Monday, December 4, 2017
Rewire (Dec. 2, 2017): Thousands Circle North Carolina's Busiest Abortion Clinic As Anti-Choice Group Marches On, by Robin Marty:
Last Saturday, Love Life Charlotte (LLC), a local anti-choice group, conducted its final event of the year. For the last 39 weeks, LLC has conducted "prayer walks" at the busiest abortion clinic in North Carolina. For last Saturday's event, they arranged for shuttles to bring in protesters in from out of state. After gathering for music and prayer, an estimated 1,500 attendees proceeded to march in front of the clinic.
In preparation for the event, Pro-Choice Charlotte sought out more assistance from reproductive rights supporters to hold signs directing patients away from the protesters in order to reach the clinic. The clinic also tried to schedule patients to minimize their contact with protesters, starting appointments earlier in the day and scheduled twice as many clinic escorts. Patients were also warned in case they preferred to come in another day.
Clinic staff considered it a victory that it remained open despite the thousands of anti-choice activists, the large police presence, the large sound systems not just at the clinic but also a quarter of a mile up the drive, and the buses shuttling LLC attendees from parking lots to the rally site and back again. But there is little doubt that as many as 20 patients were unable to access an abortion that day simply because they were too confused, too overwhelmed, or too scared to navigate the sea of barricades, officers, and teal-shirted anti-abortion activists—even if those activists were primarily doing nothing but silently walking and praying.
Jen Ferris of Progress North Carolina emphasized that “People should be able to access clinics without fear of harassment.” She suggested that the city could do more to prevent such events from preventing access to clinics. “Today they gave a permit for 5,000 people to come down this small street,” she said. “You can see traffic is backing up. They could stop issuing sound permits. You can hear this inside the clinic and there is no reason a patient needs to hear religion shouted at them while they sit inside a clinic.”