Women attempting to get an abortion at one North Carolina clinic had to face thousands of anti-abortion rights protesters this weekend, The Huffington Post reported.
Over 2,000 protesters from Love Life Charlotte, a religious organization that opposes abortion made up of over 40 churches, stationed themselves outside of A Preferred Women’s Health Center in Charlotte. The protesters blocked traffic from entering the clinic and yelled audibly enough so that they could be heard in the facility’s waiting room, according to HuffPo. Initially, 4,000 protesters were scheduled to attend.
“We definitely have had instances of [big] protester turnout in the past, but 4,000 is definitely the largest we’ve ever heard of,” Calla Hales, the clinic’s administrator, told HuffPo. “As much as I hate to admit it, their presence will impact patients.”
But women seeking abortion in North Carolina face a number of obstacles, including the state’s restrictive laws. Currently, women in the state must receive state-directed counseling, get an ultrasound and wait for 72 hours before getting an abortion. And there is only public funding for abortions in the state in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood are currently challenging the state’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks.
Volunteers and escorts at the clinic did fight back to protect women entering to terminate their pregnancies. According to HuffPo, volunteers turned on their car alarms to mask the voice of a man calling individuals who supported abortion rights “swine” and they began hugging each other after a protester called clinic escorts “bullies.” But Hales said that she’s witnessed more protesters and hateful rhetoric during the presidential election and in the wake of Donald Trump’s victory. (Trump, who has indicated pro-abortion rights positions in the past, has said he’ll attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade as president.)
“With these large-scale events,” Hales said, “you really feel like you’re under siege. I can’t tell you the last time I actually felt safe.”