I’ll Never Eat German Pancakes Again

Guest Blogger & Reclaim Supporter, Dan

It’s shocking how few amenities there are in a U-Haul truck.  Am I really looking at a cassette tape player in a brand new truck?  They must just figure that since people are moving they will have an obligatory shoebox of cassette tapes from the 80s.  What’s it going to be this trip: Milli Vanilli or The Bangles?

My brother-in-law is driving this round of goods back and forth between his rental and newly purchased home in the suburbs of Minneapolis.  We are still dripping sweat from the last load.  Two couches, a nursery set and, because U-Haul knows their shit, a tattered shoebox labeled “mixed tapes.”  

As I comb through the box our conversation bounces between the NBA Playoffs and Tiger Woods.  I turn each tape over reminiscing. Wrecks-In-Effect, Digital Underground, Beastie Boys. We stop at a traffic light and my brother-in-law turns to me.  “Now you had an abortion didn’t you?  How did that make you feel?” he asked.

A wave of heat pours over me.  I go to press the button and roll down the window.  Of course, it’s a crank.

I’ll Never Eat German Pancakes Again

When you think back on a snapshot in your life that is overwhelmingly difficult, does it take on a color?

Sitting in the lobby of a Planned Parenthood with my hands between my knees, everything is white.  My girlfriend, turned eventual wife and then eventual domestic partner in crime, is in the back alone.  She’s scared, I’m scared, and our minds are racing at dangerous RPMs.

Forty year-old me breaks down the door, finds her patient room, and holds her tight through the entire procedure. Nineteen year-old me sits under the buzz of white, fluorescent lights.

When she’s done we go out to the white car and sit for a while under the white, puffy clouds.  We sit.  We cry.  We’re scared and lost for so many different reasons. We sit and cry some more.  

I suggest breakfast at a local restaurant we used to go to on my birthday as a kid.  In my memory the restaurant carries a white fog.  Was there a kitchen fire? Probably not.  The fog is the barrier between me and my emotions that I still struggle with today. I ordered a German pancake.  Last one I’ve ever had.

The Safety of a U-Haul

The light turns green and I am still processing the question.  I have never had another man ask me how I felt about the abortion.  Not about the topic of abortion, but about my abortion.

To understand the power of the question you need to grasp the space that men create when they are emotionally bonded.  Erase the images of the country club and the poker games.  Those are men flexing and boasting.

Men can actually create a safe space with each other where they will share things that they don’t feel comfortable sharing, even with their spouse or partner.

When a woman asks you about abortion, often times you read her body language and search her catalog of Facebook posts.  On the ultra rare occasion that they ask about your abortion you find yourself talking about your partner’s feelings and the support (or lack thereof in a white room) you provided.

When your partner asks you about the abortion you begin to question if your feelings should even be considered.  You feel shame for the position you’ve put her in. Guilt for the pain she has endured. Confusion for where society has brought us.

In a U-Haul truck devoid of seat massagers, satellite radio, and even power door locks (WTF), you can open up to someone you trust.

I feel grateful for the life I live today and my beautiful children.  With each passing birthday party, vacation, and every smile the shadow of knowing I could have a child graduating from high school grows dimmer.  And I recognize the choice was the right one, and allowed us to be where we are today.  There is no denying that.

The pain that I brought to my partner by not being able to openly communicate and comfort are unbearable at times.  Our relationship could have been stronger. That pain is real.

Breaking the news to my mom about the abortion was emotionally devastating.  Her sobbing and open disappointment in our decision bruised my soul. The dismissiveness of and complete disregard for mine and my partner’s feelings and autonomy is a hurt we both feel today.    

If I had someone to talk to at the time outside of my partner I feel that my life could have been even greater than it is today.

The rattle of all the items in the back of the truck as we rolled down the highway was painfully symbolic.  Just like the moving truck, you collect emotional baggage through life.  When you hit a bump and your load is light you don’t feel it.  When you hit a pothole at 60 miles per hour and your load is heavy you certainly feel it.

By the time I had bared my soul to him, we reached our destination.  As my brother-in-law reached to swing open the door I stopped him and gave him a hug.  I thanked him for asking me the question because I feel like he really cared. He opened up a conversation and created another level of trust and intimacy between the two of us.

Unloading The Truck

I am an influencer.  I can take a room full of people and make them laugh.  I can take a sales team and make them better. I can suggest a new craft beer and people will try it.  So how can I, as a pro-choice influencer with leadership skills, help women and society?

When women talk to men about abortion the lines are blurred.  When men talk, preach or litigate about abortion they are flexing.

If my dad put his arm around me and asked how I felt about what I had gone through in that white room, my life would be different.  It’s painful to think about how many men are hurting like I was because they could never talk about their feelings on that level. Or because no one ever asked.

Men can publicly speak, march, rally, protest, and donate millions to the pro-choice movement.  This is all great.

The most powerful conversations men have are outside of the locker rooms and the boardroom.  Sometimes, the most powerful conversation men have are in the front of a stripped down U-Haul truck with New Kids on the Block in the cassette deck.

If more men shared their stories intimately, listened to other men and simply asked how they felt, I don’t think we would have the anger we have today.

I should have mentioned that my brother-in-law is staunchly Pro-Life.  He just cared enough to ask.

I hopped back in the passenger side of the truck as we set off for another pickup.  Sometimes, it is difficult for men to transition from a heavy topic to lighter fare. In that vein, my brother-in-law starts the engine, turns to me, and recites a line from the wise Lloyd Christmas ala Dumb and Dumber:

“Some place warm, a place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I'm talking about a little place called Aspen.” (To which the proper reply would be: “Oh, I don’t know Lloyd, the French are assholes.”)

Michigan Abortion Advocates Cannot Rest on Their Laurels... or a Governor's Veto

Last month, my social media feed was all fired up as states across our country introduced 6-week abortion bans that would essentially eliminate access to care before most people even know they are pregnant. The outrage was palpable. It seemed as if people with uteruses saw how this legislation will affect their lives for the first time, but this shock-and-horror wave crossing the Facebook universe has been the reality for abortion providers since Roe was decided over 40 years ago. Restrictions on abortion have been a thing since the dawn of legal abortion, and providers have been screaming for years that our country is on a slippery slope backwards, staring down the inevitability of Roe being overturned in our lifetime.

 So, what has changed? After 40 years of constant attacks, restrictions, and violence against providers, why are people outraged now? Maybe the outrage and activism we saw blossom after the 2016 election is still making waves. More likely, though, the politicians supporting anti-abortion legislation are no longer hiding behind the mask of “protecting women” and have revealed their true intentions. They want to eliminate access to abortion. Full stop. Because reproductive freedom is powerful and the rich, white, American male is feeling a little fragile. What better way to remind people with uteruses where they belong, than to control their bodily autonomy?

Last month, the Michigan State Senate and House passed bills that would punish doctors for following the standard of care in abortion. Yet another example of individuals with no medical experience and their pure disdain for people who can get pregnant straight up lying to the public, claiming to know what they do not know in order to protect us all.

It’s time to remove the rose-colored lens of the protections of Roe and face reality before it is too late. If you’re new to protecting abortion access, there are a few pointers that can direct you where to start. Here is what we know:

1.     The Supreme Court of the United States will have a conservative influence over the next generation of Americans thanks to Donald Trump’s lifetime appointment of two new justices. The SCOTUS that brought an end to separate but equal, took action to stop women dying from illegal abortion, and passed marriage equality is in jeopardy. Abortion advocates have warned us for years about the emerging path to overturn Roe and it did not start in the Alabama legislature last month. Hundreds of abortion restrictions have been introduced across the country to chip away at the rights promised by Roe. It is a slow systematic effort that brought us the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) Laws and that closed hundreds of clinics across the country. Even though clinics were able to survive TRAP laws, they are left with a hefty financial burden. Michigan has faced its own set of challenges, and new abortion bans were introduced here last year. So let’s move our focus a little closer to home.

2.     Pro-choice Michigan supporters are on a high from the 2018 Midterm elections. The people showed up at the polls and elected Democratic, pro-choice women for Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. Abortion advocates did a collective sigh of relief knowing that a Governor’s veto would protect abortion access in Michigan for the next 4 years. However, depending on the Governor to veto abortion bans is a Band-aid, not a solution, to the ever-growing abortion ban problem. Pro-choice supporters and advocates have historically missed the long-term strategy bus. They seem to be forever reacting to abortion restrictions introduced in our state instead of being proactive with protections to the bodily autonomy of our citizens. Yes, Governor Whitmer has promised to veto any abortion restrictions that cross her desk; however, the anti-abortion movement is not discouraged and their sights are set for 2020. They have already started a ballot initiative that would leave it up to the voters to decide the best practices for abortion in Michigan. They have the rhetoric, imagery, and money to influence voters in 2020. Ballot initiatives for abortion restrictions have been successful in Michigan’s past including 1) parental consent for abortions, 2) 24-hour waiting periods, and 3) insurance bans. All vetoed by the sitting governor, all enacted through ballot initiatives. It’s time we focus on long-term solutions to abortion access in Michigan.

3.     Michigan has an ancient law from 1931 making it a felony for doctors to perform abortions. This law became moot after Roe v. Wade passed; however, with a conservative majority on the US Supreme Court and the 46-year attack on Roe, overturning the landmark legislation is more possible than ever. Michigan’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel, has promised never to prosecute pregnant people for seeking abortion or providers for performing abortions. This is great… at the state level. Nessel’s proclamation does not prevent county prosecutors from pursuing the law. Though the Attorney General may never prosecute providers and pregnant people for abortion, the 83 Michigan County Prosecutors have not made the same promises.

4.     Abortion does not just benefit people with uteruses. We have to hear from the men who’ve benefitted from abortions. Abortion can no longer be seen as a “woman’s issue,” (btw—women are not the only ones having abortions). Men benefit from abortion financially, emotionally, professionally, all the ways uterus bearing people benefit from bodily autonomy, and it is time for them to recognize and start speaking up! If you have a story of how someone else’s abortion benefitted you, please send your story to info@reclaimproject.org

Here is the big take away: abortion rights are protected by and taken away by the government. Michiganders must be single-issue voters. If candidates waiver on choice, they have no place becoming our elected officials. Pro-choice politicians support pro-choice policies and respect the bodily autonomy of Michigan’s citizens. Elected officials are where pro-choice protections begin and abortion bans end. To find out if a candidate that you are considering supporting believes in protecting the bodily autonomy of our citizens, check out sites like Vote411 and Ballotpedia.

THANK YOU ABORTION PROVIDERS!

By: Jennifer Decapua, MPA

Abortion Provider Appreciation Day March 10, 2019

In 2001, as I was graduating with my bachelor’s degree and desperately searching for a job, my then boyfriend (now husband) pointed out an employment ad in the paper. “Hey—this sounds perfect for you.” After seeing the title of the ad, “Passionate about helping women?” I knew I needed to apply.

I had no idea I was applying for a position at an independent abortion clinic.

18 years later, and I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. My career and volunteering have offered me so many beautiful opportunities I would have otherwise missed out on. I have been honored to hold the hands of hundreds of women going through an experience that, for many, will stand out in their lives, one way or another. I have been witness to heartbreak, anxiety, fear, and growth, strength, and love. I’ve held the hands of kids, scared to tell their mom they are pregnant, of wives and husbands making the choice to terminate because of a fetal anomaly, and of women who are mothers already, secure and confident in their choice to have an abortion.

Beyond the patients that I have served are the providers I have had the absolute privilege of working beside. And here is what I wish patients knew and understood: the women and men who walk through the clinic doors every single day to provide you with the life-saving service of abortion care are HEROES. Full stop.

On March 4, 2019, a man was charged in the arson at a Planned Parenthood in Missouri. February 26, 2019 a teen in Texas is arrested for threatening to “commit jihad on abortion clinics.” In July of 2018, another arson attempt was made at a Planned Parenthood in California. 

These are just three of the stories that made national headlines recently. What you likely don’t hear about are the occurrences of domestic terrorism that your local abortion provider has to deal with daily, from clinic protestors out front, to unwelcoming municipalities. As an abortion provider, I have had many moments where I have questioned my ability to continue in this line of service. Some of my coworkers, myself included, have been the victims of anonymous hate mail sent to our entire neighborhoods (and my children’s school). I was working in the clinic when we received hoax anthrax letters in the mail. I haven’t even mentioned having to contend with the blatantly false and hurtful things that are said about abortion and abortion providers by friends, loved ones, and society at large.  

The safety of staff, patients, and visitors is always a top concern for any abortion clinic. The steps and measures that are taken to make sure we are safe and feel secure are incredible. But what a burden and drain for what is essentially a doctor’s office that provides a legal and safe procedure to have to carry.

The staff members you see at an abortion clinic make a decision every single day to go in to work FOR YOU: for your families, your mothers, your sisters, your daughters, your wives, your girlfriends, your best friends, your roommates, your son’s partner, your cousins, your husbands, your fathers, your brothers, your sons. Our work is dedicated to helping make sure you and your family are able to fulfill the futures you dream of.

With these threats in mind, we take extra precautions to enter our building, open the front door, and welcome you to an inviting, warm, and comfortable environment. We make sure you feel safe and supported in your decision to terminate. And that in and of itself is a heroic act. We go above and beyond to assist our patients in any way we can. We hold sacred space for you, because you deserve that care.

And so do we. This Abortion Provider Appreciation Day, reach out to your local clinic and say thank you. Because without us, there is no access to abortion care. There is no access to finishing school, to finding your perfect job, to completing your family, to being who you want to be. No access to survival- physical, emotional, mental, economic, and otherwise. Not just for people who can get pregnant, but for the people who rely on them, too.

Stand up for us, and with us. We are in this together. People who provide abortions, people who have abortions, people who support bodily autonomy—we are all good people.

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.