‘Victory’: Anti-Choice Groups Cheer Trump’s Plan to Decimate Family Planning Program

Activists in the anti-choice movement are ecstatic about the Trump administration’s Friday announcement that it had finalized the language of its restrictions on Title X family planning funds, also known as the “domestic gag rule.”

The anti-choice policy, an apparent attempt to target Planned Parenthood, prohibits providers receiving federal Title X funding from referring patients for abortion services and forces abortion providers under the program to physically separate abortion services from other family planning services. Reproductive rights and health advocates say the policy could potentially devastate the program, which provides access to family planning and reproductive health care to more than 4 million people.

Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), which has worked closely with the Trump administration on anti-choice priorities, called the final rules a “victory” in a press release. “We thank President Trump for taking decisive action to disentangle taxpayers from the big abortion industry led by Planned Parenthood,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a statement, though the Hyde Amendment already bans federal funding for abortion. “We thank President Trump and Secretary [Alex] Azar for ensuring that the Title X program is truly about funding family planning, not abortion.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, called the domestic gag rule “absolutely appropriate” in a statement. “We applaud HHS Secretary Azar and the Trump administration on this move,” she said. Mancini claimed the rule “protects low-income women who rely on Title X assistance because no funds will be cut from the program,” though reproductive health care advocates note that the domestic gag rule would “fundamentally dismantle [the federal family planning] program.”

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins used politically charged language in a statement on the finalized rule to dubiously connect abortion services to infanticide. “The radicalized abortion industry as seen in blatant support for virtual infanticide in late-term abortions must be defunded in every program,” said Hawkins. “This is the on-going priority for Students for Life and the Pro-life Generation because we know that our own money is being used against us and future generations.”

“Healthcare dollars should fund real, full-service medical care, not abortion vendors,” Hawkins said.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, suggested the Trump rule was “a major step toward the ultimate goal of ending taxpayers’ forced partnership with the abortion industry.”

In a statement on the Trump administration’s rule, Perkins claimed that “Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers will now have to choose between dropping their abortion services from any location that gets Title X dollars and moving those abortion operations offsite. Either way, this will loosen the group’s hold on tens of millions of tax dollars.”

Perkins, whose organization has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, praised the Trump administration for its actions, saying the president “has been persistent in fulfilling his pro-life campaign promises.”

Concerned Women for America called the anti-choice rule “desperately needed” in a blog post and praised the finalized policy for forcing Planned Parenthood to choose between receiving federal family planning funds and providing abortion care. “Thank you President Trump!” the organization added in a tweet.

Live Action, whose discredited videos have often targeted Planned Parenthood, cheered the administration’s rule as “an important victory.”

“We thank President Trump and Secretary Azar for taking steps to ensure that the Title X program does not fund corporations that profit from the pain of women and the deaths of their children,” Live Action President Lila Rose said in a statement. Rose dismissed the federal family planning program as “a slush fund for these human rights abuses.”

Trump Administration Releases Final Text of Domestic ‘Gag Rule’ Restriction on Title X

Read more about the Trump administration’s new rule here.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the final version of its new regulations for Title X programs, which will ban federal family planning funds from going to health providers who perform or refer patients for abortion services. This amounts to a domestic “gag rule,” reproductive rights advocates say.

The updated rule, posted online by HHS on Friday, still needs to be officially published in the Federal Register.

The gag rule, first proposed in May, limits patients’ access to medically accurate family planning information by banning abortion referrals and forces abortion providers to physically and financially separate abortion services from family planning services in order to receive Title X funding. The move is an apparent attempt to make good on President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “defund Planned Parenthood,” which serves 41 percent of Title X patients.

Reproductive health and rights advocates warn that the domestic gag rule could serve as a critical roadblock in access to care for Title X patients. “This rule will block doctors across the country from referring Title X patients for safe, legal abortion,” Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, told Rewire.News in a statement. “It will block patients from getting birth control at places like Planned Parenthood, and it will prohibit doctors from being able to provide full and accurate information to their patients. There are 4 million people across the country who rely on Title X to access critical health care like birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment—and more than 1.6 million seek that care at Planned Parenthood.”

“We will fight this rule in every way possible, and we will continue to provide care to our patients —no matter what,” Wen said.

The unofficial final rule comes after a group of anti-choice groups convened in November at the White House with administration officials, expressing disappointment over its slow progress. Vice President Mike Pence, a vocal opponent of abortion rights, was also present at that meeting, according to a Washington Post report. “It wasn’t a hostile audience today, obviously,” Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins told Rewire.News, specifically pointing to the Title X rule. “We did express some disappointment that things haven’t moved faster and that there were things that they’ve promised that they haven’t done yet.”

Anti-choice officials installed by the Trump administration at HHS have long held the goal of defunding Planned Parenthood, a primary recipient of Title X funding, as well as undermining access to comprehensive reproductive health care. In May 2018, anti-choice activist Diane Foley was appointed to oversee distribution of Title X funding as head of the Office of Population Affairs (OPA). Foley previously served as the president and CEO of Life Network, which, according to its website, promotes “life-affirming alternatives to abortion” and operates two anti-choice clinics in the Colorado Springs area. The organization is an affiliate of CareNet, which operates one of the largest networks of anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers” in the United States. It gets support from Focus on the Family, an anti-choice organization that opposes some forms of contraception such as intrauterine devices (IUDs).

A long series of anti-choice actions from the administration paved the way for the domestic gag rule. In an announcement in August, HHS shortened the period of time covered by Title X grants issued last year, forcing each provider to reapply for funds for a second year in a row rather than the customary biennial grant application process. Advocates worried the move was connected to the gag rule and expressed concern that forcing providers to reapply for funding again may interrupt critical services for patients.

According to an email from an HHS spokesperson to Rewire.News in November, when the 2019 Title X funding opportunity announcement was released, the rule will apply to new and existing Title X grants. “If a new Title X regulation is finalized, grantees will need to come into compliance with the new regulation according to the timetable within the rule. However, scoring criteria for this competition will not change from that stated in the FOA,” the spokesperson said. The rule will go into effect 60 days after it is posted to the Federal Register, applying to 2019 grantees.

In a letter last week to Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Democrats expressed concern that HHS may not have followed the proper administrative procedure in finalizing the rule.

The letter, which was sent by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) prior to the release of the domestic gag rule’s final text, expressed concern that it would be finalized before HHS “conducted a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the rule’s potential economic and health impacts.”

“Of particular concern, HHS declined to deem the Title X rule economically significant—completely disregarding the considerable health-related costs the rule would impose—and failed to conduct a comprehensive regulatory impact analysis,” the letter states. It went on to call for the rule to be returned to HHS “so that it can perform a comprehensive regulatory impact analysis and provide stakeholders additional opportunity for public comment.”

Mulvaney currently serves as acting chief of staff for the president in addition to his role at OMB, and Rao was recently nominated to be a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

This is a developing story. Rewire.News will continue to report as more information emerges. 

What You Need to Know About Trump’s Attacks on the Federal Family Planning Program

Read more about the Trump administration’s new rule here.

Reproductive health advocates are bracing themselves for the finalization of the Trump administration’s Title X “domestic gag rule.” The anti-choice policy would ban providers receiving Title X funds from referring patients for abortion services and force abortion providers under the program to physically separate abortion services from other family planning services.

But what is the Title X family planning program, and why do the administration’s policies threaten access to reproductive health care?

In order to provide public funding and support to family planning services nationwide, the federal grant program commonly referred to as “Title X” was created as part of the Public Health Service Act, signed into law by Republican President Nixon in 1970. With Title X, Nixon made good on his campaign promise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”

Around the 1960s, when courts were ruling to allow the use of contraception in the United States, new research found that access to family planning and contraceptive services could help prevent unplanned pregnancies, according to the Guttmacher Institute. More studies revealed the long-term socioeconomic benefits of preventing unplanned pregnancies and the health benefits of spacing pregnancies. The problem was that access to care was largely determined by income. The first federal grants to address this issue and support family planning services for low-income women came in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty efforts. Nixon’s Title X followed.

“The Title X program is the nation’s only dedicated source of funding for subsidized family planning and reproductive health care,” Audrey Sandusky, communications director for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), said in an interview with Rewire.News. “It supports a network of providers nationwide and it’s a diverse network of providers. So Title X funding goes to any entity that has demonstrated a strong capacity to meet the rigorous criteria that the program requires. It’s a competitive grant program.”

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health by the Office of Population Affairs oversees Title X funding. Organizations can use Title X funds to provide direct health-care services, train health-care professionals providing family planning care, research family planning methods and service delivery, and develop and distribute informational materials.

According to reproductive health advocates, the program has expanded over time to include a broader range of reproductive and sexual health needs. New administrations can attempt to adjust what the program funds, “usually in response to emerging public health threats,” said Emily Stewart, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood, a major recipient of Title X funds, in an interview with Rewire.News.

Stewart cited the Obama administration’s expansion of the program to include screening for HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Breast and cervical cancer screenings are also now included in family planning care under Title X.

Costs for services at Title X clinics are based on income. For people living at or below the federal poverty level, services are provided free of charge. And teens who seek care at these clinics are evaluated based on their income, not that of their parents or guardians. Title X clinics also serve the health-care needs of a large population of people who don’t qualify for Medicaid but also can’t afford private health insurance. Annual report data from HHS revealed that Title X centers served 4 million family planning patients in 2017. About two-thirds of these people live in poverty.

Title X clinics are the main source of medical care for six in ten women who receive services there. The number of men being served by the program has also increased dramatically in the last decade. By 2017, 12 percent of Title X patients were men. The same year, 54 percent of Title X patients were white, 22 percent Black, and 33 percent Latinx, meaning that a disproportionate number of Black and Latinx people are receiving services through Title X.

As written into the original 1970 law, “[n]one of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” This component of the law has been a key point of debate for many years, especially during President Ronald Reagan’s administration. Based on current policy interpretations, clinics that also offer abortion care can receive Title X funding, but they must keep all of their non-abortion services financially separate in order to confirm that such funding is not being used for abortions. Sandusky noted, however, that “Title X also ensures non-directive options counseling, which means providers can counsel on healthy pregnancy, adoption, and abortion in the case of a positive pregnancy test.”

The New Threats to Federal Family Planning Funds

According to advocates, the Trump administration presents a threat to the family planning grant program that hasn’t been seen before. “In modern history, we have not seen any administration issue as damaging policy in the collective around reproductive health access as this administration,” Stewart said. “They have done more in just over two years as any administration in modern history has done in eight.”

Among the devastating policies Stewart listed was a rollback of a Title X requirement that providers offer patients a broad range of contraceptive care and birth control options. “The first funding opportunity announcement [FOA] didn’t even have the word contraception in it.”

The administration’s use of FOAs to accomplish political objectives has rattled advocates and put the program at serious risk. “This administration, instead of using the FOA to build on the foundation of the program and to answer the call of the public health community, has gone in the complete opposite direction and has used these FOAs to exact a political agenda designed to actually crack the foundation of the program,” Stewart said.

Sandusky said the administration over the last two years has shortened every Title X grant, seemingly in order to bring each provider into compliance with new, politically motivated grant requirements as quickly as possible.

In 2017, Trump proposed deep cuts to the Title X program in his budget proposal.

According to Sandusky, doing so would decimate the program. “Under that current funding level, the program could really only meet one-fifth of existing need for publicly funded family planning,” she said. “We’ve seen challenges at both a regulatory and funding perspective and then, of course, we are anticipating some of the most troubling changes and the most far-reaching changes in this proposed [domestic gag] rule.”

Trump’s Domestic Gag Rule Designed to “Fundamentally Dismantle” Title X

The gag rule would ban Title X family planning providers from making referrals for abortion services and require providers to physically separate their Title X practices from their abortion services. Physical separation could mean everything from building new entrances and exits, to opening completely new facilities and hiring more staff.

“This rule is really clearly designed to fundamentally dismantle this program and its originating purpose of expanding access to affordable birth control and reproductive health care,” Stewart said.

Many Title X clinics that offer preventive health-care services and a range of family planning services also provide abortions and abortion referrals. That includes some Planned Parenthood affiliates, who in 2015 made up 13 percent of clinics funded through Title X and provided care to 41 percent of patients seeking contraceptives. However, Stewart told Rewire.News that should the finalized version of the gag rule go into effect, Planned Parenthood would withdraw from the program.

That, according to advocates, is the point of the Trump rule. “The cruelty of this rule cannot be overstated,” Sandusky said. “This is an attempt to impose a new ideological value system on the program and it will jeopardize the health and well-being of millions of poor and low-income people across the country. What the administration is trying to do is really to suppress the ability of Title X providers and undermine providers expertise to deliver the highest quality, affordable, confidential family planning and sexual health care to those who need it the most.”

In the face of attacks, political opposition to the gag rule has begun to mobilize. Stewart points to the wave of pro-choice candidates elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and state offices throughout the country in 2018 as evidence that Trump’s anti-choice policies are unpopular among voters. Polling data taken just before last year’s election showed that abortion and reproductive health-care access was a galvanizing issue for Democratic voters.

“We feel really inspired by that grassroots energy and we at Planned Parenthood are going to be doing everything we can to channel, to continue the fight against this rule and the other attacks on reproductive health that we’ll continue to see from this administration,” Stewart said. “We’ll definitely be looking for champions in Congress to be a part of highlighting the harm of this rule and to be holding this administration accountable for their actions to hamper access to reproductive health care.”

However, the new Democratic and pro-choice majority in the House may not be enough to stop millions of people from losing access to a full range of reproductive health-care options for many years. Stewart said that rolling back Trump administration rules could take just as long as implementation took in the first place.

“People would be losing access to health care for many, many years even if a new administration came back committed to growing the program back to where it was,” she said.

Ask a Queer Chick: Do I Have to Come Out to My Conservative Family?

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, lovelies! Yes, I know it’s heteronormative and consumerist and often anticlimactic, but for all its shortcomings I can never resist celebrating the concept of love. Of course it’s a made-up holiday. All holidays are made up, and that doesn’t make them irrelevant. Let’s make up even more holidays this year and spend them showering our friends, families, and ourselves with adoration. And now for some advice!

When I was around 18 years old, I accepted the fact that I am bisexual. I am also a practicing Muslim, and I’ve finally reconciled my faith with my sexuality after years of research and personal reflection. 

I came out to many of my Muslim friends, and they were incredibly compassionate and supportive. Most of those friends were born, raised, and educated in the West. However, my family is very conservative and they stick to strict cultural values. I haven’t come out to them yet and I am extremely frightened to do so. I sometimes wonder if it’s even worth it, as I know they will most likely never understand or accept this about me. I don’t want to lose them, so what do you advise? Is it imperative I come out to them? If yes, how?

I give so much advice about coming out—the details, the script, what happens next—that sometimes I jump ahead a few steps. The first and most important decision in the coming-out process is, of course, whether to come out at all.

You do not have to come out. That goes for you, brave letter writer, and for anyone else who happens to be reading this, now and in perpetuity. You have my eternal permission to keep the truth of your heart folded safely inside, if bringing it forth into the world will be too great a risk. You are always allowed to choose safety.

Of course I think you should tell someone. Any secret held that tight starts to curdle into shame, and you do not deserve to be ashamed. But you’ve already told your friends, and you know you’re part of a community who accepts the whole of your heart and who affirms the things you hold dear: both how you worship and how you love. That’s absolutely wonderful. And it might be all you need.

You don’t mention a partner, but I wonder if you’ve considered what you would tell your family if you ever began a serious same-sex relationship. Would you be willing to hide your paramour (or downplay their significance in your life) forever? What if that person was not comfortable being a secret? Would it be worth a breakup to keep your orientation from your family? There are no wrong answers to these questions. I simply think it’s worth taking some time to think about them. It’s possible that you will sacrifice other things you care about for the sake of preserving your familial relationships, and you have the absolute right to do that. Every life involves some trade-offs. Just make sure yours are made after thoughtful deliberation, not in a panic at the spur of the moment.

It is also fine to wait to come out. Not doing it today doesn’t have to mean not doing it ever. The calculus of “is it worth it to risk my family’s rejection” may change throughout your life. Keeping this part of yourself a secret may seem easy now, but it could weigh you down later. Or you may see changes in your family’s thinking—an opening or softening in their hearts—and decide that the risk is not as daunting as it once seemed.

Whatever you choose, your decision is valid. And, should you one day come out to your family (by design or accident—sometimes people learn things we’d rather they didn’t know), their reaction is not a reflection on you. If they reject you, that is terribly sad and it’s OK to grieve that loss. But I hope you won’t blame yourself, now or ever. There is nothing wrong with you for loving who you love. You are gorgeous and holy and whole.

I have a very dear friend who is continually struggling with misgendering in a professional setting. My friend, who uses they/them pronouns, is an educator and is continually misgendered in front of co-workers at their place of employment.   

They feel it might be easiest to address everyone at once for the emotional labor and vulnerability, but is worried because they don’t want to cry in front of everyone. This is such a personal and stressful topic of conversation for them, but crying at work can open a lot of other judgments about competence and professionalism (gah).  Some staff members have notes on their doors about “standing with transgender students”… but the lack of support for trans staff might also impact how the kiddos perceive that signage and the messaging.

Would it be worth coming up with a direct one-on-one script so folks hear the need but don’t feel “called out” in a group setting? Should we care about their comfort, even though this is their problem? A one-on-one approach is also time-consuming, especially when you have students and a limited day.

What are some thoughts, ideas or suggestions my friend could try? Resources? How can I help as someone not directly involved?

While I appreciate your impulse to help your friend, if you don’t work with them (and it doesn’t sound like you do) there’s not a lot you can do directly. Just keep letting your friend know that you sympathize with their frustration and that, yes, not wanting to be misgendered at work is valid. The stress of microaggressions is only compounded by being ignored or told not to be so sensitive, and it may be immensely helpful for your friend to have someone loving and affirming to vent to.

Ideally it would be the school’s responsibility to establish a policy on misgendering colleagues, both for the good of the faculty and, as you rightly note, to make the space safer for trans and questioning students. If your friend’s school has an HR department, that should definitely be their first stop. However, we all know there are huge shortfalls in resources and support for teachers (many of my friends and loved ones were recently on strike in Denver for exactly this reason), so it’s very possible that no one is available to address this issue. In that case, I would recommend your friend talk to an administrator they trust (assuming there is such a person) about the best way to approach this and how the school can support them. Unfortunately, a faculty that already prides itself on being trans-affirming may be especially reluctant to acknowledge ways in which they are currently falling short—people who think of themselves as “good guys” are often notably resistant to constructive criticism.

If there’s just no support forthcoming from anyone else at the institution, I’d suggest your friend keep things as short and to the point as possible, to minimize emotional wear and tear when they’re already likely to be spread so thin. Since it sounds like they’re already out at work, this doesn’t need to be a big conversation, just a gentle reinforcement of basic respect. They should practice saying “Actually, my pronouns are they/them” and “Actually, I’m nonbinary” in as bland a tone as possible, and then immediately—before the other party has an opportunity to performatively apologize—picking up the conversation where it left off. Having a heart-to-heart with every individual colleague about the trans experience is not part of your friend’s job description

I’m 23 years old, and I think I might be genderqueer, but I’m not sure. This is a lot to unpack, and I hope I’m doing this right.

My “aha!” moment came a couple months ago when I attended a support group with a transgender friend of mine. As they went around the circle, all the trans people seemed to echo the same sentiment, that they saw themselves internally as their identified gender even if they hadn’t accepted it externally. One guy, in particular, said that even though his parents called him a girl’s name, and he wore girl clothing and did what girls did, his internal monologue had always been masculine, so to himself, he had always been male.

And that kind of got me thinking, what’s my inner monologue like? How did I see myself? And I realized that I had never taken a gender. I didn’t think of myself as male or female. I was born a girl, but that was so inconsequential to my identity that I had never considered I might be anything else. I was just kind of like, “whatever” about my gender. And now I’m conflicted about it. 

For a few weeks, I tried to incorporate my gender into my view of myself. Like, when I was in line for coffee, I was a woman in line for coffee. And when I was doing my homework, I was a woman doing her homework. You get the idea. And that just felt so forced and wrong. So I tried to think of myself as a guy, and that felt even more alien. Whenever I tried to think about myself in gendered terms, I didn’t feel like me. I felt like someone else entirely, and I didn’t really like it.

So, I’m not a guy, and I guess I’m not a girl. And yet, I hesitate to call myself genderqueer. I can’t tell if I don’t want to do it because I’m afraid of the word and its connotations, or because I actually am a woman and don’t really know how to be one. This has me so conflicted. I feel like I’m not queer enough to be queer, but I’m too queer to just slap a label on myself and be done with it. I feel like I’m not completely happy with any of my options, while the people in the trans support group were confident and sure in their labels. I just don’t know what to call me. Do I have to call me anything? Is this just what queerness is? And if I am queer, what do I do with my queerness?

Are you nonbinary? That’s a question I can’t answer for you. It sounds to me like you might be agender—having no gender identity, rather than identifying as male, female, or some combination of the two. You may find it helpful to look for a support group for people who are questioning their gender identity, rather than for those who have already come out as trans. The place where you accompanied your friend is probably a good place to start looking for groups, events, or counselors who can help you unpack your experience of gender.

If you’re not excited about your in-person options, or if you want to explore on your own first, you can do some reading online or at your local library. Online resources dealing specifically with agender identity are still somewhat scarce, but you can start here or here to see if you connect with how other people describe their agender experiences. You can also find hands-on resources like My NewGender Workbook and You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discovery, which offer interactive exercises to help you find the words for your unique, authentic self.

If you are queer, you will do with your queerness what everyone does, which is to say: everything. It will feel strange at first, and then less strange, and then it will be part of you.

Do you wear glasses? I realized that I needed glasses in high school, but I never wanted to wear them. They looked foreign on my face and they didn’t suit my style, so I avoided it as much as possible. (I can’t wear contacts because touching my own eyeball is the stuff of actual nightmares and we will speak of it no further.) It wasn’t until after college that I finally acknowledged my eyesight was getting worse and I could no longer pass myself off as a non-glasses-wearing person.

For a long time after I started wearing glasses regularly, I was extremely aware of them. I thought a lot about choosing outfits and hairstyles that would “work with” my glasses—that would make my glasses look intentional, like part of my aesthetic. I fidgeted. I felt self-conscious, afraid the real glasses-wearers would know I was a newcomer and that they were laughing at me behind my back.

Now I wear glasses every day. I no longer think about them much, or even see them when I look in the mirror. They are part of my body, integral to my regular human functioning, as present and as inextricable as, I don’t know, my elbows. What do I do with my elbows? Nothing, I just have them.

This is an analogy for my queerness, and yours. If you conclude that you are actually not a woman or a man—if a nonbinary gender is the lens that makes everything snap into focus and that finally makes sense of all those blurred messages you’ve been trying to decipher—it will feel very strange for a while. Then you’ll probably think about it less and less until it’s so ingrained in your understanding of the world that you will not think of it at all. There will come a day when it’s not surprising that everything looks so clear. That will just be the way you see

Need advice? Email me: [email protected]. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

‘Welcome to Colorado, Where You Can Get a Safe, Legal Abortion’

Those making the drive from Utah into Colorado along Interstate 70 are greeted with a new billboard trumpeting the state as a refuge for those seeking abortion care: “Welcome to Colorado, where you can get a safe, legal abortion.”

Billboard advertising has long been a tool of the anti-choice movement, but pro-choice advocates have recently hit back with billboards of their own. The Colorado billboard, paid for by pro-choice group ProgressNow Colorado, sheds light on how the state acts as a safe haven for people seeking abortion care from neighboring states, where Republican-majority legislatures are hostile to reproductive rights.

While Colorado has few restrictions on abortion, Republican lawmakers in surrounding states including Utah, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Texas, and Oklahoma have made it difficult to access the procedure. Laws targeting abortion providers in Texas, for example, have led to widespread clinic closures.

Over 8 percent of abortions performed at their Colorado health centers in 2018 were for out-of-state patients, but that percentage is much higher for health centers located near the state’s borders, according to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM). In Fort Collins, more than a quarter of abortion services provided were for out-of-state patients, and at their Durango health center, it was more than 40 percent.

“We’re anticipating the numbers who are going to have to travel to get to a provider will increase,” said PPRM President Vicki Cowart. “We’re positioning ourselves to be part of the solution to deal with what we’re anticipating is going to be a public health crisis.”

A GOP-backed Texas law passed in 2013 required abortion providers to make costly upgrades to their facilities and only employ doctors with admitting privileges at local hospitals. The law made it impossible for many of the state’s abortion clinics to operate, and as a result, more than half of them shut down.

A year after passage of the Texas Republican bill, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which encompasses Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Southern Nevada, saw a spike in out-of-state patients at its health centers. That was especially true in New Mexico, where more than eight in ten out-of-state patients come from Texas, according to PPRM.

The Supreme Court overturned that law in the 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case, but the majority of the shuttered clinics, many of which were located in the western half of Texas, have not reopened.

Denver-based OB/GYN Aaron Lazorwitz told Rewire.News that he left his home state of Texas to get adequate training in Colorado, which he called a “bastion of access” for reproductive health care.

“There was a huge lack of training in Texas,” Lazorwitz said. “In order to get the training I needed to provide comprehensive reproductive health care including abortion and contraception, I knew I needed to leave.”

People from Texas rely on Colorado to get abortion care later in pregnancy after fetal anomalies are detected, Lazorwitz said. “We see a lot of later anomalies end up here because most of the outpatient clinics [in Texas] don’t go beyond 17 weeks, and bad anomalies are picked up around 20 weeks.”

Potential health outcomes can be devastating when a fetal anomaly is detected later in pregnancy, leading many people with otherwise wanted pregnancies to make the choice to terminate.

Lazorwitz said having to travel out of state for abortion care in this scenario draws out the process to the detriment of abortion patient’s health, considering the risks associated with the procedure, along with the costs, increase over time. “It’s really disheartening to see women having to travel hours to get basic health care,” Lazorwitz said. “We’re lucky in Colorado.”

Abortion providers are sparse in other neighboring states as well. Wyoming, for example, has just one advertising abortion provider, located in Jackson. Utah has two, but both are located in Salt Lake City. Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma all have multiple providers in their more populated areas to the east, but the rural western parts of those states are abortion care deserts.

For those who are able to make the journey to an abortion provider in these states, the challenges don’t stop there. Colorado’s neighboring states ban many health insurance plans from covering abortion care, forcing people to pay out of pocket for the procedure. These states tend to have laws requiring people to sit through counseling designed to discourage them from having an abortion, and then wait anywhere from 24 to 72 hours before getting the care they need.

These waiting periods necessitate multiple trips to the clinic, making the process significantly lengthier and placing a major financial burden on women who might have to take time off work, pay for childcare, or arrange lodging.

“These are laws that have no basis in medicine or science. They have nothing to do with medical care, and they have everything to do with politics,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Dr. Leana Wen told Rewire.News. “It goes against the tenets of trusting our patients and trusting women.”

Wen warned of legal challenges to abortion rights winding their way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which now has five conservative judges who have consistently sided against reproductive rights.

“We have at least 15 cases that are one step away from the Supreme Court, and if any of these are heard, even in the next year, we could face a situation where Roe is further eroded or overturned,” Wen said. “If that were to happen, then 25 million women, which is 1 in 3 women of reproductive age in this country, could be living in states where abortion is illegal.”

With an administration stocked with avowed enemies of abortion care, state governments are the last line of defense for reproductive rights.

“States are a critical backstop at this time in our history,” Wen said. “There is proactive legislation we’ve introduced in over 20 states, and we expect even more as this year goes on because states play such a critical role.”

In the November midterms, Colorado elected a Democratic majority to both legislative chambers and a Democratic governor, so the state could become even more of an abortion oasis if lawmakers enact pro-choice legislation.

That could mean repealing the state’s main restriction on abortion, a law requiring parents of minors be notified before the procedure is provided. Democrats could revive a bill that would require insurers to cover the full range of reproductive care, including abortion, at no cost to patients.

“There’s a strong momentum among those who were elected in this midterm cycle,” Cowart said. “It’s our job, those of us who care about making sure women have the full range of reproductive health care, to keep it available for everybody.”

Here’s What a ‘Housing as a Human Right’ Bill Looks Like

Creating a system in which everyone has access to affordable housing isn’t so much a futuristic utopian project as it is a throwback to the politics of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

That’s what Maryland state Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery) told Rewire.News this month after he filed legislation that would create a social housing program to ensure everyone in the state of 6 million people has access to housing. Stewart’s bill, the Social Housing Act of 2019, would create a $2.5 billion trust fund from which the state could create and maintain housing units. The legislation is first of its kind, Stewart said.

“Call it the ‘public option for housing,'” he said.

A social housing system, commonplace throughout Europe, would differ from traditional public housing programs in the United States because it would be open to everyone, varying in price according to a person’s income. Stewart said that the universal nature of social housing could garner political support across the socioeconomic spectrum—widespread support that Medicaid, for example, lacks, making it vulnerable to political machinations.

“I don’t think this idea is particularly radical,” said Stewart, who emerged from a competitive Democratic primary to win his house seat in 2018. “This is what FDR said many times. He was adamant about this …. Whether or not you have a roof over your head shouldn’t be entirely dependent on [one’s financial status].”

It’s true: Roosevelt, as part of the New Deal, signed the Wagner-Steagall Housing Act into law, providing $500 million in loans for housing projects across the United States. Roosevelt’s “second Bill of Rights,” which proposed a collection of economic rights to go alongside the political rights of the original Bill of Rights, charged it was the “right of every family to [have] a decent home.”

While the social housing bill has little chance of making headway this year in the Maryland Legislature and would surely meet opposition from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, Stewart said injecting the concept of social housing into the political mainstream would be critical to the public embracing housing not as a luxury, but as a human right.

“It’s important to expand the limits of what is acceptable to discuss in American politics. I believe there’s real value in putting bold ideas on the table and you don’t have to be on the federal level to do that …. This is the kind of legislation that can shift the Overton window,” he said, referring to the range of ideas in a nation’s political discourse. “That excites me.” 

Housing created through the state’s social housing system, Stewart said, would have to meet high standards of quality and would pay fair wages to construction workers and others involved with the projects. The housing program would guard against any form of discrimination in determining who can live in the government-run units.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) brought housing as a human right to the forefront of her 2018 run for Congress, deriding current policy that has made “housing in the United States … a playground for wealthy developers” in her campaign platform. Working families are “rent burdened,” Ocasio-Cortez charged. While she didn’t mention social housing in her campaign platform, she did lend support for expanding access to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and permanently funding the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, a federal program that doles out money to states to increase the number of affordable homes.

Along with establishing a multibillion-dollar trust fund, Stewart’s social housing legislation would bring back a millionaires’ tax that expired in 2010. Incomes of more than $1 million were taxed at an extra 6.25 percent under the tax for wealthy households, which was in place for three years in Maryland. Maryland has the highest concentration of millionaires in the United States, according to financial publisher Kiplinger.

Almost 2 million more people in the United States today are spending between 30 percent and 50 percent of their income on rent than they were before the 2008 housing market crash, according to data from the left-leaning People’s Policy Project, which published a report last year on social housing that inspired Stewart to craft his legislation.

Nine million households in the United States spent half their income on rent in 2007, while 11 million households spent that much on rent in 2017. And the price of housing has affected people of varying incomes, as the “share of households making over $100,000 and renting has increased from 12 percent in 2006 to 18 percent in 2016, while stagnant or declining wages for many demographics mean a down payment is simply out of reach,” according to the People Policy’s Project report.

Maryland’s homeless population, meanwhile, has risen by around 1,000 people over the past four years, as the state has a higher homeless rate than neighboring Virginia.

Matt Bruenig, president of the People’s Policy Project, wrote last April that social housing would prove far more cost efficient than private developers creating more housing—much of it pricey—since local governments already own a portion of the land. “It means that, unlike a private developer, municipalities could have zero land acquisition costs in many cases,” Bruenig wrote. 

The efficiency of social housing would also stem from interest rates on government debt, which “are lower than the interest rates on almost any other kinds of financing, including the bank loans relied upon by private developers,” he wrote. Building affordable housing would have the added benefit of forcing local landlords to compete with the prices of units created through a social housing program, advocates said. 

Diane May, a spokesperson for Our Revolution, which backed Stewart’s run for the Maryland Legislature, said any reaction painting the social housing legislation as radical “shows how both parties have forgotten about the poor and working people of this country.” 

“Ending poverty shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” May told Rewire.News. “Affordable housing is definitely a human right, and this legislation is starting a needed conversation about why a thriving society requires that people aren’t spending the majority of their incomes just trying to pay rent.”

The People’s Policy Project points to Austria as a successful model for social housing policy. Around 80 percent of people in Austria are income eligible for social housing units, while 3 in 5 residents of Vienna, Austria, “live in houses owned, built or managed by the municipal government,” according to the paper. Subsidized rents in Vienna are based on a property’s cost, ensuring “a much higher quality of life in publicly owned housing than exists in the United States, and indeed in much of Europe. ”

The United States, People’s Policy Project researchers write, is “almost alone in the fierce resistance of the overwhelming majority of both its major parties to the involvement of federal and local government in the direct provision of affordable housing.”

Vermont Legislators Try to Use ‘Roe’ Legislation as Vehicle for Anti-Choice Measures

Vermont Republicans on Wednesday tried to jam seven anti-choice amendments into legislation designed to protect abortion rights in the state should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

GOP legislators proposed the amendments in the Vermont house judiciary committee’s debate on H.57, which would codify abortion rights into state law. The committee voted down the amendments.

The amendments ran the gamut of typical anti-choice efforts to curtail reproductive rights, ranging from fetal “personhood,” which would outlaw abortion and many kinds of contraception, to physician-only abortions and parental consent requirements. Vermont state Rep. Carl Rosenquist (R-Franklin 1), who proposed the “personhood” amendment, compared women to kangaroos that apparently value their roos more than women do their babies.

Vermont House Rep. Nader Hashim (D-Windham 4), who voted against the anti-choice measures, said the amendments were an attempt by abortion rights opponents to create more restrictions when Democrats are trying to secure reproductive rights in Vermont with a conservative majority on the Court.

“I think a lot of these amendments are partly an attempt to subvert what H.57 is meant to do, which is protect what has already been in practice for the last 46 years. Some of these would completely turn around H.57 and actually create more restrictive laws for women,” Hashim told Rewire.News.

The Roe protection bill will be debated on the house floor and is expected to pass with a majority vote tonight before it heads to the state senate. Democrats control both of Vermont’s legislative chambers, and Gov. Phil Scott (R) has said he would support legislation to protect Roe. 

Vermont would become the latest state to codify Roe protections into state law.

Will Presidential Candidates Remember the Voting Power of People With Disabilities?

Although the 2020 general election is more than 600 days away, campaign season is undoubtedly upon us. Just this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) threw his hat in the ring, joining a growing group of Democratic candidates seeking to unseat President Donald Trump. To date, more than 500 candidates have filed with the Federal Election Commission stating their intention to run for president, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. As the races heat up, people with disabilities are wondering whether candidates will remember the power of the disability vote.

The disability community is certainly a sizable voting bloc. Indeed, 61 million adults in the United States—about one in four in this country—have a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When you consider voters that have a personal connection to disability, the number grows. In 2016, for example, 62.7 million eligible voters either were living with a disability or had a household member with one, according to Rutgers University researchers. In other words, more than a quarter of the total electorate had an association with the disability community.

Still, politicians have largely overlooked people with disabilities as a group worthy of targeting for votes. As such, many leaders in the disability community are eager to see whether 2020 candidates will fully recognize their importance.

“Disabled voters are anxiously watching the start of the 2020 elections hoping presidential candidates will remember them,” Colleen Flanagan, a disability rights activist and the co-founder and executive director of Disability Action for America, told Rewire.News via email.

Of course, demonstrating a commitment to disability rights will take far more than simply acknowledging people with disabilities. “It is important 2020 contenders mention disabled people when listing other marginalized communities, but merely mentioning disabled people is not enough to earn the disability vote in 2020,” Flanagan said.

To be sure, past candidates have made some efforts to engage the disability community. “Broadly speaking, I would say that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was effective in developing detailed disability policy, while President Obama was good at incorporating disabled people into his campaigns,” said Andrew Pulrang, who co-founded the #CriptheVote movement along with Alice Wong and Gregg Beratan. Indeed, the Obama campaign included a Disability Policy Committee while Clinton gave an entire policy speech on disability inclusion, featured people with disabilities at the Democratic National Convention, and incorporated disability rights into her policy platform.

This time around, Pulrang, Wong, and Beratan believe that for candidates to truly engage the disability community, they must hire disabled campaign staff and ensure accessibility at campaign events and on social media in addition to making disability rights a priority in their platform.

“At this early stage, developing specific policy stances may be a little less important than recruiting campaign staff and supporters who are disabled, so they can then help candidates develop their approach to disability in an authentic way,” Pulrang wrote in an email to Rewire.News.

“They should be preparing to have disability divisions of their campaigns, disabled staff in some key positions, (not just functionaries), and exploring the pros and cons of today’s major disability issues,” he continued.

Disability activists say some politicians are showing signs that they understand the importance of ensuring accessibility. “Two politicians explicitly addressed the disability community in last few months: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her November 2018 tweet about captioning her Instagram videos using Clipomatic and former candidate for governor of Georgia Stacey Abram’s captioned video in support of the Disability Integration Act after her Democratic response to the 2019 State of Union,” Wong told Rewire.News.

Some 2020 candidates have followed suit. For example, candidates such as Booker, Harris, and Warren included captions in their videos announcing their candidacies. Warren also included an option to request accommodations when RSVPing to her campaign event.

It is too soon, however, to know the extent to which campaigns will be accessible to the disability community. “Only time will tell if campaign offices will open in ADA accessible locations, or if campaign advisors will be disabled people, but we know right now that campaigns with accessible locations and who have disabled people on their team have a better chance at earning the disability vote,” Flanagan noted.

As the races draw closer, candidates must also incorporate disability rights into their policy platform.

“It is absolutely critical 2020 contenders look at social and economic issues through the lens of the disability community,” says Flanagan.

Minimum wage is one such area where candidates must consider disability rights. “When discussing raising the wage, presidential candidates need to remember it is still legal for people with disabilities to earn less than minimum wage, and that thousands of disabled workers are still earning pennies per hour,” Flanagan told Rewire.News. Pulrang agreed, adding that “candidates can support” new legislation in Congress that would eliminate sub-minimum wage.

Other policy areas that candidates should focus on include expanding home- and community-based services and supporting the Disability Integration Act so that people with disabilities can live in their communities; increasing affordable and accessible housing; strengthening programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); and ensuring that health insurance remains available to people with disabilities.

Disability transcends all identities, including race, ethnicity, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion. Indeed, many people with disabilities are members of multiple marginalized communities. As such, candidates must recognize how disability might amplify existing oppression and work to combat that oppression.

“We need a candidate with the courage to address ableism and who will fix the fundamentally broken system with solutions that come from the disability community,” Flanagan said.

“Politicians and public figures can give shout-outs to all kinds of communities, but they also have to work with us and have us on their agenda. How they choose to act with their votes and their advocacy remains to be seen as 2020 approaches,” Wong told Rewire.News. “I’m cautiously optimistic.”

‘Honoring Our Monthly Moons’: Some Menstruation Rituals Give Indigenous Women Hope

Traditional menstruation practices such as seclusion are usually depicted in the mainstream media as backward and superstitious, threatening to women’s health and freedom.

In the case of Amba Bohara, a 35-year-old Nepali woman who died recently during a menstrual seclusion ritual called chhaupadi, this depiction is certainly accurate.

According to a January 9 New York Times article, authorities believe Bohara died of suffocation after building a fire in a tiny, windowless hut as she and her children struggled to keep warm on a cold Himalayan winter night.

In the practice of chhaupadi, menstruating women, believed to be impure, live apart from the family in a separate hut or enclosure. The tradition is associated with Hindu beliefs regarding ritual purity and pollution. Unfortunately in Nepal, a notoriously patriarchal and often misogynistic society, women are coerced into practicing chhaupadi despite a government ban on it.

However, as is often the case with legacy media, reporters take their coverage a bridge too far by painting all traditional menstruation practices as primitive, barbaric rituals enforced by oppressive male regimes. It comes as little surprise given that, from a Western point of view, menstruation is a simple biological function that shouldn’t carry any spiritual or cultural meaning that limits women’s lives.

But not all ancient cultural menstrual practices are alike. Some indigenous women in the United States are working to reclaim tribal menstruation ceremonies and practices as a means to revitalize and empower Native women.

Mostly, women are doing the revitalization work quietly within their communities, offering opportunities for young Native women to gather with female elders and learn the teachings that once guided and supported them.

For instance, Ojibwe women traditionally secluded themselves in a moon lodge during menstruation. Women retreated to a small wigwam, where they slept separated from their husbands and infants. They refrained from sex, food preparation, and ceremony. They were careful not to step over young children, touch babies, men, or communal food. Female friends and relatives ensured the menstruating woman was safe and fed, and they helped care for her family in her absence.

“Traditionally, if you arrived at a woman’s house and saw that her cedar boughs were missing from her front door, it was a sign that she had taken them to create a pathway to her moon lodge,” said Patty Smith of the Leech Lake Band of Minnesota Ojibwe. “Cedar is a medicine to keep women safe. The missing cedar was a sign for other women to visit her, feed her, and check on her.”

To an outsider, these practices may cast menstruation as evil and threatening. But for Ojibwe women, their moon can be a healthy time of rest, regeneration, and recognition of their important roles as life givers and community leaders.

“Women have great power during their moons,” said Smith, whose Ojibwe name is Bagwaji-kwe (woman of the wilderness). “As they bleed, they are sloughing off the accumulated experience and stress of being a woman. Some of those experiences are painful or may contain negative energy, so we want to be careful that we don’t interrupt that process.”

“Our moons are a time of cleansing and renewal. Recognizing this cycle helps keep us healthy in body and mind and reminds the community of our significance as women,” she added.

“I Don’t Want You to Struggle”

Native peoples are turning to traditional ways as a path to heal from generations of U.S. assimilation policies, such as the boarding school era that sought to extinguish Native culture and spirituality and paint them as primitive and shameful.

Participating in moon ceremonies also helps women learn self-respect, according to Cleora White of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.

“Observing and honoring our monthly moons is a way to celebrate our womanhood,” said White, whose Ojibwe name is Aandabiikwe (crane sitting sideways woman).

“During these ceremonies, we learn teachings from elder women about our responsibilities and importance. Bringing back these ways is helping our young women feel pride in who they are as Native women,” White added.

White’s mother, who was raised in an Indian boarding school, had rebuffed White’s questions about Ojibwe language and culture, including moon ceremonies.

“My mother told me, ‘No, I’m not teaching you about any of that; you’re better off without it. I don’t want you to struggle like I have,’ White recalled about her mother, who has since passed away.

Unfortunately, White’s experience is common among Native women.

Those who lived through assimilationist federal policies often distanced themselves from their traditional tribal ways, having internalized these negative colonial attitudes as a survival mechanism.

In her recent book, We Are Dancing for You: Native Feminisms and the Revitalization of Women’s Coming-of-Age Ceremonies, Cutcha Risling Baldy claims that European settlers and Christian missionaries framed indigenous menstrual traditions as shameful and primitive. Baldy, of the Hupa tribe in California, makes the case that denigrating women’s power and leadership roles in tribal communities was central to settlers’ goals of controlling Native land and resources.

Prior to European contact, Hupa women’s menstrual traditions were essential to tribal renewal ceremonies, according to Baldy. The Flower Dance, a Hupa coming-of-age ceremony, was viewed as a means to keep the world in balance and tie the community to the health and well-being of the earth.

Young women and their families spent months collecting sacred items, clothing, and food needed for the dance. Over several days, the young woman would run over a series of paths and bathe herself in the river at special places called “Tims.” Men would later bathe in these sites as a means of strengthening their health and power. The entire community would sing in support of the woman during the duration of her dance.

Cunningly, early settlers sought to destroy these ceremonies, according to Baldy. Miners and soldiers kidnapped and raped Hupa women during the Flower Dance. The men are said to have interpreted women’s participation in the dance as an invitation to engage in sex.

Later, according to Baldy, Christian missionaries further shamed Hupa women for celebrating their menstruation cycles. If the ceremonies were performed at all, they were conducted underground, away from public view.

Today, historical trauma continues to contribute to social ills in Indian Country, including violence against women, according to a 2018 report by the Seattle-based Urban Indian Health Institute. In 2016, researchers at the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice released a report examining two samples in the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. They concluded: “Relative to non-Hispanic White-only women, American Indian and Alaska Native women are 1.2 times as likely to have experienced violence in their lifetime and are 1.7 times as likely to have experienced violence in the past year.”

Native American health professionals encourage community and traditional spirituality and ceremony as a means to recover from trauma and build authentic strength and resilience.

The Return of the Flower Dance

In 2014, for the first time in 150 years, Hupa women and communities in Northern California began publicly revitalizing the Flower Dance. The contemporary ceremony, however, is not a rote re-enactment of a historical event, according to Baldy.

Rather, “the ceremony was being reclaimed as a dynamic and inventive building block of our culture,” she wrote in We Are Dancing for You.

For instance, as practiced today, the length of the Flower Dance may be limited to a few days. When Kayla Rae Begay did her Flower Dance in 2014, she decided to wear shoes rather than run barefoot as her ancestors might have done.

“The trails were unused and overgrown. By the time I finished my first run (in bare feet) my feet were really tore up,” Begay noted in Baldy’s book.

“My grandma looked at my feet and said, ‘No, you have to wear shoes,’” Begay said.

The intent of the Flower Dance is preserved with or without shoes. It is the running of one’s trail that is the essential metaphor for life, according to Begay. She did, however, wear a traditional Hupa maple bark skirt and veil made of blue jay feathers during her ceremony.

The veil prevents others from looking directly into the eyes of the dancer. “You’re very powerful during this time, especially as a woman,” Begay noted.

Today, the ways Ojibwe women celebrate their menstruation has also changed, according to Smith. “Some women … can’t stay in the moon lodge for their entire cycle, but many of us try to seclude ourselves for at least part of the time,” she said.

“Our moons are an opportunity to take a break from our everyday lives. This is a time to honor ourselves and spend time with our daughters and other women, a time to pass on teachings and words of support,” she added.

When White’s daughters began menstruating, she turned to her mother-in-law for traditional Ojibwe instructions about how to honor their moons.

“I wanted my girls to feel good about themselves as Ojibwe women,” White recalled.

“I took some berries and offered them to the four directions before feeding the girls. We put down our tobacco and prayed. We had a big feast with family and friends; it was really a special day,” she said. Traditionally, Ojibwe people offer tobacco to the earth during prayer.

“As a girl, I was taught not to talk about our ways, but now Native people want to know about their cultures,” she noted.

The way the media represents these ancient menstrual practices is crucial. There are myriad practices and, for some, they hold the key to healing from ongoing colonial violence in spite of the stigma and shame associated with them through an exclusively Western lens.

“This revitalization is exploding into something beautiful; we are grasping our culture,” White said. “We can be happy and proud again to be Native people.”