Shouting Fire in a Crowded Theater~by KY Born

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances”.-First Amendment of the United States Constitution

Isn’t the First Amendment great?  I have no desire to see it go away. However, like any idea, it can be corrupted just as it is currently being subtly corrupted by antis now.

It was the idea that the First Amendment was some sort of carte blanche that led to the Supreme Court ruling in 1919 known as Schenck v. United States where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes tried to give some clarity to what limits could constitutionally be placed by the government on personal expression in order to protect not only the rights of one person, but the rights of all citizens from the actions of one to impede their freedoms. I have purposefully bolded “by the government” because many people seem to think that private entities like Facebook, Twitter, Target or private citizens’ blogs have some obligation to allow whoever and whatever to be published on their websites, or posted on their private property as part of the First Amendment. This simply isn’t true. Perhaps the most famous quote to come from this ruling is, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

The problem comes that antis are no longer just committing occasional violations or giant violations that make the news, but are committing ever-increasing and bolder violations while still remaining under most people’s radar. When challenged, they wrap themselves in the First Amendment because many local, state and federal officials hesitate to approach the line between “free speech” and “shouting fire.”

We all know about the big events that are used to terrorize women away from clinics so I want to talk about the smaller violations that are often overlooked, but still are used to terrorize women seeking healthcare. The line is crossed more easily than ever due to YouTube and access to internet postings that feature antis screaming that people are murderers, or post their picture and personal information all over the Internet.

Did you know in some locations antis erect ladders that totally block public sidewalks, forcing anybody who needs to use the sidewalks to access the clinic, or simply to pass through, to step around them? They do this so they can peer over fences to film people entering a medical facility, write down license plates and directly harass patients. This You Tube video was taken in Jackson, Mississippi, but happens at other clinics around the country every day.

The even more subtle, which I have witnessed myself, is the slow walking back and forth across driveway entrances, causing cars to slam on brakes in the middle of busy roads and potentially causing accidents. In some communities, the response from public officials is to call it the First Amendment and do nothing to stop it.

Another subtle way that anti organizations intimidate people and obstruct their right to terminate a pregnancy is through Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or similarly called organizations, that try to trick women out of getting abortions. Much has been written about them other places so I won’t repeat it other than to give people this advice about anyplace that claims to provide medical care:  If they do not give you a Notice of Privacy Practices (more commonly known as the HIPAA form) demand all of your personal information, any copies made and walk out. They are not a legitimate health care provider.

I don’t believe we need a lot more new laws, but we need the current laws enforced. None of this would be tolerated anywhere except outside a medical facility that provides abortion services, or at the homes of those who work there.

I guess this is my main point. I use this analogy frequently and I have self-named it the “ex-boyfriend rule.”  If you have already heard me say this feel free to skip over it, but my point is that if one of my ex-boyfriends chose to engage in any of above-mentioned actions under the guise of freedom of speech or religion, they would be served with a restraining order and likely criminal charges. If they and their gathered group of friends who also believe as they do, follow me, surround me on a public sidewalk, prevent me from walking on a public sidewalk, turning into a private driveway, erected a ladder on a public sidewalk to view my activities over a fence on private property, or provided information to people intent on causing me harm, they all would be subjected to restraining orders or criminal charges.

Garbage like this makes me wonder if the end of abortion will not come about from dramatic events like the overturning of Roe or a series of clinic bombings, but the slow, steady and repeated crossing of lines under the guise of “free speech” that is nothing more than shouting fire in a crowded theater.

I took the right to abortion for granted for years.

I will not make this mistake again. I hope you won’t either.


Pledge-A-Picketer – The Official Count!

Since the clinic was closed on Derby Day, which was also the day before Mother’s Day we decided to have the Pledge-A-Picketer target date on Saturday, June 18. This is the day before Father’s Day and is one of the days of the year we normally see more protesters at the clinic. The official count of protesters for the day is 45.

We did publish an article on the Every Saturday Morning blog when we launched the fundraiser with the information and why we were especially targeting the Sisters For Life annual fundraiser march to EMW Women’s Surgical Center. If you didn’t see it, here’s a link.  

This article was more successful than we ever imagined! The Sisters For Life changed their march to end at the new Planned Parenthood location in Louisville. That means all 46 of those marchers were not there to harass patients at EMW!

To us it was a definite win-win-win situation.

  1. The patients weren’t faced with large numbers of protesters and we still were able to raise funds.
  2. The 45 who turned up at the clinic were a far cry from the 300 who were there in 2010 or even the 108 who were there last year.  
  3. Their march was postponed long enough so that some of us were able to counter-protest at the Planned Parenthood site when they arrived.

We think this was a very successful year for the Pledge-A-Picketer campaign. We want to thank everyone who pledged and donated to help the volunteer escorts.

Our supporters make us strong!


Keeping Abortion Legal ~ by S.A.B.

In 1973, the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade determined that the current laws in place criminalizing abortions, except in the event that the mother’s life is at risk, is unconstitutional in regards to right to privacy. The attacks on women’s right to choose have not ceased. To kick off 2016, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed an informed consent bill into law. This bill, introduced by Republican Senator Julie Raque Adams forces women to have an information session about risks and alternatives with a medical professional 24 hours before the procedure.   “The importance of a face-to-face medical consultation prior to consenting to a surgical procedure is a widely accepted medical standard of care – and Kentucky woman deserve no less,” Raque said (Legislation Research Commission, 2015). A few months later, HEA 1337 moved through Indiana. This bill, authored by Republican representative Casey Cox, states that fetuses not carried to term, whether abortion or miscarriage, are required to be cremated or have a burial. Finally, and most recently, Oklahoma effectively banning abortions except in the case that the mother’s life is in danger. The bill however gives no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. The bill’s sponsor, Republican senator Nathan Dahm, said that the bill was to “protect life” (Chokshi, 2016). The doctors who do not abide run the risk of losing their medical licenses. This essay will examine the negative effects of the public sphere overlapping with the personal sphere. In this case, the public sphere refers to the government, the personal sphere refers to individual women, and the technical sphere includes medical professionals.

A mostly patriarchal government is constantly making strides to dictate women’s healthcare and the choices regarding her body. These legislations are frequently, if not always, rooted in Christian biblical principles. These bills ignore the diversity of our nation and directly attack a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. While Roe v. Wade made great strides for the rights of women, it still leaves much to be desired. The ruling still leaves room for government involvement. In the case of the first trimester, if the woman wants to get an abortion, the judgement rests with her physician. In the second trimester, the state’s interest is legitimate under the guise of having the mother’s best interest at heart. In the third trimester, the state can intervene on behalf of the “potential of human life” (Lewis, 2015). While Roe v. Wade isn’t perfect, it does legalize abortion. Republic lawmakers continue to rage against it, despite the legal commonplace of stare decisis. A woman’s body and any decisions involved should be that of the woman’s to make. Government or religious institutions do not need to be involved.

Common sense tells us that a person’s right to choose what they want for their life seems like a basic human right. While Republicans will be the first to dismiss gun regulation laws based on this notion, they don’t look at women’s health care in the same fashion. In fact, if we’re being honest, one could say that they don’t look at women as people at all, but rather incubators. If these pro-life supporters looked beyond their narrow minded interpretations of scriptures they would see that there are many reasons why their arguments do not hold water. Firstly, we can look at the Constitution, the document that Republicans love to rave about. The Constitution speaks to rights to privacy and bodily autonomy (Justia, 2016). The 14th amendment talks about protection under the laws and privacy rights, it was paramount in the decision of Roe v. Wade. The ninth amendment says that just because rights aren’t specifically granted in the constitution, doesn’t mean that they are denied to citizens either (Legal Information Institute, 2016). The first amendment also sets the separation of church and state in place. Pro-life supporters often use Christian principles as support for their anti-abortion arguments. “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb”—Jeremiah 1:5 and “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless, maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed”—excerpt from Psalm 82 ( are just a few of the favorites one can hear shouted from the sidewalks at abortion clinics. From my own personal experience escorting patients into the Louisville clinic, reductio ad absurdum is a frequent commonplace employed by the pro-life protestors. They make claims that range from religious, to accusations of murder, to telling black patients that the clinics are funded by the KKK. The scientifically incorrect anti-abortion propaganda with bloody fetuses frequently accompanies their belief that the unborn child is a person with rights. While there is no clear consensus of when life begins, in title 8 chapter 12 of the United States Code, citizens of the United States are considered this after birth. Each qualification listed stipulates that it is after a person is born (Legal Information Institute, 2016). But usually, if the Constitution doesn’t help the pro-lifers out, the next line of defense is that God’s law is the only law. Maybe the legislators have a hard time including women in what we call basic, human rights, because of the engendered language.

G.T Goodnight (1982) breaks up society into spheres which he defines as “branches of activity”.  The personal/private sphere is more individualized or only applies to the participants involved. The public is like society, transcending the private and technical, almost all encompassing. The technical sphere is less accessible to the general public because it is more specialized. He talks about sphere overlap as well, it is a regular occurrence. But it raises the question—how far is too far? In the instance of the abortion debate, we can see an overlap of the public sphere into the personal sphere. The public sphere also seems to be compromising the technical sphere, or completely ignoring it. As I stated before, the public sphere wishes to dictate the personal sphere in matters of women’s health care, namely abortion. These legislations are based in religious principle. A reasonable argument would be that both a woman’s choices and religion are both matters for the personal sphere. Women’s health care and options therein are a matter of the technical sphere. We could also talk about sphere dependence. Most rational people would accept doctor expertise. It takes a great deal of intelligence and effort to get an M.D. tacked on to the end of your name. But if we look at these fanatical pro-life groups, we will see that there is a distortion of the abortion procedure, the size of the fetus in reference to the time of termination, and the “repercussions” on the woman.

While abortion is currently legal, the status quo, for centuries, has been that women aren’t capable of making their own decisions. If we look back the early 1900s first wave feminism, we’ll see that women were denied basic legal rights, like voting. Women were not seen as fit to decide their public officers, if they attended college it was thought they were only seeking a husband and were not awarded a degree, they couldn’t own property or keep their children in the event of a failed marriage. There were no women’s clinics or educational material about pregnancy prevention. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was not pro-abortion by any means. In her book, “A Case for Birth Control”, she depicts several tragic deaths of impoverished women who had unsafe abortions (Sanger, 1917). Today the problem still persists. There is a stigma surrounding talking and being educated about sex. 37 states require sex education that includes abstinence. 26 state sex education programs emphasize abstinence alone (Beadle, 2012). We tell teens and adolescents drowning in hormones and observing our hypersexualized media that “not doing it” is the best way to go. Thankfully, as of this April, California ow offers birth control over the counter with the passing of Senate Bill 493 (Johnson, 2016).

The harms that will occur if we make abortion illegal are insurmountable. Many pro-life supporters argue that adoption is also an option. While it is, they fail to notice that as of 2013 the total number of children waiting to be adopted, whether foster care or orphanages, was just over 100,000 (Child Welfare, 2013). Also, placing the child for adoption doesn’t accomplish what the woman truly wants: not to be pregnant. The women who use birth control want the same thing, but are far less criminalized just because they have access to resources. We must make these resources available to everyone. A study from the Guttmacher Institute showed that 47,000 women in developing countries die of complications from unsafe abortions. The study showed that the legality of abortion bore no correlation to the number of procedures occurring (Culp-Ressler, 2012).

The best course of action would be for the government and lawmakers to remove their personal beliefs from the personal choices of women. Planned Parenthood, rape crisis centers, and abortion clinics need to remain open and protected. Another argument arises that tax dollars should not fund abortions. Currently their funds come from government grants and contracts (only 1/3), Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid. Abortion procedures only make up 3% of the services offered at Planned Parenthood. In fact, a majority of Planned Parenthood patients are there for cancer screenings, STD tests, and contraception. Legally, Planned Parenthood cannot use federal government dollars for abortions. The Hyde Amendment restricts Medicaid funding unless it is a case of rape, incest, or the mother’s life is at risk (Robertson and Morse, 2011).

A familiar pro-choice slogan is “no uterus, no opinion”. But this pervasive idea that masculinity is the dominant characteristic fights this. For millennia society has favored men over women, put them in charge over women, and paid them more than women. These old, rich, Republican white men are on a power trip because they’ve never been told any differently. Despite our advances in the last forty years, women are still seen as the lesser sex. These men do not understand the struggle women face because they have never had to struggle. Then, when confronted with their privilege, they become irate that they too are persecuted in “some ways”. The legislators need to understand that they cannot prevent abortions, they can only prevent safe abortions.



REMINDER: Pledge-A-Picketer 

This year we are targeting the Saturday before Father’s Day as the only day of the campaign. Father’s Day is June 19, so our campaign will be on Saturday, June 18.

How can you pledge? Go to this link and fill out the simple form. When you fill out the form it will record your pledge to help us reach our goals. You will receive an email from us within 24 hours confirming we have received the pledge.

We will publish the count of protesters shortly after Father’s Day along with instructions for payment.

How can you help? Share this with your friends, or anyone you think would be interested.


Pledge-A-Picketer 2016

We started the Pledge-A-Picketer fundraiser in 2010, and have been doing it every year since then with great success.  It’s a simple fundraiser. You pledge whatever you choose for each protester who shows up, we count the protesters, and the more of them there are, the more money we raise for escorts and abortion access. Escorts use this fund drive for legal expenses, training costs, safety supplies, parking fees for patients and other miscellany.

Traditionally there are three big event days when a large number of anti-abortion protesters come to the clinic. The Saturday before Easter, the Saturday before Mother’s Day and the Saturday before Father’s Day used to be the biggest protester days of the year at EMW Women’s Surgical Center. When we first started the Pledge-A-Picketer fundraiser, we targeted the Saturday before Mother’s Day as the day to count protesters.  As the numbers on this day have dropped, some protesters have attributed the drop to them not wanting to contribute to the success of our fundraiser. I don’t really believe them. I think they are having problems bringing out large numbers because of more public awareness that abortion is part of healthcare and a human right. Plus, the sidewalk anti-abortion people are being viewed as the bullies they are by more people.

Here is the history of their turnouts from the years we counted. Notice the dropping numbers.

  • Easter weekend: From 170 protesters in 2009 to 60 protesters in 2016.
  • Mother’s Day weekend: From 275-325 protesters in 2009 to 100 protesters in 2015
  • Father’s Day weekend: From 300 protesters in 2009 to 108 protesters in 2015

Last year we combined the Saturday before Easter, the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and the Saturday before Father’s Day and called it Spring Pledge-a-Picketer. This year we are targeting the Saturday before Father’s Day as the only day of the campaign. Father’s Day is June 19, so our campaign will be on Saturday, June 18.

The day before Father’s Day remains a large turnout day for anti-abortion protesters, mostly because it is the day the Sisters for Life come out. Sisters for Life members, including their director, Mrs. Angela Minter, do “sidewalk counseling” weekly in front of the clinic. Angela is known to harass people she recognizes and then call their family members to report they went into the clinic. That’s not really counseling, but you can see for yourself. Here is a video of her being carried out of the clinic when she trespassed following in someone she recognized.


This is a different Angela than she presents in front of the news cameras or when she endorsed Senate candidate Matt Bevin.

This will be the 8th year Sisters for Life has their fundraising drive of “Fathers for Life Day Walk or Bike.” They charge a registration that gets everyone a matching t-shirt and walk or bike to the clinic to carry signs, sing and block the sidewalk and entrance of the clinic.

A picture and a video is worth a 1000 words. Here’s FML’s article from last year’s demonstration on Father’s Day weekend. We stood in the pouring rain, fighting umbrellas while being sung to over and over. My personal favorites are the songs they make up on the spur of the moment. They don’t always go as intended and are frequently unintentionally funny.

How can you pledge? Go to this link and fill out the simple form. When you fill out the form it will record your pledge to help us reach our goals. You will receive an email from us within 24 hours confirming we have received the pledge.

We will publish the count of protesters shortly after Father’s Day along with instructions for payment.

How can you help? Share this with your friends, or anyone you think would be interested.


Shining A Spotlight

In early April, I wrote an article called “Documenting Fear.” In that article I described the steps Louisville Clinic Escorts are taking to document the actions of the anti-abortion protesters in front of the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, KY.

We are ready to take the next step. We have been working with the National Clinic Access Project (NCAP) to develop recruiting criteria, training materials and guidelines for deploying Legal Observers in front of the clinic on Saturday mornings. We have had our first training and the observers will soon be on the sidewalk.

These legal observers are not escorts. They are not counter-protesters. They are just observers. They will be signing strict non-engagement and confidentiality agreements. They will not be talking to escorts or anti-abortion protesters. They will be writing observations, taking photos, sound recordings and videos. They will respect the patient’s privacy at all times. The observers will work in pairs. You will be able to identify them by their red wristbands.

What are they documenting? Harassment, threatening speech, pushing, shoving, blocking, local ordinance violations, such as noise or sign ordinance violations, plus police presence and their responses. They will be recording information about new protesters on the sidewalk, including vehicle information. They will be watching for any potential escalation into violence. They are the eyes and ears outside the clinic. Reports will be shared with the clinic staff, and when necessary the LMPD, FBI, DOJ and NCAP.

Why are we doing this now? All across the nation clinics have seen a dramatic increase in threatening speech and actions in front of their clinics. The anti-abortion rhetoric within the GOP presidential candidates’ campaigns have not helped the atmosphere for abortion access at all. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) published statistics in April 2016 that show we aren’t imagining this, the incidents of threats and violence did increase dramatically in 2015.

We hope the deployment of these volunteers will make a difference in the sidewalk atmosphere. If they don’t, they will shine a bright spotlight on behavior that is not “counseling”, “grandmotherly” or “loving” at all by documenting what they see under that spotlight.

Stay tuned for updates on how it goes.

Documenting Fear

There have been so many articles written about abortion, abortion access, clinics, anti-abortion protesters and reproductive justice issues in the past five years. It’s not surprising, because since 2010 states have considered almost 400 abortion restriction bills and have adopted 288 of them. Most of these restrictions were TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). It doesn’t seem that any of the GOP legislators are listening to anyone except their anti-abortion constituents.

This week the Town Hall meeting with Chris Matthews gathered enormous news coverage when Donald Trump said he believes if abortion is legally banned, women should be punished for an abortion. Of course, when the media storm broke over his comments there was a “misspeak” retraction. What I found most interesting was the flurry of articles stating women are already being punished for abortion and it is still legal. They are punished by those TRAP law effects and the anti-abortion protesters present every single day in front of clinics around the country. Their Freedom of Speech rights allows the protesters to call women murderers, follow patients to the door at abortion clinics, harassing and bullying them. Every. Single. Day.

The Supreme Court struck down the Massachusetts buffer zone law in 2014. Since that decision, buffer zones have either not been proposed or have been revised downwards in several cities. The court decided in the case of Massachusetts, the 35-foot buffer zone law they had was too big and impeded the grandmotherly “sidewalk counselors” in exercising their First Amendment rights.

However, the idea has still percolated that a smaller buffer zone might work for everyone. The anti-abortion protesters will have to yell across a shorter space and can still hand out pamphlets, but they will not be able to block the entrances or stop patients from entering an abortion clinic to exercise a legal health care procedure.

Louisville Clinic Escorts have been working with the National Clinic Access Project and the staff at EMW Women’s Surgical Center for the past few months to document the type of intimidation experienced by patients entering the only full-time abortion clinic in Kentucky. We have started by presenting anonymous questionnaires to the patients on what they experienced from protesters on their arrival at EMW Women’s Surgical Center for their appointments. We have gathered the questionnaire answers for a month and the results are interesting.

I would like to focus on just a few of the answers, but the full results are at this link. Be sure to read the comments. They are from truly frightened people. 2016 March Monthly Report-EMW Client Questionnaire

This graph has some answers to some of the questions we have about the potential for violence in front of the clinic.  


If over 50% of the patients say the protesters made them feel scared and nervous, it isn’t counseling. It is intimidation. If 38% of patients say they thought about confronting protesters and 12% of them did, it isn’t counseling. It is harassment. What happens if all 38% confront the anti-abortion protesters? Do we have assault and counter-assault charges being filed against the protesters? Does it escalate into violence in an instant? If 50% say the noise level bothered them very much, it isn’t counseling. It is intimidation. What other medical practice is it allowed for protesters to step in front of patients and block their entrance 41% of the time? That is a violation of the FACE Act.  

Are you listening to us? Is it time to say, enough? We need a buffer zone in front of the clinic in Louisville. 15’ would be wonderful, but even 8’ would allow patients to enter a safe space before they walk into the clinic. When is it time to truly protect our citizens instead of proposing TRAP laws that pretend to be for the pregnant person’s health, but really have the end goal of stopping legal abortion?

We will continue gathering the questionnaires. We will continue to document the harassment, intimidation, violations of city and state ordinances, and incidents of violence. I dream of the day when we don’t have to fight daily battles in the struggle to access abortion. 


Casey’s Turn

There is a really great article published by Meaghan Winter in Slate this week. It details how the decision by the Supreme Court in 1992 for the case Casey vs Planned Parenthood set the stage for all the restrictions we now face in accessing abortion. Go read the whole article, but here is what I want to concentrate on in this article:

“Yet it’s no wonder the public doesn’t fully grasp Casey’s influence, despite the problems the decision has helped create for women seeking access to reproductive health care. Lower courts have interpreted the decision in myriad and sometimes conflicting ways. Because of the subjectivity of what counts as a “substantial obstacle,” lower court judges have used Casey to justify differing opinions about waiting periods, admitting privileges, and more. Whole Woman’s Health marks the first time the court has had to grapple with Casey, and how the justices define “undue burden” will have a ripple effect on abortion access for years to come. But the challenge before them—to determine just how many obstacles Texas women can face before their burdens are undue—is the result of anti-abortion advocates’ work within the government, patiently, over decades, to dismantle Roe v. Wade.”

What does constitute an “undue burden”? When Casey was decided, the pro-life group Americans United for Life had already been established for 21 years. (1971) Their Legal Defense team started working on templates to give to state legislators about how to restrict abortion state-by-state. That’s why you see so many similar laws in different states. ‘That passed in North Dakota, let’s try it in Indiana’ seems to be the anti-abortion plan. They have been so successful, that reading the Guttmacher State Policies in Brief is a depressing undertaking for pro-access advocates. Many abortion clinics have closed because they couldn’t conform to the TRAP laws in their states. Five states only have one abortion clinic each (Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming) Kentucky came close this month to being another state with one abortion clinic only, but Judge Scorsone ruled the Lexington clinic could stay open.

What does constitute an undue burden then? How far do you have to travel to have it be a burden? How long is too long to wait after making your decision to get an abortion? How much should the cost increase for added regulations that do nothing to protect women’s healthcare to be considered an undue burden? How many restrictions can be added at one time to abortion before it is considered an undue burden? (Indiana)

We have been saying for a long time that these restrictions, especially the Hyde Amendment, penalize those living in poverty the most. The wealthier among us will be able to travel, pay the clinic fees, pay for childcare, hotel bills, etc, even if the travel needs to be eventually to Canada. While those less affluent are forced to carry their pregnancies. So is the test of an undue burden to be applied equally among all income levels, or do we just use our scale to weigh that burden by the ones who can afford to overcome them?

Casey’s Turn has had 24 years to make the Supreme Court ruling ripple through the access to abortion for women in the United States. Even if we replaced all of the politicians who practice medicine without a license in 2016, I predict it will take at least that long for the trend to reverse. That’s another 24 years of restrictions on abortion access. That’s a whole generation of our children who will not know the freedom of access to abortion right after Roe vs Wade was decided.

If you want to scream about how unfair this is, there are two rallies being held on April 9. One is in Frankfort, Ky. One is in Indianapolis. Make a sign and join one.  

What Does Desperation Look Like? ~ guest post by Heather M

The recent headline cases of women who have miscarried or resorted to self-abortion attempts to end an unwanted pregnancy (Purvi Patel , Kenlissa Jones and Anna Yocca) have had many people saying ” How could they?” Some from an anti-abortion stance that seems to value the life of a fetus over the woman carrying it. Others from a perspective of the fact that abortion is still legal and has been legal nationwide since 1973, Why would anyone take such risks when they could just go to a doctor?

Easy. Legal does not mean accessible, or affordable.

This is my story and I am going to smash some stereotypes many associate with a self-abortion attempt. First, I am a white, US-born female, raised in a middle class Catholic family with two parents present. I was raised in the North Eastern US. I finished high school. I was living on my own and supporting myself with a full-time job. I was in a committed relationship and was using birth control the month I became pregnant.

The year was 1990. I was 20 years old. I was working with racehorses as a caretender, a job with long hours (sixty to seventy hours, seven days a week), tons of responsibility and a great deal of personal satisfaction. I was making my bills every month, rent,  utilities, but did not have much money left over for anything else. To make a big or unexpected purchase I either put it off or worked nights in addition to my regular job, as hard and long as I could, to earn what was needed.

Sometime in early March of that year my period was late and I had been sick and struggling under my work demands. After waiting a few more long scary days, I went and bought three different brands of home pregnancy tests from three different stores. I wanted to make sure I did not get an error due to a bad test.

I read the directions over and over as I did not want to waste one by using it wrong. As I took them, one after another showed a positive result: two dots, two lines, a pink window. All horrifying results to me. I did everything right. How did this happen to me? I used the Today sponge and spermicide. I went out and bought another two tests and took them again the next morning; same results. No denying it now. That’s why I had been feeling so sick

I knew immediately that I did not want to be pregnant. I was not going to be having a baby in the fall of that year. Somehow I was going to figure this out. I had already made my decision when I had used birth control and this was like an invader in my own body; alien like and causing me to be physically ill, draining me and robbing me of my ability to provide for myself.

I was living in a state that had multiple clinics available. I picked up the phonebook and started dialing trying to figure out how much an abortion was going to cost, how far I would have to drive and how hard I was going to have to work to raise the money. Then get the procedure done without missing any time from work or I would be fired. I had found two clinics that were about 40 miles away but the procedure cost $400  cash or credit card. I did not have a credit card so I figured up how many weeks working days and  nights it would take me to save the money. Five weeks was my estimate. After that I may be too far along for those clinics and the price, distance and difficulty would rise.

In the meantime I had a plan. One of the racehorse mares I was taking care of was on a medicine to suppress her heat cycles. Without it she was impossible to manage let alone train and race. I had been instructed to let one of the men in the barn dose her everyday as it was dangerous for women to come in contact with that drug. I went to work that morning and quietly read and reread the cautions and warnings in big bold letters on the packaging. MAY CAUSE MISCARRIAGE!  WOMEN OF CHILDBEARING AGE DO NOT HANDLE WITHOUT GLOVES AND USE EXTREME CAUTION NOT TO COME IN CONTACT WITH IT.

I began quietly taking some of the horse’s medication every day hoping to induce a miscarriage that the label warned in big bold letters about. I weighed about 155 lbs and was making sure I took enough for a 1500 lb horse. This I hoped would work. In the meantime, always planning that if the medicine failed I was going to go ahead with the abortion.

I worked for almost four weeks my usual sixty to seventy hours, seven days a week and started taking night work at the racetracks three nights a week to earn extra money quickly. Those days became 20 to 22 hour marathon work stints two and sometimes three days in a row. Sick with morning sickness. Sick with taking medicine for equines in doses over a dozen times what I weighed. Sick from lack of sleep. Still I kept on. I was not under any circumstances going to remain pregnant one minute longer than I had to. Whatever came first, the miscarriage or enough money saved for the abortion I was going to keep working towards it.

Finally, the end of the first weeK of April I  had saved the $400. I called to set up my appointment. I wanted the latest one available in the day as soon as I possibly could. Why you ask did I not want one first thing in the morning?  Because I had to work. I set up for as late as I could one morning. I was told don’t eat anything after midnight. That morning I was at the barn by 330 am so I could rush through my work by mid-morning and I paid one of my coworkers to take care of my afternoon responsibilities. I told them I had an emergency that came up. I did not confide in anyone except my boyfriend, and even then I did not tell him I was trying to induce a miscarriage.  He was fully supportive, but as cash strapped as I was. He helped some, but my pride and my sense of responsibility kept me from asking for more than I knew he could give.

At the appointment I was given forms to fill out, everything was explained in detail and I was asked repeatedly if this was something I really wanted to do. I could take another few days and think it over now that I had been given information about the procedure. “NO,” I fairly screamed, ‘for a month I have been saving and working like mad to gather the money together. I would have had it done four weeks ago if I could have afforded it!!”

With everything that I had put my body trying to rid myself of this unwanted invader that had taken over my life in such a drastic way, the abortion itself was almost anticlimactic. The thing that stands out the most was the warm thick socks they put on my feet. They said the metal stirrups were cold and the walk to the recovery room was on cold tile and they did not want me to feel chilled. I felt cared for and like I could for the first time in weeks let someone else worry for me. A few hours later I was ready to go and called my boyfriend to come pick me up.

The next morning at 7 am I was back at work, moving a bit slow and taking care to not let cramps keep me from being able to get my work done. it was the first time in over six weeks I had not wanted to throw up everytime I wheeled a full wheelbarrow out to dump it. I clung to the horses to steady myself every now and then, but by now they had become accustomed to it. I had been horribly sick for weeks, but not letting on to anyone human at least.

So, almost 26 years later why am I now telling this story?  Because those women are me: every last one of them. Pregnant and not wanting to be. Desperate and willing to try anything to rid our bodies of this unwanted entity. I was fortunate that I lived in a state with access to multiple clinics. I was able to get an appointment within days of calling. I had the ability to eventually earn the money needed for the abortion, even if at  great personal cost of health to myself. I am one of the thousands of women who will try to self-abort. Some succeed and no one will ever know. Others finally save up enough somehow for an abortion. Others yet are like the cases in Indiana, Georgia and Tennessee where things go very wrong for them.

I was lucky. But make no mistake, I would have been desperate enough to do anything even if it meant I died as a result. Do I have any regrets? Only one. That I did not speak up sooner so many others would know they are not alone. I understand. I am you  You are not alone.



Bathtub Abortions ~ by KYBorn

Bathtub Abortions-by KY Born

I told Servalbear I was going to wait until I calmed down, but I’m not calming down so I’m writing this anyway. It is too close to the person who could have been me. It is too close to where I live part of the year. It is too close to a state being allowed to regulate a woman’s body. It is too close to the fact that women in “red” states have to cough up their own money for an abortion.

I don’t know why this woman got in the bathtub and used a coat hanger to try to end a pregnancy. I don’t care. She was not obligated to be a life support system for anybody. When the fetus was born alive, and thus became an infant, she clearly did no harm since the premature infant arrived at the hospital alive. Sure. The infant will have life-long problems. Most fetuses who become infants at 24 weeks born in hospitals don’t even survive.

Here is what I do know. I had the money and the knowledge to terminate a pregnancy legally and medically safe. Here is what I also know. If I had not had the money and knowledge of resources, I would have done anything to end that unwanted pregnancy.

I wouldn’t have waited so long to start the process. I would have tried medications first, even if they held the risk of death. I would have stopped eating and taken every herb known to man to induce an abortion.

If that didn’t work I would have been the woman in the bathtub. I would have killed myself before bearing that child. If that meant risking or even causing my own death at 20 or more weeks gestation, I would have done it.

So stop. Stop meddling in women’s medical decisions. Let us decide if we want to be mothers (and no, we are not mothers of dead babies if we choose abortion).  Get rid of the Hyde Amendment. Get rid of making abortion anything but what is: a medical procedure. Get rid of assholes who make gauntlets of people “praying for babies” and harassing people outside clinics.

Have your pro-life “clinics.”  Stay inside them and let people come to you instead of trying to lie to lure them to you. If you have to lie to get people in your joint, you don’t have much to say anyway.

Regardless, if all you “pro-lifers” don’t want any more incidents like this then follow my advice. You can pray for those aborted “babies” at home or in your church. You don’t need to make a public display of it for everyone else to hear it.

Bottom line is this woman hurt herself, her own body, but nobody cares about that. They care about a fetus that became a premature infant. What’s next? Shall we charge women who give birth early with involuntary manslaughter?  Why not?  Her uterus expelled a fetus before it was ready?

Ick. I just can’t say any more than make it easier for a woman who wants to end a pregnancy earlier possible.

Most of all, this should never have been a legal issue. It was a medical issue. Period. Shame on the doctors and hospital who even alerted law enforcement to this event. Shame on this community who elected Scott Des Jarlais, a man who was hunky dory with his own wife’s two abortions, and pressured one of his mistresses to abort on while recording the conversation on tape. (He taped the conversation himself, whether she was pregnant, aborted or gave birth is none of anybody’s business but hers).

Mostly, shame on the state of Tennessee. You and the assholes you voted into office caused this, not the poor, desperate woman in the bathtub you have shoved in jail. You and your version of high moral standards you impose on all of us are the cause of this and you bear the shame, and any criminal responsibility. So lock the legislature and governor in jail.

Let this woman go. She did no harm to anyone but herself.

Shame on you all. Everyone who holds up a gross sign. Everyone who blocks clinic entrances. Everyone who follows women for blocks. Everyone who films women entering clinics. Everyone who forces their literature on them. Everyone who misleads them into “crisis pregnancy centers.”  Everyone who votes for people who think a woman has no right to decline to be life support for another not yet human being.

Shame on you all.

You belong in that cell, not her.

What Happened to Compassion?~ by KyBorn

I was originally writing this a few hours after leaving my physician’s office. Going to a specialist is never fun, even one you like and respect. Even one who listens to you and works with your body, that seems to have an unbearable bad reaction to almost every medication in a class of medication you must take to avoid ending up back in the hospital. Even though my doctor had moved to a new office, another kind man who turned out to be the doctor next door walked me to the office, opened the door and told me have a nice day. My first thought was what a difference it was from the gauntlet women in my home state have to walk through just to get medical care. Medical care that even though it was a different kind than mine, was just as vital.

All I had to do was whip out a new insurance card and I was ushered back to the office. Not that it does any good for those seeking an abortion in my former home state. Those who make the laws have determined abortion is evil and that those good people who pay into an insurance pool, or pay taxe, must not have their blessed tax dollars sullied by the evils of abortion. There is no equality, no compassion and no thought of the women that they see as just a shell for a fetus

Yes, I do have a point. What inspired this particular rant was that as I waiting in my doctor’s office, where they apologize if you sit for five minutes past your appointment time, I was looking at an article about a woman who was clearly an inmate in jail scrubs, wearing a waist chain and handcuffs, being shuffled, head down, into a Planned Parenthood by two uniformed officers.

And then it hit me. Hard. My privilege. My private and uninterrupted walk down a short sidewalk to my doctor’s office with nobody telling me I was going to hell.

There I sat irritated about internet access on my phone and some woman was being shuffled into a Planned Parenthood, in full jail regalia while being filmed by some anti-choice asshole who couldn’t give a flip about her or why she was there. I’m also 99% sure that it never occurred to them that it was none of their business.

For whatever reason she was there, this nameless woman, shuffling head down in a jail uniform will forever be stuck in my mind when I compare it with the short, peaceful walk made without interference to my own doctor. The other thing that will forever be stuck in my mind is that our places could just as easily be switched. In spite of the pull-yourself-up-by-your bootstraps rhetoric spewed by antis, this just isn’t the case. Certainly, people pull themselves out of bad circumstances. Some people are just born lucky or end up with better opportunities.

This case really made me think hard about the woman being shuffled into a medical appointment. More personally, I thought about who have I become, when my first worry is the phone and internet coverage in my specialist’s office and not the women who have to fight a battle just to get legal health care?

Mostly, it makes me wonder what happened to compassion in this country. When did we become a nation where it is okay to film a woman in already bad circumstances going into her doctor’s appointment?  She deserved the same privacy and dignity that I had, but people seemed more worried about snapping her picture than giving her space, dignity and healthcare.

Given the latest round of anti-violence in Colorado Springs, this seems trivial on a certain level. (Disclaimer: I wrote this article before Colorado Springs and had to revise and edit afterwards due to some other commitments.)

Surely though, surely, our country hasn’t become a place so devoid of compassion that all women can’t get healthcare with privacy and dignity…..and oh yeah, without being afraid of being killed.