Volunteer escorts gather outside Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, one of three facilities that perform abortions in Louisiana. The clinic resumed seeing patients Tuesday, June 28, 2022, for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court overruled its Roe v. Wade decision Friday and allowed Louisiana’s abortion ban to go into effect. A New Orleans judge issued a temporary stay against the ban Monday. (Piper Hutchinson)
Granted a brief reprieve from Louisiana’s strict abortion ban, Delta Clinic in Baton Rouge, one of three abortion clinics in the state, resumed providing abortions Tuesday.
Nearly a dozen clinic escorts, clad in rainbow striped vests, paced the parking lot outside the clinic. The small lot was flanked on either side by anti-abortion protestors.
Despite being sequestered to public sidewalks, the protestors were an overwhelming presence at the clinic. While they could not physically enter the property, the protestors, most wearing religious iconography of some sort, did not hesitate to raise their voice at everybody on the clinic property.
“Murderer,” they shouted at nurses and other healthcare workers coming in for their shift.
To the pregnant people, lined up on the sidewalk, partially hidden behind the parked SUV of a clinic volunteer, “You don’t have to kill your baby!”
To the clinic volunteers, “You have hate in your hearts.”
The escorts took it all in stride. Most are on a first-name basis with the protestors, who regularly stop by the clinic.
“It’s a beautiful day for people in Louisiana,” said Jeramesha Warner, a clinic escort.
Warner said she was devastated when the U.S. Supreme Court ruling came down on Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, allowing states to enact and enforce their abortion bans. When a New Orleans judge granted a temporary stay Monday on Louisiana’s abortion ban, she said she was elated.
Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Robin Giarrusso set a hearing for a lawsuit challenging the statewide abortion ban for July 8, creating a ticking clock for abortion access in Louisiana. The case has been assigned to Judge Ethel Simms Julien, who has held a seat in Orleans Civil District Court since 1995.
Clinics have just a matter of days to see as many patients as they can before the court rules on the merits of a lawsuit from Hope Medical Group for Women, Shreveport’s abortion clinic, and a group of Tulane University medical students.
Hope Medical Group began seeing patients Tuesday as well. Women’s Health Care Center in New Orleans announced that they will begin taking appointments Thursday.
Kaytlin Matherne, another volunteer at Delta Clinic, said the facility is working tirelessly to see patients.
“All the nurses just don’t f—— stop, they work constantly because they know how much this is needed,” Matherne said.
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On the other side of the sidewalk, there was less joy but no less anger.
Richard Mahoney, a regular fixture under the shady tree overhanging the sidewalk, called the clinic workers and volunteers evil and demonic. Mahoney carries a large crucifix that he waves at vehicles entering the clinic parking lot, trying to get them to slow down so he can hand them a pamphlet containing graphic images of abortion procedures and information.
Mahoney said was ecstatic when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, calling it “50 years too late” and a product of “judicial tyranny.”
Warner said Louisiana is experiencing tyranny of a different kind.
“What they’re trying to do, ultimately, is make our state a theocracy,” Warner said. “We’re living in a time where the minority is ruling, it’s tyranny of the minority.”
Matherne, a stay-at-home mom, said she was scared for the future of her children and their friends.
“What if this does go on until they’re in high school?,” Matherne said. “What are these other kids supposed to do? Like that’s such a scary thought. They’re not gonna be able to just come right here to Baton Rouge and be able to get help.”
Abortion rights advocates have argued that an abortion ban will have the greatest effect on poor people and other marginalized groups who already struggle to access healthcare.
Warner, a Black woman, said that she was afraid for what would happen after the ban goes back into effect and the impact that it would have on other people of color.
“We’re either gonna see an increase of people that look like me going to jail trying to do it themselves, or we’re going to see an increase in possible deaths with people trying to do it themselves,” Warner said.
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