On December 2

Thousands of extremists blocked access to one of Charlotte's only abortion clinics. The City Council did nothing.

It's nothing short of terrorism.

As shown in Rewire's original documentary "Care in Chaos", A Preferred Women's Health Center of Charlotte has long been the target of large-scale coordinated efforts by anti-abortion extremists to harass those seeking abortion care.

Charlotte is not alone. Anti-abortion harassment, intimidation, and violence outside of clinics is widespread across the U.S., and their tactics begin with blocking clinic entrances but often end with outright violence and death threats for physicians and staff.

According to Feminist Majority Foundation's 2016 National Clinic Violence Survey, 63.2% of women's health clinics nationwide experience frequent and regular anti-abortion activity.

Charlotte deserves access to abortion without shame and stigma.

It's time to take back the Queen City.

Learn More

What Can The City of Charlotte Do?

North Carolina has a few laws in place that are meant to protect abortion clinic staff and patients and make clinics physically more accessible for those seeking care. Whether or not we see these laws fairly enforced in Charlotte is a whole other story.

To make it safe to access the clinic, the city needs to take action on:

Amplified Sound and Amplification Permits 

Charlotte city code sets the legal limit of amplified sound at 70 decibels. Although clinic employees have measured the decibel level at well in excess of 80, protesters reduce the volume when the police are called and turn it back up as soon as the police leave. The noise is intrusive and makes the day-to-day business at the clinic much more stressful for providers and patients.

The city claims that the permitting system is operated on a first-come, first-serve basis, and only one sound permit will be granted for a particular area. However, pro-choice groups infrequently receive a permit:

“A member of Pro Choice Charlotte...has made thousands of attempts at obtaining a sound permit for the clinic on Saturday mornings ― the same sound permit that the anti-abortion protesters are granted for every single Saturday…[he] told HuffPost that for his thousands of sound permit requests over the last few months, he has been denied every single time.”

Huffington Post

No-Parking Signs 

A Preferred Women’s Health Center lobbied the City Council to install “No Parking” signs on the street outside, to prevent protest groups from parking cars and buses at strategic points to block access to the clinic or make it harder for those seeking care to find parking and enter the clinic. These buses advertise ultrasounds and pregnancy tests, in an attempt to lure women in and discourage them from seeking abortion care.

In November, the Charlotte Safety Committee met and without notifying the public, they determined that they would not add “No Parking” signs to curtail the protest traffic on Latrobe Drive. Previously, the Charlotte Police Department suggested "No Parking" signs but at the hearing the Police Chief said he thinks the signs are a free speech issue.

Parade Permits 

Charlotte city code dictates that applications for parade permits must be filed at least 30 days before the event, unless “purpose of such event is a spontaneous response to a current event, or where other good and compelling causes are shown.” Anti-abortion group Love Life Charlotte (LLC) publicly announced their plans for a “thousand man prayer walk” outside of A Preferred Women’s Health Center two weeks before the event, but when a Pro Choice Charlotte volunteer notified the city and police, they had no knowledge of it.

Yet LLC managed to get their permit application submitted and approved on the same day:

A Pro Choice Charlotte member “said she learned from the City Attorney’s office that the city had to tell LLC to apply for a parade permit, and that their application was approved on that same day...the city expedited the permit, citing a clause that states they can do so “where other good and compelling causes are shown” in the permit application.”

Huffington Post

We Have To Act

The intensity of these protests has only increased over the past year. A Preferred Women's Health Center of Charlotte clinic director Calla Hales says she thinks a driving factor is the current political climate:

It is very intense being out there... It's hard to drive somewhere seeking health care—seeking care for a decision that may have not been the easiest decision to make—and to drive through a sea of people who don't know you, who don't know your situation and judge you the whole way through.”

City Council: You Have the Power to Stop This.

Make Charlotte a place where people can access abortion free from shame and stigma.

© 2017 progress nc. All Rights Reserved.