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My Body, My Voice


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  string(6673) "Back in February, Senator Amy Klobuchar appeared on the daytime television show “The View” and was asked whether or not she thinks “there’s room for pro-life Democrats to vote for her.” Klobuchar, who describes herself as “pro choice” and is an advocate for reproductive rights and health, responded by saying that the Democratic Party is a “big tent party, and there are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party … I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out … and that includes independents and moderate Republicans.”

It’s a question that all of the presidential candidates have been asked in one way or another, and it got me thinking about another question I often hear: Should reproductive rights be a “litmus test” for presidential hopefuls — or for any lawmaker, for that matter? 

First, it’s probably helpful to define what a litmus test actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, literally, a litmus test determines acidity or alkalinity. Figuratively, it describes any single factor that establishes the true character of something or causes it to be assigned to one category or another. Now back to the question at hand: Should reproductive rights — specifically, abortion rights — be a litmus test for candidates? The answer is a resounding YES. Certain positions — including being anti-abortion — are corrosive to our health, safety, freedom, and our very lives. There is nothing wrong with looking critically at a candidate’s platform and figuring out whether your future is at stake based on their position. If your bodily autonomy isn’t a worthwhile litmus test, I don’t know what is.

If there was ever any doubt, the past year has made it all too clear just how important this litmus test can be. With Trump in office and Republican lawmakers in a race to see who can come up with the most regressive policies possible, the impulse to embrace “pro-life” Democrats is having real consequences around the country. As Rewire.News reported last month, “Democrats in the Louisiana legislature have made it possible for Republicans to push through a range of anti-choice laws; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) last year signed a near-total abortion ban. Anti-choice Democrats in Rhode Island’s legislature for years stalled pro-choice legislation. In New Mexico’s legislature last year, a group of Democrats sided with Republicans to defeat a bill that would have eliminated a pre-Roe ban on abortion. And just this month, Democrats in Florida’s House refused to take a stand against anti-choice legislation that could open the door to a cascade of restrictions.” We have even seen the effects here in Georgia. Last year’s six-week abortion ban passed by just two votes in the House, one of which was a Democrat. The urge to invite out-of-touch, anti-abortion lawmakers into this “big tent” has made it possible for sweeping abortion restrictions and outright bans to be enacted in Georgia and across the country, and it has blocked progressive legislation that would have restored or expanded access to health care and reproductive rights. 

Beyond so-called “pro-life” Democrats, Klobuchar specifically referenced independents and moderate Republicans, saying “we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out” when it comes to reproductive rights. That line struck me because the fact is, we already are! The persistent myth that independents and moderate Republicans are wholly anti-abortion seems to be at the root of many of these conversations, as though abortion rights is a major debate Americans are having. The fact is, most Americans, 77 percent to be exact, want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade — and that number includes a majority of independents and even a majority of Trump voters. The politicization of health care (because yes, abortion is health care) is being perpetuated by politicians and a very small (but vocal) minority of anti-abortion groups and individuals. Meanwhile, candidates are pandering to a select few on the fringes in an effort to solicit a handful of votes, thereby alienating the vast majority of Americans. Politicians like Klobuchar can keep talking about being a “big tent party,” but as it turns out, they’re the only ones who want to come to this circus.

Although most Democrats won’t call themselves “pro-life” outright, here in the South I often hear lawmakers (and even some Planned Parenthood supporters) say things like, “I am pro-choice and pro-life,” meaning that they support other people’s right to make their own reproductive health care decision, but they wouldn’t have an abortion themselves. I am always struck by what a condescending and self-aggrandizing statement that is. When asked about your stance on reproductive rights, you either support them or you don’t. Your own theoretical reproductive choices are irrelevant and serve no purpose other than to make yourself feel morally superior to the one in four women in this country who will have an abortion in their lifetime. And actually, saying you’re either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” is becoming antiquated anyway. Many people don’t identify as either label anymore. These phrases have become so politicized and loaded that many people opt out altogether. So it’s pretty obvious to most folks that when you say you’re “pro-choice” and “pro-life” you’re just trying to have your stale cake and eat it too.  

Ultimately, the idea of a “pro-life Democrat,” “pro-life Republican,” or “pro-life independent” misses the point entirely. I don’t actually care what reproductive choices a lawmaker would make for themselves. The same goes for voters. I respect each person’s decision to start or expand their family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy. You can call yourself “pro-life” all you want (although I really wish you wouldn’t — it’s so tacky), but the bottom line is you shouldn’t be dictating other people’s most personal, private health-care decisions, and our lawmakers shouldn’t be either. So when it comes to whether or not we should allow anti-abortion lawmakers into the party tent, as my friend Catherine always says, “Flaps down.” —CL—

Elections begin this month! Now is the time to make sure you’re registered to vote. Check your registration here. Register online or download a voter registration application here.

Want to know where the 2020 hopefuls stand on sexual and reproductive health and Rights? Visit www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles to find out."
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It’s a question that all of the presidential candidates have been asked in one way or another, and it got me thinking about another question I often hear: Should reproductive rights be a “litmus test” for presidential hopefuls — or for any lawmaker, for that matter? 

First, it’s probably helpful to define what a litmus test actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, literally, a litmus test determines acidity or alkalinity. Figuratively, it describes any single factor that establishes the true character of something or causes it to be assigned to one category or another. Now back to the question at hand: Should reproductive rights — specifically, abortion rights — be a litmus test for candidates? The answer is a resounding YES. Certain positions — including being anti-abortion — are corrosive to our health, safety, freedom, and our very lives. There is nothing wrong with looking critically at a candidate’s platform and figuring out whether your future is at stake based on their position. If your bodily autonomy isn’t a worthwhile litmus test, I don’t know what is.

If there was ever any doubt, the past year has made it all too clear just how important this litmus test can be. With Trump in office and Republican lawmakers in a race to see who can come up with the most regressive policies possible, the impulse to embrace “pro-life” Democrats is having real consequences around the country. As Rewire.News reported last month, “Democrats in the Louisiana legislature have made it possible for Republicans to push through a range of anti-choice laws; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) last year signed a near-total abortion ban. Anti-choice Democrats in Rhode Island’s legislature for years stalled pro-choice legislation. In New Mexico’s legislature last year, a group of Democrats sided with Republicans to defeat a bill that would have eliminated a pre-Roe ban on abortion. And just this month, Democrats in Florida’s House refused to take a stand against anti-choice legislation that could open the door to a cascade of restrictions.” We have even seen the effects here in Georgia. Last year’s six-week abortion ban passed by just two votes in the House, one of which was a Democrat. The urge to invite out-of-touch, anti-abortion lawmakers into this “big tent” has made it possible for sweeping abortion restrictions and outright bans to be enacted in Georgia and across the country, and it has blocked progressive legislation that would have restored or expanded access to health care and reproductive rights. 

Beyond so-called “pro-life” Democrats, Klobuchar specifically referenced independents and moderate Republicans, saying “we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out” when it comes to reproductive rights. That line struck me because the fact is, we already are! The persistent myth that independents and moderate Republicans are wholly anti-abortion seems to be at the root of many of these conversations, as though abortion rights is a major debate Americans are having. The fact is, most Americans, 77 percent to be exact, want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade — and that number includes a majority of independents and even a majority of Trump voters. The politicization of health care (because yes, abortion is health care) is being perpetuated by politicians and a very small (but vocal) minority of anti-abortion groups and individuals. Meanwhile, candidates are pandering to a select few on the fringes in an effort to solicit a handful of votes, thereby alienating the vast majority of Americans. Politicians like Klobuchar can keep talking about being a “big tent party,” but as it turns out, they’re the only ones who want to come to this circus.

Although most Democrats won’t call themselves “pro-life” outright, here in the South I often hear lawmakers (and even some Planned Parenthood supporters) say things like, “I am pro-choice and pro-life,” meaning that they support other people’s right to make their own reproductive health care decision, but they wouldn’t have an abortion themselves. I am always struck by what a condescending and self-aggrandizing statement that is. When asked about your stance on reproductive rights, you either support them or you don’t. Your own theoretical reproductive choices are irrelevant and serve no purpose other than to make yourself feel morally superior to the one in four women in this country who will have an abortion in their lifetime. And actually, saying you’re either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” is becoming antiquated anyway. Many people don’t identify as either label anymore. These phrases have become so politicized and loaded that many people opt out altogether. So it’s pretty obvious to most folks that when you say you’re “pro-choice” and “pro-life” you’re just trying to have your stale cake and eat it too.  

Ultimately, the idea of a “pro-life Democrat,” “pro-life Republican,” or “pro-life independent” misses the point entirely. I don’t actually care what reproductive choices a lawmaker would make for themselves. The same goes for voters. I respect each person’s decision to start or expand their family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy. You can call yourself “pro-life” all you want (although I really wish you wouldn’t — it’s so tacky), but the bottom line is you shouldn’t be dictating other people’s most personal, private health-care decisions, and our lawmakers shouldn’t be either. So when it comes to whether or not we should allow anti-abortion lawmakers into the party tent, as my friend Catherine always says, “Flaps down.” __—CL—__

''Elections begin this month! Now is the time to make sure you’re registered to vote. Check your registration [https://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do|here]. Register online or download a voter registration application [https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/Elections/register_to_vote|here].''

''Want to know where the 2020 hopefuls stand on sexual and reproductive health and Rights? Visit [http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles|www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles] to find out.''"
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  string(7313) " MY BODY Cropped Web  2020-03-02T17:59:42+00:00 MY_BODY_cropped_web.jpg    mybodymyvoice mbmv A litmus test for presidential hopefuls 29572  2020-03-02T17:52:46+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: We don’t need a big tent to accommodate this ‘pro-life’ circus jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Barbara Ann Luttrell  2020-03-02T17:52:46+00:00  Back in February, Senator Amy Klobuchar appeared on the daytime television show “The View” and was asked whether or not she thinks “there’s room for pro-life Democrats to vote for her.” Klobuchar, who describes herself as “pro choice” and is an advocate for reproductive rights and health, responded by saying that the Democratic Party is a “big tent party, and there are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party … I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out … and that includes independents and moderate Republicans.”

It’s a question that all of the presidential candidates have been asked in one way or another, and it got me thinking about another question I often hear: Should reproductive rights be a “litmus test” for presidential hopefuls — or for any lawmaker, for that matter? 

First, it’s probably helpful to define what a litmus test actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, literally, a litmus test determines acidity or alkalinity. Figuratively, it describes any single factor that establishes the true character of something or causes it to be assigned to one category or another. Now back to the question at hand: Should reproductive rights — specifically, abortion rights — be a litmus test for candidates? The answer is a resounding YES. Certain positions — including being anti-abortion — are corrosive to our health, safety, freedom, and our very lives. There is nothing wrong with looking critically at a candidate’s platform and figuring out whether your future is at stake based on their position. If your bodily autonomy isn’t a worthwhile litmus test, I don’t know what is.

If there was ever any doubt, the past year has made it all too clear just how important this litmus test can be. With Trump in office and Republican lawmakers in a race to see who can come up with the most regressive policies possible, the impulse to embrace “pro-life” Democrats is having real consequences around the country. As Rewire.News reported last month, “Democrats in the Louisiana legislature have made it possible for Republicans to push through a range of anti-choice laws; Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) last year signed a near-total abortion ban. Anti-choice Democrats in Rhode Island’s legislature for years stalled pro-choice legislation. In New Mexico’s legislature last year, a group of Democrats sided with Republicans to defeat a bill that would have eliminated a pre-Roe ban on abortion. And just this month, Democrats in Florida’s House refused to take a stand against anti-choice legislation that could open the door to a cascade of restrictions.” We have even seen the effects here in Georgia. Last year’s six-week abortion ban passed by just two votes in the House, one of which was a Democrat. The urge to invite out-of-touch, anti-abortion lawmakers into this “big tent” has made it possible for sweeping abortion restrictions and outright bans to be enacted in Georgia and across the country, and it has blocked progressive legislation that would have restored or expanded access to health care and reproductive rights. 

Beyond so-called “pro-life” Democrats, Klobuchar specifically referenced independents and moderate Republicans, saying “we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out” when it comes to reproductive rights. That line struck me because the fact is, we already are! The persistent myth that independents and moderate Republicans are wholly anti-abortion seems to be at the root of many of these conversations, as though abortion rights is a major debate Americans are having. The fact is, most Americans, 77 percent to be exact, want the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade — and that number includes a majority of independents and even a majority of Trump voters. The politicization of health care (because yes, abortion is health care) is being perpetuated by politicians and a very small (but vocal) minority of anti-abortion groups and individuals. Meanwhile, candidates are pandering to a select few on the fringes in an effort to solicit a handful of votes, thereby alienating the vast majority of Americans. Politicians like Klobuchar can keep talking about being a “big tent party,” but as it turns out, they’re the only ones who want to come to this circus.

Although most Democrats won’t call themselves “pro-life” outright, here in the South I often hear lawmakers (and even some Planned Parenthood supporters) say things like, “I am pro-choice and pro-life,” meaning that they support other people’s right to make their own reproductive health care decision, but they wouldn’t have an abortion themselves. I am always struck by what a condescending and self-aggrandizing statement that is. When asked about your stance on reproductive rights, you either support them or you don’t. Your own theoretical reproductive choices are irrelevant and serve no purpose other than to make yourself feel morally superior to the one in four women in this country who will have an abortion in their lifetime. And actually, saying you’re either “pro-choice” or “pro-life” is becoming antiquated anyway. Many people don’t identify as either label anymore. These phrases have become so politicized and loaded that many people opt out altogether. So it’s pretty obvious to most folks that when you say you’re “pro-choice” and “pro-life” you’re just trying to have your stale cake and eat it too.  

Ultimately, the idea of a “pro-life Democrat,” “pro-life Republican,” or “pro-life independent” misses the point entirely. I don’t actually care what reproductive choices a lawmaker would make for themselves. The same goes for voters. I respect each person’s decision to start or expand their family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy. You can call yourself “pro-life” all you want (although I really wish you wouldn’t — it’s so tacky), but the bottom line is you shouldn’t be dictating other people’s most personal, private health-care decisions, and our lawmakers shouldn’t be either. So when it comes to whether or not we should allow anti-abortion lawmakers into the party tent, as my friend Catherine always says, “Flaps down.” —CL—

Elections begin this month! Now is the time to make sure you’re registered to vote. Check your registration here. Register online or download a voter registration application here.

Want to know where the 2020 hopefuls stand on sexual and reproductive health and Rights? Visit www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/presidential-candidate-profiles to find out.    Barbara Ann Luttrell SUPPORTING THE CAUSE: Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar flanked by Planned Parenthood supporters in Atlanta.  0,0,18    mybodymyvoice MBMV                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: We don’t need a big tent to accommodate this ‘pro-life’ circus "
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Article

Monday March 2, 2020 12:52 pm EST
A litmus test for presidential hopefuls | more...
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  string(84) "The move means women, LGBTQT folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block"
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  string(7795) "Picture this: The day was May 7, 2019, minutes before Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 481, Georgia’s six-week abortion ban, into law. The media ran images of Rep. Ed Setzler, who sponsored the bill, celebrating his accomplishment by fist bumping with Sen. Bruce Thomson. That’s how the last legislative session ended — with two men celebrating their victory after stripping Georgia women of their constitutional rights.

But that’s not how the last legislative session started. No, the last legislative session began with a bipartisan effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, which would provide equal legal rights to all Americans regardless of their sex. It states simply, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Pretty straightforward. But it still isn’t the law of the land. You see, the U.S. Congress first passed the ERA in the 1970s, but it didn’t get enough support from states at the time. Thirty-eight states need to approve the amendment in order for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution. Fast forward nearly 50 years, and Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA in 2018. Just one state away! And that’s where Georgia came in. With bipartisan support and two separate resolutions urging the state to sign on, things looked promising. 

But then something predictable happened: One by one, Republicans began pulling their support for equal rights between the sexes. They alleged that if you gave women equal rights under the law, it would effectively become “an abortion rights bill.” That assertion is a leap, even for anti-abortion extremists, but one can deduce they are afraid that if women have equal rights under the law, it may be within women’s rights to control their own bodies and futures, just like men can. What a thought. No wonder they reversed course and decided that “equality of rights under the law” was too “sinister” for Georgians. 

And reverse course they did. A complete 180. Instead of ratifying women’s rights, they decided to attack them instead. Sen. Renee Unterman, who initially introduced one of the resolutions to ratify the ERA, later carried the six-week abortion ban in the Senate. And ultimately, we ended session with the above-described smug fist bump, and onlookers who began the 2019 legislative session with an optimistic outlook were left with a bad case of legislative whiplash. 

Which brings us to today. The 2020 legislative session kicked off on Monday, January 13, and it began just as our most menacing legislation often does: under the cover of darkness. Just as lawmakers, their families, lobbyists, and citizens gathered ’round to hear Gov. Brian Kemp speak, the power went out (an appropriate introduction, if you ask me). But eventually, power was restored, and the Gold Dome was again abuzz with people speculating what this year’s session has in store. 

This is an election year, so many folks — including Brian Kemp — are predicting a relatively uneventful three months so that lawmakers can end the session quickly and quietly and get back to campaigning. However, those same lawmakers will also be vying for voters’ attention and looking for creative ways to get their names in the papers. In Georgia, that often means that women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block. 

There are a few pieces of legislation that are already in the works or working their way through the rumor mill. The legislative committee studying Georgia’s maternal mortality rates (which are the highest in the country) has recommended that legislators extend Medicaid coverage for low-income mothers to one year following birth. This would be a big improvement (and is something Rep. Renitta Shannon introduced last year)  but Georgia has repeatedly refused to expand Medicaid — regardless of how many lives it would save — so I’m not holding my breath. 

There is also speculation that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will rear its ugly head again, buried within a foster care reform bill. For those who aren’t familiar with RFRA, it was expanded in 2014 to give businesses and government agencies license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the basis of religion. A similar bill was introduced in Georgia back in 2016, received overwhelming opposition from Georgia citizens and the business community, and was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal. With Brian Kemp in the Governor’s mansion, we can’t count on that veto anymore. 

Perhaps most notable are the sweeping budget cuts requested by Gov. Kemp following recent tax cuts. Kemp has asked lawmakers to reduce spending by 4 percent this year and 6 percent next year to make up for the fact that tax collections have lagged since lawmakers cut the top income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.75 percent, thereby reducing state revenues by $450 million per year. Meanwhile, the law outlining the initial tax cuts also allows the state to pass yet another tax cut this session, something the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) warns would be “a real fiscal crisis for the state.” But such cuts could amount to more than a fiscal crisis — they could also be a PR crisis for lawmakers. According to a new poll from GBPI, 78.3 percent of Georgians oppose or strongly oppose budget cuts if they touch on public safety, health care, and education, and 68.1 percent oppose cuts that involve layoffs. Each of which is a very real probability. Public services are almost always the first thing to go to accommodate tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. It’s not all bad, though — there is at least one line item in the state budget that could be cut to save money and improve people’s lives. Georgia could stop funding fake women’s health clinics, which exist for the sole purpose of misleading women about their reproductive healthcare options to block them from accessing abortions. According to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, 16 of these clinics have received or will receive at least $6.7 million in state funds before June 2020. Just think of what we could do with an extra $6.7 million if we weren’t using it to pay con artists parading around in scrubs to lie to Georgia women. 

Last but not least, the so-called “trigger bill” so fiercely debated during the last legislative session is still in play this session. The explicit goal of this bill is to immediately ban all abortions in the state if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned … and overturning Roe is the explicit goal of Georgia’s six-week abortion ban and every other abortion ban passed last year. Make no mistake: These anti-abortion groups and lawmakers will not be satisfied until abortion is outlawed outright, and they see this as their opportunity. 

So when people say, “Oh don’t worry — it’ll be a quiet session!” I think about the last session and every session before that. I also think about the recent reassurances we heard when Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to the U.S. Senate. Folks said, “She’s a woman! This is Kemp’s attempt to moderate! She’s a business woman, not an extremist!” In her first week in office, Loeffler cosponsored three anti-abortion bills. Not only is she an anti-abortion extremist, she is one of the most industrious we’ve ever seen, and she fits right in with our state lawmakers and their rabid urge to target women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color. So I am bracing myself for an ugly legislative session, just like I do every year. I suggest you do the same. — CL—

Want to get involved this legislative session? Join us at the Gold Dome! Sign up here."
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But that’s not how the last legislative session started. No, the last legislative session began with a bipartisan effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, which would provide equal legal rights to all Americans regardless of their sex. It states simply, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Pretty straightforward. But it still isn’t the law of the land. You see, the U.S. Congress first passed the ERA in the 1970s, but it didn’t get enough support from states at the time. Thirty-eight states need to approve the amendment in order for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution. Fast forward nearly 50 years, and Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA in 2018. Just one state away! And that’s where Georgia came in. With bipartisan support and two separate resolutions urging the state to sign on, things looked promising. 

But then something predictable happened: One by one, Republicans began pulling their support for equal rights between the sexes. They alleged that if you gave women equal rights under the law, it would effectively become “an abortion rights bill.” That assertion is a leap, even for anti-abortion extremists, but one can deduce they are afraid that if women have equal rights under the law, it may be within women’s rights to control their own bodies and futures, just like men can. What a thought. No wonder they reversed course and decided that “equality of rights under the law” was too “sinister” for Georgians. 

And reverse course they did. A complete 180. Instead of ratifying women’s rights, they decided to attack them instead. Sen. Renee Unterman, who initially introduced one of the resolutions to ratify the ERA, later carried the six-week abortion ban in the Senate. And ultimately, we ended session with the above-described smug fist bump, and onlookers who began the 2019 legislative session with an optimistic outlook were left with a bad case of legislative whiplash. 

Which brings us to today. The 2020 legislative session kicked off on Monday, January 13, and it began just as our most menacing legislation often does: under the cover of darkness. Just as lawmakers, their families, lobbyists, and citizens gathered ’round to hear Gov. Brian Kemp speak, the power went out (an appropriate introduction, if you ask me). But eventually, power was restored, and the Gold Dome was again abuzz with people speculating what this year’s session has in store. 

This is an election year, so many folks — including Brian Kemp — are predicting a relatively uneventful three months so that lawmakers can end the session quickly and quietly and get back to campaigning. However, those same lawmakers will also be vying for voters’ attention and looking for creative ways to get their names in the papers. In Georgia, that often means that women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block. 

There are a few pieces of legislation that are already in the works or working their way through the rumor mill. The legislative committee studying Georgia’s maternal mortality rates (which are the highest in the country) has recommended that legislators extend Medicaid coverage for low-income mothers to one year following birth. This would be a big improvement (and is something Rep. Renitta Shannon introduced last year)  but Georgia has repeatedly refused to expand Medicaid — regardless of how many lives it would save — so I’m not holding my breath. 

There is also speculation that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will rear its ugly head again, buried within a foster care reform bill. For those who aren’t familiar with RFRA, it was expanded in 2014 to give businesses and government agencies license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the basis of religion. A similar bill was introduced in Georgia back in 2016, received overwhelming opposition from Georgia citizens and the business community, and was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal. With Brian Kemp in the Governor’s mansion, we can’t count on that veto anymore. 

Perhaps most notable are the sweeping budget cuts requested by Gov. Kemp following recent tax cuts. Kemp has asked lawmakers to reduce spending by 4 percent this year and 6 percent next year to make up for the fact that tax collections have lagged since lawmakers cut the top income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.75 percent, thereby reducing state revenues by $450 million per year. Meanwhile, the law outlining the initial tax cuts also allows the state to pass yet another tax cut this session, something the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) warns would be “a real fiscal crisis for the state.” But such cuts could amount to more than a fiscal crisis — they could also be a PR crisis for lawmakers. According to a new poll from GBPI, 78.3 percent of Georgians oppose or strongly oppose budget cuts if they touch on public safety, health care, and education, and 68.1 percent oppose cuts that involve layoffs. Each of which is a very real probability. Public services are almost always the first thing to go to accommodate tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. It’s not all bad, though — there is at least one line item in the state budget that could be cut to save money and improve people’s lives. Georgia could stop funding fake women’s health clinics, which exist for the sole purpose of misleading women about their reproductive healthcare options to block them from accessing abortions. According to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, 16 of these clinics have received or will receive at least $6.7 million in state funds before June 2020. Just think of what we could do with an extra $6.7 million if we weren’t using it to pay con artists parading around in scrubs to lie to Georgia women. 

Last but not least, the so-called “trigger bill” so fiercely debated during the last legislative session is still in play this session. The explicit goal of this bill is to immediately ban all abortions in the state if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned … and overturning Roe is the explicit goal of Georgia’s six-week abortion ban and every other abortion ban passed last year. Make no mistake: These anti-abortion groups and lawmakers will not be satisfied until abortion is outlawed outright, and they see this as their opportunity. 

So when people say, “Oh don’t worry — it’ll be a quiet session!” I think about the last session and every session before that. I also think about the recent reassurances we heard when Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to the U.S. Senate. Folks said, “She’s a woman! This is Kemp’s attempt to moderate! She’s a business woman, not an extremist!” In her first week in office, Loeffler cosponsored three anti-abortion bills. Not only is she an anti-abortion extremist, she is one of the most industrious we’ve ever seen, and she fits right in with our state lawmakers and their rabid urge to target women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color. So I am bracing myself for an ugly legislative session, just like I do every year. I suggest you do the same. __— CL—__

''Want to get involved this legislative session? Join us at the Gold Dome! Sign up [http://ppseadvocates.org|here].''"
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  string(8243) "   mybodymyvoice mbmv The move means women, LGBTQT folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block   2020-02-04T21:04:57+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: Georgia’s returning to the dark ages is not a bright move jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris BARBARA ANN LUTTRELL  2020-02-04T21:04:57+00:00  Picture this: The day was May 7, 2019, minutes before Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 481, Georgia’s six-week abortion ban, into law. The media ran images of Rep. Ed Setzler, who sponsored the bill, celebrating his accomplishment by fist bumping with Sen. Bruce Thomson. That’s how the last legislative session ended — with two men celebrating their victory after stripping Georgia women of their constitutional rights.

But that’s not how the last legislative session started. No, the last legislative session began with a bipartisan effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, which would provide equal legal rights to all Americans regardless of their sex. It states simply, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Pretty straightforward. But it still isn’t the law of the land. You see, the U.S. Congress first passed the ERA in the 1970s, but it didn’t get enough support from states at the time. Thirty-eight states need to approve the amendment in order for it to be added to the U.S. Constitution. Fast forward nearly 50 years, and Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA in 2018. Just one state away! And that’s where Georgia came in. With bipartisan support and two separate resolutions urging the state to sign on, things looked promising. 

But then something predictable happened: One by one, Republicans began pulling their support for equal rights between the sexes. They alleged that if you gave women equal rights under the law, it would effectively become “an abortion rights bill.” That assertion is a leap, even for anti-abortion extremists, but one can deduce they are afraid that if women have equal rights under the law, it may be within women’s rights to control their own bodies and futures, just like men can. What a thought. No wonder they reversed course and decided that “equality of rights under the law” was too “sinister” for Georgians. 

And reverse course they did. A complete 180. Instead of ratifying women’s rights, they decided to attack them instead. Sen. Renee Unterman, who initially introduced one of the resolutions to ratify the ERA, later carried the six-week abortion ban in the Senate. And ultimately, we ended session with the above-described smug fist bump, and onlookers who began the 2019 legislative session with an optimistic outlook were left with a bad case of legislative whiplash. 

Which brings us to today. The 2020 legislative session kicked off on Monday, January 13, and it began just as our most menacing legislation often does: under the cover of darkness. Just as lawmakers, their families, lobbyists, and citizens gathered ’round to hear Gov. Brian Kemp speak, the power went out (an appropriate introduction, if you ask me). But eventually, power was restored, and the Gold Dome was again abuzz with people speculating what this year’s session has in store. 

This is an election year, so many folks — including Brian Kemp — are predicting a relatively uneventful three months so that lawmakers can end the session quickly and quietly and get back to campaigning. However, those same lawmakers will also be vying for voters’ attention and looking for creative ways to get their names in the papers. In Georgia, that often means that women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block. 

There are a few pieces of legislation that are already in the works or working their way through the rumor mill. The legislative committee studying Georgia’s maternal mortality rates (which are the highest in the country) has recommended that legislators extend Medicaid coverage for low-income mothers to one year following birth. This would be a big improvement (and is something Rep. Renitta Shannon introduced last year)  but Georgia has repeatedly refused to expand Medicaid — regardless of how many lives it would save — so I’m not holding my breath. 

There is also speculation that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will rear its ugly head again, buried within a foster care reform bill. For those who aren’t familiar with RFRA, it was expanded in 2014 to give businesses and government agencies license to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people on the basis of religion. A similar bill was introduced in Georgia back in 2016, received overwhelming opposition from Georgia citizens and the business community, and was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal. With Brian Kemp in the Governor’s mansion, we can’t count on that veto anymore. 

Perhaps most notable are the sweeping budget cuts requested by Gov. Kemp following recent tax cuts. Kemp has asked lawmakers to reduce spending by 4 percent this year and 6 percent next year to make up for the fact that tax collections have lagged since lawmakers cut the top income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.75 percent, thereby reducing state revenues by $450 million per year. Meanwhile, the law outlining the initial tax cuts also allows the state to pass yet another tax cut this session, something the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) warns would be “a real fiscal crisis for the state.” But such cuts could amount to more than a fiscal crisis — they could also be a PR crisis for lawmakers. According to a new poll from GBPI, 78.3 percent of Georgians oppose or strongly oppose budget cuts if they touch on public safety, health care, and education, and 68.1 percent oppose cuts that involve layoffs. Each of which is a very real probability. Public services are almost always the first thing to go to accommodate tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. It’s not all bad, though — there is at least one line item in the state budget that could be cut to save money and improve people’s lives. Georgia could stop funding fake women’s health clinics, which exist for the sole purpose of misleading women about their reproductive healthcare options to block them from accessing abortions. According to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health, 16 of these clinics have received or will receive at least $6.7 million in state funds before June 2020. Just think of what we could do with an extra $6.7 million if we weren’t using it to pay con artists parading around in scrubs to lie to Georgia women. 

Last but not least, the so-called “trigger bill” so fiercely debated during the last legislative session is still in play this session. The explicit goal of this bill is to immediately ban all abortions in the state if and when Roe v. Wade is overturned … and overturning Roe is the explicit goal of Georgia’s six-week abortion ban and every other abortion ban passed last year. Make no mistake: These anti-abortion groups and lawmakers will not be satisfied until abortion is outlawed outright, and they see this as their opportunity. 

So when people say, “Oh don’t worry — it’ll be a quiet session!” I think about the last session and every session before that. I also think about the recent reassurances we heard when Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to the U.S. Senate. Folks said, “She’s a woman! This is Kemp’s attempt to moderate! She’s a business woman, not an extremist!” In her first week in office, Loeffler cosponsored three anti-abortion bills. Not only is she an anti-abortion extremist, she is one of the most industrious we’ve ever seen, and she fits right in with our state lawmakers and their rabid urge to target women, LGBTQ+ folks, and people of color. So I am bracing myself for an ugly legislative session, just like I do every year. I suggest you do the same. — CL—

Want to get involved this legislative session? Join us at the Gold Dome! Sign up here.       0,0,18    MBMV mybodymyvoice                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: Georgia’s returning to the dark ages is not a bright move "
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Article

Tuesday February 4, 2020 04:04 pm EST
The move means women, LGBTQT folks, and people of color end up on the chopping block | more...
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  string(5794) "In early December, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of 2019 due to health concerns. Governor Kemp was proud to point out that this appointment makes Loeffler “Georgia’s first female Senator in nearly 100 years.” He went on, “But, more importantly, I’m excited to appoint a lifelong Republican who shares our conservative values and vision for a safer, stronger Georgia.” And there’s the rub. 

Turns out, being a woman doesn’t make you an advocate for women. Loeffler is a perfect example. In her acceptance remarks, Loeffler said, “Contrary to what you might see in the media, not every strong American woman is a liberal. Many of us are conservative and proud of it.” She went on to assert that — in addition to being “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall, and pro-Trump” — she is also strongly anti-choice and would support a federal ban on abortion. 

Despite that, anti-abortion groups have questioned Loeffler’s conservative bona fides and tried to tie her to Planned Parenthood. Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s professional women’s basketball team, and the connection seems to stem from a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales was donated to six nonprofit causes, including Planned Parenthood. To clarify: Kelly Loeffler is not an ally of Planned Parenthood and she is no champion for women’s rights. 

In her own words, she will “make no apologies for her conservative values and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.” The same conservative judges who are poised to gut Roe v. Wade and turn back the clock on reproductive rights. 

Women waging the war against women’s rights is nothing new here in Georgia. You may remember last spring, when State Senator Renee Unterman sponsored Georgia’s six-week abortion ban in the Senate. The morning the bill passed, Unterman posted a telling photo of herself, propped up in front of the 33 male, Republican colleagues who helped her pass the bill. Unterman is in the foreground of the photo with her closest male colleagues at least six feet away. Drowning in a sea of distant blue and gray suits, Unterman looks like she is in the proverbial mushpot — a position befitting of the token woman leading the charge against reproductive rights. 

This tradition of women working against our own best interests goes far beyond Sen. Unterman and Kelly Loeffler. In fact, in the early 1900s, many of the people who led the movement against women’s suffrage were women. The leading organization in the anti-suffrage movement was the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, and it was founded and run by a woman. If you research this movement and its leaders, it’s eerily similar to the modern anti-abortion movement. Anti-suffragettes were called “antis” for short. This is particularly fitting, because that is exactly what anti-abortion protestors are called today. 

Many people are surprised to learn that women often led the charge against women’s suffrage. But as Corrine McConnaughy, author of The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment, has said, “In short, they were women who were doing, comparatively, quite well under the existing system, with incentives to hang onto a system that privileged them.”

Sound familiar?

Kelly Loeffler and Renee Unterman benefit from our patriarchal, racist system, so they choose to reinforce it. When it comes to abortion, women with means — especially white women — will always be able to access the care they need, and no amount of anti-abortion legislation will change that. A world without Roe doesn’t scare them. Just like a world without voting rights didn’t scare their predecessors. 

The good news is, 100 years ago this year, the antis lost, and women gained the right to vote. Now we have to exercise that right to make sure the antis lose again. Renee Unterman is currently running for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. In November, Kelly Loeffler will face a “jungle primary,” which means that all candidates for that Senate seat compete on one ballot — Republicans and Democrats — and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff. We have the opportunity to elect real champions for social justice up and down the ballot, but let’s be very clear: Just because they have a uterus doesn’t mean they’re qualified to represent women’s best interests. 

I’ve said it before: This was never about abortion. Before this, it was contraception. Before that, it was the right to vote. Before that, it was the right to own property. Ultimately, this has always been about women’s civil and human rights, and women have always been on both sides of the resistance — which side we’re on is often dictated by race, class, and privilege.

If we do our part, one day, our children’s children will be surprised to learn that the anti-abortion movement, now a thing of the past, was often led by women, just like we were surprised to learn that the anti-suffrage movement was led by women. Loeffler and Unterman will become forgotten blips in the history of women’s rights and the history of this country, just like the self-loathing, self-serving women before them. Because as is so often the case, men will take center stage in this tale of women’s systematic oppression, whether they deserve the glory or not. — CL — 

Just like a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be a women’s advocate, not having a uterus won’t disqualify you either! If you are a man who wants to support reproductive rights and access to health care, check out www.men4choice.org

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  string(5837) "In early December, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of 2019 due to health concerns. Governor Kemp was proud to point out that this appointment makes Loeffler “Georgia’s first female Senator in nearly 100 years.” He went on, “But, more importantly, I’m excited to appoint a lifelong Republican who shares our conservative values and vision for a safer, stronger Georgia.” And there’s the rub. 

Turns out, being a woman doesn’t make you an advocate for women. Loeffler is a perfect example. In her acceptance remarks, Loeffler said, “Contrary to what you might see in the media, not every strong American woman is a liberal. Many of us are conservative and proud of it.” She went on to assert that — in addition to being “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall, and pro-Trump” — she is also strongly anti-choice and would support a federal ban on abortion. 

Despite that, anti-abortion groups have questioned Loeffler’s conservative bona fides and tried to tie her to Planned Parenthood. Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s professional women’s basketball team, and the connection seems to stem from a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales was donated to six nonprofit causes, including Planned Parenthood. To clarify: Kelly Loeffler is not an ally of Planned Parenthood and she is no champion for women’s rights. 

In her own words, she will “make no apologies for [[her] conservative values and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.” The same conservative judges who are poised to gut Roe v. Wade and turn back the clock on reproductive rights. 

Women waging the war against women’s rights is nothing new here in Georgia. You may remember last spring, when State Senator Renee Unterman sponsored Georgia’s six-week abortion ban in the Senate. The morning the bill passed, Unterman posted a telling photo of herself, propped up in front of the 33 male, Republican colleagues who helped her pass the bill. Unterman is in the foreground of the photo with her closest male colleagues at least six feet away. Drowning in a sea of distant blue and gray suits, Unterman looks like she is in the proverbial mushpot — a position befitting of the token woman leading the charge against reproductive rights. 

This tradition of women working against our own best interests goes far beyond Sen. Unterman and Kelly Loeffler. In fact, in the early 1900s, many of the people who led the movement against women’s suffrage were women. The leading organization in the anti-suffrage movement was the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, and it was founded and run by a woman. If you research this movement and its leaders, it’s eerily similar to the modern anti-abortion movement. Anti-suffragettes were called “antis” for short. This is particularly fitting, because that is exactly what anti-abortion protestors are called today. 

Many people are surprised to learn that women often led the charge against women’s suffrage. But as Corrine McConnaughy, author of ''The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment'', has said, “In short, they were women who were doing, comparatively, quite well under the existing system, with incentives to hang onto a system that privileged them.”

Sound familiar?

Kelly Loeffler and Renee Unterman benefit from our patriarchal, racist system, so they choose to reinforce it. When it comes to abortion, women with means — especially white women — will always be able to access the care they need, and no amount of anti-abortion legislation will change that. A world without Roe doesn’t scare them. Just like a world without voting rights didn’t scare their predecessors. 

The good news is, 100 years ago this year, the antis lost, and women gained the right to vote. Now we have to exercise that right to make sure the antis lose again. Renee Unterman is currently running for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. In November, Kelly Loeffler will face a “jungle primary,” which means that all candidates for that Senate seat compete on one ballot — Republicans and Democrats — and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff. We have the opportunity to elect real champions for social justice up and down the ballot, but let’s be very clear: Just because they have a uterus doesn’t mean they’re qualified to represent women’s best interests. 

I’ve said it before: This was never about abortion. Before this, it was contraception. Before that, it was the right to vote. Before that, it was the right to own property. Ultimately, this has always been about women’s civil and human rights, and women have always been on both sides of the resistance — which side we’re on is often dictated by race, class, and privilege.

If we do our part, one day, our children’s children will be surprised to learn that the anti-abortion movement, now a thing of the past, was often led by women, just like we were surprised to learn that the anti-suffrage movement was led by women. Loeffler and Unterman will become forgotten blips in the history of women’s rights and the history of this country, just like the self-loathing, self-serving women before them. Because as is so often the case, men will take center stage in this tale of women’s systematic oppression, whether they deserve the glory or not. __— CL — __

''Just like a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be a women’s advocate, not having a uterus won’t disqualify you either! If you are a man who wants to support reproductive rights and access to health care, check out www.men4choice.org''

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  string(6514) " MY BODY Gwhints Composite  2020-01-03T15:10:13+00:00 MY_BODY_gwhints_composite.jpg   Keep up the good fight! mybodymyvoice And you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows 27177  2020-01-01T14:53:00+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: You need more than a uterus to be an advocate for women jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Barbara Ann Luttrell  2020-01-01T14:53:00+00:00  In early December, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who is retiring at the end of 2019 due to health concerns. Governor Kemp was proud to point out that this appointment makes Loeffler “Georgia’s first female Senator in nearly 100 years.” He went on, “But, more importantly, I’m excited to appoint a lifelong Republican who shares our conservative values and vision for a safer, stronger Georgia.” And there’s the rub. 

Turns out, being a woman doesn’t make you an advocate for women. Loeffler is a perfect example. In her acceptance remarks, Loeffler said, “Contrary to what you might see in the media, not every strong American woman is a liberal. Many of us are conservative and proud of it.” She went on to assert that — in addition to being “pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-wall, and pro-Trump” — she is also strongly anti-choice and would support a federal ban on abortion. 

Despite that, anti-abortion groups have questioned Loeffler’s conservative bona fides and tried to tie her to Planned Parenthood. Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, Atlanta’s professional women’s basketball team, and the connection seems to stem from a WNBA promotion in which a portion of ticket sales was donated to six nonprofit causes, including Planned Parenthood. To clarify: Kelly Loeffler is not an ally of Planned Parenthood and she is no champion for women’s rights. 

In her own words, she will “make no apologies for her conservative values and will proudly support President Trump’s conservative judges.” The same conservative judges who are poised to gut Roe v. Wade and turn back the clock on reproductive rights. 

Women waging the war against women’s rights is nothing new here in Georgia. You may remember last spring, when State Senator Renee Unterman sponsored Georgia’s six-week abortion ban in the Senate. The morning the bill passed, Unterman posted a telling photo of herself, propped up in front of the 33 male, Republican colleagues who helped her pass the bill. Unterman is in the foreground of the photo with her closest male colleagues at least six feet away. Drowning in a sea of distant blue and gray suits, Unterman looks like she is in the proverbial mushpot — a position befitting of the token woman leading the charge against reproductive rights. 

This tradition of women working against our own best interests goes far beyond Sen. Unterman and Kelly Loeffler. In fact, in the early 1900s, many of the people who led the movement against women’s suffrage were women. The leading organization in the anti-suffrage movement was the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, and it was founded and run by a woman. If you research this movement and its leaders, it’s eerily similar to the modern anti-abortion movement. Anti-suffragettes were called “antis” for short. This is particularly fitting, because that is exactly what anti-abortion protestors are called today. 

Many people are surprised to learn that women often led the charge against women’s suffrage. But as Corrine McConnaughy, author of The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment, has said, “In short, they were women who were doing, comparatively, quite well under the existing system, with incentives to hang onto a system that privileged them.”

Sound familiar?

Kelly Loeffler and Renee Unterman benefit from our patriarchal, racist system, so they choose to reinforce it. When it comes to abortion, women with means — especially white women — will always be able to access the care they need, and no amount of anti-abortion legislation will change that. A world without Roe doesn’t scare them. Just like a world without voting rights didn’t scare their predecessors. 

The good news is, 100 years ago this year, the antis lost, and women gained the right to vote. Now we have to exercise that right to make sure the antis lose again. Renee Unterman is currently running for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. In November, Kelly Loeffler will face a “jungle primary,” which means that all candidates for that Senate seat compete on one ballot — Republicans and Democrats — and if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will compete in a runoff. We have the opportunity to elect real champions for social justice up and down the ballot, but let’s be very clear: Just because they have a uterus doesn’t mean they’re qualified to represent women’s best interests. 

I’ve said it before: This was never about abortion. Before this, it was contraception. Before that, it was the right to vote. Before that, it was the right to own property. Ultimately, this has always been about women’s civil and human rights, and women have always been on both sides of the resistance — which side we’re on is often dictated by race, class, and privilege.

If we do our part, one day, our children’s children will be surprised to learn that the anti-abortion movement, now a thing of the past, was often led by women, just like we were surprised to learn that the anti-suffrage movement was led by women. Loeffler and Unterman will become forgotten blips in the history of women’s rights and the history of this country, just like the self-loathing, self-serving women before them. Because as is so often the case, men will take center stage in this tale of women’s systematic oppression, whether they deserve the glory or not. — CL — 

Just like a uterus doesn’t qualify you to be a women’s advocate, not having a uterus won’t disqualify you either! If you are a man who wants to support reproductive rights and access to health care, check out www.men4choice.org

    JEWISH WOMEN’S ARCHIVE: “Pamphlet by the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.” ANTI SUFFRAGE PROPAGANDA: “Control of the temper makes a happier home than control of elections.”  0,0,10    mybodymyvoice                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: You need more than a uterus to be an advocate for women "
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Article

Wednesday January 1, 2020 09:53 am EST
And you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows | more...
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  string(65) "MY BODY, MY VOICE: Pregnancy is often a death sentence in Georgia"
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  string(67) "Every single day, pregnant women in Georgia are dying unnecessarily"
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According to Amnesty International, we are in the midst of a “maternal health care crisis in the USA,” and the worst state of all is Georgia — worse than many much poorer countries. The numbers are even more dire for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than their white counterparts — a racial disparity that exists regardless of socioeconomic or education level.


If you have ever been to the state Capitol, you’ve probably seen the big signs, declaring Georgia the “number one state for business.” What the banners fail to mention is that we are also the number-one state for women dying from pregnancy and childbirth.

It’s so bad that in 2018, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) released a policy report titled, “When the State Fails,” which asserts that “the state of Georgia is failing in its obligations to women by making decisions that perpetuate a maternal mortality crisis disproportionally impacting Black women.” Which translates to: Georgia lawmakers — this is on you. But the report doesn’t just place blame. It also lists the four primary structural causes of Georgia’s maternal mortality rate and some feasible solutions, including improved access to maternal care, particularly in rural communities; increased access to insurance, such as expanding Medicaid; increased funding for maternal health in Georgia; and accountability around data analysis and use.

So, when Georgia’s Maternal Mortality House Study Committee held its inaugural meeting this September, I was looking forward to hearing about some concrete solutions for this public health crisis. When I arrived at the meeting, it was clear I wasn’t alone in my anticipation — the room was packed with eager onlookers. It didn’t take long for that feeling of hope to fade, and the familiar feeling of utter disgust and disappointment to creep in.

After a round of  introductions, Committee Chair Representative Sharon Cooper, a nurse by training, kicked off the meeting by saying that more men need to become OB-GYNs because “women (OB-GYNs) quit delivering babies too early.” The room, full of mostly women — many of them OB-GYNs, muttered in surprise and confusion. She went on, “Not that (women) don’t do a great job...” 

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the proceedings.

We then heard from a series of experts about the current state of maternal health in Georgia, known causes of the crisis, and potential solutions. Unfortunately, that information didn’t seem to fit the agenda of Representative Cooper. The meeting quickly devolved into an attempt to manipulate the data so that Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers would look better instead of figuring out how to reduce pregnancy-related deaths in the state. Representative Cooper actually asked a testifying physician if there was anything we could do to “make Georgia’s numbers not look so bad.” Around the room, jaws dropped in unison. Some committee members went so far as to ask how we could be sure that a hypothetical pregnant woman who dies in a car accident isn’t accidentally counted in Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers. I haven’t done a deep dive into the available data, but I can assure you, Georgia isn’t the top state for maternal mortality because a bunch of pregnant women are driving recklessly. Not one person asked how we could actually predict and prevent maternal deaths. When one expert reiterated the fact that black women are dying at exponentially greater rates than their white counterparts, Representative Cooper said that seemed “reasonable” given increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in black women. The audience grumbled in disbelief. There are many words I might use to describe the fact that black women are needlessly dying across our state, but “reasonable” is not one of them. The only “reasonable” thing I heard that day was from Representative Carolyn Hugley, who tried to put the expert testimony in perspective for her colleagues. “In any event, regardless of the best or most favorable number for Georgia or the worst for Georgia, for women of color it’s still a crisis, is that right?” she said. The audience echoed her frustration. When we left the meeting, it felt like we were no closer to a solution than we were when we walked in.

Georgia has thrown some money at the problem though. In fiscal year 2019, Georgia allocated a measly $2 million of the state’s overall $4.8-billion health budget to maternal mortality. Meanwhile, half of Georgia’s counties still have no OB-GYN; unregulated, fake women’s health clinics posing as “crisis pregnancy centers” — of which there are nearly 100 scattered across the state — receive state funding; Georgia still hasn’t expanded Medicaid; and regressive Georgia lawmakers focused the bulk of their time and energy in 2019 to pass an abortion ban that outlaws the procedure before most people even know they’re pregnant, thereby forcing Georgians to carry pregnancies to term that could very well be their death sentence.

The most baffling part of this whole embarrassing statistic, is that most of these deaths are totally preventable. Just this year, the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report which found that nationally, three out of five pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. In Georgia, the number of preventable deaths is more than half. CDC determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several failures of the system, including a lack of access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs — all things that could be addressed through policy change.

By now, you might have made the rational assumption that Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is a consequence of the state lagging behind our ever-evolving science and technology, but you’d be wrong. In fact, pregnancy-related deaths steadily INCREASED in Georgia from 1987 to 2014, despite major advances in modern medicine. The problem here isn’t a mystery. As Dr. Melissa Kottke, one of the expert witnesses at the committee meeting, put it, when it comes to solving these problems, “we don’t have to guess about the things that work.” So why isn’t Georgia doing those things? Because Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is the result of structural inequality, decades of racist policies, and blatant apathy on the part of many of our lawmakers. But what those elected officials haven’t taken into account is that more than half of Georgians can get pregnant, and we will vote like our lives depend on it. -CL-

To see a map of the nearly 100 state-funded, fake women’s health centers across Georgia, visit https://crisispregnancycentermap.com

To read Yale Global Health Justice Partnership’s policy report on Georgia, titled “When the State Fails,” visit bit.ly/WhentheStateFails"
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According to Amnesty International, we are in the midst of a “maternal health care crisis in the USA,” and the worst state of all is Georgia — worse than many much poorer countries. The numbers are even more dire for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than their white counterparts — a racial disparity that exists regardless of socioeconomic or education level.


If you have ever been to the state Capitol, you’ve probably seen the big signs, declaring Georgia the “number one state for business.” What the banners fail to mention is that we are also the number-one state for women dying from pregnancy and childbirth.

It’s so bad that in 2018, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) released a policy report titled, “When the State Fails,” which asserts that “the state of Georgia is failing in its obligations to women by making decisions that perpetuate a maternal mortality crisis disproportionally impacting Black women.” Which translates to: Georgia lawmakers — this is on you. But the report doesn’t just place blame. It also lists the four primary structural causes of Georgia’s maternal mortality rate and some feasible solutions, including improved access to maternal care, particularly in rural communities; increased access to insurance, such as expanding Medicaid; increased funding for maternal health in Georgia; and accountability around data analysis and use.

So, when Georgia’s Maternal Mortality House Study Committee held its inaugural meeting this September, I was looking forward to hearing about some concrete solutions for this public health crisis. When I arrived at the meeting, it was clear I wasn’t alone in my anticipation — the room was packed with eager onlookers. It didn’t take long for that feeling of hope to fade, and the familiar feeling of utter disgust and disappointment to creep in.

After a round of  introductions, Committee Chair Representative Sharon Cooper, a nurse by training, kicked off the meeting by saying that more men need to become OB-GYNs because “women (OB-GYNs) quit delivering babies too early.” The room, full of mostly women — many of them OB-GYNs, muttered in surprise and confusion. She went on, “Not that (women) don’t do a great job...” 

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the proceedings.

We then heard from a series of experts about the current state of maternal health in Georgia, known causes of the crisis, and potential solutions. Unfortunately, that information didn’t seem to fit the agenda of Representative Cooper. The meeting quickly devolved into an attempt to manipulate the data so that Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers would look better instead of figuring out how to reduce pregnancy-related deaths in the state. Representative Cooper actually asked a testifying physician if there was anything we could do to “make Georgia’s numbers not look so bad.” Around the room, jaws dropped in unison. Some committee members went so far as to ask how we could be sure that a hypothetical pregnant woman who dies in a car accident isn’t accidentally counted in Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers. I haven’t done a deep dive into the available data, but I can assure you, Georgia isn’t the top state for maternal mortality because a bunch of pregnant women are driving recklessly. Not one person asked how we could actually predict and prevent maternal deaths. When one expert reiterated the fact that black women are dying at exponentially greater rates than their white counterparts, Representative Cooper said that seemed “reasonable” given increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in black women. The audience grumbled in disbelief. There are many words I might use to describe the fact that black women are needlessly dying across our state, but “reasonable” is not one of them. The only “reasonable” thing I heard that day was from Representative Carolyn Hugley, who tried to put the expert testimony in perspective for her colleagues. “In any event, regardless of the best or most favorable number for Georgia or the worst for Georgia, for women of color it’s still a crisis, is that right?” she said. The audience echoed her frustration. When we left the meeting, it felt like we were no closer to a solution than we were when we walked in.

Georgia has thrown some money at the problem though. In fiscal year 2019, Georgia allocated a measly $2 million of the state’s overall $4.8-billion health budget to maternal mortality. Meanwhile, half of Georgia’s counties still have no OB-GYN; unregulated, fake women’s health clinics posing as “crisis pregnancy centers” — of which there are nearly 100 scattered across the state — receive state funding; Georgia still hasn’t expanded Medicaid; and regressive Georgia lawmakers focused the bulk of their time and energy in 2019 to pass an abortion ban that outlaws the procedure before most people even know they’re pregnant, thereby forcing Georgians to carry pregnancies to term that could very well be their death sentence.

The most baffling part of this whole embarrassing statistic, is that most of these deaths are totally preventable. Just this year, the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report which found that nationally, three out of five pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. In Georgia, the number of preventable deaths is more than half. CDC determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several failures of the system, including a lack of access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs — all things that could be addressed through policy change.

By now, you might have made the rational assumption that Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is a consequence of the state lagging behind our ever-evolving science and technology, but you’d be wrong. In fact, pregnancy-related deaths steadily INCREASED in Georgia from 1987 to 2014, despite major advances in modern medicine. The problem here isn’t a mystery. As Dr. Melissa Kottke, one of the expert witnesses at the committee meeting, put it, when it comes to solving these problems, “we don’t have to guess about the things that work.” So why isn’t Georgia doing those things? Because Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is the result of structural inequality, decades of racist policies, and blatant apathy on the part of many of our lawmakers. But what those elected officials haven’t taken into account is that more than half of Georgians can get pregnant, and we will vote like our lives depend on it. __-CL-__

''To see a map of the nearly 100 state-funded, fake women’s health centers across Georgia, visit [https://crisispregnancycentermap.com]''

''To read Yale Global Health Justice Partnership’s policy report on Georgia, titled “When the State Fails,” visit bit.ly/WhentheStateFails''"
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According to Amnesty International, we are in the midst of a “maternal health care crisis in the USA,” and the worst state of all is Georgia — worse than many much poorer countries. The numbers are even more dire for black women, who are three to four times more likely to die in pregnancy than their white counterparts — a racial disparity that exists regardless of socioeconomic or education level.


If you have ever been to the state Capitol, you’ve probably seen the big signs, declaring Georgia the “number one state for business.” What the banners fail to mention is that we are also the number-one state for women dying from pregnancy and childbirth.

It’s so bad that in 2018, the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) released a policy report titled, “When the State Fails,” which asserts that “the state of Georgia is failing in its obligations to women by making decisions that perpetuate a maternal mortality crisis disproportionally impacting Black women.” Which translates to: Georgia lawmakers — this is on you. But the report doesn’t just place blame. It also lists the four primary structural causes of Georgia’s maternal mortality rate and some feasible solutions, including improved access to maternal care, particularly in rural communities; increased access to insurance, such as expanding Medicaid; increased funding for maternal health in Georgia; and accountability around data analysis and use.

So, when Georgia’s Maternal Mortality House Study Committee held its inaugural meeting this September, I was looking forward to hearing about some concrete solutions for this public health crisis. When I arrived at the meeting, it was clear I wasn’t alone in my anticipation — the room was packed with eager onlookers. It didn’t take long for that feeling of hope to fade, and the familiar feeling of utter disgust and disappointment to creep in.

After a round of  introductions, Committee Chair Representative Sharon Cooper, a nurse by training, kicked off the meeting by saying that more men need to become OB-GYNs because “women (OB-GYNs) quit delivering babies too early.” The room, full of mostly women — many of them OB-GYNs, muttered in surprise and confusion. She went on, “Not that (women) don’t do a great job...” 

That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the proceedings.

We then heard from a series of experts about the current state of maternal health in Georgia, known causes of the crisis, and potential solutions. Unfortunately, that information didn’t seem to fit the agenda of Representative Cooper. The meeting quickly devolved into an attempt to manipulate the data so that Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers would look better instead of figuring out how to reduce pregnancy-related deaths in the state. Representative Cooper actually asked a testifying physician if there was anything we could do to “make Georgia’s numbers not look so bad.” Around the room, jaws dropped in unison. Some committee members went so far as to ask how we could be sure that a hypothetical pregnant woman who dies in a car accident isn’t accidentally counted in Georgia’s maternal mortality numbers. I haven’t done a deep dive into the available data, but I can assure you, Georgia isn’t the top state for maternal mortality because a bunch of pregnant women are driving recklessly. Not one person asked how we could actually predict and prevent maternal deaths. When one expert reiterated the fact that black women are dying at exponentially greater rates than their white counterparts, Representative Cooper said that seemed “reasonable” given increased rates of diabetes and high blood pressure in black women. The audience grumbled in disbelief. There are many words I might use to describe the fact that black women are needlessly dying across our state, but “reasonable” is not one of them. The only “reasonable” thing I heard that day was from Representative Carolyn Hugley, who tried to put the expert testimony in perspective for her colleagues. “In any event, regardless of the best or most favorable number for Georgia or the worst for Georgia, for women of color it’s still a crisis, is that right?” she said. The audience echoed her frustration. When we left the meeting, it felt like we were no closer to a solution than we were when we walked in.

Georgia has thrown some money at the problem though. In fiscal year 2019, Georgia allocated a measly $2 million of the state’s overall $4.8-billion health budget to maternal mortality. Meanwhile, half of Georgia’s counties still have no OB-GYN; unregulated, fake women’s health clinics posing as “crisis pregnancy centers” — of which there are nearly 100 scattered across the state — receive state funding; Georgia still hasn’t expanded Medicaid; and regressive Georgia lawmakers focused the bulk of their time and energy in 2019 to pass an abortion ban that outlaws the procedure before most people even know they’re pregnant, thereby forcing Georgians to carry pregnancies to term that could very well be their death sentence.

The most baffling part of this whole embarrassing statistic, is that most of these deaths are totally preventable. Just this year, the Georgia-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report which found that nationally, three out of five pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented. In Georgia, the number of preventable deaths is more than half. CDC determined that each pregnancy-related death was associated with several failures of the system, including a lack of access to appropriate and high-quality care, missed or delayed diagnoses, and lack of knowledge among patients and providers around warning signs — all things that could be addressed through policy change.

By now, you might have made the rational assumption that Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is a consequence of the state lagging behind our ever-evolving science and technology, but you’d be wrong. In fact, pregnancy-related deaths steadily INCREASED in Georgia from 1987 to 2014, despite major advances in modern medicine. The problem here isn’t a mystery. As Dr. Melissa Kottke, one of the expert witnesses at the committee meeting, put it, when it comes to solving these problems, “we don’t have to guess about the things that work.” So why isn’t Georgia doing those things? Because Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis is the result of structural inequality, decades of racist policies, and blatant apathy on the part of many of our lawmakers. But what those elected officials haven’t taken into account is that more than half of Georgians can get pregnant, and we will vote like our lives depend on it. -CL-

To see a map of the nearly 100 state-funded, fake women’s health centers across Georgia, visit https://crisispregnancycentermap.com

To read Yale Global Health Justice Partnership’s policy report on Georgia, titled “When the State Fails,” visit bit.ly/WhentheStateFails    Barbara Ann Luttrell FAILING IN OBLIGATIONS: Georgia is #1.  0,0,10    mybodymyvoice                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: Pregnancy is often a death sentence in Georgia "
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Article

Tuesday December 3, 2019 04:41 pm EST
Every single day, pregnant women in Georgia are dying unnecessarily | more...
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  ["title"]=>
  string(56) "MY BODY, MY VOICE: The courts won’t protect us anymore"
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  string(37) "Elections — and votes — do matter"
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  string(6964) "Last spring, I spent days on end sitting in the halls of our state Capitol, watching our elected officials push through a six-week abortion ban, the likes of which we have never seen in Georgia. Then, weeks later, I was at the state Capitol again as Governor Brian Kemp signed that dangerous bill into law. On that day, Planned Parenthood Southeast promised Governor Kemp that we, along with our partners at ACLU of Georgia and the Center for Reproductive Rights, would see him in court. Because a six-week abortion ban, which bans abortion before most people even know they are pregnant, is blatantly unconstitutional per nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent.

Fast forward to September — we kept our promise. This time, I sat in a packed federal courtroom, surrounded by other concerned Georgians, to request a preliminary injunction to temporarily block this law from taking effect. The jury box was filled to the brim with journalists, all waiting to hear how events would unfold. There were so many people there that day that the judge, the Honorable Steve C. Jones, kept the courtroom doors open so folks in the hallway could hear the proceedings. This is especially impressive given that electronic devices, including cell phones, are strictly prohibited in the courthouse. Dozens of 21st-century Georgians flooded the building on a Monday morning, deprived of email, Candy Crush, Instagram, and all other digital stimuli. They were, instead, glued to the real-life tragedy unfolding before them.

It was a rather quick and uneventful proceeding. The hearing only took a couple of hours. There weren’t any big surprises. Judge Jones heard oral arguments from both sides before adjourning for the day. As one might expect, the State’s legal team, who was defending this unconstitutional attack on reproductive rights, was made up of seven men and one woman. As one might expect, our legal team (that of Planned Parenthood Southeast) was the exact opposite: five women and one man. As one might expect, our attorneys argued that, per legal precedent, “there is no state interest strong enough to warrant a ban on abortion.” And as one might expect, the State’s attorneys had to do some legal and linguistic acrobatics to make their case. At one point, an attorney for the State said, “We don’t think [[[[[[[[[[[[[[the ban] is per se unconstitutional.” I didn’t go to law school, so I’m not sure if this is part of the standard curriculum or if this attorney had to get extra creative with this case, but it felt like the legal equivalent of a child telling their mother that they didn’t break the window because it was technically the baseball that they threw through the window that broke it. Frail technicalities aside, the defendants know the ban is unconstitutional just as the child knows they broke the window.

In fact, the state of Georgia and this bill’s authors were very intentional about this ban being unconstitutional. That’s the goal — to challenge the constitutional right to abortion and to gut Roe v. Wade. During the hearing, Judge Jones recounted a recent conversation with his wife about this very case. His wife posed the question, “When does a U.S. district court have the ability to overturn a Supreme Court ruling?” The answer — and everyone in there knew it — is never. And that’s the point. The defendants expect that lower courts will continue to block their abortion ban, and they will continue to appeal until the case makes its way to the Supreme Court, where they hope to undermine Roe and return abortion rights to the states, rendering it illegal in much of the country. 

The problem with that plan is there are more than a dozen other abortion cases ahead of this one, working their way through the court system at this very moment. Georgia is just one of eleven states that passed similar abortion bans this year, and there are several other cases ahead of those.

In fact, one is already there. Just this month, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review Louisiana’s Act 620, an abortion restriction nearly identical to a Texas restriction struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Helleredt just three years ago.

Whole Woman’s Health was one of the most important rulings in the history of reproductive rights, reaffirming the right to abortion and making it clear that medically unnecessary abortion restrictions, such as Texas’s requirement that abortion providers have local hospital admitting privileges, imposed an undue burden on women seeking access to health care, and therefore should not be allowed to stand. Despite that fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blatantly disregarded Supreme Court precedent and upheld Louisiana’s abortion restriction in September 2018. By granting review in this case, the Supreme Court is agreeing to reconsider its own 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health — and if the court allows this Louisiana law to stand, it will be breaking with its own precedent and dismantling constitutional protections to abortion access.

Locally, this would mean that Louisiana would become the seventh state to have only one abortion provider. Nationally, this could leave 25 million women of reproductive age at risk of losing access to abortion. One in three women are currently living in a state where abortion could be outlawed if Roe is overturned. Georgia is one of them.

But isn’t that highly unlikely? Why would the Supreme Court defy their own decision from just three years ago? Because the makeup of the court has changed. Justice Kennedy, who voted to protect abortion access in Whole Woman’s Health, has since been replaced with Justice Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh’s record is clear — he has actively worked to block abortion access.

For now, we wait for the Supreme Court to hear the Louisiana case. In the meantime, we will continue to fight Georgia’s ban every step of the way. Just a week after the hearing, Judge Jones granted us a preliminary injunction in the Georgia case. But that is only a temporary win, buying us a little time while we continue our efforts to block it from ever taking effect.

Ultimately, the lesson here is that elections matter. Had Donald Trump not been elected, the fate of abortion access would not be in the hands of Brett Kavanaugh — a man who has a professional record of attacking women’s rights and a personal record of attacking women physically. Had Georgia’s most recent election been fair, Brian Kemp would not be in the Governor’s Mansion, and this six-week abortion ban would never have been signed into law. We have a year to make sure that everyone votes and that every vote matters. The future of abortion access hangs in the balance, and the scales are tipped against us. It has become clear that the courts won’t protect us anymore. We must protect ourselves and our best weapon is our vote."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(6966) "Last spring, I spent days on end sitting in the halls of our state Capitol, watching our elected officials push through a six-week abortion ban, the likes of which we have never seen in Georgia. Then, weeks later, I was at the state Capitol again as Governor Brian Kemp signed that dangerous bill into law. On that day, Planned Parenthood Southeast promised Governor Kemp that we, along with our partners at ACLU of Georgia and the Center for Reproductive Rights, would see him in court. Because a six-week abortion ban, which bans abortion before most people even know they are pregnant, is blatantly unconstitutional per nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent.

Fast forward to September — we kept our promise. This time, I sat in a packed federal courtroom, surrounded by other concerned Georgians, to request a preliminary injunction to temporarily block this law from taking effect. The jury box was filled to the brim with journalists, all waiting to hear how events would unfold. There were so many people there that day that the judge, the Honorable Steve C. Jones, kept the courtroom doors open so folks in the hallway could hear the proceedings. This is especially impressive given that electronic devices, including cell phones, are strictly prohibited in the courthouse. Dozens of 21st-century Georgians flooded the building on a Monday morning, deprived of email, Candy Crush, Instagram, and all other digital stimuli. They were, instead, glued to the real-life tragedy unfolding before them.

It was a rather quick and uneventful proceeding. The hearing only took a couple of hours. There weren’t any big surprises. Judge Jones heard oral arguments from both sides before adjourning for the day. As one might expect, the State’s legal team, who was defending this unconstitutional attack on reproductive rights, was made up of seven men and one woman. As one might expect, our legal team (that of Planned Parenthood Southeast) was the exact opposite: five women and one man. As one might expect, our attorneys argued that, per legal precedent, “there is no state interest strong enough to warrant a ban on abortion.” And as one might expect, the State’s attorneys had to do some legal and linguistic acrobatics to make their case. At one point, an attorney for the State said, “We don’t think [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[the ban] is per se unconstitutional.” I didn’t go to law school, so I’m not sure if this is part of the standard curriculum or if this attorney had to get extra creative with this case, but it felt like the legal equivalent of a child telling their mother that they didn’t break the window because it was technically the baseball that they threw through the window that broke it. Frail technicalities aside, the defendants know the ban is unconstitutional just as the child knows they broke the window.

In fact, the state of Georgia and this bill’s authors were very intentional about this ban being unconstitutional. That’s the goal — to challenge the constitutional right to abortion and to gut Roe v. Wade. During the hearing, Judge Jones recounted a recent conversation with his wife about this very case. His wife posed the question, “When does a U.S. district court have the ability to overturn a Supreme Court ruling?” The answer — and everyone in there knew it — is never. And that’s the point. The defendants expect that lower courts will continue to block their abortion ban, and they will continue to appeal until the case makes its way to the Supreme Court, where they hope to undermine Roe and return abortion rights to the states, rendering it illegal in much of the country. 

The problem with that plan is there are more than a dozen other abortion cases ahead of this one, working their way through the court system at this very moment. Georgia is just one of eleven states that passed similar abortion bans this year, and there are several other cases ahead of those.

In fact, one is already there. Just this month, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review Louisiana’s Act 620, an abortion restriction nearly identical to a Texas restriction struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Helleredt just three years ago.

Whole Woman’s Health was one of the most important rulings in the history of reproductive rights, reaffirming the right to abortion and making it clear that medically unnecessary abortion restrictions, such as Texas’s requirement that abortion providers have local hospital admitting privileges, imposed an undue burden on women seeking access to health care, and therefore should not be allowed to stand. Despite that fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blatantly disregarded Supreme Court precedent and upheld Louisiana’s abortion restriction in September 2018. By granting review in this case, the Supreme Court is agreeing to reconsider its own 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health — and if the court allows this Louisiana law to stand, it will be breaking with its own precedent and dismantling constitutional protections to abortion access.

Locally, this would mean that Louisiana would become the seventh state to have only one abortion provider. Nationally, this could leave 25 million women of reproductive age at risk of losing access to abortion. One in three women are currently living in a state where abortion could be outlawed if Roe is overturned. Georgia is one of them.

But isn’t that highly unlikely? Why would the Supreme Court defy their own decision from just three years ago? Because the makeup of the court has changed. Justice Kennedy, who voted to protect abortion access in Whole Woman’s Health, has since been replaced with Justice Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh’s record is clear — he has actively worked to block abortion access.

For now, we wait for the Supreme Court to hear the Louisiana case. In the meantime, we will continue to fight Georgia’s ban every step of the way. Just a week after the hearing, Judge Jones granted us a preliminary injunction in the Georgia case. But that is only a temporary win, buying us a little time while we continue our efforts to block it from ever taking effect.

Ultimately, the lesson here is that elections matter. Had Donald Trump not been elected, the fate of abortion access would not be in the hands of Brett Kavanaugh — a man who has a professional record of attacking women’s rights and a personal record of attacking women physically. Had Georgia’s most recent election been fair, Brian Kemp would not be in the Governor’s Mansion, and this six-week abortion ban would never have been signed into law. We have a year to make sure that everyone votes and that every vote matters. The future of abortion access hangs in the balance, and the scales are tipped against us. It has become clear that the courts won’t protect us anymore. We must protect ourselves and our best weapon is our vote."
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  string(7746) " Barabara Ann Luttrell WEB  2019-08-07T15:01:03+00:00 Barabara_Ann_Luttrell_WEB.jpg   I thought the feminine form of hero was heroine. I also dislike words like shero and similarly formed words. The power inside words is not the word themselves. It is the tone and intent behind it. I could use the most gentle word as an insult simply by changing my tone of voice and how I am using it. mybodymyvoice womensrights Elections — and votes — do matter 21702  2019-11-04T18:42:42+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: The courts won’t protect us anymore jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Barbara Ann Lutrell  2019-11-04T18:42:42+00:00  Last spring, I spent days on end sitting in the halls of our state Capitol, watching our elected officials push through a six-week abortion ban, the likes of which we have never seen in Georgia. Then, weeks later, I was at the state Capitol again as Governor Brian Kemp signed that dangerous bill into law. On that day, Planned Parenthood Southeast promised Governor Kemp that we, along with our partners at ACLU of Georgia and the Center for Reproductive Rights, would see him in court. Because a six-week abortion ban, which bans abortion before most people even know they are pregnant, is blatantly unconstitutional per nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent.

Fast forward to September — we kept our promise. This time, I sat in a packed federal courtroom, surrounded by other concerned Georgians, to request a preliminary injunction to temporarily block this law from taking effect. The jury box was filled to the brim with journalists, all waiting to hear how events would unfold. There were so many people there that day that the judge, the Honorable Steve C. Jones, kept the courtroom doors open so folks in the hallway could hear the proceedings. This is especially impressive given that electronic devices, including cell phones, are strictly prohibited in the courthouse. Dozens of 21st-century Georgians flooded the building on a Monday morning, deprived of email, Candy Crush, Instagram, and all other digital stimuli. They were, instead, glued to the real-life tragedy unfolding before them.

It was a rather quick and uneventful proceeding. The hearing only took a couple of hours. There weren’t any big surprises. Judge Jones heard oral arguments from both sides before adjourning for the day. As one might expect, the State’s legal team, who was defending this unconstitutional attack on reproductive rights, was made up of seven men and one woman. As one might expect, our legal team (that of Planned Parenthood Southeast) was the exact opposite: five women and one man. As one might expect, our attorneys argued that, per legal precedent, “there is no state interest strong enough to warrant a ban on abortion.” And as one might expect, the State’s attorneys had to do some legal and linguistic acrobatics to make their case. At one point, an attorney for the State said, “We don’t think [[[[[[[[[[[[[[the ban] is per se unconstitutional.” I didn’t go to law school, so I’m not sure if this is part of the standard curriculum or if this attorney had to get extra creative with this case, but it felt like the legal equivalent of a child telling their mother that they didn’t break the window because it was technically the baseball that they threw through the window that broke it. Frail technicalities aside, the defendants know the ban is unconstitutional just as the child knows they broke the window.

In fact, the state of Georgia and this bill’s authors were very intentional about this ban being unconstitutional. That’s the goal — to challenge the constitutional right to abortion and to gut Roe v. Wade. During the hearing, Judge Jones recounted a recent conversation with his wife about this very case. His wife posed the question, “When does a U.S. district court have the ability to overturn a Supreme Court ruling?” The answer — and everyone in there knew it — is never. And that’s the point. The defendants expect that lower courts will continue to block their abortion ban, and they will continue to appeal until the case makes its way to the Supreme Court, where they hope to undermine Roe and return abortion rights to the states, rendering it illegal in much of the country. 

The problem with that plan is there are more than a dozen other abortion cases ahead of this one, working their way through the court system at this very moment. Georgia is just one of eleven states that passed similar abortion bans this year, and there are several other cases ahead of those.

In fact, one is already there. Just this month, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review Louisiana’s Act 620, an abortion restriction nearly identical to a Texas restriction struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Helleredt just three years ago.

Whole Woman’s Health was one of the most important rulings in the history of reproductive rights, reaffirming the right to abortion and making it clear that medically unnecessary abortion restrictions, such as Texas’s requirement that abortion providers have local hospital admitting privileges, imposed an undue burden on women seeking access to health care, and therefore should not be allowed to stand. Despite that fact, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit blatantly disregarded Supreme Court precedent and upheld Louisiana’s abortion restriction in September 2018. By granting review in this case, the Supreme Court is agreeing to reconsider its own 2016 decision in Whole Woman’s Health — and if the court allows this Louisiana law to stand, it will be breaking with its own precedent and dismantling constitutional protections to abortion access.

Locally, this would mean that Louisiana would become the seventh state to have only one abortion provider. Nationally, this could leave 25 million women of reproductive age at risk of losing access to abortion. One in three women are currently living in a state where abortion could be outlawed if Roe is overturned. Georgia is one of them.

But isn’t that highly unlikely? Why would the Supreme Court defy their own decision from just three years ago? Because the makeup of the court has changed. Justice Kennedy, who voted to protect abortion access in Whole Woman’s Health, has since been replaced with Justice Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh’s record is clear — he has actively worked to block abortion access.

For now, we wait for the Supreme Court to hear the Louisiana case. In the meantime, we will continue to fight Georgia’s ban every step of the way. Just a week after the hearing, Judge Jones granted us a preliminary injunction in the Georgia case. But that is only a temporary win, buying us a little time while we continue our efforts to block it from ever taking effect.

Ultimately, the lesson here is that elections matter. Had Donald Trump not been elected, the fate of abortion access would not be in the hands of Brett Kavanaugh — a man who has a professional record of attacking women’s rights and a personal record of attacking women physically. Had Georgia’s most recent election been fair, Brian Kemp would not be in the Governor’s Mansion, and this six-week abortion ban would never have been signed into law. We have a year to make sure that everyone votes and that every vote matters. The future of abortion access hangs in the balance, and the scales are tipped against us. It has become clear that the courts won’t protect us anymore. We must protect ourselves and our best weapon is our vote.     Barbara Ann Luttrell  0,0,10    mybodymyvoice womensrights                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: The courts won’t protect us anymore "
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Monday November 4, 2019 01:42 pm EST
Elections — and votes — do matter | more...
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  string(5750) "Trigger warning: I hate the word “shero.” I’ve been feeling this way for a while now, but have been afraid to admit it because it is a controversial opinion in the world of feminist activism and reproductive rights.

Shero is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a woman regarded as a hero.” A lady hero. I cringe every time I hear it.

And it’s not just shero. Lately, I have been noticing a lot of common words and phrases being altered to specify that they’re for women. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen “boss lady” scrawled across a mug or sweatshirt in rose gold calligraphy. Or seen a reference to someone making “herstory” — like “history,” but for ladies. The other day, someone even referenced “freshwoman year” instead of “freshman year.”

Come on, y’all. I’m all for girl power, but are these plays on words necessary? Aren’t people worthy of being called a shero or a boss lady just as worthy of being a hero and a boss? Why the qualifiers? And if they’re making herstory, surely they’re making regular history?

Hearing Harriett Tubman, Marie Curie, or Rosa Parks described as “sheroes” seems to cheapen their contributions. They are some of the greatest heroes of humankind, and they should be recognized as such.

Of course, women are still woefully underrepresented in history books and in modern society, so I understand the impulse. There is no doubt that women — and all marginalized people — have been intentionally and strategically robbed of our power and excluded from the conversation, and the English language reflects that bias. I’m just not convinced “lady boss” is much of an improvement.

Just this week, Forbes released its list of “America’s 100 Most Innovative Leaders.” The list included 99 men and precisely one woman: Barbara Rentler, CEO of Ross Stores. This list made it all the way from concept to publication and NO ONE noticed the disparity. Reactions from the public were swift, including a scathing letter from 57 innovative, female CEOs, demanding that Forbes correct their mistake. Forbes was also quick to respond, saying, “We blew it.” But how is it possible to blow it so royally? Predictably, the group of people responsible for compiling the list were all men, much like the selection committees for so many other important decisions. The world is full of powerful women who are changing the way we think, work, and live, but until they’re recognized as the leaders they are, they’ll just be lady bosses, relegated to their own special categories.

Maybe part of the reason I’m so annoyed is these words — like the linguistic version of pink power tools — remind me of some very special lady products being marketed to women.

A couple years ago, I got a new bicycle and I was in the market for a helmet. But when I went to a local bike shop to see what was available, I tried on the women’s helmets and they were all too small. So I assumed I’d have to size up to a men’s helmet. Much to my surprise, there were no men’s helmets. There were only unisex helmets, which came in multiple sizes, and women’s helmets, which came in one size: women’s. The implication being that there are regular helmets, which come in a variety of sizes (just like human skulls), and there are women’s helmets, which come in standard woman size (which is apparently quite petite). I was shocked. I looked for distinctions between the two helmet categories. The women’s helmets came in more pastel colors, but I could find no other difference. There weren’t more accommodations for a ponytail or stereotypically female hairstyles. There weren’t any convenient helmet pockets for tampons or other obviously female needs. They were just one-size-fits-female helmets, with some pink, teal, and white decorations, marketed for women. It was too much to wrap my oversized head around.

But this is a common theme for women’s products — producing more expensive versions of the men’s products with a woman-specific label. I am convinced that women’s razors are just lesser versions of men’s razors on more curvaceous, brightly colored handles. Like it’s harder for us to grip (maybe because of our tiny hands), and we’ll never notice that the razors were dull from the start (probably because of our tiny brains). And we all remember a few years ago, when Bic came out with a new line of pens “for her.” They were regular pens in pink and purple, sold at a much higher price point. Just what we’ve always wanted!

The latest version of this is Hasbro’s newest game: Ms. Monopoly. In it, female players receive $1,900 at the beginning of the game, compared with $1,500 for male players. And we get $240 each time we pass “Go” on the board, while male players get just $200.

Aside from the nauseating name, this game misses the entire point of the feminist movement. Regular Monopoly is already the future we envision. One where women can earn the same as men, have equal opportunities, and can move throughout the world without being hindered by our gender. Special helmets, razors, pens, games, and words won’t fix the problem.

Merriam-Webster defines “hero” as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” That word gets a whole definition. So why are we creating special descriptors for women’s greatness when we’re more than worthy of the originals?

This is not a call to throw out your “boss lady” tote bag, or trash your expensive razor. It’s just a reminder that you have earned the real words and you deserve the real thing, just as much as the next guy. No distinction necessary."
  ["tracker_field_contentWikiPage_raw"]=>
  string(5762) "Trigger warning: I hate the word “shero.” I’ve been feeling this way for a while now, but have been afraid to admit it because it is a controversial opinion in the world of feminist activism and reproductive rights.

Shero is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a woman regarded as a hero.” A lady hero. I cringe every time I hear it.

And it’s not just shero. Lately, I have been noticing a lot of common words and phrases being altered to specify that they’re for women. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen “boss lady” scrawled across a mug or sweatshirt in rose gold calligraphy. Or seen a reference to someone making “herstory” — like “history,” but for ladies. The other day, someone even referenced “freshwoman year” instead of “freshman year.”

Come on, y’all. I’m all for girl power, but are these plays on words necessary? Aren’t people worthy of being called a shero or a boss lady just as worthy of being a hero and a boss? Why the qualifiers? And if they’re making herstory, surely they’re making regular history?

Hearing Harriett Tubman, Marie Curie, or Rosa Parks described as “sheroes” seems to cheapen their contributions. They are some of the greatest heroes of humankind, and they should be recognized as such.

Of course, women are still woefully underrepresented in history books and in modern society, so I understand the impulse. There is no doubt that women — and all marginalized people — have been intentionally and strategically robbed of our power and excluded from the conversation, and the English language reflects that bias. I’m just not convinced “lady boss” is much of an improvement.

Just this week, ''Forbes'' released its list of “America’s 100 Most Innovative Leaders.” The list included 99 men and precisely one woman: Barbara Rentler, CEO of Ross Stores. This list made it all the way from concept to publication and NO ONE noticed the disparity. Reactions from the public were swift, including a scathing letter from 57 innovative, female CEOs, demanding that ''Forbes'' correct their mistake. ''Forbes'' was also quick to respond, saying, “We blew it.” But how is it possible to blow it so royally? Predictably, the group of people responsible for compiling the list were all men, much like the selection committees for so many other important decisions. The world is full of powerful women who are changing the way we think, work, and live, but until they’re recognized as the leaders they are, they’ll just be lady bosses, relegated to their own special categories.

Maybe part of the reason I’m so annoyed is these words — like the linguistic version of pink power tools — remind me of some very special lady products being marketed to women.

A couple years ago, I got a new bicycle and I was in the market for a helmet. But when I went to a local bike shop to see what was available, I tried on the women’s helmets and they were all too small. So I assumed I’d have to size up to a men’s helmet. Much to my surprise, there were no men’s helmets. There were only unisex helmets, which came in multiple sizes, and women’s helmets, which came in one size: women’s. The implication being that there are regular helmets, which come in a variety of sizes (just like human skulls), and there are women’s helmets, which come in standard woman size (which is apparently quite petite). I was shocked. I looked for distinctions between the two helmet categories. The women’s helmets came in more pastel colors, but I could find no other difference. There weren’t more accommodations for a ponytail or stereotypically female hairstyles. There weren’t any convenient helmet pockets for tampons or other obviously female needs. They were just one-size-fits-female helmets, with some pink, teal, and white decorations, marketed for women. It was too much to wrap my oversized head around.

But this is a common theme for women’s products — producing more expensive versions of the men’s products with a woman-specific label. I am convinced that women’s razors are just lesser versions of men’s razors on more curvaceous, brightly colored handles. Like it’s harder for us to grip (maybe because of our tiny hands), and we’ll never notice that the razors were dull from the start (probably because of our tiny brains). And we all remember a few years ago, when Bic came out with a new line of pens “for her.” They were regular pens in pink and purple, sold at a much higher price point. Just what we’ve always wanted!

The latest version of this is Hasbro’s newest game: Ms. Monopoly. In it, female players receive $1,900 at the beginning of the game, compared with $1,500 for male players. And we get $240 each time we pass “Go” on the board, while male players get just $200.

Aside from the nauseating name, this game misses the entire point of the feminist movement. Regular Monopoly is already the future we envision. One where women can earn the same as men, have equal opportunities, and can move throughout the world without being hindered by our gender. Special helmets, razors, pens, games, and words won’t fix the problem.

Merriam-Webster defines “hero” as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” That word gets a whole definition. So why are we creating special descriptors for women’s greatness when we’re more than worthy of the originals?

This is not a call to throw out your “boss lady” tote bag, or trash your expensive razor. It’s just a reminder that you have earned the real words and you deserve the real thing, just as much as the next guy. No distinction necessary."
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  string(6258) " Barabara Ann Luttrell MAJORITY REPORTER: Barbara Ann Luttrell. 2019-07-01T19:35:45+00:00 Barabara_Ann_Luttrell.jpg    mybodymyvoice womensrights And don’t try to sell me anything in pink 19840  2019-10-03T15:38:51+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: Don’t Call Me A Boss Lady jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris Barbara Ann Lutrell Jim Harris 2019-10-03T15:38:51+00:00  Trigger warning: I hate the word “shero.” I’ve been feeling this way for a while now, but have been afraid to admit it because it is a controversial opinion in the world of feminist activism and reproductive rights.

Shero is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a woman regarded as a hero.” A lady hero. I cringe every time I hear it.

And it’s not just shero. Lately, I have been noticing a lot of common words and phrases being altered to specify that they’re for women. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen “boss lady” scrawled across a mug or sweatshirt in rose gold calligraphy. Or seen a reference to someone making “herstory” — like “history,” but for ladies. The other day, someone even referenced “freshwoman year” instead of “freshman year.”

Come on, y’all. I’m all for girl power, but are these plays on words necessary? Aren’t people worthy of being called a shero or a boss lady just as worthy of being a hero and a boss? Why the qualifiers? And if they’re making herstory, surely they’re making regular history?

Hearing Harriett Tubman, Marie Curie, or Rosa Parks described as “sheroes” seems to cheapen their contributions. They are some of the greatest heroes of humankind, and they should be recognized as such.

Of course, women are still woefully underrepresented in history books and in modern society, so I understand the impulse. There is no doubt that women — and all marginalized people — have been intentionally and strategically robbed of our power and excluded from the conversation, and the English language reflects that bias. I’m just not convinced “lady boss” is much of an improvement.

Just this week, Forbes released its list of “America’s 100 Most Innovative Leaders.” The list included 99 men and precisely one woman: Barbara Rentler, CEO of Ross Stores. This list made it all the way from concept to publication and NO ONE noticed the disparity. Reactions from the public were swift, including a scathing letter from 57 innovative, female CEOs, demanding that Forbes correct their mistake. Forbes was also quick to respond, saying, “We blew it.” But how is it possible to blow it so royally? Predictably, the group of people responsible for compiling the list were all men, much like the selection committees for so many other important decisions. The world is full of powerful women who are changing the way we think, work, and live, but until they’re recognized as the leaders they are, they’ll just be lady bosses, relegated to their own special categories.

Maybe part of the reason I’m so annoyed is these words — like the linguistic version of pink power tools — remind me of some very special lady products being marketed to women.

A couple years ago, I got a new bicycle and I was in the market for a helmet. But when I went to a local bike shop to see what was available, I tried on the women’s helmets and they were all too small. So I assumed I’d have to size up to a men’s helmet. Much to my surprise, there were no men’s helmets. There were only unisex helmets, which came in multiple sizes, and women’s helmets, which came in one size: women’s. The implication being that there are regular helmets, which come in a variety of sizes (just like human skulls), and there are women’s helmets, which come in standard woman size (which is apparently quite petite). I was shocked. I looked for distinctions between the two helmet categories. The women’s helmets came in more pastel colors, but I could find no other difference. There weren’t more accommodations for a ponytail or stereotypically female hairstyles. There weren’t any convenient helmet pockets for tampons or other obviously female needs. They were just one-size-fits-female helmets, with some pink, teal, and white decorations, marketed for women. It was too much to wrap my oversized head around.

But this is a common theme for women’s products — producing more expensive versions of the men’s products with a woman-specific label. I am convinced that women’s razors are just lesser versions of men’s razors on more curvaceous, brightly colored handles. Like it’s harder for us to grip (maybe because of our tiny hands), and we’ll never notice that the razors were dull from the start (probably because of our tiny brains). And we all remember a few years ago, when Bic came out with a new line of pens “for her.” They were regular pens in pink and purple, sold at a much higher price point. Just what we’ve always wanted!

The latest version of this is Hasbro’s newest game: Ms. Monopoly. In it, female players receive $1,900 at the beginning of the game, compared with $1,500 for male players. And we get $240 each time we pass “Go” on the board, while male players get just $200.

Aside from the nauseating name, this game misses the entire point of the feminist movement. Regular Monopoly is already the future we envision. One where women can earn the same as men, have equal opportunities, and can move throughout the world without being hindered by our gender. Special helmets, razors, pens, games, and words won’t fix the problem.

Merriam-Webster defines “hero” as “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” That word gets a whole definition. So why are we creating special descriptors for women’s greatness when we’re more than worthy of the originals?

This is not a call to throw out your “boss lady” tote bag, or trash your expensive razor. It’s just a reminder that you have earned the real words and you deserve the real thing, just as much as the next guy. No distinction necessary.     Barbara Ann Lutrell  0,0,10    mybodymyvoice womensrights                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: Don’t Call Me A Boss Lady "
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Thursday October 3, 2019 11:38 am EDT
And don’t try to sell me anything in pink | more...
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  string(5809) "The past month has been filled with the unthinkable. The FBI arrested an Ohio man who made online threats against Planned Parenthood and an LGBTQ bar and voiced his support for mass shootings. When they arrested him, he had 25 firearms and close to 10,000 rounds of ammunition. The week before, ICE raided a number of poultry plants in Mississippi, detaining 680 workers, making it the largest ICE raid in this country’s history. The raid was carried out during the daytime, on the first day of school, leaving many children stranded without their parents. This coordinated raid came just days after a white supremacist killed 22 people in El Paso and injured many more, and a terrorist shot and killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, injuring an additional 27 more. In nearby Carbon Hill, Alabama, Mayor Mark Chambers recently responded to a hateful Facebook comment about LGBTQ people, people who have abortions, and socialists by saying, “I know it’s bad to say but without killing them out there’s no way to fix it.” He is still in office.

It seems like everywhere we turn, we are seeing more and more acts of violence, fueled by hatred. It is no coincidence that when the president demonizes and targets immigrant communities we see white supremacists emboldened to take up arms and commit acts of terror. It is no coincidence, that when the president spends months demonizing abortion providers, or when his administration pushes policies meant to punish abortion providers or deny the humanity of the LGBTQ community, we see young extremists emboldened to incite acts of violence against health care providers or spaces that serve as safe havens for the LGBTQ community.

And it’s not just the events making headlines. I know firsthand that anti-abortion protestors at our local Atlanta Planned Parenthood health centers seem to be emboldened by recent events. The other week, a group of (brace yourselves) white, male protestors trespassed onto our property. After repeated requests by security for them to leave, they finally agreed, but not before one donned a MAGA hat and made threatening gestures toward our staff. There are big and small acts of hate happening across this country, and with each one, we take giant steps backwards.

The truth is, America has always been — and continues to be — great for those protestors. When they say “make America great again,” it’s not so much a longing for the days of unbridled white supremacy and patriarchy — because those days aren’t behind us. What they are expressing is dread and foreboding of the progress still yet to come.

That’s where those who believe in progress come in. We have to keep doing everything in our power to make every white supremacist’s and homegrown terrorist’s worst nightmare — social justice, racial equity, gender equality — a reality. But where do we start?

The other day, in response to more coverage about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the dozens of powerful men connected to his alleged sex trafficking ring, my husband asked, “How hard is it to just not be a terrible person?”

It got me thinking. It’s not hard to be a decent person. Most of us would even characterize ourselves as good people, right? Where things get hard is when we are confronted by veiled or blatant discrimination from those around us. A family member’s casual, racist comment or joke. A coworker’s repeated misgendering of someone. A friend calling a woman a slut, a bitch, or any other phrase reserved for the demeaning of women. It is in those fleeting moments when we can choose to be complacent or we can take a stand for what we know is right. Small inactions have big consequences.

I’m not (necessarily) asking you to go around like some kind of social justice vigilante or to present yourself as a moral authority. I’m just asking you to set boundaries for what you will and won’t tolerate in your presence. When you feel that twinge in your gut, and you know you would never say such a thing yourself, don’t be a passive audience. Shut it down. All it takes is one swift rejection and folks will hesitate before saying the same thing again — in front of you or anyone else, for that matter.

Nor am I trying to oversimplify gun violence or white supremacy, or am I implying that the solution to these crises is easy. Despite the constant deluge of bad news and devastating headlines, it is a minority of people committing these atrocities. But surrounding those “terrible people” is a sea of complacent people, allowing each micro-aggression to go unchecked.

Author Ibram X. Kendi just released a new book titled How To Be An Antiracist. Kendi explains that the opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’ He writes, “like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.” And that self-examination applies not only to us as individuals, but to us as a society. It is not enough to not be racist, homophobic, and sexist. It is not enough to think the acts of violence and hatred taking place across our country are vile. It’s not enough to ignore the offensive joke, dismissive comment, or loaded insult. We have to identify inequality when we see it and take every opportunity to dismantle it.

It is past time we reject the hateful words and violence that flow from the White House, through our State House, and into our homes. It is past time that we stop allowing those around us to deny the humanity of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants. It’s past time that we stand up to hate and bigotry, no matter how trivial.

If we want to call ourselves good people, it’s time we act like it."
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It seems like everywhere we turn, we are seeing more and more acts of violence, fueled by hatred. It is no coincidence that when the president demonizes and targets immigrant communities we see white supremacists emboldened to take up arms and commit acts of terror. It is no coincidence, that when the president spends months demonizing abortion providers, or when his administration pushes policies meant to punish abortion providers or deny the humanity of the LGBTQ community, we see young extremists emboldened to incite acts of violence against health care providers or spaces that serve as safe havens for the LGBTQ community.

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The truth is, America has always been — and continues to be — great for those protestors. When they say “make America great again,” it’s not so much a longing for the days of unbridled white supremacy and patriarchy — because those days aren’t behind us. What they are expressing is dread and foreboding of the progress still yet to come.

That’s where those who believe in progress come in. We have to keep doing everything in our power to make every white supremacist’s and homegrown terrorist’s worst nightmare — social justice, racial equity, gender equality — a reality. But where do we start?

The other day, in response to more coverage about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the dozens of powerful men connected to his alleged sex trafficking ring, my husband asked, “How hard is it to just not be a terrible person?”

It got me thinking. It’s not hard to be a decent person. Most of us would even characterize ourselves as good people, right? Where things get hard is when we are confronted by veiled or blatant discrimination from those around us. A family member’s casual, racist comment or joke. A coworker’s repeated misgendering of someone. A friend calling a woman a slut, a bitch, or any other phrase reserved for the demeaning of women. It is in those fleeting moments when we can choose to be complacent or we can take a stand for what we know is right. Small inactions have big consequences.

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Author Ibram X. Kendi just released a new book titled ''How To Be An Antiracist''. Kendi explains that the opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’ He writes, “like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.” And that self-examination applies not only to us as individuals, but to us as a society. It is not enough to not be racist, homophobic, and sexist. It is not enough to think the acts of violence and hatred taking place across our country are vile. It’s not enough to ignore the offensive joke, dismissive comment, or loaded insult. We have to identify inequality when we see it and take every opportunity to dismantle it.

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  string(6327) " Barabara Ann Luttrell WEB  2019-08-07T15:01:03+00:00 Barabara_Ann_Luttrell_WEB.jpg    mybodymyvoice womensrights If we want to call ourselves good people, it’s time we act like good people 21702  2019-09-17T15:50:05+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: Walk it like you talk it jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris BARBARA ANN LUTRELL Jim Harris 2019-09-17T15:50:05+00:00  The past month has been filled with the unthinkable. The FBI arrested an Ohio man who made online threats against Planned Parenthood and an LGBTQ bar and voiced his support for mass shootings. When they arrested him, he had 25 firearms and close to 10,000 rounds of ammunition. The week before, ICE raided a number of poultry plants in Mississippi, detaining 680 workers, making it the largest ICE raid in this country’s history. The raid was carried out during the daytime, on the first day of school, leaving many children stranded without their parents. This coordinated raid came just days after a white supremacist killed 22 people in El Paso and injured many more, and a terrorist shot and killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, injuring an additional 27 more. In nearby Carbon Hill, Alabama, Mayor Mark Chambers recently responded to a hateful Facebook comment about LGBTQ people, people who have abortions, and socialists by saying, “I know it’s bad to say but without killing them out there’s no way to fix it.” He is still in office.

It seems like everywhere we turn, we are seeing more and more acts of violence, fueled by hatred. It is no coincidence that when the president demonizes and targets immigrant communities we see white supremacists emboldened to take up arms and commit acts of terror. It is no coincidence, that when the president spends months demonizing abortion providers, or when his administration pushes policies meant to punish abortion providers or deny the humanity of the LGBTQ community, we see young extremists emboldened to incite acts of violence against health care providers or spaces that serve as safe havens for the LGBTQ community.

And it’s not just the events making headlines. I know firsthand that anti-abortion protestors at our local Atlanta Planned Parenthood health centers seem to be emboldened by recent events. The other week, a group of (brace yourselves) white, male protestors trespassed onto our property. After repeated requests by security for them to leave, they finally agreed, but not before one donned a MAGA hat and made threatening gestures toward our staff. There are big and small acts of hate happening across this country, and with each one, we take giant steps backwards.

The truth is, America has always been — and continues to be — great for those protestors. When they say “make America great again,” it’s not so much a longing for the days of unbridled white supremacy and patriarchy — because those days aren’t behind us. What they are expressing is dread and foreboding of the progress still yet to come.

That’s where those who believe in progress come in. We have to keep doing everything in our power to make every white supremacist’s and homegrown terrorist’s worst nightmare — social justice, racial equity, gender equality — a reality. But where do we start?

The other day, in response to more coverage about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and the dozens of powerful men connected to his alleged sex trafficking ring, my husband asked, “How hard is it to just not be a terrible person?”

It got me thinking. It’s not hard to be a decent person. Most of us would even characterize ourselves as good people, right? Where things get hard is when we are confronted by veiled or blatant discrimination from those around us. A family member’s casual, racist comment or joke. A coworker’s repeated misgendering of someone. A friend calling a woman a slut, a bitch, or any other phrase reserved for the demeaning of women. It is in those fleeting moments when we can choose to be complacent or we can take a stand for what we know is right. Small inactions have big consequences.

I’m not (necessarily) asking you to go around like some kind of social justice vigilante or to present yourself as a moral authority. I’m just asking you to set boundaries for what you will and won’t tolerate in your presence. When you feel that twinge in your gut, and you know you would never say such a thing yourself, don’t be a passive audience. Shut it down. All it takes is one swift rejection and folks will hesitate before saying the same thing again — in front of you or anyone else, for that matter.

Nor am I trying to oversimplify gun violence or white supremacy, or am I implying that the solution to these crises is easy. Despite the constant deluge of bad news and devastating headlines, it is a minority of people committing these atrocities. But surrounding those “terrible people” is a sea of complacent people, allowing each micro-aggression to go unchecked.

Author Ibram X. Kendi just released a new book titled How To Be An Antiracist. Kendi explains that the opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘antiracist.’ He writes, “like fighting an addiction, being an antiracist requires persistent self-awareness, constant self-criticism, and regular self-examination.” And that self-examination applies not only to us as individuals, but to us as a society. It is not enough to not be racist, homophobic, and sexist. It is not enough to think the acts of violence and hatred taking place across our country are vile. It’s not enough to ignore the offensive joke, dismissive comment, or loaded insult. We have to identify inequality when we see it and take every opportunity to dismantle it.

It is past time we reject the hateful words and violence that flow from the White House, through our State House, and into our homes. It is past time that we stop allowing those around us to deny the humanity of women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants. It’s past time that we stand up to hate and bigotry, no matter how trivial.

If we want to call ourselves good people, it’s time we act like it.    CL File Photo Barbara Ann Luttrell  0,0,10    mybodymyvoice womensrights                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: Walk it like you talk it "
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Tuesday September 17, 2019 11:50 am EDT
If we want to call ourselves good people, it’s time we act like good people | more...
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  string(27) "MY BODY, MY VOICE: Abortion"
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  string(25) "Not as taboo as you think"
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  string(6406) "Abortion. A word that is rarely uttered in polite spaces. You can’t talk about it at work. You may even be uncomfortable discussing it with friends. You certainly wouldn’t bring it up in front of your in-laws.

But why is that? It’s nothing new. Abortion is an ancient practice, dating back thousands of years. It was legal in the United States up until the 1880s, and has been legal in our time for more than 45 years. It’s not uncommon. One in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime. It’s not dangerous. In fact, abortion is among the safest medical procedures out there — statistically safer than having your wisdom teeth removed.

The truth is, abortion is a very normal, common, safe, legal, and effective medical procedure. And yet, it remains one of the most taboo topics in this country. I can think of no other issue that affects 25 percent of women directly that is still shrouded in such silence and shame.  

The reason is clear: stigma. Abortion has been stigmatized so effectively, especially in the Southeast, that even those of us who consider ourselves progressive on the issue are contributing to it. 

Several years ago, a good friend shared with me that she’d had an abortion months prior. Being the enlightened, “pro-choice” person that I was, I was surprised she hadn’t told me sooner. Why would she keep this from me? I’m so clearly supportive. I told her that she could have “come to me for help” and I would have “been there for her.” My friend seemed completely unimpressed with my retrospective offer — and rightfully so. Because she didn’t need my help. She didn’t need me to be there for her. She made an informed decision about what was best for her body and her future, and she went to a doctor’s office to have a safe, legal medical procedure. That was it. She hadn’t consulted me about her other medical decisions. Why would I assume she would need to come to me for this one? Because I fell into the same tired trap that many of us do: the belief that when someone gets an abortion, they must feel some level of guilt, regret, or doubt.  

People’s lives are complicated, and decisions about whether to start a family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy are personal and very complex. But that doesn’t mean they’re difficult. Eighty-seven percent of people who have had an abortion are in their 20s or 30s, and most already have at least one child. Research shows that the most common feeling after having an abortion is relief. People are perfectly capable of making the decision that is best for their lives and their futures without well-meaning (and condescending) sympathy from those around them.

Of course not all people make the decision to have their abortion alone. Some people seek much-needed support from friends and family. And their experience is just as valid and authentic as my friend’s was. There is no one-size-fits-all abortion story. Which is exactly why we must stop projecting our own assumptions about abortion, often colored by shame and stigma, onto other people. We have to start conversations about abortions — not debates. Because ultimately, opinions about abortion are complicated — for some it’s based on faith, for others it’s based on science. But the bottom line is this: You can never know what another person is going through, and you cannot make that decision for someone else. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the halls of our state capitol, it’s that politicians definitely aren’t the experts. 

Often, we look to people who have had abortions to share their stories. But the responsibility to start these conversations should not fall solely on them. We cannot expect people to subject themselves to the court of public opinion, recounting their most personal, private medical decisions with the world. If we are going to shift this culture of silence, and make real, meaningful change, it will require all of us to start conversations. 

The other week, my cousin opened up a conversation with her father about abortion and the recent legislative attacks that we’ve seen sweep the country. My uncle is relatively detached from the subject of abortion because he has the luxury to be. As the conversation progressed, it became clear that he did not know the extent to which abortion access had been legislated this year. He did not know that in his own home state of Alabama, lawmakers voted to outlaw abortion altogether — leaving no exceptions for rape or incest. “Had he been living under a rock?” my cousin thought. Ultimately, yes, he is shielded by his own privilege, and he is not alone. There are a million other conversations just like this one that need to be had if we are going to begin reducing abortion stigma. 

And believe me — I know it’s not your responsibility to help educate the willfully ignorant, but it is one of the most meaningful acts of resistance at your disposal. So if you have an abortion story you feel safe and ready to share, share it — even if it’s just with your closest friends. If you have an opportunity to dispel some of the myths and misinformation surrounding abortion, do it — even if it makes you uncomfortable. If you have a platform from which you can proclaim your support for safe, legal abortion, share it — even if it seems unpopular. People’s reactions might just surprise you. 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans agree that Roe v. Wade should be upheld. That includes a majority of Republicans and Independents. Even a majority of Trump voters believe abortion should be legal in some circumstances. And millions of people across the country know firsthand just how important that constitutional right is, whether they admit it or not. 

Abortion is not as taboo as you think. So be brave and start a conversation, no matter how small. Most of us agree that abortion should remain safe and legal, but that does us no good if we never speak up. A silent majority never gets heard.

Barbara Ann Luttrell serves as the vice president of External Affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets"
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  string(6414) "Abortion. A word that is rarely uttered in polite spaces. You can’t talk about it at work. You may even be uncomfortable discussing it with friends. You certainly wouldn’t bring it up in front of your in-laws.

But why is that? It’s nothing new. Abortion is an ancient practice, dating back thousands of years. It was legal in the United States up until the 1880s, and has been legal in our time for more than 45 years. It’s not uncommon. One in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime. It’s not dangerous. In fact, abortion is among the safest medical procedures out there — statistically safer than having your wisdom teeth removed.

The truth is, abortion is a very normal, common, safe, legal, and effective medical procedure. And yet, it remains one of the most taboo topics in this country. I can think of no other issue that affects 25 percent of women directly that is still shrouded in such silence and shame.  

The reason is clear: stigma. Abortion has been stigmatized so effectively, especially in the Southeast, that even those of us who consider ourselves progressive on the issue are contributing to it. 

Several years ago, a good friend shared with me that she’d had an abortion months prior. Being the enlightened, “pro-choice” person that I was, I was surprised she hadn’t told me sooner. Why would she keep this from me? I’m so clearly supportive. I told her that she could have “come to me for help” and I would have “been there for her.” My friend seemed completely unimpressed with my retrospective offer — and rightfully so. Because she didn’t need my help. She didn’t need me to be there for her. She made an informed decision about what was best for her body and her future, and she went to a doctor’s office to have a safe, legal medical procedure. That was it. She hadn’t consulted me about her other medical decisions. Why would I assume she would need to come to me for this one? Because I fell into the same tired trap that many of us do: the belief that when someone gets an abortion, they must feel some level of guilt, regret, or doubt.  

People’s lives are complicated, and decisions about whether to start a family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy are personal and very complex. But that doesn’t mean they’re difficult. Eighty-seven percent of people who have had an abortion are in their 20s or 30s, and most already have at least one child. Research shows that the most common feeling after having an abortion is relief. People are perfectly capable of making the decision that is best for their lives and their futures without well-meaning (and condescending) sympathy from those around them.

Of course not all people make the decision to have their abortion alone. Some people seek much-needed support from friends and family. And their experience is just as valid and authentic as my friend’s was. There is no one-size-fits-all abortion story. Which is exactly why we must stop projecting our own assumptions about abortion, often colored by shame and stigma, onto other people. We have to start conversations about abortions — not debates. Because ultimately, opinions about abortion are complicated — for some it’s based on faith, for others it’s based on science. But the bottom line is this: You can never know what another person is going through, and you cannot make that decision for someone else. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the halls of our state capitol, it’s that politicians definitely aren’t the experts. 

Often, we look to people who have had abortions to share their stories. But the responsibility to start these conversations should not fall solely on them. We cannot expect people to subject themselves to the court of public opinion, recounting their most personal, private medical decisions with the world. If we are going to shift this culture of silence, and make real, meaningful change, it will require all of us to start conversations. 

The other week, my cousin opened up a conversation with her father about abortion and the recent legislative attacks that we’ve seen sweep the country. My uncle is relatively detached from the subject of abortion because he has the luxury to be. As the conversation progressed, it became clear that he did not know the extent to which abortion access had been legislated this year. He did not know that in his own home state of Alabama, lawmakers voted to outlaw abortion altogether — leaving no exceptions for rape or incest. “Had he been living under a rock?” my cousin thought. Ultimately, yes, he is shielded by his own privilege, and he is not alone. There are a million other conversations just like this one that need to be had if we are going to begin reducing abortion stigma. 

And believe me — I know it’s not your responsibility to help educate the willfully ignorant, but it is one of the most meaningful acts of resistance at your disposal. So if you have an abortion story you feel safe and ready to share, share it — even if it’s just with your closest friends. If you have an opportunity to dispel some of the myths and misinformation surrounding abortion, do it — even if it makes you uncomfortable. If you have a platform from which you can proclaim your support for safe, legal abortion, share it — even if it seems unpopular. People’s reactions might just surprise you. 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans agree that ''Roe v. Wade'' should be upheld. That includes a majority of Republicans and Independents. Even a majority of Trump voters believe abortion should be legal in some circumstances. And millions of people across the country know firsthand just how important that constitutional right is, whether they admit it or not. 

Abortion is not as taboo as you think. So be brave and start a conversation, no matter how small. Most of us agree that abortion should remain safe and legal, but that does us no good if we never speak up. A silent majority never gets heard.

''Barbara Ann Luttrell serves as the vice president of External Affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets''"
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  string(6843) " Barabara Ann Luttrell WEB  2019-08-07T15:01:03+00:00 Barabara_Ann_Luttrell_WEB.jpg    abortion mybodymyvoice womensrights Not as taboo as you think 21702  2019-08-07T14:43:48+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: Abortion jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris BARBARA ANN LUTRELL Jim Harris 2019-08-07T14:43:48+00:00  Abortion. A word that is rarely uttered in polite spaces. You can’t talk about it at work. You may even be uncomfortable discussing it with friends. You certainly wouldn’t bring it up in front of your in-laws.

But why is that? It’s nothing new. Abortion is an ancient practice, dating back thousands of years. It was legal in the United States up until the 1880s, and has been legal in our time for more than 45 years. It’s not uncommon. One in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime. It’s not dangerous. In fact, abortion is among the safest medical procedures out there — statistically safer than having your wisdom teeth removed.

The truth is, abortion is a very normal, common, safe, legal, and effective medical procedure. And yet, it remains one of the most taboo topics in this country. I can think of no other issue that affects 25 percent of women directly that is still shrouded in such silence and shame.  

The reason is clear: stigma. Abortion has been stigmatized so effectively, especially in the Southeast, that even those of us who consider ourselves progressive on the issue are contributing to it. 

Several years ago, a good friend shared with me that she’d had an abortion months prior. Being the enlightened, “pro-choice” person that I was, I was surprised she hadn’t told me sooner. Why would she keep this from me? I’m so clearly supportive. I told her that she could have “come to me for help” and I would have “been there for her.” My friend seemed completely unimpressed with my retrospective offer — and rightfully so. Because she didn’t need my help. She didn’t need me to be there for her. She made an informed decision about what was best for her body and her future, and she went to a doctor’s office to have a safe, legal medical procedure. That was it. She hadn’t consulted me about her other medical decisions. Why would I assume she would need to come to me for this one? Because I fell into the same tired trap that many of us do: the belief that when someone gets an abortion, they must feel some level of guilt, regret, or doubt.  

People’s lives are complicated, and decisions about whether to start a family, pursue adoption, or terminate a pregnancy are personal and very complex. But that doesn’t mean they’re difficult. Eighty-seven percent of people who have had an abortion are in their 20s or 30s, and most already have at least one child. Research shows that the most common feeling after having an abortion is relief. People are perfectly capable of making the decision that is best for their lives and their futures without well-meaning (and condescending) sympathy from those around them.

Of course not all people make the decision to have their abortion alone. Some people seek much-needed support from friends and family. And their experience is just as valid and authentic as my friend’s was. There is no one-size-fits-all abortion story. Which is exactly why we must stop projecting our own assumptions about abortion, often colored by shame and stigma, onto other people. We have to start conversations about abortions — not debates. Because ultimately, opinions about abortion are complicated — for some it’s based on faith, for others it’s based on science. But the bottom line is this: You can never know what another person is going through, and you cannot make that decision for someone else. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the halls of our state capitol, it’s that politicians definitely aren’t the experts. 

Often, we look to people who have had abortions to share their stories. But the responsibility to start these conversations should not fall solely on them. We cannot expect people to subject themselves to the court of public opinion, recounting their most personal, private medical decisions with the world. If we are going to shift this culture of silence, and make real, meaningful change, it will require all of us to start conversations. 

The other week, my cousin opened up a conversation with her father about abortion and the recent legislative attacks that we’ve seen sweep the country. My uncle is relatively detached from the subject of abortion because he has the luxury to be. As the conversation progressed, it became clear that he did not know the extent to which abortion access had been legislated this year. He did not know that in his own home state of Alabama, lawmakers voted to outlaw abortion altogether — leaving no exceptions for rape or incest. “Had he been living under a rock?” my cousin thought. Ultimately, yes, he is shielded by his own privilege, and he is not alone. There are a million other conversations just like this one that need to be had if we are going to begin reducing abortion stigma. 

And believe me — I know it’s not your responsibility to help educate the willfully ignorant, but it is one of the most meaningful acts of resistance at your disposal. So if you have an abortion story you feel safe and ready to share, share it — even if it’s just with your closest friends. If you have an opportunity to dispel some of the myths and misinformation surrounding abortion, do it — even if it makes you uncomfortable. If you have a platform from which you can proclaim your support for safe, legal abortion, share it — even if it seems unpopular. People’s reactions might just surprise you. 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans agree that Roe v. Wade should be upheld. That includes a majority of Republicans and Independents. Even a majority of Trump voters believe abortion should be legal in some circumstances. And millions of people across the country know firsthand just how important that constitutional right is, whether they admit it or not. 

Abortion is not as taboo as you think. So be brave and start a conversation, no matter how small. Most of us agree that abortion should remain safe and legal, but that does us no good if we never speak up. A silent majority never gets heard.

Barbara Ann Luttrell serves as the vice president of External Affairs at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets     Barbara Ann Lutrell  0,0,2    mybodymyvoice abortion womensrights                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: Abortion "
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Wednesday August 7, 2019 10:43 am EDT
Not as taboo as you think | more...
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  string(7140) "Forty-six years ago, womankind celebrated a landmark victory. Thanks to Roe v. Wade, abortion was finally legal in the U.S. And with that victory, American women came one step closer to achieving bodily autonomy and therefore, equality. Yet, as the golden anniversary of that historic decision approaches, access to abortion is being threatened like never before. Just this year, 33 states introduced abortion bans, all with one express goal: overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw safe, legal abortion. 

Here in Georgia, legislators passed a blatantly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, House Bill 481, which would outlaw abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. The bill criminalizes doctors, forcing them to make an impossible choice: treat their pregnant patient and risk jail time for endangering the pregnancy; or refuse to treat their patient to protect themselves, and risk their patient’s life instead. If allowed to take effect, this would deter doctors from practicing in our state, which already suffers from a severe physician shortage, and it would be a death sentence for thousands of Georgia women. Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion. It just stops safe abortion. 

Thankfully, local reproductive rights advocates, Planned Parenthood Southeast, ACLU of Georgia, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to sue the state to block this bill from ever taking effect, and legal precedent is on their side. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a federal district judge struck down a nearly identical bill in Mississippi, stating, “this law prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” So for now — and hopefully forever — abortion is still safe, legal, and available in Georgia. 

In the midst of these unprecedented attacks on reproductive health care, women’s health continues to decline in this country. Women are 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than 30 years ago, with African American women three to four times more likely to die than white women. It’s even worse here in Georgia, where we suffer from the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and half of our counties do not have a single OB-GYN. And yet, instead of working to expand access to health care or improve health outcomes in our state, lawmakers are enacting legislation to force women to carry pregnancies. A subject which few, if any, of the legislators seem to understand.



If you were following along with the HB 481 fight, you may have heard several politicians expose their own ignorance when it comes to women’s bodies, pregnancies, and medicine writ large. The bill itself is full of false and misleading information. In fact, HB 481 referenced a medical institution that does not exist, the “American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” to defend its medically inaccurate content. One might assume that the bill’s author intended to reference the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the country’s leading authority on women’s health. The problem with that assumption, however, is that ACOG has been a vocal leader in opposition to abortion bans like HB 481, stating, “ACOG strongly opposes political efforts to limit a woman’s ability to get the care she needs, including bans on abortion care. ACOG recognizes that abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women and opposes political interference in health care. Health care decisions should be made jointly only by patients and their trusted health care professionals, not by politicians.”

It’s not just ACOG that is vocally opposed to HB 481. During this legislative session, hundreds of Georgia citizens packed the halls of the state Capitol for weeks on end. More than 300 Georgia business leaders spoke out publicly against the ban. The medical community came out in united opposition to HB 481, with dozens of doctors lined up to testify against the ban. The $9 billion Georgia film and entertainment industry published letters, threatening to boycott work in Atlanta if the ban was enacted. And more than 6,000 Georgians signed a petition urging Governor Brian Kemp to veto the bill. The truth is, our lawmakers heard from us loud and clear — they just didn’t want to listen. Perhaps that’s because they thought we would go away eventually, exhausted by the months-long fight. 

After HB 481 was signed by Governor Kemp, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ed Setzler, said that things would go back to normal “once the shrill attacks of the opponents sort of fade into the background.” 

Shrill: a word reserved exclusively for a woman’s dissent. 

In some ways it’s true. We were shrill. Shrill like the beeping of a smoke detector, warning of fire. We were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched our constitutional rights go up in flames. And we did not go unheard. Just last weekend, I was in Columbia, South Carolina, for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s We Decide Presidential Forum. For the first time in history, we heard 20 presidential candidates publicly and proudly outline their plans to expand access to safe, legal abortion. And just like that, we redefined the 2020 election and all elections to follow, centering women’s health and rights like never before. Proving that if you are loud enough — and shrill enough — you can shatter glass ceilings without ever bumping your head.

So why, in the 21st century, are we retracing our grandmothers’ steps, still fighting to control our own bodies and our futures? And why are (mostly white, mostly male) lawmakers hell-bent on rolling back our constitutional rights? Because while abortion is often at the center of the women’s rights movement, this is — and always has been — about more. This is about our most basic human rights.

Not so long ago, women’s use of contraception was just as stigmatized as abortion is today. Before that, it was the women’s right to vote. Before that, it was women’s right to own property. The battles have changed, but the fight remains the same. Women’s oppression is a tale as old as time.

We have been doing this dance with progress for generations. If there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that for every one step back, there are two steps forward — if we just keep moving. And while we will never stop fighting for access to safe, legal abortion, this movement does not begin or end with Roe. We will not be quiet and we will not back down, because we hold this truth to be self-evident: All men are created equal. And that means women, too. -CL- 

This month Creative Loafing is proud to welcome a new columnist, Barbara Ann Luttrell, to our pages and online. Luttrell serves as the director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets."
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Here in Georgia, legislators passed a blatantly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, House Bill 481, which would outlaw abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. The bill criminalizes doctors, forcing them to make an impossible choice: treat their pregnant patient and risk jail time for endangering the pregnancy; or refuse to treat their patient to protect themselves, and risk their patient’s life instead. If allowed to take effect, this would deter doctors from practicing in our state, which already suffers from a severe physician shortage, and it would be a death sentence for thousands of Georgia women. Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion. It just stops safe abortion. 

Thankfully, local reproductive rights advocates, Planned Parenthood Southeast, ACLU of Georgia, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to sue the state to block this bill from ever taking effect, and legal precedent is on their side. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a federal district judge struck down a nearly identical bill in Mississippi, stating, “[this law] prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” So for now — and hopefully forever — abortion is still safe, legal, and available in Georgia. 

In the midst of these unprecedented attacks on reproductive health care, women’s health continues to decline in this country. Women are 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than 30 years ago, with African American women three to four times more likely to die than white women. It’s even worse here in Georgia, where we suffer from the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and half of our counties do not have a single OB-GYN. And yet, instead of working to expand access to health care or improve health outcomes in our state, lawmakers are enacting legislation to force women to carry pregnancies. A subject which few, if any, of the legislators seem to understand.

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If you were following along with the HB 481 fight, you may have heard several politicians expose their own ignorance when it comes to women’s bodies, pregnancies, and medicine writ large. The bill itself is full of false and misleading information. In fact, HB 481 referenced a medical institution that does not exist, the “American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” to defend its medically inaccurate content. One might assume that the bill’s author intended to reference the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the country’s leading authority on women’s health. The problem with that assumption, however, is that ACOG has been a vocal leader in opposition to abortion bans like HB 481, stating, “ACOG strongly opposes political efforts to limit a woman’s ability to get the care she needs, including bans on abortion care. ACOG recognizes that abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women and opposes political interference in health care. Health care decisions should be made jointly only by patients and their trusted health care professionals, not by politicians.”

It’s not just ACOG that is vocally opposed to HB 481. During this legislative session, hundreds of Georgia citizens packed the halls of the state Capitol for weeks on end. More than 300 Georgia business leaders spoke out publicly against the ban. The medical community came out in united opposition to HB 481, with dozens of doctors lined up to testify against the ban. The $9 billion Georgia film and entertainment industry published letters, threatening to boycott work in Atlanta if the ban was enacted. And more than 6,000 Georgians signed a petition urging Governor Brian Kemp to veto the bill. The truth is, our lawmakers heard from us loud and clear — they just didn’t want to listen. Perhaps that’s because they thought we would go away eventually, exhausted by the months-long fight. 

After HB 481 was signed by Governor Kemp, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ed Setzler, said that things would go back to normal “once the shrill attacks of the opponents sort of fade into the background.” 

Shrill: a word reserved exclusively for a woman’s dissent. 

In some ways it’s true. We were shrill. Shrill like the beeping of a smoke detector, warning of fire. We were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched our constitutional rights go up in flames. And we did not go unheard. Just last weekend, I was in Columbia, South Carolina, for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s We Decide Presidential Forum. For the first time in history, we heard 20 presidential candidates publicly and proudly outline their plans to expand access to safe, legal abortion. And just like that, we redefined the 2020 election and all elections to follow, centering women’s health and rights like never before. Proving that if you are loud enough — and shrill enough — you can shatter glass ceilings without ever bumping your head.

So why, in the 21st century, are we retracing our grandmothers’ steps, still fighting to control our own bodies and our futures? And why are (mostly white, mostly male) lawmakers hell-bent on rolling back our constitutional rights? Because while abortion is often at the center of the women’s rights movement, this is — and always has been — about more. This is about our most basic human rights.

Not so long ago, women’s use of contraception was just as stigmatized as abortion is today. Before that, it was the women’s right to vote. Before that, it was women’s right to own property. The battles have changed, but the fight remains the same. Women’s oppression is a tale as old as time.

We have been doing this dance with progress for generations. If there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that for every one step back, there are two steps forward — if we just keep moving. And while we will never stop fighting for access to safe, legal abortion, this movement does not begin or end with Roe. We will not be quiet and we will not back down, because we hold this truth to be self-evident: All men are created equal. And that means women, too. __-CL-__ 

''This month ''Creative Loafing'' is proud to welcome a new columnist, Barbara Ann Luttrell, to our pages and online. Luttrell serves as the director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets.''"
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  string(7745) " Barabara Ann Luttrell MAJORITY REPORTER: Barbara Ann Luttrell. 2019-07-01T19:35:45+00:00 Barabara_Ann_Luttrell.jpg   This. is. amazing. Beautifully articulated. abortion mybodymyvoice womensrights Women will not go unheard 19840  2019-07-01T19:27:33+00:00 MY BODY, MY VOICE: This Was Never About Abortion jim.harris@creativeloafing.com Jim Harris BARBARA ANN LUTTRELL Jim Harris 2019-07-01T19:27:33+00:00  Forty-six years ago, womankind celebrated a landmark victory. Thanks to Roe v. Wade, abortion was finally legal in the U.S. And with that victory, American women came one step closer to achieving bodily autonomy and therefore, equality. Yet, as the golden anniversary of that historic decision approaches, access to abortion is being threatened like never before. Just this year, 33 states introduced abortion bans, all with one express goal: overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw safe, legal abortion. 

Here in Georgia, legislators passed a blatantly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban, House Bill 481, which would outlaw abortion before most women even know they’re pregnant. The bill criminalizes doctors, forcing them to make an impossible choice: treat their pregnant patient and risk jail time for endangering the pregnancy; or refuse to treat their patient to protect themselves, and risk their patient’s life instead. If allowed to take effect, this would deter doctors from practicing in our state, which already suffers from a severe physician shortage, and it would be a death sentence for thousands of Georgia women. Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion. It just stops safe abortion. 

Thankfully, local reproductive rights advocates, Planned Parenthood Southeast, ACLU of Georgia, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have vowed to sue the state to block this bill from ever taking effect, and legal precedent is on their side. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a federal district judge struck down a nearly identical bill in Mississippi, stating, “this law prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.” So for now — and hopefully forever — abortion is still safe, legal, and available in Georgia. 

In the midst of these unprecedented attacks on reproductive health care, women’s health continues to decline in this country. Women are 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than 30 years ago, with African American women three to four times more likely to die than white women. It’s even worse here in Georgia, where we suffer from the second highest maternal mortality rate in the country, and half of our counties do not have a single OB-GYN. And yet, instead of working to expand access to health care or improve health outcomes in our state, lawmakers are enacting legislation to force women to carry pregnancies. A subject which few, if any, of the legislators seem to understand.



If you were following along with the HB 481 fight, you may have heard several politicians expose their own ignorance when it comes to women’s bodies, pregnancies, and medicine writ large. The bill itself is full of false and misleading information. In fact, HB 481 referenced a medical institution that does not exist, the “American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,” to defend its medically inaccurate content. One might assume that the bill’s author intended to reference the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the country’s leading authority on women’s health. The problem with that assumption, however, is that ACOG has been a vocal leader in opposition to abortion bans like HB 481, stating, “ACOG strongly opposes political efforts to limit a woman’s ability to get the care she needs, including bans on abortion care. ACOG recognizes that abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women and opposes political interference in health care. Health care decisions should be made jointly only by patients and their trusted health care professionals, not by politicians.”

It’s not just ACOG that is vocally opposed to HB 481. During this legislative session, hundreds of Georgia citizens packed the halls of the state Capitol for weeks on end. More than 300 Georgia business leaders spoke out publicly against the ban. The medical community came out in united opposition to HB 481, with dozens of doctors lined up to testify against the ban. The $9 billion Georgia film and entertainment industry published letters, threatening to boycott work in Atlanta if the ban was enacted. And more than 6,000 Georgians signed a petition urging Governor Brian Kemp to veto the bill. The truth is, our lawmakers heard from us loud and clear — they just didn’t want to listen. Perhaps that’s because they thought we would go away eventually, exhausted by the months-long fight. 

After HB 481 was signed by Governor Kemp, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Ed Setzler, said that things would go back to normal “once the shrill attacks of the opponents sort of fade into the background.” 

Shrill: a word reserved exclusively for a woman’s dissent. 

In some ways it’s true. We were shrill. Shrill like the beeping of a smoke detector, warning of fire. We were screaming at the top of our lungs as we watched our constitutional rights go up in flames. And we did not go unheard. Just last weekend, I was in Columbia, South Carolina, for Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s We Decide Presidential Forum. For the first time in history, we heard 20 presidential candidates publicly and proudly outline their plans to expand access to safe, legal abortion. And just like that, we redefined the 2020 election and all elections to follow, centering women’s health and rights like never before. Proving that if you are loud enough — and shrill enough — you can shatter glass ceilings without ever bumping your head.

So why, in the 21st century, are we retracing our grandmothers’ steps, still fighting to control our own bodies and our futures? And why are (mostly white, mostly male) lawmakers hell-bent on rolling back our constitutional rights? Because while abortion is often at the center of the women’s rights movement, this is — and always has been — about more. This is about our most basic human rights.

Not so long ago, women’s use of contraception was just as stigmatized as abortion is today. Before that, it was the women’s right to vote. Before that, it was women’s right to own property. The battles have changed, but the fight remains the same. Women’s oppression is a tale as old as time.

We have been doing this dance with progress for generations. If there’s anything history has taught us, it’s that for every one step back, there are two steps forward — if we just keep moving. And while we will never stop fighting for access to safe, legal abortion, this movement does not begin or end with Roe. We will not be quiet and we will not back down, because we hold this truth to be self-evident: All men are created equal. And that means women, too. -CL- 

This month Creative Loafing is proud to welcome a new columnist, Barbara Ann Luttrell, to our pages and online. Luttrell serves as the director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Southeast, where she’s on the frontlines in the fight for reproductive health rights in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. The views in this column are her own, forged from the insight and knowledge she gains everyday, whether in the office or in the streets.    PHOTO COURTESY OF THE AUTHOR MAJORITY REPORTER: Barbara Ann Luttrell.  0,0,11    mybodymyvoice abortion womensrights                             MY BODY, MY VOICE: This Was Never About Abortion "
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Article

Monday July 1, 2019 03:27 pm EDT
Women will not go unheard | more...