Road Rally a Success!

A great time was had by all at the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights on Saturday, November 2nd. On a beautiful fall day, we had a fantastic turnout and an awesome slate of speakers who fired up the crowd in advance of the 2014 legislative session. Truly, we could not have asked for better weather on a November weekend.
Capitol
Many thanks to all our speakers for their thoughtful words.
Road Rally Speakers
Dawn Cooley, minister at First Unitarian Church in Louisville, spoke about the intersection of faith and reproductive rights, emphasizing that the right-wing evangelicals do not possess the morality of reproductive issues.
DerekAndFrede
Derek Selznick (left), from the ACLU of Kentucky really heated up the crowd as he spoke to his experience lobbying for family-positive legislation in the Capitol, the building on which steps we rallied. F (right) spoke movingly about her abortion experience that was rife with hurdles and complications, problems arising primarily from anti-woman legislation.
ClinicEscortatRally
Michelle Kinsey Bruns joined us, who tweets as @ClinicEscort, driving from Washington, D.C. to be a part of the action. Her words about moving from compassion were a beautiful cap on the day.
Mel
We are thankful to have had media coverage from the Lexington ABC affiliate, WTVQ, and from Kentucky Public Radio, whose story can be followed on the Louisville public radio station or WKYU. It is important that our message reach both legislators and like-minded citizens.
Merch
Specifically, in Kentucky, there is an immediate concern of which to keep abreast. A longtime reproductive rights activist, Kathy Stein, has been appointed to the judiciary. Her vacant seat will be filled in a special election on December 10th. Many of our District 13/Fayette County (Lexington) allies were busy knocking on doors on Saturday, in the run-up to that special election. We are following that race closely, as Stein’s vote was often an important one in blocking anti-family, anti-woman legislation in our State Senate.
PreacherAndHerPulpit

What’s Next

Rally attendees were encouraged to return to their homes and speak out about being supporters of reproductive rights. You can join in the next steps, too!

1. Invite two or three friends for coffee or lunch and chat about an article on reproductive rights. RHRealityCheck.org is a great place to find something to talk about, as is ReproductiveRights.org or ACLU.org/reproductive-freedom.

2. From these two or three friends and you, begin an activist club, where you meet regularly to discuss articles, learn about legislation, and keep up-to-date on what’s happening in court dockets.

3. Find out who your legislator is – on the state level and the national level. How are they voting on issues about reproductive rights? Make sure your voice is heard when they have bills to consider that affect reproductive rights.

4. Keep up-to-date on bills in congress. For Kentucky, specifically, you can see what bills have been prefiled or, once the legislature is in session, what bills have been filed, what’s being heard in committee, what is being voted on, who wrote the bills, who else is sponsoring them – in other words, more information than you ever thought you could learn in one spot. By clicking on different subject headings – Women, Public Health, Children, etc – you can keep yourself informed about what our representatives in Frankfort are doing. Better yet, sign up for BILL WATCH, a service that your tax dollars are subsidizing, so, you know, use it!

5. Get involved with a local group! Find a group near you that is working on reproductive rights. The ACLU of Kentucky has an email list that will send out email blasts about pending legislation, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is a great resource, too. There are many other groups, like the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Unitarian Univeralist Social Justice Network, and others. Many of them sponsored the rally, so be sure to check out the sponsors’ page on the website to find links to their websites.
Sara
Over the coming days and weeks, the rallly website will have a new tab for “What’s Next,” where this information, and more!, will be available. We will be posting resources to keep you informed, and ways you can link into local groups working for reproductive rights.

Let’s make 2014 the year that Kentucky families get the support they need – in comprehensive sex education, affordable and accessible contraception, access to abortion services, and family support programs – because Kentucky families deserve better!

Rallying in Frankfort Today!

After escorting this morning, many of us are headed to Frankfort to rally on the Capitol steps to tell our elected officials that Kentucky families deserve better! If you can’t join us, you can keep up with all the info by following the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights’ Twitter feed, @kyroadrally, and by clicking “Like” on the Facebook page.

We are rallying in support of four reproductive rights issues:

  1. Comprehensive sex education;
  2. Affordable and accessible contraceptives;
  3. Access to abortion; and
  4. Family support programs.

COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION
In Kentucky, there are extremely limited sex education requirements. According to the Kentucky Department of Education’s Core Standards, sex ed must fulfill only the following two high school standards:

Students will understand that decisions regarding sexuality have short and long term consequences and responsibilities. (PL-H-PW-U-4)

and

Students will understand the importance of assuming responsibility for personal health behaviors by explaining how decision-making relates to responsible sexual behavior (e.g., abstinence, preventing pregnancy, preventing HIV/STDs), impacts physical, mental and social well- being of an individual. (PL-H-PW-S-PPH1.c)

However, it has been proven in multiple studies that comprehensive sexuality education is the best first step in decreasing unintended pregnancies and transmission of STDs, as well as increasing victims’ willingness to report sexual violence.

AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE CONTRACEPTION
While the ACA requires contraceptives to be covered in all insurance plans beginning January 2014, access to contraception can be difficult, especially for people living in rural areas; particularly were a so-called ‘conscience clause’ passed, allowing pharmacists and doctors to refuse filling or prescribing contraception.

ACCESS TO ABORTION
Kentucky currently has two abortion clinics, only one of which operates on a regular schedule. Currently, state-mandated counseling must be provided 24 hours prior to the procedure but can be done over the phone. In each of the previous three legislative sessions, bills seeking to restrict a woman’s right to access abortion have been presented; some of those bills even passed one house of Congress, only to be stopped by a handful of stalwart reproductive rights allies in the other house. One such ally has been appointed to the judiciary, leaving her seat open; a special election is being held on December 10th to fill that seat.

FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAMMING
Kentucky has a poor track record of support for families. To add insult to the cuts in support programs at the Federal level, families living at the poverty line were handed another blow through the cuts to childcare assistance funds this year.

Check out what’s happening at the rally on Twitter!

Like us on Facebook!

Check out our YouTube page and Tumblr.

And look for a full report about the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights here on Monday!

I Rally for Reproductive Rights Because…

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

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

  1. Comprehensive Sex Education

  2. Contraception Access

  3. Access to Abortion Services

  4. Family Support Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

It’s Not a Contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have four points of focus:

  • Comprehensive Sex Education

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

  • Contraception Access

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

  • Access to Abortion Services

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

  • Family Support Services

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

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

(transcript at end of article)

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

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

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

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

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

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

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Transcript of video:

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

Vagina. Vagina. Vagina.

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

I’m going to make signs.

I’m going to decorate my car.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kentucky families deserve better..

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

Waiting for McCullen v Coakley ~ Co-Authored by Oubli

We write about the antis all of the time on our blog. We photograph them, take videos of them and recite things they say to clients. The post this week by fml got a lot of comments and views, which is always very appreciated. We love active discussions with our readers.

The videos in the article of Reboot captured the atmosphere of the sidewalk perfectly. It is chaos. It is full of people shoving and shouting to harass and shame clients going for a legal medical procedure. I have said many times, that if you were going to a dentist’s office and protesters showed up to demonstrate they were against fillings because they thought they were a communication device to the devil, those protesters would not be tolerated by the community. But because the medical procedure being accessed at EMW is abortion, it is tolerated by society as being the antis’ right to free speech. Just another political demonstration of their views.

It is not a harmless demonstration. It is not a way to help anyone. The Report of the  APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion* “found that the greater the number of antiabortion picketers and the more aggressive the picketing that women encountered when entering an abortion clinic (as coded by observers), and the more the women reported feeling upset by the demonstrators, the more depressed affect they reported right after their abortion.” In other words, the antis outside the clinic cause more harm to the patient than the actual procedure. States and individual cities have recognized the harm and potential for violence by enacting buffer and/or bubble zone laws to separate the antis from close proximity to patients, escorts, staff and the clinics themselves.

Frequently, we are asked in comments about why we don’t have a buffer zone. We would love one, but there has never been a political climate in Louisville to be able to get the votes for implementing a buffer zone here. There are several reasons why this is our reality. We have studied the risks and benefits of launching a campaign to give the citizens of Louisville and residents of Kentucky a safety zone around the abortion clinics in the state, but for now we are waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of McCullen v Coakley. This will be decided during their current session. This case could overturn all existing buffer laws; a frightening prospect.

Oubli is a valued reader, a frequent commenter and has authored articles on our blog. Oubli sent this information and the additional resource information below, to emphasize  the importance of this case to all of the existing and proposed buffer zones in the United States.

We need to keep an eye on McCullen v. Coakley because it will determine the constitutionality of clinic buffer zones.

This clinic is the flash point for the case.**

Planned Parenthood's clinic in Boston, MA. The yellow line on the sidewalk and street marks the 35-feet buffer zone.

Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Boston, MA. The yellow line on the sidewalk and street marks the 35-feet buffer zone.

Planned Parenthood's Springfield, MA clinic has white arcs painted on the street to represent the buffer zone.

Planned Parenthood’s Springfield, MA clinic has white arcs painted on the street to represent the buffer zone.

I think that buffer zones do not violate free speech. My analogy would be the equally distasteful but protected freedom of speech right to protest military funerals. Yes, they can protest but as long as their protest was far enough away from the grievers as to not cause distress.

I would really like to pause for a minute and ask you to scroll back up to the photos with their lovely white and yellow lines.

We desperately need this type of space at our clinic. Go back and watch the videos from Wednesday’s post, Saturday on the Sidewalk. On the first video, those white tennis shoes you see were worn by me. In the second video you can see how much shoving, pushing and up close and personal Reboot was to the escorts and the client. Personally, I would prefer to not be as up close and personal with someone screaming in my face. Any escort who has been on the sidewalk in Louisville one time would vote instantly for any buffer zone we could get. The current situation has a high potential for violence and does nothing except cause harm to the clients and their companions.

In the meantime, we wait for the decision in this case that could turn back the clock 20 years or pave the way to a safer experience for all abortion clinics around the country.

Borrowing a slogan from the Kentucky Road Rally for Reproductive Rights: “Kentucky families deserve better!”

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*American Psychological Association (APA) study. pg 84

Additional reading:

**Mike Blog: Law in Plain English McCullen v. Coakley (photographs source)

Policy Mic: McCullen v Coakley is Heading to the Supreme Court Again

Alliance Alert, Law Review: Balancing Public Safety and Freedom of Speech Outside Reproductive Healthcare Facilities-McCullen v Coakley

Cooperative Research: Profile: Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act

National Abortion Federation: Legal Remedies to Address Clinic Violence and Harassment. A Handbook for NAF Members.(Pdf)

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?

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

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

Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

Sidewalk Snippet ~ {10/7/13}

There has been an anti coming out for a couple of months now. She rarely says anything and stays beside D the whole time she is out. We started to call her Trainee because she seems to be learning from D how to harass clients and their companions. One day recently, she found her voice.

The sentences below were said and then there was a pause before another sentence was said. She is close to D’s messages, but seems to need just a little more training to perfectly mimic D. I’m sure with practice with talking at strangers, these statements will smooth out and she will sound like every other anti on the sidewalk.

“No one deserves to die without a say.”

“This is a very, very serious thing.”

“”This is a gruesome, gruesome thing.”

“They purposely won’t show you the ultrasound.”

“Go to YouTube and look up former abortion providers. Read their stories.”

“You can use Google to find out about women who regret their abortion. Read about it.”

“You have choice here. It’s not locked in stone. At least that’s what they say.”

Until she is fully trained, she provides a relief to us from listening to the same things said in the same way by every anti.

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REMINDER:
We are standing up for reproductive rights on November 2. Are you coming with us? Can you contribute $5 or more to help make it happen?
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/KyRoadRally
Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/158610191007342/
Website: http://kyroadrally.org/

 

More Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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