The Day the Circus Came to Town ~ by Penny

Escorting is always a high-tension job, even on a relatively normal Saturday.  Saturdays always bring out the highest numbers of protesters, and the larger their numbers, the greater their escalations.  This past weekend came with new and frustrating challenges – the whole circus came to town.  

traveling-van-3

Operation Save America rode into Louisville this past week in a cargo van emblazoned with headstones and some favorite graphic “dead baby” imagery, with a few lies about breast cancer sprinkled in for variety.  While the clinic was only targeted on Friday and Saturday, the protesters did their best to cause as much disruption as possible during their stay. 

An hour before the clinic opened on Saturday, they set up two large speakers (each on a six foot tripod) along the edge of the property line just outside the waiting room.  Cords were left dangling between these without a care in the world for the trip and fall hazard this creates in a very highly-trafficked area – because nothing says pro-life like harming people.  

As soon as the setup was finished, escorts holding the property line were treated to some Christian-soft-rock at a volume which could be clearly heard around the entire block.

loudspeaker-2

 
And again, an entire hour before the clinic even opened its doors:
16559425_2351336238425900_1400690639_nAfter the warm-up tape ran its course, OSA members went on to take turns haranguing escorts and clients about our sinning and iniquity as per usual.  

The rhetoric itself is not what made Saturday special.  When a national, well-funded group like OSA comes to town, our regular cohort of sidewalk “counselors,” sign-wavers, and other motley shamers gets all stirred up.  More of them come.  Many of these unfamiliar faces are not familiar with the property line, the FACE Act, or, it seems, common decency.  Their heightened sense of importance and urgency, combined with the extra crowding and assaulting volume from the speakers, made it a very nervous morning. There were places where the sidewalk was nearly entirely obstructed, either by too many bodies or so that OSA could make room for the props they brought along for extra “poignancy.”

corner-020417

This is the corner of 2nd and Market – this is what clients had to walk through before even being able to see the clinic’s doors.


prayer-line-020417

And for reference, here is the view around that same corner.  See the speakers taking up half the sidewalk?  Can you imagine the courage clients and companions have to summon to get through this mess?  Can you think of any other medical practice where this intimidation is tolerated?

coffin-with-bags-of-plastic-fetuses

Yes, the picture above is of a tiny white coffin, complete with plastic fetus dolls along the top in a row, on a tray table pushed out into the path of clients on their way in.  

One begins to wonder, looking at their van, their sound system, their tiny caskets – how many women could this money have really helped, if they cared as much as they claim to?  How many meals could this have made for a food-insecure pregnant person, how many nice outfits to go on interviews, how many hours of childcare for the babies already in this world?  If this weren’t actually about controlling the minds and bodies of women, how much of that lobbying power could they throw behind paid medical leave for all new parents?  Looking at the fancy equipment, and the van that’s certainly much newer than any vehicle I’ve ever owned, I have to wonder:  what do they believe their GoPros, amplifiers, custom paint jobs, and bags of tiny plastic fetuses are accomplishing?  

 

 

Reflections on Reproductive Justice Activism ~ by MAP

I was first introduced to Reproductive Justice activism in 2006 when I was 19 years old. I had gone to a Feminist Alliance meeting at the time when I was enrolled in the University of Louisville. A friend mentioned that she was an escort at the EMW women’s clinic. I had honestly never thought about abortion, Reproductive Justice or what and how it could affect me in my everyday life. On a Saturday morning in January I went and had my first experience as a clinic escort. On that cold and snowy morning, it was incredibly frustrating to see all of these clients trying to access healthcare and at the same time being judged and harassed by complete strangers, but it was amazing seeing these people helping clients get into the clinic.

I am forever grateful for what I have learned about myself throughout my experience as an escort. Being a clinic escort has made me a better activist and organizer. Over the past 11 years through my introduction to Reproductive Justice activism, my eyes have been opened to how reproductive justice work intersects with social justice, economic justice, and racial justice. Realizing I needed to care for myself I took a step back from escorting at the clinic, but I am involved with transporting clients to and from the clinic through the Kentucky Support Network. Finding out where you can help and do your part, as well as taking care of yourself, is so important. Escorting at the clinic taught me that this type of work is never easy and that at times it can be draining. Putting yourself and your needs first, by practicing self care are imperative to doing this type of work.

If you’ve ever wanted to get involved now is the time. The anti-choice laws that are being passed in Kentucky, in our country and around the world are horrific. These are terrifying attacks on a person’s right to their bodily autonomy and their right to choose whether or not they are ready to be a parent. There are already so many barriers when it comes to abortion access and when it comes to marginalized groups of individuals, that these laws only continue to prohibit people from accessing safe and legal abortions.

If you don’t think you can escort at the clinic that’s okay. There are so many ways to give your time or your money to important organizations such as Kentucky Health Justice Network, Kentucky Support Network, and the A Fund. I am constantly amazed by my friends and their dedication to this work. They continue to inspire me on a daily basis with their commitment in securing Reproductive Rights and abortion access for every human being.

“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” -Jane Addams

 

Control Issues ~ by Ferret

I am something of a control freak, and the offspring of a line of control freaks. We used to joke that if one were to look up “Control Freak” in the dictionary, one would find a picture of my grandfather.

In my battles with depression over the years, I realized that being a control freak was contributing to my depressive state. I worked hard at becoming less of one in part to lessen the effect on my mien, with mixed results.

At one point in my life, I was invited to attend a twelve-step group based on Alcoholics Anonymous, called Emotions Anonymous. Either through that group or through my sessions with the counselor who introduced me to it, I learned the idea that while I couldn’t (by their definition) control my emotions, I could control how I expressed those emotions and which of those emotions I focus on at any given time.

I also learned that if I release control of others to those others, I am more able to do what I need to do to control how I present myself.

That led to an interesting revelation~one that I’m sure many have reached: I’m not responsible for any other person’s emotional state. Because I am not responsible for that person’s emotional state, I get to retain responsibility for my own emotional state and whether/how I express it.

This expands to all sorts of realms. Because I wish autonomy for myself, I cannot assume control over others’ autonomies. I have to accept that they will act in what they think is their own interests.

There are limits, of course, as the classic example of freedom to swing one’s arm illustrates: My freedom to swing my arm ends before impact with another person’s face. I don’t have the right to harm others, save for circumstances of self-defense, and even then the force I may use is somewhat limited. I cannot bring harm to you for endangering me once the danger has passed, for example.

The reason I mention all this at the moment has to do with the social discussion around abortion and related women’s rights.

Yeah, who am I, a white male, to talk about women’s rights?

Call me something of an ally.

And call me one who recognizes that, because I insist on autonomy for myself, I believe it is no business of mine whether a woman chooses to abort a fetus. Because it’s not my business, it’s also not the business of the government that allegedly represents me. It’s a decision for her to make, along with people she chooses to consult. Sidewalk “counselors” (religious bullies, for the most part) aren’t part of that circle. Congress Critters/Gynoticians* are not part of that circle.

Does that mean I favor abortion? Whether I favor abortion is immaterial. As I mentioned, I’m a guy and recognize that I have the privilege of not having to face that decision for myself. It means I recognize that her decision is hers to make. I have to assume that she will consider whatever options are valid in her situation.

And there may not be any viable options other than abortion. Sometimes the pregnancy is such that continuing it at all would put the mother at grave risk. In some cases, the fetus can never become viable. Since the percentage of times those happen is non-zero, and since I cannot know the exact situation (indeed, the exact situation is not my business), I cannot assume that any one woman’s situation doesn’t include elements of those factors. I’m not willing to put limits on abortion based on such factors either. It would be heartbreaking enough to have a wanted pregnancy result in such a situation without having to prove such to a gynotician* before earning a pass to have one’s abortion labeled “acceptable.”

* Per the Urban Dictionary: “A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.”

 

 

We Don’t Want Your ‘Sorry’ – We Want You to Stop Hurting People {by Huxley}

Volunteer clinic escorts get hit by antis at the clinic pretty regularly. It’s usually petty little garbage, not worth even attempting to do anything about. Heck, it might even be an accident that the same anti stepped on your foot repeatedly, or whacked you with their sign repeatedly, or knocked into you repeatedly because they “just didn’t see you there”! As a general rule, it’s best to stick to our goal of striving for de-escalation and non-engagement when this happens.

elbow

“I accidentally walked into the door, officer.”

Sometimes, though, safety makes it necessary to object to an anti’s behavior. Our clinic has a designated “drop zone” in front of it, a small area between two signs that, on Saturdays, is not supposed to be blocked. Because the clinic is located on a busy downtown thoroughfare, vehicles need to be able to pull into this space, allow passengers to exit, and pull back into traffic. When we have enough volunteers, we station ourselves along the sidewalk in this area. We’ve had more than a few instances of antis creating an actual traffic hazard when clients pull into this space.

 

caremw

Unfortunately, one of the persistent difficulties our antis suffer from is reading comprehension. You see, when we made the mistake of discussing the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE Act) with folks, they seemed to get the impression that the prohibition on people blocking the entrance (this would be them) actually means that volunteers with agents of the clinic (this would be us) cannot help clients get past them when they attempt to block access. So, according to the antis, what the FACE Act really does is protect their “right” to block patients accessing the clinic entrance! If you’ve heard their interpretation of Scripture, this probably doesn’t surprise you.

All of this is to give you some context for what happened this morning. The video is a little confusing if you’re not familiar with the entrance of our clinic. And if you’re not familiar with FACE, the woman anti yelling in it makes even less sense. Please note: the video is chaotic, does depict violence, and there is swearing.  (transcript at the end)

So. The woman, Kellie Sabie, tries to force her way through escorts so that she can jump in front of a patient attempting to walk in the door, and then starts yelling at escorts. Her husband, Aaron, assumes that she needs to be protected from the escorts and wades in. While he certainly knocks into a number of escorts, he actually grabs Pat – 67 years old, 5’2”, and all of 98 pounds – and throws her to the ground.

She’s badly bruised, and grateful for no fractures.

Officers from Louisville Metro Police Department have been stationed across the street on Saturdays for a while now, so an escort who had filmed the assault accompanied Pat to show them the video and explain what happened. Aaron wasn’t arrested, but Pat is pursuing charges. He asked officers if he could apologize to her and she, of course, said no thank you; shortly thereafter, Aaron returned to the front of clinic to resume “preaching” on his loudspeaker.

To be honest, I don’t think any of us particularly care whether Aaron or Kellie is remotely sorry for their actions today, or any day. All we want them to do is to quit breaking laws that are intended to prevent people from being harmed. We want them to not swarm cars as clients try to park or exit their vehicle; we want them to not physically block patients attempting to walk to the clinic entrance, using their huge 4’ x 2’signs as blockades; we want them to keep their assaults at least a little more subdued than what happened today.

As regular readers know, this has been escalating at our clinic for some time now, and it’s thanks primarily to the group Aaron and Kellie are with, “P82 Ministries.” They’ve recently begun working with Operation Save America, and P82’s leader, Joseph Spurgeon, has publicly called on fellow “real” Christians to join them in testing how much law breaking they can get away with in the name of preventing private citizens accessing medical care they happen to not like. They figure with the current and local political climate, no one’s going to really punish them.

So we’re about to find out if they’re right.

We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, volunteer clinic escorts in Louisville and across the country will continue to show up and hold space for clients, whatever that looks like at a given clinic and for a given client. We’ll hope we don’t get hurt too badly. We’ll continue explaining the FACE Act to folks when it’s necessary to do so, and redirect any potential volunteer escorts who think we’re counter-protesters. We’ll continue to have our Points of Unity as our goals. We’ll continue to point out that the behavior in which anti-choice clinic harassers engage would not be tolerated by law enforcement if it were engaged in by other groups of actual protesters. We’ll continue to point out that protest of elected officials for official government acts is in fact an entirely different thing from harassing and assaulting private citizens for their medical choices. As long as clients have to navigate a gauntlet of hateful, yelling bigots in order to access healthcare, we’ll be there in our neon vests to hold the line, and to walk with clients if they want us to.

***********

Transcripts:

Escort Shoved to the Ground

Kelly Sabie: (yelling) Public sidewalk!! You and you!! (pointing)
Escort M: Back off Sabie, back off
(Aaron Sabie comes up from the back, approaching from the left)
AS: All y’all need to get back
Escort M: Back off, Sabie, Back off
KS: Really
AS: ALL y’all
Escort L: You’re going to shove women to the ground?
KS: I didn’t shove anybody
AS: Get out of my wife’s face! (camera shows escort being helped to her feet) Get out of my wife’s face like you going to do something
Escort M: You’re shoving women to the ground
AS: I stepped in here to protect my wife. Y’all got a problem?
KS: Because she (pointing) backed into me!
Escort L: I’ve got a problem
KS: She backed into me
AS: Y’all want to surround my wife like that
Escort L: I’ve got a problem with you shoving a woman to the ground
Escort H: (to other escort) Don’t speak to him, don’t speak to him
AS: You know what, I apologize for that, I apologize for that
Anti on Loudspeaker: This is what’s taking place this is what’s taking place
KS: She’s gonna tell me I can’t walk on a public sidewalk!!!
AS: I will apologize for doing that
Escort M: Keep losing your shit,
KS: walk on a public sidewalk
Escort M: keep losing your shit, go ahead, it makes you look super stable, go ahead, keep losing your shit

KS: Oh I am thank you
AS: Who did I knock down? Because I will apologize because I did not
Escort M: It’s too late, she’s already getting the police, it’s too late
KS: …that she wouldn’t let me walk around the sidewalk. You can’t block a person (slamming her sign against the ground for emphasis) that’s your rule remember? There’s Louisville ordinances that go against everything you guys are doing
(Laughter in the background – at the idea that there are ordinances against what we’re doing)
KS: (to an escort off camera) And I don’t need you telling me what to do
Escort M: Somebody de-escalate this bitch y’all don’t care to de-escalate your own people that are losing their shit?
Escort H: You know they don’t.
KS: You need to stop
Loudspeaker: Here’s where we stand. They do not want these children to live
Escort M: Right Sabie whatever

Aaron Preaching

Obey my commands.

And then my question for you this morning is, do you hear the words of Jesus when he said, “thou shall not murder?” Does that – do those words resonate in your heart? Or have you gone hard, have you given over to a debased mind this morning to believe things that aren’t true? Things like, “it’s OK to murder my child”. TheThe folks in the orange vests, the folks behind the counter, your loved ones that bring you in here this morning, they all lied to you making you think that everything is going to be OK, that it’s just a clump of cells, that it’s just a procedure, but those same…

 

Anger at the Clinic ~ by Stella

Have you ever been angry? I mean really Mad? I mean Enraged!!! Suddenly. Immediately. Without warning. Something happens. Someone does something and – BOOM – steam is streaming out of your ears. It happens. But – it isn’t supposed to happen when you are an escort at the local abortion clinic.

But it does. It did. To me. The signs, the 4-foot tall signs with abortion porn should not have to be seen by anyone, much less little children. So when a gentleman holding the hand of a little girl walked out of the clinic, and one of the male “counselors” moved his sign so that the little girl would see it, I stood in front of the sign and blocked it from being seen by the child. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t review in my mind my goals for being there. I saw someone trying to abuse a child and acted. It made him angry. I didn’t care about his feelings. I cared about hers and the confusion it could cause her.

I cared about a little girl in the midst of screaming adults with ugly signs. I was not just angry, I was enraged. I didn’t say anything, I just moved in front of his sign each time he moved it until the little girl was out of sight.

I consider his behavior child abuse, emotional child abuse. And worse than that, is that parents bring their own little children down to the clinic to hold signs they are too young to read, to listen to threats of hell and worse, to see all those abortion-porn signs. And they are proud of themselves for doing so. They are exposing their kids to emotional abuse and they don’t see it as a problem.

Adult issues don’t belong in the world of children. What kind of people think such actions are okay? What kind of people think they are doing anything right for their kids?

They make me angry too. But not enraged. Mostly I just feel sick seeing so many little people with their parents making them hold signs, be out in the weather without proper clothing, stand for long periods of time without playing.

When anger goes past enraged, it becomes sadness, sadness that is deep and painful; and there is no way to change the behavior which causes it. Because those people think differently, behave differently, and cannot understand the consequences of their behavior.

So anger is not really uncommon to escorts at the clinic. We just usually handle it well. We don’t lash out, we don’t verbally respond, and we try hard not to laugh – or even giggle at some of the goofy things the “counselors” say. But sometimes, we lose it. And then, we have to depend on the other escorts to help us, to hear us, to hug us if necessary, and to remind us that no one is perfect and that it is all right to walk away and regain our composure.

So yes, I can lose it, but I can trust my fellow escorts to help me do what is best for the clients – which is why we are all there, day after day, each of us doing what we can to support choice for women as they make decisions about their own lives.

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.

(IMG_1099

(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.

My Version of Pledge-A-Picketer

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

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

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

Mansplaining 05282016

 

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

P82 Playing with Dolls Tweet

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

P82 Ministries Tweet Not Counseling

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

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

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

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

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REMINDER: Pledge-A-Picketer 

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

Shining A Spotlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for updates on how it goes.