Graham Kilmer

Outside An Abortion Clinic The Morning Roe Was Overturned

Women face harassment as they arrive for procedures they can no longer access.

By - Jun 24th, 2022 03:32 pm
Counter Protestor Grace Jamieson holds sign calling anti-abortion activists 'morons'." Photo taken June 24, 2022 by Graham Kilmer.

Counter Protestor Grace Jamieson holds sign calling anti-abortion activists ‘morons’.” Photo by Graham Kilmer.

The politics of reproductive rights and the consequences of their elimination played out on the sidewalk in front of a Milwaukee abortion clinic Friday morning, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of constitutional protection for abortion.

Women, showing up for treatment to Affiliated Medical Services at 1428 N. Farwell Ave., were met by the protestors that are always there. They were also finding out that the procedure they were seeking had just become illegal in the State of Wisconsin.

The court’s majority opinion, released Friday morning, eliminated federal protection for abortion. In Wisconsin, an 1849 law makes the procedure illegal, and clinics all across the state were forced to immediately cancel all abortion procedures upon learning of the court’s decision.

Leslie Fillingham is volunteer clinic escort at Affiliated Medical Services. She and roughly a dozen others, ferry women between their cars and the clinic, shielding them from the anti-abortion protestors. The clinic escorts are all volunteers, and work with the permission of the clinic.

She told Urban Milwaukee that the clinic has been attempting to contact their patients to cancel procedures. “But they haven’t necessarily been successful,” she said, and some women had to  find out in person Friday morning they could no longer access abortion in Wisconsin.

Fillingham helped organize the clinic escorts in Milwaukee 30 years ago. “I started when a friend of mine had an abortion procedure and was frightened by the protestors,” she said, “and I got angry.”

One patient leaving the clinic Friday morning, enclosed by a circle of escorts, was hounded across the street until she got into her car.

“Ostensibly they’re trying to dissuade women from having abortions,” Fillingham explained “but they’re also trying to shame them and scare them and humiliate them.”

Another clinic escort, Adam, who declined to give his last name, said, “We’d be lying if we said we didn’t expect this or we didn’t see it coming. Naturally, we’re still disappointed that it finally happened, because it’s not gonna stop here.”

Adam said he’s worried the next dominoes to fall will be gay marriage and trans rights, given recent statements by Justice Clarence Thomas that the court should reconsider other decisions, including the ruling that legalized same sex marriage. “They’re undoing 50 years of precedent,” he said, with the court’s decision overturning Roe.

The harassment women faced Friday morning, as they showed up for abortions they could no longer legally access, was nothing out of their ordinary, Adam said.

“I think there’s a lot more gloating, definitely,” he said. “Ya know, some of these people have been involved in this fight since Roe, spent decades trying to get to the point that we’re at right now.”

One woman was outside the clinic Friday standing in opposition to the anti-abortion protestors. Grace Jamieson held a sign that said “These people are morons” with an arrow pointed at the protestors.

“I was actually out here yesterday,” she said. While driving past she saw the protestors and went home, fished a piece of cardboard out of her trash and made her sign. Then the decision was released, “And so I was like, I have to come out here. It’s not gonna change anything, but someone has to be against it.”

Jamieson, 26, told Urban Milwaukee she had lived her entire life taking for granted “all the rights and opportunities that I’ve had… And when they leaked the Supreme Court decision a couple of months ago, even though it was very real, I was like no, that can’t happen, it won’t happen.”

She said she cried when she heard the news. Standing outside the clinic, she still felt stunned. “I’m shaking,” she said, her hand trembling slightly whenever she let go of her sign.

Asked if she had any words for the judges that made the decision Friday, she said, “It wasn’t your decision to make.”

“To do what we want to do with our bodies,” she said, “in every sense of the word, was stripped from us.”

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Categories: Health, Politics, Weekly

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