Bowling over barriers to abortion access

Louisville Clinic Escorts will be going balls out to strike down barriers to access at the Kentucky Support Network‘s Bowlathon again this year.

KSN provides practical support to people in and around Kentucky who are seeking abortions and need support overcoming barriers to access. The Bowlathon is the main way KSN raises funds to pledge towards clients procedures, pay for transportation assistance, and cover other practical needs.

If you’re in the area, we would LOVE to see you at this fun event (even if you don;t like to bowl, there will be prizes, entertainment, and lots of awesome folks! here is the link to the facebook event:

Whether you’re closeby or not, please consider making a donation to KSN so they can continue to fulfill this very real need, as restrictions to abortion in Kentucky seem to be the newest trend in Frankfort. Bowlathon pledges can be made through this link:

pick a team, any team! and of course, you can donate any time through the website linked above.




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 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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center

Indy Feminists


We collectively breathed a sigh of relief after the election. Barack Obama won another term. A record number of women were elected to Congress in both houses. It still isn’t 50% of the representatives, but progress was made. Maybe we can relax and the War on Women will be a historic footnote.

You might  think the forward motion and election returns would diminish the anti-women rhetoric and some positive changes in human and reproductive rights would move forward. You might think that, but you would be incorrect. The first bill introduced to the 113th Congress was presented by Michelle Bachmann. It was a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act; even though similar bills have been voted on and defeated 33 times by the 112th Congress.  I for one, do not hold a lot of hope for forward motion in these issues this year.

The 112th Congress left unfinished business. They were too busy fighting over the Fiscal Cliff deals to consider the bills for relief funding for Hurricane Sandy victims or the Violence Against Women Act.

There have been really a lot of articles written since April about the VAWA. The bi-partisan revised act passed by the Senate in April was written to include LGBT, undocumented immigrants and Native Americans. The revision was too controversial for House Republicans. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor described the revisions as “issues that divide us,” and the House revised the bill to exclude those groups of people. And then it languished; pushed aside for other issues.

The VAWA expired on January 1, 2013 for the first time since 1994 when it was first enacted. People for the American Way simply state:

  • Now the new Congress will have to start the process of reauthorizing VAWA all over again. Until they do, women across the country will be left without the safety net that VAWA provides.

What has funding the VAWA actually done since 1994? The National Network to End Domestic Violence has a detailed breakdown on their website about what the funding has covered. It covers multiple services to victims, training for detection and prevention, prosecution, transitional housing, childcare, and workplace response training. This statement particularly caught my attention:

  • Programs are reporting significant increases in requests for help including crisis calls to hotlines, relocation assistance, counseling, shelter beds, legal services, transitional housing and childcare.  The National Census of Domestic Violence Services found that on one day in 2010, over 70,500 adults and children in America received support and services from local domestic violence programs.  Yet, on that same day, over 9,500 requests for services went unmet because of a lack of resources.  Every day, shelters and service providers must turn away victims and families in danger.  When victims take the difficult step to reach out for help, many are in life-threatening situations and must be able to find immediate safety and support.  Given the dangerous and potentially lethal nature of these crimes, we cannot afford to neglect victims.  Federal funding is now more essential than ever to ensure that programs across the country can keep the lights on, answer crisis calls, and provide essential services for victims fleeing violence.

As of today there is no official funding for those services, but some funding will continue through appropriations. There will be no funding available for improvements or the expanded coverage of LGBT, Native Americans and undocument immigrants. The 70,500 calls placed in 2010 could go unanswered in 2013.

Do we really need VAWA and those services? One article I read argued there would be coverage by other laws in existence, such as assault, murder, or kidnapping. However, since the VAWA has been enacted in 1994 (pdf) there has been a reduction of violence by 63% and an increase in reporting by 51% for women and 37% for men. The act is directly responsible for these changes.

  • VAWA has been the single most effective federal effort to respond to the epidemic of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in this country.”Debbie Segal, chair of the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence

One article on the history and impact of the VAWA is by Abigail Collazo published on January 3, 2013. It is thorough and she states about the refusal to vote on the act:

  • “And like the rest of society, the House of Representatives chose to not provide additional help and support to female survivors of violence for one reason – they don’t recognize it as a real problem.”

There has been no truce declared in the War on Women. If anything, the war has been expanded to include other groups.

What about the groups that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor feels are too divisive to include in the act? Doesn’t everyone deserve the right to protections from domestic violence? Who decides which person is “deserving” and which is not? Eric Cantor? Tea Party Republicans?

The Atlantic offers this idea for the failure to vote on the Senate version of the VAWA.

  • They may not realize that American Indian women are more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crime as the general population, but less likely to find an attorney willing to take their sexual assault case. They could be unaware that incidents of LGBT intimate partner violence increased by 18 percent in 2011, and people of color within that group were nearly four times as likely to experience physical violence.

While they did not have time to consider the VAWA, the 112th Congress was able to insert tax loopholes for favored corporations inside the Fiscal Cliff bill. One in particular caught my eye:

  • One of the more unusual tax benefits in the fiscal cliff legislation is a longstanding carve-out for racetracks used by NASCAR.
  • Supporters in Congress and industry groups have argued that the tax break is necessary to “maintain the current standard expected by our competitors and fans.” According to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the so-called NASCAR loophole will cost taxpayers $46 million this year and an additional $95 million through 2017.

How many calls and services could enactment of VAWA provide with the accelerated depreciation given to NASCAR? What about the other corporate perks placed in the Fiscal Cliff bill at the behest of lobbyists? Saving lives is not a priority with the current members of Congress.

My thoughts keep going to the thousands of unanswered calls and victims with no place to turn for help. We need to demand better from our government. I encourage you to sign petitions, call your congressional representatives and make our voices heard.


REMINDER: Share your story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrations ~ and the Worst Law Yet

For those of us who’ve been following the conservative efforts to eliminate access to abortion and worrying about a Romney presidency, last night was a huge relief.

Obama won.  Todd {legitimate rape doesn’t result in pregnancy} Akin lost.  Richard {rape pregnancy is a gift from God} Murdoch lost.   YAY!!

I’m hoping that more people are aware of the risk of losing reproductive health rights because of the publicity those guys  got.  Maybe we can begin to really push back against some of the laws restricting access.  But it may take us years to make up for what we’ve already lost.

I saw an article this morning that really distressed me.  I thought I was fairly knowledgable about the various assaults on reproductive rights, but this is a new one for me.  Appparently, the law passed in Ohio in 2004, and has been recently reviewed by a panel on the state appeals court.  It was upheld.  Planned Parenthood in Ohio is requesting an appeal by the full court.

According to the article:

The law says that mifepristone may be administered only in the same exact dosage approved by the Food and Drug Administration a dozen years ago, and its use is restricted to the first 49 days of pregnancy.

Medical knowledge has advanced significantly since then, and the F.D.A.-approved regimen is now outdated. By mandating a protocol that is no longer medically supportable, Ohio’s law leaves women who might safely opt for a medication abortion between 49 and 63 days of pregnancy with only a surgical option. Women who choose a medication abortion earlier in the first trimester are forced to consume three times more medication than needed, increasing the risk of side effects.

Incredibly, the panel found that the law did not violate women’s constitutional right to privacy or bodily integrity.

I am just stunned.

We know that legislatures will enact laws requiring medical procedures that aren’t necessary.  But this one requires medical treatment that is contra-indicated.  That can actually cause harm.

How can that be right?  How can doctors and the AMA allow that to happen?

Seriously.  How can anyone think it’s ok to mandate the wrong medical treatment????

Ok.  Rant’s over.

Obama won.  Akin and Murdoch lost.   Obama won…  It could be much worse.

Blog for Choice Day

Last night around 50 people came out in the snow, after our venue was changed and school was cancelled to the Speakout to Normalize Abortion.

We had a powerful event where people shared their abortion stories and supported each other.  We worked very hard to create a safe space to hear how different every person’s abortion experience can be.

Every one entering our speakout signed a pledge to be supportive, not engage in shaming behavior or use judgmental language and to keep confidential all the stories told.

Because of that promise, I am not going to write about all the different types of people who spoke or about the stories told.  Holding that space still reminds me of the  value of Trusting People.

Honoring the fact that just because abortion is a normal part of our lives does not mean these moments of transition do not challenge our beliefs, or make us grow; giving us time to pause and hopefully validate our strengths.

1 in 3 American people with a uterus will have an abortion in their lifetime, half world wide.  The sooner we recognize that abortion is a normal part of our reproductive lives the better.  The sooner we ensure safe, clean, supportive abortion services to the whole world the sooner we can prove that what happens to individual people matter.

Jill Stanick wants to ask what does choice really mean. I think it means public funding of abortions at 6 weeks, at 12 weeks at 20 weeks, at 24 weeks.

I think the right to parent our children even if we are poor is included in choice.

I think the right to not be forced into cesarean and medicalized birth is included in the right to choose.

I think the right to be unapologetically queer is part of Reproductive Justice.

Choice includes access to comprehensive sex education, birth control and emergency contraception.

Choice means addressing privilege and dismantling rape culture and racism.

Supporting and normalizing the right to access abortion services gives us all more room to build community where the lives of the disadvantage are not denied dignity and respect.

Remembering MLK as a Reproductive Justice Advocate

Cristina Page wrote this piece last year, here is the intro.

“The anti-contraception, anti-choice movement has, for years, attempted to portray Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, or as they say “Klan Parenthood,” as racist. On Martin Luther King Day, I thought it would be useful to draw our attention to the words of Dr. King himself on the woman and the organization that the pro-lie establishment attempts to cast as opposed to his vision. As you’ll see, nothing could be further from the truth. The following speech was written in 1966 by Rev. Martin Luther King and given by his wife, Coretta Scott King, on the occasion of receiving the The Planned Parenthood Federation of America Margaret Sanger Award.”

I really love that Cristina posts the whole speech to check out Cristina’s article go here.

And check out our week of Roe v. Wade events here in Louisville KY.

who’s fight is this?

by Kescort

There are times when revelations of the weight of reproductive choice hits me like an elbow to the throat. A man with his toddler child left the clinic this morning after most everyone, escorts and antis, had left. Another escort and I asked the man if he wanted us to walk with him. He said he didn’t need it but if we wanted to talk to him, he’d like to know why we escort. I told him we were volunteers, didn’t get anything for doing this and I was motivated by not wanting to allow people to put their personal moral, ethical or religious beliefs above the rule of law. He was blown away that we would get out of bed before dawn on a Saturday to come put up with all that bullshit. I want to pass on his gratitude for what we did this morning folks, without our support, his trip into the clinic with a toddler would have been horrific.
Of course, Angela chased along, telling the man he needed to bring his wife out of that horrible place and across the street to AWC yaddyyaddyyaddy. She got right up next to him and his baby. I offered to make some space
“No, I want to talk to her too.”
She continued with her usual spiel about heart beats and brain waves, the baby drinking amniotic fluid and having fingers and toes and a tricycle. (OK, she didn’t say the tricycle part but she might as well.)
He listened patiently and then began to tell his story – two great kids that they love but are barely making ends meet, carrying a baby full term and then giving it up was not in their emotional tool kit, they made the decision early so as to minimize the suffering of the fetus, this was a decision they discussed with their religious leader and considered for as long as they could before reaching the best decision for their family.
Angela then went into damnation mode, “You’ll stand before Jesus and he will judge you for killing your baby. Do you want to have to answer for that blood on your hands?”
“Look lady, I love my family and am doing what I think is the best thing for us. If God sends me to hell for doing my duty to my family, then so be it. I’ll suffer forever as long as my family is safe and taken care of”
It’s easy to think we are fighting a battle on the sidewalk every Saturday morning. But the truth is, we are not the warriors here, that would be the clients and companions. We are, at best, the emotional MASH unit.

forced council