“Getting an abortion should be straightforward — but it’s not. Between laws designed to curb access to providers and the rise of fake clinics, there are increasing constraints and even more misinformation than ever before. Here, we’re helping clarify the litany of regulations so you don’t have to.
It’s simple, yet complicated. The simple answer is that I am Pro-Choice and that should be enough. Unfortunately, simple is never simple enough.
It gets complicated when other factors come into play. I hate bullies, whether in individual form
or in groups. A bully doesn’t have an opinion. Rather, a bully has a mission and that mission is
to needlessly humiliate, seek to outsmart, persist, embarrass, shame or, in some cases, harm
their victims. At a clinic, the bullies are the “antis” who feel they have “God” on their side, which somehow gives them carte blanche permission to resort to any and all measures they can think of in their selfish, narrow minds to achieve their “goals”. Unfortunately, their goals are the result of flawed thinking. They also lack compassion and the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. You know, just like Jesus did.
I have never seen anyone standing at the milk display at a grocery store screaming at or
shaming folks who they perceive to be “wrong” in buying whole milk verses one percent, or even skim milk. Here’s the deal: It’s really nobody’s fucking business! Think what you want to think, but keep your opinions to yourself about my cereal and coffee accompaniment choice!
As a kid, I witnessed dozens of episodes of men trying to persuade, tell, even demand under
threat of being fired how my mom should dress, conduct herself, raise her kids, treat all men as
superior beings – the list goes on and many of those ideals continue today.
My mom did a great job raising two kids by herself in the 1960s as a young divorced woman,
with practically zero financial or empathetic support from our family. What did she do to wreck
her marriage? She refused to remain in a relationship with an alcoholic husband who had zero
ambition. Yes, it was definitely all her fault and it was something she should be shamed, bullied
and rightly punished for by society. My mom always kept her head up, navigated the rough
waters through calm, positive thinking and persistent action. And you know what? She won! A
woman has a voice and a woman has a choice. All of that has stayed with me and made me
who I am today.
So, the above complications aside, for me the choice is simple.
When I went to the Women's March in DC last year, I drove up from Charlotte thinking it would be an exciting adventure. Little did I know how it would change my life.
I am one of three sisters and combined we have six daughters. Speaker after speaker made me aware of the second class citizenship we had and of the old white men who were making the decisions about our bodies and our lives. I learned more and more about those brave women who faced fierce backlash and even prison to allow me even the right to vote.
I came home enthusiastic, energized and ready to fight for the equality we are entitled to in all areas of life. I will stand up for my rights, my daughter's rights, and future generations rights, as women previously did for me.
- Colleen Cassidy
Anti-choice protesters at abortion care offices yell into loudspeakers at patients seeking abortions. They are threatening, shaming, guilting, bullying, and verbally assaulting and abusive to them. I escort patients from their cars to the front door of the clinic to provide a buffer between them and the protesters. They sometimes arrive with their children because they don’t have child care. They often leave them in the car because they don’t want them to hear the ugly things protesters are yelling at them.
This is no way for a woman who is already dealing with difficult circumstances and difficult decisions to have to access needed healthcare. What would you think if people who disagreed with a medical decision you felt was necessary showed up at your doctor’s office and screamed ugly things at you and tried to block your entrance? That is just wrong.
I had an illegal abortion in 1965 that nearly cost me my life. I am a living witness to the value of safe and legal abortion care. People can disagree but they have no moral right to intimidate and harass those they disagree with. They also should stop stigmatizing abortion.
I volunteer because it is something I can do to try to re-balance the scales at the clinic. It shouldn’t be necessary but it is. The protesters yell the same ugly things at me, but I’ll be volunteering until our culture stops stigmatizing a normal, necessary, family-saving, second chance-providing, safer than childbirth medical procedure and these protesters find real problems to tackle.
- Betty Gunz
Abortion is complicated. There are so many reasons that can bring a woman to an abortion clinic and those reasons are no one’s business but hers. In the time I have spent as a clinic escort or defender, I have talked to families who very much want a child, but feel that they are
overwhelmed with other life events. I have talked to couples who were told that the child
wouldn’t live until birth. I have talked to very young women coming to the clinic and women
who already have children to care for. What I have seen is that abortion is complicated – just as
people’s lives are complicated.
I believe that women should have freedom to make choices about their lives. Women should be
able to decide whether they want to finish high school and if they want to go to college. Women should have the chance to find work that they enjoy and find meaningful. And women should to be able to decide for themselves, when, how and with whom they wish to have children. Obviously, life is unpredictable for everyone, to some extent. But in our country we make women’s lives even more unpredictable. Lack of insurance and financial resources prevent many women from having access to the most effective forms of birth control. In many communities we don’t provide adequate sex education. And one out of every six women is raped at some point in her life. All of these problems make it unsurprising that almost half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned pregnancies.
I do not believe that a woman should be forced to have a child she does not want or feel able to care for. Even under the best of circumstances, motherhood is hard work, and the maternal
mortality rate is higher in our country than in any other developed country. How is it right to
force a woman to unwillingly accept the risk of dying to give birth to a child she does not want
or cannot care for? Raising a child takes a great deal of physical and emotional energy, as well
as significant financial resources, but our country does little to help low-income families with
housing, food or child care. How is it right to force a woman to give birth to children we are
unwilling to help her care for?
I believe that imposing motherhood on a woman who does not welcome it is wrong for the future child as well. How is it right to force a child to be born an unwanted burden rather than a
joyfully anticipated gift? Women with unplanned pregnancies are far less likely to receive
adequate prenatal care. Research has shown that children who result from unplanned
pregnancies have higher rates of low birth weight, are more likely to have developmental delays and are more likely to enter the foster care system -- which brings a higher risk of teen
pregnancy, delinquency and prison. In this context, how is it right to force a woman to bring an
unwanted child into this world when we as a country aren’t willing to do all we can to provide
that child with what it needs to have a happy and successful life?
I believe that the right to physical autonomy is a fundamental human right. Access to safe and
legal abortions is a necessary part of that right. And that is why I volunteer with the
Reproductive Rights Coalition.
- Brooke Adams
My first memory of of someone telling me what to do with my body was when a couple of older boys caught me in the woods and beat me up when I was ten.
“Stop acting like a boy,” they yelled at me as they pummeled my body with fists.
In that moment a rebellion against bullies became hard wired into my soul. My power girl soul, not a tomboy’s. Ten years later in Boston I became swept up in what I surely thought was the second revolution….women’s, gay, and black liberation movements were exploding, and above it all like a giant umbrella was the anti Vietnam War movement. It was there that I saw up close how Boston schools were more segregated than Charlotte, that there actually were hundreds of gay people coming out (pre-LGBTQ designation), that friends of mine were being shipped off to Vietnam, and that a fully intrinsic part of all of this were strong women leaders organizing.
My first full time organizer job was with the Boston Women’s Abortion Action Coalition. Because this was before the Roe v Wade decision, we organized marches and meetings where again strong women finally stood up. It was there I learned about the women who risked their lives to have illegal abortions, and the stories were chilling.
I remember in one meeting an older woman with two grown daughters with her stood up and told about her illegal abortion. Her children were totally surprised, having no idea she had done this. “You were so young, just toddlers, and I feared for my life and yours from my abusive husband, your father. I made secret plans to leave and take you with me. And then I became pregnant again.” She looked down at her seated children and said, “I never would have been able to leave if I carried this pregnancy to term, and we all might be dead. I made that decision and I don’t regret it.”
During the next few years we organized thousands of women “with their fists held high, saying no more butchers would see us die!” We marched in the streets of Boston, then in Washington. And the Supreme Court heard us.
I moved back to Charlotte in 1976, pretty worn out from all the organizing, only to see a few short years later that a violent backlash was occurring against clinics that performed abortions. I joined a group of women to protect a clinic in the Metroview building at the intersection of Randolph and Caswell. On our first “clinic defense” a group of about twenty men (I don't remember any women) rushed us at the door, threw us down violently (I remember crashing over a three foot tall ash tray in the lobby). They got on the elevators to the 6th floor clinic and sat together in the hall outside totally blocking the clinic until the police finally arrived and removed them. We were able to successfully counter them later by organizing dozens of folks, mostly women, to protect this clinic and also Planned Parenthood’s Clinic on Stonewall St.
Attacks on clinics in the eighties and early nineties were becoming more and more violent, with one doctor being killed and another wounded in 1993. One of the shooters was a member of Flip Benham’s Operation Save America. The same Flip Benham that we encounter almost every day now. But the violence resulted in the FACE Act….which “makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services.”
And now with almost unlimited funds, anti abortion groups are again escalating their tactics to stop clinics from operating. The harassment, shaming, buying of politicians, and worse are on the rise. We have a multi faceted battle against these people and hope you will join us if you have not already. I will fight until my last breath to protect women’s right to control our own bodies and lives. I take North Carolina’s slogan to heart: “Don't Tread on Me.”
- Diana Travis
I have always considered myself an incredibly optimistic person. I believe that people are ultimately good, and that the right outcome will generally come to be. I walked through the 2016 Presidential Campaign time buoyed by the thought that we would soon have our first female president. And then....well you know the rest.
I soon found myself with an abundance of outrage, confused about how we allowed such hate to become normalized, and how for the first time in my life, it felt like we were moving backwards as a country, not forwards. Whether its women's rights, gay rights, the rights of the impoverished or those trying to come to the USA to make their American dream come true, it felt like all things good were under attack. I needed a way to help. I needed a way to do more than just talk, post, like and tweet. So I showed up.
- Shane Krobisch