Where Are We Going?

“I have been coming here for 25 years. I know what I am talking about.”

This was screamed at the clinic doors by R trying to convince clients to come talk to him. Twenty-five years is a long time to devote one or more mornings a week to bullying, shaming and harassing clients because they did not make the decision you believe is right. That time commitment goes beyond a belief and drifts into a lifetime vocation of being a bully; a lifetime vocation of hating women; a lifetime vocation of wanting to control another’s choices about their body.

He is not alone. A lot of the antis have been coming out to harass clients and their companions for 20-plus years. Some come out almost every day the clinic is open; week after week; year after year.

I have thought of this dedication to control another person’s health care decisions as more and more anti-abortion legislation is proposed and passed by different states. It seems that every day brings another proposed bill: TRAP laws designed to close clinics; mandatory ultrasounds for all abortion procedures including RU-486 medication abortions; mandatory in-person counseling; waiting periods lengthened to exclude holidays and weekends; banning abortion after 20 weeks or in Kentucky at 6 weeks. (See IN Senate Bill 371; KY Senate Bill 4; KY Senate Bill 5, KY House Bill 132;  SD House Bill 1237, ND House Bill 1456) There is even a new flurry of bills regulating miscarriages and personhood agendas that would put women in prison for “killing” a fertilized egg. The one bright light in this flurry of anti-abortion legislation is New York’s movement to ease abortion restrictions.

We definitely know the chipping away of Roe vs Wade by state legislators will not eradicate the need for abortion. If the extremists are successful in shutting down most of the clinics in the country it will force a lot of people to go back to the pre-Roe vs Wade days of illegal abortions. Only those with financial resources or luckily living in states with less restrictions will have access to abortion.

There was a really thoughtful article published by Betsy Phillips in January about abortion access in Tennessee. It addresses the comments that people can just go someplace else for their abortion.

  • The funny/terrible part is that here in Tennessee I have had politicians and their staffs tell me to my face on several occasions that they can’t understand why I’m so worked up about abortion rights, after all women who “really need” them can go to Atlanta, even if they’re impossible to get here.

Her article is one that I keep coming back to in my mind because I hear the same thing: they can just go to another state where abortion is still legal. Everyone can just travel to New York. What happens if they cannot afford to travel, take time off work, arrange childcare, and jump the various state restrictions they will face? How many people needing abortions will seek dangerous solutions?

And now we are back to the beginning of this article. What will these extremists focus on next if they are successful in shutting down abortion clinics around the country? Where will they expend their energies to bully and harass? Will they move their operations to New York? Will it be demonstrating in front of OB/Gyn offices who prescribe contraception? Will it be pharmacies that fill prescriptions for contraception? Will it just be protesting in front of any healthcare facility? Will it be in front of religious or atheist meeting places that don’t conform to their brand of Christianity? Will it be some other place or cause in their attempts to control people’s lives?

Where are we going to go from here? Where are they going to go next?

Abortion Facts

The Supreme Court case of Roe vs Wade was decided January 22, 1973. There have been many articles written about abortion access over the 40 years since the decision. Last year saw a huge number of articles in response to state legislation designed to chip away at the right to abortion.

This blog published a series of articles last January covering Roe vs Wade: The Marches, Legal Barriers and Battles, Physical Aggression, History, and a Call to Action.

This year Guttmacher Institute has published an information sheet and a set of infographics about abortion in the United States. The five fact sheets present a lot of details about abortion in the United States. They are easy to read and I encourage you to look at them all.

All of the graphics are excellent, but two of them really caught my attention. The issues highlighted in them are what we see daily when we escort at the clinic.

490-AbortionInTheUsHasBecomeConcentrated
Unintended pregnancies are rising for those below the federal poverty line and decreasing for those with incomes greater than 200% of the federal poverty line. The reasons for this are not listed, but access to health care, health insurance and contraception must be contributing factors. If you do not have access to free or low-cost effective contraception, you would expect a rise in unintended pregnancies. Some clients I have talked to at the clinic have stated they couldn’t afford their contraception for one or more months, but thought they would be safe with other methods. They made the decision to pay for other necessities of life.

What happens when 42% of the women having abortions are below the federal poverty line? As the graphic points out, an abortion can be delayed by the need to raise money. This results in a higher cost for the procedure. It is a real Catch 22. One client told me she was using her rent and grocery money for the month to pay for her procedure and was just hoping she wouldn’t be evicted until she could pay some on her rent, but she wasn’t sure where she was going to get food for her and her two-year old child. Those are hard decisions.

490-BarriersToAbortion

The second graphic that caught my attention ties into the difficulty of the 42% of clients below the poverty line. If 35% of all women live in the 87% of the counties without an abortion provider, how do they negotiate the additional cost of travel, time off work, and possibly childcare?

In addition to the physical barriers to a provider location, there are legislative barriers to abortion access. These include waiting periods that add more delay time and possibly raise the costs of a procedure. In addition, there have been a multitude of hurdles that clients have been forced to jump to access abortion thanks to anti-choice legislators in state governments.

Guttmacher says it best:

There are no women of reproductive age in the United States today who were of reproductive age prior to Roe. U.S. women of this age have never known a nation in which abortion was illegal and unsafe. Yet, keeping abortion legal and safe—and accessible to all women—is and must always remain an urgent national priority.

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REMINDER: Share your story.

January 22, 2013 is the 40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade.  Forty years of legal, safe abortions.  This invitation comes from our allies at Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:

“KRCRC (is making plans for a January 20 event in Louisville, “The Roe Monologues,” to mark those 40 years (four decades, two generations!) since the Roe v Wade ruling, and we need your help.

We’re looking for your story. But also for your mother’s, your daughter’s, your sister’s, aunt’s, girlfriend’s, roommate’s, friend’s story. Fairly brief; 2 to 5 minutes, and starting with the year. (e.g. “It was 1983, and I was trying to finish up my nursing degree, when I found out I was pregnant.” “In 2008, my wife and I had been trying for several years to have a baby. Now she had finally gotten pregnant, but when we got the results of the amnio, …” “1957. I was living in Missouri, and abortion was illegal. When my roommate learned she was pregnant, …” etc)

On Jan. 20 at our event, we will love it if you will present it yourself. But if it’s bad timing, bad location, or you’d just rather not get up to present it yourself, we will be happy to have someone read it for you. Also, you can use your own name or a made-up name, your choice.

We need these stories! – and people need to hear them. Will you help us? Will you spread the word that we’re looking for these stories?

Please email info@krcrc.org if you think you’d like to participate, either in person or by providing a story for someone else to read.”

By stepping out and talking about our experience we reduce the stigma and shame that surrounds abortion.  By sharing our stories, we support each other and continue building a world where reproductive justice is a reality.

40 Years ~ No Turning Back

At the clinic Saturday, we had the bus with the folks from the Bible College show up.  This is the group whose women always wear skirts, and they bring guitars and sing.  They did a lovely rendition of Amazing Grace.

At least I think it was the same group. They used to stand further down the sidewalk, on the other side of the pray-ers, but this week they were front and center.  They were all mixed in with the people who yell at the clients as they get to the doors.  Here’s what it looked like:

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Yes there really are two of the blue ABORTION signs and two of the CHOICE signs.

They’re standing in front of the clinic windows in both of those pictures.

If you were coming down the sidewalk from 2nd Street, here’s what you saw on Saturday.  Remember, you’re headed for the concrete “awning” thing that says EMW.

IMG_1807I think it’s a daunting prospect, which of course, is exactly what they want it to be.  They would like to turn the clock back 40 years.

January 22, 2013 is the 40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade.  Forty years of legal, safe abortions.  This invitation comes from our allies at Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:

“KRCRC (is making plans for a January 20 event in Louisville, “The Roe Monologues,” to mark those 40 years (four decades, two generations!) since the Roe v Wade ruling, and we need your help.

We’re looking for your story. But also for your mother’s, your daughter’s, your sister’s, aunt’s, girlfriend’s, roommate’s, friend’s story. Fairly brief; 2 to 5 minutes, and starting with the year. (e.g. “It was 1983, and I was trying to finish up my nursing degree, when I found out I was pregnant.” “In 2008, my wife and I had been trying for several years to have a baby. Now she had finally gotten pregnant, but when we got the results of the amnio, …” “1957. I was living in Missouri, and abortion was illegal. When my roommate learned she was pregnant, …” etc)

On Jan. 20 at our event, we will love it if you will present it yourself. But if it’s bad timing, bad location, or you’d just rather not get up to present it yourself, we will be happy to have someone read it for you. Also, you can use your own name or a made-up name, your choice.

We need these stories! – and people need to hear them. Will you help us? Will you spread the word that we’re looking for these stories?

Please email info@krcrc.org if you think you’d like to participate, either in person or by providing a story for someone else to read.”

By stepping out and talking about our experience we reduce the stigma and shame that surrounds abortion.  By sharing our stories, we support each other and continue building a world where reproductive justice is a reality.

Mississippi

In September 2011, Operation Save America* started their States of Refuge* campaign. The stated goal was “…to establish the first abortion free states since Roe vs. Wade.”* The targeted states were those with only one abortion clinic at the time. This included Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. With help from anti-abortion legislators, they are nearing their goal in Mississippi.

Center for Reproductive Rights has detailed the fight over a TRAP law that might close the Jackson Women’s Health Organization in January 2013.

  • House Bill 1390, which was signed into law on April 16 and partially blocked by a federal judge in July 2012, imposes medically unwarranted requirements that any physician performing abortions in the state be a board certified or eligible obstetrician-gynecologist with admitting privileges at an area hospital.
  • Although all the doctors currently providing abortions to women at the Mississippi clinic are board-certified ob-gyns, the physicians responsible for the lion’s share of the clinic’s patients have not been granted privileges by any of the hospitals in the area. In fact, several of the hospitals refused to even process the physicians’ applications, citing their biased policies and practices towards abortion care.
  • To quote several hospitals’ letters refusing to process applications submitted by the physicians at JWHO: “The nature of your proposed medical practice is inconsistent with this Hospital’s policies and practices as concerns abortion and, in particular, elective abortions; … [and] The nature of your proposed medical practice would lead to both an internal and external disruption of the Hospital’s function and business within this community.”
  • In his July 2012 order, U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III allowed the law to take effect, but blocked the state from imposing any criminal or civil penalties on the clinic, its staff, or its physicians for providing services to women while the application process was ongoing. The state Department of Health gave JWHO until January to show that all physicians “associated with” the clinic have admitting privileges at a local hospital. “

This is the ultimate Catch 22 for the providers. Dr.Willie Parker is one of the board-certified ob/gyns who provides abortions at Jackson Women’s Health Organization. He is quoted as saying:

  • “I have dedicated half of my 20-year career to ensuring women have access to the full range of reproductive health care services—because when women get the medical care they need, they thrive,” said Dr. Willie Parker, a board-certified ob-gyn with admitting privileges at local hospitals in both Maryland and Virginia. Dr. Parker currently provides reproductive health care services to women in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Operation Save America* had a lot of help from Mississippi state legislators in bringing the only clinic in Mississippi to the brink of closing. One of them garnered national attention with this statement:

  • State Representative Bubba Carpenter recently told a group of local county Republicans that “We have literally stopped abortion in the state of Mississippi,” and that “the other side [is] like, ‘Well, the poor pitiful women that can’t afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger.’ That’s what we’ve heard over and over and over. But hey, you have to have moral values.”

Robin Marty has written several articles for RH Reality Check concerning the state of siege in Mississippi. The most recent article included an interview with Dr. Parker who described the anti-abortion protesters in front of Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

  • There are episodic periods at other clinics, like the 40 Days, or when people bus in kids, bring in religious youth groups, or have other organized activities where those who don’t normally get the chance to demonstrate their opposition to abortion on a regular basis. But those activists in Mississippi probably feel like they are as close as they have ever been to achieving their goal of shutting down the clinic and making Mississippi an abortion free state. I would say that there is more sense of fervor and sense that victory is just around the corner. In that way, there is a bit more of a targeted effort in Mississippi. But given that there is only one clinic, and people have always been able to target on that one clinic, I think that in other places where there is more than one clinic and people are trying to coordinate activity, in Mississippi there seems to be more of a sense of urgency and a sense of the potential to prevail.
  • The protesters are acting under the impression that the closing of the clinic is a done deal. As it gets closer, they are certainly tracking things. They seem to feel that they need to agitate now to push the law forward and that seems to animate them.

The protesters are getting more aggressive and more vocal as the January deadline nears. Operation Save America* is so sure the clinic is closing, they are calling for its followers to protest abortion and witness this historic first “State of Refuge” on January 22, 2013, the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade. They will be present at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization instead of going to Washington, DC in January.

Where can the clients in Mississippi go if this clinic closes? We know blocking access to abortion does not reduce the need for abortion. If the clinic closes, the clients will face arranging transportation to adjacent states for abortions. They will have to navigate the restrictions and waiting periods in those states. Many will not be able to afford the trip, the time off from work and the financial burdens this closing will impose upon them.

Words fail me. My thoughts are with the staff and physicians trying to provide needed healthcare to clients in the State of Mississippi. It is with immense respect that I follow news of their dedication and continued fight to keep the only abortion clinic in Mississippi open.

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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.

That Sigh of Relief

Before the election, I had been dreadfully worried about what would happen to reproductive healthcare if Romney won.  Being half pessimist, I was pretty sure he would win, and so I probably worried excessively.

Obama’s win brought a big sigh of relief for me.  I thought, yay, Obama won, there’s hope for reproductive justice.  The day after the election, when we only had two protesters at the clinic, it seemed like the beginning of a new era.

Of course, the anti’s have turned out in their usual numbers since then ~ no new era at the clinic.  And this news story reminds me of the difficulties we still face.

According to The Guardian, {article here} Savita Halappanavar, a woman in Ireland died in the hospital having a miscarriage.  She was 17 weeks pregnant, and having back pain.  The doctors told her she was miscarrying.  They would not remove the fetus from her body because there was still a heartbeat.

Hospitals in Ireland follow Catholic guidelines.  No abortion for any reason. Savita Halappanavar was neither Irish nor Catholic.  But by the time the fetus no longer had a heartbeat, she was so ill that they couldn’t save her.  She died of septicaemia and E Coli.

Of course, that couldn’t happen here.  Abortion is illegal in Ireland.  Abortion is still legal in the US.  So that couldn’t happen here, right?

Oh, wait.  Catholic hospitals in the United States follow Catholic guidelines.  If you go to a Catholic hospital here, the same thing could happen.  Would happen, I guess.

Remember Sister Margaret McBride, the nun at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix who was excommunicated by the Catholic church because she agreed that a woman in the hospital should have an abortion to save her life?  The woman was too sick to be moved to another hospital and would have died.  If Sister Margaret had followed the teachings of the Catholic Church, she would not have approved the abortion, and the woman would have died.

I’m not trying to stir my own anxiety to the level it was at before the election, but the death of Savita Halappanavar reminds me of the continuing push by anti-abortionist groups, who, in their zeal to overturn Roe v Wade, insist that abortion is never medically necessary.

Tragically, Savita’s death reminds us ~ that’s not true.  And her death remminds me, there’s lots of work still to be done here.

Pushing Back

I escorted on Wednesday and Friday again last week ~ a lot of time to listen to D’s ridiculous meanness.   She was really on a roll on Friday, and I wish I’d had paper and pencil to jot down some of the things she said.

Some of them were funny in that way that makes you snort and gasp, “She did NOT just say that.”  But she did, and I’m sorry I can’t remember them.

One stuck with me though.

She said:

“Don’t go into that place.”  Shaking her head, “Don’t go in there.  They’re just going to take your money, kill your baby, and put you back out here to a lifetime of regret.”

Really?  I mean, does she think the client doesn’t know it’s the abortion clinic?  Does she think the client thinks it’s free?

Good grief.

As for “killing your baby,” clearly a fetus is not the same as “a baby,” but it makes me think of the woman I escorted to the clinic back in the summer ~ or it could have been last summer.  English was not her first language, and it wasn’t clear, even to me, whether she was going to the abortion clinic or the anti-clinic.

The client was confused by the protesters talking at her, and me talking, and she was trying to listen to two or three of them at the same time, so I quit trying to talk, just tried to make eye contact and waited.  They continued talking at her, and finally one of them said, “Don’t go there, don’t go to that clinic, they’re going to kill your baby.”

And the client said, loudly and firmly, with great relief, “Yes!  That is the one,” and added, nodding, “Kill my baby.  That one.”

I don’t think I’ve told that story here before, but when D says that, about “taking your money and killing your baby,” I always think about that client.

I was in Lexington last week, with a couple of other escorts, doing an orientation for some wonderful young people.  At the end of their meeting, they showed a segment of a film called, “If These Walls Could Talk.”

The film ~ it might have been made-for-TV ~ shows a nurse, before Roe v Wade, who is desperate for an abortion.  Watching the film reminded me so vividly of women and girls I knew back then who were faced with that frantic “I can NOT have this baby,” kind of pregnancy.

In the movie, she tries some pills, but throws up, tries a knitting needle, but can’t quite bring herself to do it.  She can’t afford to leave the country, and she gets more and more desperate.

Eventually, an abortion on her kitchen table with a stranger, unsterilized instruments and no anesthesia seems better than carrying the pregnancy to term.   The whole film was painful to watch, and I left a little traumatized, thinking about people I knew back then and what it’s really like to have only those choices.

So when Donna talks about “a lifetime of regret,” I just shake my head.  Apparently some people experience that.  Some of them do end up on the sidewalk, preaching about how they had an abortion, or two abortions, and now they regret it.

I think they’re entitled to their own experience and their own emotions, it just seems unreasonable that they got the benefit of choice, and now they want to take it away from everyone else.  It makes me sad that they’re still hurting from a decision they made which must have seemed like the best choice at the time.  I wish they’d find a way of healing that doesn’t involve trying to hurt other people.

When I think about all this, sometimes it all just makes me sad.  The hatefulness and the efforts to control other people. The problem with escorting, sometimes, is that it starts to feel like the anti’s are taking over the world.

But that’s not true.  Many people have an abortion and never regret it.  Many people support the right to choose, and as the anti’s get more vocal I’m seeing more push back.

Here’s a beautiful example of a way to push back.

Society often judges women by the tough choices we make; the experiences we survive; or the ways we don’t conform to society’s idea of how a woman should be–deeming us a “bad woman”.

UniteWomen.org has partnered with Northland Family Planning Center and Abortion Care Network to change that conversation.

(This is a first in the series.)  Please share this widely and help us change the conversation. No one should be judged by one aspect of her life. It is the judgement and stigmatization of various aspects of our lives that creates the most harm!

Thank you to all the women who helped make the video.  Thank you for speaking out and pushing back on the stigma.  Together, we can support each other to push back some of the horrible legislation the anti’s are trying to pass.

Why I Don’t Talk to the Anti’s

In early January, Servalbear did a list of resolutions for herself when escorting.  i admired them.  But I knew right away there was one that wouldn’t work for me.

Servalbear said:

“I will respond with courtesy and politeness when antis greet me or ask me a direct question. Promoting calm and minimizing chaos is the goal. If I need to say “Good Morning” to an anti to start the day on an adult basis, it is okay. I do not have to engage in conversation, but I do not have to abandon all social conventions.”

I already know that approach isn’t going to work for me.  This Saturday reminded me why.

There were a bunch of new people this week ~ apprarently, the Saturday after the anniversary of Roe v Wade is a good time for anti-choice folks to start coming to the clinic.  At my end of the sidewalk, on First Street, there were five or six new chasers, and one woman who’s been coming for a few weeks.

The new ones were all male, and looked like they were in their mid-twenties to early thirties.  Chasing kept them busy for a while as clients came pretty steadily at first.  When things slowed down a bit, they wanted to talk.

Fortunately, D was at that end, and he’s glad to chat with them.  I avoid eye contact, try to look over them, around them, or through them. D is relaxed and comfortable exchanging viewpoints with them.

So they actually sort of circle up around D and have some long conversation about God and the universe.  I’m glad, ’cause if they’re talking to D, they’re not chasing or harassing anyone else.

But after a while that wasn’t enough and one or two of them decide they need to talk to me too.   I always think they must be practicing their missionary skills.  One guy starts by catching my eye and giving me a big smile.

“Hi, what’s your name?” he says.

What’s my name?  Really?

It’s 7:30 on a Saturday morning.  We’re standing on a street corner in 30 degree weather, it’s spitting rain and the wind is blowing off the river, just enough to make it cold, despite my long underwear, two pairs of gloves and hand-warmers, wool socks and furry boots and my big green coat that’s so puffy, if I fell down in it, I probably couldn’t get back up again.

The only reason I’m here – the ONLY reason – is because he and a bunch of people like him feel like they gotta come down here and harass women who have a medical appointment.  And he wants to smile at me like we’re buddies and ask me what my name is????

{Shakes head} Yeah, I don’t think so.

I ignore him.

But he keeps it up, “I’m just asking what your name is,” and another one chimes in, “Were you here last week?  ‘Cause it was really cold last week.”

I walk away.

But a few minutes later, they go through it again, and I think ok, they’re new.  I should go ahead and spell it out for them.

“I don’t talk to protesters,” I say.  “I don’t think y’all belong here, and I don’t have anything to say to you while you are here.  If you wanna talk, we need to be somewhere else.”  And I walk away.   Again.

I ignore the one who wants to give me some “literature” to read.  He offers it to another escort, and I laugh when I hear him say, “It’ll give you something to read if you get bored,” like really, we’re going to get bored out here escorting, and read his pamphlet?   And get converted, I suppose??

Well, ok, yes I suppose that’s exactly what he does think.  And I shake my head, amazed, because he’s the just about the last person I’d listen to when it comes to God or Jesus or the bible, or anything.  But I guess it makes him feel better to think he’s evangelizing us lost lambs.

Now you know that in between all this, there are clients and their companions.  As we walk with the clients up the sidewalk, this little group of men, and the one woman, chase them up the sidewalk, spewing the usual spiels.

We run the gauntlet of pray-ers and of course Donna, who’s standing under the awning with her umbrella open, then we make our way back to the corner.

The new guys group up together, and I walk away from them again.   After a minute, one of them breaks away and follows.  Standing beside me, he starts, “You know, if we’re gonna be out here on the sidewalk together, we might as well buddy up~” and i cut him off laughing, shaking my head,

“No.  We’re not gonna be ‘buddying up’ out here,” i say, and he says,

“Well, now, we don’t have to be buddies…” and i interrupt him again.

“No, we don’t.”  I turn to face him.  “I’ve already said this once, but let me say it one more time.  I don’t talk to youall – I don’t talk to protesters out here.  I don’t think you belong here, and I don’t have anything to say to you.  So this is it.  After this, if you keep talking to me, I just won’t answer.  It won’t matter what you say, I just won’t answer.  Clear?”

And he kind of nods, and that’s it, which is a relief.  I know they’ll try again, but apparently that’s enough for one day.

I hear one of them a few minutes later say to one of the other escorts, “I can’t believe you’re ignoring me, you won’t even talk to me.  It’s like – it’s like – you’re treating me like I’m an insect!”  and I laugh.  Shake my head.

These people are chasing women up the sidewalk, preaching and lecturing them on the way to their doctor appointment, like they got some right to tell any and every woman what to do, and he’s offended – he thinks he’s being mistreated – because we’re ignoring him????  It still makes me laugh a little bit.

And really, the whole thing makes me laugh a little, laugh and shake my head, but not a whole lot.  Because underneath the absurdity and the sidewalk theatre of it all, what really happened today is what happens every day.

They show up selling their beliefs.

We refuse, we tell them we’re not interested, we’re not buying today.  Just like the clients do.

And they keep hawking their wares.

Like the world’s worst vacuum salesman,  forcing one foot in the door, trying to shove their idea of Jesus down my throat.

Trying to tell people what life decisions to make, how to handle whatever is going on in their lives, without being asked, without having any idea what the particular circumstances are.  Trying to insist their words and their choices be accepted, while refusing to listen, refusing to hear, refusing to honor other people’s words, other people’s choices and needs.

Yeah.  That’s why I don’t have anything to say to them out there.

Day 5 – Roe v Wade – Call to Action by fml and servalbear

January 22 is tomorrow. What are you going to do to support the right to access abortion?

Here are some ideas:

  • Kentucky RCRC is holding a Candlelight Vigil January 22 from 5P-7P. The location is The Temple, U.S. 42 at Lime Kiln Ln., Louisville, KY
  • National NOW Supreme Court Vigil is being held Monday, January 23 from 5P-6P. The location is the US Supreme Court Sidewalk, 1 First Street NE, Washington, DC
  • World Can’t Wait is meeting for Stand Up For Abortion and Birth Control on January 22 at 6P and January 23 at 6P. The location is the US Supreme Court Sidewalk, 1 First Street NE, Washington, DC.
  • Look in your area for events scheduled in support of Roe v Wade.  Be a presence at an event – there’s power in numbers.

We need to support abortion access for everyone without any apologies. Stand up and let your voice be heard. Remember the past so we do not have to repeat it.

If you cannot participate in a march or event for pro-access, please write your congressman and senators to let them know how you feel. Vote for candidates who are pro-choice in this year’s elections.  {More on that tomorrow…}

Donate in support of reproductive rights. There are several organizations listed on our “How to Get Involved” page on this blog.

Sometimes we feel like the things we can do aren’t big enough to make a difference.  Call or write your legislators… Really?  How helpful is that in the long run?

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But recently here in Louisville, efforts to merge a public hospital with a Catholic conglomerate were blocked. The hospital would have had to follow Catholic beliefs about health care. The merger would have limited access to basic reproductive health care, such as tubal ligations.

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There was enough of a huge outcry against it.  People rallied against the impact of following religious guidelines in a public hospital.  We’re proud to say our governor bravely vetoed the merger.

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Governor Beshear may not have vetoed it due to concern about abortion access, but at least he supported the separation of church and state in medical care.  It feels good to know that we were part of the public outrage that led him to investigate the terms more closely. One voice at a time let him know how unpopular this merger would be for health care in Louisville.

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So we keep doing what we can.  We hope in the long run, it will be enough.

Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.

Day 4 – Roe v Wade – History – by fml and servalbear

We do not want to go back to the days when abortion was illegal. The memories and stories are too painful. We have posted several stories on this blog about the way it was. Making abortion illegal will not stop the need for access to safe abortion. It will just make it more difficult for clients to get them.

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There is a famous saying by George Santayana.  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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For anyone wanting to explore the history of abortion in Kentucky, we highly recommend “Standing Up For Reproductive Rights The Struggle for Legal Abortion in Kentucky” by Fran Ellers, published Chicago Spectrum Press; 1ST edition (2008).*  You will learn, among other things:

  • In 1973 the first abortions were available in Louisville and Lexington
  • In 1973 Right to Life in Louisville started monthly marches to oppose abortion
  • In 1973 Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was founded
  • In 1986 the National Organization for Women chapter in Jefferson County began providing escorts
  • Escort notes from 1986-1987 could have been written last week. They tell the same stories we tell today.

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There is another piece of history in a book recounting the murder of Dr. George Tiller we recommend. “The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion” by Stephen Singular, published by St. Martin’s Press, First Edition edition (April 12, 2011)**

Being familiar with the history of the war on reproductive rights is a necessary step to protecting those rights in the future.

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Reminiscence from fml:

I remember when I first realized I was pro-choice, back in the early 80′s.  A friend of mine was telling me about the plans she’d made to improve a life that seemed hopeless to her at the time.  She described her goals, the steps she’d planned, the things she’d already done to start the process.  It was very exciting.

I was enthusiastic, but I could tell something wasn’t quite right.  She got through describing her plans and said, “Sounds great, doesn’t it?”

I nodded, all hopeful.

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

I swear I heard a cell door slam.   A sick feeling in my stomach, an ache in my heart, and the sound of a metal door slamming shut.

I was so glad she had a choice.  It doesn’t matter what she did.  I’m just so glad she had a choice.  We can’t go back.

Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.

*A copy can be purchased for $25.00 by stopping by the ACLU office Monday-Friday 9a-5p. Reproductive Freedom Project, American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, 315 Guthrie Street Suite 300, Louisville, Kentucky 40204

**Available for purchase at book stores and Amazon.com.

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Day 3 – Roe v Wade – Physical Aggression – by fml and servalbear

The aggression against abortion rights isn’t all legislative.   Anti-abortion violence has been directed towards doctors, clinic workers, escorts and clients. Over the 39 years, anti-abortion factions have committed acts of terrorism including murders, attempted murders, and fire bombings.  They have made countless threats and tirelessly harassed in their zeal to prevent abortions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_violence
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On New Year’s Day 2012 a homeless man set fire to the besieged clinic in Pensacola, FL. This act of terrorism was done because:
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  • Rogers said he had recently witnessed an anti-abortion protest near the clinic. “Rogers admitted to intentionally setting fire to the clinic due to his strong disbelief in abortion,” an affidavit stated, and “he stated (he) was further fueled when he recently witnessed a young female entering the clinic while he was sitting amongst anti-abortion protesters.” 
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The presence and aggression of anti-abortion protesters prevents access to abortion 39 years after Roe vs Wade. Some of our most impressionable citizens view their actions as implied consent to stop abortion any way possible. (Scott Roeder, Paul Hill, Bobby Joe Rogers) The presence of protesters in front of clinics is not an expression of free speech but an unwanted intrusion into the private medical decisions of clients.
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We get threats at our clinic.  One day a young man on a bicycle got in a verbal conflict with an escort.  He ended the argument by saying, “This is why I have guns at home,” and rode off.   This makes us stay on edge, watching for his return, the rest of the morning.
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Fortunately, he didn’t come back, and incidents like that don’t happen often.   Sometimes, people ask if escorting is dangerous.  Of course, it could be. There is always the potential. We never quite forget the illusion of safety could disappear in a second.
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Most people who are against abortion would not be willing to kill an already-born person even to prevent abortion.  However, some people actually believe it would be “justifiable homicide.”  Interesting values for the “pro-life” group.
 
 

Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.