UNC Asheville Activism and Exposing Fake Clinics!

by Kelli Early, 2017-2018 Campus Leader at UNC Asheville

One phrase that I use to guide my activism is “The best revolutions aren’t based in the hate of the oppressors, but the love of the people.”  I kept that phrase in mind duringKelli October blog 1 October as a Campus Leader for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and while working with another student group, Planned Parenthood Next Generation, as we focused on identifying the actors working against full reproductive freedom in North Carolina.  This goal come to life through an avid petitioning campaign, canvassing, and direct action during the #ExposeFakeClinics week of action.  The month started with a campaign to educate and empower students to oppose the 20-week abortion ban.  While we gathered over 40 signatures and had multiple students join our student organization, there was push-back by conservative members of our community.  But the only thing these anti-abortion students and community members accomplished by yelling “murder” and other unoriginal slurs at my fellow organization members was we came together even more and gathered over 45 letters to Senator Richard Burr and Senator Thom Tillis telling them not to co-sponsor the 20 week abortion ban because of its illogical, anti-choice ideological nature.

This negativity continued to fuel our passion for advocacy, and the following weekend multiple students from our group went canvassing with Planned Parenthood of Asheville.  The canvass took place in different public housing communities to engage residents about questions they have about Planned Parenthood, in the hopes of breaking stigma around abortion providers and raise awareness of all of the services Planned Parenthood offers (the majority of which are not abortion).  While I would have liked there to be more conversation around the power dynamics of mostly white college students canvassing a low-income neighborhood, I was excited to see conversations were stigma was broken around our local clinic.

Lastly, the #ExposeFakeClinics week consisted of a teach-in about fake Crisis Pregnancy Centers, where I invited my PP organization and leaders among other student organization to learn the basics about fake CPCs.  In the teach-in, the group discovered Bethany Christian Services, which utilizes classic fake clinic CPC tactics to deceive young, low-income people.  For example, one example of this is that they provide “abortion counseling” to “help individuals reconcile their choice of abortion.”  All that this fake Kelli October blog 2“counseling” does is further the idea that abortion is shameful and regrettable–instead of a private choice that should be made between the person who wants the abortion and their medical provider.  On top of this highly stigmatizing “service,” their website primarily uses pictures of Women of Color; but, when reading through Bethany Christian Center’s online reviews, it came to light that a Woman of Color received racist remarks about her pregnancy when she went to Bethany Christian Services.  Due to all of this, our group decided to hold a direct action outside their office to expose this location as a fake clinic.

North Carolina Catholic for Choice Speaks Out Against #HB465

Sarah J. Bucher, a Catholic for Choice from Raleigh, North Carolina 

cfcavatarAs a pro-choice Catholic, I feel the need to speak out against North Carolina House Bill 465, which triples the existing mandatory abortion waiting period. When policymakers create obstacles in reproductive healthcare, they fail to respect an individual’s moral decision making, and they place additional burdens on vulnerable women. I expect elected officials to speak up for the rights of every individual and to advocate for those who will suffer most if this legislation is allowed to pass. Women in North Carolina deserve no less.

To learn more about HB 465, read this Op-Ed by Dr. David Grimes and Dr. Amy Bryant.  

#HB465, A Condescending Concept

Maddie Majerus, Co-President of the Reproductive Justice Club at ASU and Appalachian State University Senior

I am writing this because I am angry. I am angry that, yet again, North Carolina politicians think that they know best when it comes to someone making a personal medical decision. House Bill 465 would TRIPLE the current waiting period for people seeking abortions, extending it to a full 72 hours. What a demeaning, condescending concept! That after expressing to your doctor that you need this medical procedure, you have to go home and think it over for three more days before being allowed to receive it!

11150475_851068588315091_2991631670942116813_nA three-day waiting period may seem like a minor annoyance, but for some people seeking abortion, it is a huge barrier to overcome. There are only a handful of abortion clinics in North Carolina, which means that some people have to travel for hours in order to get to one. This means taking time off work (and loosing out on the money they would be making), potentially finding and paying for childcare, and finding and paying for transportation. A three-day waiting period means that a person seeking an abortion would not have to do this once, but TWICE, if the clinic requires in-person initial visits. What if your employer won’t let you take the time off work? What if you don’t own a car and you can’t find a ride? How are you supposed to access the healthcare that you need with this added, unnecessary barrier?

Some of our lawmakers think that people need this extra time to think thier decision over. Representative Presnell said that she thinks that a person’s decision to get an abortion is made “very abrupt, very quickly.” Quite frankly, Representative. Presnell, it is none of your business if someone took three seconds, three days, or three weeks to make their choice! It is their decision to make, NOT yours. As Representative Adcock, a nurse practitioner said, “It’s not about knowledge, it’s about delay. It’s about medically unnecessary delay.”

I am fighting to protect a person’s right to decide what is right for their life and their body. That is why my Co-President, Anna Lobastova, and I will be joining Planned Parenthood and NARAL NC on Monday, May 11th at 4:30pm at the Governors Mansion to #StopHB465! Join us! Tell McCrory we remember his campaign promise and sign this petition to urge him to VETO HB 465! 

“If Pat McCrory believes in a healthy North Carolina, he should veto HB 465!”

“Keep Your Promise, McCrory” tour stop in Charlotte: Speech by Reia Chapman, North Carolina Organizer for SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and an Advisory Council Member of Social Workers for Reproductive Justice

Good Afternoon. My name is Reia Chapman, and I am here on behalf of Women Voting Our Values and as a NC resident in opposition to House Bill 465.

SisterSong is a Southern based, national membership organization and our purpose is to build an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the lives of marginalized communities. SisterSong’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of Indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice (RJ) by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.

Reproductive Justice is defined as the right to have children, not have children, to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments, and the right to bodily autonomy — and is based on an individual’s human right to make personal decisions about their life. The obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions is imperative for women of color.

As a RJ activist, I can say with certainty that abortions – like contraception and pre & post natal care – are a part of women’s overall reproductive healthcare and they should remain legal, accessible, affordable and safe. And as community organizer here in NC, I can say with certainty that abortion restrictions like state-mandated waiting periods are the wrong priority for my community.

Women of color are already limited with access to healthcare services in North Carolina. For example, when Medicaid expansion in NC was denied, over half-a-million North Carolinians remained at risk – especially the citizens in rural North Carolina that face financial and physical barriers to receiving preventative health care and health education as well as treatment for existing health problems.

HB 465 represents the very thing Governor McCrory agreed not to do: INCREASE ABORTION RESTRICTIONS! We charge this as Reproductive Oppression! Reproductive oppression is the control and exploitation of women, girls, and individuals through our bodies, sexuality, labor, and reproduction. Restricting a woman’s right to the full range of reproductive healthcare in essence controls the destiny of entire communities through the bodies of women and individuals.

unnamed-10Forcing women into motherhood has serious implications.   History and research indicate that desperation is dangerous which is why we must fight against any type of legislation that seeks to prohibit our Reproductive Freedom. We cannot forget that before Roe v Wade (1973) made abortion legal in this county women were losing their lives because they were trying to take care of themselves.

Oppressive legislation such as HB 465 further contributes to the marginalization of the most vulnerable communities in NC, and making women wait for 72 hours is dangerous and abusive. Mandatory delays create additional burdens for North Carolina women especially women in rural areas who have to travel many hours outside of their communities to reach a healthcare provider.

This is bigger than abortion. This is about trusting women and their ability to do what is best for themselves because we do not know their story. Therefore, we must eradicate any barriers that impact their reproductive decisions. This is not a singular issue with a single issue solution. Audrey Lorde stated “there is no such thing as a single issue because we don’t live single-issue lives.”

Representative Jacqueline Schaffer said in a statement before the house that “The poorest decisions that we make are the ones we make under pressure and on impulse.” The timetable proposed is medically unnecessary. The implication here is that women lack the capacity to consider their own needs, desires, and options. This is a matter of Reproductive Freedom. Women in NC are not making business transactions with regard to their Reproductive Health. We need to trust women to make reproductive choices for themselves.

Instead of limiting access to healthcare for NC women, We need our legislators focusing on:

  • Improving awareness of existing health care programs, like Medicaid, Medicare, and Health Choice through community outreach programs.
  • Adjusting/simplifying the requirements of current programs, such as those listed above, to allow more/improved coverage for those in need.
  • Ensuring that rural counties receive more healthcare funding and improving healthcare access through increased incentives for doctors to open practices in rural areas and better managed/funded healthcare facilities.
  • Initiating programs for those with no transportation or limited transportation to receive care.
  • Establishing a living wage ordinance to insure that rural citizens have the funds necessary to incorporate preventative healthcare into their lives.
  • Asking citizens what they want or need in terms of healthcare. Encourage community involvement in implementing change in health care access through outreach groups. Get involved.

As I close, I must say as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I am deeply concerned regarding the psychological impact and mental health of women who will be most affected by this measure. This is a critical time in the lives of all women. Daily we make choices around our reproductive health from what we eat, where we live, where we work, to who we’re intimate with and the type of healthcare support we need.IMG_3231

We believe it is essential to utilize the RJ frame as a means to unite women and their communities, be relevant to communities of color, and link to advocates from the nation’s capitol to the grassroots in order to develop proactive strategies to protect and preserve our lives.

We believe that RJ is achieved when all of us have the social, economic, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities.

If Pat McCrory believes in a healthy North Carolina, he should veto HB 465!

Sign Our Petition!

Last week we released our report on the dangers of crisis pregnancy centers in North Carolina.

This week we want your support in calling for state regulation of these CPCs to prevent further misinformation from negatively affecting the lives of North Carolinians.

Add your name to a growing list of North Carolinians who agree that all people in our state deserve medically accurate and unbiased information!

Sign the petition here!