Those of us that saw this coming years ago were called hysterical and reactionary. That no one could possibly take away what had been granted.*
We saw access dwindling. We helped those for whom it had never crossed their mind until they needed care.
We stood in the cold, in the rain, tired making sure Individuals had access to vital medical care.
We took the brunt of the abuse and stood with people accessing healthcare. We were calm amongst the chaos, the canaries in the coal mine telling everyone who would listen.
Now I am a clinic escort without a clinic.
I have redirected my efforts to what remains. And I tell everyone we stand to lose those too.
*Roe vs Wade, January 22, 1973, US Supreme Court decided the right to privacy protected abortion as a fundamental right. Dobbs vs Jackson, decided June 24, 2022, overturned Roe vs Wade and Planned Parenthood vs Casey. This decision took away the right to abortion and gave it to individual states to decide abortion restrictions.
We are waiting for the decision of the KY Supreme Court after a November 15 hearing to find out if abortion will be available again in Kentucky.
Since 2010, I have been an abortion escort at EMW Women’s Surgical Center. My first article for this blog was a few months after I started escorting. We have been silent since June 2021. There has just been a lot going on in the world since then.
Since June of 2022 we have been in a holding pattern in Kentucky. First, abortion was banned due to the SCOTUS decision on Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization. It has been a roller coaster ride of ban, then injunction, then trigger law, then injunction, then lawsuit ban. Abortion was briefly illegal in June 2022. Then restored. Now it has been illegal since August 1, 2022. The appeal hearing isn’t until November 15, 2022. We may or may not have some abortion legal in Kentucky after the hearing. In the meantime, our clinic escorts are waiting to start assisting clients coming to the clinic. We are hopeful because IN, OH and AZ were under complete bans that have been lifted.
This is the point I could list all the reasons abortion is a life-saving health procedure that needs to be protected. I could tell the reasons why I support abortion on demand with no apologies. My story could be part of the abortion testimonials so common. This is not that type of article. My reasons are private and won’t be told to attempt to sway your opinion. They are like my other healthcare decisions. They are like my other life stories. They are like my religious beliefs. These are all private matters I share with only a select few people. They are irrelevant and won’t convince someone who objects to abortion. This article is not for them.
This article is for everyone who believes abortion is necessary healthcare. This article is for people who don’t want to turn the clock back to where there are two classes of US citizens: those who can make decisions for their life and those who cannot.
We are urging you to vote November 8, 2022 as if your life depends on it. It does. The future of your children and grandchildren depend on it as well. One of the things you are voting for is the Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2, the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment.
From https://ballotpedia.org/: “Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2, the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment, is on the ballot in Kentucky as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 8, 2022.
A “yes” vote supports amending the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion.
A “no” vote opposes amending the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion.“
It’s simple. If you want to protect the right of Kentucky citizens to access abortion, vote NO.
The second thing you are voting for is to defeat every candidate on your ballot that feels abortion should be banned. It requires some research on your part, but Ballotpedia is a good starting point to research your candidates. There is also the LPM Louisville voter guide that is very helpful.
Be thorough and research local councils, judges, and everyone on your ballot. Yes it takes some time, but the future for years to come will depend on this election. The time you spend will benefit all of the people in Kentucky.
The next request we have is to donate to independent clinics and local abortion funds. Even though abortion is illegal in Kentucky now, people still need abortions. Local funds help those people find a clinic and help support their needs of funding, transportation, lodging, and other things necessary to access care. EMW Women’s Surgical Center is still staffed and waiting. Their bills continue without income. A donation to them assures you a clinic in Kentucky will be there when/if the bans are lifted.
Here are some donation suggestions:
EMW Women’s Surgical Center – donate to Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Fund here.
Local Funds -Kentucky Health Justice Network here and A Fund, Inc. here.
We appreciate your support and hope to have a good outcome on November 8.
On June 6, 2021 when we started this fundraiser, we hoped it would either discourage the Sisters for Life from coming, or if we failed in that goal would have Sisters for Life directly help to fund abortions in Kentucky. There were both results.
There were 117 protesters present on Saturday, June 19. We were glad to see there were only 5 children among the protesters. There were 69 Sisters for Life participating in their “Walk, Run or Bike for Life” rally. It was predicted to rain some yesterday, so that may have discouraged some of their members. However, I do find it interesting last year there were 110 of their members crowding the sidewalk in the middle of some of the severest restrictions from Covid-19. Pandemic=come; Rain=stay home
The Sisters for Life group arrived about 8:15a and quickly blocked the sidewalk, the entrance to the clinic and their overflow of people were standing in the street. It only rained for about 30 minutes. They had umbrellas. Angela Minter was sheltered by the EMW Women’s Surgical Center’s overhang. They had photographers to capture all of their antics. They sang children’s hymns, testified, spoke in tongues and made it extremely difficult for clients and their companions to get into the clinic. Difficult, but not impossible because of the clinic escorts.
We want to thank all the protesters for helping us raise $1,767.42 for Kentucky Health Justice Network. They will use these funds for practical support patients seeking abortions need.
We especially want to send out our heartfelt gratitude to our supporters. We will be sending emails today for pledges we have received. Thank you so much for helping to make this fundraiser successful.
Back in 2010 we began Pledge-A- Picketer as a way to flip the script on those holidays we see increased protester attendance. Events on the Saturdays before Easter, Mother’s and Father’s days have drawn hundreds of anti-choice protesters. In the past, we have had great success using this event to raise funds for Louisville Clinic Escorts. Escorts decided that if the protesters were going to be on the clinic sidewalk in numbers, raising money off their count was a brilliant plan.
This year is no different than past years. We still see large numbers of protesters every week in front of EMW Women’s Surgical Center. Restrictions to abortion nationwide are making it hard for anyone to access abortion care.
We have decided this year to donate any funds raised to the Kentucky Health Justice Network. They are tireless volunteers working to advocate for people needing abortions, plus funding procedures, transportation and other needs for those contacting their hotline. And we need your help!
The day before Father’s Day is by far the holiday we see the most protesters. Here’s a summary for the past four years.
2017- 80-90 including about 40-50 Sisters for Life marching and singing
2018- 120 including 85 Sisters for Life marching and singing
2019- 125 including about 97 Sisters for Life marching and singing
2020- 176 including about 110 Sisters for Life marching and singing
Seriously, 176 protesters in the middle of the pandemic? This year, Sisters for Life is planning their “Walk, Run or Bike for Life” in front of EMW Women’s Surgical Center on Saturday, June 19. That day we expect at least 100 protesters from this group and many more from other groups.
Here’s the fun. You can guess how many protesters we will have on the sidewalk that day. You can pledge any amount for each protester, or you can just donate a set amount. We will publish the count after the 19th so you can know how close your estimate was. It’s like guessing jelly beans in a jar, but it is protesters on the sidewalk. All donations will be sent directly to Kentucky Health Justice Network.
Want to know more about Kentucky Health Justice Network?
Kentucky Health Justice Network‘s Abortion Support Fund offers funding, transportation, lodging, language interpretation, childcare assistance, and case management to callers facing barriers to abortion care. In 2020 the Support Fund received over 1000 calls. This year call volume & caller needs continue to rise, while the KY General Assembly passed more abortion restrictions, and SCOTUS took up a new abortion ban case putting Roe vs Wade at risk and making the future of legal abortion access in Kentucky even more vulnerable.
KHJN is committed to supporting Kentuckians and is prepared to adapt to whatever is ahead, but the need is already greater than we can meet, and we need more help to support our communities. Even a $25 gas card makes a big difference for someone having to take time off work to travel for care, especially if they are also a parent. THANK YOU for supporting KHJN’s callers.
Make a tax deductible donation of any amount, or become a monthly donor here: bit.ly/DonateKHJN
The anti-abortion protesters who stand outside of EMW Surgical Center, harassing people who walk in to the clinic, are frequently proclaiming how many “saves” they had. They consider someone that changes their mind about having an abortion a save. It’s pretty difficult to believe that as many people as they claim changed their minds, actually did. I’m sure some of those saves are just people leaving to go home after their appointment. I’d like to tell you about a time recently when I had my own saves…
Last week, while volunteering as a clinic escort at EMW Surgical Center, an incident happened that demonstrates why we as escorts do what we do. I was positioned by the driveway at the fake clinic, next door to EMW. My job was to get EMW clients into the building as safely as possible with the least amount of disruption. When a car stopped, I would ask them if they had an appointment with EMW. If their response was yes, as all of them were, I would direct them where to park and give them instructions on how to safely get into the clinic. While doing this, one of the women who works at the fake clinic started yelling at me and telling me how rude and awful I was. I’m not sure what’s so horrible about getting people safely to the place in which they wish to go, but she was really angry and wouldn’t stop yelling at me. During this time, she said that she and another woman there had abortions and that they just want to counsel and help people who are considering abortion.
Since this verbal assault, I’ve been thinking about her and wondering what it is that makes her think she has the right to choose what’s best for other people.
Maybe she did have an abortion. Maybe she wishes she didn’t have one; however, according to a study by UCSF 99% of people feel they made the right decisions 5 years post abortion. 1 If she actually did have an abortion and does regret it, does that give her the right to choose for all other people facing this decision? What makes her opinion on a total stranger’s reproductive decision more relevant than the person who’s actually in the situation? Instead of judging, shaming and trying to make reproductive choices for another person, when simply trying to access a legal medical procedure, what if she focused that energy inward? What if she used it to make herself a better person and heal her own insecurities? What if all people did that? Personally, I believe the world would be a much brighter place. It would also make for an easier and less emotionally painful walk for a client going into EMW.
So on this day, I saved 2 cars carrying EMW clients from going into the fake clinic. This to me is the real save.
We have been coping with COVID-19 since late January. Almost a full year our lives have been disrupted. The escorts stayed home from April 4, 2020-July 1, 2020. Businesses closed. Jobs disappeared. The Federal government stimulus checks are a fond memory, but disappeared quickly. Those able to draw unemployment have reached their limit. Many people have had their work hours reduced or eliminated. The list goes on for those things that have made this year particularly hard for most of us.
An escort asked recently, “Can we do something?” The answer is, “Yes.”
We are starting a new gift program for active escorts to show our appreciation.
We won’t be able to pay rent, utility bills or even buy a cart full of groceries. What we can do is give a gift of extra cash to spend on a meal, a dessert, donuts for breakfast or other items. The gifts will only be $25 at a time until donated funds run out.
How does Escorts Supporting Escorts work?
Escorts or friends of escorts can donate to the fund for food or other essentials to benefit other escorts.
Minority Report: POC Experiences on the Sidewalk– by Roxanne
I know I promised a follow-up to my piece at the end of January, but y’all know what a giant dumpster fire this year has been. When I wrote my last blog entry, I thought Joe Exotic was going to be the craziest moment of 2020. However, COVID-19, police brutality, and the president collectively said “Hold my beer.”
I am still working on a follow-up piece, but right now I want to take this time to publicly recognize and thank the members of Louisville Clinic Escorts. The solidarity and love I have felt by this group is unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Many people in the reproductive justice community claim to be an ally to the Black community…until things get too uncomfortable. If someone gets defensive when they hear the words “white privilege”, they’re not an ally. It’s downright insulting for a person to declare themself an ally, but get more upset about “rioting” than they do the root cause for said rioting. If their first reaction is to interject with “NOT ALL” when a person of color says “white people”, they are most certainly not an ally.
But not my escort friends. They embody the true meaning of what an ally should be. I have witnessed them call out strangers in comment sections under news articles, which makes me incredibly thankful because people that stand up for you even when no one is looking, they’re the best kind of people. They’ve checked on me from time to time for no reason other than me being a Black woman. They’ve been on the front lines providing medical support, food, serving as emergency contacts to protestors, taking rubber bullets and inhaling teargas for the last several months. They have called and emailed politicians to hold them accountable. I have witnessed them fighting racism and police brutality with the same tenacious energy that they do within the reproductive justice community.
I did not know a single one of these people 18 months ago. However, the genuine care, respect, and solidarity they have shown is immeasurable. Although it seems like everyday brings yet another reason to lose faith in humanity, clinic escorts both in Louisville and around the country continue to show me that there is hope for change. I know without a doubt that members of this awesome community I’m part of will be the ones leading the change. To all of my fellow Louisville Clinic Escorts, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I am so proud to be part of this group and to have such amazing people in my life.
Kentucky Health Justice Network is proud to partner with EMW to increase abortion access in Kentucky. Any Kentuckian facing barriers to abortion care can leave a message at 1-855-576-4576 and we will be honored to assist them.
I love and appreciate abortion providers because, day in and day out, they show up and provide quality and compassionate healthcare. They are constantly targets of hatred, vitriol, and violence, but still choose to serve their communities. Abortion providers don’t acquiesce to intimidation but rise above it, and I’m thankful for them every day.