Abortion

A Waitress’s Abortion Story

Sunsara Taylor

In just one dinner at a random restaurant having greasy food and a couple of beers we scratched the surface of the potential that exists.

Check out all of Rewire‘s coverage of the 2011 Summer of Trust / Summer of Choice convergence in Germantown, MD here.

Last night, after a beautiful march in support of abortion rights, a group of close to twenty of us went out for food and drink. About half way through our evening, our waitress asked us why there were so many of us together and what the occasion was. In response to our answer, that we were in town to defend abortion rights and Doctor Carhart, she immediately opened up about her own abortion story.

First, our waitress thanked us immensely for being in town. She explained that her mother had worked at abortion clinics and, despite the two crosses that hung around her neck, she was extremely strong in favor of abortion rights. Then, she explained her own experience. She had been on Depo-Provera for over a year and correspondingly hadn’t gotten her period in that entire period. Anyway, she got pregnant before her periods had resumed. Because of the hormonal disruptions that were caused by, and still mellowing out in the wake of, taking Depo, her pregnancy felt different to her than her first (she also has an eight year old son). Additionally, due to these same hormonal fluctuations, when she finally tested herself at home for pregnancy, at two different times the test came back negative.

When she finally sought out a doctor to understand what was going on with her body and discovered that she was, indeed pregnant, she was more than four months along. The clinic that she visited for this information would not perform an abortion at this point in a pregnancy and so she sought out searching for a clinic that would. This search led her to Dr. Carhart and his Germantown clinic.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

This is when she got very passionate in her story. She described being followed and harassed by some freakish anti-abortion lunatic as she searched around the shopping center where Carhart’s clinic is located. Just when she thought she had ducked out of sight and shook this crazy fanatic, the woman jumped from behind a corner and started haranguing her again. The anti-abortion woman repeated many of the lies we have heard so frequently out here at the clinic in the last couple of days. That Dr. Carhart allegedly doesn’t practice compassionate, scientific, and safe medicine. That abortion is murder. That this woman was doing something tragic and sinful by seeking an abortion.

Our waitress was, righteously, furious! She spoke bitterness about this as other tables went unattended. A torrent of pent up anger and defiance. Plus, she was extremely articulate about it. Many women would swallow that kind of shaming and try not to revisit it. Even this woman probably wouldn’t have spoken it unless she knew that she was among others who not only supported abortion as a right, but also had sacrificed to step out and take this struggle on frontally.

Think how many millions of women there are in this country who are suppressing this kind of fury. Suppressing their defiance. Not knowing that there are others who would support them, or others who would be moved by them speaking out. Think how many others, having never heard this kind of defiance at all, are instead choking on a shame they shouldn’t be feeling. Guilt that has been hurled at them at the doors of abortion clinics, in the churches on Sundays, by the politicians cutting deals about healthcare and the budget over the bodies of women and their right to abortion and birth control.

Think of how much could change – how many women and men could be mobilized if there were always the kind of visible and uncompromising presence that we have been here in Germantown the last couple of days already. Think how many would begin to question and to join in challenging the subjugation they’ve been swallowing and suffocating under for no legitimate or morally defensible reason.

In just a few days, with just a few dozen women traveling from across the country, we have seen a taste of this. In just one dinner at a random restaurant having greasy food and a couple of beers we scratched the surface of the potential that exists.

Now is the time for everyone to begin talking about their abortion stories unapologetically. Bring it out of the dark and out of the closet. Defy the shame and the stigma. Lets celebrate and defend the lives and the value of the female human beings who choose abortion to continue their lives in the ways they are ready and want to live them. Lets celebrate and defend the doctors and staff who risk everything to make that possible. Lets create a situation where those who stalk women, who kill doctors, who legislate the lives of women into smaller and smaller corners and greater and greater shame feel that they have to hang their heads and attempt to defend their hateful lunacy.

Thanks to those who have turned out in Germantown! Wake up call to all those across the country! This is the time to step to the front lines.

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Leader to Remove Himself From Medical Board Case in Ohio

Michelle D. Anderson

In a letter to the State of Ohio Medical Board, representatives from nine groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Anti-choice leader Mike Gonidakis said Monday that he would remove himself from deciding a complaint against a local abortion provider after several groups asked that he resign as president of the State of Ohio Medical Board.

The Associated Press first reported news of Gonidakis’ decision, which came after several pro-choice groups said he should step down from the medical board because he had a conflict of interest in the pending complaint.

The complaint, filed by Dayton Right to Life on August 3, alleged that three abortion providers working at Women’s Med Center in Dayton violated state law and forced an abortion on a patient that was incapable of withdrawing her consent due to a drug overdose.

Ohio Right to Life issued a news release the same day Dayton Right to Life filed its complaint, featuring a quotation from its executive director saying that local pro-choice advocates forfeit “whatever tinge of credibility” it had if it refused to condemn what allegedly happened at Women’s Med Center.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, had then forwarded a copy of the news release to ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis with a note saying, “Sandy…. Will you finally repudiate the industry for which you so proudly support? So much for ‘women’s health’. So sad.”

On Friday, ProgressOhio, along with eight other groupsDoctors for Health Care Solutions, Common Cause Ohio, the Ohio National Organization for Women, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, the National Council of Jewish Women, Democratic Voices of Ohio, and Ohio Voice—responded to Gonidakis’ public and private commentary by writing a letter to the medical board asking that he resign.

In the letter, representatives from those groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Contacted for comment, the medical board did not respond by press time.

The Ohio Medical Board protects the public by licensing and regulating physicians and other health-care professionals in part by reviewing complaints such as the one filed by Dayton Right to Life.

The decision-making body includes three non-physician consumer members and nine physicians who serve five-year terms when fully staffed. Currently, 11 citizens serve on the board.

Gonidakis, appointed in 2012 by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is a consumer member of the board and lacks medical training.

Theis told Rewire in a telephone interview that the letter’s undersigned did not include groups like NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood in its effort to highlight the conflict with Gonidakis.

“We wanted it to be about ethics” and not about abortion politics, Theis explained to Rewire.

Theis said Gonidakis had publicly condemned three licensed doctors from Women’s Med Center without engaging the providers or hearing the facts about the alleged incident.

“He put his point out there on Main Street having only heard the view of Dayton Right to Life,” Theis said. “In court, a judge who does something like that would have been thrown off the bench.”

Arthur Lavin, co-chairman of Doctors for Health Care Solutions, told the Associated Press the medical board should be free from politics.

Theis said ProgressOhio also exercised its right to file a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission to have Gonidakis removed because Theis had first-hand knowledge of his ethical wrongdoing.

The 29-page complaint, obtained by Rewire, details Gonidakis’ association with anti-choice groups and includes a copy of the email he sent to Theis.

Common Cause Ohio was the only group that co-signed the letter that is decidedly not pro-choice. A policy analyst from the nonpartisan organization told the Columbus Dispatch that Common Cause was not for or against abortion, but had signed the letter because a clear conflict of interest exists on the state’s medical board.

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Appreciate our work?

Vote now! And help Rewire earn a bigger grant from CREDO:

VOTE NOW

Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.

credo_rewire_vote_3

Vote for Rewire and Help Us Earn Money

Rewire is in the running for a CREDO Mobile grant. More votes for Rewire means more CREDO grant money to support our work. Please take a few seconds to help us out!

VOTE!

Thank you for supporting our work!