It’s Against My Religion ~ by KYBorn

My best friend and I used to say that jokingly in high school when we were being smart-alecks about not wanting to do something we were told to do. We laughed about it then. Probably louder than we should. It probably wasn’t funny to anybody but us. We thought it was hilarious and so absurd that a person could get out of doing a required task because of religious beliefs when it was part of the requirement, in this case, to pass the class.

Well, we aren’t laughing now; not at all. The reason we aren’t laughing is that people in the healthcare profession are actually getting out of doing their jobs because they claim abortion or certain kinds of birth control are against their religion. This is hurting patients who are pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy. It needs to stop.

Hey all you state and federal elected representatives who are holding hearings about everything on God’s green earth, I’ve got some ideas for you.

Conscience clauses  are supposedly designed to protect poor, discriminated against (mostly white male) conservative Christians from having to do their jobs. Our elected representatives have taken laws designed originally to keep somebody from not being hired as an OB/GYN just because they are Catholic and made them into laws that say this particular OB/GYN is not required to provide comprehensive care to women because he is Catholic. Basically, the OB/GYN becomes more important than the patient. This is wrong for so many reasons. Aside from the fact that a woman may end up with an OB/GYN who considers a 5 mm from rump to crown, with a single embryo and yolk sac present, with an approximate heart of a rate of 136 gets to decide that this non-thinking, non-feeling, barely visible, barely differentiated bit of cells automatically becomes an equal person to me. It takes the focus off the patient and puts it on the healthcare provider. Click here for an explanation of embryotic heart rates and appearance in the uterus on ultrasound.

Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!  Healthcare providers are there to take care of the patients, not practice their religion or personal set of beliefs. Healthcare professionals are certainly not there to impose their beliefs on their patients. They are there to provide the accepted standard of optimal care as decided by science, not by personal opinion.

No, I don’t think this concept of “there are now two patients” will ever work for me. See, you can’t give that embryo rights without taking away mine, and there is nothing in the Constitution or federal law (I won’t even talk about unconstitutional state laws right now) that allows for the removal of rights due to a medical condition other than mental conditions that have caused the patient’s cognitive ability to deteriorate to the point of being unable to make one’s own medical decisions. This is no different than if my neighbor decided that 10 feet of my yard belonged to him and began to erect a fence. When I take him to court, they don’t tell me that we have to share because he has occupied part of my land without consent for a time before I could have him legally removed. I show them my property records and that 10 feet becomes mine again and that fence comes down because that land belongs to me. That land belongs to me, even though he has erected a fence. Just like my body belongs to me regardless of what is in it.

If a nine year-old rape victim must carry an unwanted pregnancy in order to keep an embryo alive, then I say we start taking away everyone’s rights. *Think of the lives it would save. At the age of nine all people in the United States must submit to being on an organ donor registry. If they are a match, they must agree to have surgery that will PROBABLY be non-lethal to them, but will cause permanent body changes and possible life-long disability. Think of the lives that would be saved if people were forced to donate bone marrow, an extra kidney, an extra lung, part of their liver and all organs were up for grabs after clinical death. Better yet, let’s just start forcing all 12 year-old boys to freeze sperm and then it’s off for the mandatory snip. I promise the rate of abortion would go to almost nothing. Of course, all those teeny snowflake babies aren’t so precious that a male child or male adult’s rights to bodily autonomy will be infringed upon. THAT would be wrong. All of sudden, they would become pro-choice for all, except of course pregnant people, who are only considered fetus containers.

Just how far are we willing to take this?  Should a person be allowed to bleed out on the table in the ER because blood transfusions are against the attending physician”s religion?  Should people with mental illness, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia who must take their medications daily to maintain a normal functioning life, be denied their medication because the pharmacist on duty has a moral objection to psychotropic drugs?  Should women be denied a legal over-the-counter drug because the pharmacist believes the non-science that it could cause an abortion?  Should a man be denied behind-the-counter allergy medication that contains ephedra because the pharmacist believes that the only people who buy these drugs use them to make meth and that is against his religion?  Are we ready to see people die of easily cured diseases like strep throat because the doctor believes the illness can just be prayed away?  Do we want people to be forced to undergo invasive surgery wide awake because the anesthesiologist believes you can just concentrate hard enough and the pain will go away since the use of sedating drugs are against her religion?

Let’s step out of the medical field for a moment and into everyday life. Should a liquor store be required to hire a clerk who refuses to sell alcohol because they are Baptist and it is against their religion?  Should you be able to be refused a ham sandwich at Subway because the only employee on duty practices a form of Judaism that requires him to stay kosher and he doesn’t want to touch pork?  Of course not. Can I invent my own religion that is against every single aspect of my job but continue to be employed?  Most people, including antis, would be put out by such day to day inconveniences, but when it comes to patient care they just plain don’t care when it comes to fetus carriers.

Our Congress is holding hearings over various issues now, with all the drama and flourish that comes with being carried on CNN. Both Congress and state legislatures have held hearings about reproductive issues from how Christians are being persecuted, to birth control, to whether people should have to do their jobs if they “feel” something is wrong but is not backed up by science, to fetuses that masturbate as a reason to pass more anti-choice laws.

Let’s hold a hearing on why a man elected to the House of Representatives, the “pro-life” honorable Dr. Scott DesJarlais from the state of Tennessee, is never or rarely mentioned on any of the “pro-life” blogs after agreeing to his own wife having two abortions and then audio taping a phone conversation himself of him trying to coerce a woman, a patient he was having a sexual relationship with, into an abortion. He was also writing prescriptions for controlled substances for her knowing she was a drug addict. He admits it is him on the tape telling her to hurry up, or that if it was “too late” they would go to Atlanta. That would be because there isn’t a clinic in the state of Tennessee that performs abortions past 16 weeks. You know, the state that allegedly needs to amend the constitution because abortion is just crazy unregulated, even though there were four anti-choice bills passed last year.

One of the laws they want to pass would outlaw women from coming from out of state for abortions. Well hello, geniuses. The two biggest cities in Tennessee are Memphis and Nashville. Memphis sits right on the Mississippi river and borders several states. Nashville is less than 40 minutes from the Kentucky state line. Of course people from other states are going to go to the closest place that provides a service. Are they going to ban all people seeking health care who reside in other states from going to the closest metropolitan areas for any sort of health care not available for their home community?  It is doubtful. The truth is, abortion clinics are regulated just like every other healthcare facility in Tennessee.

Off topic, but why do these people never refuse to lie due to religious and/or moral objections?

Back to the original topic at hand, the uber-conservative legislature in Tennessee is just unable to pass TRAP laws because of a state Supreme Court ruling over 10 years ago. By the way, if you are wondering what the penalty imposed on the abortion-coercing Congressman doctor was by the state medical board so concerned about the unborn, it was a $500 fine and he won re-election in his his primary, while nary a pro-lifer said a word. I read about it on the Tennessean newspaper’s website. I’m so glad (insert sarcastic tone here) that clinics in Tennessee are required to display a sign stating it is against the law to coerce a person into having an abortion. They apparently need to be displayed in the office of congressmen as well. Of course, there is not a companion law for coercing a person into continuing a pregnancy. CPCs would cease to exist. All the staff would be arrested and the CPCs out of business if there were laws against coercion to carry a pregnancy to term.

I’ve got another hearing they can have. I do believe a Congressional hearing is what launched She Who Shall Not Be Named (who is now begging for donations on her website, by the way) into the national spotlight as a pro-life icon. She told a heart-wrenching story of holding a fetus born early of induced labor due to a pregnancy gone wrong. She testified she held it for 45 minutes until it passed away. There were other stories along with this one told that were never proven true, and were unsubstantiated by the Illinois Health Department. It couldn’t be she was lying, could it?  Let’s just say she’s not. A big question they need to ask, and didn’t during these hearings that I know of, is who was taking care of her other patients as she had her heart-wrenching, life-changing moment in the linen closet. You know, the woman who had just gone through an early induced birth of a wanted child that had no hope of survival, and probably several other mothers who had given birth that day along with their infants. Did she even bother to dump these patients on other nurses giving them an unsafe patient load or did she just disappear for 45 minutes, abandoning her patients as she is so wont to accuse OB/GYNs of doing? I don’t know if she still has a nursing license, but if she does she should have lost it for the possible harm done to patients she abandoned to hold this induced-labor abortion of a doomed fetus. Personally, I don’t believe the story but if it is true, she is a negligent nurse and if it is false, she is guilty of perjury.

Am I here to rag on religion?  Not at all. All I am asking is that people take responsibility for themselves and not take jobs that they are unable to perform due to personal objections. Religion is not a disability, it is a choice. It is a choice that needs to be left at the door when we healthcare professionals enter the door. I’m not talking about not having chaplains, not praying with a patient who asks, or forbidding any sort of reference to religion in the workplace. I’m talking about people who don’t want to dispense all current medications that need to stop being pharmacists. I’m talking about OB/GYNs or Nurse Midwives who don’t want to provide comprehensive care, including hormonal birth control, IUDs and yes, even abortions.

If all these people have consciences that are so bothered by the state of affairs at their workplace, they need to do the right thing and quit their jobs. Their personal opinions that go against established science shouldn’t matter one bit. The reason healthcare providers are there is to provide care to the patient. Everything should be centered on the patient, and the patient is not the doctor, nurse, zygote, embryo or fetus. The patient is the walking, talking, breathing pregnant person. If she chooses to make the embryo or fetus the focus of care, then that is and should be her choice. But if she says, as I would, I want the focus to be on me as the patient that should be honored as well, regardless of the feelings of the physician or other healthcare personnel.

As a pro-choice person, I am all about choices other than the right to have an abortion. I believe you have the right to choose not to be a doctor if you don’t want to provide women with comprehensive care, including abortion and birth control. I believe you have the choice to not be a pharmacist if you don’t wish to dispense valid written prescriptions or over-the-counter legal prescriptions. I believe you have the right to not be a nurse if you oppose what much of science says is true and you prefer to hide in the linen closet with a doomed fetus rather than take care of the living, breathing woman who just suffered through the induced birth of a pregnancy gone wrong.

I gave this little rant the title It’s Against My Religion because I still think it’s funny. Not in a teenage girl, giggle-giggle, aren’t we clever way. I think it is funny in an absurd way that our legislatures pass laws allowing people not to do their jobs because of a choice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should go back to the days where people weren’t hired because they attended, or were suspected of attending or not attending a certain church. I am saying we need to go back to the days where people must perform their jobs, with or without accommodation regardless of their religious beliefs.

Religion is not a disability. It is a choice. So to all those antis who are pushing for these silly laws, I say it is time to start lecturing people to take responsibility for their own decisions. Lord knows, you say it enough outside clinics. How about applying the same standards to yourself?  I may not have my religious beliefs fully figured out, as I have written about earlier, but I know that hypocrisy is one of the things that is against my religion, for all the good that does the people who have to walk into clinics through throngs of screaming protesters.

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*Please note I am being sarcastic here. Obviously, as a pro-choice person I am against any sort of forced medical procedure, even to save the life of a living, breathing person.

Liar, Liar Pants (and Skirts) on Fire~by KYBorn

So, I was all fired up to write about medical professionals who refuse to do their jobs because Jesus. Then I was all fired up to write about domestic violence and how abusers often use reproductive coercion to keep their victims in their lives.

Then something funny happened. I decided to ride my bicycle to the bank when it started to rain. Luckily, I had a poncho in my backpack. Why is this funny?  The last time I put this poncho on I got lectured about being worried about my own comfort while babies were being murdered (by a woman standing under an umbrella under an awning). Anyway, for some reason this made me laugh.

Don’t get me wrong, those of us in reproductive justice have little to laugh about these days but as I was downing my lunch I thought of all the idiotic things I have heard and read and thought maybe, just maybe, some of us could get a laugh out of it. By the way, the reason I have titled this post the way I have is because so much of what antis say is either untrue or contradictory to what they or others of their ilk say.

  • “Having an abortion will make you infertile” This makes me laugh on so many fronts because it is ignorant to assume that all women want to have children at all. The main thing that makes me laugh though, is that at the same time they are screaming this threat, they are also moaning about women using abortion for birth control. I have yet to figure out how a woman can become infertile and have 10 gazillion abortions in the same lifetime.
  • “You spread your legs for a man and now you are going to spread your legs for a strange man to have an abortion.”  This is funny for a variety of reasons. The biggest one being that, in case the antis have never studied biology, unless a woman has a C-section, she must “spread her legs” to give birth and often for the on-call OB/GYN. Apparently, there is something “holy” about the spreading of legs if a baby comes out full term and breathing. If not, you are an “unholy slut” who will burn in hell.
  • “Not all pro-life people are religious.”  Yep. Believe it or not, I know that. I don’t have the faintest idea why you would ally yourselves with people who think you are going to burn in hell, but that is none of my business. Trust me, if abortion were abolished, those who don’t believe in God would be next in line for those who must either convert or be eliminated from polite society.
  • “Culture of Life” First of all, why do you need to capitalize those words?  Second of all, when in all of history has this mysterious culture of life existed?  Was it during the Hundred Years War in Europe where tons of people were killed just for the right to worship as they pleased?  Was it during the Salem witch trials where people were burned at the stake in painful deaths because…well, just for any reason they decided a person was consorting with the devil. Was it during World War I or World War II?  Was it during the Holocaust when millions of people died simply for practicing a different religion, or had the poor luck to be born one or two generations after people who were Jewish?  Was it back when numerous Popes were in bed with corrupt and brutal governments, as well as various women who bore their children that were then considered “bastards?” The truth is, a lot of humans suck. They kill people for no reason. Sometimes we have to kill people to preserve our own life or freedom, or people who want to take lives for no reason.
  • Blah, blah, blah followed by “ripping from limb to limb.”  Read the facts. Most abortions occur before embryos have limbs. If we were as progressive as much of Western Europe and had a health care system that paid for abortions people would have them much earlier.
  • “God decides when we live and die.”  Bullshit. If antis really believed that they wouldn’t take antibiotics for strep throat. They wouldn’t have surgery to clear clogged arteries or to repair broken hips.
  • “I have seen people die in surgery every day!”  Well duh. Of course people die in surgery every day. A person who has been shot in the chest (not that this is funny) or a 95 year-old man (not that this is funny either) are far more likely to die during surgery than a healthy woman undergoing an abortion. If you are a medical professional who sees people die during outpatient procedures on a daily basis, who are otherwise healthy, then you need to be either filing a report against those who caused it or get out of the medical profession if you caused it.
  • “This clinic is unregulated.”  Hey there antis, in case you didn’t notice, most of your “crisis pregnancy centers” or whatever name they go by are the ones who are unregulated. In fact, every time a state tries to regulate a place that claims to provide medical advice dispensed by people who know nothing about anything medical, ultrasounds given from the back of vans or by people who aren’t licensed and are so unprofessional they type garbage like “Hi Mommy” on a procedure designed to determine the health of the pregnancy, you have one of your idiotic law groups file suit. By the way, if these CPCs are so honest, why don’t they have honest names, or post honest signs, or otherwise make it clear to ALL women that this is not an all choices health clinic? It is a place to scare women and pressure them to continue pregnancy, and often a place to try to convert them to their brand of Christianity. That is fine if that is what they want to do. I just don’t want my tax dollars to pay for it or for women to wander in and take hours for them to figure it out. The truth is, most abortion clinics are far more regulated than most outpatient surgery or sedation dentistry clinics. You want women to know the truth?  Start telling it.
  • “We just want to give information to women. Those evil deathscorts keep them from finding out the truth.”  Again, bullshit. Escorts only walk with those who consent, unlike anti-choice folks who follow for blocks, surround women, slow down the crossing of the street, block clinic driveways (those lucky enough to have them) and when all else fails yell through clinic windows. I hate to tell them, but if women wanted their “information” they would ask the escorts to leave (you know, the people who leave when asked) and take their anti-abortion “information.”  When a woman screams “Go away! Go away! Please go away, I don’t want to talk to you. Go away,” and then moves onto profanities, it should be clear to antis they don’t want to hear their version of the truth. In any other circumstance, we call this stalking, harassment or violation of public nuisance laws. In front of a clinic that performs abortions, this has unfortunately come to be called normal.
  • “Pro-aborts” want to take away our freedom of speech. No, no we don’t. In fact, most of us are the biggest advocates for freedom of speech. What we do ask is that you follow the same laws as everyone else. Wow!  What a concept.
  • “Our pictures are not photo shopped.”  Um, yeah. I guess if you aren’t religious lying may not go against your personal code, so I will give you a pass. If you are religious, you might want to read the passage about “shedding innocent blood” because before the Bible addresses that, God also states he also hates a lying tongue. Not sure how you work that out, but that is your problem not mine. In addition, I seriously doubt that any physician who performs abortions bothers to place the products of conception next to various forms of currency. Dimes seem to be the most popular, but I have seen them next to dollar bills in pictures online. Also, for future reference for any antis reading, blood is not that bright red when it has not had oxygen for a while. Lack of oxygen would be the case if all of this “blood” had sat for hours before you raided the clinic. It would appear to be more clotted, and have a dark red-purplish color. By the way, who are these labs letting you raid their biological waste?  I certainly don’t want them running any of my lab tests. Creepy.
  • Also creepy are the people who stand outside these clinics day after day. One of the prominent so-called pro-life organizations has a high ranking official who was convicted of plotting to blow up an abortion clinic in San Diego. Luckily, law enforcement intervened before the plot was carried out. Did it ever occur to her that while she was transporting explosives through a city they could have gone off and hurt people who have nothing to do with abortion?  Another has members who stand outside high schools and middle schools with their disgusting signs; engaging students on their way in. Some of these upright antis were “converted” during lengthy prison sentences. In fact, one of them was convicted of trying to blow up a church, but was caught in the act by a church elder. Yep, those are the people who should be telling youngsters how to behave.
  • “Pro-choicers portray us as violent.” This particular gem came from a recent post on She Who Shall Not Be Named’s site because a Planned Parenthood worker called the police over what turned out to be an empty box. First of all, there has been far more violence from anti-choicers than pro-access/pro-choicers. They cite over and over again a man who was shot because another man not associated with any pro-choice group shot him. Never mind that his own son stated in the media that this man tried to provoke violence against himself so he could get pro-choicers arrested. He still didn’t deserve to be shot. What the antis NEVER, EVER say is that on the same day the man who shot the anti also shot the owner of a gravel truck company. Anti-choice and anti-gravel?  Whatever. I think you get my point. Aside from that, since 9/11, many workplaces and certainly airports encourage people to report unattended packages. That is what this particular employee did. Probably nobody would have noticed if She Who Shall Not Be Named hadn’t criticized her for following a policy many companies have and erring on the safe side.
  • “The gauntlet is a myth.”  I got this garbage from a Twitter exchange. The gauntlet has been documented on this blog and in many other photographs. If you are going to lie, at least don’t do it when there is unaltered photographic evidence. Enough said.
  • “I regret my abortion.”  This is often displayed on a sign. I used to feel pity for these women, imaging the pain they must be in. Now if a woman regrets her own abortion and needs to talk about it, I am happy to listen and provide whatever emotional support she needs. Antis always say those who regret abortion will come to them but honestly, why would anybody go to a judgmental person who says you must repent, be saved, name your embryo and offer up some baby gear to atone for your sin? If you will always regret your abortion, when you don’t go to them you just don’t worry about burning in hell. I would much rather go to a person who thinks abortion or birth are both valid options. In addition, I now just see people holding these signs as people who made poor medical decisions for themselves and are now trying to persuade the government to pass laws that restrict the very medical procedure they took advantage of. I don’t want people who can’t make good medical decisions for themselves making them for me.
  • Blah, blah, blah sex. Sex is evil. Nobody should have sex unless they want a baby, but by the way, those who believe this have super-hot sex lives. First of all, I didn’t really want to know about their sex lives, nor is mine any of their business. They claim our society is sexualizing teens and specifically girls and women, which of course leads to abortion (not sure how that works). What is funny about this, is one day I saw some teens protesting abortion holding poster boards that said “Honk if you are pro-life!”  Now, only the girls wearing tank tops and shorts were jumping up and down with breasts clearly bouncing up and down. Remarkably, all the teen boys were holding signs without bouncing. Why is this funny?  Because I had to drive by a Hooters on my way home and the Hooters’ girls were doing the same thing, minus the anti-choice propaganda. Just saying, if your “pro-life generation” is using the same tactics as Hooters’ girls you might want to re-think that.

So maybe this isn’t so funny, maybe it is. I just find it funny (as in haha funny that antis have so much contradictory information to yell at women who are just trying to go see a doctor). My own father, who leans toward the social conservative side, thinks men who stand outside “those doctors women go see for women problems” are perverts. I tend to agree.

Go away. No one needs your opinion outside the doctor’s office. If they want your opinion, they will ask. Most people don’t ask strangers for their opinions on serious medical decisions.

Women are not stupid. They do not need time to “reflect.”  They do not need non-medical professionals, or medical professionals who act unprofessional, to tell them what to do. It is unlikely that they woke up one morning and said “Ya know, I was totes gonna have a kid, but now I want a pedicure. The clinic is on the way. I’m gonna pop in for an abortion.”So maybe this isn’t funny. Maybe it is a little preachy. Maybe I am preaching to the choir, but the fact remains that antis can’t even get their own lines straight.

Why on earth would anybody take medical or life advice from them?

C-Words ~ by KYBorn

No, not that C-word. I couldn’t resist a chance to say, “Made You Look,” which seemed to be the height of wit when we were all in kindergarten. Yes, I do have a point. Stay with me. I promise I’ll get there.

Last week, when a couple of the escorts asked me to write an article for Every Saturday Morning, I was flattered. Since then, I have had the pleasure of joining a few of them on the sidewalk in Louisville for the morning. I appreciate that they took the time to show me what they, clients and companions experience five days a week. I am still processing some of my first escorting experience but I do plan to write about it at some point. The first time I wrote about antis not understanding what the word “censorship” means. Actually being on the sidewalk really drove home the point that there are a lot of other C-words antis don’t understand the meaning of.

I’m going to skip over the obvious ones. By now, everyone knows that “choice” is the F-dash-dash-dash word, the Queen Mother of all dirty words (to steal a line from the movie “A Christmas Story”) to anti-choice protesters. “Contraception” seems on the way to becoming almost as bad. At best, it is considered a gateway drug to abortion and at worst, it is considered exactly the same as having an abortion.

One fairly new phrase that seems to be creeping into the mix is the line that all women have abortions for “comfort and convenience.”  Antis act as if there is a big box on patient registration forms or on surveys designed to collect health information labeled “comfort and convenience” that all women check. Women have abortions for a variety of reasons that they do not have to share with or justify to anyone. Antis have taken research on reasons women give for having abortions and lumped almost all of them under their new, re-labeled category of comfort and convenience.

As usual, they miss the mark completely. Not having health insurance and not being able to pay for the cost of labor and delivery is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not being able to keep a roof over your own head, or the heads of existing dependents because you live month to month and can’t take what is going to be a minimum of 6 weeks off work without pay is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not wanting to be forced to go through the painful process of labor and delivery when you don’t want to or aren’t ready to be a parent is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Going to the gynecologist for a medical procedure is not comfortable, although abortion is not the blood-soaked, pain-filled nightmare antis like to say it is. It is certainly not convenient to drive 4 hours for a simple, outpatient procedure and in some states it is becoming a weeks-long process with clinics closing and mandatory clinic visits for counseling followed by mandated waiting periods.

What got me to thinking about this was actually being on the sidewalk this week. It wasn’t raining when I arrived but it started coming down pretty hard part of the way through the morning. As I was taking off my vest to put on my poncho, one of the antis felt the need to lecture me about worrying about my own comfort while babies were being murdered. I have never been admonished for putting on rain gear, but I guess there is a first time for everything. Of course, this particular anti was standing under both an umbrella and the awning so she was clearly worried about her own comfort. It is easy to dismiss others need for comfort and convenience when it is not your own. I am pretty sure that the anti who sat in her car to talk on the phone for 10 minutes did so because it is inconvenient to replace your cell phone because it got wet. I am also pretty sure the protester in the expensive-looking suit who spent the entire morning standing under the awning of a business down the block  without ever stepping out did so because it would be quite uncomfortable to walk around in wet clothing at work for a couple of hours.

The other C-word antis don’t grasp is “compassion.”  Compassion is what I saw from the escorts. People do not get up early in the morning, week after week, to volunteer to walk with strangers to a medical appointment to try to limit harassment without it. Compassion is not shown by repeating the same lines, like a script in a movie, to every person who walks into a clinic. Compassion is not shown by demanding loudly that complete strangers share their reproductive decisions with you. Compassion is not shown by dismissing the many reasons people choose to have an abortion. Compassion is not shown by vague promises of resources that people don’t want and may not be delivered. Compassion is not shown when women who regret their own abortions come out under the guise of preventing other women from feeling the same thing, only to talk all about themselves and their guilt rather than listening.

Compassion is understanding that every person on that sidewalk has their own story. Compassion is understanding that those stories are deeply personal and do not have to be shared with strangers to justify walking into a doctor’s office. Compassion is understanding that shouting an arsenal of anti-choice talking points through a clinic door does not change the reason people are there. Compassion is understanding that people choose abortion for a variety of reasons that can’t always be solved with a free pregnancy test, a non-diagnostic ultrasound, some diapers and Bible classes. Compassion is understanding that women are people with feelings, dreams, lives and problems rather than simply potential fetus containers.

If you have hung with me this far, I will be brief in saying I have my own C-word for what is happening outside clinics and inside our legislative chambers to restrict people’s rights to make their own decisions about health care. It is crap.

Common Ground

 

On Twitter, there was a discussion about finding “common ground” with anti’s. An anti, who bills himself as a person who “helps pro-lifers be more persuasive and less weird when they communicate with pro-choice people” started this discussion.  

Some of the questions he was asking went along the lines of, “Is it right for boyfriends and parents to pressure women to have abortions?” and, “What do you think about abortion if the unborn has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome?” and, “Would you prefer that there were fewer abortions?”

Of course my response was, anyone who wants an abortion should have safe and legal access to it, period. His response, “Well, its hard to have a conversation about abortion if you start by assuming it should always be available.”

What?

Mr. Pro-Life speaker, you want to have a conversation on limiting abortion access and ultimately ending abortion. I do not.  We have no common ground.  We don’t have to have common ground.  It is OK.

More to the point, here are some pretty big reasons why we will never have common ground.

1. You want to make abortion illegal.  I do not

2. You want to put stipulations on abortion.  I do not.

3. “Counseling” is not a pro-active thing.  If you were really interested in counseling, a client would seek you out and come to you with questions and wanting to talk about options besides abortion.  We all know that isn’t how it goes. You chase clients down the street and shove flyers at them.  You yell at companions and (when applicable) insult their “masculinity” by telling them to “man up” and “bring your woman out of there”.  That isn’t counseling.

4. You want to make “pro-life people less weird”.  That is impossible.  Even if you rounded up all the anti-choice protesters and made them sit through one of your presentations, there would STILL be protesters that don’t listen and do what they want. There would still be protesters that get in people’s faces, stalk, and get physically violent. The harassment and the intimidation would continue, unabated. Therefore, common ground is pointless.

5. Something that may actually help “counselors” do some actual “counseling” on the sidewalk is a buffer zone. A buffer zone may discourage harassing behavior, while still allowing clients TO APPROACH YOU instead of the other way around when they want to talk about options.  That would be real counseling.  I wonder how many “pro-life counselors” would be ok with that type of arrangement?

At the end of this twitter exchange, the pro-lifer said “I’m just saying that on the night that the #abortionchat topic was on common ground, I found a ton of CG with @LouClinicEscort , but he or she couldn’t find one iota of common ground with me :-/”

My response was this “Anti’s like to make themselves victims on the sidewalk, even as they are harassing. But no, you are the victim here”.  Of course, it was all about his feelings.  Even as people that he supports push and yell and scream and don’t listen to constant, “NO, GO AWAY, LEAVE ME ALONE”. Of course, its MY fault that we couldn’t find any “common ground”

I don’t have any common ground with pro-lifers, much like I don’t have any common ground with rapists.  Stop harassing clients. Stop the guilt and shame.  Leave people alone to go to the doctor.  Period. Just go away.

(BTW, if you want to see some of the things we discussed on Twitter, I tweet @LouClinicEscort.  The “pro-life speaker” in this exchange was @JoshBrahm.  Or you can check out the hashtag #abortionchat)

The Adoption Fetish

The fetishization of adoption amongst middle class and upper class conservative christian whites first became apparent to me when I was attending high school. My school was strongly tied to a Southern Baptist church so much so that the head pastor’s children attended my school and his wife taught our bible class (which consisted of watching Veggie Tales((rather juvenile for sophomores in high school, right?))). The pastor and his wife adopted a Chinese baby from an orphanage in which children were abused via ignorance of their basic humans. The child has been left by the road upon her birth and would have most likely lead a terrible life without the rescue of these rich white americans.Why do I know all of this? Because of course,  it isn’t enough to add a member to your family out of love, you have to drive home the financial sacrifice you have made to adopt a hopeless and helpless child coming from an impoverished situation, otherwise your contribution isn’t public….and that isn’t any fun, is it? Following this adoption by the head pastor and the story of salvation of a little Chinese girl there was a rash of trendy adoption of African and Asian children within the church’s upper echelon of wealthy partitioners.  All of the horror stories of these children’s backgrounds were made publicly known, and yet none of us knew anything about the little girls (all of the children adopted were female) themselves. It was creepy, the fad of adoption.

Adoption is wonderful, people shouldn’t be mistreated, its terrible that orphanages like this exist. I agree.  Adopting children then spreading the story of their backgrounds and constantly reminding them of their “otherness” and how wonderful of a savior you and your family are is ALSO awful. That is not an addition to the family, its the addition of an accessory with a neat story, and that saddens me.

So when protestors say there are Christian families who would love to adopt the patient’s child, this often comes to mind. I will say no, not everyone who adopts is like this, not all christians are like this, not all christians who adopt children are like this. But the fact that this even EXISTS is problematic.

Threatening People Isn’t A Great Way To Win Them Over, Ya Know?

The antis on the sidewalk often approach escorts and clients with an attempt to intimidate by way of instilling fear. How? With clients and their companions there are threats of how “you’ll regret this because you’re killing your baby.” . To male companions of the clients, “ You’re not a real man! If you were a *real* man you would take her out of there.” , “you aren’t a real man if you let her do this, you’re a weasel.” The protestors trying oh so hard to instill fear of a loss of gender identity to men unless they physically stop the clients from entering the building. Its just strange that they would use such a tactless approach. I’ve come to feel that the protestors who use this are not there for the clients and to help them, but for personal gratification, otherwise they might become introspective about their methods.

Anyway. The escorts are threatened with jail, this morning two of us were verbally attacked by the same protestor. The protestor attempted to block physically block clients as they crossed the line on the sidewalk marking the area where the protestors couldn’t follow. The escorts did their best to stand in such a way which would keep the protestor from physically contacting or blocking the client at which point this protestor noted that the only way to draw attention to themselves was to feign some sort of physical altercation. The protestor backed up and started howling about how we almost knocked them over!” How dare you!”. The second altercation was quite similar, but instead of simply saying, “ how dare you”, she stood as close to the line as possible (as is her way) and said , “WE have FOUR cameras watching you. I’d hate to see you go to jail for doing this to me….” and on and on and on. My only response to this person has become, “Stop harassing me.”, this particular person is also well known to me for spouting her racism at me every time I’m present.

I’m just confused about what world the antis live in, they’re so amazingly narcissistic.

This morning though there were 14 clients, 10 Antis and 8 escorts. So at least there was a good number of escorts to watch out for each other and to witness the awful behavior of these people.

Edit/ P.S.

This protestor seeks some sort of hierarchy within the escorts, when they feel threatened this A* seeks out a specific escort ( I’ve witnessed this occurrence multiple times over my time of escorting) and tells the escort to control another one of us. There is no leadership here, no hierarchy and for that I am so grateful. Upon informing the A of this however, the A turned this into a weapon against the escort who is nothing if not kind and engaging with us, ” Well, you act like you’re in charge.” sarcastic and biting to be sure. I’m just amused at this pattern this A has when they don’t get a reaction out of the initial escort they’re threatening they approach this particular escort and badger them incessantly.

 

A*=Anti/ Protestor

One Louisvillian’s report from Take Root: Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice

Red State Perspectives on Reproductive Justice.  There is a lot to be said for making a point to create a space – a whole conference – for activists, advocates, academics, and service providers to caucus about the challenges they face in their communities around a so many topics. These issues (birth, pregnancy, abortion, HIV, sex, LGBTQIA health, education, economic rights, racism…) face so many attacks, and it is important for those of us working to address these challenges to be able to learn and share with each other. it’s amazing how much there is in common, but surprising to learn how very different things are in other places (and, based on my observations, some things are worse than you can imagine, in a place you probably haven’t thought of…)

So, I feel very fortunate to have been given the chance to attend the Take Root conference for a second year in a row, thanks to the support of Louisville’s Reproductive Rights /Justice communities.

In addition to the support I received from our local folks, I was especially honored to be invited to sit on a panel by the Take Root organizers.  The panel I took part in was titled Visions for Our Movement: Service and Practical Support in Red States. I was proud to represent the Kentucky Support Network, and the Louisville Clinic Escorts alongside individuals from Backline, Trust Women in Wichita, Cicada Collective in Texas, the Bay Area Doula Project, and Defending the Last Abortion Clinic in Mississippi.  It was exciting to stand alongside folks who are also doing client based support work based on the various challenges that are faced by folks in different places.  One of the most unifying (and gratifying) points that was shared by a number of us was the powerful experience of being a space holder, and a story bank of sorts, as we offer an informed ear over a hotline, or a steady hand on the sidewalk, to people who are dealing with stigma, a lack of support, a deficit in resources, and other barriers.  Hearing that point being made by other people, and knowing how large of a piece it plays for me in the work I do was very satisfying.

After my panel, there was a followup session with breakout activities where small groups from different places collaborated on various topics.  I was excited to brainstorm with a range of folks about ways to move the conversation away from just abortion in order to cultivate a unified movement towards justice across lines of difference.   We talked about how important intersectionality is in this work.  How it is vital for reproductive rights advocates to ally themselves with folks working on voter rights, HIV advocacy, LBGT health, economic human rights, mental health, on and on… so that we are able to stand together as we fight, because it is impossible to separate the various aspects of a whole person’s complex identity.  We cannot expect people to forget that their skin is brown, or their kids are hungry, or that they need access to healthcare, because we also want them to lobby for voter rights, just like we can’t expect a transman to ignore the importance of pap smears while trying to adopt a child with their partner who is up against the fact they have a non violent marijuana charge from ten years ago on their record… for example.

On top of the two sessions about practical support, I attended two other workshops.  One entitled HIV, Self Determination, and Cultural Safety explored the challenges faced by people in various circumstances and we heard from panelists doing work on a national level through various orgs, and on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi.  A major takeaway from that discussion was that HIV is not the problem for lots of folks that are positive.  The problem lies in a lack of access to care, and in systems that are constructed to continually oppress people who are already facing a lack of resources.

The next session I attended a presentation called We’re here! We’re queer! We’re sober!: Assessing Ourselves and Our Environment.  This presentation focused on intentional sobriety, or intentional use of substances, as a way to foster conversations about safety, stigma, and the reasons why we are taught to suppress our desires, and trained to feel like we need substances in order to be comfortable in intimate settings. We also talked about the problematic nature of a culture that is built on buying and consuming substances as a way to feel like we can come together in spaces that are supposed to be “safer” spaces to be ourselves in.

Outside of workshops, I was delighted to see faces, familiar and new, as we exchanged cards and smiles on the way to lunch or in the halls between sessions. The highlights for me included hearing from Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women during her keynote address where she spoke of people being denied bodily autonomy and other human rights for the simple reason that they were pregnant.  Her speech included the stories of people who were not just being denied abortion access.  She spoke of a woman who was threatened with arrest to comply with a doctor’s wish to perform a medically unnecessary cesarean procedure, and told us about multiple people who were jailed in an attempt to prevent them from having abortions including one woman who was sent to jail from a hospital without examination, where she died of an ectopic pregnancy.

The conference was closed out with an incredible closing plenary by Deon Haywood of Women with a Vision who gave us a picture of what is going on in New Orleans where there is a staggeringly disproportionate number of women (especially black women and black trans women) who are being prosecuted for sex work and “crimes against nature” (such as anal sex, and oral sex). As a result, these women are being placed on the national sex offender registry which carries countless repercussions on their entire lives, including but not limited to their rights to raise their children, and also the ability to find a job.

I am very thankful to be part of such a supportive community here in KY that allowed me to access such an amazing and inspiring broader community so I can learn and continue to strengthen the work I do.  Here’s hoping I can go back next year.

here are a few links for more projects that I was fortunate to make connections to this time around:

Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center

http://colorlatina.org/

http://www.1in3campaign.org/en/

Indy Feminists

http://prochoiceohio.org/

http://www.ircrc.org/

http://www.womendonors.org/

Road Rally a Success!

A great time was had by all at the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights on Saturday, November 2nd. On a beautiful fall day, we had a fantastic turnout and an awesome slate of speakers who fired up the crowd in advance of the 2014 legislative session. Truly, we could not have asked for better weather on a November weekend.
Capitol
Many thanks to all our speakers for their thoughtful words.
Road Rally Speakers
Dawn Cooley, minister at First Unitarian Church in Louisville, spoke about the intersection of faith and reproductive rights, emphasizing that the right-wing evangelicals do not possess the morality of reproductive issues.
DerekAndFrede
Derek Selznick (left), from the ACLU of Kentucky really heated up the crowd as he spoke to his experience lobbying for family-positive legislation in the Capitol, the building on which steps we rallied. F (right) spoke movingly about her abortion experience that was rife with hurdles and complications, problems arising primarily from anti-woman legislation.
ClinicEscortatRally
Michelle Kinsey Bruns joined us, who tweets as @ClinicEscort, driving from Washington, D.C. to be a part of the action. Her words about moving from compassion were a beautiful cap on the day.
Mel
We are thankful to have had media coverage from the Lexington ABC affiliate, WTVQ, and from Kentucky Public Radio, whose story can be followed on the Louisville public radio station or WKYU. It is important that our message reach both legislators and like-minded citizens.
Merch
Specifically, in Kentucky, there is an immediate concern of which to keep abreast. A longtime reproductive rights activist, Kathy Stein, has been appointed to the judiciary. Her vacant seat will be filled in a special election on December 10th. Many of our District 13/Fayette County (Lexington) allies were busy knocking on doors on Saturday, in the run-up to that special election. We are following that race closely, as Stein’s vote was often an important one in blocking anti-family, anti-woman legislation in our State Senate.
PreacherAndHerPulpit

What’s Next

Rally attendees were encouraged to return to their homes and speak out about being supporters of reproductive rights. You can join in the next steps, too!

1. Invite two or three friends for coffee or lunch and chat about an article on reproductive rights. RHRealityCheck.org is a great place to find something to talk about, as is ReproductiveRights.org or ACLU.org/reproductive-freedom.

2. From these two or three friends and you, begin an activist club, where you meet regularly to discuss articles, learn about legislation, and keep up-to-date on what’s happening in court dockets.

3. Find out who your legislator is – on the state level and the national level. How are they voting on issues about reproductive rights? Make sure your voice is heard when they have bills to consider that affect reproductive rights.

4. Keep up-to-date on bills in congress. For Kentucky, specifically, you can see what bills have been prefiled or, once the legislature is in session, what bills have been filed, what’s being heard in committee, what is being voted on, who wrote the bills, who else is sponsoring them – in other words, more information than you ever thought you could learn in one spot. By clicking on different subject headings – Women, Public Health, Children, etc – you can keep yourself informed about what our representatives in Frankfort are doing. Better yet, sign up for BILL WATCH, a service that your tax dollars are subsidizing, so, you know, use it!

5. Get involved with a local group! Find a group near you that is working on reproductive rights. The ACLU of Kentucky has an email list that will send out email blasts about pending legislation, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is a great resource, too. There are many other groups, like the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Unitarian Univeralist Social Justice Network, and others. Many of them sponsored the rally, so be sure to check out the sponsors’ page on the website to find links to their websites.
Sara
Over the coming days and weeks, the rallly website will have a new tab for “What’s Next,” where this information, and more!, will be available. We will be posting resources to keep you informed, and ways you can link into local groups working for reproductive rights.

Let’s make 2014 the year that Kentucky families get the support they need – in comprehensive sex education, affordable and accessible contraception, access to abortion services, and family support programs – because Kentucky families deserve better!

The Last Abortion Clinic

We have been enjoying a great clinic escort blog. It is written by the clinic escorts at Jackson Women’s Health Organization in Jackson, Mississippi. It is titled “The Last Abortion Clinic” and tells the daily stories of supporting clients in the presence of not only local protesters, but some sent by Operation Rescue. Some of us are hoping to meet these escorts in person at their rally on August 17. The people in Mississippi are fighting back!

The States of Refuge Campaign* started January 2012 by Operation Rescue targeted five states with only one abortion clinic. (Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming) Their goal is to have a state with no abortion clinics. They are close to their goal in Mississippi by convincing legislators to pass a TRAP law concerning admitting privileges for the physicians who perform abortions. There is a court order blocking the enforcement of the law, but the Jackson clinic is due in court again soon.

Every day we seem to read about proposed legislation to restrict abortion; pending closings of health clinics that don’t even perform abortions as collateral damage from laws written to “make women safe.”  Two clinics closed in Virginia this month.. The current laws in Texas have a prediction of 37 out of 42 clinics closing if the courts uphold them. The last abortion clinic in Green Bay, WI closed this month. This list could be a long list if I included everything from this year.

What happens when abortion restrictions make it difficult for people to end a pregnancy? Dr. John J. Sciarra offers this opinion in the Chicago Tribune:

  • “No law that has ever been passed and no law that ever will be passed can prevent a determined woman from trying to end an unwanted pregnancy. Society and hospitals must accept their role in keeping women safe in that process.

Where can these determined women turn when they seek abortion help? What do minors do who live in a state without easy access to abortion and difficult judicial by-pass laws? When the cost of an abortion is out of reach for so many, how will they be able to add transportation to another state, lodging, time off work, and childcare to the amounts they were already struggling to find?

They are already turning to unsafe purchases of abortion medications from online sources or flea market vendors, because “Only people with money go to clinics.” Do it yourself abortions will be more common, with the dangers of permanent injury or death Dr. Jen Gunter spells out graphically in her article “Anatomy of a Coat Hanger Abortion.”

Are we going to have to devise our own counseling services network to transport clients from state to state to get clients to the closest open abortion clinic; working like the Jane Network but focusing on transportation to a safe, legal abortionist? In 2008, one-third of US patients had to travel more than 25 miles for abortion services. Now they have to travel further and 87% of US counties do not have an abortion provider. How many miles is to the nearest abortion clinic if the one near you closed?

I fear as women become more desperate to end a pregnancy in the face of rising restrictions and obstacles, they will  turn to self-administered drugs without understanding their instructions or the risks,  like what happened in IN this month. Worse, they may turn to an illegal abortionist because they are less expensive, closer and accessible.

The way it was before Roe vs Wade has been romanticized in books and movies, like “Dirty Dancing” and “Cider House Rules.” There was nothing heart-warming about that time. It was a scary time for an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. Women had their plans for their future derailed, died or were permanently injured and they will be again if this trend isn’t reversed.

We can never go back.

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*All links to anti-abortion websites have been omitted purposely. Please use Google or message us separately if you would like a citation for sources.

Sidewalk Snippet~by Skeletor {07/29/13}

It was a small group one morning, not many antis and not many escorts. A couple of clients had already pulled into the pay lot, though the clinic doors weren’t yet open, when one client came walking up by herself. There were so few antis that she snuck onto the property with no fuss. I was able to let her know the situation pretty easily, without too many people shouting at her from across the property line. She thanked me and then buried her face in her phone and I stepped back to the property line. This is a common defense mechanism of clients who wait at the door before the clinic opens – and a smart one, I would add. Bring headphones too.

D stepped up beside me at the property line and began talking to the client in her “I’m just a sweet old lady” voice that she invokes at the beginning of many confrontations. The client was going to have none of it and, after repeated requests to stop talking to her, the client wheeled on D and started giving her a piece of her mind. The other escort and I weren’t sure whether to step in and try to distract the client to de-escalate, or to let her go. After all, we really wanted to give her a fist bump and a couple of “Hell yeahs!”

As the conversation/debate/verbal brawl continued, D dropped the little old lady act, as she is often want to do, and took on her very comfortable tone of disapproval and reproach. The client was really giving D a piece of her mind, but it was so carefully thought out and calmly worded that D quickly became flustered. D and the other antis are used to being able to bully clients into dumbfoundedness, but this client had just turned the tables.

In the middle of this tete-a-tete, the clinic doors were unlocked. The other escort and I kept trying to find a moment to interrupt to let the client know she could go on in. When we did catch her eye and motioned to her that she could go in, she finished her thought to D and stormed into the clinic. D was left stunned and, now, she was the one who was dumbfounded.

So many times, the bullying tactics of the antis cause such distress that clients retreat inward. It was pure gold to see a client call out an anti – any anti – but this anti, in particular, for their hypocrisy and shameful behavior.