Just over a month ago, Rewire News released the documentary “ Care in Chaos .” This film portrayed the reality of protesters that position themselves outside of abortion clinics in order to target, harass, and intimidate patients seeking care. This film featured the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, where protesters line the public sidewalk leading to the clinic’s doorstep and a police officer is constantly patrolling to ensure peace.
The other clinic, however, is a different scene. Patients and companions driving up to the clinic’s parking lot must navigate through mobile ultrasound buses, women in scrubs waving down vehicles, and protesters attempting to stop vehicles and shove pro-life propaganda through car windows. A volunteer is quoted in the documentary saying, “If (volunteers) weren’t out here, they’d be pulling patients through their car windows.” While police may be present at the clinic, there is a lack of understanding and enforcement of the codes and ordinances that are designed to keep everyone safe. Chaos reigns.
To be blunt, the situation outside the clinic is frustrating, intimidating, and unsafe . It’s also a situation I encounter nearly every day. For the past three years, I have been the acting administrator for A Preferred Women’s Health Center. For the past three years, I have been the target of pro-life harassment, including threats, hostile fearmongering, physical intimidation, and in one instance, a physical attack . Despite this, I have woken up every morning with the resolve to provide safe, affordable abortion care to those who seek it.
When “Care in Chaos” premiered online in July, I had a dream that the city of Charlotte would immediately recognize and address the concerns about safety at the clinic. I hoped that patients would no longer be exposed to the vitriol being spewed over amplified speakers outside. That idea was admittedly lofty for a city government, and it should be no surprise to anyone that this did not occur. Instead, two things happened: the general numbers outside the clinic increased (between protesters, policemen, and volunteers) and most public officials remained silent. This week, the silence was broken. ProgressNC launched an abortion-positive media campaign in Charlotte on Monday morning, complete with billboards proclaiming, “ The people of Charlotte deserve access to abortion without shame and stigma .” Monday afternoon, Mayor Jennifer Roberts released a statement of similar sentiments, declaring “ If we as a city do not stand up for women’s constitutionally protected rights, who will?”
These supportive cries brought me to my knees in gratitude this morning. They are steps forward in a long-fought battle to ensure abortion access. These are the long-awaited words I’ve been fighting for: the acknowledgement that abortion access is being hindered, and the commitment to ensuring safe access to care. As uplifting and positive as these developments are, this does not mean that we can rest easy. The rally cries must be encouraged and followed up by supportive actions. The fight for reproductive freedom will continue on, but always ask yourself this: “If I don’t fight, who will?”