News Abortion

Anti-Choice Governors Face Twitter Backlash

Jenn Stanley

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has made anti-choice laws a key part of his agenda, so Kentucky women are fielding their reproductive health questions to #AskBevinAboutMyVag.

The social media world has exploded this week with hashtags like  and , with which Kentuckians and Ohioans field their reproductive health questions to their anti-choice governors.

Both Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) have made passing anti-choice legislation a key part of their respective agendas, with Kasich proving to be among the nation’s most effective in attacking reproductive rights.

Louisvillian Molly Shah last week created the hashtag #AskBevinAboutMyVag, after Bevin signed into law a Republican-backed bill forcing women to sit through a real-time counseling session 24 hours before an abortion procedure.

Shah and co-authors Emily Van Bogaert and Jamie Yeager wrote a commentary in Insider Louisville condemning the anti-choice legislative agenda that inspired the social media campaign. They explained that while Bevin was signing the “informed consent” bill, another anti-choice bill passed through a Kentucky state senate subcommittee consisting of only men. 

SB 152 landed in the (all-male) Senate Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection Committee, which is charged with handling “matters relating to veterans, including veterans’ rights, benefits and education; veterans’ nursing homes; military affairs and civil defense; national guard; retention of military bases; safety of citizens and security of public buildings and property; military memorials and cemeteries” — and, of course, every woman’s private parts.

We appreciate that Kentucky’s lawmakers consider our birth cannons to be American heroes, but why didn’t the bill start out in the Health and Welfare Committee? Was it because that committee actually includes female senators?

The authors are referring to a bill that would require doctors to perform an ultrasound and describe the image to people seeking abortion care. If SB 152 were to pass, doctors who failed to follow the mandate would be forced to pay a $100,000 penalty for the first offense and $250,000 for subsequent offenses.

“Despite the fact that men feel welcome to regulate our vaginas, they squirm upon hearing us discuss them in public,” the commentary reads. The social media campaign caught on fast and garnered international attention.

Shah later urged women to tweet at Kasich, who has been in the national spotlight due to his 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

Kentucky’s social media campaign will step into the real world on February 23 at 1 p.m., when the ACLU of Kentucky and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky host a reproductive rights rally at the state capitol. Until then, Shah, Bogaert, and Yaeger used their commentary to remind women where to go if they have any questions about their vaginas:

Oh, and don’t forget — you can always call (502) 564-2611 to schedule an appointment at Dr. Bevin’s clinic, or (502) 564-8100 to consult your triage nurses in the Kentucky Legislature.

News Abortion

Reproductive Justice Groups Hit Back at RNC’s Anti-Choice Platform

Michelle D. Anderson

Reproductive rights and justice groups are greeting the Republican National Convention with billboards and media campaigns that challenge anti-choice policies.

Reproductive advocacy groups have moved to counter negative images that will be displayed this week during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, while educating the public about anti-choice legislation that has eroded abortion care access nationwide.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, along with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), Trump’s choice for vice president, have supported a slew of anti-choice policies.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health is among the many groups bringing attention to the Republican Party’s anti-abortion platform. The New York City-based nonprofit organization this month erected six billboards near RNC headquarters and around downtown Cleveland hotels with the message, “If abortion is made illegal, how much time will a person serve?”

The institute’s campaign comes as Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization based in Columbus, Ohio, released its plans to use aerial advertising. The group’s plan was first reported by The Stream, a conservative Christian website.

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The site reported that the anti-choice banners would span 50 feet by 100 feet and seek to “pressure congressional Republicans into defunding Planned Parenthood.” Those plans were scrapped after the Federal Aviation Administration created a no-fly zone around both parties’ conventions.

Created Equal, which was banned from using similar messages on a large public monitor near the popular Alamo historic site in San Antonio, Texas, in 2014, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said in an interview with Rewire that Created Equal’s stance and tactics on abortion show how “dramatically out of touch” its leaders compared to where most of the public stands on reproductive rights. Last year, a Gallup poll suggested half of Americans supported a person’s right to have an abortion, while 44 percent considered themselves “pro-life.”

About 56 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion care should be legal all or most of the time, according to the Pew Research Center’s FactTank.

“It’s important to raise awareness about what the RNC platform has historically endorsed and what they have continued to endorse,” Miller told Rewire.

Miller noted that more than a dozen women, like Purvi Patel of Indiana, have been arrested or convicted of alleged self-induced abortion since 2004. The billboards, she said, help convey what might happen if the Republican Party platform becomes law across the country.

Miller said the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s campaign had been in the works for several months before Created Equal announced its now-cancelled aerial advertising plans. Although the group was not aware of Created Equal’s plans, staff anticipated that intimidating messages seeking to shame and stigmatize people would be used during the GOP convention, Miller said.

The institute, in a statement about its billboard campaign, noted that many are unaware of “both the number of anti-choice laws that have passed and their real-life consequences.” The group unveiled an in-depth analysis looking at how the RNC platform “has consistently sought to make abortion both illegal and inaccessible” over the last 30 years.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio last week began an online newspaper campaign that placed messages in the Cleveland Plain Dealer via, the Columbus Dispatch, and the Dayton Daily News, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio spokesman Gabriel Mann told Rewire.

The ads address actions carried out by Created Equal by asking, “When Did The Right To Life Become The Right To Terrorize Ohio Abortion Providers?”

“We’re looking to expose how bad [Created Equal has] been in these specific media markets in Ohio. Created Equal has targeted doctors outside their homes,” Mann said. “It’s been a very aggressive campaign.”

The NARAL ads direct readers to, an educational website created by NARAL; Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio; the human rights and reproductive justice group, New Voices Cleveland; and Preterm, the only abortion provider located within Cleveland city limits.

The website provides visitors with a chronological look at anti-abortion restrictions that have been passed in Ohio since the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

In 2015, for example, Ohio’s Republican-held legislature passed a law requiring all abortion facilities to have a transfer agreement with a non-public hospital within 30 miles of their location. 

Like NARAL and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Preterm has erected a communications campaign against the RNC platform. In Cleveland, that includes a billboard bearing the message, “End The Silence. End the Shame,” along a major highway near the airport, Miller said.

New Voices has focused its advocacy on combatting anti-choice policies and violence against Black women, especially on social media sites like Twitter.

After the police killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy, New Voices collaborated with the Repeal Hyde Art Project to erect billboard signage showing that reproductive justice includes the right to raise children who are protected from police brutality.

Abortion is not the only issue that has become the subject of billboard advertising at the GOP convention.

Kansas-based environmental and LGBTQ rights group Planting Peace erected a billboard depicting Donald Trump kissing his former challenger Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) just minutes from the RNC site, according to the Plain Dealer.

The billboard, which features the message, “Love Trumps Hate. End Homophobia,” calls for an “immediate change in the Republican Party platform with regard to our LGBT family and LGBT rights,” according to news reports.

CORRECTION: A version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of Americans in favor of abortion rights. 

News Violence

Issa Rae Scholarship Fund for Alton Sterling’s Children More Than Doubles $200,000 Goal

Nicole Knight Shine

Actress, writer, and producer Issa Rae's fundraiser for the family of a Black Louisiana man killed by police this week has attracted thousands of donors.

A scholarship fund that actress, writer, and producer Issa Rae started for the five children of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man killed Tuesday by Baton Rouge police, has raised more than $400,000 within its first day online—doubling its original $200,000 goal. 

Rae, the award-winning creator of the online hit series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, started the GoFundMe page Wednesday amid widespread outrage over Baton Rouge police repeatedly shooting Sterling as he was being held on the ground. The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the killing, which was captured on at least two cell phone cameras.

At a widely publicized press conference following Sterling’s death, his teenage son sobbed, calling out, “Daddy!”

“If you feel helpless,” Rae wrote on the GoFundMe page, “but want to play a small part in easing the burden of #AltonSterling’s family, consider donating to this scholarship fund for his 15-year-old son (and his other kids).”

Police have killed 136 Black people in 2016, according to the Guardian, which tracks police shootings. Its records indicate that Sterling was the seventh Black person killed by police in Louisiana this year.

Rae later tweeted that supporters had donated $200,000 within the first nine hours of the fundraiser.

Rae said all funds would go to Sterling’s family. By Thursday afternoon, almost 14,500 individuals had contributed to the online fundraiser.

The day after Sterling’s death, Minnesota police shot another Black man, 32-year-old Philando Castile, during a traffic stop, an incident captured on Castile’s girlfriend’s cell phone and that is now under investigation. Reports indicate the officer shot Castile at least four times as he was pulling out his wallet to show his identification.