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Volunteer patient escorts needed at Jacksonville abortion clinic as demand increases

Since Roe v Wade was overturned, the CEO and President says demand for access to women's healthcare has increased.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Months after Roe v Wade was overturned, A Jacksonville women's clinic is experiencing a rise in the number of patients.

They tell First Coast News women are coming from states where abortions are no longer available to them, but they face another hurdle when they get to the clinic. 

CEO and President of A Women’s Choice clinic says patients are met by a growing number of anti-abortion protesters as they walk to their appointment. As a result, she says they need more volunteers to help escort women to and from their vehicles.

This is something CEO and President Kelly Flynn prepares patients for this, whether they are coming here for an abortion, STD testing, or other health care services. 

She says look for a person in rainbow attire. That’s the volunteer escort who will help you get inside.

“I try to protect them as much as I can with my little umbrella and just talk over what is happening," volunteer Kristy Kerins said. “It’s very emotional. It’s very emotional and exhausting.” 

She's part of a support system that Flynn wishes she didn’t have to have.

“They come to the clinic and help patients safely enter in to clinic and try to shield them from the harassment and the yelling from the protesters that will show up to the clinic sometimes," Flynn said.

Protesters say they are there to protect the sanctity of unborn children. 

Since Roe v Wade was overturned in June, Flynn says the demand for abortion access has increased with more women coming from out of state. With an increased need also comes and increase of presence from protesters. 

“Depending on the day it can be anywhere from 2 to 15 or many many more protesters that yell and harass women to not have an abortion. Just say awful things to them," Kerins said. "My job is to just kind of run interference.”

Flynn is battling the legality of the protesters and whether they’re trespassing, but in the meantime, they’re here. 

Patients can be seen with their hoods over their head dodging protesters as they try to get their attention. 

“(Volunteers are) a big help," Flynn said. "They just try to keep the peace and keep everybody safe as you know, it is not fair to patients, to staff having to go in to get healthcare and get harassed at the same time.”

Women’s Choice is an abortion clinic, but they also take care of other healthcare needs as well as provide connections to an adoption agency.

On December 3rd, they are having a volunteer social where the public is invited to meet volunteers and sign up to help. It’ll take place in their parking lot at 4131 University Blvd in Jacksonville. 

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