Shouting Fire in a Crowded Theater~by KY Born

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances”.-First Amendment of the United States Constitution

Isn’t the First Amendment great?  I have no desire to see it go away. However, like any idea, it can be corrupted just as it is currently being subtly corrupted by antis now.

It was the idea that the First Amendment was some sort of carte blanche that led to the Supreme Court ruling in 1919 known as Schenck v. United States where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes tried to give some clarity to what limits could constitutionally be placed by the government on personal expression in order to protect not only the rights of one person, but the rights of all citizens from the actions of one to impede their freedoms. I have purposefully bolded “by the government” because many people seem to think that private entities like Facebook, Twitter, Target or private citizens’ blogs have some obligation to allow whoever and whatever to be published on their websites, or posted on their private property as part of the First Amendment. This simply isn’t true. Perhaps the most famous quote to come from this ruling is, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

The problem comes that antis are no longer just committing occasional violations or giant violations that make the news, but are committing ever-increasing and bolder violations while still remaining under most people’s radar. When challenged, they wrap themselves in the First Amendment because many local, state and federal officials hesitate to approach the line between “free speech” and “shouting fire.”

We all know about the big events that are used to terrorize women away from clinics so I want to talk about the smaller violations that are often overlooked, but still are used to terrorize women seeking healthcare. The line is crossed more easily than ever due to YouTube and access to internet postings that feature antis screaming that people are murderers, or post their picture and personal information all over the Internet.

Did you know in some locations antis erect ladders that totally block public sidewalks, forcing anybody who needs to use the sidewalks to access the clinic, or simply to pass through, to step around them? They do this so they can peer over fences to film people entering a medical facility, write down license plates and directly harass patients. This You Tube video was taken in Jackson, Mississippi, but happens at other clinics around the country every day.

The even more subtle, which I have witnessed myself, is the slow walking back and forth across driveway entrances, causing cars to slam on brakes in the middle of busy roads and potentially causing accidents. In some communities, the response from public officials is to call it the First Amendment and do nothing to stop it.

Another subtle way that anti organizations intimidate people and obstruct their right to terminate a pregnancy is through Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or similarly called organizations, that try to trick women out of getting abortions. Much has been written about them other places so I won’t repeat it other than to give people this advice about anyplace that claims to provide medical care:  If they do not give you a Notice of Privacy Practices (more commonly known as the HIPAA form) demand all of your personal information, any copies made and walk out. They are not a legitimate health care provider.

I don’t believe we need a lot more new laws, but we need the current laws enforced. None of this would be tolerated anywhere except outside a medical facility that provides abortion services, or at the homes of those who work there.

I guess this is my main point. I use this analogy frequently and I have self-named it the “ex-boyfriend rule.”  If you have already heard me say this feel free to skip over it, but my point is that if one of my ex-boyfriends chose to engage in any of above-mentioned actions under the guise of freedom of speech or religion, they would be served with a restraining order and likely criminal charges. If they and their gathered group of friends who also believe as they do, follow me, surround me on a public sidewalk, prevent me from walking on a public sidewalk, turning into a private driveway, erected a ladder on a public sidewalk to view my activities over a fence on private property, or provided information to people intent on causing me harm, they all would be subjected to restraining orders or criminal charges.

Garbage like this makes me wonder if the end of abortion will not come about from dramatic events like the overturning of Roe or a series of clinic bombings, but the slow, steady and repeated crossing of lines under the guise of “free speech” that is nothing more than shouting fire in a crowded theater.

I took the right to abortion for granted for years.

I will not make this mistake again. I hope you won’t either.


Helping One Person At A Time

We have been posting this week about the vandalism at the clinic in Louisville. The outpouring of supporting comments has been so uplifting. Many of the comments we have received have been “How can I help?”

Kentucky Support Network (KSN) is a practical support group based in Louisville that serves all the residents in Kentucky. They are an all-volunteer group who support people seeking abortion in Kentucky. Their volunteers include escorts and individuals from other groups who support reproductive justice. KSN is having a donation drive where you can help one person at a time to access abortion care.

Here’s the information. Please consider donating.

What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled to see a doctor?
Ky Map

Many of us don’t have to go far to get medical attention. Because of policies that restrict and stigmatize safe, legal abortion care, however, Kentuckians who need abortions often have to travel hundreds of miles to see a doctor who will work with them. These folks aren’t strangers: they’re our neighbors, sisters, relatives, friends. This holiday season, you can make a difference in their lives with one simple action.

Kentucky Support Network is a network of volunteers who support people seeking abortion with financial assistance, transportation, interpretation, and more. Visit our website to find out about our organization.

There are so many barriers for Kentucky residents who choose to end an unplanned or non-viable pregnancy through abortion:

  • By law, Medicaid and private insurance plans cannot cover abortion in almost all circumstances, so most patients pay for their abortion care out of pocket. This cost ranges from $650 to $2,000.
  • Most people seeking abortion already have children, so must find childcare for the time they are at the clinic. They must also take time off work or school, find and pay for lodging if their procedure lasts more than a day, and find an interpreter to accompany them if they do not speak English.
  • There are only two abortion clinics in Kentucky. 74% of women in Kentucky have no readily available access to abortion, and must travel to get it. (Guttmacher Institute)

Here’s where you can help one person at a time. KSN will give gas cards for those patients making the trips themselves. This is one less expense they have to raise in the process of accessing healthcare. Kroger stores across the state of Kentucky sell gas. Kroger also sells gift cards to use for purchasing fuel as well as groceries. You can purchase a gift card for $25.00 from Kroger. If you use your Kroger Plus card when you purchase the gift card, you will receive points for the purchase. When you make your purchase between November 19 and December 8, Kroger will give you four times the gas points with every gift card purchased. You receive a gift by helping one person at a time!

How do you get these gift cards to KSN? There will be collection boxes set up at the following locations:

Smokey’s Bean, 1212 S 4th Street, Louisville

Louisville Game Shop, 925 Baxter Ave, Louisville

Modern Cult Records, 1036 Bardstown Rd., Louisville

Don’t have time in the holiday season to drop off a card? Kroger sells their gift cards online and for a small fee will mail them directly to KSN. Our mailing address is: Kentucky Support Network, PO Box 4761, Louisville, KY 40204.

How easy is that? You help one person. You receive a gift. You can do this all from a computer any time of the day that’s convenient for you.

Thank you from the volunteers at KSN.



Sometimes They Tell The Truth

“Tell the abortionist you don’t want the abortion. They will stop” Protester D, yelling at that door outside the clinic today.

Sometimes, the protesters tell the truth. Yes, D is 100% correct. If a client goes into the abortion clinic and decides that they DO NOT want to have an abortion, the doctors will not force them to have one. The doctor’s won’t force them to do ANYTHING that the client doesn’t want to do. The clinic has counseling for clients, and part of that counseling is making sure that the clients wants to have an abortion. It is vital to establish that the clients want to do this from their own free will, rather than because someone is “forcing” them or coercing them to have the abortion. I thought after D said this, “Well, what doctor would do a procedure against someone’s will? What doctor with any ethics would force someone to go through a surgery?”

Then I thought of Ireland.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, a suicidal rape victim was denied an abortion, which caused her to go on a hunger strike. Then she was forced to have a Caesarean section to deliver a premature baby at 25 weeks (Here is The Guardian article).

I want to draw your attention to that last sentence. She was FORCED to have a Caesarean section by doctors, who bound by Irish law which states that abortion is illegal, had to put the life of the fetus over the wishes of the mother.

According to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (which is supposed to allow for an abortion if the mother’s “life is at risk”), a suicidal rape victim didn’t rise to the level of her life being at risk.

I wonder if they strapped her down? I wonder if she struggled? I wonder if she screamed?

I wonder what the doctor’s felt like? I wonder if they felt forced as well?

In Ireland there is no access and no choice in this regard, for either patient or doctor. Their hands are tied by the law of the state. We are lucky here. If a patient says “no”, the doctor won’t continue forward with the procedure.

My question is this: Does D want the state to force a suicidal rape victim to stay pregnant in the United States with little to no options? Does D want the state to force doctors to perform procedures on patients against their will and medical knowledge?

There are women in the California prison system that have been sterilized without their consent.

Does D want this concept applied to all aspects of healthcare?

I can’t answer that question for her, but I can for myself. Laws that tie the hands of doctors and strip autonomous decision making from patients are bad laws and should not be. Laws that prevent the best and least invasive medical care for patients are bad laws. Laws that force doctors to act against their medical knowledge and experience are bad laws.

Currently, we have access and options for reproductive healthcare, but that window is slowly being shut by TRAP laws around the country. Do we really want what Ireland has? I think not.

Big Lies

“It was horrible,” said the client to their companion after leaving A Woman’s Choice (AWC). Then the client started crying.

The most common lie told on the sidewalk is meant to lure clients into the CPC next door. “Sidewalk counselors” promise a free ultrasound and tell the clients they will have to pay $275 more to get the ultrasound with their appointment at the abortion clinic. Clients believe them because they do not want to spend any more money than necessary and besides, why would someone lie about this?

We have written about this many times. It is still a lie. The ultrasound required before an abortion is included in the fees the client is quoted for their surgery. INCLUDED = No extra funds required. Any ultrasound performed by AWC will not be accepted by EMW Women’s Surgical Center (EMW). The client will still need an ultrasound performed by the staff of EMW. It is a deception meant to get the clients to go into the CPC. Once inside they are delayed, shamed and attempts are made to change their decision to abort.

The antis tell escorts they aren’t lying. After all, they do give the clients a free ultrasound. They argue that the fee is separately stated on the price list they have gotten from EMW, so it must be an additional charge. Explaining to them that if someone walks into EMW and requests an ultrasound, but doesn’t need or want an abortion is the reason for the separate listing falls on deaf ears. I have to assume they have never read price lists from any other medical clinic.

The second most common lie is the constant refrain of an increased risk of breast cancer because of abortion. As explained to me by an anti, the cancer link is because of, “stimulation of the milk glands and then not nursing that causes cancer.” Seriously?

Dr. Jen Gunter wrote an article on this ever-present and disproved statement earlier this month.

  • In 2004 the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer evaluated the worldwide epidemiological evidence on the possible relation between breast cancer and previous spontaneous and induced abortion ad found no link. The results, drawn from 53 studies, were published in the Lancet.

  • A new study confirms this data, that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. The data come from a study of over 25,000 Danish women from the DIet, Cancer, and Health study. The women completed questionnaires and then were followed for an average of 12 years. This kind of study is probably the best way to look at two common and emotional charged occurrences, like abortion and breast cancer, because there is no recall bias. When something bad happens it is human nature to look back and try to assign causality, but collecting the data prospectively removes this element. The study was also well-powered to detect even a small increase, so another plus.

Dr. Gunter goes on to quote the National Cancer Institute’s study in 2003 disproving any connection between miscarriage, abortion and breast cancer.  

But the antis do not believe the National Cancer Institute’s studies. In fact they do not believe any of the studies disproving any causative link between abortion and breast cancer. It doesn’t fit their narrative used in attempts to scare and harass clients into not having an abortion.

Please read Dr. Gunter’s whole article, but I have to agree with her conclusion:

  • The studies that “found” an association between breast cancer and abortion were flawed and have since been disproven by the National Cancer Institute, the published Lancet review, a myriad of other studies, and the latest study that I referenced above. Using discredited/flawed data to make your case is like saying in 2013 that we know the earth is flat because someone proved it to be so in 1321 and to ignore everything  published on astronomy, physics, and space exploration since.

  • It’s a shame that we need more studies to prove what we already know. But until state governments and organizations like the American Association of Pro-life OB/GYNs believe that science is a more important guiding principle than religious belief, we have no other option. To say there is causative link between abortion and breast cancer isn’t just stretching the truth, it’s a lie.

There are more big lies that are told every day to clients arriving at the clinic, but these are the two that I find personally most disturbing. The first is the lie to coerce clients into an anti-abortion clinic for an hour or more of shaming and harassing. The second is the lie to scare clients with the word “cancer.”


REMINDER: If you are interested in escorting, don’t forget the training on Saturday, April 13th at 9A.  Training is not required, but it’s helpful. Please see our Trainings for Escorts page or email us for additional information



REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:




Belief and Abortion-by fml and servalbear (Re-publish)

This article was originally published December 24, 2011. We liked it and decided to publish it again. 
One of the myths anti-abortion groups spread is that people in support of abortion access to everyone are all godless. Many of our escorts attend services weekly and have deep faith in their religions. There are many religious groups who support abortion. In Louisville, we have the support of several Christian groups, individual churches and connections to other Christian groups around the country.
This week one of us heard an anti tell a client, “Don’t kill your baby this close to Christmas.”  We think there are unplanned pregnancies every day. The most talked about unplanned pregnancy in Christianity is Mary’s. It was unplanned by her.
The above photo is from a billboard in New Zealand. You can read the whole story of how the billboard was put up to promote tolerance of different views and was vandalized because it was “satanic.”
Personally, we think the billboard added humor to a serious discussion. Unplanned pregnancies happen all of the time, every day, all year around. Supporters for abortion access are respecting the choices clients make about their pregnancy.
There is a diversity of beliefs among escorts and supporters of reproductive health and we appreciate and value that.  In honor of that diversity, we want to wish everyone a Happy Hannakuh, Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, Good Yule, or Happy Festivus ~ lots of joy in whatever holiday you celebrate. For our atheists friends, we hope you enjoy the time with family and friends on these long weekends.


REMINDER: Share your story.

January 22, 2013 is the 40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade.  Forty years of legal, safe abortions.  This invitation comes from our allies at Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:

“KRCRC (is making plans for a January 20 event in Louisville, “The Roe Monologues,” to mark those 40 years (four decades, two generations!) since the Roe v Wade ruling, and we need your help.

We’re looking for your story. But also for your mother’s, your daughter’s, your sister’s, aunt’s, girlfriend’s, roommate’s, friend’s story. Fairly brief; 2 to 5 minutes, and starting with the year. (e.g. “It was 1983, and I was trying to finish up my nursing degree, when I found out I was pregnant.” “In 2008, my wife and I had been trying for several years to have a baby. Now she had finally gotten pregnant, but when we got the results of the amnio, …” “1957. I was living in Missouri, and abortion was illegal. When my roommate learned she was pregnant, …” etc)

On Jan. 20 at our event, we will love it if you will present it yourself. But if it’s bad timing, bad location, or you’d just rather not get up to present it yourself, we will be happy to have someone read it for you. Also, you can use your own name or a made-up name, your choice.

We need these stories! – and people need to hear them. Will you help us? Will you spread the word that we’re looking for these stories?

Please email if you think you’d like to participate, either in person or by providing a story for someone else to read.”

By stepping out and talking about our experience we reduce the stigma and shame that surrounds abortion.  By sharing our stories, we support each other and continue building a world where reproductive justice is a reality.


Myths About Escorts

We hear so many things from antis while we are on the sidewalk. There is the shame, blame and hurtful words flung at the clients. There are myths about the dangers of abortion. There are outright untruthful things said about the clinic, clinic staff and medical procedures. There are also a lot of myths repeatedly heard about escorts.

Today I would like to focus on some of the myths told about escorts, repeatedly and loudly said.

Escorts Always Lie

“They have already lied to you.” This is heard a lot as we walk clients to the door of the clinic. It is usually said by one of the AWC volunteers.

T says it every day to every client. just stands by the clinic doors while we have approached the client and walked down the sidewalk. What we are supposedly lying about is never specified, probably because the conversation was not overheard. This always strikes me as ironic coming from the anti-abortion clinic volunteers.

We don’t talk about the misrepresentations of abortion, EMW, and AWC said by the antis. Even when antis are walking with us, we ignore them and don’t respond to even the most outrageous lies they tell. It does not benefit the client nor minimize the chaos if we get into a verbal altercation with an anti over things they say.

I always wonder what lies they think we are telling the clients, but I am not interested enough to engage by asking, “What lies did we tell?”

Escorts Are Pro-Abortion

This is another case of the antis setting the definition of words and phrases. I for one refuse to accept this term. Escorts are pro-abortion access for those who make the decision. We support everyone’s right to decide what is best for them concerning a pregnancy. That is a far cry from being pro-abortion.

Escorts believe in reducing unplanned pregnancies through making contraception readily available and through accurate age-appropriate sex education. We also believe abortion should be a readily available medical procedure.

There isn’t anyone I know who is pro-abortion. There may be someone, somewhere who believes everyone should have abortions, but I have personally not come across any such person.

Escorts Celebrate Whenever a Client Turns Away from the CPC to Enter the EMW Women’s Surgical Center

One of the sidewalk preachers always says, “The escorts are giving high-fives to each other because a woman walked into the abortionist’s clinic instead of A Woman’s Choice.”

There has not been a time I have seen escorts exchange high-fives or give a cheer when a client walks out of the CPC and into the abortion clinic; not once. We support a client’s choice to make the decision to enter whichever clinic they choose. We have escorted clients to the door of the CPC. We have stood aside and not interrupted when a client wants to talk to the antis. Escorts support clients in whatever decision the client feels is best for them.

We do not keep score or celebrate a “win” each time a client enters the EMW clinic. It really isn’t a sport where points are won based upon numbers. The antis are the ones with a handheld tally counter.

Each day D clicks her hand tally whenever a client enters EMW and reports the count to the staff of A Woman’s Choice before leaving for the day. They compare notes as to how many clients entered their clinic instead of EMW. These are counted as “saved” pregnancies, even though many of the clients entering AWC are also seen coming back and entering EMW the next day for the medical procedure.

Escorts Do Not Care About the Clients

This is always said, “These escorts don’t care about you,” to the clients. We care. I would not get up early three or four mornings a week if I didn’t care. It is because we care that we are out on the sidewalk.

Escorts Do Not Like Babies

We are aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers to a lot of babies. We celebrate like any other family when babies are added to the family circle. Personally, I love babies and smile at them always.

This myth may have a foothold in the antis minds because a lot of escorts do not feel the chaos in front of the clinic is a place for babies or children.

Some antis carry their babies held high in front of clients while walking backwards, or in front-carriers with the baby facing outwards so it can be seen better by clients. It seems to many of us the babies serve the purpose of props to shame clients instead of being an exhibit of genuine concern for babies.

Escorts Do Not Believe in God

Some of us do and some of us don’t believe in God. We come from all religious backgrounds. One of the differences between escorts and antis is escorts do not talk about their religion to clients or on the sidewalk. We do not thrust our beliefs upon others.

Not talking about a belief is not the same as not holding one.

Escorts Are All The Same

When we hear, “All of the escorts are the same,” said by antis to a client I fight not to laugh. This is probably my favorite myth.

Whenever you get two escorts together you will find two different opinions on almost any subject. Whenever you get four escorts together, you will probably find four different opinions. Sometimes we do agree, but there are nuances in our approach to escorting that make it always an individual experience.

We all take away different things to internalize when we escort. It is as individual an experience for escorts as it is for clients. Each day and each client teach us more about ourselves and the experience. If we are the same in any way, it is that we all examine how what we do and say can make the experience less stressful for the clients.

A Patient’s Story

From a Patient of EMW Women’s Surgical Center
 I was at the clinic recently as a patient. I was the first patient to arrive. My mother came with me. The escorts were very helpful and warned us ahead of time about the protesters.
We sat on the little brick part of the building and then the protesters started their rants. My mother went and talked to an escort about volunteering while I sat on the brick and played games on my phone while the protesters ranted. When she came back we just laughed and started having our own conversations about how silly they were.
They were obviously bothered by our laughter and responses and moved on to their next victims. The second to arrive was an Indian family. You could tell they weren’t sure how to handle everything; eventually they quickly ran across the street to escape the protesters.
Then as girls started to arrive my mother and I told the girls to sit down and made room on the bench for all the girls. My mother and I sat at the front part of the bench closest to the protesters so the other girls who were bothered by the protesters could be more comfortable. We told the girls jokes, told them to ignore them and talked to them.
One protester knelt praying the whole time while others kept trying to get the other girls to go with them for a free ultrasound. And others calling us abominations. And yelling “The abortionist doesn’t care about you, none of them do.”
An older gentleman who was an escort stood in front of all of us and told us to ignore them. He made some comments to the protesters and kept standing in front of us.  He was very helpful.
When the doors were opened my mother and I were the first to go in. A protester screamed at my mother,” Grandma why are you letting her do this!” And then some others were yelling “Girls don’t do this!” I understand freedom of speech but it hurts me that this is all allowed.
My being a patient I understand how hard the process is inside. Filling out paperwork, waiting, giving urine and blood samples, getting weighed, waiting, ultrasound, waiting, watching a video, waiting, counseling, and more waiting.
While I was in the waiting room with these girls only two were upset. Several talked about how lucky I was that my mom was so supportive and there with me and how most of their families didn’t even know they were there. Several of us other girls talked to them and helped them. Myself and another girl got all the girls talking about anything we could. We weren’t all alone.
As for me, I was past 12 weeks and didn’t know I was that far along. I went through the excruciating pain of getting my cervix dilated and having to wait two hours with two seaweed bars and gauze inside me. And then everyone lies in a bed while you get your IV and wait till it’s your turn.
The staff inside did care. While I was crying from the pain of getting my cervix dilated one of the three women in the room got tissues and wiped my face and said, ”It’s ok baby, it’s ok, just breathe, I’m so sorry baby.” When I had first met her, when she was taking my blood at the beginning of the day, she seemed less friendly than the others. I was wrong. She was so kind and nice to me and seemed genuinely sorry I was in so much pain. She petted on me and stayed right beside me till it was done and the other two women kept saying that everything was okay and that it was almost over.
The counselor, a woman in her late 50’s or so, asked me why I chose this and I told her it was because I never wanted to have children and being young no one will tie my tubes yet. She told me it was okay and she understood and that just because I’m a woman with the equipment to make children doesn’t mean I have to. And that it’s ok to not want to.
Then while I was getting my IV the young woman who was also a redhead said,” Since you’re a redhead your veins are probably as tricky as mine.” She tried twice with the IV and said,” I’m not going to keep putting you in pain baby girl. I’ll get the anesthesiologist.” When the anesthesiologists came back she said “Well angel let’s see if I can make it work.” Usually needles really hurt me but both women were very good at their jobs and I barely felt it. The anesthesiologist got it in one try.
That’s when I thought about the protesters words, “None of them care about you.” These women all called me pet names, petted on me and were so sweet to me. All the protesters did, was try to get in the girls faces, call us names, and say the same lines over and over.
When I got home I learned from my mother that the Indian woman’s husband had been sitting out in the waiting room crying while his wife was inside. And all I could think about was how the protesters made them run into the street and away from the clinic for a while. I felt awful for that family’s whole experience. The whole thing was hard enough and for that to happen was terrible.
After I told my mother about the day she said she was definitely going to volunteer when she could. I also want to volunteer. I KNOW what you go through inside that clinic.
The protesters words did not bother or upset me. I actually laughed a lot at them and their ignorance. I’ve gone through a lot in my life and a silly protester’s words weren’t going to make my day harder than it already would be. But I did feel bad for the other girls who were visibly upset and uncomfortable by the protesters, outside and inside the clinic. We tried our best to help even though I was about to go through the same thing as the other patients. And I was glad to get the girls at least a little bit away from them and to make some of them laugh and smile. My mother was amazing with these girls.
The protesters shouldn’t be that close to patients.  I will be volunteering and encouraging others to do so, so there are more escorts to help these girls and keep these protesters from running more people into the street.

REMINDER: If you are interested in escorting, don’t forget the training on September 8th at 9A.  Training is not required, but it’s helpful. Please see our Trainings for Escorts page or email us for additional information.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {8/20/12}

There is a Catholic anti-abortion group named Louisville Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.* The second Saturday of each month the priest or Archbishop leads a procession of people from the Cathedral of the Assumption downtown. They walk about 7 blocks to stand across the street from EMW Women’s Surgical Center to pray. They line up on the sidewalk across the street praying. There are sometimes as many as 100, lined up three-deep for a block. Sometimes there are fewer marchers. All of them are saying prayers to end abortion.

The second Saturday in August, we had a Swedish film crew making a documentary at the time the parade reached the sidewalk across from the clinic.

Rita, one of our long-term escorts, shared this exchange with us. (Thanks, Rita!)

When the 30 -35 cathedral prayers came down to stand across the street on Saturday, the Swedish film man took a number of shots around and amid the group.  

As Lisa was interviewing me on the Action Loan corner, a woman broke from the group and approached us. She said, “Who are you and what right do you have to take our picture?”  Lisa replied that she was with Swedish TV and making a documentary to be shown in Sweden.

That seemed to be an approved answer because the woman prayer then said that she wanted to make sure that the film crew wasn’t an agent of “Big Brother,” because you know how they are – running everyone’s lives.

What a dual ethic!!!

All links to anti-abortion websites have been omitted purposely. Please use Google or message us separately if you would like a citation for sources.


REMINDER: If you are interested in escorting, don’t forget the training on September 8th at 9A.  Training is not required, but it’s helpful. Please see our Trainings for Escorts page or email us for additional information.

Little Choices

Escorts try to follow our Points of Unity every time we are on the sidewalk. We aren’t perfect so sometimes we follow them imperfectly, but we always try.

FML has been writing thorough articles to break down what the Points of Unity really mean in practice. I have been thinking a lot about the explanations for the first two.

  • Escort must gain consent from every client every time.
  • On a concrete level, this means that every time I approach a car with a client in it, I say something like, “Hi, I’m a volunteer with the clinic.  Would you like us to walk with you?”
  • Escorts are present to support people and create space for them to be empowered while accessing reproductive healthcare.
  • Whatever we say, with our physical presence, and with our words, we create space that helps put distance between them and the protesters.
  • And the point of putting space there, the point of putting space between the client and the protesters, is not to protect, to rescue, or to defend.  The point of putting space is so the clients themselves can be empowered.

The first one of gaining consent to talk and walk with a client is an easy one to always get right. It becomes part of the first things we say when we greet clients. When we are told, “No,” we walk away.

The second point is a little trickier for me. Our presence on the sidewalk creates space, but we try to find the words to say that empower a client. How do you empower clients in just a few minutes walking on the sidewalk past antis wanting to distract?  In my opinion, it starts with little choices.

‘Where do we park?’ is met with two choices. ‘You can park here at the meter or across the street in the public parking lot. You can decide which you prefer.’ We follow up with details of cost and time.

‘The clinic isn’t open yet, but you can wait by the door or you can wait in your car and we will come get you when it is open.’

When we are walking across the street from the public lot, ‘Would you mind if we jaywalk across the street or would you prefer to cross at the light?’

When we are walking clients from the covered parking lot, ‘We can go two ways. We can cut through these buildings or walk around on the sidewalk.’

‘Will protesters hurt or touch me?’ This is always answered, ‘No,’ but then we give the client the choice to talk to antis or not. ‘They will talk to you and try to hand you literature. You can talk to them if you like or you can just ignore them.’

You will notice my examples all contain two choices. More choices become confusing in a stressful situation. If we gave clients five choices, they wouldn’t be thinking about the antis as much but they also would have too much information to process in a short period of time. This can add to their stress and confusion instead of empowering them.

Every little choice adds to the empowerment of the client. It is their appointment with the clinic and they are deciding the details of the visit. It is surprising, or not, how these little decisions will add to the client’s confidence. They add space and empowerment for them.

At the same time we are giving the client these little choices, we shouldn’t be asking them questions all of the time we are interacting. Smiling and talking about neutral subjects are a way to create space for the client. I have been known to talk about traffic, weather, sidewalk conditions, road construction, movies, how much I would like a cup of coffee, city events scheduled for the day, or anything interesting we see on the sidewalk as we walk to the clinic.

Like the article says, “The point of putting space is so the clients themselves can be empowered.”

Before Mother’s Day – Pledge-A-Picketer

Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is Today!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.

It is not too late to send your pledge in.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up this morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

On Monday, May 14, we will publish the number of protesters who showed up at the clinic so you can know how much your pledge will be. We will also send out emails for all of our pledges stating the amount.

We thank everyone who has pledged or donated. Your generosity once again has helped us in our efforts to support clients entering the clinic for an abortion.

If you would like to know other ways you can help, please see our “How to Get Involved” page on this blog.

Use this form to make your pledge: