Every Tuesday and Friday morning five Wesleyan students drive to Summit Women’s Abortion Center in Bridgeport, CT. Upon arriving, half the group is stationed at the center’s parking lot while the others stand at an adjacent bus stop. Ten to 20 demonstrators rally between them.

“The same two groups have protested for 20 years,” said Darien Combs ’11, one of the organizers of the group. “There’s the older one, where most people are in there seventies. They pray and hold out rosary beads, and will say things like, ‘It’s great weather for baby killing.’”

Other groups are more vocal and represent a younger demographic.

“The other group is led by a woman with a megaphone,” said Sophie Sadinsky ’11, another organizer of the group. “And there’s always a woman with her homeschooled nine-year-old boy… It’s scary to think what his relationships with women will be like.”

Although there is a police officer on duty, and the parking lot is fenced off from protestors, demonstrators do close in on students waiting at the bus stop. But instead of engaging the “antis,” students wait for the center’s patient to arrive.

They are the Wesleyan Clinic Escorts. Around one hundred members strong, they escort women who would like to be escorted past the demonstrators to the Summit Center’s door. Although not actually affiliated with the clinic, according to the group’s website, “their presence is both respected and appreciated.”

Despite helping women about to undergo abortion, the group insists, “We are not protesters. We do not attempt to engage the antis. As a group we take no position on the abortion issue and remain as apolitical as possible. The only belief we advocate is that all women deserve to be treated with compassion, decency, and respect.”

“I remember going to the activities fair, and talking to the head at the time on what the group was about,” Combs said. “I was really into the idea of empowering women.”

The members of the group act as a shield for women entering the clinic.

“We wear orange pennies, so it’s obvious we’re volunteers,” Combs said.

The group members must also be careful to ask for permission to walk a woman to the clinic.

“We approach women and say, ‘Hi, I’m with clinic escorts would you like me to walk you to the door?’” Sadinsky said. “A lot of times, women are dropped off and no one accompanies them. In those moments it’s really important to have a body next to you. That temporary dynamic is important if you don’t have anyone else with you. It is a very scary and vulnerable time to be alone.”

Demonstrators often yell religious epithets or hold graphic posters of aborted fetuses. Some even offer to take care of the baby.

“Once I was escorting a young woman and her grandmother, and her grandmother was so upset by the protesters she yelled, ‘Are you going to take care of this baby?’” said Combs. “And the woman with the megaphone said she offered to take care of it. It’s insane.”

The politicizing presence of demonstrators often makes the work of the Clinic Escorts even more difficult.

“The worst is when they try to push fake data,” Sadinsky said. “Like, ‘you’ll go sterile, women die in there, women are 10 times more likely to commit suicide after having an abortion.’ I have to remind myself to ignore them and that I’m there to support women, not to implement any kind of political agenda.”

The Wesleyan Clinic Escorts has grown over the past four years.

“More men have joined in the past few years, which is great and there’s generally more awareness of it on campus,” Combs said.

Last semester the group showed the abortion documentary, Lake of Fire and in December they are showing 12th and Delaware with a discussion afterwards.

“Now that we’re leading the group, it’s startling to see how appalled people are once they see the demonstrators,” Combs said. “It’s good to know that not everyone has the same values system. We’re showing the movies to raise awareness on campus and have conversations about these issues that are rarely discussed.”

The Wesleyan Clinic Escorts were recently awarded the Catherine Roraback Award by NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut (formerly the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League). The award acknowledges the “individuals or organizations that have demonstrated leadership, courage, and activism in the struggle to protect privacy rights, the legal right to obtain an abortion and access to reproductive health for all women.” The group leaders were honored at NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut’s Annual Fall Auction & Gala on Friday, Oct. 1st in Hartford.

“It was an incredibly powerful experience,” Sadinsky said. “A lot of local politicians and leading members of NARAL were there. We had no idea we were going to be recognized. They were searching for someone to give the award to and found us. It was really humbling to receive an incredible amount of praise for such a simple gesture.”

Despite their recent accolades and the constant politicization of the issue, the Clinic Escorts maintain their commitment to a woman’s right to an abortion not for any political affiliation, but out of a deep, personal dedication to their cause.

“It’s been really exciting to engage with the issue,” Combs said. “I’ve always been pro- choice but didn’t know why or what it meant. But then once when I was waiting at the bus stop outside the clinic with a fellow student, she told me she had an abortion in high school and that’s why she joined the group. And that’s when it really hit me.”

  • paula D.

    As a nurse I find this a sad & sick consequence of the abortion industries propaganda-I know too many women that have been damaged by abortion-not to mention the childrens lives snuffed out at the altar of convience-GOD HELP US!!!

  • Jason Brown


  • Denice

    We have had escorts at the clinic where I pray and sidewalk counsel. My question to these “escorts”-will you also be there to accompany the woman who exit the clinic broken, crying and many times distraught.We have had women collapse in the parking lot and have had to call for rides for them. We have seen women crying out after the abortion, “I am so sorry” . Empower the women with the truth.

  • A. Jen

    I used to escort women at the PP near my college. You guys are awesome! I had my abortion 5 years ago, it inspired me to help others in the same situation, and I am glad every day I had the choice!

  • Greta

    These ladies make me proud to have been a Wesleyan during my youth. Most women I’ve spoken to have been RELIEVED after the abortion because they knew they made the choice that was right for them. NOBODY knows the situation of each individual woman, THEREFORE NOBODY has a right to meddle in her business.

  • Tara

    Denice- ‘sidewalk counsel’??? LOL. You mean harrass. Empower women with the truth- yes- but the real truth and the not the ‘truth’ the antis spew. You are counseled inside the clinic and told ALL of your options, and they make sure you are doing for yourself and no one else is making you. So, I don’t believe that they exit ‘broken, crying and distraught’.

  • Courtney

    Denice, do you think perhaps those women are feeling guilt because you guys are there heckling her? Sidewalk counselors are the sick ones. Abortion is a private issue between a woman and a doctor, and you have nothing to do with it.

  • Lauren

    Well Denise, maybe they finally break after being bombarded with guilt trips and misinformation by “sidewalk counselors.” These women are already dealing with one of the most difficult decisions they’ll ever make, and you’re not making it any better. Why don’t you mind your own business and leave these women alone?

  • Megan Roberts

    @Denice, Yes I would be there for them afterwards as well. You say empower them with the truth so why do you tell lies, such as the ones said in the article. Also how can you empower women if you dont let them make their own minds up and decide on the best course of action for their lives and their bodies. How can you empower women if you tell women you cant do this and you cant do that. Most women have come to the clinic after making a terrible choice and dont need people like you making it harder for them. The best thing you can do is to join programes that educate people rather than judge them.
    @ the article writers. Thank you for a wonderful article, these women are brave and deserve all the awards that are out there.

  • kari

    I’m also a nurse who has worked in 2 clinics.the pay wasn’t awesome, and I worked in fear every day od some nut job shooting me or blowing the clinics up.but I did it as my duty to help all women get proper care.I’m thrilled about the escorts-good job, guys!and to all the antis who come on and lie, piss off. No one believes your nonsense.

  • A. Diane

    Paula D, as a nurse you should know that giving birth, can ‘damage’ to a person. There is a REAL condition – post-partum depression – and yet nobody ‘counsels’ women who want to get pregnant on the dangers of pregnancy, childbirth, etc. Who is there when women get PPD? Often, nobody. It is discounted because women are supposed to be ‘glowing’ when they become mothers. You ‘sidewalk counsellors’ certainly dismiss the REAL emotional after-affects of giving birth. Get lives, get jobs and CONTRIBUTE to society rather than HARASS women!

  • Suzanne

    Very courageous. A friend of mine’s father and step mother were gunned down for doing that in Florida. It all comes from the propaganda of politicians and press calling them abortion clinics instead of Family Planning Centers. They do so much more health care than just abortion. They will even help you not get pregnent or go ahead and have a healthy baby if that is your choice. Guess what? It’s Summit Women’s Center, no abortion at all in the title. Even this article uses the word and it’s supposed to be un-biased, I hope.

  • Alaina

    You know, I’ve found that there is some truth in the idea that women who have had abortions are more likely to go into depression.

    Now, I have never met a woman who felt depressed because she had terminated a pregnancy.
    I have, however, met plenty of women who fell into depression afterward because they were harassed about it and insulted and guilted and shunned.

    It isn’t the abortion that caused their lives to go to hell.
    It was the so-called “pro-lifers” who in reality don’t give a shit about life, they just want to see a woman forced into misery.

    These escorts are doing wonderful things. Some of them may not even be pro-choice, but at least they are still decent people who give a crap about their fellow human beings, unlike those protesters.

  • chris

    do these escorts offer post-abortion counseling? Do they feel great about what they are doing? They are complicit in the deaths of these children. Look up project rachel or some other adoptive agency.

  • sarah

    hopefully, these students will ask for forgiveness for the atrocities they enabled. what is really scary is that some of these child murder co-conspirators are planning to have children of their own.

  • Patricia

    Bravo.. enabling women to make choices for themselves … what a concept? tell the uber-religious to go have a few dozen children to make up the difference.. FETAL material does not a child make..

  • Anna

    I wish there were more organizations and volunteers like this. Thank you all.

  • Melissa

    What a fantastic organization! I can only hope my daughter and/or son will choose to volunteer with such a courageous group. I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll keep saying; We make decisions from a place of love, or a place of fear. Those who see the world in black or white live from fear. Those who are willing to recognize the many shades of gray are living in love. I have yet to meet a fundamentalist-minded “Christian” who acknowledges shades of gray. Kudos to all who are volunteering their time!

  • Cheryl

    As a new baby was born into our family, I shutter at the thought of someone harming an innocent child in the womb. You speak of empowering women…the answer to a fulfilled life is to draw close to God, the One who created us in the womb to give Him glory after we’re born. Not to die there. Our new baby loves to lean her head on our hand, because it reminds her of being in the womb. Where she was safe.
    EARNESTLY, with ALL your heart, PRAY to God for direction. God loves you.

  • Sarah

    I’m amazed by the strength the clinic escorts (and the women choosing to go into that clinic) have. Having an abortion is a tough choice, made only harder by the religious fanatics screaming from the sidelines, but it’s a choice I’d still want to be able to make.

  • Cheryl

    Sarah, I use to look at Christians as fanatics myself at one time so I know where you’re coming from. It’s too bad there are people on the sidelines screaming. It’s not what the Bible tells us to do and it’s not how Jesus would have handled it. All I know is that His love for us made Him choose to die on the cross so we can be set free from sin when we confess it and turn from it. To escort people to the clinic to abort a baby is a sin. Before we were born God knew us…just like Jeremiah, the prophet. The Bible says in the book of Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I KNEW YOU, and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you: I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Those who will to thwart God’s plans are going to reap a terrible judgement unless they turn away from the sin. I pray they turn.

  • Murderer

    Thank you for your passionate work and dedication — it takes a lot of guts to escort an innocent person to their death …guts that most sane people don’t have. After the holocaust, few people support extermination of unwanteds and undesirables to the extent that you all have been honored for. Congratulations, and thank you.

  • Diane

    These volunteers are amazing individuals, reaching out to women at what is possibly the most difficult time in their lives, meeting them where they are with unwaivering acceptance and support. Very cool.

  • John

    Yelling at the women on their way in to the clinic is not right. However, not everyone at the clinic is there to yell at the women. There are sidewalk counselors who offer information and resources to help those women not entirely comfortable with their choice. I’ve offered women the information and seen them take it and leave the clinic. If escorts prevent them from receiving this information, are they really letting the women have a choice? Not every client is as informed as others about options and dangers.

  • Ashley, 21

    To all of you complete idiots. You are all completely ignorant to bash this story. I have severe medical issues including ulcerative colitis/crones disease. as well as Vacuities, severe arthritis, Endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disease causing internal inflammation and severe adhesions all over my abdomen after a surgery to untwist a mal-rotation of my intestines that meant they were about to burst only 5 years ago! I frequently have bowel obstructions and they are dangerous and require hospitalization. I also have been left disabled by my disease, I can’t function and most days barely get my day going because of chronic pain and electrolyte imbalances. NOW I was told to always make sure I keep a close eye on making sure I do not get pregnant because it would be fatal to me they also doubted with all of the radiation I have been exposed to from hundreds of tests that it would even be possible I had my first serious boyfriend whom which I am engaged to now when I was 17 we were monogamous and in love I always was on birth control however with my disease every single one they put me on made me very ill and have extreme adverse side effects while also making my endometriosis pain worse than you can imagine. Therefore I stopped taking birth control because they advised me to do so it made me too sick on top of a very unstable health to begin with. At the age of 20 I was told I was more than likely not even able to get pregnant and probably sterile at this point. I and my fiancé weren’t as careful as we should have been hearing that we still used protection but things happen and I became amazingly pregnant. Now based on what I have told you, my condition, my disease and my crippled lifestyle do you think I am in any state to carry out a pregnancy???? No imp not I was told I would die or the baby would die either way it was severely dangerous and I was told to have an abortion immediately after they first weeks of becoming pregnant. Walking into the facility was horrifying the protestors were outside and were vicious. As we came into the parking lot we were harassed while in the car! Blocked from driving in then yelled at from the sidewalk! My mother was with me a cop told us where to park and we were not allowed to take anything in and we walked through metal detectors for fear of guns in the clinic! After having the procedure done we were cursed at and screamed at it was horrible! I wanted to tell them my story so they would stop calling me names and telling me that I’m “sick individual and how dare I dare I have this done”. So all of you protestors after reading my story do you honestly believe that’s its okay to judge everyone who walks in an insult them based on the fact that they are at a clinic. U aren’t speaking to them directly! You don’t know why they are there, and why they are having it done. So how dare you insult people that you don’t even know? After reading my story can you honestly say I’m horrible for having it done I had no option B. And according to the clinic several women have had to have it done for the exact reason as me. Sever medical issues!! What right do you have to be so out of control and disrespectful to women you don’t even know! ALL of you are 100% ignorant! Maybe you should ask the individual why they have decided to go this route before telling her she’s going to hell. I was very upset that I had to do this mind you but I didn’t have a choice to do anything but this. And every woman’s situation is unique and different think before you judge! Feel free to contact me! This group is amazing and I would have loved to have had a supportive group there when I went through this. These women should be applauded not insulted.

  • Amanda

    I think it’s so completely awesome what these students are doing. I contacted my local abortion clinic to find out if they needed escorts but they said due to the layout of the building they were not needed. If escorts were needed where I live I would be more than happy to assist. I think escorting is very brave and is so necessary. I have been fortunate never to need an abortion myself, but I am so grateful that the option is there if I ever find myself in such a situation. And while I would have support and an escort in my husband, not everyone is as fortunate. Please keep up the good work. :)

  • Lisajane

    Proud to be a safety escort at the abortion clinic in Louisville, KY. Wonderful to see these escorts receive an award for their compassionate service. Keep up the good work!

    As long as there are unwanted pregnancies and as long as there is no foolproof birth control, there WILL be abortions.

    Keep abortion safe and legal….no more coat hanger back alley death in the land of the free.

  • Rosalinda

    “I had my abortion five years ago…” Hmmm, why don’t we speak the truth and see how comfortable people are.. “I had my child killed five years ago, ripped from my body limb from limb…” Yes, you killed your child and those escorts are accomplices. Women have the right to dignity, truth, love and respect – they DO NOT have the right to murder another human being because it just isn’t convenient to accept the consequences of their actions!! Murder is not a personal choice, it’s against the law – unless you can’t see their the victim’s face when it’s happening and then it’s called abortion!! GET REAL!

  • Kelsey

    Pro-choicers are always claiming that pro-lifers won’t do anything to provide for the “unwanted” child– and then when a pro-lifer offers to raise the child, you complain about it and call it harassment!

  • Heather

    So true Kelsey. The pro-lifers offer to raise the child, calling the child killers out on their bluffs and of course they twist it around into harassment. Of course they’re gonna call it every name in the book, they want to justify their actions! Scumbags!

  • Sean

    Dr. Mengele would sure be proud of these ghouls. The ones writing this glamour article gleefully supporting beheadings also. I shudder to think what their relationship will be with a child they might actually let live someday.

    Maybe one of them will have a “wanted” child born preterm with cerebral palsy thanks to the damage they did to their cervix at the kill house in college. You think the blood money butchers in the clinic will offer to raise that kid in a wheel chair?

    Of course not. It’s about them, after all. Nothing matters other than their plans for the weekend – or spring break. Not even the life of their own child. It’s just simply who and what they are as “humans.”

    Same as saying “against slavery? Don’t buy one and shut up. Stay out of other people’s business and what they do with their property!”

    These are today’s slave owners and concentration camp guards. Indeed, they kill far more than wither of those ever did. Facts are facts.

  • Susan.

    Although I am extremely pro-life, the intentions of the escorts are honorable. I cannot deny that. It frustrates me that my pro-life comrades subject people to such harassment. In my view, pro-lifers should protest through prayer. Yelling at women who are scared, feel they have no choice, or are ignorant to the harmful effects of abortions will not accomplish anything. I believe in the power of prayer and with that, peace. How can we harass these women for their violence against their infants if we are violent toward them as well? The best we can do is keep these women in our minds and try to feel empathy for their varied situations.
    A prayer to pray everyday: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you with my whole heart and soul. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn child I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion. Amen.”
    I realize that if protestors were not harassing, escorts would not be needed. And to my feel protestors. Stay silent in accusations, we all have sinned. Just pray and offer to counsel though who are interested.
    Love and Peace.

  • Leslie

    These students make me so happy. Just starting out escorting myself, so its a nice little pick-me-up after witnessing the insanity on the sidewalk in front of our clinic.

    I say ignore the Fundies and be proud!