Dear White Anti-Choicers

Niki and me in our clinic escort vests, holding coffee cups and giving the camera a thumbs up.

Niki and me on the sidewalk in our clinic escort vests.

Niki M. is a published author and an advocate for science, skepticism, atheism and reproductive rights – among many other things. Niki is one of my fellow clinic escorts, and she is subjected to the same kind of targeted harassment as the rest of us who provide care to the clients who visit our clinic. However, as a woman of color she gets a little extra love from the protesters. This open letter is a guest post by Niki to her harassers, and to all of those protesters who think that it’s okay to target a clinic escort based on her skin color. You can follow Niki at @jailawrites

 

Dear White Anti-Choicers,

Hey, how’s it going? Nice day we’re having. it’s a mite chilly, though, but the sun’ll be up soon on this glorious Saturday morning. Then again, the sun will make those all of that lovely fetal snuff porn you have on display inescapable. And you brought your kids too. How nice. [Read more…]

Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013

We’ve seen a lot – a LOT – of legislation introduced at the state and federal levels that have been designed to limit people’s access to safe, legal abortion. With Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme court disallowed many types of restrictions that would prohibit people from obtaining abortions. But as we have seen in the past several years, anti-abortion proselytizers have found and abused a major loophole: while still allowing legal abortion, it has been possible to limit access to abortion by closing down abortion clinics via regulatory technicalities. Their hope is that by making abortions harder to obtain, there will be fewer abortions. The laws in which these technicalities are housed are referred to by pro-choice advocates as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Clinics, or TRAP laws.

[Read more…]

Clinic Escorting Tales

Last Saturday was the first time that I’ve escorted during the current round of 40 Days For Life (Imma start shortening that to 40DfL). As the name might indicate, this is an anti-abortion event that spans Forty. Loooooong. Days. It was created to help prolife groups energize their ranks. 40DfL activities are hosted by local groups, and each group has different events, but they typically revolve around holding prayer vigils, fasting, harassing patients and companions outside of clinics that provide abortions, and smiling in a creepy, brainwashed way at the escorts and clients while inviting us to “just talk for a moment”.

I’ve escorted during 40DfL and it’s always been a bit of a circus. But we get through it.

40DfL snuck up on me this time. Me, Jailawrites and Pixelsnake (twitter handles used for privacy) showed up for the 7am shift on Saturday and were met by the usual suspects. Pleasantries were exchanged (“How many babies are on death row today?” from her, and quiet chatting amongst ourselves as we ignored her) and we did the clinic escort thing until our shift was over at 8:30am. There were no other escorts this morning and only seven protesters. A normal Saturday morning for all involved.

[Read more…]

An Amazing 12 Hours of News

I, along with an incredibly huge number of people, stayed up late last night to watch the clock count down on Wendy Davis’s amazing 13 hour filibuster against the Texas anti-abortion bill, SB5. After Senator Davis’s filibuster was ended at 10pm for some bullshit reason (in this case, that the topic of ultrasounds were not “germane” to the filibuster. “Germane” was one of the words of the evening, along with “parliamentary inquiry”), pro-choice legislators were able to stretch things out for another one hour and 45 minutes or so. With about 15 minutes left until midnight, Republicans tried to force a vote even as bill opponents protested. Frustrated with not being recognized, Senator Luticia Van De Putte asked:

LeticiaGraphicImage shows Sen. Van De Putte with text overwritten: “At what point must a female senator raiser her hand and her voice to be recognized by her male colleagues?” – Source: Memographs via Joe.My.God

AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE IN THE CHAMBER.

People started screaming, cheering; there was thunderous applause. And then they didn’t stop. At one point they started chanting “WENDY!” over and over again. They screamed for almost 15 minutes! Here are a few of my favorite tweets from that time:

Texas State Representative Jessica Farrar tweeted: THIS IS THE CITIZEN FILIBUSTER! with this photo:

BNqUphZCQAAzCfx

Image shows part of the chamber floor and the packed balcony shouting at the top of their lungs and their arms raised in the air.

They cheered until the clock ran down. They cheered while police were hauling people out of the chamber in an attempt to restore order. And when the chamber was finally empty you could hear them chanting “SHAME!” outside the doors. In the end the diversion took just long enough to keep the vote from being called on time.

VotesAfterMidnight-1024x379

Screen cap of the datestamps of the vote.

See – the vote took place after midnight – after the special session ended. In one of many outrages of the night, bill proponents tried to fucking cheat. But in the end, the bill was dead. And we all rejoiced and praised the feminist army and donated to the political campaigns of Wendy Davis and Leticia Van De Putte and all of the other Senators who opposed SB5. Everyone was happy.

Oh…except for these people.

lifenews

Image is a screen cap from lifenews.com, an anti-choice website.Dewhurst

Image is a Facebook capture of David Dewhurst’s status “I am furious about the outcome of the final day of this Special Session, when an unruly, screaming mob using “Occupy Wall Street” tactics derailed legislation intended to protect the health of Texas women and their babies. An unconscionable series of delaying actions by the minority party and their allies placed SB 5 in direct jeopardy of death-by-filibuster upon its arrival in the Senate. Pushing every parliamentary procedure to its limit, we passed SB 5 19-10, but the deafening roar from the gallery drowned out any possibility of adjourning with a signed bill. I pledge to Texas one thing: this fight is far from over.”

Lila Rose – anti-choice activist

rick_perry

Rick Perry haz a sad. Somebody bring him some some hot cocoa or a popsicle or something. Image shows Rick Perry looking pouty and resting his cheek against his fist. Image found at jessesublet.com

But enough about them – How about that other big news, right???? High five for five of nine SCOTUS judges!!!

I missed the media coverage of the DOMA statement and the the Prop 8 ruling, so all I’ll say on those is:

fyeah

Image has “FUCK YEA.” in rainbow font over the “fuck yea.” meme guy, and a rainbow flag on the left of the image.

Between Minnesota legalizing same-sex marriage, DOMA being overturned and SCOTUS ruling favorably in the Prop 8 case, it is going to be one hell of a party at the Twin Cities Pride Festival this weekend. Which reminds me, if you can, you should COME TO PRIDE IN THE PARK and THE PRIDE PARADE THIS WEEKEND!!!! Unless you don’t like big crowds, or you’re not in a place where you can feel safe at a LGBTQA celebration, of course. But if you can, it’s an amazing experience to be surrounded by such joy and support and acceptance. And yummy fatty food trucks and giant lemonades and way more taffeta and leather and body glitter than is usually seen on a hot July day and puppies and hippies with hoola hoops and seven inch heels and loud live music and drag shows and not nearly enough clothing on so many people and hugs and smiles and kisses and rainbow ALL THE THINGS!

Happy [social justice/civil rights/treating human beings decently] celebration day, everyone.

Saturday Escorting Stories

Note: I’ve tucked one weird image from the abortion protesters below the fold. It’s morbid, but in a fantasy violence kind of way.

I was the only escort this morning! Usually we have at least three to four escorts on the weekend, but sunny summer Saturdays are precious in Minnesota, so c’était tout moi aujourd’hui!

There were “only” thirteen protesters, but they always seem to adopt a bit of mob bravery when the ratio is that off; there are a few more pointed remarks, upturned noses, snide statements. Most of them walked up and down the sidewalk praying their odd prayers to God, asking him to please baptize the unborn children before they are to be murdered so that they might enter the kingdom of heaven and sit at the right hand of…

And I do heartily beg your indulgence for the impending side rant, but isn’t that bending the rules? Doesn’t the person – or the person’s proxy – have to do the whole asking for baptism thing? Is that the point? If God is willing to baptize people without their (or their proxy’s) asking, why require baptism at all? Just baptize everyone, God, you big jerk. And if all you have to do is pray for God to baptize someone else, quit spending shitloads of money to go on expensive “Come to Jesus” missions to foreign lands. Just get on the phone with God and take care of all that, and then send all the monies to humanitarian efforts that might stand a chance of making a difference in the lives of those you want to save. Sheesh. It’s mental acrobatics of the highest order when it comes to justifying what particular tenet of the mythology one wants to believe or ignore.

And back to our story.

[Read more…]

Who will protect the unborn children…er…the evidence?

New Mexico state representative Cathrynn Brown will take on that cause! She is very concerned about the rights of women who are being forced to have abortions by their rapists, so she has introduced House Bill 206 to define a fetus as evidence if the fetus is a result of rape. And as we all know from Law and Order – you can’t tamper with evidence.

So —> Fetus = evidence

Thus —> Abortion = tampering with evidence

*facepalm*

Here’s part of the relevant language:

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.

Of course it’s that “procuring or facilitating* an abortion” that really makes this about forcing women to continue an unwanted pregnancy. I’m all about punishing anyone who attempts to compel or coerce another to obtain an abortion. But the beginning part of that sentence implies that even if you aren’t compelled or coerced, even willingly you can’t get an abortion if your pregnancy is a result of rape.

“But wait,” you say, because you have an brain, “how will a fetus or infant prove that a woman was Really Raped?” Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, but Rep. Brown didn’t get around to saying what exactly the rape baby would be evidence of. And wait a minute – why would a pregnant woman say she was raped? After all – her body didn’t shut that whole thing down, so she must have wanted it. Oh no…I wonder if Rep. Brown considered that? I should write her.

If you think of any helpful hints or suggestions, you can write her too.

Here’s a video from HuffPo with the story. The reporter on video is fantastic. I love the moment when she drops her professional persona over this bullshit story.

Both chambers are controlled by Democrats. And this was a Tea Party Republican and she’s kind of known for bills like this. She’s introduced a couple of different anti-abortion bills. Um, so it’s not likely to pass, ah, but it’s really interesting that … uh…you know… she was elected. [pause] At all.

I can’t embed the video, so clicking on the image below will take you to HuffPo’s site and the video source.

HuffPo Report

*Meaning that the doc and clinic could be held liable too. This is just icing on the cake for Rep Brown, who is one of the latest politicians attempting to use political power to usurp doctors’ abilities to provide care that benefits their patients when that care has to do with lady bits.

The Hyde Amendment: 36 Years of Abortion Restriction

The Hyde amendment was passed on September 30th, 1976. The amendment bars certain federal funds, primarily  Medicaid, from being used to pay for abortions. It is a mean, vile, arguably unconstitutional  provision that disproportionately affects low-income women and families. Every year it’s tacked on to an appropriations bill, and so 36 years after Hyde’s initial passage we’re still telling one portion of the population that they don’t get to have affordable access to abortion, that we don’t think they’re capable of making their own health care and family planning decisions, that we know what’s right for them, that if they were so stupid as to go get knocked up when they knew they didn’t want a baby then they shouldn’t expect us to help them out after the fact.

The National Network of Abortion Funds has a petition that you can sign to show your support of all women’s right to safe, affordable abortion:

Sign the petition below and join our call for coverage of abortion in public insurance programs as a part of comprehensive health care for all. Please also join our call for support for low-income women to care for their children with dignity. Take a stand for reproductive justice and a world in which all women have the power and resources necessary to make healthy decisions about their bodies and their families.

Petition:

It is time for Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment and restore Medicaid coverage for abortion. We must close the gap between the legal right to abortion and genuine access to care. I call on my Senators and House members to repeal the Hyde Amendment and ensure dignity and justice for all women.

Clinic Escorting Encounters

After President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in 1994, protesters have been limited in their ability to interfere with people who visit abortion clinics. For example, they’re no longer allowed to physically block the entrances to clinics. But they still do their damnedest to convince clients to not to go through those doors on their own. And so there are clinic escorts.

Clinic escorts give clients the strength to walk past the protesters, to ignore the offensive, lie-filled literature that is thrust at them. We make it okay for them to avert their eyes from the little plastic fetuses, the swinging rosaries, the gory pictures that are held up as they walk by or are posted in their line of sight. We give them an excuse to not listen to the prayers, the hymns, the questions and accusations that are thrown at them.  We are a psychological barrier between the clients and the protesters.

On Saturday I was escorting at Whole Women’s Health in downtown Minneapolis. When I showed up there were 13 protesters lining the narrow sidewalk that leads up to the clinic entrance. Two were active protesters (antis who rush up to heckle the clients) and the rest were passively praying, singing, touching the beads on their rosaries, and walking up and down the sidewalk. This later group had four kids who looked to be under the age of 12 with them. It always makes me sad to see kids with the protesters.

[Read more…]

Choice Leadership Conference Opportunity

Damn. I’m too old for this and it sounds like a great opportunity.

If you are or want to be a reproductive freedom activist, NARAL is advertising a leadership conference in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) metro area on June 8-10 for young adults aged 18-30.

According to the website, the institute is at no cost to participants. Meals will be provided. Travel and lodging stipends are also available (funding comes from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota). People of color, queer people, gender non-conforming people and trans people are strongly encouraged to apply.

The application due date is coming up quickly. For more information check out the web pages linked below:

The Choice Leadership Institute and Fellowship (CLIF)seeks to develop, educate, and empower emerging pro-choice leaders. Twenty pro-choice young adults, aged 18 to 30, will go through a full weekend of reproductive freedom and leadership trainings, followed by the opportunity to create a self-directed community engagement project.

Training sessions include Inequity in Access, Advocacy 101, and the Current Landscape of Reproductive Health in Minnesota. Presenting organizations include women winning, Take Action MN, and Pro-Choice Resources.

Applications for this exciting opportunity are due by May 23.

The future of choice is in your hands – apply today!