Democratic County Supervisor candidate joins counter-protesters at Emma Goldman Clinic

Jon Green, a candidate running in the June 8 Johnson County Supervisors race gathered with abortion-rights counter-protesters at the Emma Goldman Clinic Thursday morning.


Sabine Martin

Abortion-rights counter-protesters and anti-abortion protesters gathered in front of the Emma Goldman Clinic on June 3.

Sabine Martin, News Editor

Ahead of the June 8 Johnson County Supervisors election, Democratic candidate Jon Green joined local efforts to promote abortion rights in Iowa City.

Green joined a small group of Iowa City residents at 7 a.m. on Thursday on North Dubuque Street in front of the Emma Goldman Clinic.

He gathered with abortion-rights counter-protesters at the clinic, opposing the regular group of anti-abortion protesters, who show up every Thursday morning.

The abortion-rights counter-protesters have gathered at the clinic every Thursday morning since March, Madelaine Todd, a regular abortion-rights protestor and Iowa City resident said.

On Wednesday night, Green tweeted, “… if anyone wants to join me at Emma Goldman in the morning, it’s my understanding: we have work to do.”

Green said he showed up because it is important to him that anyone visiting the clinic feels safe and can receive the care they want or need without being harassed.

“The goal of the protesters seems to be shame and derision, instead of actually love and compassion,” Green said.

The Emma Goldman Clinic was founded in 1973 and provides “non-judgmental, quality health care services,” according to the clinic’s website.

Johnson County Right to Life Executive Director Sheryl Schwager, who leads the “40 days for life” campaign, said an anti-abortion prayer team has been present outside of the Emma Goldman Clinic every Thursday for eight years.

“Our pro-life community has been very active,” Schwager said. “Our primary goal is to pray for the end of abortion.”

Schwager said her group tries to engage in dialogue with the counter-protesters, but “they just want us to go home.”

“We try to explain that we’re out here praying and that we want to offer help,” Schwager said.

Oliver Weilein, an organizer of the Thursday morning abortion-rights group, said he lives close by and has seen groups of anti-abortion protestors outside the clinic who have yelled at patients walking in and out of the clinic, as well as at pedestrians and Emma Goldman Clinic staff.

Weilein said Green’s involvement in the movement generated word of mouth throughout the Iowa City community.

“There’s definitely been a sense of solidarity from all of the people involved in other community work,” Weilein said. “Whether that be housing advocates, BLM advocates, or the Iowa Freedom Riders.”

Todd said while Weilein’s group is not affiliated with the clinic, they helped gather more donations for the clinic on Thursday than in previous weeks.

“I can’t imagine what would change me not showing up every Thursday,” Todd said. “The only days that I haven’t been here are the days that I’ve just physically not been in town.”

Green said it is important for anyone seeking office to get out there and “stand in solidarity” with citizens who need access to health care.

“That’s what all this is about, you show up when you can,” he said.

Weilein said the anti-abortion protesters have called the cops on his abortion-rights group for standing too close to them.

“The cops show up and say, ‘they’re not doing anything wrong,’ and then they leave,” Weilein said.

Green said he wasn’t campaigning Thursday morning but instead attended in solidarity with the other protesters supporting the Emma Goldman Clinic.

“Hopefully I can still get out to just be visible and be there for folks who are going to see their doctor,” he said.