Abortion battle intensifies at Louisville clinic as lines between sides blur


by Melanie Kahn


Posted on March 2, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 2 at 7:35 PM

(WHAS11) - The battle over abortion has been raging for decades, including outside a clinic in Louisville.

In October WHAS11 visited the downtown abortion clinic. WHAS11 returned a few weeks ago and discovered it's become much more intense.

It's a typical Saturday morning outside the EMW Women's Surgical Center on Market Street where the battle between Pro-life and Pro-choice rages every week.

Some pray quietly across the street, some stand in silence and some try to counsel women walking into the clinic against abortion.

While others, known as clinic escorts, help women walk through the sea of protestors and escorts, shouting, praying, pushing and in some cases, even fighting to get to the clinic doors.  

"I think both sides are truly seeking to be compassionate, but we both have different views on what that means," says Kelly Hylton, a street counselor.

The battle rages on, and some say, has recently become more aggressive.

In October, WHAS11 visited the abortion clinic where hostilities escalated. Both sides were clearly identifiable, with the clinic escorts wearing bright orange vests.

But now, the lines that were once very clear are now blurred.

"This pamphlet, ‘Before You Decide’ shows the development of a baby through full gestation. We also give them the gospel," added Hylton.

Hylton’s job as a street counselor is to try and convince women not to have an abortion. She says she wears a ‘Life Escort’ vest to make herself recognizable to patients.

"We want people to know that we are here to help them and we identify ourselves as people who are here to help them," says Hylton.
But clinic escorts say the motive of wearing the vests is more deceptive.

"Let's just establish them as the liars that they are. By wearing those vests they're trying to assert themselves into our scrum around people so they can yammer at them and pull on them and force their views off on them," says Drew Patterson, a clinic escort.

Drew Peterson has been directing traffic outside the clinic as an escort for the past 10 years. He says it's always been violent out there, but says recently, the life escort vests have made the situation worse.

"It says ‘Life Escort’ instead of ‘Clinic Escort’. But at a distance, you really can't see the letters anyway," says Jane Fitts, clinic escort.

In the sea of people surrounding abortion clinic clients, it's hard to know who is Pro-choice and who is Pro-life, escalating the aggression.

The EMW Surgical Center refused an on camera interview with WHAS11 citing safety concerns, saying that in the past few months, movements on both sides of the abortion debate have become more aggressive and more violent.
Yet it continues outside this abortion clinic every Saturday morning.

This kind of conflict does not happen at most abortion clinics throughout the country since they are located on private property.
However the one in Louisville is not, its public sidewalk, allowing anyone and everyone to stand here for any reason at any time.