Author Archives: Reproaction

Operation Rescue Offers “Assistance” to Department of Justice

By Erin Matson
Co-Founder and Co-Director

Operation Rescue offered to assist the Department of Justice. Attorney General Jeff Sessions must say no.

Today Operation Rescue, a hateful anti-abortion organization led by Troy Newman, congratulated Attorney General Jeff Sessions on his confirmation and offered to provide support to the Department of Justice.

Attorney General Sessions must publicly and forcefully decline the offer of partnership between Operation Rescue and the Department of Justice.

In a statement written by Cheryl Sullenger, who served two years in prison after being convicted for attempting to bomb an abortion clinic, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman is quoted as saying, “We congratulate Attorney General Sessions on his confirmation and stand ready to assist him with access to our research and documentation.”

This is chilling. In Troy Newman’s book, Their Blood Cries Out, he advocates for the murder of abortion providers and what he believes is the federal government’s responsibility to execute abortion providers.

“The United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty,” he wrote. “This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people.”

When asked during his confirmation hearing whether he would “disavow Operation Rescue’s endorsement of you,” Attorney General Sessions refused to do so directly while also attempting to distance himself from anti-abortion violence.

It is because of this ambiguity that it’s critical for Attorney General Sessions to explicitly make clear that the Department of Justice will not partner with, rely upon information from, or in any way accept assistance from Operation Rescue and its leadership.

Less than two years ago, the Australian government barred Troy Newman from entry based on his concerns that his presence would stoke violence against abortion providers and people who seek abortion. The Department of Justice exists to enforce the law, to ensure public safety, and to ensure justice for all.

Attorney General Sessions must explicitly bar Troy Newman and Operation Rescue from any form of affiliation or partnership with the Department of Justice and our government.

 

I Attended the March for Life

By Jessica Ensley
Campaign Coordinator

People on both sides of the political spectrum complain that the other side lives in a “bubble.” Recently I broke my bubble by attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Attending the March for Life as someone who staunchly believes in reproductive justice was something I knew would be difficult. Walking amongst the crowd I noticed just how white it was. Not only did I see few people of color, I saw no one wearing head coverings suggesting non-Christian faiths. I don’t imagine people wearing them would receive a warm welcome from the countless Trump supporters in attendance. There were quite a few “All Lives Matter” signs and shirts, yet pro-life organizations have been silent in the president’s recent executive order instating a Muslim ban and have continued to remain silent on police violence against Black people.

All Lives Matter T-shirts for sale at the March for Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The March for Life seemed to be yet another celebration of the new administration by and for the right wing. Vice President Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway spoke and made history as the highest-ranking White House officials to speak at the March for Life. Conway encouraged people to “protect and to promote the most precious gift in the world: the gift of life.”

Conway and Pence received thunderous applause from the crowd. Many people started to leave the National Mall after hearing Pence speak, which is a testament to just how much the pro-life movement is operates as a front for Trumpism these days.

The NFL’s Ben Watson was a speaker, and got across the main driving point of the March for Life and for the pro-life movement in general: Men need to be in charge.  According to LifeSite, a pro-life ‘news’ platform, Watson said men have to “rise up and lead the charge” and “it is past time that (men) be the leaders, caretakers and providers that we were meant to be.”

The hyper-masculinity of the event was apparent not only through Watson’s speech. I saw many young groups of women being led by men, whether they were fathers or religious leaders. The most graphic signs, including one stating women who have abortions should be arrested, were held by men.

It wasn’t until I joined the abortion rights supporters’ counter protest that I realized just how aggressive some of the pro-life people would be.

Sign at March for Life with an image of men getting arrested

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Men made up the majority of the people who walked up to our counter-protest group. One man went up to another man in our group and said “Can I ask you a question, man to man?” The pro-abortion counter-demonstrator said he could ask any number of the women around and the pro-lifer said no, this was a man’s issue.

When the pro-lifers started to use signs to box in our group, it was the men who got into our personal space. It was the white men who asked the racist questions to the woman of color counter-demonstrating. It was the men who shoved their pro-life signs into our faces. When asked to get out of our personal space or stop talking to us, they said no. When they talked to us, they demanded a response. They saw it as their right. They became angry and agitated toward us.

The message was clear: not only was this a pro-Trump rally, this movement should be led by men. Orange, mean, aggressive men.

Women were of course in attendance, and I saw a few signs that stated they were anti-Trump and pro-woman. However, when your cause is rooted in removing autonomy from people, it is not “pro-woman.” When your cause is supported by our misogynistic president who brags about sexual assault and routinely trades in derogatory stereotypes, you are on the wrong side of history.

By going to the March for Life, I stepped outside my bubble and into another where “all lives matter” until that life is born. Where children are the future unless their skin is not white or they are born into a religion other than Christianity.

If living in my bubble means being alongside those who stand with justice, including reproductive justice, then I will happily live in my bubble. Of course we need to be aware of what happens outside our bubbles, which is why I went. But we do not have to accept taking away basic human rights, including the right to abortion. Eliminating access to abortion is not a matter of differing opinions – it is injustice.

Abortion Won at SCOTUS, But Frightening Laws Remain

By Jessica Ensley
Campaign Fellow

There are still restrictive and even blatantly unconstitutional anti-abortion laws on the books, even though abortion rights won big with the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision last summer. The fight continues: Planned Parenthood, along with the ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights, is filing a lawsuit against restrictive anti-abortion laws in North Carolina, Alaska, and Missouri. Missouri has legislation similar to that struck down in the recent Supreme Court ruling.

The Supreme Court said clearly in a 5-3 decision that restrictions on access to abortion must have a benefit, as the Texas House Bill 2 did not. The unconstitutional abortion clinic closure law  required abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards. It also required doctors to have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles.

Requiring abortion facilities to have hospital-sized rooms and hallways and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospital are nothing more than thinly guised attempts at shutting down access to abortion. After HB 2 went into effect, nearly half of the abortion clinics in the state had to shut down. This left many people needing abortions without access to a nearby clinic.

The Supreme Court stated that these laws “place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and therefore violate the Constitution.”

After the ruling, I took a look to see if there were states still holding onto anti-abortion laws that have been ruled unnecessary and unconstitutional. What I found was appalling. While many states had laws similar to that in Texas, only Arizona, Indiana and Utah have laws remaining that have not yet been challenged at the state level.

I also looked at a number of additional types of abortion restrictions, and what I found was unfortunately not surprising. The strictest abortion laws are in states that have a majority of conservative legislators. Some states, such as South Dakota, have trigger laws in place to ban abortion, except in cases where a physician deems it necessary, if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court — a possibility welcomed by president-elect Donald Trump. Other laws explicitly state they will ban abortion to the fullest extent allowed under federal law.  

It’s important to note that the attacks on abortion rights keep mounting. New Jersey proposed 20 anti-abortion bills in 2016. Iowa proposed 15 anti-abortion and religious freedom bills in 2016, many attacking LGBTQ rights. There is every reason to expect 2017 will be worse.

Most disheartening is how murky these laws can be to find and understand. Anti-abortion laws threaten everyone, especially the one in three women who will have an abortion in their lifetimes. These laws should not be this difficult to track down and comprehend. State websites can be tough to navigate, and the language of policy can be difficult to understand. Once you actually find the laws you’re looking for, the next challenge is trying to understand what they mean.  Laws are changing every year as more and more anti-choice groups and legislators attempt to pass bills that take away the right to our own bodies.

One of the most notable — and frankly, terrifying — new state laws is once again in Texas. The law, now challenged in court and blocked by a federal judge, would require abortion facilities to pay for the cremation or burial of aborted fetuses. It is an insult to the autonomy and dignity of people who have abortions, and it will raise the cost of abortion care by hundreds or thousands of dollars. This new law, along with the countless others across the states, prove how much work there is to be done in the name of reproductive justice.

A Victory in Virginia!

Yesterday, The Virginia State Board of Health voted 11-4 to reject targeted regulations of abortion providers. After a five year battle, this is a huge victory for abortion access in Virginia.

Reproaction co-director Erin Matson testified before the Board of Health, urging them to do the right thing. Read her testimony below:

My name is Erin Matson and I live in Arlington. I am co-founder of Reproaction, and led a national, research-driven Who Is Closing Abortion Clinics? campaign exposing the lie that unconstitutional abortion clinic shutdown restrictions promote women’s health and safety.

As the Supreme Court has made clear, Virginia is in a pickle. Since our sham restrictions were adopted, seven of our 21 abortion providers have closed. This is a disgrace, and appears to be in direct contradiction of the law of our land of the free. A woman in Virginia deserves better than discriminatory, deceit-based abortion clinic shutdown restrictions designed to prevent her from accessing the health care she needs.

Virginia should increase access to abortion. As I shared at a previous Board of Health meeting, I worked with a patient from Norfolk who had severe difficulty accessing the abortion she needed. Because of the maze of punitive restrictions targeting people in Virginia who have decided to have an abortion, especially poor people and women of color, her procedure was delayed for several weeks because she was unable to afford it and find someone to take care of her kids.

She grew frustrated with the process, and at one point she wondered aloud to volunteers raising money whether there was something she could do to force a miscarriage at home. Ultimately she had to take a train to Washington, D.C., to get her abortion. I still remember picking her up at the clinic and taking her to the hotel, and how serious her situation was.

I urge you to think of her now, and vote to amend these sham restrictions. They do not advance women’s health and safety, as has been claimed, but rather exist to block access to abortion, making serious situations harder.

It’s important to note that those who wish to hold onto the fantasy that Virginia can keep our unconstitutional abortion clinic shutdown restrictions just the way they are, are the exact same people who support crisis pregnancy centers which operate with absolutely zero medical oversight. This deceit and hypocrisy can and should end today. Abortion is safe. Our restrictions are unconstitutional. Please vote to protect abortion access.

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Now Hiring: Opposition Research Fellow

The Opposition Research Fellow focuses on existing campaign-related opposition research efforts, and aids Reproaction staff with ongoing administrative needs. This is a part-time, temporary position reporting to and working closely with Reproaction’s campaign lead. Reproaction is an all-virtual organization and welcomes candidates from around the country. The fellowship opens in January and will last five months.

For more information and specific instructions to apply, please click the following link:

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