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.

Sources

 


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.

 

It’s Against My Religion ~ by KYBorn

My best friend and I used to say that jokingly in high school when we were being smart-alecks about not wanting to do something we were told to do. We laughed about it then. Probably louder than we should. It probably wasn’t funny to anybody but us. We thought it was hilarious and so absurd that a person could get out of doing a required task because of religious beliefs when it was part of the requirement, in this case, to pass the class.

Well, we aren’t laughing now; not at all. The reason we aren’t laughing is that people in the healthcare profession are actually getting out of doing their jobs because they claim abortion or certain kinds of birth control are against their religion. This is hurting patients who are pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy. It needs to stop.

Hey all you state and federal elected representatives who are holding hearings about everything on God’s green earth, I’ve got some ideas for you.

Conscience clauses  are supposedly designed to protect poor, discriminated against (mostly white male) conservative Christians from having to do their jobs. Our elected representatives have taken laws designed originally to keep somebody from not being hired as an OB/GYN just because they are Catholic and made them into laws that say this particular OB/GYN is not required to provide comprehensive care to women because he is Catholic. Basically, the OB/GYN becomes more important than the patient. This is wrong for so many reasons. Aside from the fact that a woman may end up with an OB/GYN who considers a 5 mm from rump to crown, with a single embryo and yolk sac present, with an approximate heart of a rate of 136 gets to decide that this non-thinking, non-feeling, barely visible, barely differentiated bit of cells automatically becomes an equal person to me. It takes the focus off the patient and puts it on the healthcare provider. Click here for an explanation of embryotic heart rates and appearance in the uterus on ultrasound.

Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!  Healthcare providers are there to take care of the patients, not practice their religion or personal set of beliefs. Healthcare professionals are certainly not there to impose their beliefs on their patients. They are there to provide the accepted standard of optimal care as decided by science, not by personal opinion.

No, I don’t think this concept of “there are now two patients” will ever work for me. See, you can’t give that embryo rights without taking away mine, and there is nothing in the Constitution or federal law (I won’t even talk about unconstitutional state laws right now) that allows for the removal of rights due to a medical condition other than mental conditions that have caused the patient’s cognitive ability to deteriorate to the point of being unable to make one’s own medical decisions. This is no different than if my neighbor decided that 10 feet of my yard belonged to him and began to erect a fence. When I take him to court, they don’t tell me that we have to share because he has occupied part of my land without consent for a time before I could have him legally removed. I show them my property records and that 10 feet becomes mine again and that fence comes down because that land belongs to me. That land belongs to me, even though he has erected a fence. Just like my body belongs to me regardless of what is in it.

If a nine year-old rape victim must carry an unwanted pregnancy in order to keep an embryo alive, then I say we start taking away everyone’s rights. *Think of the lives it would save. At the age of nine all people in the United States must submit to being on an organ donor registry. If they are a match, they must agree to have surgery that will PROBABLY be non-lethal to them, but will cause permanent body changes and possible life-long disability. Think of the lives that would be saved if people were forced to donate bone marrow, an extra kidney, an extra lung, part of their liver and all organs were up for grabs after clinical death. Better yet, let’s just start forcing all 12 year-old boys to freeze sperm and then it’s off for the mandatory snip. I promise the rate of abortion would go to almost nothing. Of course, all those teeny snowflake babies aren’t so precious that a male child or male adult’s rights to bodily autonomy will be infringed upon. THAT would be wrong. All of sudden, they would become pro-choice for all, except of course pregnant people, who are only considered fetus containers.

Just how far are we willing to take this?  Should a person be allowed to bleed out on the table in the ER because blood transfusions are against the attending physician”s religion?  Should people with mental illness, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia who must take their medications daily to maintain a normal functioning life, be denied their medication because the pharmacist on duty has a moral objection to psychotropic drugs?  Should women be denied a legal over-the-counter drug because the pharmacist believes the non-science that it could cause an abortion?  Should a man be denied behind-the-counter allergy medication that contains ephedra because the pharmacist believes that the only people who buy these drugs use them to make meth and that is against his religion?  Are we ready to see people die of easily cured diseases like strep throat because the doctor believes the illness can just be prayed away?  Do we want people to be forced to undergo invasive surgery wide awake because the anesthesiologist believes you can just concentrate hard enough and the pain will go away since the use of sedating drugs are against her religion?

Let’s step out of the medical field for a moment and into everyday life. Should a liquor store be required to hire a clerk who refuses to sell alcohol because they are Baptist and it is against their religion?  Should you be able to be refused a ham sandwich at Subway because the only employee on duty practices a form of Judaism that requires him to stay kosher and he doesn’t want to touch pork?  Of course not. Can I invent my own religion that is against every single aspect of my job but continue to be employed?  Most people, including antis, would be put out by such day to day inconveniences, but when it comes to patient care they just plain don’t care when it comes to fetus carriers.

Our Congress is holding hearings over various issues now, with all the drama and flourish that comes with being carried on CNN. Both Congress and state legislatures have held hearings about reproductive issues from how Christians are being persecuted, to birth control, to whether people should have to do their jobs if they “feel” something is wrong but is not backed up by science, to fetuses that masturbate as a reason to pass more anti-choice laws.

Let’s hold a hearing on why a man elected to the House of Representatives, the “pro-life” honorable Dr. Scott DesJarlais from the state of Tennessee, is never or rarely mentioned on any of the “pro-life” blogs after agreeing to his own wife having two abortions and then audio taping a phone conversation himself of him trying to coerce a woman, a patient he was having a sexual relationship with, into an abortion. He was also writing prescriptions for controlled substances for her knowing she was a drug addict. He admits it is him on the tape telling her to hurry up, or that if it was “too late” they would go to Atlanta. That would be because there isn’t a clinic in the state of Tennessee that performs abortions past 16 weeks. You know, the state that allegedly needs to amend the constitution because abortion is just crazy unregulated, even though there were four anti-choice bills passed last year.

One of the laws they want to pass would outlaw women from coming from out of state for abortions. Well hello, geniuses. The two biggest cities in Tennessee are Memphis and Nashville. Memphis sits right on the Mississippi river and borders several states. Nashville is less than 40 minutes from the Kentucky state line. Of course people from other states are going to go to the closest place that provides a service. Are they going to ban all people seeking health care who reside in other states from going to the closest metropolitan areas for any sort of health care not available for their home community?  It is doubtful. The truth is, abortion clinics are regulated just like every other healthcare facility in Tennessee.

Off topic, but why do these people never refuse to lie due to religious and/or moral objections?

Back to the original topic at hand, the uber-conservative legislature in Tennessee is just unable to pass TRAP laws because of a state Supreme Court ruling over 10 years ago. By the way, if you are wondering what the penalty imposed on the abortion-coercing Congressman doctor was by the state medical board so concerned about the unborn, it was a $500 fine and he won re-election in his his primary, while nary a pro-lifer said a word. I read about it on the Tennessean newspaper’s website. I’m so glad (insert sarcastic tone here) that clinics in Tennessee are required to display a sign stating it is against the law to coerce a person into having an abortion. They apparently need to be displayed in the office of congressmen as well. Of course, there is not a companion law for coercing a person into continuing a pregnancy. CPCs would cease to exist. All the staff would be arrested and the CPCs out of business if there were laws against coercion to carry a pregnancy to term.

I’ve got another hearing they can have. I do believe a Congressional hearing is what launched She Who Shall Not Be Named (who is now begging for donations on her website, by the way) into the national spotlight as a pro-life icon. She told a heart-wrenching story of holding a fetus born early of induced labor due to a pregnancy gone wrong. She testified she held it for 45 minutes until it passed away. There were other stories along with this one told that were never proven true, and were unsubstantiated by the Illinois Health Department. It couldn’t be she was lying, could it?  Let’s just say she’s not. A big question they need to ask, and didn’t during these hearings that I know of, is who was taking care of her other patients as she had her heart-wrenching, life-changing moment in the linen closet. You know, the woman who had just gone through an early induced birth of a wanted child that had no hope of survival, and probably several other mothers who had given birth that day along with their infants. Did she even bother to dump these patients on other nurses giving them an unsafe patient load or did she just disappear for 45 minutes, abandoning her patients as she is so wont to accuse OB/GYNs of doing? I don’t know if she still has a nursing license, but if she does she should have lost it for the possible harm done to patients she abandoned to hold this induced-labor abortion of a doomed fetus. Personally, I don’t believe the story but if it is true, she is a negligent nurse and if it is false, she is guilty of perjury.

Am I here to rag on religion?  Not at all. All I am asking is that people take responsibility for themselves and not take jobs that they are unable to perform due to personal objections. Religion is not a disability, it is a choice. It is a choice that needs to be left at the door when we healthcare professionals enter the door. I’m not talking about not having chaplains, not praying with a patient who asks, or forbidding any sort of reference to religion in the workplace. I’m talking about people who don’t want to dispense all current medications that need to stop being pharmacists. I’m talking about OB/GYNs or Nurse Midwives who don’t want to provide comprehensive care, including hormonal birth control, IUDs and yes, even abortions.

If all these people have consciences that are so bothered by the state of affairs at their workplace, they need to do the right thing and quit their jobs. Their personal opinions that go against established science shouldn’t matter one bit. The reason healthcare providers are there is to provide care to the patient. Everything should be centered on the patient, and the patient is not the doctor, nurse, zygote, embryo or fetus. The patient is the walking, talking, breathing pregnant person. If she chooses to make the embryo or fetus the focus of care, then that is and should be her choice. But if she says, as I would, I want the focus to be on me as the patient that should be honored as well, regardless of the feelings of the physician or other healthcare personnel.

As a pro-choice person, I am all about choices other than the right to have an abortion. I believe you have the right to choose not to be a doctor if you don’t want to provide women with comprehensive care, including abortion and birth control. I believe you have the choice to not be a pharmacist if you don’t wish to dispense valid written prescriptions or over-the-counter legal prescriptions. I believe you have the right to not be a nurse if you oppose what much of science says is true and you prefer to hide in the linen closet with a doomed fetus rather than take care of the living, breathing woman who just suffered through the induced birth of a pregnancy gone wrong.

I gave this little rant the title It’s Against My Religion because I still think it’s funny. Not in a teenage girl, giggle-giggle, aren’t we clever way. I think it is funny in an absurd way that our legislatures pass laws allowing people not to do their jobs because of a choice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should go back to the days where people weren’t hired because they attended, or were suspected of attending or not attending a certain church. I am saying we need to go back to the days where people must perform their jobs, with or without accommodation regardless of their religious beliefs.

Religion is not a disability. It is a choice. So to all those antis who are pushing for these silly laws, I say it is time to start lecturing people to take responsibility for their own decisions. Lord knows, you say it enough outside clinics. How about applying the same standards to yourself?  I may not have my religious beliefs fully figured out, as I have written about earlier, but I know that hypocrisy is one of the things that is against my religion, for all the good that does the people who have to walk into clinics through throngs of screaming protesters.

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*Please note I am being sarcastic here. Obviously, as a pro-choice person I am against any sort of forced medical procedure, even to save the life of a living, breathing person.

M Words ~ by KYBorn

“You are making that up.”

I remember the exact road that we were driving down when I first told my husband that some of the antis believed that women having abortions were really sacrificing babies to some sort of demon or god named Moloch. That was my husband’s response.

He didn’t believe me. He said that sounded like a character from the “Ghost Busters” movie. He said I was making it up. When I told him that Moloch was apparently a god mentioned in the Old Testament in the Bible and there was some verse about passing children through the fires of Moloch leading to a bad ending for all involved, he swore he had never heard of it. Just to be clear, my husband was a devout Christian for many years who at one point considered attending seminary, so he hasn’t been a godless heathen all his life. He still had never heard of Moloch. Clearly, the antis are scouring the most obscure verses of the Bible to argue against abortion. Of course the verses mentioning Moloch still don’t mention abortion, but that is how desperate they have become.

The things they say are so outrageous that a man pretty aware of the struggle for abortion access and politically active took 15 minutes to convince that antis could be that ignorant. This led to a rather lengthy, bizarre but humorous, conversation that included my husband making the suggestion that people stand among the antis wearing shirts that said “I’m With Moloch” and had an arrow pointing to the person standing next to them. Kind of like those ugly shirts people wore a long time ago that said “I’m With Stupid” and had an arrow pointing to the person next to them. Of course, escorts can’t do this because it wouldn’t be de-escalating and it probably would be a bad idea even for non-escorts to wear them, but still, imagine a bunch of people standing among the anti-gauntlet wearing this shirt.

 moloch t-shirt-3

 

Malarkey (I think I spelled that correctly) is a term rarely heard outside Kentucky. I know my mother used it a lot. For those not familiar with the term, it is a polite way of saying bullshit. Malarkey is exactly what the antis are peddling on the sidewalk and on social media. Earlier in the week, I had the not-so-pleasurable experience of engaging an anti who had invaded the #protectthezone on Twitter with the usual twaddle of these women being denied information that they want. When I responded that women did not want the information and in fact requested to be left alone many times while being followed by groups of men and women, I got a non-answer in the form of the question “Do you think women should be allowed to be sold dangerous products?”

Aside from being a non-response, he makes it sound like a medical procedure is the equivalent of lawn darts. I won’t bore you with the whole exchange, but I will warn you it was quite bizarre. I think I was actually tweeting with a couple of people because they gave responses to questions I never asked and responded to statements that I never made. Basically, they argued that abortion was a product because it was peddled and sold to women. I responded that pregnancy then must also be a product, as women are pressured to get pregnant and remain pregnant far more than they are urged to get an abortion. As an example, I didn’t even make it through my wedding reception without an elderly lady warning me to be careful of “foreign illness” because it would “hurt the baby” when I got pregnant on my honeymoon. Talk about a hard sell. That doesn’t even mention the pressure to marry and mate (actually these are unintentional M words) that starts often as soon as a woman has received her high school diploma.

More malarkey peddled during this tweet was the fact that, aside from not being a product rather than a medical procedure, was that abortion was unsafe. When I pointed out that according to the CDC, far more women died of childbirth than abortion, the response changed to something that had nothing to do with that fact. So if abortion is a product because it is peddled, then pregnancy must be a product as well because it is certainly sold by CPCs, antis and lots of people who have no business sticking their nose into the lives and uteruses of others.

The other M word I think of when I think of antis is “move on.”  Yes, I know that seems kind of odd but all of these people waving fetus porn, screaming lies and stalking women need to move on. Abortion is legal. Abortion is a pregnant person’s right. You don’t have to like it and I guess you can wave signs and lie to women all dang day if it makes you feel better. I think the fact that they refuse to move on shows that they don’t really care about “babies” or women, or really anything other than putting on a show or doing penance for their own abortion.

There are over 100,000 children in the United States waiting to be adopted. There are thousands of children being sent illegally across our border who have suffered lord knows what kind of trauma. They came because their parents felt that was the best thing they could do for their children. They are basically in large camps now. Where are the antis when it comes to these children?  Usually not giving a crap when they can’t get adopted because they are too old, or the wrong race for those in our country. I suspect a lot of the people waving those nasty signs at those poor traumatized children from other countries as they are being bussed to processing centers are probably also anti-abortion.

Which brings up the point that many anti-abortion folks are also anti-contraception. They claim there is no over-population problem. They claim the entire world could live in the state of Texas. So, apparently 9 billion people can cram themselves into Texas, but they can’t absorb a few thousand traumatized children. If the antis can’t find compassion for children waiting for adoption, or those separated from their families to cross the border illegally alone into a strange country, I don’t see how they can possibly have compassion for a zygote, embryo or fetus that has no feelings while ignoring the needs of living, breathing, feeling children. They are either putting on a show or horribly misguided. I tend to believe the first, but if it is the second I don’t really have any less contempt because they are still doing great harm.

My final M word, and yes I promise to wrap this up soon, is “me.”  By now, I’m sure you know I am rather wordy. Yes, me: A person the antis could care less about. As a non-pregnant woman I am not relevant other than my potential to breed. The fact that I have chosen not to have children is the business of no one but me. At the end of the day, even my husband doesn’t get to tell me whether or not to become a mother.

If my husband doesn’t get a vote in my uterus, then I am pretty dang sure that a bunch of people on the sidewalk waving fetus porn and calling me a whore aren’t going to get a vote. If, despite precautions, I do find myself pregnant, I will get an abortion because I don’t want to be a mother. That’s right. I will do what is best for me. Something too many women are told from the time they are little girls is not OK. We are taught to compromise, think of others, to always make sure everybody else is happy. And this is fine in some cases. It makes the world a better place when we think of others before ourselves.

In the case of carrying or terminating a pregnancy this isn’t true. Every woman should have the strength and support to stand up and say “I am the one pregnant and the only one who matters is me.”  Not the fetus. Not the father. Not her parents. Not the father’s parents. Not well-meaning friends. Not busy bodies at CPCs. Not people who wave gross signs.None of them matter.

And maybe one day, all women will be able to stand up and say in the case of an unwanted or unhealthy pregnancy, the only person who matters is me, and other people will actually listen.

 

C-Words ~ by KYBorn

No, not that C-word. I couldn’t resist a chance to say, “Made You Look,” which seemed to be the height of wit when we were all in kindergarten. Yes, I do have a point. Stay with me. I promise I’ll get there.

Last week, when a couple of the escorts asked me to write an article for Every Saturday Morning, I was flattered. Since then, I have had the pleasure of joining a few of them on the sidewalk in Louisville for the morning. I appreciate that they took the time to show me what they, clients and companions experience five days a week. I am still processing some of my first escorting experience but I do plan to write about it at some point. The first time I wrote about antis not understanding what the word “censorship” means. Actually being on the sidewalk really drove home the point that there are a lot of other C-words antis don’t understand the meaning of.

I’m going to skip over the obvious ones. By now, everyone knows that “choice” is the F-dash-dash-dash word, the Queen Mother of all dirty words (to steal a line from the movie “A Christmas Story”) to anti-choice protesters. “Contraception” seems on the way to becoming almost as bad. At best, it is considered a gateway drug to abortion and at worst, it is considered exactly the same as having an abortion.

One fairly new phrase that seems to be creeping into the mix is the line that all women have abortions for “comfort and convenience.”  Antis act as if there is a big box on patient registration forms or on surveys designed to collect health information labeled “comfort and convenience” that all women check. Women have abortions for a variety of reasons that they do not have to share with or justify to anyone. Antis have taken research on reasons women give for having abortions and lumped almost all of them under their new, re-labeled category of comfort and convenience.

As usual, they miss the mark completely. Not having health insurance and not being able to pay for the cost of labor and delivery is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not being able to keep a roof over your own head, or the heads of existing dependents because you live month to month and can’t take what is going to be a minimum of 6 weeks off work without pay is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Not wanting to be forced to go through the painful process of labor and delivery when you don’t want to or aren’t ready to be a parent is not a matter of comfort and convenience. Going to the gynecologist for a medical procedure is not comfortable, although abortion is not the blood-soaked, pain-filled nightmare antis like to say it is. It is certainly not convenient to drive 4 hours for a simple, outpatient procedure and in some states it is becoming a weeks-long process with clinics closing and mandatory clinic visits for counseling followed by mandated waiting periods.

What got me to thinking about this was actually being on the sidewalk this week. It wasn’t raining when I arrived but it started coming down pretty hard part of the way through the morning. As I was taking off my vest to put on my poncho, one of the antis felt the need to lecture me about worrying about my own comfort while babies were being murdered. I have never been admonished for putting on rain gear, but I guess there is a first time for everything. Of course, this particular anti was standing under both an umbrella and the awning so she was clearly worried about her own comfort. It is easy to dismiss others need for comfort and convenience when it is not your own. I am pretty sure that the anti who sat in her car to talk on the phone for 10 minutes did so because it is inconvenient to replace your cell phone because it got wet. I am also pretty sure the protester in the expensive-looking suit who spent the entire morning standing under the awning of a business down the block  without ever stepping out did so because it would be quite uncomfortable to walk around in wet clothing at work for a couple of hours.

The other C-word antis don’t grasp is “compassion.”  Compassion is what I saw from the escorts. People do not get up early in the morning, week after week, to volunteer to walk with strangers to a medical appointment to try to limit harassment without it. Compassion is not shown by repeating the same lines, like a script in a movie, to every person who walks into a clinic. Compassion is not shown by demanding loudly that complete strangers share their reproductive decisions with you. Compassion is not shown by dismissing the many reasons people choose to have an abortion. Compassion is not shown by vague promises of resources that people don’t want and may not be delivered. Compassion is not shown when women who regret their own abortions come out under the guise of preventing other women from feeling the same thing, only to talk all about themselves and their guilt rather than listening.

Compassion is understanding that every person on that sidewalk has their own story. Compassion is understanding that those stories are deeply personal and do not have to be shared with strangers to justify walking into a doctor’s office. Compassion is understanding that shouting an arsenal of anti-choice talking points through a clinic door does not change the reason people are there. Compassion is understanding that people choose abortion for a variety of reasons that can’t always be solved with a free pregnancy test, a non-diagnostic ultrasound, some diapers and Bible classes. Compassion is understanding that women are people with feelings, dreams, lives and problems rather than simply potential fetus containers.

If you have hung with me this far, I will be brief in saying I have my own C-word for what is happening outside clinics and inside our legislative chambers to restrict people’s rights to make their own decisions about health care. It is crap.

The Adoption Fetish

The fetishization of adoption amongst middle class and upper class conservative christian whites first became apparent to me when I was attending high school. My school was strongly tied to a Southern Baptist church so much so that the head pastor’s children attended my school and his wife taught our bible class (which consisted of watching Veggie Tales((rather juvenile for sophomores in high school, right?))). The pastor and his wife adopted a Chinese baby from an orphanage in which children were abused via ignorance of their basic humans. The child has been left by the road upon her birth and would have most likely lead a terrible life without the rescue of these rich white americans.Why do I know all of this? Because of course,  it isn’t enough to add a member to your family out of love, you have to drive home the financial sacrifice you have made to adopt a hopeless and helpless child coming from an impoverished situation, otherwise your contribution isn’t public….and that isn’t any fun, is it? Following this adoption by the head pastor and the story of salvation of a little Chinese girl there was a rash of trendy adoption of African and Asian children within the church’s upper echelon of wealthy partitioners.  All of the horror stories of these children’s backgrounds were made publicly known, and yet none of us knew anything about the little girls (all of the children adopted were female) themselves. It was creepy, the fad of adoption.

Adoption is wonderful, people shouldn’t be mistreated, its terrible that orphanages like this exist. I agree.  Adopting children then spreading the story of their backgrounds and constantly reminding them of their “otherness” and how wonderful of a savior you and your family are is ALSO awful. That is not an addition to the family, its the addition of an accessory with a neat story, and that saddens me.

So when protestors say there are Christian families who would love to adopt the patient’s child, this often comes to mind. I will say no, not everyone who adopts is like this, not all christians are like this, not all christians who adopt children are like this. But the fact that this even EXISTS is problematic.

Threatening People Isn’t A Great Way To Win Them Over, Ya Know?

The antis on the sidewalk often approach escorts and clients with an attempt to intimidate by way of instilling fear. How? With clients and their companions there are threats of how “you’ll regret this because you’re killing your baby.” . To male companions of the clients, “ You’re not a real man! If you were a *real* man you would take her out of there.” , “you aren’t a real man if you let her do this, you’re a weasel.” The protestors trying oh so hard to instill fear of a loss of gender identity to men unless they physically stop the clients from entering the building. Its just strange that they would use such a tactless approach. I’ve come to feel that the protestors who use this are not there for the clients and to help them, but for personal gratification, otherwise they might become introspective about their methods.

Anyway. The escorts are threatened with jail, this morning two of us were verbally attacked by the same protestor. The protestor attempted to block physically block clients as they crossed the line on the sidewalk marking the area where the protestors couldn’t follow. The escorts did their best to stand in such a way which would keep the protestor from physically contacting or blocking the client at which point this protestor noted that the only way to draw attention to themselves was to feign some sort of physical altercation. The protestor backed up and started howling about how we almost knocked them over!” How dare you!”. The second altercation was quite similar, but instead of simply saying, “ how dare you”, she stood as close to the line as possible (as is her way) and said , “WE have FOUR cameras watching you. I’d hate to see you go to jail for doing this to me….” and on and on and on. My only response to this person has become, “Stop harassing me.”, this particular person is also well known to me for spouting her racism at me every time I’m present.

I’m just confused about what world the antis live in, they’re so amazingly narcissistic.

This morning though there were 14 clients, 10 Antis and 8 escorts. So at least there was a good number of escorts to watch out for each other and to witness the awful behavior of these people.

Edit/ P.S.

This protestor seeks some sort of hierarchy within the escorts, when they feel threatened this A* seeks out a specific escort ( I’ve witnessed this occurrence multiple times over my time of escorting) and tells the escort to control another one of us. There is no leadership here, no hierarchy and for that I am so grateful. Upon informing the A of this however, the A turned this into a weapon against the escort who is nothing if not kind and engaging with us, ” Well, you act like you’re in charge.” sarcastic and biting to be sure. I’m just amused at this pattern this A has when they don’t get a reaction out of the initial escort they’re threatening they approach this particular escort and badger them incessantly.

 

A*=Anti/ Protestor

When Calling Doesn’t Help

The client and companion pulled to the curb right at 7a and the client jumped out of the car immediately. We explained the clinic doors didn’t open until 7:30a. They replied they knew, but wanted to wait by the door because they wanted to be the first into the clinic.

We then explained the orange vests and protesters, and that the protesters would talk to them while they waited, but wouldn’t cross the property line. The client replied, “Oh, I know all about them. I went into their so-called clinic last week by mistake. It was horrible and I missed my appointment. I want to be sure I get in first this time.”  

We explained the $3 parking lot to the companion and let them know we would be there to help them there after we walked the client to the door.

D was right there before we took two steps towards the entrance, telling the client to “just take two minutes to come to A Woman’s Choice. They aren’t open anyway. What harm will it do?” The client replied, “Get away from me. I have already been there and know all about that place. I don’t want you to talk to me.” Of course, D didn’t listen. She continued to talk to the client while they were standing by the door.

Two escorts stayed at the entrance with the client while I went across to the lot to help the companion with the payment box. The companion decided to wait a little while in the warm car before standing by the door.

When I came back to the door, the client was shaking, upset and yelling at D to leave them alone. After I heard her say to D three times, each successively louder, to “Leave me alone,” I told D, “She has asked you to leave her alone three times. Now you are harassing her.” The expected, “I’m not harassing her. I just want her to know her options,” was the response. Then she continued to talk to the client and the client again told her to leave her alone.

I turned to the client and said, “You can call Police Dispatch and report her for harassing you if you want. I’m not sure what they will do, but you can call.” The client indicated they would like to call and I gave them the phone number.

While the client was waiting for the police, the companion also came to the door to wait with the client. I met them halfway down the sidewalk and said, “I’m glad you are here,” while catching them up with what had happened.The client and companion were together by the door while they waited for police response..

Two squad cars came within minutes. D reached the responding officer first and gave her version. When the officer talked to the client they were told D could say anything she wanted to them because of “free speech.”Sigh. Sometimes it works to call the police and sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on who responds and their views on abortion.

After the officer left, D turned to me and said, “You are just a busybody.” However, D and the other protesters did leave them alone after the conversation with the officer, but this particular client had two unpleasant trips to the clinic. I worry that I contributed to the second unpleasant trip by suggesting they call the police.

Actually, police presence had the antis subdued until the majority of the clients went into the door. After they went in, an anti who regularly prays by the curb noticed it was quiet, picked up the fetal porn poster, and stood at the entrance shouting, “Do you know about Jesus? If you haven’t heard about Jesus you need to.” D actually waved her away after a few minutes.

Politics and your view on abortion should not determine how you interpret harassment. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean others cannot be offended by your speech or they cannot ask you to stop talking to them.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {5/6/13}

Spring in the Ohio Valley means a lot of rainfall. As I have said before, this always has good and bad associated with it as far as escorting is concerned.

We had no problems getting clients and companions to the clinic entrance. There were fewer antis out, but most stayed grouped under the overhang. While our walks were wet, we had only a couple of antis walking the sidewalk with their umbrellas. The clients were able to walk without a lot of interference.

However, when we reached the entrance we had to navigate around antis with their umbrellas up blocking the entrance. When I said, “You are blocking the entrance,” to one anti who works for AWC the reply was, “No, I am not.”

Three antis were standing with their umbrellas up across the entrance. The companion had to push a little to get through and bumped the anti’s umbrella. I pointed out she blocked the last client only to be told, “He got in.”

Yes they did, but it is still blocking when huge umbrellas are added to the people.

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REMINDER: Our annual  fund drive Pledge-A-Picketer is NOW!

The Saturday before Mother’s Day is the biggest protester day of the year.  It also is the date  where we count protesters for donations to support the pro-choice effort and the escorts.  You can pledge a certain amount for each protester showing up that morning. If you prefer, you can also make a straight monetary donation.

Use this form to make your pledge:

 


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Sidewalk Snippet ~ {2/11/13}

We had almost as many escorts as there were antis on the sidewalk, but M was there and she is always a problem. Most of the clients were escorted to the clinic door without issue.

The last client and companion pulled to the curb close to 8a. We went down to talk to them, but M was racing to beat us to them. As they got out of their car, M started talking and telling them, “Come to A Woman’s Choice and find out about all of your options.” The companion replied, “We know them. We have made our decision. Move away from us.”

Of course, M didn’t move away. She started to press up against the client holding a plastic fetus in her palm for the client to look at. The companion said, “I asked you to give us some space. Since you won’t do it, I will do it for you with my body.” The companion blocked M and kept her behind the client as we continued to walk to the clinic door.

I am always surprised at the total lack of awareness of personal space and the meaning of “Move away” M always exhibits.

You would think my capacity for being surprised would have run out by now.

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {2/4/13}

It was extremely cold. There were a lot of antis out; blocking the sidewalk and entrance to the clinic; preaching at the clinic windows.

A client and companion arrived on foot early. As they crossed the street, M moved in and started talking to them; pushing them to try to hand them literature and show them a plastic fetus toy. They just walked directly to the entrance.

When we explained the doors would not open for another 30 minutes, they decided to walk back to their car. M trailed them all the way back, talking non-stop.

The doors opened and shortly after they came back. M was ready for them and tried to prevent them from entering the clinic without success.

Exactly at 8a M said to me, “There is a car in the monthly rental. You need to tell them to move their car. I wouldn’t want them to get towed.” I asked if she was sure they were a client and asked for a description of the car. She said she was sure and gave me the description. I went into the clinic and asked whose car it was. Of course, it was the client and companion that M had chased to and from their car.

I explained to the companion the monthly rental lot would tow their car and offered to show them where to move it. We moved the car and as we were walking back I let the companion know the protester who had been harassing them earlier had let us know about the parking.

We were approached by M again as we got close to the clinic. Both of us thanked her for letting us know about the parking. M just wanted to talk about bringing the client out of the clinic.

M was being helpful, but I have to wonder about the timing.  Why didn’t M tell them about the parking the previous two times she approached them? Was she hoping to delay the procedure by waiting until 8a?

I’m grateful she let the client and companion know, but I cannot help  being skeptical about the timing.