Tag Archives: Obama

Undue Burden: Abortion in Texas on the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

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January 22, 2016, Austin, TX, USA

Although I didn’t plan to be at the Texas Capitol on the 43rd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade to hear comedian Lizz Winstead, Senator Kirk Watson, activist Amy Hagstrom Miller and others impassioned about Reproductive Justice speak, the stars aligned to bring me there. Wearing orange, armed with signs I made to protest in that same building back in 2013–La Lucha Sigue Y’all!–with a friend and clinic-worker by my side, I listened, as the wind whistled, and carried our whoops and hollering across the rolling lawns of the Capitol grounds.

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Fate has seemed time and again to draw me into abortion. Many, many people who support the right to choose clarify that they are pro-choice, but not pro-abortion. I cannot claim the same. Abortion, its cloaked and infamous history, everything about it, calls to me, in the depths of my soul, as a human right I cannot stop fighting for. After leaving my local abortion provider’s office last January to focus on domestic violence full-time, last summer I began to feel the void again. Maybe it was memories from the Capitol, maybe the heat got to me, but I was finally recovered enough from the massive burnout I suffered after the devastation of HB2, to pour myself into abortion again.

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Now I serve as one of two Outreach & Volunteer coordinators for The Bridge Collective, the only practical support network in Central Texas for people seeking abortion care. We as a collective, and through our network of volunteers, provide accommodation and transportation to people traveling within 100 miles of Austin (roughly a two-hour drive each way) to terminate a pregnancy. To give you an idea of what that means, check out the maps below. The orange markers are all of the abortion clinics we don’t serve, the purple ones are clinics we do, and the red markers are towns within 100 miles of Austin.

Texas Zoomed Out

TBC Travel Area

Covering the vast swaths of land between tiny Texas towns that dot the landscape, you’ve got a lot of time to think. And while for our clients that time may be spent confirming their decision, or contemplating all of the other responsibilities and stressors in their lives, for the drivers, inequality is always on our minds.

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But that’s true for a lot of Texans, in a lot of battles, over abortion, voting rights, segregation, police brutality, healthcare or lack thereof, classism, shelters for domestic violence survivors and the homeless, etc. etc. etc.

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Abortion has always been an issue that sparks a fire in me. I’ve written numerous times about bodily autonomy and the policing of bodies and abortion, but I’m glad that the political discourse around abortion, at least in my circles, has finally started to be intersectional (almost) all the time. The argument that “if men could get pregnant” may finally be shifting to “if cismen could get pregnant” because men can and are getting pregnant. No longer are White Feminists talking only about a woman’s right to choose, although that is still the dominant rhetoric. It’s heartening to hear frank, public discussions of WHO is affected by these ridiculous, restrictive laws, and how those of us with white or class or able privilege can help people suffering from racism, classism, ableism and transphobia.  So while many pro-choice arguments still look like this:

12507451_10153215260552687_1076058395963496776_nor this better, more racially inclusive infographic

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I’m grateful that many of the memes and much of the discourse has shifted to be more wholly inclusive of all people who can become pregnant, like this: 1848_1679204842323100_2455440285072812659_n

It seems like more and more people, pro-choice people, are finally starting to show up for ACCESS to abortion, because Roe v. Wade means nothing to people who can’t afford, or get to, their appointments. Because we all know the wealthy will always find a way to terminate a pregnancy that is unwanted.

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But even if someone does have the funds, and the transportation to terminate a pregnancy, that doesn’t guarantee there is a clinic near them that will have an available appointment soon, or even before they pass the 12-week mark, or their state’s legal limit for termination. Nor do money and transportation promise that the patient has the “proper identification” or the right to take time off work (at least twice in Texas) or childcare or wouldn’t face a barrage of racist and insulting questions about their gender or immigration status. No wonder so many people in Texas and elsewhere are illegally purchasing abortifacients online, or self-inducing terminations.

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And while we may have to deal with media-supported abortion shaming and the clinic violence that is a consequence, and some ridiculous gubernatorial shenanigans and blatant sexism in our legislature, at least, unlike North Carolina, we don’t have to send the forced ultrasounds patients get to lawmakers. The documentary Trapped shows what it’s like from an abortion provider’s POV. We’re not the only one’s failing… yay? There have been some bright spots nationally in abortion laws though, like Louisiana & North Dakota, and some upcoming elections could prove to be critical as well.

Back at the Texas Capitol though, on January 22, 2016, our activists were just kicking off the Texas Truth Tour, to get to DC before March 2nd, in time for the landmark Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case challenging the ominous omnibus HB2 bill that has been so devastating to abortion care in Texas. For more on how the SCOTUS ruling will impact the nation, check out this piece from Colorlines.

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You can help Texans get to the Supreme Court by texting ‘Fight Back’ to 97779 and follow their journey using #FightBackTX #StopTheSham and #WWHvHellerstadt, and other conversations around abortion rights and access with #DrawTheLine #WeWontGoBack #ShoutYourAbortion #7in10forRoe #RepealHyde #RepealHelmes #1in3Speaks #ReclaimRoe and #reprojustice. For more from the Draw The Line campaign hear these actors speaking out. Also, check out the incredible amicus briefs filed for the Supreme Court’s consideration, and Obama’s take on all of it.

Do people really need to be reminded what life was like before Roe? Apparently so. We’ll only have to look to El Salvador in the near future to see what a healthcare crisis of that magnitude looks like.

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I Believe! #WWC

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The victims of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

There’s so much I could write about right now I had a really hard time choosing this month’s topic! From LGBTQAI+ Pride to #BlackLivesMatter to reproductive (in)justice and everything in between, there’s a lot going on in the United States that deserves our attention. Recent police violence against black girls and the massacre of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church parishioners pictured above Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Rev. Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, DePayne Middleton Doctor, and Myra Thompson shows that racism in the US is still deadly. Domestic violence is ever-present. Biphobia and bi-invisibility are still rife, even during Pride Month, and trans immigrants are still dying to become Americans. One thing that doesn’t deserve our attention is white privilege that ran rampant in blackface for years.

Attack_of_the_14_year_old_girl_WebDespite the often deadly climate in the US for trans women of color the documentary Out in the Night sounds like an incredible exploration of the intersection of race, gender expression, sexual orientation and class as it plays out in the “justice system” from street harassment to prison. Other snippets of positivity have popped up recently too including simple ways to combat racial bias and use white privilege for good, major retailers discontinuing sales of Confederate flag merchandise, the presence of a woman on American money in the near future, the continued presence of Obamacare and free birth control in our healthcare system, Lorretta Lynch was sworn in as Attorney General by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, California passed a bill banning crisis pregnancy centers from lying to patients, New York law now requires sexual assault charges to appear on college transcripts, Google’s new policy to exclude revenge porn search results, a 16-year-old French girl registering on Major League Baseball‘s international list, GO! Magazine’s 100 Women We Love, a Kickstarter for a documentary on black women in tech was wildly successful, these six awesome international developments for women’s human rights and today’s ruling by the US Supreme Court that MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS THE LAW IN THE UNITED STATES!!! “We’ve made our union a little more perfect.”- President Obama #LoveIsLove

Bad RefsSince I couldn’t choose between all the good and the bad things going on I landed on the ugly. Not really, but there definitely is some ugly truth coming up with the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. I’ll admit I am no expert on sports–in fact I don’t even really care about sports. While I grew up with football, baseball, hockey and tennis on TV occasionally and was basically required by the size of my elementary school to play basketball, kickball, flag football and softball and participate in all kinds of track events, I am no athlete. My partner however is all athlete–grew up playing futbol and basketball and avidly watches men’s and women’s futbol, basketball and tennis, and American football to this day. His love for sports is contagious and after learning so much from him about the benefits of team sports, especially for kids, I’ve somewhat come around. I still can’t tell a pick ‘n’ roll from a set screen but I watched most of this year’s NBA finals and thanks to Title IX some of the Women’s College World Series and have been engrossed by the Women’s World Cup.

OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 17:  Sohyun Cho of Korea celebrates with Hahnul Kwon of Korea after scoring her teams first goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group E match between Korea Republic and Spain at Lansdowne Stadium on June 17, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sohyun Cho of Korea celebrates with Hahnul Kwon after scoring. June 17, 2015- Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Lars Baron – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Women’s sports get less media coverage now than they did in 1989, but if you have the right channels, or go to the right sports bar, you too can watch women from around the world play the Beautiful Game in all its glory. Superstar ballers like Brazil’s Marta, South Korea’s Cho So-hyun, and the US’s Alex Morgan are showing the world that women have just as much passion, talent and heart as men, but like everything with FIFA this World Cup isn’t without controversy. For those of you not familiar with the Evil Overlords of Soccer FIFA has recently been embroiled in a corruption scandal and former President of FIFA Sepp Blatter (the genius who proposed increasing interest in women’s soccer by making players wear “tighter shorts”) stepped down amid complaints of obvious human rights abuses by upcoming Men’s World Cup host countries Russia and Qatar.

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Twelve international women’s teams are set to appear for the first time in the next iteration monstrously successful video game franchise FIFA 16 but even that feat has been overshadowed. The biggest issue players and fans alike have with the 2015 Women’s World Cup is the playing surface. Men have never been made to play on artificial astroturf and even though Canada had offers to install grass for free FIFA maintained that separate but equal was possible. Despite balmy temperatures all over Canada in the 70s-80s during game time temperatures on the field ranged upwards of 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit even though temperatures over 122 degrees are considered “unsafe for sustained use by trained athletes.” Issues surrounding pay equality for women athletes have also come up numerous times.

“This is why soccer should be played on grass!” -US Striker Sydney Leroux

If you need a primer on how elimination works in these tournaments this page is an easy read and this page has a quick 20 facts to get you caught up on WWC action through its history. In the down time between games various sports channels have been re-showing Nine for IX, which originally aired in 2013, and has one episode focusing on “The ’99ers,” the only US Women’s Soccer Team to win a World Cup. For an interesting history of the iconic photo of Brandi Chastain check out this piece, but save it for after you’ve seen The ’99ers. Also airing recently was Heroes: The Story of the FIFA Women’s World Cup which I’m sure is also available online. The United States plays China tonight in a knockout quarterfinal game but make sure you catch up on this fantastic re-cap of the game that got us out of group stages.

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The quality of play has not been an issue so far–the women’s teams are making the same mistakes the men’s teams do, but one of the most glaring issues has been the inexperienced referees. I think most fans can appreciate that FIFA and/or Canada wanted to have all female refs for the Women’s World Cup, but since only 10% of referees globally are women their experience level cannot be equal. To follow the action on social media check out @FIFAWWC #WWC #worldcup #USA #LiveYourGoals and #SheBelieves. In the face of rookie refs, turf burns and no real professional league development the United States Women’s Soccer Team’s future could look pretty bleak, but with so much love from fans and talent from our superstars, like Mia Hamm, I believe!


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