Call to Action! Stop the Shame in #MILameDuck 2018!

Lame duck started this week.
Buckle up, folks!

LAME DUCKS: elected officials in their final period of office, after the election of their successors. 
Lame ducks in Michigan are using the time they have left to exercise their power without the fear of consequences! We need to speak up against these bills and demand politicians follow the will of the people!

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES ABOUT THIS LEGISLATION! Bills are passing quickly!
Make your calls ASAP!
WE WILL NOT BE SITTING DUCKS! 

*See up-to-date reports on #MILameDuck here!* 

SB 1171 & SB 1175
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE & MANDATORY PAID SICK TIME

  • 400,000 signatures were gathered to put a minimum wage increase and mandatory paid sick time from employers in Michigan on the ballot

  • The initiative was adopted in September 2018 and removed from the ballot to avoid a public vote in the general election

  • THIS WEEK, State Republicans in the Senate GUTTED the bills including

    • Removing tipped workers (servers, bartenders, etc.) from the wage increase

    • Prolonging the minimum wage increase from 2022 to 2030

      • Minimum wage for hourly employees will go from $9.25 to $12.00

      • Minimum wage for tipped employees will go from $3.52 to $4.00

    • They called to reduce the required paid sick time in half from 72 hours to 36 hours

  • SB 1171 is sitting on Governor Snyder's desk.  Demand he veto SB 1171! Call Today 517-335-7858!

SB 1198
TELEMEDICINE BAN FOR MEDICAL ABORTION

  • Michigan currently has a ban on telemedicine for medical abortion that is about to expire. This bill would make the ban permanent

  • This bill would disproportionally affect pregnant people in rural areas because 89% of Michigan counties are without an abortion provider 

  • Due to the dwindling number of abortion providers, this ban could eliminate access to abortion in many parts of Michigan

  • THIS BILL IS AWAITING A HOUSE VOTE! CALL YOUR MICHIGAN HOUSE REP TODAY AND DEMAND A NO VOTE ON SB 1198! House switchboard 517-373-6914

HB 4500
INCREASING "VICTIM COUNT" IN CRIMES COMMITTED BY AND AGAINST PREGNANT PEOPLE

  • A fetus or embryo is recognized and defined in the criminal code as a victim of a crime

  • This would increase penalties of low level crimes committed by pregnant people

  • Sets a precedent of fetuses as people that can be used to criminalize abortion in the future

  • THIS BILL IS AWAITING A SENATE VOTE! CALL YOUR MICHIGAN SENATORS AND DEMAND A NO VOTE ON HB 4500! Senate switchboard 517-373-2400

SB1250 & HB 6553
RESTRICTING THE POWER OF MICHIGAN'S INCOMING SECRETARY OF STATE & ATTORNEY GENERAL

  • These bills are a behind-the-scenes effort from Michigan's GOP to limit the power of incoming officials elected by the citizens of Michigan. 

  • SB 1250 would remove the power of campaign finance oversight from incoming Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson. 

  • HB 6553 would allow the legislature (a.k.a House Republicans) equal standing with the Attorney General in regards to lawsuits

  • Michigan's GOP is attempting to pass these bills in secret to go against the will of the people

  • CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND TELL THEM TO STOP RESTRICTING THE POWER OF OFFICIALS CHOSEN BY THE PEOPLE FOR CHANGE! 

  • House switchboard 517-373-6914

  • Senate switchboard 517-373-2400

STAND UP AND MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! YOUR REPRESENTATIVES EXERCISE WORK FOR THE PEOPLE!

The Absence of Heart in Ohio's Heartbeat Bill

Jordan Wyer, MSW

Update 12/17/18

Last week, Ohio State Senators approved HB 258. Governor Kasich now has the opportunity to sign or veto this legislation. We will keep you updated.

Ohio’s House of Representatives got a jump start to the holiday season with proposed abortion legislation that could essentially eliminate access to abortion care and the rights of pregnant people across the state.  House Bill 258, endearingly called the “Heartbeat Bill,” passed the State House on November 13, 2018 and is headed to the Ohio State Senate this week for approval. Though anti-abortion supporters have a catchy name and inflatable heart sign to support this legislation, the consequences it imposes is no laughing matter. HB 258 would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, except in cases where the mother’s life is in jeopardy (there are no exceptions in the bill for pregnancies as a result of rape or incest). Many times, this means that pregnant people may lose their right to abortion before they even know that they’re pregnant. Doctors who provide abortions could also be charged with a felony and face a sentence of up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine. This law is dripping with anti-abortion rhetoric and ZERO scientific evidence to back it up (like almost every other ridiculous abortion ban).

Ohio lawmakers attempted to pass similar legislation in 2016 which was vetoed by their current Governor, John Kasich. He stated his opposition was due to similar bans being struck down in courts across the country, but he still managed to appease his anti-abortion base by signing a 20-week ban for the state. It was previously thought that a six-week abortion ban would not survive a lawsuit; however, Representative Christina Hagan (R), co-sponsor of HB 258, is confident that the combination of the current presidential administration, the majority support in Ohio’s legislature to overturn another potential Governor veto, and the yes-vote guaranteed from the Governor-Elect, Mike Dewine that this bill could be one of the first to make it through Ohio’s Circuit Courts and reach the Supreme Court of the United States to challenge Roe v. Wade.

This bill can be added to the hundreds of abortion restrictions that have chipped away at abortion rights since 1973. These laws attempt to eliminate abortion without addressing the root cause, unintended and unwanted pregnancies. Ohio House Democrats proposed amendments to the bill that would ensure the women of Ohio have access to free birth control and schools could teach comprehensive sex education and contraception use. Not surprisingly, these amendments were rejected, and anti-abortion legislators prove that this is not about preventing unwanted pregnancies, but taking reproductive freedoms away from the lives of pregnant people in Ohio. This is a wake up call to those who think access to abortion is settled law.

Co-Founder of Shout Your Abortion, Lindy West, said it best last week on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah,

“Anti-choice people are not trying to stop abortion.They are trying to legislate who can and cannot have abortions. Because conservative politicians -- their wives and mistresses and daughters are always going to be able to get an abortion somewhere. ALL CRIMINALIZING ABORTION WILL DO IS KEEP PEOPLE TRAPPED IN POVERTY FOR GENERATIONS. THAT’S THE GOAL, and if that wasn’t the goal they would spend their time and money on comprehensive sex education, free birth control, and free contraception.”

We send our regards to our Midwestern neighbors to the south as clinics in Michigan prepare for the influx of patients they will inevitably see as pregnant people (continue) to cross state lines to access abortion care. This means that they will have to wait longer, travel further, and pay more for procedures performed out of state. We are watching you, Ohio. The abortion rights of your citizens will not be overturned. We have come too far.

Side Note: We are not dismissing the other radical anti-abortion bill, HB 565, that was proposed in Ohio around the same time. Even though it has received much more media attention than the heartbeat bill, the implications are not realistic. Media outlets have been silent on HB 258 while centering their focus on HB 565 which would 1) define “unborn human” in the criminal code, 2) carry new punishments for pregnant people experiencing miscarriages under “suspicious circumstances,” and 3) charge practitioners with murder. Though this bill has more dire consequences and creates an eye-catching headline, it does not have the foundation to pass as law.


Abortion is Health Care, Not a Criminal Act!

Reclaim and the National Institute of Reproductive Health (NIRH) launched a new campaign, highlighting what could happen in Michigan if Roe v. Wade is overturned. With social media ads and billboards across Michigan, this campaign is raising awareness of a pre-Roe abortion ban that is still on the books. This ban from 1931 could charge doctors providing abortions with felonies that have a sentence of up to two years in prison!

With the recent addition of Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court of the United States has the conservative lean it needs to overturn or severely weaken Roe v. Wade. Without the federal protection of Roe, state prosecutors in Michigan could enforce this archaic statute immediately, criminalizing doctors who provide abortions as they seek to care for pregnant people in Michigan. We are one of 9 states that has a dangerous, outdated abortion law on the books, and anti-abortion zealots across the country have already started to use these laws to punish pregnant people seeking abortion care. Michigan’s old law could now put doctors at risk. This action would go against the majority of Michigan residents who support abortion rights and believe abortion should remain legal.  

We know that criminalizing abortion does not stop abortions from happening, it only forces people to carry unintended pregnancies or end their pregnancies on their own, even if it’s illegal. This law has the potential to deprive Michiganders of the abortion care they need. It is time we tell the Michigan legislature to reflect the will of the people BECAUSE ABORTION IS HEALTH CARE.

Stand with Reclaim because WE BELIEVE IN ABORTION WITHOUT PUNISHMENT!

For more information, check out www.abortionwithoutpunishment.org


We Are the Rainbow...

Borrowed from our friends at In This Together Project. 

I’ve had a love affair with Northland Family Planning since summer of 2016. The first time I had a taste of how NFP was different from other abortion care spaces, was the first day that I escorted with them. I have been involved in reproductive justice since 1998, after my own abortion experience. When I walked away from that experience it was without shame, regret, or apology.  This was a service that I NEEDED at 19 years old, after surviving sexual assault. My experience was unique. I did not encounter protestors. I was not stopped during my entrance to the clinic.  There were no barriers for me.  I had a supportive mother and the funds available.  I was definitely in a place of privilege despite the trauma of how I’d gotten pregnant. My abortion experience informed my activism. It reiterated the necessity of abortion care as part of reproductive healthcare for me and all who needed it. I read everything I could about abortion. I read about Planned Parenthood, and Roe v. Wade, and obsessively watched If These Walls Could Talk, all the while never having any doubt about how much we need to protect abortion care providers. 

The first time I would see ACTUAL protestors and clinic escorts would be some years later, in Aurora, Illinois, at the Planned Parenthood location in the Chicago suburbs. They were loud, they were mean, they were terrorists. The way they shamed the patients of this clinic for seeking any type of services, from birth control to abortion care was something I was not prepared for. Those entering the building were being informed of their immorality, of their “sins against Christ”, and of their failures as women. I remember leaving that clinic after my first shift that day and sobbing for the patients seeking services. They were being abused and traumatized for what I believe to be a normal part of reproductive healthcare. This should have been a space of peace, support, and safety to assist the patients walking through a day that no one ENJOYS being part of. This experience SUPER CHARGED my activism, and my desire to create a safe space for ALL PEOPLE involved in the abortion care experience, from patient to provider, and everyone in between.

Today, I am a WE. Myself and the rest of the crew of In This Together Project work directly with the Northland Family Planning clinics to ensure our patients have EVERYTHING they need to walk through this process. The In This Together Project clinic escorts are a group of volunteers who are dedicated and committed to working alongside Northland Family Planning in creating a space that is supportive, affirming and safe for EVERY patient that walks through our doors. When you see us in our rainbow vest’s, with our hands confidently motioning you into our parking lots through any protest action that may be present, please know that you are entering a bubble. This is a bubble we’ve created with NFP that is comprised of compassion, non-judgement, and emotional support. We are there to make sure YOU are taken care of, to make sure that YOU know, we support YOU in whatever decisions are best for YOU. 

What we do not support are acts that shame, humiliate, dehumanize, or terrorize anyone seeking reproductive healthcare and abortion services. We are there to ensure access to the clinic in a harassment and trauma free environment. It is with our sincere sadness and regret we are not able to remove protest actions from the sidewalks of our property, and we are often unsupported legally due to the current conservative administration in D.C., and local political lawmakers that remain ambivalent to choice aligned options, or subscribe to conservative values not in line with abortion care services. However, that being said, the clinic escorts found at NFP, place patient experience and the availability of ALL options of ALL people in need, in front of what we find to be abusive and reprehensible behavior found in the anti-choice movement. We may not be able to shut them down, but we ARE able empower our patients and those that support them in a variety of ways.    

Protested spaces can be incredibly confusing, especially at abortion care facilities. Between the voice amplification, the signs, the manipulation tactics, and disturbing language entering the clinic spaces on days protestors are present, it is easy to misunderstand who is a friend and who is a foe. Protestors prey on people in difficult circumstances. They operate under many of the tactics in which cults recruit new members. They are seen on the sidewalks of abortion care facilities, often times utilizing voice amplification devices, and making attempts to hand out religious based, anti-abortion “tracks” to patients entering the clinic space. We CANNOT stress enough PATIENTS, DO NOT TAKE THESE HANDOUTS. They contain NOTHING that is medically accurate. These tracks are designed to emotionally intimidate people seeking abortion care. The Northland Family Planning facilities offer comprehensive resources regarding an unplanned pregnancy. The escorts with In This Together Project and the staff at NFP will be able to supply you with all the resources and information you need no matter if your journey is abortion, adoption, or parenthood, in a medically accurate context, and a supportive environment COMPLETELY free from bias, emotional manipulation, and coercion. The protestors are there to create chaos and to confuse people. Just remember IF THEY ARE OFF OUR PROPERTY, THAT IS A PROTESTOR. Keep your windows up, don’t engage, and look for the rainbow vests of In This Together Project escorts. You are NOT out here alone. 

We have spent many a day, in the presence of magical women who have allowed us to be part of their journey. We have held hands, and wiped tears and given out hugs after guiding patients inside. We have been thanked and appreciated for being kind or simply “there” during moments that can be painfully private, isolating, confusing, and exhausting. In a space where so many are judged so harshly, we have been the calm. In these moments, when patients are expressing gratitude or appreciation, in tears, and just relieved to have the support they need to manage their day, it is us that are truly grateful. We are grateful that you allowed us to be of service to you. In every possible way, “it takes a village” and we will always be part of this little NFP village.

If you are reading this prior to your appointment date, and if you have any questions about what to expect during your time at NFP, please do not hesitate to contact us at InThisTogetherProject@gmail.com. Appointments are 4-6-hour days and we understand how frustrating and upsetting unwanted engagement can be during this time. We are here to help you navigate this.

In respect, love, service and solidarity,

Lucy Fyre and the ITTP Crew

For more information on getting involved and volunteering with ITTP find us at InThisTogetherProject.com, on Facebook, and on Instagram @ITTProject.

 

Erasing History... Your Comments Are Needed!

I remember the day one of my close friends (a woman of color) said, “History is written by the ‘winners’.”  She spoke this as I was learning about the boarding schools Native Americans were sent to in the late 19th century to mid 20th century in order to make them assimilate to the new Euro-American culture. Children were taken from their parents and communities, stripped of their identities, required to speak a foreign language, and many more atrocities occurred that attempted to dismantle Native culture in America. This was not the history of Native Americans I remember learning in school. I was never the one to question a textbook in high school, but as I entered college, I was disgusted by the real history my primary school education had glossed over. White history is required in grades K-12. History surrounding the rights of minorities (civil, racial, women, LGBTQ) are electives in higher education.

These historical disparities could potentially veer further from the truth in Michigan schools in the near future. New proposed social studies standards would remove references to gay rights, Roe v. Wade, and climate change. Also, they would essentially erase any material surrounding the KKK and NAACP. They would also like to remove the word “democratic” from Core Democratic Values because they claim it is bipartisan… America is (supposed to be) a DEMOCRACY! This must be the twilight zone.

Is anyone else flashing back to when Trump took office and the White House website removed pages regarding similar topics? If we do not teach our children the true history of America, and allow discussion of these important topics, the worst of history will surely repeat itself.  We cannot stand for this white-washing and conservative revision of American History.

Public feedback hearings are being held (See this article for dates & locations). If you cannot make it to the hearings, be sure to leave your comments online here! The vote will take place on June 20, 2018, so get your comments in ASAP!

#ActForWomen Lobby Day Delegation

By Jordan Wyer, MSW

On May 10, 2018 abortion providers, doctors, activists, faith leaders, and advocates from across the country met in Washington DC to take to the Hill and lobby for the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA; S.510/H.R. 1322). The Act for Women campaign takes aim at Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws and overturning the unnecessary restrictions placed on abortion care.  This federal legislation would prohibit states from imposing restrictions on abortion that apply to NO OTHER MEDICAL CARE, interfere with patient’s personal decision making, and block access to safe, legal abortion care.

Before the lobby day began, delegations from each state attended a training to learn about the bill and the individual needs of their state. A reception following the training gave us all a chance to meet, greet, and eat! Attendees of this reception included WHPA’s first champions, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) who originally introduced the legislation in 2013. We heard from the President and CEO of The Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, who is familiar with fighting TRAP laws across the country, including the landmark Supreme Court Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellersteadt case decided in 2016. The Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Jessica Gonzales-Rojas, discussed the unique and challenging circumstances faced by the Latinx community seeking reproductive health services. Each presenter expressed the dire need for federal legislation to combat restrictive state legislation and to protect the bodily autonomy of pregnant people. We were motivated by each speaker and ready to head to the Hill the next day.

The next morning, a breakfast meeting was held to pump up delegates for a day on the Hill. Key speakers Lourdes Rivera, the Senior Vice President of US Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, Dr. Willie Parker, an OB/GYN and man of faith, and Beatrice Kahn, the President of the National Council of Jewish Women Board of Directors, outlined realities to share with each staffer and representative.  The Michigan Delegation was composed of providers, doctors, and student advocates. We met with the offices of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), and Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI).

We had a pretty simple docket compared to other anti-choice areas of the country. We started by visiting the offices of Sen. Stabenow, Rep. Lawrence, and Rep Kildee to thank them for their continued support of WHPA. Each staffer we spoke with was proud of their boss’ stance on protecting abortion rights. Everyone asked us how they could get more involved on the ground in their home state, and we look forward to continuing to work with our State Reps and Senators.

Our challenge for lobby day was to get Rep. Dingell, the ONLY Michigan Democrat to not sign on to this legislation, on board. The Representative is noted as a champion for women’s rights, leaving us to wonder why she has yet to sign on to this legislation. In the spirit of keeping WHPA in the foreground, we are asking everyone we know (especially if they’re in Michigan’s 12th District: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Van Buren, Taylor, or Dearborn) to contact Rep. Dingell’s office and urge her to sign on to the Women’s Health Protection Act because access to abortion should not depend on your zip code!

Her office can be reached at (202) 225-4071. Ask Rep. Dingell to sign on to the Women’s Health Protection Act today! All our representatives can be reached at this number! Call and thank them for their continued support!

Here are some photos of the Michigan Delegation. We can’t wait to return in 2 years and lobby for important and timely legislation!

The Michigan Delegation outside Sen. Stabbenow's office! #ActForWomen

The Michigan Delegation outside Sen. Stabbenow's office! #ActForWomen

Michigan takes on the Hill!

Michigan takes on the Hill!

Sometimes you have to go with gravity! Exhausted but still smiling!

Sometimes you have to go with gravity! Exhausted but still smiling!

Rep. Dan Kildee's office welcomed two Flint natives! 

Rep. Dan Kildee's office welcomed two Flint natives! 

Abortion Workers are People, Too.

Jordan Wyer, MSW

I worked as a door-to-door salesperson for 4 grueling days in the summer of 2015. One of the most important tricks of this profession are icebreakers. If I could make a connection and start a conversation, I could make a sale. I was instructed to inquire about topics that EVERYONE was open to talk about. I cannot remember the clever acronym they used to remember these topics, but the weather, pets, kids, hobbies, and professions were a few. We could use them to seem relatable and build connections with strangers. How often have we engaged in small talk with someone and heard the phrase, “Oh, what do you do?” After quitting that job, I longed for the next time a solicitor knocked on my door because they would be caught off guard. For an abortion provider, there is always this pause after the profession question. That’s a loaded question. It can quickly turn innocent small talk into a gauntlet of imposing morals on another person.  

When I started working for an abortion provider as a purple-haired, 22-year-old Patient Advocate, I told everyone I worked in abortion care. There was no shame in this game.  I was proud of the work I did to help women and I had no problem helping others confront their feelings on abortion. My confessions were met with smiles, gasps, high fives, dirty looks, praise, and misquoted bible references. In the first few years, I lost touch with close friends and family members who held strong opinions about the reproductive lives of women they would never meet. It was while I was grieving the deterioration of these relationships that I began (slightly) altering my behavior. I was still an avid supporter of the bodily autonomy of pregnant people, I could not see myself working anywhere but abortion care, and I still rocked my purple hair. I was, however, more cautious with who I shared my profession with because I was tired of fighting. I was burned out.

I am a person who values my relationships with my friends, my family and my community. I am patient with those who support others in their life choices, and I no longer wanted to waste my energy with people who do not trust or value my experience in this work. This past week, I was discussing the unglamorous trials, tribulations, and excitement about a coworker’s pregnancy with someone I consider a key member of my chosen family. He is pro-choice. He has supported the choices of women he has loved and understands the reality of abortion. Even with all his experience and understanding of abortion, he said, “I don't know why, but it’s weird that someone who works in a clinic would have a baby.”

“What’s so weird about it? Abortion workers are people, too,” I responded.

This concept seemed so simple to me. Abortions workers, just like anyone else, have dreams, plans, and aspirations for their futures.  Abortion workers are contributing members of society. We go to work. We LOVE our pets (a lot). Some of us spend too much time on social media. We have mortgage payments and road rage. We get married. Some of us WANT to have children and start families. We have tattoos. We are educated. Some of us are pregnant. We work hard. We can be pregnant AND support ALL the choices patients make before coming to our clinics. We sing and dance. Some of us are sports fans. We binge watch shows on Netflix. Some of us travel. Others enjoy the privacy of our own homes. None of us drink enough water. We laugh when we’re happy and cry when we are sad. We are attempting to live our best lives, and we are people, just like you.

It is important that I humanize abortion workers because there is a well-funded and ever-present effort by anti-abortion advocates and supporters to dehumanize us. These efforts have leaked into the fabric of our society, even with pro-choice advocates and abortion patients, clouding the humanity of those who provide abortions. We face real and growing threats of harassment and violence due to the nature of our work. Providers are harassed daily at work by protesters standing outside, at home by the postcards and letters mailed to their personal addresses, and online by cyber bullies who only speak up from behind a keyboard. Clinics have been bombed and doctors have been murdered. All of this committed by individuals who consider themselves, “pro-life.”

I will not stand for this hypocrisy anymore. I will continue to demystify abortion. Abortion is a human right and I will stand up for humankind because abortion workers are people, too.

A Tale of Two Cities

By Jordan Wyer, MSW

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…  and I’m not just referring to the famous opening line of the Charles Dickens novel with the same title as this post. This February, anti-abortion zealots calling themselves “Red Rose Rescuers” had their day(s) in court after orchestrating clinic invasions across the country including Sterling Heights and West Bloomfield, Michigan. In both cases, the defendants were charged with trespassing in the private waiting rooms of two separate women’s health facilities. The verdicts from these cases would set a precedent for anti-abortion violence in the future and I had the opportunity to observe each trial.

Both cases requested a trial, chose jury members, called witnesses to testify, and delivered guilty verdicts to each defendant. However, the evidence presented to the jury was vastly different. Sterling Heights was a circus. West Bloomfield was justice. When the Sterling Heights Court sentenced the invaders to two years non-reporting probation, celebrations of the success of our justice system were overshadowed by the circus the defense created during the trial. In West Bloomfield, the defendants were placed on trial for the crimes they had committed. They were not given the same opportunity to diverge from the facts.

The Worst of Times in the Age of Foolishness

As the opening statements made by the Prosecutor in Sterling Heights indicated, this case was straightforward. None of the defendants would deny entering the center, nor would they deny refusing to leave when asked by staff and police officers.  Though the evidence showed they were obviously guilty of the crimes they committed, the defendants were permitted to preach their objections to the healthcare provided by the clinic from the witness stand. The courtroom was filled with anti-abortion supporters applauding their testimonies. It seemed that abortion, not their actions, was on trial. They made false claims about the safety of abortion. They spread lies about our offices, the care we provide, and the pregnant people we serve. Less than two hours after they were sentenced, the defendants returned to the scene of their crime. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

Abortion is the safest and most common outpatient procedure performed in the country and has been legal for almost 50 years! There are laws in Michigan that prevent family members, partners, and providers from coercing women into abortions and my clinic screens for this type of coercion. We support the dignity of our patients and want to insure they are making the best choice for them. Our facility is licensed with the state of Michigan and has jumped through every hoop placed before us to make sure our doors stay open. We are not national organizers that participated in a national effort to infiltrate clinics and break the law. We are a small, law-abiding business that contributes to our community. We are PROUD to be abortion providers and provide life saving care to our patients.

And though the defendants were provided a soapbox to run our name through the mud, we were shamed into silence and not given an opportunity to defend ourselves because this case was not about abortion.

The Best of Times in the Age of Wisdom

The differences of the trial in West Bloomfield were night and day. The defendants were charged with trespassing & interfering with the police. All evidence presented and testimonies heard were relevant to these charges. The defendants were not be given the opportunity to preach their beliefs. Abortion was rarely mentioned. In the closing statements, the defense attempted to compare the actions of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Gandhi to the passive resistance displayed by clinic invaders.  They compared a woman’s right to medical privacy to the holocaust. And the Prosecutor did not stand for it. He drove home the real point: The rights of providers and their patients were violated that day. Per the United States Constitution, women have the right to abortion and an individual’s beliefs cannot infringe on this right. There was no circus or soapbox, only facts in the case, and the jury made their decision based on those facts as our justice system intended.

As providers, we know this is only the beginning and we will celebrate this win! Even though anti-choice activists are exploring new and old methods of disruption and violence, the courts are upholding the laws put in place to protect providers. This case set a precedent. An individual cannot enter a business, be asked to leave, and remain without being arrested even if that business provides abortions. Pro-choice cases have a great record of setting precedents and changing laws; however, trials can be long fights and our abortion providers do not always have the resources and time to follow the path our justice system creates. The next battle may be right around the corner. Support your local providers as they continue to fight on the frontlines and support our right to choose.

Reclaim Commits to a new #vision4abortion!

During this historic week of #roe45, the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade court decision that legalized abortion in the US, we have exciting news: more than 140 organizations and leaders committed to a new vision for abortion -- including Reclaim!

It started last year when reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations convened 28 creative leaders committed to creating culture change around abortion. These leaders became the Culture Change Strategy Group (CCSG). They are advocates, researchers, media makers, artists, health professionals, pastors, communicators, policy experts, activists and more. The group produced a vision for changing the culture around abortion. And as of now, more than 140 (and counting!) organizations and leaders have signed on to this vision.

The vision is audacious, because they asked an audacious, unbridled question:

What if our wildest dreams about abortion culture became reality? What are those dreams?

Here is what the group came up with, and what we and many other organizations decided to align around:

We Are Working For A Future Where:

  1. Abortion is understood as a basic human right, an essential part of healthcare, and a normal part of life.

  2. Everyone can access safe and affordable abortion regardless of age, class, race, gender identity, ability, geography, immigration status, and insurance status.

  3. Providers and people who have abortions are supported and respected and do not fear or experience judgment, stigma, discrimination, violence, or criminalization.

  4. All people can talk openly about abortion with sensitivity to the complexity and nuances of individual experiences.

  5. Every person is able to make personal decisions about abortion based upon their own beliefs and values.

  6. Media supports the dignity and diversity of individual reproductive decisions and decision makers. Media truthfully and authentically represents abortion and refrains from sensationalizing the experience.

If this vision resonates with you, join us on social media with #vision4abortion

You can find, follow, and share posts this week on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Together, we are starting 2018 with a clear vision for culture shift.

And together, we are showing the world what is possible.

My Internship with Abortion Providers

When I started my internship at Northland Family Planning, I was not familiar with the many components of abortion care, and I had little understanding of what providers faced on a day-to-day basis. During my first week interning, I was entering through the clinic doors while a protestor shouted, “Don’t do this, mom. Come talk to us, we can help you! Don’t kill your baby!” This action was shocking. I can only imagine what this harassment must feel like for those seeking our services. Protestors operate under the assumption that pregnant people frivolously make the decision to have an abortion; however, from my internship I know the opposite to be true. Pregnant people need abortions for a variety of reasons and none of these reasons make the decision simple. Within the first month of my internship, Northland Family Planning’s Sterling Heights office was invaded by an anti-choice group. The brazen action of these five individuals and their disregard for city ordinances and law enforcement was stunning. This incident (and threats of more to come in the future) further solidified my awareness of the need for increased activism and awareness of these issues within pro-choice communities.

It is often assumed that since the Roe v. Wade decision, abortion is legal and easily accessible for all. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Anti-choice groups have spent the past 40 years slowly chipping away at the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. Today, many pregnant people must travel across state lines to access abortion care. This is expensive and can require childcare, hotel fees and travel expensive. Waiting periods create another obstacle, like the 24-hour waiting period in Michigan, because it can elongate that process and make it even more difficult for women to seek and afford abortion care. My experience at Northland Family Planning brought to the forefront the truth that most people are not aware of these difficulties faced by individuals seeking abortion care. The ever-present shame and stigma surrounding abortion prevents most individuals from sharing their story and coming forward; therefore, most people do not know the hoops women are required to jump through until they or someone they love seeks an abortion.

My internship taught me there is a need for active participation in the pro-choice fight. Our legislators are continuously targeting the right to safe, legal, and accessible abortions and we must stay involved to combat these attacks. If access to abortion is important to you, now is the time to speak up! Call you Representatives and tell them to stop these attacks on reproductive health care. We need to be aware of the legislation and actions of anti-choice groups in order to combat restrictive legislation that is constantly up for vote. 

Reclaim will keep you up-to-date on this fight! If you would like to be added to Reclaim’s email list and be informed of events and activism opportunities click here! If you are interested in donating your time to become a clinic escort, click here!