Currently, the campaign 40 Days for Life is in the midst of its national, biannual campaign that recruits volunteers to stand outside of clinics where abortion services are provided and protest patients entering the building.
In addition to the increased protester presence, Planned Parenthood has been under more political fire than usual this year, following the the release of video footage misleadingly edited to indicate that Planned Parenthood was in the business of selling fetal body parts. Though the footage was debunked and multiple investigations into the organization have produced zero evidence that they are, in fact, involved in such a business, the media attention has galvanized throngs of supporters from both sides of the abortion debate.
"Any time we're under this much fire, our supporters turn out in stronger numbers," said Leah Ford, community engagement and advocacy coordinator for Planned Parenthood.
Volunteers with Planned Parenthood will don neon-pink traffic vests, meant to distinguish them from protestors.
The escort program is meant to last beyond the duration of the 40 Days campaign as the number of protestors tends to fluctuate unpredictably, as does the intensity of their dissuasive tactics aimed at female patients.
"Above all, this is about the patient," said Ford. "Their comfort and safety comes first."
Anyone interested in volunteering to be a clinic escort can contact Leah Ford by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region will soon provide escorts for patients visiting their clinic. Starting Tuesday, Oct. 18, the women's health organization will launch a new program that provides clinic escorts in hopes that the they can provide a heightened sense of safety and companionship for those who have to endure the sometimes vitriolic messages from anti-abortion protestors as they walk in the building.