The Mountain Country Women's Clinic in Livingston MT has been open for one week. There were 51 picketers, and patients from hundreds of miles away. That tells you that for all the talk about how there are "too many abortions," right now in much of the country clinics are too few and too far between.
It's not too late to Pledge-a-Picketer, a peaceful, nonviolent, amusing way to show your support for Dr. Wicklund's commitment to help women regardless of their ability to pay. It's a scandal that she needs to spend precious funds on a security system, but that's the world we live in -- her previous clinic was targeted by an arsonist. Set your own rate -- a dollar? a quarter? Even a postcard of support would be nice.
(Want to read the post of which this is an update? If Nation blogs were designed like 99 percent of the blogs in the world, you'd just scroll down. But for some reason ours are designed so that you have to click on the blog title, in this case And Another Thing, which will bring you to the intro paragraphs of earlier posts, which you can then click on to get the whole story. Exhausting,I know.)
Dear Pledge-A-Picketers/ Friends:
First week's numbers: 51 picketers were outside Mountain Country Women's Clinc
PLEASE SEND YOUR PLEDGES TO:Mountain Country Women's ClinicP.O. Box 1780Livingston, MT 59047
PAYPAL PAYMENT Option will be available by Feb. 10 via a pledge link at WWW.MOUNTAINCOUNTRYWOMENSCLINIC.COM.
Letter from Dr. Susan Wicklund:
Hello, and so many thanks to all of the people who have taken "The Pledge"!! It is Wednesday night, three days after opening Mountain Country Women's Clinic in Livingston, Montana. I am exhausted, but happy to report that we are successfully caring for women who need our services. We have had patients who have traveled from North Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, many parts of Montana, and from right here in Livingston. For those of you not familiar with our wide-open spaces, it means some of our patients have driven up to 8 hours to get here. We provided services to one woman for no cost because she had been bleeding and cramping for two weeks and unable to find anyone who would help her without her Medicaid being in place first. We helped another find partial funding through an organization in Wyoming, and have accepted others at a sliding scale. I never turn patients away because they can't pay. I've been there.
The protesters were out in force on Monday, opening day, numbering 35 at high noon. Tuesday was quiet with only 6 protesters near a local grocery store, and then 6 again today on our street corner and near the clinic door. Any money that is received through the Pledge-A-Picketer campaign will be used to help defray the cost of subsidizing patients, and to help pay for the security system necessary to keep staff and patients safe.
On February 6th we will send out an email letting you know what the total protester count for the week is. Please do your own math and send in your pledged amount. Some of you will rather use the PayPal account on our website, which will be up and running next week.
Honestly, however, I would love to get something by snail mail from each of you, telling me why you are so willing to do this. It makes these long, long days easier to know there is so much support for women in the far corners of rural America who are just trying to make the best choice they can for themselves and their families.
Yours in Choice,
Susan Wicklund, MD
UPDATE FROM ALAN KESSELHEIM AND MARTHA KAUFFMAN:
Welcome aboard. It has been quite a ride since we sent out the call. People keep forwarding the notice, so that our responders have been signing up from all over the country, and from as far away as New Zealand. Our call made it into The Nation after one of their writers, Katha Pollitt, got our email and signed up. More importantly, the level of commitment and support has been inspiring. People write in saying that they've been cut to part-time work, but will do what they can. Others say they are pledging on behalf of their daughters and grand daughters. Others say that it's time to put their money behind their beliefs. One woman said she's sending $1 for every year since Roe v. Wade.
As you read in Dr. Wicklund's statement, the clinic has been up and running all week. She is again engaged with women in need, and using her skills to help them through. It has been fairly intense in Livingston. Picketers have been active. They have been leafleting cars and lobbying downtown businesses to turn people against Mountain Country Women's Clinic. On Monday night, at the City Commission meeting, there was a standing room only crowd waiting to give testimony. Sue had many supporters there, who spoke on her behalf, but the anti-choice crowd lined up to speak as well. Fortunately, the city commissioners appear to line up behind the clinic and its legal right to be in town. On a darker side, some group has established a website which spreads malicious lies about Sue's work and abortion in general. It's ridiculous, although if a person doesn't know better, it sounds awful.
In any case, here's the deal with the pledges. This week's picketer total is 51. We want to make it flexible and up to individuals to fit their commitment to the need and their own budgets. Please don't feel tied down a specific pledge amount, or obligated to send money every time we contact you. Ideally, decide what you can pledge, do the math, and send a check to: Mountain Country Women's Clinic, P.O. Box 1780, Livingston, MT 59047. We are also in the process of setting up a PayPal account for folks who have forgotten how to use a checkbook and want to pledge on line. That should be up and running via a Pledge-A-Picketer link on the MCWC website, www.mountaincountrywomensclinic.com, by early next week.
While we don't want to be heavy handed about soliciting support, we also don't want to downplay the importance of it. This is a crucial time, and Sue really needs help to pay for the security system, to make her payroll, and to establish a fund for indigent patients. If ever there was a time to demonstrate support for Sue, and for women's reproductive rights, this is truly it. Please do what you can.
Stay tuned for next week's report. You have no idea what this network, and this palpable level of community, means to Sue.
Alan Kesselheim and Martha Kauffman