Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs…

If you’re familiar with that song, just those few words are enough to get it stuck in your head.  Surrounded by signs at the clinic, it looped endlessly in my mind today.

Signs Signs
Everywhere there’s signs
Fu**ing up the scenery
Breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign

This is where the Catholics keep their spare signs – attached to the fire hydrant.


 As you can see, they had a few extra today.


The woman we call the tailgater brings this one.  She sits behind it – yes, sometimes, on the tailgate of the truck.


This sign has its own rope so you can be a human billboard.  It makes me laugh in a twisted humor way because it’s like letting people know where the clinic is.  fullsizeoutput_1320

This sign offers bloody fetal parts, but hardly recognizable ones.


Our doctor’s name is at the top of this sign.  The sign says he does this to children.


  “LEAVE THIS PLACE OF DEATH,” is one of the things the antis yell at clients.  This person stood right at the edge of the property line today.


“Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess”somehow reminds me of the Puritans and the stocks and scold’s bridles and other instruments of torture.


I kind of like this one – well, not the fetal parts – but I like that they’re scolding other churches for being incrementalists.


Of course, they have to compare ABortion and escorts to Hitler and Nazis.  Strange to imagine someone saying, “Oooh, I know – let’s put little fetuses in each corner of this sign – won’t that be cool?”  But they are a nice decorative touch.


The rest of this verse reads:  “It will be ruined.”   “The kingdom which will not serve Christ will perish.  It will be ruined.”


THE BODY INSIDE YOUR BODY IS NOT YOUR BODY.  This one creeped me out the first time I saw it, and still does.


Lots of signs today.  Fetal porn, we call it.  Do you think they think these signs will get people to change their minds?  All it did for me today is get this stupid song stuck in my head… and it’s still there.

Signs Signs
Everywhere there’s signs
Fu**ing up the scenery
Breaking my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign…


From the Sidewalk – October, 2016

I know, it’s been a while since I posted.  I guess I ran out of things to say about the chaos on the sidewalk.  And there have been so many new voices talking about their experience as clinic escorts.  I love hearing other perspectives.

But I don’t want you to forget that we’re still here.  And today -it was wild on the sidewalk.

Antis standing in the drop-off zone


The police asked them to move out of the street, which was helpful, but that was the sweet spot of the morning.

Ky Mountain Bible College showed up. img_1691

Actually, clients came up behind this crew -if they were approaching from the corner on 2nd St.  People coming from 1st were greeted by these folks.



If you were on the front line today, you got to hear some preaching:

All of us outside of Christ – all of us outside of Christ – are lame and crippled and weak and sick. But we build up ourselves – we have this self righteousness that says we can take care of ourselves, we can save ourselves. There is room at the table for those that are unable to save themselves, which includes all of us. None of us can save ourselves

(With apologies for the music – it helps drown out the noise of the megaphones inside the clinic.  At least it wasn’t polka music today.)

One escort got some special attention:

There is room at the table for all sinners, even you, Sir. Sir, we love you we do, I know you don’t believe that, you probably go home and laugh about this, but we care about you. We do. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I don’t like being out here. I hate it. But we are coming out here to warn you

 End of the morning.  Some escorts talking amongst themselves and  – they laughed.  Spurgeon didn’t like that.  I walked up after he was already on a roll.


Escort: I don’t know who you think you are but you need to bring it down because you are incredibly – no – no-


Escort: …you talked enough during the day and I am going to say something

JS: 25 children are gonna be murdered in here and you led them…

Escort: I don’t know who you think you are but do not raise your voice at me like that at all (she continues to say “at all” several times as JS yells over her.)

Anti in the background: We totally raise our voice.


Escort: …we are grownups and grownups don’t have a discussion like this.


And just in case we didn’t get the point:

Male Escort: Go home, Joseph


Female escort:  All right, I think we’re done, let’s not keep giving him the audience he wants… 

At the end of the day, I’m just glad that clients and their companions only experience a minute or two of the chaos on the sidewalk.  It’s like I always say, as we head for the door, “You don’t have to stop or talk to them, we can just keep going.”  And we do.

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.


My Regrets Limit You


I regret my abortion

Laws should not not be based on what a small percentage regrets. Everyone has things in life they wish they had done differently. By that measure, I would expect marriage to be more heavily regulated than it is as many of us tend to regret our decisions of a spouse. Even Kim Davis  regretted a few of her marriages, but then tried to deny the right to others. To outlaw a common medical procedure based on others regrets or beliefs is absurdity.

Things I regret that should be legislated and/or banned immediately:

  1. Getting married without knowing their potential spouse for at least 5 years and have seen them handle some major life changes and/or stresses.
  2. Building a log home. Too many unseen issues present themselves years later.
  3. Getting a puppy. You don’t know what kind of dog it will become.
  4. Indian food. Banned. I have tried that three times, nothing good about any of them.
  5. Heels over two inches tall and shoes less then a D width minimum. Absolutely banned. These items have caused my feet much pain. I would like others to be saved that pain.
  6. Community college. Was a waste of time for me. I have nine credits that cost me a good bit of money that I can’t use today.

Now, if you think the above examples are just outrageous, they are. Simply because I regret something, or it worked out poorly for me, does not mean it is the right choice for many others.

It’s the same with abortion. There may be those who regret their decision not to continue a pregnancy, but their regrets should not become law.

So think on it. What decisions have you made and regretted that you feel the government or someone who believes other than you should have had a say in?

Bodily autonomy is a right of everyone. No one can take part of your liver, some bone marrow or drain off some of your blood without your consent, even if it means someone else will die, even if you are a corpse. A woman has a right to her own body and what is in it, even if removing something would cause it to die.

Those are my thoughts as I wait yet another few days to hear the Supreme Court ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt that could determine access to a constitutional right for women across the nation,


Results of My Version of Pledge-A-Picketer

Wow! Amazed, surprised, shocked and pleased comes close to what I felt escorting Saturday morning at the EMW clinic in Louisville. Why you ask was this different from past Pledge-A-Picketer days? Shockingly, only 45, yes, just FORTY FIVE protesters came out to be counted and help us raise money for abortion access.

It was a beautiful sunny, cool morning and we had plenty of escorts. The sidewalk was navigable. There were just five over-sized fetal porn posters toted around by our most persistent, aggressive and hateful antis. Surprisingly, there were no children present. I hope they enjoyed doing something fun with their families this weekend. Boating, hiking, biking, you know, quality fun time unlike past weekends spent shaming and harassing strangers on the way to the doctor.

I am very glad I decided to donate on my own concocted sliding scale system. My article May 30 includes my reasoning, but here is the scale:

  1. $0.10 for every adult
  2. $0.25 for every child preteen or younger
  3. $2.00 for every person dragging around a huge cross or oversize sign
  4. $3.00 for every person preaching on a ladder or stool
  5. $10.00 for every person preaching on a microphone
  6. $10.00 added for every protester reported blocking the entry to the clinic in violation of the federal law FACE Act.

Fewer  protesters made it easier to determine our top money anti. Wow, this particular person was just on a roll that morning and I had to whip out my calculator just to keep up with the money they were adding. Here in Kentucky picking the winner is like betting on horses: You take into consideration past performances, who their competition is, what weather conditions are and that gut instinct you get when picking the potential winner. This one was easy to spot right off: big fetal porn sign, microphone and amp, strap on GoPro camera. Already just out of the gate this anti is tied with two others at $12 a piece!

Three top fundraisers 061816


And that’s when it kicked into high gear and by far and away this anti was going to be bringing in lots of donations. It was painful to watch and listen to at times, other times downright creepy.

This anti blocked clients four times at the property line with the large sign at $10 each incident, now just one person alone has raised $52 for abortion access and was just getting started. He proceeded to follow a legal observer up and down the sidewalk, very closely behind with what I can best describe as a yearning look, while asking them to repent their wicked ways. This went on for so long, the escorts and other antis started chuckling. The observer just led him up and down, up and down, up and down, like a puppet, without once acknowledging his call to repent.

Another favorite tactic of his is once he learns your name he makes a point to repeatedly call out to you directly by name. He wants everyone to hear his call for you to repent and turn from your sinful ways. He has done this with clinic staff, escorts and even patients or companions.

That morning he named both of our doctors and condemned the work they do. Abortion providers across the country face this sort of personal harassment both at work and in their private lives on a daily ongoing relentless wave.

For trying to dissuade our doctors from performing the very important work they do with your harassment, slander and lies, I have decided to include a $50 donation for your hatefulness and arrogance. Your lack of empathy, compassion and just general all-around respect for anyone born who does not believe as you do just earned money for clinic escorts.

Congratulations, Joseph Spurgeon for being my top fundraising hateful anti of the day and personally raising $102 dollars for abortion access.

My condolences to Donna, Nurse Betty, Ed, Angela and few of the other regulars that I only pledged a dime on. However, I am happy to tell you that since the turn out at the clinic was so light, I decided to count the Sisters for Life marchers at Planned Parenthood as well. This means you regular harassers were counted twice.

My total donation is $138.10.

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!


My Version of Pledge-A-Picketer

Pledge-A-Picketer is just a few weeks away!! Do you know that in years past there have been over 300 protesters that have showed up and we count them to raise money for abortion access?

Since we have been doing this for a few years, they have caught on and some have stayed home so they won’t be counted and help raise money for escorts. Soooooo, that’s why this year I am doing my donation on a sliding scale system. Yes, the more aggressive, the louder, the larger the graphic posters they carry, the more shaming they do, the more money they will help raise.

Some protesters bring children to use as their visual props. Many children are holding signs and parroting adult words and phrases at clients, companions and escorts alike.

Mansplaining 05282016


Others just like to come out and shame strangers with their words of condemnation and hate.

P82 Playing with Dolls Tweet

A few make this a big family production and have every member, no matter how young, playing a role to shame and guilt people making a very personal decision not to continue a pregnancy. The person making the decision for their own very valid reasons doesn’t need to hear a crowd of strangers’ opinions about their decision.

P82 Ministries Tweet Not Counseling

I have thought for some weeks on the amount I would like to donate. I have decided to leave it up to the protesters. Yep, you heard me right. They will personally decide how much money each one of them is going to add to the funds for abortion access.

  1. $0.10 for every adult
  2. $0.25 for every child preteen or younger
  3. $2.00 for every person dragging around a huge cross or oversize sign
  4. $3.00 for every person preaching on a ladder or stool
  5. $10.00 for every person preaching on a microphone
  6. $10.00 added for every protester reported blocking the entry to the clinic in violation of the federal law FACE Act.

Now, putting my pen to paper and doing some adding there are one or two individuals who will raise TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS just for showing up and doing what they do every week.

So, fair warning antis, if you want the money to be less, or not at all then stay home. This is not your platform for harassment and shaming. This is heathcare.


REMINDER: Pledge-A-Picketer 

This year we are targeting the Saturday before Father’s Day as the only day of the campaign. Father’s Day is June 19, so our campaign will be on Saturday, June 18.

How can you pledge? Go to this link and fill out the simple form. When you fill out the form it will record your pledge to help us reach our goals. You will receive an email from us within 24 hours confirming we have received the pledge.

We will publish the count of protesters shortly after Father’s Day along with instructions for payment.

How can you help? Share this with your friends, or anyone you think would be interested.


Keeping Abortion Legal ~ by S.A.B.

In 1973, the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade determined that the current laws in place criminalizing abortions, except in the event that the mother’s life is at risk, is unconstitutional in regards to right to privacy. The attacks on women’s right to choose have not ceased. To kick off 2016, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed an informed consent bill into law. This bill, introduced by Republican Senator Julie Raque Adams forces women to have an information session about risks and alternatives with a medical professional 24 hours before the procedure.   “The importance of a face-to-face medical consultation prior to consenting to a surgical procedure is a widely accepted medical standard of care – and Kentucky woman deserve no less,” Raque said (Legislation Research Commission, 2015). A few months later, HEA 1337 moved through Indiana. This bill, authored by Republican representative Casey Cox, states that fetuses not carried to term, whether abortion or miscarriage, are required to be cremated or have a burial. Finally, and most recently, Oklahoma effectively banning abortions except in the case that the mother’s life is in danger. The bill however gives no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The bill’s sponsor, Republican senator Nathan Dahm, said that the bill was to “protect life” (Chokshi, 2016). The doctors who do not abide run the risk of losing their medical licenses. This essay will examine the negative effects of the public sphere overlapping with the personal sphere. In this case, the public sphere refers to the government, the personal sphere refers to individual women, and the technical sphere includes medical professionals.

A mostly patriarchal government is constantly making strides to dictate women’s healthcare and the choices regarding her body. These legislations are frequently, if not always, rooted in Christian biblical principles. These bills ignore the diversity of our nation and directly attack a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. While Roe v. Wade made great strides for the rights of women, it still leaves much to be desired. The ruling still leaves room for government involvement. In the case of the first trimester, if the woman wants to get an abortion, the judgement rests with her physician. In the second trimester, the state’s interest is legitimate under the guise of having the mother’s best interest at heart. In the third trimester, the state can intervene on behalf of the “potential of human life” (Lewis, 2015). While Roe v. Wade isn’t perfect, it does legalize abortion. Republic lawmakers continue to rage against it, despite the legal commonplace of stare decisis. A woman’s body and any decisions involved should be that of the woman’s to make. Government or religious institutions do not need to be involved.

Common sense tells us that a person’s right to choose what they want for their life seems like a basic human right. While Republicans will be the first to dismiss gun regulation laws based on this notion, they don’t look at women’s health care in the same fashion. In fact, if we’re being honest, one could say that they don’t look at women as people at all, but rather incubators. If these pro-life supporters looked beyond their narrow minded interpretations of scriptures they would see that there are many reasons why their arguments do not hold water. Firstly, we can look at the Constitution, the document that Republicans love to rave about. The Constitution speaks to rights to privacy and bodily autonomy (Justia, 2016). The 14th amendment talks about protection under the laws and privacy rights, it was paramount in the decision of Roe v. Wade. The ninth amendment says that just because rights aren’t specifically granted in the constitution, doesn’t mean that they are denied to citizens either (Legal Information Institute, 2016). The first amendment also sets the separation of church and state in place. Pro-life supporters often use Christian principles as support for their anti-abortion arguments. “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb”—Jeremiah 1:5 and “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed”—excerpt from Psalm 82 ( are just a few of the favorites one can hear shouted from the sidewalks at abortion clinics. From my own personal experience escorting patients into the Louisville clinic, reductio ad absurdum is a frequent commonplace employed by the pro-life protestors. They make claims that range from religious, to accusations of murder, to telling black patients that the clinics are funded by the KKK. The scientifically incorrect anti-abortion propaganda with bloody fetuses frequently accompanies their belief that the unborn child is a person with rights. While there is no clear consensus of when life begins, in title 8 chapter 12 of the United States Code, citizens of the United States are considered this after birth. Each qualification listed stipulates that it is after a person is born (Legal Information Institute, 2016). But usually, if the Constitution doesn’t help the pro-lifers out, the next line of defense is that God’s law is the only law. Maybe the legislators have a hard time including women in what we call basic, human rights, because of the engendered language.

G.T Goodnight (1982) breaks up society into spheres which he defines as “branches of activity”.  The personal/private sphere is more individualized or only applies to the participants involved. The public is like society, transcending the private and technical, almost all encompassing. The technical sphere is less accessible to the general public because it is more specialized. He talks about sphere overlap as well, it is a regular occurrence. But it raises the question—how far is too far? In the instance of the abortion debate, we can see an overlap of the public sphere into the personal sphere. The public sphere also seems to be compromising the technical sphere, or completely ignoring it. As I stated before, the public sphere wishes to dictate the personal sphere in matters of women’s health care, namely abortion. These legislations are based in religious principle. A reasonable argument would be that both a woman’s choices and religion are both matters for the personal sphere. Women’s health care and options therein are a matter of the technical sphere. We could also talk about sphere dependence. Most rational people would accept doctor expertise. It takes a great deal of intelligence and effort to get an M.D. tacked on to the end of your name. But if we look at these fanatical pro-life groups, we will see that there is a distortion of the abortion procedure, the size of the fetus in reference to the time of termination, and the “repercussions” on the woman.

While abortion is currently legal, the status quo, for centuries, has been that women aren’t capable of making their own decisions. If we look back the early 1900s first wave feminism, we’ll see that women were denied basic legal rights, like voting. Women were not seen as fit to decide their public officers, if they attended college it was thought they were only seeking a husband and were not awarded a degree, they couldn’t own property or keep their children in the event of a failed marriage. There were no women’s clinics or educational material about pregnancy prevention. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was not pro-abortion by any means. In her book, “A Case for Birth Control”, she depicts several tragic deaths of impoverished women who had unsafe abortions (Sanger, 1917). Today the problem still persists. There is a stigma surrounding talking and being educated about sex. 37 states require sex education that includes abstinence. 26 state sex education programs emphasize abstinence alone (Beadle, 2012). We tell teens and adolescents drowning in hormones and observing our hypersexualized media that “not doing it” is the best way to go. Thankfully, as of this April, California ow offers birth control over the counter with the passing of Senate Bill 493 (Johnson, 2016).

The harms that will occur if we make abortion illegal are insurmountable. Many pro-life supporters argue that adoption is also an option. While it is, they fail to notice that as of 2013 the total number of children waiting to be adopted, whether foster care or orphanages, was just over 100,000 (Child Welfare, 2013). Also, placing the child for adoption doesn’t accomplish what the woman truly wants: not to be pregnant. The women who use birth control want the same thing, but are far less criminalized just because they have access to resources. We must make these resources available to everyone. A study from the Guttmacher Institute showed that 47,000 women in developing countries die of complications from unsafe abortions. The study showed that the legality of abortion bore no correlation to the number of procedures occurring (Culp-Ressler, 2012).

The best course of action would be for the government and lawmakers to remove their personal beliefs from the personal choices of women. Planned Parenthood, rape crisis centers, and abortion clinics need to remain open and protected. Another argument arises that tax dollars should not fund abortions. Currently their funds come from government grants and contracts (only 1/3), Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid. Abortion procedures only make up 3% of the services offered at Planned Parenthood. In fact, a majority of Planned Parenthood patients are there for cancer screenings, STD tests, and contraception. Legally, Planned Parenthood cannot use federal government dollars for abortions. The Hyde Amendment restricts Medicaid funding unless it is a case of rape, incest, or the mother’s life is at risk (Robertson and Morse, 2011).

A familiar pro-choice slogan is “no uterus, no opinion”. But this pervasive idea that masculinity is the dominant characteristic fights this. For millennia society has favored men over women, put them in charge over women, and paid them more than women. These old, rich, Republican white men are on a power trip because they’ve never been told any differently. Despite our advances in the last forty years, women are still seen as the lesser sex. These men do not understand the struggle women face because they have never had to struggle. Then, when confronted with their privilege, they become irate that they too are persecuted in “some ways”. The legislators need to understand that they cannot prevent abortions, they can only prevent safe abortions.



REMINDER: Pledge-A-Picketer 

This year we are targeting the Saturday before Father’s Day as the only day of the campaign. Father’s Day is June 19, so our campaign will be on Saturday, June 18.

How can you pledge? Go to this link and fill out the simple form. When you fill out the form it will record your pledge to help us reach our goals. You will receive an email from us within 24 hours confirming we have received the pledge.

We will publish the count of protesters shortly after Father’s Day along with instructions for payment.

How can you help? Share this with your friends, or anyone you think would be interested.


Shining A Spotlight

In early April, I wrote an article called “Documenting Fear.” In that article I described the steps Louisville Clinic Escorts are taking to document the actions of the anti-abortion protesters in front of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, KY.

We are ready to take the next step. We have been working with the National Clinic Access Project (NCAP) to develop recruiting criteria, training materials and guidelines for deploying Legal Observers in front of the clinic on Saturday mornings. We have had our first training and the observers will soon be on the sidewalk.

These legal observers are not escorts. They are not counter-protesters. They are just observers. They will be signing strict non-engagement and confidentiality agreements. They will not be talking to escorts or anti-abortion protesters. They will be writing observations, taking photos, sound recordings and videos. They will respect the patient’s privacy at all times. The observers will work in pairs. You will be able to identify them by their red wristbands.

What are they documenting? Harassment, threatening speech, pushing, shoving, blocking, local ordinance violations, such as noise or sign ordinance violations, plus police presence and their responses. They will be recording information about new protesters on the sidewalk, including vehicle information. They will be watching for any potential escalation into violence. They are the eyes and ears outside the clinic. Reports will be shared with the clinic staff, and when necessary the LMPD, FBI, DOJ and NCAP.

Why are we doing this now? All across the nation clinics have seen a dramatic increase in threatening speech and actions in front of their clinics. The anti-abortion rhetoric within the GOP presidential candidates’ campaigns have not helped the atmosphere for abortion access at all. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) published statistics in April 2016 that show we aren’t imagining this, the incidents of threats and violence did increase dramatically in 2015.

We hope the deployment of these volunteers will make a difference in the sidewalk atmosphere. If they don’t, they will shine a bright spotlight on behavior that is not “counseling”, “grandmotherly” or “loving” at all by documenting what they see under that spotlight.

Stay tuned for updates on how it goes.

Documenting Fear

There have been so many articles written about abortion, abortion access, clinics, anti-abortion protesters and reproductive justice issues in the past five years. It’s not surprising, because since 2010 states have considered almost 400 abortion restriction bills and have adopted 288 of them. Most of these restrictions were TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). It doesn’t seem that any of the GOP legislators are listening to anyone except their anti-abortion constituents.

This week the Town Hall meeting with Chris Matthews gathered enormous news coverage when Donald Trump said he believes if abortion is legally banned, women should be punished for an abortion. Of course, when the media storm broke over his comments there was a “misspeak” retraction. What I found most interesting was the flurry of articles stating women are already being punished for abortion and it is still legal. They are punished by those TRAP law effects and the anti-abortion protesters present every single day in front of clinics around the country. Their Freedom of Speech rights allows the protesters to call women murderers, follow patients to the door at abortion clinics, harassing and bullying them. Every. Single. Day.

The Supreme Court struck down the Massachusetts buffer zone law in 2014. Since that decision, buffer zones have either not been proposed or have been revised downwards in several cities. The court decided in the case of Massachusetts, the 35-foot buffer zone law they had was too big and impeded the grandmotherly “sidewalk counselors” in exercising their First Amendment rights.

However, the idea has still percolated that a smaller buffer zone might work for everyone. The anti-abortion protesters will have to yell across a shorter space and can still hand out pamphlets, but they will not be able to block the entrances or stop patients from entering an abortion clinic to exercise a legal health care procedure.

Louisville Clinic Escorts have been working with the National Clinic Access Project and the staff at EMW Women’s Surgical Center for the past few months to document the type of intimidation experienced by patients entering the only full-time abortion clinic in Kentucky. We have started by presenting anonymous questionnaires to the patients on what they experienced from protesters on their arrival at EMW Women’s Surgical Center for their appointments. We have gathered the questionnaire answers for a month and the results are interesting.

I would like to focus on just a few of the answers, but the full results are at this link. Be sure to read the comments. They are from truly frightened people. 2016 March Monthly Report-EMW Client Questionnaire

This graph has some answers to some of the questions we have about the potential for violence in front of the clinic.  


If over 50% of the patients say the protesters made them feel scared and nervous, it isn’t counseling. It is intimidation. If 38% of patients say they thought about confronting protesters and 12% of them did, it isn’t counseling. It is harassment. What happens if all 38% confront the anti-abortion protesters? Do we have assault and counter-assault charges being filed against the protesters? Does it escalate into violence in an instant? If 50% say the noise level bothered them very much, it isn’t counseling. It is intimidation. What other medical practice is it allowed for protesters to step in front of patients and block their entrance 41% of the time? That is a violation of the FACE Act.  

Are you listening to us? Is it time to say, enough? We need a buffer zone in front of the clinic in Louisville. 15’ would be wonderful, but even 8’ would allow patients to enter a safe space before they walk into the clinic. When is it time to truly protect our citizens instead of proposing TRAP laws that pretend to be for the pregnant person’s health, but really have the end goal of stopping legal abortion?

We will continue gathering the questionnaires. We will continue to document the harassment, intimidation, violations of city and state ordinances, and incidents of violence. I dream of the day when we don’t have to fight daily battles in the struggle to access abortion.