Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Madison-based photographer seeks to show ‘Faces of the Fight’ behind anti-abortion protests

Wendi Kent has traveled across country photographing people, activism at abortion clinics, hopes her work will encourage change
Image courtesy of Wendi Kent

One Madisonian pro-choice activist is using her camera to bring attention to anti-abortion protesters who often go unseen.

Since 2014, photographer Wendi Kent has traveled across the U.S. photographing anti-abortion protesters for her “Faces of the Fight” project, which aims to expose protesters who target patients outside abortion clinics.

Kent began photographing protesters after seeing a disturbing, wanted-style poster made by anti-abortion protesters that featured the name, title and picture of one of her friends — a journalist — along with those of an abortion provider and a clinic escort.


Kent said she found this “name-and-shame” tactic is not uncommon among anti-abortion protesters, and the individuals who violate the privacy of pro-choice individuals in the name of their cause are themselves completely anonymous more often than not.

“This has been done in some very vague ways, but also in some very blatant, intimidating ways,” she said. “I realized that I didn’t know who these people were.”

In addition, Kent began to realize that most images of anti-abortion protesters news sources use tend to be nondescript and vague.

Kent said her findings inspired her to do something about the uneven distribution of publicity between the two sides of the issue.

“Every time I read something with regard to reproductive justice, the only images that I ever see of protesters are these stock photos that have been used forever,” Kent said. “I realized that one way I could be an effective activist is by using my photography skills to get images out there that aren’t normally seen. That includes the faces of the protesters who harass women and companions outside of abortion clinics across the country.”

Kent funds her trips both out-of-pocket and through donations. She said she uses a network of clinic escorts, activists and journalists she’s befriended in her career to connect herself with new escorts and find new clinics to visit.

In addition to Kent’s outreach, clinics with knowledge of Kent’s activism often reach out to her to request her presence, she said.

Kent said the observed impact of her work upon protesters has varied wildly from clinic to clinic.

“Just me being there can change the protesters’ behavior,” Kent said. “Sometimes it’ll ramp them up and sometimes it makes them a little quieter and they back off a little bit.”

The long-term effects of Kent’s work following her departure from a given clinic also vary, she said. Some clinics have reported no change in the behavior of their protesters while others have seen protesters become angrier and more aggressive as a result of Kent’s visits.

Kent said she is hopeful her photographs will ultimately deter protesters from harassing patients, but she thinks it will take a while for her work to truly have an effect on protesters.

“It’s part of my goal; it’d be great if these people saw themselves or if their friends saw them and tried to discourage them from going out there,” Kent said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be an immediate effect. I think it might be something that we can see chill out over the long-term.”

Kent said one of the biggest positive impacts of Faces of the Fight has been an influx of pro-choice activism.

Many of Kent’s readers have found themselves inspired by the clinic escorts often shown in her photos and volunteered to protect patients themselves, she said.

“Many, many clinic escorts have been born from this project,” Kent said. “I’ve had to refer several people to their local clinic escort groups because they’ve seen these photos and they want to help.”

Kent has also started volunteering as a clinic escort herself in New Jersey, where she and her partner, a University of Wisconsin mathematics professor, are currently living temporarily while he attends the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Kent said she is passionate about showing the world the largely unseen strife surrounding reproductive freedom and will continue to do so through the project.

“It’s important for people to realize that reproductive justice issues are very closeted because of the shame and stigma surrounding abortion,” Kent said. “You really don’t know anything about what’s going on unless you inject yourself into that world.”

Correction: The article previously claimed Kent funds her excursions exclusively out-of-pocket, however she receives donations for her trips. The Badger Herald regrets this error. 

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *