And the Results Are…

Yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the results are in – the head count for Pledge-a-Picketer!   Drum roll, please…

Protesters – 103.  

Escorts – 60.

Yes, you read that right.  There were *only* 103 protesters at the clinic on Saturday.  And 60 escorts.  Not even a 2:1 ratio.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it was all fun and games.  We had a relatively new protester preaching at the front door.   She didn’t like it when she realized one of the escorts was videotaping her.  (Thanks to wenches for the video.)

*transcript at the end of post

I have some other video of her, and it made me sad, listening to the things she said to the clients.  She was so sincere about sharing her experience – apparently, she changed her mind about having an abortion, and has been glad of that.   Because of that, she assures the clients that having this baby won’t ruin their life, they’ll still reach their goals.  How does she know?  Because she did. She tells them:

I know your life will turn around because my life turned around. When me and my husband made the decision to keep our child, it was the best decision we ever made in our life. Keep your child today. And to this day, I am still married to the same man. And to this day, we get to experience the love of our child that we did not kill, that we almost killed. Don’t kill your child today. Hear a mother talking to you – don’t kill your child today. It still affects me today – that I almost killed my child. Don’t kill your child today. But I get to kiss my child, I get to hug my child…

It seems so naive to me, the belief that because that worked out for her, it will be the same for everyone.  As if everyone has exactly the same issues she had, the same resources, the same choices.  It seems naive and cruel, cruel in the same way as Andrew telling everyone how excited he was about his unborn baby.   As if the antis can’t quite comprehend that their personal experience is not normative.

Anyhow.

The fundraiser was a great success. We received 30 pledges.  We received pledges from 3 countries (US, Canada, Australia). We received pledges from 8 states in the US (KY, IN, OH, VA, CA, MD, TX, AR)   And despite the poor turnout of protesters, we raised $1,043 so far, but the final total will be more than that as some late pledges come in.  Those funds will be split between escorts and Ky Support Network, an abortion fund acting as a program under Ky Health Justice Network.

We were surprised how (comparatively) few protesters came out.  But we figured a lot of the protesters chose to stay home because of the rain.  {Ok, we may have made some snarky comments about that among ourselves, but I’m not personally judging anybody’s commitment to “saving babies” based on their willingness to stand in the pouring down rain – or lack thereof .}

However, one of the protesters explained it differently to one of the escorts, when he commented on the low turnout.  She said:

“Yes, we planned it that way, so you won’t get as much money,”

to which the escort joyously replied,

“YES! Our plan is working!”

The protester looked a bit crestfallen.  As you can imagine.

But that’s been the point all along – the ultimate win-win for us – and the clients.  If the protesters show up in huge numbers, we make more money for vests and trainings and direct funding for abortion access.  If they don’t show up – well, it’s a victory for the clients who don’t have a to walk a 300 person gauntlet, and yay for us.

It’s always a relief – another Mother’s Day under our belts.  Thanks to the new escorts and occasional escorts who came out for Mother’s Day, thanks to the folks who pledged money, and thanks to everyone who supports the right to a full range of reproductive health services.

*Transcript  of the video:

You wanna take a picture of me? You videotaping? What are you doing? What are you doing? God bless you. God loves you. God loves you and I pray that you never come on this sidewalk again. Because he does not want you to do this. You don’t realize that you’re leading the mothers off to kill their babies to the slaughter. They’re actually taking them down into the basement and they’re actually sucking the baby out of the womb. Out of the womb and throwing the baby in the garbage. The baby is a human being. (turns away.) Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.

 

PSA – & Pledge Time!!

If you have an appointment at EMW, do NOT park in this lot.

IMG_0001If you have an appointment at EMW, do NOT park in this lot.

If you can’t see the picture, the sign says:

EMW PATIENTS

WILL NOT BE TOWED

IF YOU OBTAIN

A PARKING PERMIT

AT THE FRONT DESK

ENTER THROUGH

GLASS DOOR ON THE LEFT.

DON’T DO IT!!

The glass door is the entrance to the fake clinic, the “we-are-too-a-clinic” the “we care about you, all our services are free” clinic, the “let-us-do-a-free- ultrasound (that can’t be used for anything) while we preach at you” clinic.   That clinic.

Yes, it’s misleading.  Deceptive.  Manipulative.  But they deal in lies anyhow.  They will say, “Lies?  There’s no lies there.”  And that’s true.  It’s just deceptive. I don’t think it’s illegal.

Yes, I think they’re doing it in hopes of making people miss their doctor’s appointment.  They will say they’re not.  It doesn’t matter – t don’t think we can do anything about it.  But we’ve already had one person who saw “EMW PATIENTS” and went in thinking it was EMW.

So I’m telling you – the people who read here.  Feel free to spread the word.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 I usually like for posts to be up a few days before we post a new one, but this I wanted the parking lot warning to go up quickly.  But if you haven’t already read Eeyore’s terrific post about the antis lying by the numbers, please click here to read it now.  Go ahead,.  I’lll wait…

Because – since I’ve already started this post, I’ll do this too –

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR!!

Yes, Mother’s Day is coming – which means the Saturday before Mother’s Day is also almost here.  Time for our Fifth Annual Escort Fund-Raiser –

Pledge-a-Picketer.

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year. Antis come from near and far to shame, blame and humiliate clients going to their doctor appointments for an abortion.  Tons of protesters.  Hundreds of them.  Literally – over 300 one year.

So we take all those lemons and – yeah, I know, stupid cliche – but we do it – we make lemonade.  We started pledge-a-picketer so that the more of them that show up, the better it is for us.

You know how it works, right?   You pledge so much for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts {vests, training costs, and other miscellany} and abortion access.

It is a lovely moment, when most of the protesters have arrived and we get to walk down the line counting. It baffles and annoys them, but it’s the one time that we can enjoy there being plenty of them.

Here’s the link to make your pledge:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1xbxdKkjOSsfRnLlCBo86dIVqBHtyntmA-GKLW9QT_I4/viewform

{I know, it’s supposed to be embedded – feel free to edit and fix it, or message me how to do it…}

Take home messages:

~~ Make sure you don’t miss Eeyore’s recent post.

~~ Don’t get tricked into parking in the antis parking lot.

~~ Make your donation for pledge-a-picketer now.

~~ And stay tuned for our next post.

 

 

 

 

And the Number Is…

315.

Three hundred and fifteen.

That’s how many protesters there were.  What does that look like?

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Yes, that’s a stroller ~ lots of families packed up the babies and came on down.  We’re heading up from 1st Street – the clinic is at the awning off in the distance there.  As we keep walking:

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the street, near the $3 parking lot is this:

IMG_20130511_073133_393They used to park this billboard right in front of the clinic, but we make a real effort these days to get there early enough to take up those parking spaces.  One year, we succeeded in leaving him nowhere to park.  That was lovely.

If you’re coming around the corner from the 2nd street side, it looks like this:

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Which is not quite as daunting as walking up through the whole gauntlet from 1st Street.  But regardless of which direction you come from, at the door, you’re greeted with this:

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An excellent example of fetus porn.  And this:

Yes, the “preacher”in this video chides the escorts for “how they treat the women who come there… patting them on the back…”   But I heard another protester say “the women are dumped out at the curb and the escorts drag them into the clinic,” ~ an interesting interpretation of events.

Watching the video, you can tell a client has come around the corner.  The woman in red springs into action.  “You don’t have to kill your baby, someone can help you, PEOPLE WANT YOUR CHILD!” she screams.

Something about that creeps me out, it is as if the client has ceased to exist and is purely an incubator.    I might have thought that was the most chilling thing I heard, if I hadn’t heard a mother talking to her son on their way back to their car.

The woman was clearly pregnant.  The little boy was about five, walking beside and slightly in front of her, holding her hand.  I don’t know what he said, but she replied in that extra sweet voice we sometimes use with our children when we know someone’s listening.  She said, “I know!  It is scary!  I don’t know how these people can want to kill little babies.”

All I can do is shake my head.  And hope that when he’s old enough to understand, someone can explain to him why his mother would want to take him around people that she believes want to kill little babies.  Cause I sure don’t get it.

Pledge-a-Picketer ~ 2013

Seven Saturdays away from the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

That has a nice rhythmic flow, doesn’t it?  I was going to make it a poem, but I really couldn’t think of the next line.  I mean:

“Standing in a line, their rosaries keeping time” doesn’t really work.

“Chasing people down, spreading shame around…” is mediocre, at best.

So I let that idea go.  But it is time for our annual fund-raiser.  This will be the fourth year that we’ve taken advantage of a day when protesters turn out in droves.

In 2009, between 275 and 325 protesters showed up.  This was before we started doing the fund raiser, but thanks to the call-out we do for extra escorts there were about 70-80 escorts there.  A camera crew showed up, doing a special on teen pregnancy that year, and it sounds like it was a real mess.    There’s a post here that describes it.

We started pledge-a-picketer in 2010.  It’s a simple fundraiser.  You pledge so much for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts {vests, training costs, and other miscellany} and abortion access. The idea was a great success – we had 255 protesters, 87 escorts, and a relatively uneventful day.

It is a lovely moment, when most of the protesters have arrived and we get to walk down the line counting.  It baffles and annoys them, but it’s the one time that we can enjoy there being plenty of them.

In 2011, the day before Mother’s Day coincided with Derby Day, so the clinic closed.  We really do shut down the city for Derby.

In 2012, Pledge-a-Picketer was back.  Interestingly, we only had 151 protesters.  The number of escorts dropped too, but 40 was plenty for the crowd.

Enough nostalgia.  It’s that time of year again.  If you’ve ever thought about escorting, or if you escort on the big occasions, like Mother’s Day, now is the time to think about joining us.   We’ll be having a training too, more details on that soon.

And it’s time to pledge-a-picketer.

We’ll be including this form in our posts from now until The Day, but don’t wait to til the last minute, pledge now:

The Saturday Before Mother’s Day

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is traditionally the day antis turnout in front of the clinic in massive numbers. We have our annual fundraiser based upon how many picketers show up that day. We posted the count on May 14: 151 protesters; 40 escorts. That’s a lot of people on a one block stretch of sidewalk.

We are always asked what it is really like on the sidewalk in front of the clinic on Saturday mornings. There is no easy answer. Some days it is very stressful; some days it is less stressful. A picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t capture the sheer noise and tension of all those antis praying, preaching, yelling, shoving literature, holding up signs and pictures, and interfering any way they can with a trip to the doctor’s office.

We post pictures and videos to give others a sense of what it is like. Below are some from the Saturday Before Mother’s Day.  {Thank you very much to Nelson Helm, who provided these photos.}


This picture is the view just past the drop-off zone for clients. The person sitting in the chair is at the very edge of the zone. This is a pretty new sign for one of the regular antis. It is brought every day now.

This picture was taken looking out from the door of the clinic. Antis move as close to the entrance as they can squeeze in.

This picture was taken down the sidewalk just in front of the clinic doors.

The opposite direction in front of the clinic is the position the preachers stand on their footstool.

Taken from across the street. A nice gathering of orange vests in front of the clinic.

A group of Immanuel Baptist Church antis in their yellow vests praying under the awning at the building next door to the clinic.

A view of the sidewalk clients walked down to get to the clinic. Yes, that is a baby an anti brought with them.

Another view from across the street.


Tally ~ Pledge-A-Picketer

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is usually the biggest protester day during the year. Instead of celebrating the weekend with families, antis come out to shame, blame and humiliate clients going to their doctor appointments for an abortion. This Saturday, May 12 saw groups of antis gathered in front of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, KY.

We take advantage of this day to count protesters for donations in support of pro-access efforts and the escorts. Their turnout helps us to create support and space for clients.

There were 151 protesters present this past Saturday. We had several people counting and comparing numbers to arrive at this number. This is a lower number of antis than we have seen in past years on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, but still a large number of people shouting and praying on the sidewalk.

We also had over 40 escorts helping to line the sidewalk and make corridors for clients to enter the clinic door. We want to thank all of the first-time and occasional escorts who came out early to help. The day was so much better than it would have been without your help. Each of your efforts are appreciated.

We also want to thank everyone who generously pledged to our fund drive. We will be sending out personal emails to each of you today to let you know the amount your pledge tallies to and how to pay. (For example, if you pledged $.10 per picketer your donation amount will be $15.10.)
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For those of you who want to pay before we send our email, we do have a PayPal account for escort donations.  You can just make a “payment” to our email address everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com. We will credit your pledge for any donations paid through PayPal.
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Again, our thanks go out to everyone who has donated time and money to the Saturday before Mother’s Day.
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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:

Mother’s Day at an abortion clinic Saturday May 9, 2009.

Escorts: 70-80

Protesters: 275-325

Cops: 6 or 7 LMPD, 1 Jefferson County Sherrif

IMG_0033

Mother’s Day has come and gone, and as I reflect on the happenings of the last few weeks what stands out to me is the intersection of privacy and stigma. We see these two ideas embodied by two groups of people on the sidewalk in front of the clinic, the protesters and the media (specifically an ABC crew of 5, doing a special on teen pregnancy). In this article I want to discuss the way in which people trying to access abortion services are completely ignored by these two political participants.

In our story, Stigma is represented by the protesters on our sidewalk. As a group the message is that there is something inherently wrong with the decision to have an abortion utilizing guilt and shame as tools of persuasion. Using the strength of hundreds of protesters to overwhelm the visual landscape; dominating the sounds of the morning with blow horns and a cacophony of prayers, protesters attempt to emotionally bludgeon clients with fear and confusion.

Our next character in this story is Privacy, being played by ABC media. One of their news programs is working on a story about teen pregnancy, following several young women as they make choices during this period in their lives. One of the crew had stumbled upon the escorts some months back and came to film several times before Mother’s Day. When she tried to get the escorts involved in the project we were reluctant, identifying three major concerns to her:

Client privacy. We spoke extensively about the history of the anti-choice movement’s use of photography and public shaming campaigns to intimidate both abortion providers and clients.

Chaotic environment. Escorts tried to express how crazy it gets with 200-300 protesters and that we could not stop them from doing their story, but that we were concerned that camera crews could become an obstacle to getting clients in the door.

Using the meme of the abortion debate as a wedge issue. On the sidewalk we try to minimize the cliché’ debate regarding abortion, recognizing that each client is an individual with a unique set of circumstances. Politics is completely inappropriate on the sidewalk, this is about peoples’ lives.

IMG_0036

I asked the escorts to write about their experiences this Mother’s Day and without exception they commented on the media, here are a few excerpts.

Ken wrote:

“The ABC crew was on hand to capture what was happening. They turned into more of an obstruction than most of the protesters. I look for their piece on teen pregnancy to be overly-sensationalized and skewed toward whatever slant ABC brass wants to spin”.

Aryn wrote:

“I bring this up because this week we had a 5 person TV crew from ABC filming at the clinic. The clients that I escorted into the clinic were more concerned about the three cameras and the big sound boom than the 250 protesters. One of the cars that I approached left because of them”.

Josh wrote:

“The news group on the other hand were horrid.  “K” (the news crew’s contact) seemed to handle herself with compassion, was discreet and level-headed, and generally blending in and allowing us to do what we do.  The same could not be said of the male salt and peppery anchor and his helper, who were pushy, obnoxious, and did more to bother, hinder, and distress the clients and fellow escorts than many of the protesters.  They did nothing but aggravate the already dodgy situation, and nothing what-so-ever to contribute positively.  Worse, I believe they shot for extremism, and if the broadcast shows footage from this, I think it will have a negative effect on reproductive freedom and the future clients of the clinic”.

Frances wrote:

“Early on, before things even got going, the camera people came by and started asking us questions. With no press pass, we refused. They weren’t pleased, but come on! They were being quite pushy, using their equipment to break through our linked arms. It was ridiculous. On top of that I felt that they were violating people’s privacy, and certainly not making it any easier for the people going in. They were worse than the protestors in some ways,and didn’t seem to understand why we weren’t ok with them pushing through our wall without showing us any ID”.

Entitlement is a major component of both the media and the protester’s perspective. The media thinks they have the “right” to get the story and it does not matter who they have to step on in the process. The protesters think they have the “right” to impede a person in their decision to terminate a pregnancy. Both groups of people believe they are in the “right” thus giving them latitude to act aggressively in this situation. The result is that individual people are lost in the mix.

The pro-choice movement has historically fought for abortion to be a private and individual matter. That certainly has its merits and no one that has an abortion should feel like they have to tell anyone a single thing about it. Abortion is without question an individual matter and each person’s reasons for having an abortion are unique and can not be generalized. However, the driving presence of privacy doesn’t do anything to lift the ever present stigma surrounding abortion; instead it seems to reaffirms it. We say ‘ it’s OK to make that choice but please pretend that you didn’t. We are OK if you do it but not if you talk about it.’

Abortion is a normal part of our collective sexual and reproductive experiences and we should begin to treat it as such.

We support anyone having an abortion whatever their reasons and would like more people to talk about it. However, facing a national TV news network is daunting. Going in for a medical or surgical procedure is stressful and thinking that your first grade teacher, your ex and or boss are all going to be watching you do this is pretty invasive. We feel the TV crew’s presence was every bit as oppressive and irresponsible as the protesters’.

The media can be a powerful tool in exposing cultural issues that need attention, but here, individuals who had not consented to being exposed, were. To be fair, ABC committed to obscuring client’s faces. But they did not approach each client telling them this. They did not gain consent from the clients to film them, nor did they take pains to be unobtrusive. The behavior of the film crew was in many ways as shame inducing as those of the protesters. Privacy allows us the practical space to make decisions regarding our own well being. The way in which they approached the situation showed no concern for client privacy.

It is this lack of concern for privacy prohibits us from seeing clients as individuals. This disconnect from our need for autonomy is where we begin to advance towards sensationalism. The story becomes the most important thing. We stop talking about a person’s life and begin to talk in themes. We attribute our own biases to people we have never met. One of the protesters tells women ‘come down to this other clinic, we can help you make a better decision’. Without ever even introducing himself to a client he tells women they are wrong. He begins to shame them by projecting his world view onto their lives all the while feeling entitled in doing so.

We escorts want to loudly state that abortion can be a healthy and responsible decision.

We escorts affirm the rights of all people to decide when, if, and how many children they have and whether or not to parent.

We encourage people to tell their stories if they can. But we honor and respect the need for privacy.

People of all ages, racial and ethnic groups, people of all socio-economic status, mothers (61% of women having an abortion have one or more children) and people with no children, single and partnered people, queer and straight people all have abortions. If all of these people are having abortions, why is it so stigmatized? Humans are faced with tough decisions every day, but few are scrutinized more than when a woman decides for any number of reasons, that now is not the time to have a child. We must identify and then address our assumptions regarding abortion if we are ever to have honest conversations about our reproductive and sexual lives. And the intersection of shame and privacy seems like as good a place as any to begin tearing down those social constructs.

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Mother’s Day, at an Abortion Clinic | RHRealityCheck.org

Mother’s Day, at an Abortion Clinic | RHRealityCheck.org

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Don’t forget tomorrow is the Saturday before Mother’s Day. This is the single largest protest day of the year, with as many as 500 protesters lining the streets, making access difficult.  Come out early and work with your community to protect and support a person’s right to choose.

When: Saturday May 9, 2009

Where: EMW Women’s Surgical Center 138 E. Market St, Louisville KY 40202

What time: 6:15 am

Who: Anyone interested in supporting people accessing Reproductive Health Care in Louisville.

Please remember we escort in the street, so dress appropriately for the weather.

Hope to see you there.2-15-09 8