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.

Dreams of a Safety Zone

We had a relatively new protester on the sidewalk this week.  I don’t know his name – someone called him Herman, and that works for me.  New protesters are sometimes a bit overly enthusiastic about their opportunity to save babies.  They don’t always understand the unwritten agreements between us and the antis.  Herman is a prime example of that.

In our first picture, Herman is excited because he saw an escort talking to someone in a car.  He runs to the Abolish Human Abortion crew to let them know.

IMG_1098(Picture shows AHA members, with one sign, and Herman, a white man with gray hair and a short gray beard, wearing sunglasses, holding a Bible and another book.  They are looking down the sidewalk in the same direction -his arm is slightly raised as he has just pointed at the escort who was talking to the people in the car.)

In this picture, Herman enthusiastically leads the way down the sidewalk to show the big guys exactly which car it was.


(Excuse my thumb in the lower left corner…)

I head that way too, phone camera ready.   I hope if I’m doing video they won’t actually surround the car.  And they don’t – they stay on the sidewalk.

Here’s that video, with transcript:

Joseph Spurgeon preaching:  Murder.
What you’re about to do will be the killing of your child. The murder of your son or daughter. We come out here, we want to plead with you that there are better options. Other options.
Anything is better than killing your child.
We would like to offer you assistance. we would like to offer you to adopt your child. We also want to warn you that the word of God has said that to take the life of another human being is murder To take the life of your son or daughter is murder.
It is a crime against God, and against man. iI is a crime against your creator.
Herman: (up close to me) Do you know your creator? Do you know your creator? Do you know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Do you know the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
JS: it’s a crime
H: Praise God almighty, you murderers –
J: Because God has created you in the image of himself, he has created your child in his image
H: You’re murdering people  How can you do this? how can you do this and smile about it?  Do you know how great God Almighty is??   YOU one day you will bow to him.  I pray that it’s not too late praise God almighty Turn to God Turn to God (Bible over camera)

JS:  (preaching over H)  And so if you kill your child if you would kill your son or daughter, it is an attack upon him as well. we come to warn you, not that you would mock or laugh. but that we would warn you to flee from God’s wrath and to turn to him.

(H quits talking, puts his Bible over my camera phone.)

JS:  Look to Jesus Christ. You can find hope for your situation. You can find…

I don’t know why Herman’s so upset about me doing some video.  The AHA guys really don’t care, and they’ve been taking pictures and doing video themselves all day.

Then Donna comes up and has a few words to say about me to Herman.  Something about  “her dear mother in heaven” who is “praying for her,” which is fine, the day is not compete without Donna talking about my mama.  The doors open, the clients go inside, and the morning goes on.

Maybe 10 minutes later, I’m standing in front of the clinic door, clients coming, lots of yelling from AHA and from Angela, I take a step back to get out of the way and bump into Herman, who is apparently right behind me.

“You need to move,” I say, “it’s against the law to block clinic access. It’s against the FACE act.”

“I’m not blocking access,” he says, “They got in, didn’t they?”

I walk away from him.

A few minutes later, I’m in the drop-off zone, and he approaches me.  I have my phone in hand, (mostly because I dont have any pockets in the pants I’m wearing) and as he starts talking to me, I raise the phone and hit “record.”

Through an intense 22 seconds, Herman holds his hand up over my phone and moves forward toward me, while I back up.

Here’s the transcript:

H:  Don’t push me
Me:  You’re making me really nervous
H:  Don’t push me
M:  You need to get away from me
H:  Don’t push me
M:  You’re scaring me
H:  Don’t push me
M:  Get away from me.  You’re following me.
H:  Don’t push me, don’t push me
M:  You’re following me, and I’m not touching you, i’m not doing anything to you
H:  You were touching me
M:  Get away from me
H:  You were touching me
M:  You need to get away from me
H:  You were touching me
M:  You need to back up, you’re scaring the crap out of me

At the end, Joseph Spurgeon kind of pulls Herman away, talks with him.  And I appreciate that.  Although – it’s an upside down world when Spurgeon is the voice of reason…

But now you know why I’m dreaming of a safety zone at the clinic.  I’m not usually afraid.  And I don’t usually think of it as particularly high risk to be an escort.  But I was talking about the risk level at abortion clinics with a friend recently.  She agreed – it is low risk – “It’s a one,” she said, “Until it’s a nine.”  Or a ten.  This Saturday was a good reminder of how true that is.









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 2016

We started the Pledge-A-Picketer fundraiser in 2010, and have been doing it every year since then with great success.  It’s a simple fundraiser. You pledge whatever you choose for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts and abortion access. Escorts use this fund drive for legal expenses, training costs, safety supplies, parking fees for patients and other miscellany.

Traditionally there are three big event days when a large number of anti-abortion protesters come to the clinic. The Saturday before Easter, the Saturday before Mother’s Day and the Saturday before Father’s Day used to be the biggest protester days of the year at EMW Women’s Surgical Center. When we first started the Pledge-A-Picketer fundraiser, we targeted the Saturday before Mother’s Day as the day to count protesters.  As the numbers on this day have dropped, some protesters have attributed the drop to them not wanting to contribute to the success of our fundraiser. I don’t really believe them. I think they are having problems bringing out large numbers because of more public awareness that abortion is part of healthcare and a human right. Plus, the sidewalk anti-abortion people are being viewed as the bullies they are by more people.

Here is the history of their turnouts from the years we counted. Notice the dropping numbers.

  • Easter weekend: From 170 protesters in 2009 to 60 protesters in 2016.
  • Mother’s Day weekend: From 275-325 protesters in 2009 to 100 protesters in 2015
  • Father’s Day weekend: From 300 protesters in 2009 to 108 protesters in 2015

Last year we combined the Saturday before Easter, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and the Saturday before Father’s Day and called it Spring 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.

The day before Father’s Day remains a large turnout day for anti-abortion protesters, mostly because it is the day the Sisters for Life come out. Sisters for Life members, including their director, Mrs. Angela Minter, do “sidewalk counseling” weekly in front of the clinic. Angela is known to harass people she recognizes and then call their family members to report they went into the clinic. That’s not really counseling, but you can see for yourself. Here is a video of her being carried out of the clinic when she trespassed following in someone she recognized.


This is a different Angela than she presents in front of the news cameras or when she endorsed Senate candidate Matt Bevin.

This will be the 8th year Sisters for Life has their fundraising drive of “Fathers for Life Day Walk or Bike.” They charge a registration that gets everyone a matching t-shirt and walk or bike to the clinic to carry signs, sing and block the sidewalk and entrance of the clinic.

A picture and a video is worth a 1000 words. Here’s FML’s article from last year’s demonstration on Father’s Day weekend. We stood in the pouring rain, fighting umbrellas while being sung to over and over. My personal favorites are the songs they make up on the spur of the moment. They don’t always go as intended and are frequently unintentionally funny.

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.


Ranting and Raving on Abortion Provider Appreciation Day

Alternate title: Two Facebook Rants that Deserve to be Seen.

But first, for the raving part….

WE ARE SO VERY GRATEFUL TO THE BRAVE PEOPLE WHO PROVIDE ABORTIONS TO THOSE WHO NEED AND WANT THEM!! Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer providers, as abortion access continues to be under attack from anti abortion demonstrators, extremists, and legislators. This is why it is SO important that we show our appreciation to the kind and brilliant doctors, staff, and volunteers who work in the face of perpetual hurdles. The services performed by these heroes literally save people’s lives, and can preserve a quality of life for those who aren’t able to stay pregnant, or become parents (again, right now, or at all). I am not going to take this space to spout about the attacks taking place in our state, and our region right now, ranging from vandalism to lawsuits and more new laws to make it harder to both operate a clinic, and to access an affordable procedure without having to travel long distances. Most of our readers are aware of these matters, and can follow the links to the stories about dwindling access. So, for now I’ll repeat a loud and proud THANK YOU to all of the folks working to provide abortion care. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. WE NEED YOU. PLEASE DON’T STOP.

And now…. For the ranting.

Below you will find separate contributions from two different women. We are friends, but did not collaborate on or draw inspiration from each other’s rants in any way. They both center around privilege (our own, and that of those around us), and are appropriate in these times when there is an unprecedented level of tension, both in this country as we head towards a heated presidential election, and in Kentucky as we feel the impact of our new Governor Matt Bevin, who is doing his damndest to punish and oppress people for being poor, queer, trans, non-white, or any person who wants to practice a variety of religions, or (GASP!) have sex for some reason other than procreation.

The first section is taken from a comment thread on a Facebook post that mentioned voting, and linked this NYT article titled Abortion Witch Hunt. It culminates in a rant. I (the author behind “wench” on esm) made the original post, did the ranting, and have omitted the name of my FB friend.

The second section is a touching poem by a woman I have known for a very long time, and have a ton of respect for. We will call her D. D posted her poem on Facebook and I asked permission to share it here, as I thought it fit nicely. Please enjoy and share!


Him: Are you guys fighting for Bernie? Because if not $hillary is likely to get smoked in the general election. How’ya like for Trumperific years, or maybe the Cruzinator? BERNIE OR BUST! Times drawing near.

Me: I am voting for Bernie, but I think Hillary will win the nomination. I can’t really get down with what feels like a coercive threat: Vote for Bernie or be punished. I’m also not gonna fight with other Dems / feminists about what might be happening in 2017 when Bevin is actively trampling on the rights of so many KYians today.

Him:  Never mind, I’m not contributing to the abortion witch hunt, sorry to inject something as unimportant as the Presidential election, Furthermore, I won’t say a word about the ridiculousness of anyone considering $hillary a feminist. Lastly, it was no threat, but many Bernie supporters, myself included will never vote for the criminal racket that HRC, the DNC and their mega-money overseers comprise. Bernie beats trump by 8% in the polls right now, $hillary beats him by 4% and while Bernie beats all the other GOP candidates handily $hillary loses to them all. Have a nice day!

Me:  I wasn’t referring to HRC as a feminist. I was referring to her supporters. I truly hope Bernie wins the nomination. If he doesn’t, I’ll do what I’ve done every election since my first when I voted Nader in 2000 and lived through 8 more Bush years. I’ll vote for Not Trump.

I know there are Berners who won’t vote HRC. You may not call it a threat or punishment, but there is a palpable difference between intent and impact there. That’s no way to teach any lessons. That’s your privilege showing.

H: My privilege? I’m listening

M: yes. I’m not sure if you want me to elaborate on the privileges that you enjoy in this culture (the fact that you are seen as an able bodied, strong, heterosexual, white, cisgender man, and all the leeway you get with that… the fact that you and your family members have had access to education throughout your lives….. your ability to gain employment and maintain job security at not one but two well established and highly regarded institutions)…… Or if you’re wanting me to elaborate on the privileges inherent to the concept that by refusing to support a democratic presidential candidate, just because it’s not *your* preferred person, as a way of punishing those of us who you don’t think are fighting hard enough for your preferred candidate, you are teaching us some kind of lesson by making us suffer through Trump (or any republican contender) because you couldn’t bring yourself to vote for the lesser of two evils.

These hardcore Berners you’re aligning yourself with aren’t the people whose loved ones will be deported (or murdered or waterboarded) in the name of immigration reform or anti terrorism efforts. y’all won’t be the ones losing your homes in real estate collapses, then housing project demolitions and section 8 cuts. Your kids won’t be the ones whose class sizes swell well above 35 children per one tired, underpaid adult in schools with no arts programs. Or whose teenagers get charged as adults and shuttled through the school to prison pipeline because they’re seen as troubled at-risk thugs who are a threat to society. The absence of these disadvantages and countless more are some of reasons why the approach of punishing dems for not nominating Bernie is a very privileged one.

That covered some of the class and race privilege in this approach. To make it more personal for myself, as a person who enjoys some privileges as a (somewhat) educated white cis-woman: what might happen to health care? to marriage equality? and i’m not just talking about abortion access… i’m talking about being able to keep my home (or car, or phone) if I have to spend time in the ER or ICU for some reason, or end up needing long term treatment for an ailment. if I could afford, for example inpatient cancer treatment, or hospice care, would a partner who can’t be a legal spouse have rights regarding my care or benefits? going Trump is going backwards, just like we are seeing with Bevin now.

but since it came up, and since the original post was about abortion access, and now we are talking about male privilege… I can’t tell if you mentioned not being in on the abortion witch hunt meaning you’re not taking part in the hunt, or it that doesn’t concern you, but those sentiments both fall under: Your Male Privilege Showing.
Here is just one way men will be affected if Bevin stays his course in eliminating *LEGAL* abortion in KY (note that abortions will happen even if illegal, so here is a freebee example where a mother of 3 leaves behind dad and kids by trying to self abort and hemorrhaging to death) so currently a couple living in Louisville or Lexington can decide to terminate a pregnancy and do so after making a phone call and waiting 24 hours, IF they have $750+ laying around. Bevin has already made it to where two trips to the clinic will be required in addition to the original phone call (this will go into effect this summer). so now imagine if the charge Bevin has filed closes that clinic in Lexington. a couple who lives in a suburb east of Lexington now will have to make two trips to Louisville for the procedure. this will mean two adults taking two days off work, possibly having to pay for childcare both days, plus gas expenses (if there is a vehicle) and possibly a hotel, or more gas…… or stay with friends but that might be uncomfortable, and again is a privilege of knowing people with a big enough home in the city.

so you see, there is a LOT of privilege in thinking it’s ok to choose the option of teaching the milquetoast feminists a lesson by punishing us with trump because y’all can’t bear to support a candidate that’s not *your* candidate.

(end rant. These comments took place over the course of two+ days. There have only been crickets post rant.)


A rant. By D

My whiteness is a cloak. It is a invisible cloak that protects me from the bigots and fascists. It blocks me knowing. It makes me a party to racism whenever I stay quiet.

I wear it without realizing how much it protects me. I want to rip it off layer by layer so I can become more emboldened to not lie and lay
silent when by its lack of color one believes I am a comrade for hate.

Out of what I was taught to do cloaked and white. I smile and nod confining and defining the very bigotry I claim to hate and oppose. Sweetness is not the antithesis to racism. Racists can be sweet as hell saying “would you like a big ol glass a sweet tea?”

Layer by layer I will take off the cloak and I need to do it with care. Underneath there are the others layers I use the cloak to protect. My lower class background, divorced, in poverty working class self, my queerness, my child’s disability, my families mental illness and suicide history.

None of those things. None of those things. Did I say that? None of those things are as powerful to define me as the privilege of the cloak of this white skin.

For that is my truth.

Because of it I must listen to the ones uncloaked fearless or in fear and learn.

Because of my cloak I must learn to speak to ones who wear it too.

To call them out and ask them to tear my cloak off too.

I will falter and it will hurt but it will never be the pain of those I seek to understand.

It will never be the pain I cannot comprehend.

Growing pains can be hard but I’m taking the step in faith for a world where we all come to a table and our skin is removed.

Blood spills and is mixed. The river of us all renewed.

Why I’m Pro-Choice, by AJ

When my husband and I had children we always agreed to be open and honest with our kids. When we ended up having two daughters, my husband informed me that “those talks” were all mine. I’ve always been pretty open about women’s rights and at an early age they had probably heard me rant and rave about things they probably shouldn’t have but looking back on it, I’m so glad they did.

They’re 8 and 10 now and about one year ago they asked me what an abortion was. At first, I didn’t want to tell them anything. I didn’t want to tell them the process of an abortion. They’d never understand. They’d get the wrong idea about what it is because they’re kids. There’s no way they could really process that information. Then I thought back and no one in my family talked to me about periods, pregnancy or birth control early. l wasn’t going to be that mom. I told them about abortion in a very age appropriate way, but the most important part I wanted to make sure they understood was that it was their choice. As I explained to them about the process and asked them if someone else wanted to have an abortion what would you say? They were very sure in their answer, “It’s their choice.” Maybe they just said that because I was pushing that the choice is theirs to make or because they truly felt that it was their choice, but I was pretty sure I got my point across.

Fast forward to one day in January,  the night before my first morning as a clinic escort. We had talked about it all week long because they could tell that I was nervous about it. We talked about what an escort does and how they are there to support the woman. How their job is to walk with the woman and her friends or family from their vehicle to the building because they would be harassed. We discussed the protestors and how they were out there with signs with huge photos of dead fetuses and yelling at the women while they were walking into the clinic. My youngest daughter has always been the one to soak up the most information from me. I put them to bed that night, gave kisses, and kiss fives (kiss your hand, then high five) and tucked them in; business as usual. I went downstairs to go to bed myself and I’m lying there for about 10 minutes and in comes my youngest. She hands me a letter and it said,

Dear Mom,

I hope you can help a lot of women tomorrow(sic).

I’ll miss you and I love you a lot.



Then about 10 minutes later she comes back downstairs and she says, “Oh good, you’re still awake,” and she hands me a picture that she has drawn. As I’m looking at the picture, I’m at a loss for words and I ask her to explain it to me. She tells me that I’m at the top with a lady who isn’t sure about her decision, another helper with a lady who is very scared. I asked her what she afraid of. She told me that she was scared of the protesters. She said that she didn’t draw the protesters because they were not important because they weren’t there to help. I was overwhelmed at her understanding of it all.


I made sure that I brought those papers with me on Saturday morning because I knew I had plenty of second thoughts about going. I had seen the protesters from the street so many times before but I had no idea how it would affect me up close. When I approached the clinic from 3rd street, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and tear up. When I got into the parking lot, I almost threw up, but then I remembered the papers in my pocket and remembered that the reason I’m here is to make sure that I’m doing my part to make sure my daughters have access to proper healthcare and rights to their own bodies. As their mother, I owe them that.


How Scared Should I Be?

I’ve been thinking about fear lately.  People who offer any kind of abortion care do that ~ we contemplate the danger, weigh the risk, and decide how willing we are to continue providing care based on our personal logarithm for safety.

The shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado shifts the balance.    The vandalism at EMW clinic here in Louisville shifts it a bit more.  We all have to recalculate.  Some of us do it quickly, others may struggle.  But we haven’t lost escorts – in fact, many new people are volunteering.  Clearly, we won’t be scared off.

So I’ve been thinking about fear, and talking about it with other people who provide abortion care.  As a therapist, I believe that when we are anxious or afraid, we are usually overestimating the risk of the danger and underestimating our ability to deal with it.  I ponder how that applies.

I know there are different types of fear.   We can fear for our physical safety or  fear for our emotional safety.  Those dangers can be realistic or not, but we each have our own tipping point for what’s safe and what isn’t.

If you’re afraid of flying, you may be afraid the plane will crash and you’ll die.  Or you may be afraid that you’ll have a panic attack on the plane and (obviously) not be able to get off the plane and that will be horrible.  The actual risk of either of those things happening aren’t what determines whether or not you fly – a whole range of other factors influence it.

It’s the same with escorting.  We can be afraid that some rabid anti with nothing to lose will detonate a bomb or drive by and start shooting.  We can be afraid that our family and friends who are anti-choice will reject us.  But regardless of the actual danger, escorts typically have deeply held beliefs that lead them to choose to take the risk.

I’m not usually a worrier.  This, however, gives me pause:  The Abortion Vigilante Worksheet.  Created by American Right to Life (not to be confused with the National Right to Life group that we’re all familiar with) the worksheet is a masterpiece of double talk.

American RTL publishes this worksheet to help Christians think through the issue of vigilantism regarding the intentional killing of abortionists. Our directors and leaders at the summit which launched our organization (including the director of Operation Rescue National/OSA, the Rev. Flip Benham) have spent months incarcerated in jails for peaceful civil disobedience by blocking abortion clinic entrances and in defense of Christian liberties.

Disclosure: Prior to using this worksheet, ARTL would like the reader to know our own position:
1) Governments have the authority to use lethal force in more circumstances than do civilians.
2) The Bible’s escalation of force principle prohibits civilian use of lethal force if less force could suffice.
3) Civilians may use lethal force defending innocent life against threats of imminent harm.

If true, these principles do not prohibit the use of civil disobedience to prevent abortions. This worksheet, however, concludes that those who kill, advocate, or even defend the intentional killing of abortionists are morally wrong. Some of those who defend such killings complain that others are unwilling to seriously address their position. To any such, this challenge goes out: take the time and courage to answer these questions, and then email your answers and contact information to…

It seems to me that they’re saying, “Yes, it could be morally justified to kill an abortion provider, no, we’re not saying we think that, but there sure is an argument for it, and maybe you think it’s ok.”

It ends on a similar note, which I won’t bother quoting.

In-between, along with a zillion supposedly logical, ethical questions which supposedly will help you think through the ethical dilemma of whether or not it’s ok to kill abortion providers, is this chart:

Note: The following table presents the casualties of actual known U.S. abortion vigilantes:

Anti-Abortion Violence (non-regulatory)

Perpetrator -Date- City -Victims -Death or Injury -Their Title or Role
Scott Roeder 5/31/09 Wichita, KS George Tiller Death Abortionist

Paul J. Hill 7/29/04 Pensacola, FL John Bayard Britton Death Abortionist
” ” ” ” ” ” James H. Barrett Death Bodyguard, clinic ‘escort’
” ” ” ” ” ” June Barrett Shot twice Clinic ‘escort’

James Kopp 10/23/98 Amherst, NY Barnett Slepian Death Abortionist

Eric Robert Rudolph 1/29/98 Birmingham, AL Robert Sanderson Death Security guard, off-duty cop
” ” ” ” ” ” Emily Lyons Critically injured Clinic nurse

John Salvi 12/30/94 Brookline, MA Shannon Lowney Death Clinic receptionist
” ” ” ” ” ” Leanne Nichols Death Clinic receptionist
” ” ” ” ” ” Anjana Agrawal Shot twice, bullet by heart Clinic ‘counselor’
” ” ” ” ” ” Antonio Hernandez Collapsed lung, more Accompanied wife to clinic
” ” ” ” ” ” Brian Murray Bullet tore up insides Accompanied friend to clinic
” ” ” ” ” ” Jane Sauer Shot twice Clinic bookkeeper
” ” ” ” ” ” Richard J. Seron Shot arm, shoulder, hand Security guard

Rachelle Shannon 8/19/93 Wichita, KS George Tiller Shot in both arms Abortionist

Michael Griffin 3/10/93 Pensacola, FL David Gunn Death Abortionist

Dec. 1, 2015 Update: As results of the criminal investigation become public, and the motive of the mentally-ill pothead Robert Lewis Dear, the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood murderer, is known, we will update the above chart if need be.

That chills me!!  This chart, the Colorado shooting, and the vandalism at my own clinic (with limited concern or action from the police) hit my tipping point.  I have to re-examiine my own logarithm for physical safety.

How scared is reasonable?  How high is the risk – realistically?  Ok, I have a lot better chance of dying in a car wreck than getting killed by an anti at the clinic, but this feels scarier.  What is that about?

Is it the malevolence?  If I die in a car wreck, it’s an accident.  If someone targets me and kills me because I’m an escort, it is intentional and personal.  That does feel different.

Is it because I’m choosing to do this thing that puts me at risk?  I couldn’t really survive without getting in a car, but I choose to escort.  Does that make it easier to “blame the victim?” Maybe.  Maybe that makes it feel different, but I totally reject that.  Choosing to support reproductive health isn’t punishable by death.

So how scared should I be?  I have no idea.  Mostly, I am not scared.  Mostly, I like to remind people that if I get killed on the sidewalk, I expect to become a martyr and for the escorts to at least get a buffer zone out of it.  Taking time to think it through just increases my appreciation for all the providers of abortion care ~ doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, receptionists, medical assistants, and escorts ~ who won’t let fear stop them either.


To support abortion access in Kentucky

Gift Bags

We have a wide variety of protesters yelling at patients and companions entering the clinic. Every morning the clinic is open they line up to pray, yell, preach, or shove pamphlets into cars and the hands of people who just want to get to their appointment. If you’ve read any of our articles on this blog, you know them. You’ve seen them in action on our videos. You’ve heard their voices when we record them.

Saturday mornings are particularly chaotic. We will normally have 70-100 protesters harassing and bullying. As the holiday season gets closer, we will have more protesters showing up to heap condemnation on people. We’re already hearing, “This time next year you could have presents under the tree for this baby.” We are already seeing more chaos this past Saturday.They seem to be trying to out-perform each other in many ways. Who can yell the loudest? Who can block an escort? Who can delay the patient long enough to shove pamphlets in their hands? Who can make the one comment that will make the patient or their companion react with tears or anger? They push and shove each other, milling around the entrance, carrying their fetal porn signs as blocking weapons. Each one appears to want to make a “score” for Christmas.

When I am asked by people we are escorting, “Are they going to be here when we leave?” I always tell them, “Most of them leave right after the escorts do. There may be one or two here when you leave, but just walk past them.” We know there is the possibility of antis being present when they leave, especially during the 40 Days for Life campaigns, but there isn’t the great numbers of people we see in the mornings.

Every Saturday afternoon there are at least two antis handing out gift bags to departing patients. They are present on other days, but Saturdays you can always count on them to be present. They watch the doors of the clinic from the property line and rush to give their gift bags. It’s always extended with the comment, “We know you have had a hard day. We just wanted to give you this gift.”

This Saturday I was giving a ride to a patient when the surgery was finished. We walked out and the two present-bearing antis ran to us. One of them blocked my car door so the patient couldn’t get in until they took the bag. They asked them, “Is there a snack in there?” Since they said “Yes” they took the bag. As we got into the car, the other anti ran up to another patient leaving and forced the bag into their hands. Running up to strangers, pushing, blocking and forcing gift bags on them. It’s what the holiday season is all about, isn’t it?

When we got into my car, I asked the patient if I could remove the anti-abortion literature from the bag before they looked into it. I said, “You don’t really need to read these do you?” They replied, “No, I’m just hungry.” Pamphlet and book were removed and I handed the bag back to them. The bag contained an airplane-sized bag of pretzels, a full bottle of Olay body wash and a nylon mesh body wash scrubber. No doubt the body wash and scrubber were to symbolize washing the sin away? The pretzels were consumed and the other things taken home.

I think this bothered me so much because as the patient went into the clinic in the morning, they displayed so much confidence and shared with me before we left the clinic how relieved they were to have this over. For them to have to endure one more round of harassment going home just made me mad.

What were the pamphlet and book?


Two Ways to Live – the choice we all face, Pocket Edition. This is a 16-page pamphlet that says a lot of things, but it summarizes the two ways to live are “Our Way” rejecting God or “God’s new way” by submitting to Jesus.

The Holy Bible New Testament- This is self-explanatory except for the handwritten inscription inside the cover.

“We know that today has been difficult. There may come a time when you experience sorrow, regret and guilt over what took place today and at that time, you may wonder if there is a safe place you could turn to for help and support, A Woman’s Choice Resource Center is that place where you can find hope and healing. Please give them a call at (phone number edited out). They would love to listen to your story and speak with you further. Remember you are valuable and loved! “

First of all, they didn’t listen to their story as they entered the clinic. They just shouted the same things they shout at everyone else. Why would they want to listen after the abortion unless it is to further heap shame on them?

Second, there are some really great organizations listed on our Reproductive Services page who do listen and counsel. They are trained counselors instead of staff and volunteers wanting to push a religious agenda like at A Woman’s Choice.

For any future patients at EMW, please be aware the pretzels are good, the body wash is handy, but just pitch the literature.


The Morning after Robert Dear was allowed to surrender alive.

This past Saturday was the first time in over 16 years of escort that I had to send “safe” texts to loved ones after I left the clinic.

Clinic escorts are accustomed to dealing with scary people. Some of the most frightening people I have encountered in my 16 years as an escort have been white men. Some seem more stable than others. Some seem more sober than others. 12295325_10153631366470399_7791018100278684395_n

It will never cease to amaze me how entitled these men feel to forcing their beliefs and morals onto complete strangers who are doing what they know is best for themselves and their loved ones. I have often guessed that some of the people who come to protest at our clinic aren’t there out of compassion for life, or as a way to care for pregnant people or their potential offspring. I think some of them come out because the sidewalk protests are a place where it is socially acceptable to bully people. The ways that they use their bodies, their massive signs, and their words, with or without amplifiers to shame and intimidate others is praised by their peers in this space. it is bullying at it’s best, and domestic terrorism at worst.

This past Friday (the day after thanksgiving, when many clinics were closed for the holiday and many americans were acting some type of way in the name of capitalism) we were reminded of what can happen when entitled and potentially unstable people decide to take action against what they have been convinced is wrong, even if it has no actual bearing on them – whatsoever. In the aftermath we are seeing anti choicers react in various ways. Some are openly praising the attack. some are trying to wash their hands of any remote responsibility. I demand accountability. Unfortunately, I will have to be very patient. Robin Marty explains better than I can about how even the sidewalk prayers need to hold themselves and each other accountable for the Robert Dears and the Scott Roeders of the world, for they are not going away, they’re getting inspired.

It is still unclear what exact message Dear wanted to send with his actions. Survivors of Dear’s murderous hissy fit have stated he said “no more baby parts” so we can infer that he was acting against PP while drawing inspiration from the widely disproven “sting” videos that were released earlier this year. One thing we can be sure of is that Dear wasn’t doing this out of a logically driven compassion for life (as his supporters may wish to believe) since he clearly aimed to cause great harm with his actions, and ultimately killed three people and injured nine others. His victims included an officer of the law who was doing his job, plus two civilians, both People of Color. Both accustomed to life without the privileges afforded Dear and most clinic protesters (who *if* they recognize their white privilege, almost certainly think they deserve it.) It was Dear’s white privilege that allowed him to surrender alive, even after killing an officer and two innocent bystanders. I saw someone make a comment about whether the police bought Dear a fast food treat on the way to jail, referencing the greasy kudos Dylann Roof was given after his Charleston SC shooting spree. My stomach churned knowing that this is the reality of this day and age.

These rather unpleasant thoughts are part of our day to day reality now. These are the facts that we cannot ignore while we are on the sidewalk, creating and holding space for people. We can’t forget that our own clinic has been under attack very recently. We must consider our own safety in addition to that of everyone on the sidewalk. Above all that we know we cannot let these bullies prevail. so, what can be done? That is a great question, and one that is being asked in and of escort and other access groups constantly right now. The answers are varied and unclear, but one thing we know we have to do is use our voices and demand accountability. Share this post, and the ones linked herein. Encourage others to speak up. It is our duty to change the narrative that it’s socially acceptable for white men to tell people how to lead their lives – lest they end them for us.