

West Virginia is in a similar boat as KY, with one remaining clinic open in Charleston, which is neighbored by a (you guessed it) crisis pregnancy center- which can be especially confusing for folks coming from out of town. The drive to Charleston and back would be over 500 miles for most KYians.

Tennessee has a handful of abortion clinic, which are of course, outnumbered by deceptive crisis pregnancy centers, including a mobile unit.  Nashville or Bristol has the locations that would be most convenient for Kentuckians being forced to travel for care. Anyone seeking an abortion in TN must endure a 48 waiting period, so we can imagine that a KYian going to TN for care would need a place to stay, or have to make two trips.

All those options are only possibilities for people who have access to resources including social and emotional support, travel capabilities, the freedom and funds to take time off work, and many other hurdles including the biggest one: money.  Most states have one or more abortion fund, and some clinics have financial assistance programs, but for many, the hurdles created by stigma, crisis pregnancy centers, and legislation make it a miracle for folks to even be able to reach a clinic, or a fund in order to get factual information about the care available to them, and what it takes to get there.

We already know that google searches about how to induce an abortion at home are way up. We know that people with mouths to feed and bills to pay will take desperate and dangerous steps to end a pregnancy.  We know that stickers like this pictured below are appearing in public places because groups like Women Help Women want to make sure people have reliable, modern information, rather than questionable “guides” to using cottonroot bark, tansy, pennyroyal, and more to poison oneself in an effort to induce a miscarriage.

Unfortunately, I think the chilling truth that we have to face is that while people with resources will be able to travel to clinics mentioned above, those with fewer privileges in fact have fewer choices, and will likely end up repeating the drastic actions of people in poor, rural, or marginalized communities before Roe vs Wade. As we have already seen, these are also the communities most vulnerable to prosecution for the crime of taking care of their bodies.  This is why it’s vital to preserve access: so people can have compassionate and safe care in a medical setting. If only we can stop clinics from being regulated out of existence.


Support Access in KY!

Louisville Clinic Escorts are giddy about all the support people are offering us from near and far.

As we’ve mentioned in the statements pictured below, it is not helpful for our supporters to show up at the clinic, BUT other groups have taken the time to be intentional about supporting us in ways that can help community members be engaged in the struggle for access in KY by planning a series of events! Follow these links for more details:

Thursday July 20th – Exclusive FREE Showing of the film Jackson. co-sponsored by EMW Women’s Surgical Center, Louisville Clinic Escorts, and KY A Fund Inc.  ASL interpretation provided!

Friday July 21st – Karaoke with Lady Parts Justice League, ACLU – KY, Kentucky Health Justice Network, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, and more friends!

Saturday July 22nd – LPJL’s Vagical Mystery Tour (with special guests) will be at Headliner’s Music Hall! ASL interpretation provided!

Sunday July 23rd – LPJL, ACLU, KHJN. & PPINK are hosting a Werkshop (registration required) about ways to support existing efforts to preserve and improve access.  ASL interpretation provided!

Saturday July 22-Saturday July 29th – Pledge – Picketer FUNdraiser for Louisville Clinic Escort’s Legal Defense Fund! See details here. In short: the more bullies show up at the clinic, the more $$ goes towards access in KY. Invite your friends to the FB event and make a pledge today!

Hope to see y’all there!!!!


Metro Council Safety Committee Hearing on Safety Zone initiative.

One year ago this month, 12 dedicated members of the reproductive rights and justice communities in Louisville formed a Safety Zone Committee to urge our Metro Council to take steps to address safety on our sidewalks.  We all know first hand how dangerous the powder keg constructed by aggressive antis is. Some of us remember when Dr David Gunn and two clinic escorts were shot in Pensacola Florida in 1993 (of the three, one escort survived). We all remember when Dr George Tiller was shot in the head in his Wichita Kansas church in 2009. One of us managed to catch it on camera when another of us was thrown to the ground by a protester in Louisville early this year. We are not interested in waiting for major injury or worse to occur on our sidewalk before something is done to prevent it.

In summer of 2016 the Safety Zone Committee put together a very thorough information packet and started scheduling meetings with Metro Council members. This packet included information about existing local laws and how they could be amended to create a safer sidewalk not just at EMW (KY’s lone abortion clinic) but also at any women’s heath centers and domestic violence shelters.

The packet also featured statistics showing clear escalation in threats and violence nationally, as well as information collected directly from patients shortly after entering EMW about what it was like for them to walk past the protesters. These numbers are rattling.

Included were pictures of the antis on the sidewalk, information about existing buffer laws in other cities, and diagrams of our public sidewalk where aggressive antis have complete access to physically confront, and sometimes touch and obstruct, people while they approach the clinic.

Over the course of several months Safety Zone Committee members met with over a dozen Metro Council Members and local law enforcement about the need for enforceable safety measures. All were invited to come down and see for themselves what happens on the sidewalk. Some declined the invitation saying they had been frequently harassed while patronizing restaurants on the block. Others didn’t feel a need to visit as they were so bothered by descriptions of the scene and the information presented that they quickly offered their support.

At a certain point efforts became more challenging when committee members started approaching less than likely allies, some of whom understood the need for safety measures but were concerned about their constituents rejecting them for “supporting abortion access.” The committee took a hiatus as the Fall/Winter Holidays approached, knowing that it was only a matter of time before the new legislative session, national extremists visiting, and large spring protest days highlighted a need for safer sidewalks.

Sure enough, between the presidential inauguration, the aggressive attacks on abortion in our Capitol, and national extremists “street preaching” not just at EMW, but also at a local hospital and a high school and middle school, a fire was sparked under supporters. Calls, emails, tweets, and comment threads went wild. Police and city officials could not ignore the problem. We readied ourselves for what was coming our way.

If you have been following this blog, or myriad news sources, you know that in addition to the list of events above, we were forced to react to our Governor attempting to shut down EMW with a permit dispute, quickly followed by national extremists attempting to shut down EMW with with physical blockades, which resulted in local and possibly federal charges. These things have kept escorts on our toes, and brought LOTS of media attention, which we have also had to put energy into.

A few weeks ago members of the Safety Zone Committee were contacted by the Metro Council Safety Committee. They are ready to discuss the matter. We have been ready for this for over a year. Our original impression was that the Committee meeting would be closed, so we would need to send our love and support from afar. Yesterday we learned that is not the case, and that the meeting would be open, which means we can go –  and so could the media, and the antis.

We had almost exactly 24 hours to mobilize our supporters, and you know what? They came out in force. There are about 150 seats in the Metro Council meeting chambers. All of those seats were full. We counted five protesters.

While local extremists displayed their gory signs and used audio projection equipment to voice their opinion in the street outside Metro Hall, supporter of access calmly filled the room and equipped themselves with a simple unified message:


There were a few proceedings before our agenda item. When the time came Metro Council members spoke among themselves at first, and called on staff from the Jefferson County Attorney’s office asking about the 35 foot law in Massachusetts that was found unconstitutional recently. There was conversation about how the ACLU of Kentucky has suggested that a rectangular egress spanning the distance from the clinic door to the curb with a width of 8 feet would preserve the rights of protesters to speak freely, and create a safer way for patients to access the clinic.

Major Eric Johnson was called to speak next, and answered what he could of an array of questions from Council Members. Bill Hollander mentioned having seen our pictures of protesters standing as close to the entrance as they legally can now and resting or pressing signs on the head and face of volunteer escorts. There was discussion of what constitutes a violation and what combination of things needs to happen to result in a charge. Barbara Sexton-Smith and Brent Ackerson talked about the very real safety risks that we know all too well.

At long last members of the Safety Zone Committee were called to speak. The first speaker read a powerful statement about the need for a 20 foot zone to allow people to walk to the doctor un-accosted. She also spoke of the initiative that brought us the drop off zone in front of the clinic, which allows one car to stop and let a passenger exit the vehicle close to the clinic, but how the swarming that takes place in the ten foot stretch between the car and the clinic property is still a huge safety risk.

Our next speaker talked about the level of harassment which has become the status quo on the sidewalk, and how that level of aggression can be dangerous. As a resident of the district in which the clinic is located, she found it appalling that every Kentuckian seeking abortion access has no choice but to be subjected to a gauntlet when accessing legal medical care. Perhaps most importantly, this speaker had an opportunity to share with Metro Council members data from the client surveys.

After the second of four scheduled speakers, Chair David James informed us all that the room was needed for the next committee meeting, and that this discussion would be open for comments again in July. We do not yet know what the date for this will be, but are preparing. Councilwoman Barbara Sexton-Smith asked to make a quick note for the sake of clarity that there is not currently a proposal for a Safety Zone at EMW, and Councilman James adjourned the meeting.

Queue the yelling antis. Yes, really. Two antis who had joined the crowd after their street preaching session stood in the aisle yelling loudly at the Metro Council members. It was similar to how they yell at patients outside the clinic. The main differences were that inside Metro Hall they were not amplifying their voices as high as 90 decibels, holding giant gory signs, or in the words our first speaker: “within knifing distance” of the council members, like they are to the patients companions, and escorts. Since this is the same group pledging to violate any law that may be enacted, we’re kind of glad Metro Council got a good look at their behavior.


Extremists FAIL to close KY’s only clinic

This morning Rusty Thomas lead a sit-in, blockading the entrance to the clinic in a clear attempt to prevent access to EMW. About a dozen people including a few minors (one infant) sat on the clinic’s property and refused to move, while at least 100 onlookers gathered around, creating the wildest spectacle I’ve seen in my 18 years as a Louisville Clinic Escort.

I was approaching the entrance with a client, just a few minutes after the doors were unlocked. We were having the usual light conversation when I observed that the scene at the door was different than the usual massive cluster fuck of bullies. Instead of anti’s swarming at us and lining the sidewalk with signs, they were all tightly packed near the entrance. Then I noticed everyone was holding their phones up and pointing them at a swarm of people who I could tell were on the property. I told the person I was walking with that it looked like some trespassing was happening, and invited her to step to the other side of the parked cars and continue walking with me around the block. I figured we would head to her car and figure it out from there. Once we passed the clinic and rounded the corner, other escorts told me to head to the alley, where escorts were holding space at the back gate, which is usually reserved for clinic staff. We were able to walk folks to the alley and in the back door and NO APPOINTMENTS WERE MISSED thanks to the quick actions of escorts and staff who train to stay focused on safety and client needs.

Police were already on the scene, and responded pretty quickly, but were generally helpful and gentle to the offenders who face trespassing charges, and were in clear violation of the FACE Act. I can’t help but notice the contrast between the treatment that this type of behavior is met with compared to how individuals within the Movement for Black Lives are treated by law enforcement……

After holding space at the alley driveway for period I moved to the front of the building again where police had blocked the street and were detaining the trespassers on the opposite side of the street from the clinic. The remainder of the morning’s debacle was broadcast live from our Every Saturday Morning Facebook page. Watch that here: https://www.facebook.com/LouClinicEscrts/videos/10154291275180146/ or at the bottom of this post.

We are really thankful to everyone who has reached out and offered LCE support this morning. Our volunteers did a fabulous job of showing up for access this morning. We know we have not seen the last of this sort of behavior, and we expect the worst from these extremist terrorists. Contributions to LCE legal defense fund can be made via paypal to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com.


Bowling over barriers to abortion access

Louisville Clinic Escorts will be going balls out to strike down barriers to access at the Kentucky Support Network‘s Bowlathon again this year.

KSN provides practical support to people in and around Kentucky who are seeking abortions and need support overcoming barriers to access. The Bowlathon is the main way KSN raises funds to pledge towards clients procedures, pay for transportation assistance, and cover other practical needs.

If you’re in the area, we would LOVE to see you at this fun event (even if you don;t like to bowl, there will be prizes, entertainment, and lots of awesome folks! here is the link to the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/697645673710272/

Whether you’re closeby or not, please consider making a donation to KSN so they can continue to fulfill this very real need, as restrictions to abortion in Kentucky seem to be the newest trend in Frankfort. Bowlathon pledges can be made through this link:


pick a team, any team! and of course, you can donate any time through the website linked above.