Hi Everyone! This time I’m live-blogging from CLPP’s Reproductive Justice Conference at the Abortion Access in the U.S. workshop. The panelists discussed the obstacles to reproductive services.
Megan Shalvoy discussed crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which serve as fronts for anti-choice douchebaggery. They delay women getting abortions and provide completely inaccurate and false reproductive information. The National Clinic Access Project, working with the department of justice to make sure clinics are monitored. Anti-choicers funding and volunteer at CPCs. They appear to be helping women “but really it interferes at so many levels.” Shalvoy disclosed,
“33% of clinics located near a CPC experience an act of violence, threat or harassment, as opposed to 11% of clinics not near one. A clear showing of how CPCs are a breeding ground of violence.”
So much for protecting women! Toni Bond Leonard from Black Women for Reproductive Justice, which provides sexual and health education for black women in Illinois, discussed anti-choice legislation and racism. There’s an ultrasound mandate bill in Georgia, which would force women to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. Another pending bill targets facilities in which their services are mostly abortions; they must convert to an ambulatory center, essentially a hospital. So many of these measures criminalize abortions for women of color, targeting black women. Bond Leonard discussed the overtly racist and offensive billboards that have popped up. The ones that read,
“The most dangerous place for an African-American is the womb,”
feature an African-American little girl who was going to a modeling shoot, her family not knowing her image would be used for anti-choice bullshit. In Chicago, billboards have sprung up reading,
“Every 21 minutes, a potential leader is aborted,”
with an image of Barack Obama. Oh how fucking nice (insert eye roll). Bond Leonard asserted that anti-choicers hide behind who they’re receiving funding from. She said abortion is not the issue; people should talk about:
“Lack of access of reproductive services, education, services, let’s talk about crime, let’s talk about how people live in food deserts; those are the real issues. We’re going to change the message…They don’t care about black women, they don’t care about black children.”
Miranda Balkin, a health practitioner in training, talked about abortion and the medical community. She went to school in NYC, the abortion capital of the U.S. She says,
“The dirty secret of the right to lifers is that abortion is really easy.”
At Medical Students for Choice, they train medical students to perform abortions…on a papaya (no joke!). If you’re in the first trimester, the abortion procedure takes about 5 minutes. Anti-choicers want people to think it’s really scary and hard, but the truth is it’s not. However, doctors and medical providers are NOT being trained, it’s not offered. Balkin had to seek it out. 1 in 3 OB/GYN residents never see an abortion in their residency. 97% of family medical providers are not trained to provide abortions. Some women have to travel thousands of miles because there is no abortion provider in their area. Balkin attributes this to anti-choicers:
“Part of it is fear…People don’t want to have to deal with protesters and billboards…It’s so much easier not to do anything.”
Loretta Ross, founding member and National Director of SisterSong (and a feminist icon!), brought up the issue of class. Middle-class women go to their primary care physician, which doesn’t show up on stats because they don’t have mandatory reporting. But impoverished women and women of color go to public health clinics which require mandatory reporting which skews stats.
Abortion is a normal part of healthcare. It should be a basic human right. The bottom line is that women’s lives are at stake. By impeding access to abortion, we’re playing roulette, gambling with their bodies and their lives.
Read my other posts on CLPP’s 2011 Reproductive Justice Conference.