ACLU Challenges Kentucky Ban on Abortion Method – UPDATE: Law BLOCKED

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“We’re suing Kentucky yet again — this time to stop state politicians from banning a safe abortion method,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law disregards a woman’s health and decisions in favor of a narrow ideological agenda….Kentucky politicians have already shut down all but one abortion clinic in our state,” said Michael Aldridge, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky. “Now they want to invade the exam room and stop doctors from providing safe, quality care. It’s shameless, insulting, and dangerous.”

https://www.aclu-ky.org/en/news/aclu-challenges-kentucky-ban-abortion-method

ACLU update: 4/13/18

Available for immediate release.  Under a Joint Consent Order, Kentucky’s new D&E Abortion Ban (HB454) is blocked from enforcement.

A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for June 5, 2018.

A copy of the Joint Consent Order can be found here:

https://www.aclu-ky.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/joint_agreed_order_hb454.pdf

In an attempt to clarify any confusion, please note that we received a copy of the signed order from the court this afternoon, though it appears from the time stamp on the document it was filed after business hours last night.

A statement on the Joint Consent Order from ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project senior staff attorney Andrew Beck can be found on our website:  https://www.aclu-ky.org/en/news/new-abortion-law-blocked-enforcement

More about this case can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/cases/emw-womens-surgical-center-v-beshear-ban-safe-abortion-procedure

 

Another unconstitutional law, and how YOU can make a difference

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As I write this, the D&E ban sits, unsigned, on the desk of our punishing Governor.

According to ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project staff, the law will automatically take effect tomorrow, Tuesday April 10th, 2018. This law will ban the safest form of abortion in the second trimester, while already having been struck down in multiple states. It is not based on scientific or medical recommendations.

We are not surprised, nor are we ignorant of the motives behind this law. It is yet another step in restricting access to safe and legal care for individuals who are perfectly capable of deciding if, when, and how to create or grow their families.

The impact of this law will be that people from all over Kentucky, plus surrounding states throughout the region who would have traveled for care at EMW will be forced to either travel farther (which will have additional increased costs for transportation, lodging, childcare, time off work, etc) or they will be forced to go without care, or take other – potentially harmful measures.

Since Matt Bevin took office, google searches for phrases like “how to self abort” and “home abortion” have been on the rise in Kentucky. Abortions will happen despite legal restrictions. They will just become less safe.

So, what can you do?

Stay tuned, as the ACLU will be taking our state government to court yet again (this will make the forth case in litigation during Bevin’s term) and also DONATE to both the ACLU and Kentucky Health Justice Network, whose Abortion Support Fund will continue supporting Kentuckians even if they have to travel as far as Illinois, Colorado, New Mexico, or Washington DC for care – act fast and your donation to KHJN will be matched by generous sponsors!!

Find out more about the National Network of Abortion FundsBowlathon campaign by clicking the links here and following #bowl18. Here is a message from KHJN’s Support Fund Director –

Hello!
As you know, I am very passionate about Reproductive Justice, and am fully committed to abortion access in KY, particularly with additional restrictions currently coming out of Frankfort.

KHJN is nearing the home stretch in our spring Dance-a-thon campaign, which benefits all of our programs, supporting access to birth control, abortion, and gender affirming care for folks facing barriers.

My program, the Abortion Support Fund has seen a drastic increase in calls since the GOP took control in Frankfort and closed the Lexington EMW clinic, blocked Planned Parenthood from providing abortion care, and continually chip away at access while attempting to close the only clinic left in the Commonwealth, EMW in Louisville.

We will continue to offer funding, transportation, lodging, language, and childcare assistance to our callers, even if we have to accompany them to other states.

Can you help us reach our current goal of raising $30,000 by the end of this month? Please follow this link, and share this message in your networks. All donations are tax deductible and secure. If you would rather donate offline, just let me know!

Even small contributions make a difference for our callers. Bowl.NNAF.org/KHJN

KHJN BAT FB cover - Dance-a-Thon

SPRING FORWARD, FALL BACK

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Guest post by Crystal Balls

Every client is brought to the clinic by choices she made or was denied.
I got married and had kids very young – my twins were born when I was 19 years old and 17 months later I was pregnant again. The second pregnancy gave me the resolve I needed to escape from my 32 year old husband, and I left him soon after I found out. Like many states, KY denies divorces to pregnant women, so I was to remain legally married until after the birth of my son.
With two babies in tow and expecting my third, I moved in with my parents and enrolled in a welfare program that helped single mothers go to college. I aspired to provide a stable life for my children, so I asked my doctor to do a tubal ligation once my son was born. I knew I couldn’t handle a fourth child. I wanted to get educated, get a career, get off welfare, and get my own house. I was trying to be responsible.
Because I was so young, the physician denied my request. Sterilization in the spring of my reproductive years, he explained, left too many opportunities for regret. I countered that my spring had been as productive as I could tolerate and I was facing three decades of managing my fertility on a pass/fail basis. Pregnancy had taken a toll on my health and I didn’t want to subject my body to another one. He said I would never find a physician to perform the procedure on a woman my age, especially a woman on Medicaid. He was right.
My birth control failed ten years later and I got pregnant. A lot had changed in that decade. I had graduated from college, bought a house, and was working full time as a registered nurse. I had friends. My kids and I were living our lives with all the stability our hearts could muster. The spring of my reproductive years was certainly over—at the age of 31, summer was closing in on autumn. Despite my improved circumstances, or perhaps because of them, I hadn’t changed my mind: I didn’t want a fourth child, and I couldn’t endure another sickly pregnancy.
My two best friends shielded me from the antis screaming other options at me. Abortion wasn’t my first choice of birth control. My first choice had been refused by a medical community that would rather empower me to produce a fourth child on the taxpayer’s dime, just like my divorce had been delayed by a legal community that felt entitled to make me stay married. I was too preoccupied with the challenges of daily life to notice then, but eventually I recognized the barriers that surrounded my divorce, my tubal ligation, and my abortion as institutional attempts to control the fates of pregnant women. To this day, at the age of 48 and in the winter of my reproductive life, that realization inspires me to spend one Saturday a month at EMW.
Like I said, people are brought to the clinic by choices they made or were denied.

3/10 is Abortion Provider Appreciation Day!!

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With just one clinic in Kentucky, which is under threat of closure by the state and violent extremists, we recognize how important the work of abortion providers is. Even at this moment, Kentucky legislators continue to attack our rights and chip away at autonomy, putting families at risk.

This week (and every day) we want to shout THANK YOU from the roof tops to all the doctors, nurses, administrators, counselors, and building maintenance staff that make sure #EMWStaysOpen!

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Abortion providers help ensure that we have the ability to choose when and whether we create families. In today’s hostile climate, they need our love as much as ever! Join us in sending some love to our local staff at EMW by writing them a virtual postcard today! We will deliver your supportive messages to EMW staff this week! Submit messages as comments on the facebook event, this blog post, or email your messages to everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com.

Download shareable images from the National Network of Abortion Funds, and follow or join the tweet storm this week at #CelebrateAbortionProviders!

Dear Metro Council

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Last week, we blogged about a resolution which was being sponsored by Louisville Metro Council members Engle, Kramer, and Parker. The resolution would give the blessing of our local Metro Government to a bill being discussed in Legislative bodies in Frankfort this session. HB103 would place medically unnecessary requirements on medical professionals and their patients.

Before I share the letter I penned to Louisville Metro Council members opposing the resolution and HB103, I want to highlight another bill that has been filed in Frankfort this session. If it sounds off the wall to you, consider why Rep Marzian would file this bill:

HB 234 (BR 984) – M. Marzian

    AN ACT relating to medical and nursing schools.

    Create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 to require all medical and nursing schools established and assisted financially by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to cease all training of any health care providers and the provision of any health care services; require all medical and nursing schools to refer citizens who are requesting advice or health care services to their state representative or state senator.

Here is my response to the resolution supporting HB103, which for now has been taken off the Government Oversight Committee’s calendar. This letter was intended for each Metro Council Person to be delivered prior to the committee hearing. 

Dear Louisville Metro Council Person;

I write as a resident of District 6, a voter, and a passionate advocate for freedom and bodily autonomy.

I write to express my deep concern for the resolution sponsored by representatives from districts 22, 11, and 18, which aimed to endorse House Bill 103, placing additional requirements on patients seeking reproductive care, and the medical staff providing them that care.

In 2017, the Kentucky Legislature passed a similar law, known as the “Narrated Ultrasound Law” which required medical staff to verbally describe an ultrasound image to a patient, prior to terminating a pregnancy. This was one of several efforts by the state to restrict access to legal care while shaming individuals and families. While ultrasounds are commonly performed to determine size and location of a pregnancy, these laws place medically unnecessary punishments in the path of patients, and licensed medical professionals.

Since the passage of the 2017 law, a federal district court has found that law to be unconstitutional. Despite that, our legislature seems determined to leverage their power – at the expense of taxpayers – to continue restricting access to abortion care, and bodily autonomy. In addition to appealing the ruling mentioned above, lawmakers are also attempting to pass HB103 which closely resembles that unconstitutional law. HB103 is only different in that instead of requiring the provider to verbally describe the ultrasound image to the patient (while granting permission for them to close or avert their eyes or cover their ears – which is demeaning, insulting, and patronizing at best), this equally unconstitutional bill requires the patient be given a written description of the ultrasound.

To me, this requirement is eerily similar to behaviors seen on the sidewalk outside of clinics nationwide. In Louisville extremists force their opinions, literature, and physical bodies at individuals seeking care, without their consent. One way that HB103’s attempt at reproductive coercion mirrors the action of dangerous extremists is a complete disregard for whether or not the information being forced on patients is thought to be helpful, or desired by those individuals.

HB103 and similar laws require providers to deliver unnecessary information to their patients, even if they verbally decline. On the sidewalk outside of EMW in Louisville, individuals are forced to endure verbal (sometimes amplified) harassment, physical threats and assault, plus gruesome inaccurate images despite clear requests to be left alone. Considering what patients go through just to get to the clinic, the idea of legislative bodies forcing medical staff to perform unnecessary and undesired actions on their patients is deeply troubling.

In 1973 the US Supreme Court clearly ruled that decisions about one’s reproductive care are to be made by a patient with support from their care providers. Since then, states have erected restrictions designed to make access as challenging as possible. I find this unacceptable, and for Metro Council to be hesitant to put public safety measures in place outside our Commonwealth’s only clinic, while simultaneously endorsing additional restrictions on access is beyond disappointing.

Attached please find the results of a recent study by the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), which examined and scored 40 cities based on 37 indicators in the areas of reproductive health, rights, and justice. Our “Compassionate City” scored 1.5 out of 5 stars, not just due to barriers to abortion access, but also for lacking in areas such as protections for pregnant people, and working parents. I believe Metro Government could do a lot to improve our score in this well researched study. I know that passing a resolution in support of further punishing people seeking reproductive care is not moving in the right direction. When NIRH released their findings last Fall, they kindly created a Model City blueprint to highlight the ways in which truly compassionate cities can step up and take care of their citizens. Please take a look at the Model City profile and think critically about what kind of city we are creating for current and future residents, and how we might improve the expereinces of those individuals and families who call Louisville home.

Sincerely,

Resident of D6

Louisville KY

Final scorecard

Scream

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There were nearly 100 protestors on the sidewalk outside EMW. There were the Catholics praying in parallel lines at the entrance. There were the Immanuel Baptist Church “sidewalk counselors” who wear green safety vests in order to look like volunteers with the clinic. There was the Kentucky Mountain Bible College bus that unloaded a dozen students and faculty members along with dozens of graphic fetus signs. There was an international film crew. There were two anti-choice film crews, one of which was live-streaming patients’ faces as they entered the clinic. There was KY OSA (who use the name P82). There was the sound system they used to preach at 100db for an hour and a half. There were their children they use to hold graphic signs with a doctor’s photo, block the sidewalk, and scream at patients. There was chaos.

This is the gauntlet that every patient of EMW has to walk through to seek safe, legal healthcare. It could be any morning because protestors in those numbers happen frequently.

An escort let us know that an extremely scared patient would soon be pulling up to the drop-off zone. Several of us gathered to meet them. From where we stood, the patient would need to walk only 15 feet to reach the clinic doors, but those are the loudest, most chaotic, and violent 15 feet patients face. When the patient stepped out of the passenger side door, face completely wrapped in a scarf or shirt, the companion wrapped an arm around them to guide them behind the escorts. A street preacher tried to block us from entering the sidewalk using his body and a 4’x 3’ sign. I put my body against his sign to create space for the patient.

Halfway through this 15 foot gauntlet, the patient started screaming. No words; just full-throated terror. The scarf muffled the cry somewhat, but the pain and fright were unmistakable.

I’ve never heard anything like that in my life. I’ve never heard a cry of someone in that much pain. It completely shook me.

And the kicker? The city could help. That 15-foot gauntlet is where a federal judge placed a temporary safety zone last summer when OSA held it’s national convention. The Louisville Metro Council needs to install a permanent safety zone in that space. It would give patients a small amount of space they could walk without being physically harassed.

There is not currently a safety zone proposal working through the Metro Council. What does exist is a resolution put forth by GOP Council members Engel, Kramer, and Parker to support HB 103, a fetal ultrasound bill currently in the Kentucky legislature. This bill would force doctors to perform an ultrasound and provide a written description of the results. Engel, Kramer, Parker, and any Metro Council member who votes with them support extending the harassment of patients on the sidewalk into the clinic.

The Council meets on February 27 to vote on this resolution. Call or write your council member today to oppose the resolution in support of HB 103. Additionally, you can attend the meeting on the 27 in person. Wear orange or pink to show your support for abortion access.

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Sidewalk Snippet 2/15/18

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This morning at the clinic we had a German-based documentary crew complete with camera.28171035_1807159309317514_1145647224_o

To those journalists, and anyone else putting their “reporting” over the experience of patients and their companions:

Our Media Policy states that escorts will not do interviews on sidewalk. Our focus is the clients not your documentary.

We asked that you not film people going to the doctor. Your response was “we will blur the faces”.

You do not see it through a client’s eyes. They turn the corner to walk down the street and mobbed by protesters trying to hand them pamphlets, steer them into the CPC and they see you with a big camera.

It’s frightening to many clients to see this, and the promise to blur faces is not comforting to someone whose family and neighbors will recognize them by their shoes (regardless of who your intended audience is).

But I guess let no ethics or compassion get in the way of dramatic journalism.

Doctor, Patient……and Politician

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Once again, our socially conservative state and local government are testing to see what sticks to the wall regarding how patients and doctors interact and how reproductive medical care is delivered in the state of Kentucky.

Currently Kentucky is in the midst of yet another attempt by politicians to legislate how doctors talk to their patients.
According to Guttmacher (https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/counseling-and-waiting-periods-abortion), in Kentucky, people wanting to obtain an abortion are given counseling as well as offered materials about abortion. People are given specific descriptions of the procedure as well as the gestational age of the fetus. Doctors currently use an ultrasound to determine these facts.
Politicans say that this is not enough information for a patient, and that they want to force doctors to show the patient the ultrasound (they can close their eyes if they don’t want to see it) and force a patient to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus (they can close their ears with their fingers if they don’t want to hear it.) And yes, that is written into the language of the bill (Link Here http://www.lrc.ky.gov/recorddocuments/bill/18RS/HB103/bill.pdf)
Not only does this insert a politician into the relationship between a doctor and a patient, it is also the worst kind of paternalism. Patients know what they are doing when they access abortion care. Doctors currently make them aware of the details of the procedure and aftercare, and they still want the procedure. The purpose of this bill is to shame the patients about their own medical choices and force doctors to do non-medically necessary procedures on a patient.
In an attempt to bolster this bill, three Louisville City Councilpersons have put forth a resolution that Louisville Metro Council will support HB 103 with a rubber stamp. So not only do they want to include the Kentucky State Legislature in a doctor/patient relationship, they want to include Louisville Metro Council in it as well. The Louisville Metro Council is going to be voting on this rubber stamp February 15, 2018.
This bill is wholly inappropriate and under-minds patients and medically trained professions that as a baseline want their patients informed and confident. This bill does nothing to that end.
Please call your Louisville Metro Council Person and voice your opinion on this resolution

Sidewalk Snippet, 1/20/2018

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This time of year can be rough at the clinic. Escorts show up at odd, non-escorting hours to shovel snow and spread salt at the clinic entrance and as much of the sidewalk as we can manage. We clutch cups of coffee, stamp our feet, and go through countless hand and toe warmers while on the sidewalk for anywhere from one to two hours, oftentimes standing still. But if it’s cold, it’s also generally quieter – antis don’t want to be out in it any more than anybody else does.

Today warmed up a bit compared to our most recent Saturdays, though, and we unfortunately had plenty of energetic antis.

Our local extremist group had a number of copies of the “Lesser Magistrate Doctrine” with them, attempting to persuade members of LMPD to accept them.

The large standing speakers were rolled out, significantly obstructing a portion of the sidewalk when combined with the chairs, strollers, and large signs brought by the antis, and reached in excess of 100 decibels at various times throughout the morning…

… Which was enough to bring one guest staying at Aloft hotel, more than a block away, over to complain to both LMPD and the antis about the noise having woken her early. She wasn’t too happy.

Follow-Up: Dan Johnson and the Abolition of Abortion in KY Act

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It’s only been 2 months since State Representative Dan Johnson pre-filed the Abolition of  Abortion in KY Act. We wrote about it here.

Just this morning, a 5-part investigative series on Dan Johnson’s past criminality and many outrageous claims was posted at http://longcon.kycir.org. (Content warning: sexual assault). As it happens, the “Pope” of Heart of Fire Church has a 30 year criminal record (including alleged sexual abuse, arson, and illegal liquor sales) and a history of unverifiable, fantastical claims, up to and including the raising of the dead. Johnson’s outrageous claims include setting up a makeshift morgue at Ground Zero on 9/11 since he just happened to be visiting NYC at the time.

On October 28, 2017, Operation Save America figure and head of Apologia Studios, Jeff Durbin, visited Louisville. While in town, Durbin conducted at least 2 separate interviews with Johnson. One interview was outside EMW Women’s Surgical Center and the other was a sit-down interview filmed in a different location. Durbin introduced Johnson on Next Week, his “late night” interview show saying, “He’s bold, he knows the truth, and he knows how we need to go about ending abortion in the states.”
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During the interview, Durbin brings up 9/11. “There’s a 9/11 everyday” and Johnson concurs. Johnson then uses his “first responder” status to justify ending safe, legal abortion:

“Of course being there when all that happened, I watched that happen. I was the chaplain. I did last rites and blessings for everyone out of the towers. And the thing that I live with, and this is the realness… And through the aftermath and the months following…” (Johnson begins tearing up) “…they would use tarps and they would gather up pieces of bodies and parts and what was literally like mush. Most of that had been shoveled up. In these tarps maybe 10, 15, could be 20 people. Pieces and parts of mush. I believe there’s some things that are so so horrid, that humans should never see it. And what was sometimes just floating around in the bottom of the tarp, with big fireman carrying out of what was now known as Ground Zero—this is what I thought about then and there—this is abortion. And you could see hands and fingers, sometimes breasts, parts of bodies, faces in this muck, if you will, of human carnage. Mothers and fathers should never have to see that. I have children, like that young girl. But you know what, maybe there’s a mother out there listening. Maybe there’s a father who knows there’s a child coming. We think about the terrorist attack and we think about horrible bin Laden and the terrorists who brought this about. However you view that, but would you do that to your child?”05E848AA-DE74-4A29-8369-900A152349DC

In a different section of this interview, Johnson says, “This generation is the generation that’s saying why. We’re about to uncover a lot of things that have been covered up for a long time. The reasons for it had to do with people’s own self-interest…” Johnson was talking about an end to abortion, but he may as well have been speaking about his hidden, sordid past. It’s been a long time coming, but Johnson’s status as a controversial lawmaker has dragged his past malfeasance into the light.