Abortion-rights advocates see increase in volunteers after Supreme Court

·2 min read

Typically, a pair of volunteers don bright pink vests and open rainbow umbrellas in front of Eastland Women's Clinic, a Detroit clinic that provides abortions.

Last Saturday, nearly a dozen clinic escorts showed up.

Gamp Camp, an abortion-rights grassroots organization that provides escorts to shield clinic patients from anti-abortion protesters, has seen a dramatic increase in interested volunteers since the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

As people from New Way Church pray on the median separating Eastpointe from Detroit on 8 Mile Road, members of Gamp Camp Escorts use umbrellas to shield a client from them as she walks out of the Eastland Women's Clinic in Eastpointe on July 2, 2022. Gamp Camp Escorts have seen a rise in volunteers signing up to help since the reversal of Roe vs Wade in late June.
As people from New Way Church pray on the median separating Eastpointe from Detroit on 8 Mile Road, members of Gamp Camp Escorts use umbrellas to shield a client from them as she walks out of the Eastland Women's Clinic in Eastpointe on July 2, 2022. Gamp Camp Escorts have seen a rise in volunteers signing up to help since the reversal of Roe vs Wade in late June.

The leak, which indicated the court would reverse over 50 years of legal precedent with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, became reality on June 24, returning the question of bodily autonomy to the states.

Gamp Camp volunteer and press coordinator Shelly M., who asked the Free Press not to use her full name due to threats Gamp Camp members have received, said the group, which started in 2018, has grown from 40 members to over 70 in the last month.

Typically, anti-abortion protesters will stand close to the clinic, the escorts say. However, last Saturday, the dozen protesters, many of whom wore New Way Church T-shirts, gripped hands in the middle of 8 Mile Road's median.

The anti-abortion protesters declined to comment.

Shelly M. said the group initially started covering the clinic only on Saturdays, but they now appear every day of the week.

One of those new members is Charlotte, a 28-year-old volunteer who also asked the Free Press to withhold her last name out of concern for her safety.

Recently diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, she said the Dobbs decision made bodily autonomy and abortion rights personal to her. "If I were to get pregnant, it would be a very high-risk pregnancy with a high risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, and I may need abortion services," she said. "Getting pregnant could literally kill me."

Charlotte, 28, of Grosse Pointe signed up online two weeks ago to be a volunteer for Gamp Camp Escorts and spent her first day helping out at the Eastland Women's Clinic in Eastpointe on July 2, 2022. Gamp Camp Escorts have seen a rise in volunteers signing up to help since the reversal of Roe vs Wade in late June.
Charlotte, 28, of Grosse Pointe signed up online two weeks ago to be a volunteer for Gamp Camp Escorts and spent her first day helping out at the Eastland Women's Clinic in Eastpointe on July 2, 2022. Gamp Camp Escorts have seen a rise in volunteers signing up to help since the reversal of Roe vs Wade in late June.

Those with uteruses in Michigan still have access to abortion services, but other states like Missouri have enacted "trigger laws," that went into effect after the court ruling, prohibiting abortion in nearly all cases.

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Clinic receptionist Allieanna Cooley, 23, said the increase in volunteers would probably help patients feel safer. According to Cooley, last week one of the anti-abortion protesters was close to the clinic doors recording patients with his phone. Cooley will often rearrange chairs so patients can't be recorded or photographed. "[The patients] get scared. They try and hide in there," she said, gesturing to the lobby, "some of them come in crying."

Cooley said anti-abortion protesters make utilizing the clinic much more difficult for patients. They "make it a million times hard for them," she said, "and I'm the first person [patients] see. So I hear it all."

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Abortion clinic escorts see volunteers increase