Abortion Information


One clinic discovered nails sprinkled in its parking lot, according to a new report on violence against abortion providers.

Abortion clinic staff reported a stark increase in hate mail, harassing phone calls, trespassing, vandalism and obstruction in 2018, according to new findings by the National Abortion Federation, the professional association of abortion providers.

The organization has been tracking incidents of violence and harassment at abortion clinics since 1977. On Thursday, it released its 2018 report, coinciding with a wave of extreme anti-choice legislation that has cropped up in conservative states.

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Among its findings: Picketing of clinics has skyrocketed, increasing over threefold from 2015 to 2018. And with more protesting came more confrontations between anti-abortion activists and those trying to seek health care inside the clinic’s doors.

In 2018, abortion providers reported a 78 percent increase in acts of obstruction, which is defined as attempts to interfere with a clinic’s business, or preventing people from entering or exiting an area. In one case detailed in the report, anti-abortion protesters covered a clinic’s parking lot with nails, damaging the tires of patients and clinic staff.

Under federal law, it is a crime to use force or threat of force or physical obstruction to “injure, intimidate or interfere with” someone entering a reproductive health care facility.

Abortion clinics also reported a marked increase in hate email and internet harassment, with members reporting 21,252 incidents up from 15,773 the previous year. “If one murders, they must pay with their life,” one clinic protester wrote online. “If we start doing this, abortion stops.” Harassing phone calls and hate mail sent to clinics rose as well.

At another clinic, a protester threatened staff, telling them, “I have a bullet with your name on it.” The incident is currently under investigation by law enforcement. Trespassing at clinics increased in 2018 to more than 1,135 incidents — the highest number since the organization began collecting data on it.

The Very Reverend Katherine Ragsdale, Interim President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, said the findings echo a similarly dramatic increase in 2016 and 2017, which she noted corresponded to President Donald Trump’s rise to power.

“When violent, incendiary rhetoric takes place, you watch the violence escalate,” she said. “What makes these last couple of years different is that it used to be that kind of demonizing rhetoric came from extremists. And now it’s coming out of the mouth of the president.”

So far this year, four states have enacted so-called fetal heartbeat bills, which ban abortion around six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant: Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi. Alabama’s legislation is even more extreme, banning abortion at all stages of pregnancy, except when the woman’s life is at serious risk. On Friday, Missouri’s governor signed a bill into law that would ban abortion at eight weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. None of the new bans have gone into effect yet, and all will likely be challenged in court.

In the wake of renewed anti-abortion fervor, abortion providers have reported feeling increasingly nervous about their safety at home and online ―  fears which Ragsdale said were completely reasonable.

“When you start calling doctors murderers, it’s demonizing and dehumanizing and it sets targets on people’s backs,” she said. “It makes it somehow seem okay to extremists to inflict violence on these folks.”

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/abortion-clinics-see-surge-in-harassment-and-hate_n_5ce81832e4b0cce67c8a6890

“This is not a drill,” one expert said.

Amid a wave of aggressive state-level anti-abortion laws, Missouri is poised to enact one of the country’s most restrictive, banning most abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy.

Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed the bill into law on Friday. The measure is not expected to go into effect until late August.

Just across the border from Missouri, in Granite City, Illinois, sits the Hope Clinic for Women, which already performs abortions for many out-of-state patients. Missouri has only one abortion provider left, and the state already has stringent restrictions in place, such as a mandatory 72-hour waiting period. Many women find it easier to travel to nearby Illinois, a state with relatively few abortion restrictions, to seek care.

HuffPost spoke with Dr. Erin King, executive director of the Hope Clinic. King, who performs abortions at the clinic in Illinois and also provides gynecological care (but not abortions) in her home state of Missouri, opened up about the changes she anticipates should the eight-week ban go into effect later this summer and not be held up by legal challenges similar to those targeting other new anti-abortion laws around the country.

Missouri already has such limited access to abortion care. So how big a change would this new law be for women there?

It would have a huge impact on my patients, both those at the Hope Clinic who come to us from Missouri and my day-to-day patients at my OB-GYN practice. If all parts of the legislation go into effect, there is not only the restriction on when you can have an abortion; there are changes in the consent regulations and for providers that will make access even more difficult.

We’re expecting to see an increase in the volume of patients, and in the number of women who have faced a lot of barriers by the time they get to us. We’re talking much longer driving distances; more money spent on travel; more money spent on child care … even just barriers trying to schedule appointments with the relatively few abortion providers in the area. We anticipate we will be seeing women later in their pregnancies.

Are you getting questions from patients?

We are getting several calls a day, every day, from people asking if they can still get an abortion. We had one patient tell us that her partner told her he was going to report her abortion and that she was going to go to jail because that’s the new law. We have had patients who arrive at our clinic saying, “I scheduled this appointment before I heard about all of these bans. Is it still legal for me to have this procedure?”

There is already so much confusion and stigma around abortion care. Additional confusion is really detrimental to our patients. So right now we’re trying to make it very clear that this care is still available to our patients. That hasn’t changed at all.

You’ve been an abortion provider working adjacent to (and in) areas with severely limited abortion access for a long time now. Does what’s happening right now feel different to you in any way?

Oh, I think we are in a major crisis. I’ve told a couple of my friends and colleagues: “This is not a drill.” There is no question, to me, that we are facing down a huge battle over abortion, both at the Supreme Court level and in the upcoming election. There was this glimmer of hope a few years ago when the Supreme Court heard Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and there was talk about science and evidence … and now a lot of these bans have language in them that is so medically inaccurate, I can’t even respond to them because they don’t make sense.

So you’re worried?

I still feel like even though there’s all this media attention and advocacy attention, and there has been some wonderful support for the abortion providers, I don’t think the general public, on their day-to-day radar screen, is seeing that this is as big a crisis as it really is.

Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/a-doctor-explains-how-missouris-anti-abortion-law-is-already-affecting-women_l_5ce6e60ee4b0cce67c877cdd

Vermont’s Republican governor told Rewire.News he would not stand in the way of protecting abortion rights amid the looming threat to Roe v. Wade.

Advocates celebrated, called for Scott’s support, and planned to participate in a nationwide #stopthebans rally Tuesday evening to condemn the legislative assaults on abortion access in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and other states where near-total abortion bans have been signed into law.
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

As Republican-controlled state legislatures across the United States pass near-total abortion bans, Vermont Democrats are looking to establish the country’s most comprehensive abortion rights protections.

The pro-choice effort in Vermont is two-pronged: a constitutional amendment via Proposition 5 to guarantee personal reproductive liberty, and bill H 57, which codifies the right to an abortion and prohibits public entities from interfering with a person’s right to choose.

Vermont’s Democratic-majority house and senate have passed both measures this session, and H 57 will soon head to the governor’s desk, where he can either sign it, allow it to become law by taking no action, or veto it. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) does not plan to veto H 57, his spokesperson told Rewire.News.

Proposition 5 is a more longterm endeavor: It requires another pair of votes in the legislature during the next biennial session before it can appear on the ballot as a public referendum in November 2022. If passed by voters, it would protect access to reproductive health care in the event that Roe v. Wade and any state abortion laws are overturned.

“For those values and those rights to be protected definitively, they must be enshrined in our state constitution. The time is now,” Rep. Ann Pugh (D-South Burlington) said on the house floor when reporting Proposition 5. “While the right to reproductive autonomy and particularly abortion care remains for the time being a fundamental right at the national level, it has been and is under serious attack. In this turbulent time, clarity is called for.”

H 57 would give Vermonters unrestricted access to abortion care even if conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court strike down Roe v. Wade. It would be one of the most comprehensive abortion rights laws in the country.

The bill recognizes “the fundamental right of every individual to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization,” and “the fundamental right of every individual who becomes pregnant to choose to carry a pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion.” The legislation aims to “safeguard the existing rights to access reproductive health services in Vermont by ensuring those rights are not denied, restricted, or infringed by a governmental entity.”

Scott dodged questions in 2016 about whether he’d support abortion restrictions, but last week he said he believes government should stay out of the decision. While confirming he would not veto the bill, Scott acknowledged the messages he’s received from abortion rights opponents who feel the bill goes too far, NBC Channel 5 reported.

There are 147,165 women of reproductive age in Vermont, according to 2017 Census estimates. In 2014, around 1,400 abortions were provided in Vermont; the state’s abortion rate increased by three percent between 2011 and 2014, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Many in the liberal Northeast state, like Elizabeth Deutsch, 49, hope Scott will sign the bill.

“Women’s health is health care,” said Deutsch, a nurse. “This is not about a philosophical decision, this is not a religious decision. This is a health-care choice and women should not have government interference in their health care. It is not up to anybody else or their religious belief to litigate what women can do with their bodies.”

No one is trying to regulate Viagra, vasectomies, or prostate when it comes to men’s health, Deutsch said. Unlike men complaining about the cost of pregnancy and abortion care when discussing universal health care, “we don’t hear women jumping up and down saying we don’t want to cover men’s prostate exams or their prostate cancer,” she said. “This is dangerous.”

State Sen. Virginia “Ginny” Lyons (D-Chittenden) said she hopes Scott will sign the abortion rights legislation into law.

“It is critical to establish fundamental rights to contraception, sterilization, pregnancy to birth and to abortion. These rights are basics to the human condition—in particular for women who comprise 51 percent of the population,” Lyons said in an email. “Any change to Roe v. Wade could eliminate women’s rights in many ways. Having legislation in place that articulates the past nearly 50 years of practice will protect Vermont values.”

“Governor Scott has stated publicly, as well as in our 2018 candidate survey, that he supports a woman’s right to choose and that he will always firmly defend the rights of all women. We appreciate his support of reproductive rights and we expect he will sign H 57 into law,” Lucy Leriche, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund, said in a statement.

Other states with Democratic legislative majorities have moved to safeguard abortion rights amid the looming threat to Roe. In New York, Democrats passed a law in January repealing criminal abortion statutes, permitting abortion after 24 weeks when the pregnant person’s health is at risk or when the fetus is not viable, and allowing nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants to provide abortions. It also amended an archaic law that would have endangered abortion rights if Roe were overturned. In New Mexico, a group of conservative Democrats joined Republicans in March to end an effort to repeal a pre-Roe abortion ban.

Vermont legislators have not passed any laws restricting access to abortion since Roe was decided in 1973, Lyon noted.

“The ignorance reflected in other states suggest a cultural bias against women—the aging men and women conspiring to eliminate reproductive liberty have no clue about what it means to be a woman—to be part of a diverse society of humans. H 57 will protect rights to abortion while the constitutional amendment [Proposition 5] is put in place,” Lyons said.

“H 57 would neither enhance nor restrict current access to abortion in Vermont. The goal of this law is to preserve the status-quo and prevent government interference between a patient and her healthcare practitioner and to allow healthcare practitioners to provide the highest quality, evidence-based, compassionate care that aligns with a patient’s goals,” according to the Vermont Medical Society.

The governor’s decision to let the law go into effect—or even sign it himself—could put Scott at odds with Republicans in states advancing a bevy of anti-choice legislation, including total and near-total abortion bans widely unpopular among the public.

Advocates gathered at the state house Tuesday evening to call for Scott’s support and to participate in a nationwide #stopthebans rally to condemn the legislative assaults on abortion access in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and other states where near-total abortion bans have been signed into law.

“With increased threats to abortion care at the national level, Vermonters want to protect people’s health and ensure that abortion care remains safe and legal here in Vermont,” ACLU of Vermont Policy Director Chloé White said in an email. “H 57 and the constitutional amendment are simply an affirmation of Vermonters’ long-held values.”

Deutsch, who has been a vocal supporter of the reforms in Vermont, described it as a civil rights issue.

“I am fighting this fight because I am a nurse, because I believe everyone has the right to their own health care choices, and because I believe that my daughter and my step-daughters are entitled to the best health care they can have,” she said. “It’s not up to anybody else to make decisions about their health care.”

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2019/05/22/how-one-state-has-become-a-model-for-protecting-abortion-rights-from-supreme-court-conservatives/

From the White House to the Senate, from courthouses to state legislatures, everywhere you look across the country, men in power are simultaneously dismissing women’s experiences of sexual assault and further restricting access to abortion care.
There’s the cruel irony of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, declaring in one of his first opinions from the bench that he would support upholding an anti-abortion law in Louisiana, only months after he was confirmed despite the protests of women bravely sharing their stories of sexual assault.
Or the irony of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rushing to confirm Neomi Rao to Justice Kavanaugh’s old seat on the D.C. Circuit despite her deeply problematic comments blaming women for being sexual assaulted. The only thing slowing down her nomination was Senator Josh Hawley’s concern that she wasn’t anti-abortion enough (he ultimately voted to confirm Rao after receiving assurances that she is, in fact, anti-abortion).
Or the fact that both Kavanaugh and Rao were nominated by a President who has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women — and whose administration has been hell-bent on decimating access to abortion and reproductive health care.
And while these events might be ironic, and devastating, sadly they’re not surprising. They are part of a scary and a pervasive culture that disregards women’s right to control our own bodies.
When we think about the connection between abortion access and sexual assault, we often think of the rape survivors who need or want to end a pregnancy that resulted from the rape. But the relationship between these two issues runs much deeper.
Deciding whether and when to have a child and whether or when to consent to sexual activity are both fundamentally about asserting autonomy over our own bodies. And both restrictions on abortion and the dismissal of sexual assault are about people in power — predominantly men — trying to strip away our dignity and roll back our march toward equality. We’ve seen it across this country as state legislatures have introduced more than 250 laws restricting abortion access since January 2019.
In truth, these restrictions stem from a culture that allows survivors of sexual assault to be disregarded and where women who want a full range of choices when it comes to starting or growing our families are not seen as the key decision-maker in our own lives.
If we view sexual assault and abortion restrictions through this lens, the misogyny that underpins both becomes so much clearer. But so too does the path forward for those of us who care about women’s equality, who protest efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, who lead the Take Back the Night event at their school, who march in the streets, and who have bravely said #MeToo.
Men may try to gaslight us by telling us that we must be mistaken about what happened to us or about what we want – but we know our own minds and are reliable narrators of our own stories.
Men may try to shame and stigmatize us – but we know that we deserve respect and that our experiences matter.
Now is the time to join together across issues and movements, and to stand united in our resolve to speak out against the harmful laws, policies and culture that would erode our bodily autonomy and our humanity. Now is the time to say that, no matter who is in power, we will continue to trust and believe women.

Pro and anti-abortion rights activists on future of Alabama abortion bill

The Alabama state Senate passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the nation, sending it to the governor’s desk and setting off a wave of panic among abortion rights supporters.

The bill would make it a crime to provide an abortion at any gestational stage of pregnancy without exemptions for rape or incest.

Alabama Rep. Terri Collins, the Republican who sponsored the bill, told ABC News earlier this month she hopes it gets challenged should it be signed into law, so it could eventually make it to the Supreme Court to challenge the right to abortion nationwide.

The panic from many abortion rights supporters stems from concern that the Alabama bill could mean the end of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a nationally protected constitutional right.

But to legal experts at the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU, the Alabama bill bringing on the overturning of Roe doesn’t seem like much of a distinct possibility, at least for the near future.

“We are very confident that the courts are going to block this law from ever taking effect,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, told ABC News.

Should Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, sign the bill into law, the ACLU plans to sue, Kolbi-Molinas said.

“That litigation could end up at the Supreme Court,” Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel of state policy and advocacy for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told ABC News. “But, what we know is that for four and a half decades with different justices on the court, the Supreme Court has always confirmed and reconfirmed that women have the right to abortion,”

Without a doubt, women are terrified and watching really closely.

In three cases dealing with abortion that have come to the Supreme Court facing three different combinations of justices, the court has “consistently confirmed that women have the right to have an abortion prior to viability,” according to Smith.

This includes Roe v. Wade in 1973 that codified abortion as a constitutionally protected right, as well as 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which struck down a spousal consent requirement and introduced the concept that a law must not impose an “undue burden” on a person seeking an abortion. The “undue burden” test was reaffirmed in 2016’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down a Texas law requiring abortions be performed at ambulatory surgical centers with hospital admitting privileges.

While “viability” — the point at which a fetus can survive outside a uterus — is a murky concept, it is generally agreed to occur at 24 weeks of gestation. Laws banning abortion at less than 20 weeks have consistently been struck down by courts as unconstitutional. In 2016, the Supreme Court declined to review a lower court’s ruling that a so-called “heartbeat” abortion ban was unconstitutional, essentially upholding that decision.

PHOTO: Abortion rights supporters dressed as handmaids take part in a protest against HB314, the abortion ban bill, at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala., April 17, 2019.Mickey Welsh/Advertiser via USA Today Network, FILE
Abortion rights supporters dressed as handmaids take part in a protest against HB314, the abortion ban bill, at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala., April 17, 2019.more +

Though some abortion rights experts may not be concerned about the Alabama bill — although they caution it is in the early stages for speculation — advocates note the context of the Alabama bill, and the recent language around abortion, is important.

“We’re definitely seeing a new wave of extreme bans on abortion,” Amanda Thayer, deputy national communications director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told ABC News.

The Alabama bill puts that wave in the spotlight, which Thayer says is emboldened by President Donald Trump’s judicial appointments.

“The Republican Party and Trump have gone off the rails, and this is now coming into really acute focus for people across the country to see,” she said. “Without a doubt, women are terrified and watching really closely.”

For it to be sensationalized in this way, it really isn’t about abortion, it’s about equality and the status of women.

The bills restricting abortion are “getting more and more extreme,” according to Thayer, which she said is “part of the strategy of trying to move the goal post of what may seem reasonable.”

The increasing extremity of not just the bills, but the language surrounding them, concerns Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, an organization of women’s health care clinics that won the 2016 Supreme Court case.

“Our tolerance for really violent and hateful language is increasing,” Hagstrom Miller told ABC News, referencing President Donald Trump’s language around abortion, including using the term “executing,” among other issues. She worries that an increase in violent language, paired with more extreme legislation around abortion, could be linked to real-world violence for clinics and providers.

“For it to be sensationalized in this way, it really isn’t about abortion, it’s about equality and the status of women,” Hagstrom Miller said.

Many reproductive rights advocates also point out that abortion access has already been severely curtailed for many women. Though outright bans may be struck down by courts, other types of laws — such as waiting periods, hospital admitting privileges requirements and bans on specific forms of procedures — render abortion inaccessible in many parts of the country.

“While this attack we are seeing right now is unprecedented,” Kolbi-Molinas added, “it is also important to remember that for many people, abortion has already been pushed out of reach.”

And while it would take some time for the Alabama abortion ban to potentially make it to the Supreme Court, should it be signed, other restrictive laws are already in the pipeline. This includes bans on the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure, which is a de facto second trimester ban, and a law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges.

The admitting privileges law, which was passed in Louisiana, mirrors one passed in Texas that the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. In February, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Fifth Circuit’s decision that would have allowed it to stand.

The Louisiana law is being litigated in June Medical Services v. Gee. In April, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents June Medical Services, asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, and they’ll make that decision early this summer. Should the Supreme Court take it up, it would be an opportunity to affirm or reject their own precedent.

Source: https://abcnews.go.com/US/abortion-advocates-react-alabama-ban-increasingly-hostile-atmosphere/story?id=63050393

Pro-choice men should have the guts to campaign against the rolling back of laws that benefit both sexes

 

No woman can be free who does not control her own body. That’s been the pro-choice mantra down the ages, no less true now than it ever was, and from it flows the equally fierce conviction that men should keep their noses out of reproductive rights. If it isn’t your womb, your life, on the line here, then what right do you have to interfere in a grown adult’s decision? No wonder that powerful image of the 25 male politicians who collectively approved Alabama’s cruel new ban on terminations beyond six weeks, struck such a chord. The sight of old men desperately clawing back their lost power over women’s lives still triggers a deep, visceral fear. Six weeks! That’s barely a missed period, a time when many women won’t even have realised they’re pregnant.

True, America’s pro-life movement has plenty of prominent women in it, and in the UK it’s a female leader of the pro-life Democratic Unionist party who (thanks to her sensitive role propping up the British government’s parliamentary majority) represents one of the biggest stumbling blocks to rolling out abortion rights in Northern Ireland. But such nuances get forgotten in the face of men doggedly arguing on Twitter that forcing victims of incest to continue their pregnancies would at least preserve the criminal evidence, or refusing to let their cluelessness about female biology get in the way of a terrible opinion.

Yet the argument that men should all shut up and leave this to women is a risky one, unless we seek a world where virulently pro-life men still feel no shame about barging in while pro-choice men hang back for fear of saying the wrong thing. I admire any woman with the courage to say publicly, as the actor Jameela Jamil did this week, that she had an abortion when contraception failed her and “I don’t feel AT ALL ashamed.”

But there’s something uncomfortable about watching women, and only women, feel driven to bare their souls in defence of reproductive and contraceptive rights that have liberated both sexes and which both should be raising hell to defend.

We rarely read or hear about them, but there must be millions of men whose lives were changed for the better by not becoming fathers when they weren’t ready. There will be men who owe their glittering careers and happy families now to the fact that 20 years ago they didn’t have to drop out of university when their student girlfriend got pregnant, or weren’t forced to marry someone they didn’t love. And there will also be men who didn’t have to raise a child in circumstances where they genuinely couldn’t have coped, and whose other children are infinitely better off for it; men who haven’t had to watch their partner struggle through the horror of a pregnancy where everyone knows the child is unlikely to survive, who know how it feels to hold their partner’s hand in the clinic but don’t feel it’s quite their place to talk about it.

If one in three women has terminated a pregnancy, then men with every reason not to take abortion rights for granted, as well as older men who shudder to remember the days before it was legal, must statistically speaking be everywhere; walking down the street, sharing your office, representing you in parliament. The next leader of the Conservative party could very well be Boris Johnson, a man once sacked for trying to hide the fact that his mistress had had an abortion. So who is to say there aren’t men in high public office across America furiously keeping their heads down as the abortion row rages, crossing their fingers that the non-disclosure agreement holds? Yet for every man frantically trying to save his marriage by pressuring his lover to get rid of a baby, there will be couples taking painful decisions together about a much-wanted pregnancy when the tests show something nobody wanted to see.

It’s a hard truth to acknowledge, given it risks creating a dangerous chink in the argument through which pro-lifers can so easily slide. But for all that abortion should first and foremost be a woman’s choice, it doesn’t only affect women’s lives, and it shouldn’t just be women who are forced to fight do the heavy lifting in fightingfor it. There are, of course, perfectly good reasons for men to stay quiet about their personal experiences. For a man to talk openly about a partner’s abortion can feel pushy and self-centred, and practically speaking risks outing a woman who might not want her reproductive history exposed to all. During the impassioned debate ahead of Ireland’s referendum last year on repealing the ban, many Irish men initially hung back for fear of intruding. Male MPs similarly often defer to female ones in trying to change the law.

But the idea that the only way of galvanising change is by making a public song and dance about yourself may be one of the great curses of modern activism.

Pro-choice men worried about stealing women’s thunder can relax, because they are absolutely welcome to donate to pro-choice charities, sign petitions, lobby their political representatives, and vote for politicians and parties committed to defending reproductive rights. They can stuff envelopes, make tea, go on marches – or look after the kids while their partners do – and cheer from the sidelines to their heart’s content, much as the wives of male activists have done for generations. And where they represent us, they can have the guts to legislate for what they know perfectly well to be the realities of life. No woman can be free who does not control her own body. But we are not the only ones liberated by acknowledging it.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/18/women-abortion-rights-pro-choice-campaign?fbclid=IwAR31uB6taDDDDDE5OVHDJA3NEUIIbWumJ4ytNjHtTd8rRvRfxYBydd5_eaE

Less than 24 hours after Alabama lawmakers voted to ban almost all abortions, Planned Parenthood’s Southeast call center was inundated with hundreds of calls from women in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. Each and every one is asking a similar question: If Gov. Kay Ivey signs the bill into law today as her Republican colleagues expect, what does that mean for my reproductive health care?

In a press call Wednesday morning, Staci Fox, CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates, stressed that abortion is currently still legal in all 50 states. Now that the Alabama bill has been signed into law, it will take six months to go into effect. Similarly, the “fetal heartbeat” bill that the governor of Georgia signed into law earlier this month won’t go into effect until 2020, reports The New York Times. And both are likely to face immediate legal challenges that would temporarily stop them from going into effect.

“It’s important that we continue this cadence of reminding patients in states, especially here in Alabama and here in Georgia, that abortion is still safe, and legal, and accessible—and we are fighting every step of the way to make sure that stays true,” says Fox.

Accessibility, however, is a relative term. As of 2014, 93 percent of counties in Alabama do not have an abortion clinic. The state already requires mandatory counseling, followed by a 48-hour waiting period, for women seeking an abortion. And worse, if the law takes effect, women living in Alabama will have to travel to neighboring states, like Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, or Mississippi to obtain an abortion. Each of these states requires a waiting period ranging from 24 to 48 hours, meaning Alabama women will need several days to travel, wait, have the procedure, and, if necessary, recover—an unrealistic option for most considering the cost of travel and amount of time off from work. Some may try to order abortion pills, but self-managed abortions have brought legal consequences. Working to close existing accessibility gaps is the Yellowhammer Fund, which provides transportation to and from Alabama’s three abortions clinics. The organization will have more ground to cover should a near-ban on abortion take effect. (A protracted court battle is likely to occur.)

You can advocate for abortion rights now without leaving your home state. (This Twitter thread provides suggestions based on your geographical location.) Start by circulating a message championing reproductive rights throughout social media, and to any acquaintances, relatives, or friends you may have in Alabama and Georgia. You can also sign a petition from Planned Parenthood Southeast urging Gov. Ivey to veto HB 314. Once you’ve made calls, sent texts, and drafted tweets, here’s what to do next.

What you can do uphold the reproductive rights of people affected by the proposed Alabama abortion ban

1. Donate, donate, donate

National Network of Abortion Funds: Apart from legislation that seeks to stand between women and abortion, financial and logistical hurdles also present a real problem. Donations to NNAF, a network of reproductive justice organizations, help provide support including childcare, transportation, translation, and more to lessen the burden on women receiving the health care they deserve.

Planned Parenthood: One in five women in America have visited Planned Parenthood for their health care needs, including obtaining legal abortions. The organization’s action fund is dedicated to promoting reproductive health throughout the U.S.

National Abortion Federation: Donations to NAF go directly towards educating people about their reproductive options, ensuring high quality care for women everywhere, and keeping abortion clinics across the nation open for business.

The Yellowhammer Fund: As previously mentioned, transportation and lodging are just a couple of barriers that keep women in Alabama from receiving abortions. The Yellowhammer Fund seeks to remedy that.

Donate locally within your state: As HuffPost points out, there may be a number of clinics within your state that could use your contribution. You can also donate directly to the Alabama Women’s Center, or other abortion providers in states like Georgia and Ohio that are particularly at risk.

2. Offer up your support to organizations that help elect pro-abortion rights candidates

Of course, the long game in ensuring women have proper access to reproductive health is all about who we elect into power. That’s why supporting places like Emerge AmericaEmily’s ListRun for Something—all of which are on a mission to elect candidates who support abortion rights—is so critical. Many of them are looking for volunteers and donations, so help in the way that best suits you.

3. Get involved in activist groups

Groups like Supermajority, the American Civil Liberties UnionNARAL, and the Guttmacher Instituteunleash the power of activism throughout the community. For example, Supermajority offers trainings to teach group leaders how to organize, as well as an online database where you can sort the stances of candidates and elected officials on hot button issues.

4. Become part of a volunteer clinic escort program

“Volunteer clinic escorts are an extremely important volunteer position,” Planned Parenthood writes on its website. “They help get patients to the door of our clinic with as little harassment from protesters and picketers as possible.” You can apply online to become a clinic escort today, or check to see if another local clinic in your area is in need of this type of assistance.

If you’d like to discuss your reproductive health care options, call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-7526 or text “PPNOW” to 774636. 

This story was originally published on May 15, 2019; it has been updated to reflect that the bill was signed into law by Gov. Ivey (R-AL) on May 16.

Source: https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/alabama-abortion-ban/

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