We Are All Emily Letts~by KYBorn

Ah, I know. It was the last thing you wanted to read. Her name is associated with being a great martyr for the pro-choice/pro-access cause, or she is the demon-come-lately to anti-choicers, a creature of the night with no soul, the high priestess of child sacrifice. Heck, I can’t even print most of the threats this woman has received. Even the most “pro-lifey” of all the “pro-lifers” on Jill Stanek’s site can’t help but comment that due to the emotional issue of abortion, death threats are to only be expected. Not sure how you file that under “pro-life,” but we all know the minds of antis are capable of the great mental gymnastics needed to justify horrible behavior in the name of Jesus.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not here to harp on about antis this week. Nor am I here to lecture pro-choicers about how they should respond to Letts’ video. The fact that I appreciate the risk she took doesn’t really have anything to do with it. The fact that, as a horribly private person the idea of having a video made of me during hugely personal moments is something that I can’t imagine. The fact that I would be far too paranoid about disease to have unprotected sex with many partners (and I have had sex with many partners) does not mean she is stupid or a whore or wrong. It means she took I risk I was unwilling to. It means she had a different opinion.

‘Will she ever get to point?’, you ask. Yes. Yes, I usually get there, but today I am going to sooner rather than later. In spite of the many ways I would have handled Emily Letts’ situation differently, I am still Emily Letts. In fact, all women are Emily Letts. Some are older. Some are younger. Some are different races. Some are anti-choice.

I am Emily Letts even though I would never want to make any sort of medical decision public. I am a private person, and the loss of that privacy would be one of the worst things I can imagine. I freak out at the idea of diseases (and this is partly due to my occupation) so that part of my story would be different. Other than that, the same old movie plot is played out over and over and over.

Women need abortion.

Women behave responsibly and need an abortion.

Women behave irresponsibly and need abortion.

A married woman had an irresponsible fling outside of marriage and needs an abortion.

A woman just loses her job and needs an abortion.

A woman needs an abortion because she doesn’t want any children.

A woman already has 5 kids and can’t afford a 6th needs an abortion.

A woman finds out her fetus is so malformed he won’t live 5 minutes, if he is born at all, needs an abortion.

A rape victim needs an abortion.

A woman whose body is worn out from childbirth needs an abortion.

A woman taking teratogens needs an abortion.

Women who are a long past child-bearing years need abortions, because losing the right to have an abortion is the first step down the slippery slope to women’s ability to control their body, to control their medical treatment, to control their own finances, to work their own jobs and to remain autonomous individuals.

When we allow the government to take away even ONE aspect of our bodily autonomy, we are allowing them to get the idea that they have title to other aspects of our private lives and the choices we make as individuals.

So while we all might not make a video about our abortions, or even tell our own abortions stories, or even be old enough or young enough to have an abortion, it doesn’t change the facts that each and every one us is Emily Letts.

 

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.

Censorship, Privacy and Why Antis Need to Just Shut Up~by KY Born

There are undoubtedly times in all of our lives where we have just been so wrong, after talking long and loud about a position, where the only thing we can do upon realizing the error of our ways is to stop talking. I have been in this position more than once and am always embarrassed once I realize I have basically made a huge horse’s behind of myself. Perhaps the only thing more humiliating than realizing that it was time to shut up would be everyone else realizing that it was time for me to shut up, but myself being too blind or stupid to notice it myself. Ever.

Due to travel delays and bad weather, I have had ample time to surf the internet. Sure enough, reading about antis never fails to provide a mixture of amusement and rage. Of course, Google was abuzz with wounded antis last week because Google chose to remove ads from CPCs that lie about services they provide. As an aside, I noticed many antis lying that Google was taking away all their ads, cries of censorship, freedom of speech being yanked and Nazis abounded along with discussions over whether or not Jesus would continue to Google or if he would switch to Bing. Instead of being embarrassed that these Christian Centers have lied so much a search engine is having to take action, they just continue to rattle on about the injustice of it all. Antis, it is time to shut-up.

I get particularly upset at these CPCs because I know for a fact they do lie, having sat in the lobby while a friend who fled an abusive relationship that very morning swallowed her pride and went to ask them for help with supplies for her infant. She worked very hard, but when her spouse mostly emptied one account and she had to come up with deposits for shelter and utilities, there was not much left over. In fact, I think there was about $2 left. She was referred to the CPC by her small church who helped to fund them. She left her old vehicle with its half tank of gas and everything she now owned back at her new apartment and off we went in my car across town to the CPC who told her that of course, they could help. They just needed her to come in to confirm some details and fill out some paperwork. Here is what she got:

  1. Told her friend (me) was not allowed to go back with her through the screening process for the sake of “privacy” even though she told them she wanted me there
  2. A recommendation that she return home to her abusive spouse.
  3. Admonishments to repent of her “sin”. She isn’t sure what sin they were referring to but at this point she didn’t want to encourage further chatter.
  4. Pressure to take a “free pregnancy test” even though she had no reason to suspect she was pregnant. I’m not sure where they got this idea but she had explained to them both over the phone and in person that she was seeking help for her infant and was not worried about pregnancy.

They didn’t offer a dang thing, not so much as a pack of diapers. Some of her pro-choice friends went out and bought her baby supplies and furniture to get her through. We were happy to do this and she would have greatly appreciated the CPC just saying over the phone that they couldn’t help her right now.

Looking back, I suppose the “counselor” was too busy going down her check list and declaring my non-pregnant friend abortion vulnerable that she didn’t have time to listen. I don’t know what this particular CPC did as it was over 60 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic, aside from trying to lure women in for their “free” pregnancy test and lecture. I do know they harassed my friend for two weeks on her cell number and work number to come in for the pregnancy test that she didn’t need or want. Despite their claim to “love them both,” they spent more time loving her imaginary embryo and not caring a bit about a real live woman and a real live born infant. This is another reason it is time for antis to just shut up.

Later in the week I made the mistake of clicking through a well-known anti site that claimed to have an article about women being freed from sex addiction (I’m paraphrasing here). The article itself was fairly routine and spouted the usual far-right approaches to any undesirable behavior. Whatever, it’s their site.

Where things just got utterly disgusting were the comments where one of them somehow jacked the conversation to be about Ariel Castro and the three victims who were kidnapped and held for 10 years. She claims to have some sort of connection by marriage to somebody who somehow knows one of the three victims. She then proceeds to post this supposedly insider information about all three of these women, even though they seem to have kept a fairly low profile since they were freed. This poster may just be a nutty liar or she may be an asshole who is violating a victim’s privacy to get attention. Most pro-choicers recognize that antis don’t understand the concept of privacy. Now if these women want to share this information, that is up to them. They deserve all the support possible. What they don’t deserve is some random internet person pimping out their story for attention. Gross.

This story, of course, has nothing to do with sex addiction and it also has nothing to do with abortion. Pro-choicers are very much against any sort of forced reproduction or termination. Pro-choicers can clearly see a difference between a safe, legal procedure performed with the consent of the patient and women imprisoned, raped, forced to birth a child or forced to miscarry due to physical abuse. Antis can’t seem to grasp the difference between these two and aren’t interested in learning. This is why antis need to shut up.

The last thing I noticed about antis this week is their need to turn Floyd Mayweather into a hero. Really?  Anti-choicers are rallying around a man convicted of domestic violence several times over and arrested more times than that, with several different women involved. I keep wondering why there seems to be no legal penalty for stealing this woman’s medical records, if they are in fact hers. I don’t even know if this woman was actually pregnant, because it is none of my business. The shame and outrage shouldn’t be about whether or not a woman had an abortion, it should be about the fact that her PRIVATE medical records were taken against her will and published online by an ex-fiance who can’t seem to get over her. Even if they were “his babies,” those were her medical records and none of his business. Celebrating the abusive actions of a known abuser is not exactly showing how much you care about real, existing women.

So please antis, take a hint, and just shut up.

I Rally for Reproductive Rights Because…

We have written about the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights this coming Saturday, November 2, a couple of times this past month. We are excited that so many groups are coming together to make Kentucky voices heard.

Fml wrote an article last week that details the four key points of reproductive rights the ralliers want to focus on with speeches, stories, signs and our presence in Frankfort. They are:

  1. Comprehensive Sex Education

  2. Contraception Access

  3. Access to Abortion Services

  4. Family Support Services

As part of the preparation for the rally, there have been photos made of supporters holding a white board. The beginning statement of the white board is “I rally for reproductive rights because…” and the person being photographed completes the sentence in their own words. You can see them here

They are powerful statements and I wish I could have added my photo to those gathered. A concise ending to the sentence escaped me every time I tried to compose one. My problem was I couldn’t focus on just one of the four points that was more important to me, or distill the experience of a lifetime into one sentence.

Of course, I am making it more difficult than it needs to be. I could have used four white boards. However, I have found myself thinking about the four points more and more as we approach the rally date. All four points have and do touch my life in many ways.

You would think because I escort that point 3 would be the natural point for me to write a statement. Then I think about point 4 and the need for family support for parents of children already here. Then I think about point 1 and what I want for my friends and family members. Then I think about point 2 and how it relates to point 3. Then I think about point 4…and the circle goes around in my mind.

In the end, I decided to support all of the statements others have written.

How would you complete your white board? What is your main focus? (Send your own white board photos via email to info@kyroadrally.org)

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

It’s Not a Contest

Recently, I was up near the clinic doors when a woman and her companion came rushing out, looking distressed.  As they pass me, I say “Want some company going back?” thinking that they’re headed to their car.

The woman says, “I just need a test to prove I’m pregnant!!  That’s all!  Just a test to prove I’m pregnant!”

That makes me laugh, and I point them toward the right place… but notice how I, once again, refrain from trying to talk her out of going through with the pregnancy?   Just like I don’t go to Babies R Us and approach people to ask if they’ve “considered having an abortion instead.”  Nope, I just don’t do it.

Donna and Angela meet the non-client at the door to the anti-clinic and welcome her as if she has just escaped the bowels of hell, which cracks me up too.  You would think we had escort-chasers trying to talk her out of leaving.

But I think that’s how the protesters see it.  For sure, they consider it a victory anytime someone comes out of the clinic – and that makes sense.   Well, unless the person leaving never intended to get an abortion.  Or they discovered they didn’t have their ID’s and had to reschedule.  I’m not sure the antis “get points” for that, but in their minds they do, and that’s fine.

But it annoys me that the protesters seem to think the escorts are disappointed when somoene leaves the clinic.  The antis are welcome to think that means they’ve “won one,” but we have not “lost one.”

Of course, if you’re pro-access, you already knew that.  You already know it’s not about wanting women to get abortions – it’s about wanting people to make the decision that’s right for them.

More importantly, the real *contest* is not on the sidewalk outside the clinic.  It’s in the state legislature.  That’s what counts.

And it’s not just about abortion.   Reproductive rights include the right to have children, to not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments.

In Kentucky, we have an opportunity to express our support for reproductive rights now.  We don’t want to wait until onerous new laws have been passed or beneficial new laws not considered.  On Saturday, November 2nd, we will rally in Frankfort to let our legislators know what we want.

That morning, Saturday, November 2nd, reproductive rights supporters from across the state will meet in their locales to decorate cars for the rolling rally, traveling as a caravan into Frankfort to meetup with like-minded Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth. Following the rally, there will be a tailgating celebration where rally participants can learn more about supporting organizations, like the Kentucky Religous Coalition for Reproductive Choice (KRCRC), the ACLU of Kentucky, The A Fund, and the Louisville Clinic Escorts.

We have four points of focus:

  • Comprehensive Sex Education

In Kentucky, bills mandating that public schools teach comprehensive sexual education that is medically accurate and age appropriate have been introduced in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but did not get out of committee.  Our kids deserve accurate information.

  • Contraception Access

In Kentucky, a bill to allow pharmacists to refuse to provide birth control was introduced in 2013, but did not get a committee hearing.  However, recent  hospital mergers have made  family planning services more difficult, as many hospitals are now Catholic-affiliated, particularly impacting rural areas that are already underserved.  Our families deserve access to family planning.

  • Access to Abortion Services

In Kentucky, bills that would require transvaginal ultrasounds and 24 hour in person counseling have been introduced every year for the last five years, but have not passed.   Only two of the 120 counties have an abortion provider, and 77% of Kentucky women live outside those two counties..  Kentuckians deserve access to a full range of reproductive health care.

  • Family Support Services

The Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) is just one of many programs that provide support to families facing economic challenges.  Support for programs such as this one is essential because Kentucky families deserve support to raise healthy children in a supportive environment.

So we’re all getting excited about the rally – and I thought I’d show you some of our preparations.

(transcript at end of article)

And one of the escorts has already got some posters ready:

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And they asked me to emcee the rally!  So I’m working on a (short) “Welcome to the rally” speech, trying not to be nervous, and hoping to see you there!

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Are you coming with us? Head over to the Events page or the website to sign up.  Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally

Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

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Transcript of video:

I’m Sassy. And I’m a feminist. And no gynotician is going to tell me what to do with my vagina.

Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.

That’s why I’m going to the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights on November 2nd.

I’m going to make signs.

I’m going to decorate my car.

And I’m going to tell those Frankfort politicians – stick to your day jobs.

Hi, I’m Temperence, Sassy’s twin sister. In preparation for the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights, I agreed to make some cute little signs, and I wanted to share my tips with you.

First, you’ll need some posterboard. You’ll want to get the crispest, cleanest  posterboard you can find so that your message will be more easily read by the politicians who are overreaching their bounds.

Secondly, round up some paint, markers, crayons, stickers, glitter…anything you think you may need to create your message of maintaining reproductive freedoms in the Commonwealth.

Brainstorm what you might want your poster to say. There are some great suggestions on the FAQ page of the Kentucky Road Rally’s website; go to kyroadrally.org.

Once you’ve settled on a message, take a moment to consider how it will best fit on your posterboard.

Then, carefully write your message on your posterboard, taking time to add special embellishments.

Once you’re done, you’re ready to roll out to Frankfort to tell our elected officials:

Kentucky families deserve better..

I’m Temperence, and I’ll see you on the Capitol steps, November 2nd.

More Press

Check this out ~ Access Denied ~  is on the cover of the LEO Weekly.  The LEO is a local newspaper – the Louisville Eccentric Observer.

Joe Sonka, who wrote the article, does a great job exploring and summarizing the state of abortion access in Kentucky.  As one small part of the process, he spent some time on the sidewalk, talking to antis and taking pictures, and had breakfast with us escorts a couple of Saturday mornings.

So I recommend the whole article, but I admit, this is my favorite part:

A woman named Mary — infamous among the regular escorts as the most violent and hateful chaser — shoves her way in between a client and an escort, then feigns indignation, “Give the client some space!” The client shakes her head with a mix of amusement and disgust.

It’s satisfying and fascinating to see our own stories told in print by someone else – and if you’ve read our blog for a while, you’ve already heard some Mary-stories too.

In the meantime, many of us are super busy getting ready for the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights.  Only three more weeks until Saturday, November 2nd  when we will roll into Frankfort to rally on the Capitol steps at 1:00 PM.

We invite you to join us – register to attend the rally or make a financial contribution here , like our Facebook page, and or Twitter feed, twitter.com/kyroadrally. Tweet with hashtag #kyr4.

And now I’m off to the clinic for another Saturday morning…

A Nuanced Approach

In the conflict surrounding the right to access abortion as part of reproductive health, we and the antis tend to stand at opposite ends of the spectrum ~ whatever the spectrum is.   You know, they say “never,” we say “Anytime.”  If they say “Murder,” we say  “Health care…”  and of course we’re right, I’m not saying we’re wrong, but…

The ever-widening gap in our thinking is probably not so helpful.  I don’t want to end up like the antis on the sidewalk.

The other day, a companion tried to explain to Mary that the client almost died during the birth of their last child, that the baby had barely survived, that the doctors said she couldn’t survive another pregnancy.   Mary’s response was “Have you thought about adoption??”

Seriously.  The risk of being an extremist is that you lose touch with reality and can’t hear anything except what you want to hear.

So when the antis rant at the clients, “Don’t do it~ you’ll be sorry ~ you’ll regret it the rest of your life ~ you’ll never get over it…”  I say, “Most women experience relief and happiness after abortion.”

Notice I say, “most” because that’s not everyone’s experience.  Some women do experience regret and sadness and may or may not carry that sadness for a long time.  Some of them end up on the anti side of the sidewalk, trying to deal with their own pain by telling their story over and over.  They don’t actually wear sackcloth and ashes, but the principle is the same.

As a therapist (yeah, mental health) I am more interested in the people who don’t do so well than I am in the ones who are happy and relieved.  And that’s what today’s post was going to be about.

Only I didn’t finish the reading I need to do for it yet.  Much less finish writing it.

Yeah.

So this is an advertisement for coming features.  Sorry.  Stay tuned.

A Network of Support

In my last post, I mentioned a particular time when I was walking the gauntlet at the clinic – the rows of pray-ers who line the sidewalk, saying the rosary, singing, and yelling at clients as they come through.   It was a couple of years ago now, but the memory is vivid.

As I passed through them ~ men, women, and children ~ I suddenly knew that some of them wanted to hurt me.  I felt a visceral awareness of the waves of anger and hatred rolling off some of them, directed toward me.  They could easily have become an angry mob, throwing stones at me.

It was strange and oddly chilling.  Very powerful.  I don’t think about it often, but when I do, I can feel it again.

But the other night, I had an opposite experience.

Really, it started months ago.  Servalbear and I were talking about states that just have one clinic and what it would be like if they really do close the last clinic in a state.  I said, “What would we do if they closed the clinic here?”

Servalbear looked at me kind of funny, as if she were surprised I’d ask.   “We’d drive them to a clinic somewhere else,” she said. “Indianapolis, Cincinnati…”

I thought, “well, duh, we already have a network of people helping with transportation locally.  If the clinic closed, instead of escorting, I guess I’d drive people.”

Then Saturday night, I was reading articles from Facebook ~ something I do way too often ~ some for pleasure, some not-so-much.  I read this one from The Daily Beast, entitled “Blue States Buck Abortion Trend.”  It’s well worth reading.

I already knew that some of the more liberal states have been increasing access to abortion.   The article notes that California recognizes that

… one doesn’t need high-level surgical skills to administer a pill or perform a one-minute vacuum-aspiration abortion, lawmakers in the state have passed a bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign, that would allow midwives, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants to perform first-trimester abortions after taking a training course in how to do them

I knew that, but hadn’t really thought about what it meant.  The article points out that:

While the abortion-clinic model of care initially arose to make women’s lives easier as a one-stop shop for a rare procedure, the existence of stand-alone clinics has made them sitting-duck targets for restrictive laws. Part of what “sells” the claim that abortion clinics need to meet ambulatory-surgical-center standards and have hospital-admitting privileges—two regulations that are being used to shut down clinics—is this widespread but utterly false belief that abortion is an intense and dangerous surgery. Allowing a nurse practitioner or a midwife to offer abortion services would drive home the reality that first-trimester abortion really is a relatively minor medical procedure that hardly merits the term “surgery,” especially in cases where it’s just a matter of taking a pill. This move could also help lower the price of an abortion, much in the same way these types of providers offer a bevy of more affordable care.

They go on to say:

In general, the West Coast is trending toward decentralizing abortion and making it as widely available as possible. Oregon has no abortion restrictions—it treats abortion as it should be treated, as just another medical service—and Washington is now requiring all public hospitalsto provide abortions. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t do much to reduce the cost, but the move does help spread the message that there’s nothing about an abortion that requires it to happen only at a specialized abortion clinic.

Then there’s this:

Of course, beefing up access in blue states to make up for the shortfall in red states isn’t enough—not everyone can afford to travel across state lines and not every red state is bordered by a more sexually liberated state. Doctors have been experimenting with one strategy to help for women in far-flung areas: prescribing the abortion pill remotely via phone or Internet and advising the patient on how to use it correctly.

This potential loophole, which would allow women all over the country to get a safe abortion, has anti-choicers in a panic. Eleven states have already passed laws requiring a doctor to be present when a woman takes the abortion pill, a measure clearly designed to keep doctors from using this strategy to help women in need.

And I thought “OH!!  THAT’S why they’re passing those laws in the anti-abortion states!  No wonder they’re so adamant about it!”

At the same time, I felt a tremendous sense of connectedness with the people across the country who are working to ensure that abortion services are available ~ at least somewhere.

I thought, some of that is just business sense, right?  We know that women who are able to will travel great distances to get an abortion if they can’t get one near home.  Look at the Irish people, who have to go to England.   So if you’re an abortion provider in California or Washington State, and states around you are shutting down access, of course you need to be able to provide for the people who will be crossing state lines seeking help.

But I also had this feeling.  It was the opposite of what I felt on the sidewalk, the opposite of the hate rolling off the protesters in waves.  It was as if I could see the network of support instead, stretching across state lines, across the country,

I felt the connection, myself as part of that network, providing support however we need to.  Affirming each other, supporting access, providing space and opportunity for people to be empowered.

I hate that we need the network.  The things that are happening in states that limit access are wrong, and people will suffer because of it.  But I’m glad the network of support is there, and being strengthened.

I’m glad I’m part of it.

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.

Saturday Stories ~ by KYCat

As I stood this past weekend with my fellow escorts, I lost myself in thought among the surrounding swirl of antis. I had just put in a 12-hour shift at work and was content to stand the property line quietly instead of my normal routine of greeting clients in the $3 parking lot and explaining who we are and what to expect as they walked to their appointment.

Saturday is a busier protester day than the normal weekday I escort. That said, I got to thinking as I watched the antis approach clients and their companions with all sorts of props, literature and even children they bring along with them.  These women coming here for an appointment are someone’s daughter, sister, aunt, wife, girlfriend or mother. How dare they harass them with their own baggage and beliefs?

Even when asked to ‘Please leave me alone’ they persist. The physical trailing, shoving pamphlets into their hands, and waving four-foot tall posters around may end at the property line, but some feel the need to shout comments and condemnation at them as they enter the clinic. The words are meant to shame, humiliate and hurt, not to help.

Research by the Guttmacher Institute has found that over half of all pregnancies to women in the US are unplanned. Four in ten of those pregnancies will be aborted. That’s about one out of every three women of childbearing age who will have an abortion sometime in their lifetime.

Dr Susan Wicklund  in “This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor” shares her life amid the pressures of providing this much needed service for women from all walks of life. She brings readers into the core of this issue with stories about women and the reasons they have chosen abortion. This is not a good vs evil thing that it has been made out to be. There are many shades of gray. One-third of the women you know, or perhaps yourself, will have an abortion. None of them fall into the ‘evil’, ‘sinful’ or whatever label  the antis want to use that day.

It’s not just the protesters outside the clinics that are making it difficult for women to access a basic constitutional right to control their reproductive rights, their bodies, and their destinies. It is restrictive laws that must be followed to the letter passed by anti-choice government officials, the lack of providers willing to offer this service and oftentimes a lack of funds and transportation to have an abortion. Some women will have to travel hundreds of miles for a basic outpatient medical procedure.

The harassment is most in your face on the sidewalk, but it is most dangerous in the government and laws that have been passed recently putting yet more of an emotional and logistical burden on someone who with all the information (and crafty misinformation) out there has decided on the best choice for them.

Would we stand for this so quietly on any other issue? Would we discriminate against a full one-third of the population on any other issue? Would we be ready to stigmatize our friends, our relatives, our co workers, or ourselves on any other issue?

(Example of sidewalk preaching on the property line.  Escort in tan pants and anti in jeans.)

As I stood there that morning listening to a man yell and preach who has never felt the dread of a late period, or held their breath for the agonizing few minutes it takes for an over-the-counter pregnancy test to register, I wonder how he would feel if it was one of the women in his life that venom was being spewed at.  I am sure that if I had asked the answer would have been, ‘None of the women in my life would do such an evil thing.’ Think again, Sir. One in three women do and I bet you know a few. Maybe they are too afraid of being judged, shunned, or lectured by you. You would not stand for someone to treat the people in your life so badly. Why then do you see no problem treating others that way?

After the clients were in for the day, I went across the street to the sandwich shop to get a drink before heading home.  Assembled there that morning where busloads of children and young people from a bible camp a few hours away. They had come to meet with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and the group Catholics in Action.*  They were taking a stand against abortion.  I am sure that was not the ideal way many of them wanted to spend a Saturday; on a field trip to stand downtown in the heat.

Many of them glared at me as I proudly wore my orange escort vest and made my way through the mass of bodies to the shop. I wondered, how many of those standing there that day would I walk with one day in the future, while quietly assuring them that what may seem like the longest walk ever would be just a few more steps to the door? I left that morning hoping safe, legal access would still be a choice for them if they wanted it.

One in three.  I hope they will come to understand how very important this is for so many of us. We are not evil, we are not dammed to hell, we are not outcasts from the righteous and pure. We are human.  We are women. And we do know what is best for us.

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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.