40 Days of Respect – Day 3

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EMW Women’s Surgical Center is such a supportive work environment they have many employees who have been there for over 16-20 years. The Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (KRCRC) honored two of them in the spring of 2018.

The full article is below, but this quote really says everything about Anne Ahola, Director:

She handles all those pressures with grace and courage,
setting the tone for all the clinic staff. Counseling– “often
a short few minutes when I can approve, empower, be kind
and compassionate”– is the part of her job that she likes
best. She also appreciates the clinic’s physicians and staff,
and especially thanks the volunteers who escort patients
through the noisy mob of demonstrators into the clinic.
“I couldn’t be more grateful, to everyone who has helped
women and families have a choice in their family planning,”
she concludes.

Dona Wells is retired now, but this quote is one we try to follow:

Dona Wells is a woman of courage—a woman who even in
the face of hostility, hardship and danger works for the cause
she believes in. She has set an example for all of us, and we
must now continue her work.

This is a screen shot of the article, but please follow this link to the newsletter archives of KRCRC. They are valued supporters of EMW Women’s Surgical Center.

40 Days of Respect – Day 2

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The staff of EMW Women’s Surgical Center rely on volunteer clinic escorts to assist their clients into the clinic past protesters. Volunteer escorts are proud to wear their orange vests as they walk people past anti-choice protesters. They know the clinic staff all realize abortion is healthcare and once the client is in the door, they will be greeted by non-judgmental, empathetic staff who will treat them professionally.

One client shared this comment with us this year. Even though 4 years have passed, they still remember the kindness offered to them.

I went to EMW in May 2016, and I am forever grateful for the strength and support provided by the clinic escorts. I didn’t take my decision lightly, but if I had not had an abortion I would have brought a child into a life of poverty and instability. The protestors were horrible and insulting and they don’t seem to care about the circumstances of the woman going to the clinic. I have zero regrets for my decision, and I appreciate every single person who gives their time to protect the safety and freedom of any woman who makes the choice to go to EMW. Thank you

40 Days of Respect – Day 1

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For those who have been involved with Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Justice issues for many years, there is a twice a year event we never anticipate with anything except displeasure because of the stress it causes our clinic’s staff, volunteer agents, clients and their companions.

There is an organization named 40 Days for Life* who has their anti-abortion campaigns twice a year. There is one in the spring timed to end close to Easter Sunday. There is one in the fall timed to end close to November election days. Their organization is now worldwide, but only started in 2004. They only went nationwide in the US in 2007. Their twice a year campaigns are to send out “prayer warriors” to stand outside of abortion clinics 24 hours a day/7 days a week for 40 days. Since this was more than 30 years after Roe vs Wade was decided in 1974, it really makes me suspicious the origins of .these campaigns were politically motivated instead of motivated by firmly held religious beliefs.

They don’t seem too picky where they protest. If there isn’t an abortion clinic nearby, any women’s health clinic will do for their protests. If there isn’t a Planned Parenthood or other women’s health clinic nearby, a courthouse will do. The point isn’t to stop abortions, it is to shame women for taking any part in medical access for reproductive issues. Remember the birth control exemptions from ACA?

We have tried a lot of different ways to bring public awareness to the hypocrisy in their actions during these campaigns. We have had fundraisers during their campaigns. We have had counter protests during their campaigns. This fall, we have decided to take command of the dialogue. We will ignore their harassing presence on the sidewalk.

We are starting a campaign of 40 Days of Respect starting September 23 and ending November 1. Each day of the campaign we will be publishing an article about why we are volunteer agents for EMW Women’s Surgical Center. It is because of our respect for the ethical, compassionate, respectful care they provide for their clients every single day. We will also be highlighting some of the staff of EMW Women’s Surgical Center and the impact they have had on all those who come in contact with them. We will be including statements from organizations who work with the clinic, as well as patients of the clinic. The dedication to quality health care they bring to the community is appreciated by so many.

Today we are starting out our series with our admiration of Dr. Ernest Marshall. We are so honored to have Dr. Marshall as a provider in Louisville. In May 2019, the staff of EMW Women’s Surgical Center were awarded by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) their annual George R Tiller Award of “Attitude is Everything” Award for Excellence.

These annual awards are selected by nominations from all of the members of NAF. The selection is based on the nominations and according to the NAF board, “This award is given each year to one NAF member facility that emulates Dr. Tiller’s excellent and compassionate patient care, positive attitude, and staff cohesiveness.” This award is due to Dr. Marshall’s guidance and dedication over the years.There are two quotes associated with Dr. Tiller. The first one is “Trust Women.” They will know what is best for their lives and deserve respect. The second quote is, “Abortion is not a cerebral or reproductive issue. Abortion is a matter of the heart: for until one understands the heart of a woman, nothing else about abortion makes any sense at all.” Dr. Marshall trusts, respects and understands the heart of a woman and has kept these things in mind over all the years he has provided compassionate medical care to the community. The recognition with this award is so well deserved.

Of course, this isn’t the only recognition Dr. Marshall has received. In December 2015 ACLU ran a series for their 60th Anniversary in Kentucky titled “Faces of Liberty.” Dr. Marshall and Dr. Eubanks of EMW Women’s Surgical Center were centered in one of the profile articles. This quote from Dr. Marshall began the article, “Part of my nature is that every child should have a mother or father that wants them. My mother has had 13 pregnancies…I call it pseudo-slavery through reproduction.”

Compassion for patients, trusting and respecting patients, understanding patients take different paths to their decisions, and believing no child should be unwanted are some of Dr. Marshall’s approach to abortion care. We are so lucky to have him in our city and state.

We hope you like this plan and if you would like to join in our 40 Days of Respect campaign. We are soliciting comments and articles for this series. Please send your ideas or comments to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com All submissions can be anonymous.

We will not respond to any anti-abortion comments and will block any senders.

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**Links to anti-abortion websites not included intentionally.

#notcounseling by Lucien Marcato

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So… on the Louisville escort Twitter page you can read various things about reproductive justice. You can also read some sidewalk commentary. Sometimes when an anti says or does something hateful,stupid, or just weird, you might read about it with the hashtag #notcounseling.

This is done because many antis who harass people call themselves “sidewalk counselors”. But there is a new group of people who agree with us that they are #notcounseling, which is good ‘cause we couldn’t agree more.

Recently they have taken to Twitter to do a series of tweets with the hashtag #notcounseling.

Examples:

At the abortion clinic we are #notcounseling. We are offering to adopt their child.

At the abortion clinic we are #notcounseling. We are proclaiming God’s ownership over them and the child he has given to them as a gift. Both child and mother carefully knit together by the hand of God.

At the abortion clinic we are #notcounseling. We’re witnessing sex industry handlers bring their teenage slaves in under the knowing eyes of pro abortion escorts.

Hmmm….ok let’s just agree that is #notcounseling. However I feel it’s a disservice to you and the others who call themselves sidewalk counselors to not mention just a few other reasons you are #notcounseling.

So glad we agree on something!!

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling because counseling only exists with consent or a court order. Neither of which you have.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you offer assistance but support politicians who wanna cut food stamps, Medicaid, welfare, and anything else someone might need after they are born.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you physically block the sidewalk to shame and intimidate people.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you yell to companions “Be a man,” as if men have moral authority over women.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you try to trick clients into the fake clinic next door.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when someone you are harassing approaches you and you trip over your own feet, cry assault, go on the local news and say “She threw me to the ground… I saw the eyes of Satan.”

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you trespass on clinic property and refuse to leave in your failed attempt to intimidate escorts.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you amplify your voice on top of your little soap box to counsel non-participating clients.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you find out an escort lost his wife and say she is worm food if she didn’t repent.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you tell someone they need a “daddy”.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you specifically target people of color and accuse them of genocide of their own race.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you see an interracial couple and shout “half black lives matter”

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you shout “ you’ll always be a mother, mother of a dead baby”

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you open carry a gun and say, “ If you’re gonna kill people you better arm up,” while wearing 3 percentile apparel.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when a client tells you they will die if they go through with the pregnancy and you don’t believe them.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when a client tells you they were raped but you still insist they carry the pregnancy to term.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you shout, “ I wonder if you’re here because of the way you dress”

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you compare an abortion to you murdering your own 3 year old daughter with an axe.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you bring your own children and use them as a prop for your own agenda.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you surround the client, scream at them, try to scare them into a complete breakdown because some are in fear of their own life.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you say, “ Let me adopt your child,” when most of you have never or will never adopt.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling trying to save the unborn while ignoring the six figures of children in foster care.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you talk about women “spreading her legs”

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you don’t support contraception of any kind.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling when you call other Christians fake Christians unless their name is Donald trump.

At the abortion clinic you are #notcounseling because anyone with sense knows that you are not there because you care about the unborn. You get a false sense of pride and power telling other people just how awful they are. It’s very sick and pathetic. I feel very sorry for your children.

However none of this changes you. You will still spout your hate, but we will keep showing up in our orange vests. We won’t back down. Hasn’t happened before or after 1973.

Family Planning Counseling from Slide Share

Minority Report: POC Experiences on the Sidewalk – by Roxanne

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This may not be immediately obvious to some people reading this, but I’m black. Just thought I should get the formalities out of the way before we move forward. If you want to get technical, I’m biracial, mixed with black and white, but for all intents and purposes surrounding my experience as a volunteer clinic escort-I am a black woman. I’m about 6 months into volunteering as a clinic escort at EMW Women’s Surgical Center, the only abortion provider in the state of Kentucky. In the beginning, I thought that I would simply show up for a few hours on Saturdays, do my part, then go back home. Nothing more, nothing less. However, that thought was long gone before the clinic even opened for business on my first “Sidewalk Saturday” last summer.

While there are several contributing factors that drive my newfound passion and activism, the one that has remained my top motivator is knowing that my presence can be a form of comfort and security for some brown or black clients and their companions. The walk from the parking garage to the front doors of EMW is brutal for anyone. Unless you’ve experienced it firsthand, it’s hard to even put into words-but I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like. Just trust me when I say that it is absolutely gut-wrenching. Now I’d like you to try and imagine having to walk through that hostility and harassment, but not seeing anyone who looks like you that also supports you and your right to choose.

We’re given lots of helpful information and education regarding the terrible things that antis may say to us volunteers, but I don’t think one can ever be “ready” to experience a person (a stranger, nonetheless) being so unapologetically vocal with their racism. Anti-choicers will say anything they can think of to bully escorts, clients, and companions. Most often it’s merely speculation that they concoct on their own with absolutely no facts or truth. However, if your skin is brown; that’s an obvious physical characteristic that can’t be masked or hidden by our practice of nonengagement.

Though I do get my fair share of racist comments from antis, their bullying isn’t just reserved for us volunteers. If the sidewalk gauntlet isn’t bad enough, when a client rounds the corner to the front of the clinic…it gets worse. When approaching the front doors of EMW, clients are likely to encounter cameras, loudspeakers with microphones and amplifiers, children, large graphic posters, bible readers and even the occasional opera singer. Add in a few MAGA hats and one man who always insists on showing us that he openly carries AND conceals firearms. Because that’s a totally normal thing for people to do at 7:00am on Saturday morning outside a healthcare provider’s office, right?

As ridiculously overwhelming as that sounds, it doesn’t end there for our black and brown clients. Just when you think you’re through the worst of it, nearing the waiting area located on the opposite side of a set of glass doors, you hear someone shout at you, “Black Lives Matter, even on Saturdays!! Maybe not to you though!” That comment never fails to send a jolt through both clients and companions alike. Sometimes I actually can see a person’s body begin to tense in anger. Other times, they’re so caught off guard that a random white man would have the audacity to use something created FOR and BY us as an opportunity to push their own agendas and hate.

I’ve heard antis say some of the worst things imaginable, just to list a few:

“This place is a KKK Paradise! A black doctor killing black babies! I bet the KKK loves that!”
“Honey, don’t you know that this place is the leading killer of your people? They kill more black babies in there than guns.”
“Doesn’t this remind you of slavery? This place kills the most Afro American people!”
“You’re not standing with black women, you’re leading them to murder their babies and have guilt for the rest of their life, you’re just wicked.”
“Sweetie, do you know who Margaret Sanger is? You should Google her.”
“See, that’s why most of you black people are ignorant.”

On one occasion an anti randomly and rather loudly shouted the n-word (Yes, a HARD R) with absolutely no context whatsoever. Six months in and I am still baffled by their antics every single time I step onto that sidewalk. I regularly remind myself that they choose to spend their time harassing and shaming people who are simply attempting to access care that they are entitled to as an autonomous person.

A few weeks ago, a fellow escort paid me what I consider to be the greatest compliment I’ve received in the time that I’ve been volunteering. This escort was my walking partner on that chilly December morning, and together we walked a handful of clients through the 3-ring circus that I have described in this article. As we were returning to our station at the parking garage, my fellow orange vested friend said:

“I am so glad that we have you here. The immediate connection you have with clients of color is an awesome thing to witness. I felt like I didn’t need to say anything at all because it was obvious that there was an unspoken trust between the two of you. That is something most of us will never be able to provide, so thank you for being here.”

And that, my friends, is why I will continue to proudly put on my orange vest for as long as I am physically able. I like to tell clients as we’re walking “If they’re here, we’re here” just so they know that we’re there for them, and I am confident that every single one of my fellow escorts share that commitment. If me simply being present helps ease anxieties or provides a sense of comfort to a person while they are exposed to that level of harassment—how could I not?

Stay tuned for part 2, coming soon! We’ll take a candid look at intersectionality and explore ways to best approach the issue of underrepresentation by POC within the Reproductive Justice space, specifically clinic escorting.

Sidewalk Snippet – It’s Always Something

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It’s always something back at the garage behind EMW to disrupt the peace.

Many mornings preachers from various anti abortion cliques from the local area bring their portable amplified equipment to stand at the garage and preach.

They seem to enjoy the sound of their own voices echoing off the multi-level concrete garage.

Those mornings escorts stationed there are often subjected to personalized Bible readings creatively distorted out of context.

When clients park and exit on foot for the block and a half walk to the clinic, the amplified harassers quickly fall into step behind them and then proceed to verbally assault them in the name of free speech to the clinic property line.

Often times these walks are balancing act of escorts quietly reassuring clients, while gently deescalating companions from wanting to shove the individuals following on their heels preaching at them still mic’d up and amplified from a distance of only a few feet.

Today it was not the usual annoying disturbances. It was a car with an alarm going off repeatedly on the second floor of the garage.

Making ample use of the acoustics and clear morning air, it paused briefly every now and then before starting another 3 minute screech fest.

The bright side to this is it did not confront escorts or chase clients down the sidewalk.

Who are the Legal Observers?

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Who are the Legal Observers?

Many people have noticed Legal Observers on the sidewalks around EMW Women’s Surgical Center over the past 3 years. They are wearing caps and/or badges that say, “NCAP Trained Legal Observer”. They carry cell phones and take notes. Who are these people? What are they doing? Are they taking photos of people who have appointments at EMW?

NO, they are not taking photos of people going to the clinic. They adhere to strict guidelines not to take photos of any patient or companion. If you see them with their cell phones up, rest assured they are not taking photos of you entering the clinic. They are taking photos of the protesters and escorts. They do not carry any other cameras either.

The Legal Observers are not connected to any escort group. They are present at the invitation of the clinic staff on the recommendation of the National Clinic Access Project (NCAP). Their focus is the safety of the patients, their companions, clinic staff and escorts.

They will not approach patients for conversation and cannot act as an escort for any patient and/or companion.

What are they doing then?

The Feminist Majority Foundation established NCAP in 1989. It was modeled on the observers for the National Lawyers Guild. These observers are documenting interactions of everyone on the sidewalk. The documentation is reported to the clinic, LMPD and NCAP with their notes on any threats or violations of laws.

Why won’t they talk to me?

The Legal Observers are neutral observers at all times. They have pledged to be strictly non-engaging with anyone on the sidewalk while observing. If someone asks them persistently what they are doing their standard reply is, “We are legal observers. We are not reporters. We are just observing and not interviewing. We don’t want to discuss anyone’s viewpoint.” If they are asked what NCAP stands for, they will reply, “Google it.” Then they will walk away and not have further discussion with the questioner.

When are they present?

Legal Observers are present each week and sometimes a couple of times a week. They are only on duty in the early morning. The clinic relies on their surveillance cameras when they are not present. The Legal Observers are an extra layer of protection for people wanting to exercise their right to an abortion.

I’m Glad You Asked

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It seems everyone today has an opinion on reproductive health choices and access to legal abortion.

Escorting at EMW Women’s Surgical Center, assisting clients get to their appointments with as little interference/harassment from anti-choice protesters as possible, my mind is constantly engaged and thinking. So when this screen capture taken off a video Operation Save America posted and I read that comment from a viewer, I pondered on it.


What was I thinking as I calmly stood there that Friday morning, while Rusty Thomas of OSA (in town for a federal court appearance) bellowed, roared and shamed clients, companions, and escorts alike that morning?

I thought back to May 13, 2017 when this man in front of me chose to break federal law and cross the property line, sitting down with about a dozen followers blocking the entry doors until eventually peacefully removed by LMPD after many polite requests and invitations by the officers went unanswered.

I thought about the dynamics I was watching that Friday morning among the anti-abortion protesters. I watched when the cameras came on and when they had an audience, they kicked it into high gear, yelling shaming, preaching.

I thought about theatrics they love to present: escorts as stone-hearted, cold, uncaring people and themselves as poor put-upon saviors.

I thought about the perception their viewers must have when they watch these videos. I wonder if viewers know how much of a show it is to recruit donations and support?

I thought about the distortions they offer, the narratives they speak when they claim a save. In reality sometimes clients or companions tell them just what they want to hear so they will be left alone.

I thought about clients having to come back for a second appointment because they were tricked into the CPC next door and missed their originally scheduled one.

I thought back to last July when we had a very temporary buffer zone and Federal Marshals on hand. How much safer clients felt when they did not have anti-abortion protesters in their face, blocking their path, leaning over and separating them from their companions.

I thought about Rusty Thomas’ court appearance that Friday morning. I wondered if a federal judge would even think about weighing a First Amendment right to free speech versus the safety of citizens trying to just go to their doctor’s appointment?

I thought about how difficult and how politically weaponized someone who wishes to maintain their bodily autonomy and access the legal right to terminate a pregnancy has become.

I thought about the many difficulties people who choose this option overcome just in getting to the clinic.

I thought about the spectacle to have a small strange man in a cowboy hat yelling at them as they approached the doors, shaming them for the decisions they choose to make for themselves.

I thought about if we accept one person’s decisions and choices in life may not be ours, but those are decisions that must be left up to each individual, what they feel and know is best for their family.

So yeah, thanks for asking. I wish you’d take the time to think it over as well. Too many times one only sees what’s presented, not the whole picture.

Not in My State! ~by KYBorn

So, I’ve been gone for a while.  I have a good excuse that circles back to the title if you can hang in there long enough.

I had an unexpected illness that required multiple surgeries, a long ICU stay and a month long stay in my home state since I could neither stay alone or travel

Anyway, after the insurance sorted out all the things they would pay for I ended up back in my home town doing outpatient therapy.

Being back in my home town for an extended stay brought back a lot of memories. It didn’t take long for me to be reminded of the desperation felt by women who had a 90-mile drive and a time zone to cross. It reminded me of high school girls who went to a subpar practitioner in Lexington because he didn’t check IDs.  It reminded me of why I didn’t have sex until I was over the age of 18 and free to dispose of unwanted products of conception as I chose. Sure, the town had changed in a lot of ways. Heck, they even have a Mexican restaurant that serves margaritas that actually contain alcohol and a Super Wal-Mart. What they didn’t have and still don’t have is reasonable and affordable access to safe pregnancy termination.

I was born and raised in rural Kentucky. I spent part of my adulthood living in a less rural part of the state. Both places lacked convenient and affordable access to abortion care, but most women knew that as long as they were 18 they could go to Louisville, even if at great cost, to terminate an unwanted pregnancy or a wanted pregnancy gone wrong. None of us thought it was right that we should have to travel so far to get legal health care, not to mention walk a gauntlet intended to shame us that has only become progressively worse. I had already left the state before the worst of the TRAP laws that have been thrown down as barriers for all women, but can be particularly difficult for rural and low income women became law. I read as two of three clinics were closed, but at least there was one that had been standing for years. At least there was one clinic left in the state.

Then I read that the new Governor Bevin is ordering it shut down on a technicality. Yes, I got angry enough to throw my shoes. Hard.

Since I would likely be arrested for screaming on my front lawn, I’ll scream it here.

Not in my state!

It was bad enough before with underage girls sneaking to back alley butchers and only the wealthy being able to afford to take the time off to usually spend the night (due to time change, or two nights in the case of a two-day procedure) without choosing between rent and health care.  It was bad enough when women had to walk an oversized block filled on both sides of people shouting obscene dialogue of hellfire, waving fetus porn and surreptitiously directing them to “the clinic next door” where they got everything BUT the abortion they were seeking.

So, I don’t live there anymore.  I can drive and easily pay for an abortion in two locations.  I can get on a plane and use my health insurance at one of over 10 clinics to pay for abortion.  I know who and how to get misoprostol to induce a miscarriage without walking a gauntlet of shame as now required in Kentucky. I wouldn’t be one of those women who ended up dead due to infection from a botched abortion by a quack or ended up poisoning myself by consuming herbs or plants that are supposed to induce abortion. There are a lot of places in the world where desperate women are harmed by resorting to desperate and unsafe measures. The United States is rapidly becoming one of those countries and certainly Kentucky is on the forefront of denying safe abortion care.

Of course, Governor Bevin wants to shut down the last place in the Kentucky where a woman can walk a gauntlet of shame filled with fetus porn, stalkers and statues of the blessed virgin.  No.  It isn’t enough to shame women but they must be denied care they are obviously desperately seeking at all. He wants Kentucky women to be regulated to the status of second-class citizens in a third world theocracy.

NOT! IN! MY! STATE!

This is not what most people want or care about.  They want better education, better job opportunities and training, dealing with drug overdoses rising out of control and better support for women who choose to go to term.  Mostly, they want the government out of their bodies, just like I want the government out of mine.

But it isn’t going to happen in my state (or commonwealth, if you prefer).  The doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate is nothing more than biblical anarchy.  This is what the Governor is buying into.  It may be crap, but your state tax dollars will pay for it while boxes of rape kits sit untested in a basement because that money has been allotted to defend unconstitutional laws and regulations based on religious beliefs.

So now is the time.  To steal a bit from the Reagan years, “Just Say No” to shutting down the last abortion clinic in Kentucky.

 

Bevin Threatens Last Clinic in KY – by MAP

The EMW Women’s Surgical clinic on 2nd and Market is the last abortion clinic in Kentucky and the threat of closure is imminent because of our Governor Matt Bevin. This is a threat to reproductive justice and abortion rights in our state, restricting access to abortions, creating more barriers for clients to face. Every person should be able to choose whether they are ready to parent a child. Attorneys at the ACLU have filed a federal lawsuit so the clinic can stay open. For more information please go to the links provided below.

Want to know how you can help?

Come rally with us Sunday, 2:00 p.m in front of the Clinic!

Rally for EMW

Donate to the Kentucky Health Justice Network Bowl-a-thon

Kentucky Health Justice Network bowlathon donations

Articles with more information

Courier Journal 

ACLU

Herald Leader

CNN

Insider Louisville