Louisville Magazine

MAR 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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5 2 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.14 boots and sweatpants, keeps her hands in the pouch of her hoodie. "Would you like me to walk with you?" the escort named Jenn asks. Te young woman nods yes. Nate Robertson, who's 31 and a supervisor at a call center, approaches and asks the young woman, "Are you going to E.M.W. today?" A year ago, he and his wife Kristin, who are volunteer children's pastors at the Kingdom Center Church in J-Town, were having dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory and walked past the clinic. He did some Googling and has come to the sidewalk most Saturdays since. "It's tough because they've already made up their mind to have an abortion," Robertson says. He talks to a lot of rolled-up car windows. "Te sidewalk is really icy today," Jenn says to the client, ignoring Robertson. "Please," Robertson says. "You don't have to do this. Tere are other options." He asks if the client would consider a free ultrasound next door at A Woman's Choice instead. "Te protestors will try to talk to you," Jenn says to the client. "You do not have to say any- thing back." "Please," Robertson says. Te young woman and her companion do not say a word. Te gauntlet begins a couple hundred feet from the entrance. One man has a GoPro camera strapped to his chest, the footage from which he says he shows at his church, Auburn- dale Baptist. (It sounds like his voice on the video of the E.M.W. sidewalk scene that's on the website for the Abolitionist Society of Louisville, whose objective is to "shut down Kentucky's last remaining full-time Child Sacrifce Center.") Twenty students have made the trip from Ken- tucky Mountain Bible College, about 150 miles to the southeast of Louisville in Jackson, Ky. Many hold graphic posters, the mutilated arms and legs of fetuses next to quarters and nickels to show scale. One of the students cries as she sings "Amazing Grace." Once a month, parishioners from the Cathedral of the Assumption make the walk to Market from their church on South Fifth Street, where they stand across the street from E.M.W. and pray. Te wall parts, lets through the client walking with Jenn. Isetti, who is whistling, opens the door. "Adoption would be a loving choice," Durn- ing says. "Babies are to be cared for, not thrown away like garbage." "We care about you!" King shouts. "No chil- dren have to die here today!" Tammy Gutman, 46, stands before the waiting-room window, head down. "I just pray these women will open their eyes," she says. Gutman was a single mother when she had an abortion in 1991. She says she kept that secret buried for 17 years, until she fnally brought herself to talk about it at church. "I thought it was a blob of tissue," she says. "I didn't know it had a heartbeat." She says she forgave herself after getting counseling at A Woman's Choice, where she now volunteers. She named the child she never had Shawn Alexander because she's confdent it was a boy. Walter, in his orange vest, walks with a moth- er and her daughter. A woman named Mary ap- proaches with a plastic fetus in her hand. "Don't do this," Mary says. Te mother, who is crying, replies, "She's a baby." Mary thrusts the plastic fetus toward their faces. "She's just a baby," the mother repeats. Te prayer warriors call the mother "grandma" and her daughter "mom." "Don't kill your daughter," somebody shouts. "Don't let them kill your grandbaby." "I'm sorry about all this," Walter says. It's still dark out, but one client beelining to the front door has on sunglasses and keeps her hood up, as if she's trying to hide from paparazzi. Several wear headphones. One shouts, "Get the fuck out of my way!" Another, to Durning: "Hush! You're getting ready to get slapped." A lineman-sized man in an Oakland Raiders pullover practically sprints with his wife. Her eyes stare at the pavement; his eyes bulge. (By the time the sun has risen, the escorts' work is done, usually at about 8:30 a.m. Te prayer warriors hang around until 9 or so, hoping to get through to a woman on the other side of the waiting-room window or to change a straggler's mind. When the scene is mostly clear, the man in the Raiders jacket steps into the cold for a cigarette. "Tat was crazier than I expected," is all he'll say.) Rudyk is with a woman in her 30s or 40s, who holds the hand of a young child walk- ing next to her who is sucking on a pacifer. "Pretty chilly morning, huh?" Rudyk says. From Second, they turn right onto Market. Clients and their companions have packed the entryway through E.M.W.'s doors. "Te baby in your womb is as precious as the one walking with you!" "Ten fngers!" "Tey make slime out of those babies!" "Ten toes!" "You men need to step up and take care of your children." "Steve Jobs was adopted. What if his mother would have had an abortion?" "Teir only concern is receiving the blood money for killing your baby." Kirk Powell, a 28-year-old student at the Southern Baptist Teological Seminary, carries a metal basket of granola bars, bottled water and smiley-face buttons for the escorts, an attempt, he says, to "bridge the gulf " between the two sides. Besides Walter, who has cofee with Powell every Saturday at the White Castle down the street, everybody — escorts and prayer warriors — ignores him. E .M.W. keeps the fuorescent lights in the entryway turned of, to make it a little more difcult to see in from the sidewalk in the early-morning darkness. An employee stands behind a window of thick glass, checks client IDs, hands them a form on a clipboard and buzzes them through the waiting room's locked door. Taped to the bricks on the employee's side of the glass: black-and-white printouts of faces that have made threats at abortion clinics across the country, like the im- ages you'd see on a wanted poster. When asked if the receptionist window is bulletproof, the clinic's 59-year-old director, Anne Ahola, says, "It might be." She says the prayer warriors are "exorcising their demons out there." Te carpeted waiting room has 33 uncom- fortable chairs, a few small plastic pots of fake fowers, ceiling tiles, unmemorable pictures on beige walls. In other words, a doctor's ofce. Te music from the speaker overhead would be at home in an elevator. On the other side of the main wall is A Woman's Choice, the Christian nonproft that ofers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds and can put a woman in touch with adoption agencies or maternity homes. "Terminating a pregnancy is killing," says Monica Henderson, A.W.C.'s 45-year-old director. "Tat's a fundamental diference." A.W.C. already had a facility on the other end of the block — plus one on East Chestnut where mothers can work toward a GED — but a few years ago opened a second location, next door to E.M.W. "Visibility and availability is the main thing," Henderson says. "We want to make sure these women have all the informa- tion." ("Tey jumped on the building like that when it opened up," Ahola says.) Henderson says, "I think a lot of people believe that a child disrupts everything. But most things that are worthwhile require work. It's not easy, but it's possible." A locked door leads to the rest of E.M.W., where there are rooms for ultrasounds and pel- vic examinations. Pregnancies fewer than eight weeks along cost $650, cash or credit, for two Clinic escorts in orange vests on one side of the sidewalk, prayer warriors on the other side. Shoe tips to shoe tips, no space between them. "Guerra," says a Spanish-speaking man who comes to the sidewalk to pray. War. 42-53 Abort BUS.indd 52 2/20/14 5:21 PM

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