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.

Escorts Return to Sidewalk

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On April 4, 2020 Louisville’s Clinic Escorts announced we were suspending escorts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our article also asked the protesters to stay home or if they did come to practice social distancing and wear masks to protect the patients and companions they claim to care so much about. That claim has been proven untrue.

The escorts have been watching the clinic from their cars since April 7. In the 61 days the clinic has been open from April 7 through June 30 there were always protesters present to harass people accessing needed healthcare. The numbers of protesters present each day varied from a low of 8 protesters to a high of 176 protesters one day. There was not one day where the watchers observed any of these protesters practicing social distancing. Most of them weren’t wearing masks; when they did, they wore them them incorrectly or pulled them down to talk.

Every day the clinic was open the protesters trespassed on EMW property and blocked the entrances and sidewalk. There were incidents of shoving patients and companions, and stalking companions as they returned to their vehicles. There were loudspeakers set on maximum volume some days. How is this sidewalk counseling? It’s not. This claim, like the one about only caring for the patients, is untrue.

Yet despite all of these things, patients did make it into the clinic. One day there was chalk writing on the sidewalk and building to let patients know there were people watching what was happening who cared. The protesters were angry about the messages.

Chalk art done with clinic permission by other supporters. “Abortion is essential healthcare.”

The time for escorts to return is now. We have been watching the city and state guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions. All returning escorts have agreed to these conditions in order to return:

  1. Returning escorts will wear masks and try to keep their distance from clients and companions as much as possible.

  2. Escorts agree to disperse without argument if they are advised by LMPD officers to leave. They can watch from their parked vehicles if asked to leave the sidewalk.

Of course, these are not the only precautions we are taking going forward. Escorts who for their own health or that of those they are in contact with will be waiting a while yet to return – our numbers will be much lower than they have been traditionally. Escorts who experience any symptoms, or who receive a positive test will remove themselves from the sidewalk and notify the group, so that the clinic can be notified as well. Escorts are encouraged to make use of the expanded availability of testing in Kentucky.

We can hope the protesters will learn by our example how to properly social distance and how to properly wear masks

 

Week seven of no escorts.

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Chalk art done with clinic permission by other supporters. “Abortion is essential healthcare.”


Week seven of escorts’ absence from the sidewalk proceeded not much differently than the first six. Antis continue to gather, without masks, getting far too close to one another and to clients and companions and to security. Calls from the community to report this behavior go as ignored as clients’ and companions’ pleas to the antis to please stay away from them.
Tuesday 5/19: 16 antis total
Wednesday 5/20: 12 antis total


Thursday, 5/21: 20 antis total


Friday, 5/22: 16 antis total

A man sits in a chair he has placed beneath the clinic’s awning, in the center of the entrance.


Saturday, 5/23: 38 antis total

It is frustrating for clinic escorts watching from cars as the situation escalates. Our training is to deescalate. While we cannot control the actions of any individuals, the presence of people devoted to calm and safety does make a difference. We are keenly aware that our absence is felt. As restrictions are lifted in Kentucky, we are beginning discussions about what our return to the sidewalk might look like. We will publicly announce those plans when the time comes. For now, we will continue to document and provide updates to the best of our ability.

Week Six with no escorts

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This week’s record for one day was SIXTY THREE protesters gathered on 5/16.

We understand that there are only recommendations, and not enforceable laws, calling for a minimum of 6 feet between any two people who do not live together. We get that LMPD can’t force the protesters to wear masks, or give others space.

These facts make a perfect storm when combined with the complete lack of regard for public safety that the protesters have always shown us with their actions.

This week, the congestion caused someone riding a scooter to crash.

In 2019, a protester was hospitalized after an encounter with someone leaving the clinic.

Pre-COVID19 escorts would regularly ask patients or companions to leave their weapons in their vehicles.

Now, everyone is under heightened stress, and there are no escorts to deescalate everpresent tensions. How many injuries will it take before action is taken?

The sidewalk won’t become safer unless two things happen:

Louisville Metro Council takes action by passing a new law creating a safety zone in front of the entrance.

LMPD needs to actually enforce the laws, including the existing noise ordinance, a safety zone, and the full range of blocking, assaults, and trespasses that happen regularly.

Indeed, if they continue to do nothing, we can be sure that more people will be harmed because of the protesters. Please continue contact your Council member and ask them to support a safety zone!

Tuesday May 12th: 17 protesters total
Wednesday May 13th: 13 protesters total
Thursday May 14th: 12 protesters total
Friday May 15th: 20 protesters total. The sidewalk congestion also caused a SCOOTER CRASH this morning.
Saturday May 16th: SIXTY THREE (63) protesters total 🤬

Update: Week Five of no escorts

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“Y’all can’t be doin that!” – Gov Andy

As many Kentuckians carefully weigh how and when it may be safe to resume certain activities, the protesters remain consistent in their lack of consideration for the health and safety of themselves or others. Escorts observing from vehicles this week continued to see a variety of behaviors that go against the state, federal, and CDC recommendations. This week, the owners of EMW spoke out, encouraging Louisville Metro Council to bring back the safety zone that was in place following a blockade by extremists, which took place three years ago on Mother’s day weekend, a time known for large protests.

The inaction of Louisville Metro Council, and LMPD has become all but laughable, as they take turns passing around the responsibility to enforce public safety standards. Meanwhile, people still need to go to the clinic. To help further document the problem, the clinic and Metro Council have asked that people report the gatherings to 311 using any of these options:
Tweet @loumetro311
Email metro.311@louisvilleky.gov
Report on the metro 311 App
Submit a report at: https://louisvilleky.gov/government/metro311

Here are just a few of the scenes captured by observing escorts this week:

Tuesday 5/5 – 14 protesters total
Wednesday 5/6 – 10 protesters total
Thursday 5/7 – 12 protesters total
Friday 5/8 – 22 protesters total
Saturday 5/9 – 54 protesters total

Week Four Update

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Four weeks in, and anti-choice clinic harassers continue to congregate in groups larger than ten outside of the clinic. Our observers are still documenting antis talking directly into the faces of patients and companions and engaging in physical blocking. While masks are in use by one of the several groups present, it is unusual to see them being used correctly with any consistency; groups of yellow-vested antis frequently stand in groups to talk with one another with masks down on their chins.

Tuesday – 13 antis

Wednesday – 14 antis

Thursday – 13 antis

Friday – 22 antis

Saturday – 32 antis

With the first phase of a gradual reopening imminent, it is clear that we won’t see anything done about the congregating issue. We are hopeful about the push for mandatory masks while in public starting May 11th.

Week Three Update

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Prayer circles – not a good idea right now, guys.

Week three proceeded much the same as the previous weeks, with antis failing to practice social distancing or wear masks. However, this week did have one serious bright point: the hiring of two security guards by EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Both security guards are dressed in black, wearing gloves, masks, and white hats to help identify them to clients.

Tuesday – 17 antis

Wednesday – 8 antis

“Closer than they appear” This is what clients trying to exit their cars see.

Thursday – 18 antis

Friday – 21 antis

Saturday – 51 antis

The tactics of the antis each day of each week have remained consistent, making it impossible for patients to enter the clinic while observing social distancing recommendations. Every day that these people continue to disregard recommendations from public health professionals, they put others at risk. They put themselves and their families at risk, they put patients and everyone they come into contact at risk, they put people they might encounter while shopping at risk – and they do not care. Abortion access advocates have been saying this for a a long time, but hopefully it is abundantly clear to everyone now – these people should never again be referred to as “pro life.”