It’s 100% Like We’re Pro-Abortion

A Cardinal in New York said the Reproductive Health Act gives New York an “almost pro-abortion atmosphere.” And to that we say GOOD honestly! Let’s end abortion stigma in New York and everywhere!

We know who we are and what we believe. But… let us just say… yeessshhhhh y’all want to pretend we believe some nonsense that we don’t.

Let’s start with true-enemy-to-common-sense-and-empathy Kriiiisttaannn Hawkins who wrote an article titled “Abortion-Loving Men’s Favorite Abortion Trends,” a true nightmare of headline etiquette but probably a pretty good SEO grab.

So in this article for Townhall she argues that people who support abortion must love abusive men, because, you know, reasons. But she is literally describing NO REASONABLE PERSON WHO SUPPORTS THE RHA. Like, guess what, we ALSO think that it’s terrible that a man would try to slip his pregnant girlfriend the abortion pill. We’re pro-abortion when the person wants the procedure (or the pill), not just in ANY circumstance. No fucking duh! It’s so disingenuous to argue that we’re in any way connected to garbage people who would do this to someone without their permission.

And then she talks about a case where a man murdered his pregnant ex-girlfriend. She says, “What does this say to other abusive men targeting their preborn children? Perhaps to make New York their destination of choice?” Um… this is the most fear-mongering nonsense we’ve ever read. So you think an abusive man is just gonna… travel to New York to murder his pregnant girlfriend? Like, from anywhere? Or just if he’s near?

And also, again, NO FUCKING DUH WE DO NOT WANT PEOPLE TO MURDER PREGNANT PEOPLE. It’s again, so fucking disingenuous to make this kinda argument. And guess what, as you can PROBABLY already guess, it’s still illegal to murder someone in New York. Like, this isn’t some insanely nuanced thing that the Reproductive Health Act is a loophole for. IT IS LITERALLY NOT AT ALL.

The Reproductive Health Act takes abortion out of the criminal code. It should be out of the criminal code. So that means you can’t be charged with CRIMINAL ABORTION. However, there are still civil and criminal penalties in place that are MORE severe. Also the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence issued a statement in support of the Reproductive Health Act and we’re pretty sure they know more than Kristaannnnn.

And finally, we’d argue that the Reproductive Health Act is merciful to people going through something heartbreaking. Which everyone needs to see.

But guess who is still blind to this? Catholic groups who are doubling down efforts to remind pregnant people for the thousandth time that there are other option.  But in this case, that’s NOT EVEN TRUE, it’s actively cruel. A person facing the decision of a third trimester abortion isn’t going to be able to PRAY away a tragic fetal abnormality. A little help from the Church isn’t going to make a fetus suddenly grow the way it’s supposed to grow. I mean, would that it could, but… it can’t. And pretending this is all about love and compassion while shaming someone whose body has betrayed them… is not Godlike at all. It’s cruel.

Black History Month Interview With Kwajelyn Jackson

This Black History Month LPJL is honoring modern-day reproductive justice warriors. Today we chatted with Kwajelyn Jackson, the Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta, Georgia about her impressive career, what reproductive justice means now, and the specifics of running a clinic (hint: it takes a lot of amazing people).

LPJL: So let’s start at the beginning. How has your activism evolved throughout your life?

I have always connected with the principles of feminism, even before I had a language for it, but I think it really solidified for me when I entered Spelman College. Prior to Spelman, I was trying to figure out how to be authentically me in a world that was telling me I was simultaneously too Black and not Black enough, as is the experience of many Black women. So I was trying to figure out what it meant to me to be a Black woman. And Spelman showed me that there were so many different ways for that to look and feel, that there were a multitude of ways to live in the world as a Black woman, each as genuine as the next, none invalidating another. That was where I started thinking more about systematic oppression, white supremacy, sexism, rape culture, and intersectionality. All of the pieces clicked together in a way that helped to set my future trajectory towards reproductive justice. Before I came to FWHC, I worked at an arts and social change nonprofit called WonderRoot. Also, my mother worked in social justice and anti-oppression movements, and ultimately reproductive health as well, and now works with me at Feminist Women’s Health Center. So I was very influenced by her work as well.

LPJL: How has your activism informed your job of running a clinic and your decision to transition in that role?

I was actually kinda thrust into this role in a lot of ways. I joined FWHC in 2013 as the Community Engagement Coordinator, primarily managing volunteers and volunteer programs. Then was promoted to Community Education and Advocacy Director shortly thereafter and was responsible for all of our outreach, public policy, and education programs. In January 2018, I was named co-director after our ED retired from the organization, and then transitioned to interim ED that April, and ultimately Executive Director in September of 2018. Over that time I had to learn a lot very quickly about the clinical parts of our organization and how to keep our operations on track. Fortunately, I have an excellent team of people who were willing to roll up their sleeves and go above and beyond to help us be the best version of ourselves. They run the clinic, not me.

I think what I brought with me to this role was a deep understanding of and commitment to reproductive justice and all of the tenets it stands upon. I brought my social justice and human rights values that inform everything from salaries to policies to art on the walls. I believe in shared decision making and collective visioning and those are the things that I believe make us strong. My vision alone is insufficient to take us where we need to go. It has to align with a larger collective vision to achieve the kind of liberation we are seeking.

LPJL: Talk about the importance of framing the abortion conversation around the reproductive justice movement.

Abortion access absent of a reproductive justice lens is insufficient in my opinion. There is no question that abortion is needed and it is necessary and it must be protected. Period. But what RJ does is gives abortion a context in the whole life of a person. RJ is concerned with the things that would allow us to thrive in this world, controlling our reproduction and fertility, having autonomy over our bodies, building healthy families that we choose, and living in safe communities where we are seen as whole. Abortion is a key piece of that, but it is not the center. Abortion on its own does not get us to liberation, but we know that we can’t get there without it either.

LPJL: Your activism has stopped some significant anti-abortion legislation from passing in Georgia. Can you maybe talk me through one specific piece of legislation and all the work you did around it to make sure it would not pass?

I don’t think there is a magic wand that anyone has to stop bad legislation when the will of the powers that be are there. We have been fortunate that our legislature has been distracted by other harmful attacks on our communities to pay us as close attention as they might otherwise. Since 2015, we have stopped TRAP bills, a “reversal” bill, and Personhood, among others, by lobbying fervently, raising public awareness and testifying in committee. We have a full time Public Affairs Coordinator who acts as our lobbyist during the legislative session. We also work in coalition with many other RJ orgs and allies to build power in our communities.

One of my proudest moments was in 2016 when we held an art exhibit inside the Georgia State Capitol called Typical American Families to highlight our first piece of proactive legislation, called the Strong Families Resolution. In order to elevate the voices of GA families, Strong Families and FWHC partnered with artists Carlton Mackey and Ross Oscar Grant to expand upon their photography project Typical American Families, and show the stories (with both portraits and testimonials) of our families and the challenges they face. We built upon their initial premise and explored the complex realities of families across metro Atlanta, exploring what their families need to thrive and the barriers they must overcome. The stories are centered on reproductive justice, healthcare access, economic challenges, discrimination, documentation status, age, incarceration, and other common challenges that are facing families. We also highlight how intersectional identities, like race, class, and gender, as well as family composition, affect a family’s ability to access the resources they need to thrive in a state like Georgia.

Our initial exhibition in February 2016 featured families selected by community partners SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, Racial Justice Action Center member groups Women on the Rise and LaGender, Forward Together’s Echoing Ida program, and FWHC’s Lifting Latina Voices Initiative, as well as portraits from the original artists collection. These were families with single parents, interracial, multiethnic, and interreligious families, chosen families, queer families, trans families, and families separated by incarceration. The photos were displayed in the State Capitol Rotunda for legislators and the general public to view. We held a brief press conference featuring legislators, speakers from the families, the artists and the host organizations. Though the resolution didn’t pass, we had an incredible day bringing voices into the State House that are not heard there often enough, speaking their truth.

LPJL: What is your activism plan for 2019? What are your biggest reproductive justice ambitions?

Most of my focus this year will be about strengthening our organizational infrastructure to support our current and future operations and programs, financially strong, at full capacity. I am working to solidify our foundation such that the next generation of leaders can build on it with confidence. Our organization is working on several policy areas, like removing funding for CPC and protecting abortion access in Georgia, improving maternal health outcomes for Black women, and dignity for incarcerated women and trans folks.

My biggest RJ dream right now is operationalizing reproductive justice in our clinic in a visible and tangible way. There are some incredible folks, like Monica McLemore, Karen Scott, and Nikia Grayson who are brilliant clinicians with a keen understanding of reproductive justice and the vision of how to incorporate it into clinic spaces. I want to be in that number! I want to tools and the guidance to carefully examine and adapt our clinic to center communities of color, queer and trans folks, low income and poor folks, such that the experience is tailored to their specific needs. And I want our services to be as comprehensive as we can accommodate to include so much more than abortion, that we are a destination for all of folks reproductive health needs.

LPJL: A huge part of your job is community outreach. What do you think are the most effective ways people can build local communities that support abortion and abortion services?

Unfortunately I don’t get to do as much outreach as I did in my former role, but it is hugely important to our work overall. I think the best way to build support is to see people fully. To speak to their full lives and experiences rather than their body parts. So using RJ helps us find an entry point to talk to almost anyone who is open. If we start by talking about birth and parenting and breast feeding, we can get to the importance of spacing pregnancies, reliable contraceptives, and the need for abortion. We can start by talking about health care access that is affordable and comprehensive and move towards how legislators should not impose on people’s health care decisions to the over-regulation of abortion.

I believe that all forms of oppression are linked to one another and cannot be separated. I believe that the multiple identities that we hold complicate and compound the way we experience oppression and the world. I don’t think one can compartmentalize their identities or the identities of others in order to deal with oppression or get free. I think it is past time for us to work intersectionally on issues that are affecting the places where communities overlap. So for me I will never stop pressing for intersectionality in our movements above all else. That is the only way we can truly get free.

LPJL: What are some of the biggest misconceptions you have noticed people have about abortion and more broadly, reproductive justice?

I think one of the most annoying misconceptions is that abortion is diametrically opposed to birth and pregnancy. That people who have or provide abortions hate babies. We know that is the majority of the people who get abortions are already parents and will possibly parent again one day. It is a silly notion.

I think one of the most dangerous and hurtful misconceptions is that abortion is “Black genocide” and harmful to Black communities. We hear this a lot from anti’s [anti-choicers] who don’t actually care about Black people or our upliftment, but use this language to shame us for our decision making. One of the most pervasive tools of white supremacy is paternalism toward Black people, specifically infantilizing Black women as incapable of making decisions on their own. The prevailing thought the we don’t know what is good for us and need white people or politicians to tell us how to behave in an acceptable way rather than trusting us to know exactly what we need to thrive.

LPJL: When we were visiting, we saw a fake clinic van right outside your clinic. What have you observed about their tactics?

Because of construction on the land across the street from us, the van can no longer park outside our building. But they are still active around the city. We know that most often vans like these are connected to CPCs and are targeting Black and Brown communities. Our protestors often use similar tactics to what I named above, yelling Black Lives Matter to our staff and patients, using loudspeakers to shout offensive things at us, even playing recordings of babies crying. They are more annoying than dangerous, but it is certainly a hard thing to endure.

LPJL: I’d love to learn more about the Errin J. Vuley Fellows! Can you talk to me about how you’ve seen the program and Fellows evolve and how important it is to teach reproductive justice! What do you think the importance is of creating leaders of tomorrow?

The Errin J. Vuley Fellow Program uses a reproductive justice framework to strengthen the fellows’ skills and knowledge, especially for abortion access, trans justice, and racial justice. Over ten months, the fellows meet for interactive workshops that progress, from expanding their knowledge and skills, to opportunities to apply what they’ve learned and showcase their collaborative work. The fellows also build their social justice network through various expert facilitators that are brought on board. Finally, each fellow receives a launch forward award that includes a small stipend or tools to help them complete a social justice project or launch a social justice initiative. Our first cohort of Errin J. Vuley Fellows graduated in December 2017 and our second cohort graduated in December 2018.

Facilitators from a number of organizations donated their time to the fellows program including ARC-Southeast, NAPAWF, Center for Disease Control, UGA, Emory, Georgia Equality, and the Housing Justice league.

The program reached over 150 people through open events and those facilitated by the fellows. With the support of Feminist Center, more than half of our fellows from the first cohort went on to facilitate independent events and activities on issues of sexual and reproductive health. Many of our fellows have since been absorbed into the movement whether through full-time positions at other organizations or through continuing their education at graduate schools.  Some have been hired full time by us as well!

LPJL: What one thing do you wish everyone knew about reproductive justice in general? And what one thing do you wish everyone knew about reproductive justice in 2019?

That it is for EVERYONE!!! That it is not anti-white, but it is anti-white supremacy. That it is expansive enough to provide a lens for so many human rights issues, spacious enough to hold queer and trans issues, environmental issues, housing and economic justice, food justice, technology, and so much more! That it is a vision for a just future and a path towards real equity. That it is rooted and established in love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

People who follow us and read this blog: we love you.  Abortion providers: we love you. Clinic escorts: we love you.

See, we’ve decided to not be completely cynical today, because why not share a little love!

Mississippi politicians who just passed a definitely unconstitutional “heartbeat” bill even after your 15-week ban was ruled unconstitutional: we don’t love you, but we want to gift you a math class!

Ohio politicians who keep trying to pass a heartbeat bill: we don’t love you, but we wish your constituents a renewed fire in their bellies to defend clinics and build a community around Preterm!!!

Indiana’s new attempt to ban D&E abortions, we do not love you. But we wish for the absurdity of not allowing doctors to USE CERTAIN TOOLS in performing procedures to WAKE PEOPLE UP to realize “hey, maybe we don’t wanna be like… telling doctor show to best do their job. I mean, I got me appendix out and it wouldn’t have been possible without, you know, equipment.”

Randall Terry, we do not love you and your completely bizarre “street theater” going after the amazing Reproductive Health Act. But we do love going to Albany to troll you. SEE THE VIDEO HERE!

States, like Illinois, who see all the mania from the right that is surrounding the Reproductive Health Act in New York, and that are, instead of backing down, deciding, “Hey, this RHA seems pretty cool, let’s get one,” we love you!

Happy V Day! Don’t forget to take your birth control!

State Facts: Too Many “Heartbeat” Bills

Kentucky

South Carolina

Florida

Ohio

Missouri

Minnesota

Maryland

Mississippi

Tennessee


Texas

West Virginia

That’s our running tally of states that have introduced so-called “heartbeat bills.” Shout out to Rewire for compiling these legislative lowlights. Do you have any idea how fucking infuriating this is? This is like the dinosaurs testing the fences in Jurassic Park to find a weakness, except dinos are smarter than anti-abortion politicians!

This shiz was JUST proven unconstitutional in Iowa. It’s always proven unconstitutional. Yet these bills keep doubling down, wasting taxpayer money. Like in Missouri their 15-week ban was JUST proven unconstitutional, and instead of being like “OK well we just essentially put all that money in a garbage can and set it on FIRE, let’s give this up” they were like “OK let’s do a 6-week ban then.”

We realize this is all to get to the Supreme Court, but honestly, to what end? You’re gonna bankrupt your state in legal fees… for what? For being one of ten states that joins some big case? I mean… come on, man. You know what you could be doing with all this money, helping actual CHILDREN. FIXING YOUR EDUCATION SYSTEM. PROVIDING PEOPLE HEALTHCARE.

This is dark but we think the best example of anti-abortion folks just NEVER quite getting it is this effing story of  a terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood in Missouri. It’s horrifying that someone allegedly set fire to this clinic, but… here’s the thing, they DON’T EVEN PERFORM ABORTIONS THERE. Planned Parenthood represents the villain SOOO much to these zygote loving sidewalk screamers that they DON’T EVEN BOTHER TO LOOK UP IF the PP in their state even… performs abortions.

Maybe these kind of extreme acts based on not having all the information are why ~*~*certain people~*~* shouldn’t use inflammatory lies about infanticide (which WE DO NOT SUPPORT AND WE CAN’T BELIEVE WE HAVE TO SAY) in speeches.

Have a good day and get on the ground to see if your state has a politician who has proposed one of these shitty bills! Because they just. Keep. coming.

Anatomy of a Lie

Ummm….

OK so….

Hmmm….

Feel like we gotta address the elephant in the room.

But boy…. Oh man….. We do…. Not want to.

OK let us just quickly think of waterfalls and beautiful sunsets

Here we go….

So last night your president complained about abortion up until birth (not a fucking thing) again. And then he went on to interpret governor Ralph Northam’s comments last week (oh boy) and Trump said, ‘”The governor stated that he would even allow a newborn baby to come out into the world, and wrap the baby, make the baby comfortable,and then talk to the mother and talk to the father and then execute the baby. Execute the baby!”

OK so, it grosses us out to type that all out but we think that you all need to really sit with it to evaluate the level that we are at here.

We can’t get over how… blatant and dangerous and cruel this lie is.

So let’s talk about how we got here. Because this is also a good example of how a lie spreads. And how people don’t really want to look up context so they just take everything at face value.We like how even the Snopes Fact Check article on this is like “You really gotta know the whole context here.”

In a week of horrible admissions and even more horrible clarifications on his blackface trevails, Governor Ralph Northam, also made a mess over something positive he did. The day before his Klan College yearbook pictures broke, Northam was on the radio talking about a proposed Virginia abortion law. He was trying to explain that abortion in the third trimester is rare and often is performed because of fetal anomalies that would make it impossible for the fetus to survive outside the womb. But then he moved away from talking about abortion, and  switched to talking about a mother who did give birth to a baby who was dying, and the doctor and the parents would decide together what to do to make the baby’s brief life as painless as possible. It gave the extremists the bullshit talking point that, well, you know, we are now passing laws that allow baby killing!

We explain this in great detail even though it is painful, because the other side does not want to think about the painful and very real reasons people choose later abortion. Learning about these stories helps compassionate sane people formulate compassionate beliefs.

And we can’t have that, can we?

SO THESE ANTI-ABORTION EXTREMISTS JUST PICK OUT ONE SOUND BITE AND DECIDE TO DOUBLE DOWN. They allowed no room for clarity and instead decided to be all or nothing.

They want our side to be the monster because it’s too hard to believe that the world actually is this cruel.

But we KNOW it is. And that’s why as much as their side talks about baby blankets and in the image of God, they will never truly be the compassionate side.

Because they want people like this and this and this, who have experienced the worst news of their lives,  to suffer.

Because it’s easier for them to lie to themselves and everyone else, than to believe the truth.

Undue Burden: An Explainer

Hello friends, ready for a little history lesson from my Ethics 101 course in journalism. So Jacobellis v. Ohio was a famous obscenity case that the Supreme Court decided in 1964. It’s famous, among other reasons, because Justice Potter Stewart (who was a real justice not a combo of the names of the bad guy in It’s a Wonderful Life and the lead actor of It’s a Wonderful Life) said he couldn’t quite DEFINE obscenity but “I know it when I see it.”

Now, besides from being a literal lol (cuz like, we just like to imagine Stewart looking at dungeon porn and being like “Hmm, yes, yes, this is it.”) it’s also… effectively useless. Like, not that we want to read the Supreme Court being like “OK if he thrusts three times then it count, but two… grey area.” But… like give us a definition here, guys.

This is basically what “undue burden” is too. A bullshit term coined in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, “undue burden” is allowing a bunch of randos (which is what the Supreme Court is now) decide how much you should have to suffer or go through to get the care you need. And it’s like, don’t we already have enough of this in this country with FUCKING HEALTH INSURANCE BEING WHAT IT IS???

This all brings us to Susan Collins being her Susan Collins-est and saying (through a spokesperson) that we probably didn’t read Kavanaugh’s dissent  (in the Louisiana TRAP law case that said providers had to have admitting privileges with local hospitals) and that he didn’t say he hated Roe at ALL in what he wrote. And to this we say: Girl, c’mon! We can read between the lines.  

The dissent was SOOO effing boring, but we did read the whole thing. And we won’t bore you with a huge quote from it,  but read it here, and see that what Kavanaugh DOES say is he doesn’t really think it’s an undue burden, because it only affects three of the four doctors performing abortions. LOLOLOLOL! And because the doctors have 45 days to try to get admitting privileges. And like, if they don’t then they can just go to court again and waste more of their effing time.

This is a lot of dancing around actually SAYING anything, except that you don’t give a fuck about patients. Like, sure, maybe these doctors WILL find admitting privileges in 45 days. Maybe elephants will fly out of my butthole. The point is that the ONLY reason the Louisiana law exists is TO CREATE AN UNDUE BURDEN. It’s so effing obvious. It’s EXACTLY what happened in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt  and there are not SUBTLE differences because the PERCENTAGE of doctors affected is different. Come the FUCK ON! Like, this is splitting hairs at an ABSURD level to avoid taking a side ALL WHILE clearly making your opinion known.

Like, no DUH, Susan Collins, Kavanaugh wasn’t gonna write “I hate abortion, abortion is bad” in his feces as his way of undermining Roe. He’s just gonna undermine it by being like “Well, actually… it’s not THAT hard to drive 100 miles” every effing chance he gets.

And the thing is we KNEW this was who he was going to be because he did the EXACT SAME THING in the Jane Doe case. His dissent there also wasn’t “I hate abortion,” but it was a little more obvious, some more feigned concern and like “well, why can’t we just TRY to see if MAYBE she can wait a little longer to get her abortion.”  
So no, we will NOT be gaslit, Susan. If this makes you worked up, sign the petition to tell her to stop being a hypocrite and VOTE her pro-choice values when it picking justices!

Kenya Martin on the Importance of Storytelling

Kenya Martin used to work as an abortion counselor in Texas and now she’s the Communications Program Coordinator for We Testify, a program of the National Network of Abortion Funds. She chatted with LPJL about her personal abortion story sharing experience and why she advocates for abortion.

On telling her own story to Team LPJL at the Abortion Care Network Conference:

That’s when I started to realize, “Oh, I’m just a storyteller. I don’t even know these people and I just told them my whole abortion story.”

It’s just amazing how your life comes full circle.

I worked at an abortion clinic where I’d received services the month before. I became very ill while I was in the office. I started experiencing the most excruciating pain. They did an ultrasound and they sent me to the emergency room, because they felt like one of my fallopian tubes was threatening to rupture.

So I went to the hospital and discovered I had an ectopic pregnancy. I had ruptured one of my fallopian tubes and I was bleeding internally. I had to have emergency surgery. So after all that happened I was just like, “Oh my goodness! My abortion clinic saved my life!” This is the place that I’ve gone to before for services and they saved me again.

And I wanted to do more. I went to my follow-up appointment two weeks later and I asked, “Are you guys hiring?” The doctor who owns the clinic  actually delivered my daughter 18 years ago and he’s done my abortions. His wife is the nurse practitioner so I was seeing her. I’ve always admired them. I’ve loved them like my family and I wanted to work for them. I expressed it that day and she was like, “Well just go to the clinic and see. I’m sure they could find something for you to do.”  And sure enough they hired me.

I wanted to be able to provide the same kind of compassionate care that I received. That’s why I say it’s just amazing how your life comes full circle and something that seems so terrible at the time can happen in your life and it leads you to what your true purpose is. And I’ve been searching for it for a long time. I’ve always felt like I’m supposed to be doing something else; so much more.

My life was spared so I can tell my truth and help people.  

At my first Abortion Care Network Conference, meeting people like LPJL & We Testify and sharing my story with everybody I was like, Wow how am I here right now? How is all of this happening? It’s all making sense! Every abortion that I had was for me to get to this day where I can help other people not feel shameful about what they’re going through.  And we don’t have to be hush hush about doing what was best for our lives.

I am honored to be able to do this work and finally make sense of my life after everything that had happened.

On Why Storytelling is So Important to Her, Now More Than Ever:

The most important thing to share when telling your story is just your personal truth. No two stories are the same. They’re not synonymous. They don’t always intertwine. But what is the same is that it was an abortion. You did what you knew was best at the time.  

Right now we need to dispel some of the myths and make abortion more relatable. Pairing an actual person with the story, connecting a real person with the procedure or the medication abortion process, whichever option they chose, having someone actually say “This is why I made this choice”.

Especially right now with what’s going on with the bills [in New York and Virginia] about later abortion…. What I’m seeing on social media are people being really ugly about it. I mean saying really nasty things and demoralizing people. It shows that people don’t actually understand later abortion. Hearing the story from someone who actually experienced it is most valuable. We don’t need the politicians to tell our stories. We don’t really need third parties to tell our stories. We need to hear the story from the person that actually experienced it.

I started talking about my abortion during my time working in the abortion clinic providing pre-procedural, informed consent counseling. That’s explaining the abortion process and their options, like the medication abortion option versus the surgical procedure option, and answering questions so they could make the best decision for themselves. Most importantly, I made sure that an abortion was a choice they were making solely on their own, free of coercion. Informed consent counseling involves logistical paperwork. It explains what is required by law for the clinic to tell the patient, explaining, especially in Texas, that what the law requires isn’t fact-based, but legally you have to read them the required language.

I would notice how distraught they were about even being in the clinic and having to consider an abortion. They would be so torn up, blaming and judging themselves very harshly. I started telling them, “You are human just like I am. I sat on the other side of that table, just the same as you. I have had abortions. I was doing what was best for my life and you are doing what’s best for you. If there wasn’t a need for abortion clinics they would not exist. You have to trust that you’re making the best decision for you and that’s it. And if this is not something that you can live with, then don’t do it. But if this is something that you know is gonna be good for you, your family, your life as a whole, then this what you should focus basing your decision on.”

And then I would share my situation and what led me to my abortion. I would see the tone of the conversation would change. Their body language would change. They would feel relieved that they weren’t alone. Because they’d never been in contact with somebody who told them, “I had an abortion too.”

On Multiple Abortion Stigma:

A lot of people really carry this deep-rooted shame for having to go to an abortion clinic more than once. When really you’re just taking care of yourself. You are going back to a clinic [where] you received really good services, that gave you really good care, that helped you talk through things, supported you in doing what’s best for you. It’s not necessary to be ashamed about that.

They would be beating themselves up like, I cannot believe I’m here again. I can’t believe I let myself get in this situation. I should know better, having a lot of negative self-talk. So then I would say, “Look, I have had to sit on the other side of that table more than once myself. Life happens. Life will continue to happen. You’ve gone to the dentist more than once. You’ve probably had more than one cavity. You took care of it. It’s no different. If you don’t want to do this more than once you don’t have to. But if you do, you are making the best option for your life and there’s no shame in that.”

I saw that sharing that story was helpful with changing multiple abortion stigma. Because it is a real stigma. I know so many people who will not talk about it, who will never say they did it more than once. You have people who aren’t even comfortable saying they did it once, so they’re really uncomfortable saying they did it more than once. It’s been really helpful sharing with people that multiple abortion stories do exist. It’s real, and not uncommon. And there’s nothing wrong with seeking services more than once.

Because had I carried each pregnancy to term, I would still be judged. If I have six abortions, I’m a single black woman who’s irresponsible. So either way I’m gonna be talked about. So, let’s just call it what it is: I did what was best for me. The person who chooses to have six children did what was best for them. I would share that the doctor told me it’s a safe medical procedure. You can have as many abortions as you need to. And then some people come back and say, “But using abortion for birth control.” But I mean, it is. So what!?! If this is what I choose to use as my form of birth control then that’s my choice. But let’s shut that down right there. We can’t let others define a conversation so that it puts us in a defensive position for doing what is best for our lives.

I also felt it important to ask people what would you do if you called the clinic for services and we were no longer open? How would it make you feel about not having abortion as an option and having someone make that choice for you by taking your right away? I would then say, “Be glad that we’re still open. Be glad that when you call that phone someone answered.” This is why it’s important to remove the shame and start talking about it openly. This is the way we take back our power and normalize it. This is how we are going to help keep clinics open.

Gram the Van Check In

Today is very stressful. We’re waiting for the Supreme Court to decide if Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was just a big JK and we need to riot in the streets. You see, Louisiana passed an admitting privileges TRAP law (similar to the one that the Supreme Court said was UNCONSTITUTIONAL in Whole Woman’s) and yet for some reason this is still going to the Supreme Court.

And we couldn’t help but find this whole thing rather… ironic (is that the right word?), given what Lady Parts Justice League is doing this week. See, while apparently all abortion clinics need to be state of the art facilities full of medically unnecessary equipment (costing providers money and costing patients much needed healthcare), apparently FAKE clinics can just be like, vans.

Yes, there are these creepy vans rolling around trying to prey on vulnerable pregnant people, and for some reason A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO BE PRETTY CHILL WITH THE WHOLE THING.

We are not, however, and we made this video to show you exactly how insidious these places are.

So make sure to #GramtheVan this week and from now on whenever you see one of these vans out and about. And don’t forget to head over to ExposeFakeClinics.com where they have all the info you need about where to spot these monster vans. And no, we don’t mean Monster vans, we’d take a free energy drink over a free ultrasound from a stranger ANY DAY.