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Roe 2016 – A Challenging Landscape

CZNSE2DWQAEbjQDDear Friends and Community Members,

On Wednesday evening Pro-Choice Resources and Whole Woman’s Health (with support from our MN Choice Coalition Partners, Abortion Care Network, Preterm Abortion Clinic, and My Life My Abortion) honored the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade with an event called Breaking Our Silence MN.  

Community members came together and read stories of people who have accessed abortion care (donated by Preterm Clinic), and some community members shared their own stories. These stories challenge the current narrative around abortion and push back against stigma, silence, and shame.  

The one theme that surfaced throughout the stories was that the person accessing abortion care made the decision that was best for themselves and their family.

We know the power of storytelling and as we recognize the 43rd anniversary of the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, we also recognize that our current landscape is more challenging than ever. Since 2011, state legislators have passed 288 laws that restrict abortion access. We are also now in our 40th year of the Hyde Amendment, one of the most blatantly discriminatory amendments ever passed.  

The Hyde Amendment, first attached as a “rider” in 1976, banned the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother. In particular, this bars people receiving federal Medicaid from using that form of insurance to access abortion care. Abortion is the only medical procedure that has ever been banned from Medicaid. The reason why the Hyde Amendment is discriminatory is due to its disproportionate impact on immigrant women and women of color who are more likely to live in poverty and to rely on Medicaid for their health care. Here’s what Representative Henry Hyde, author of the Hyde Amendment had to say, “I would certainly like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion: a rich woman, a middle class woman, or a poor woman…Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill.”

CZNJuQWWwAEJS2gSo year after year the Hyde Amendment, and now these new restrictions and bans, have placed families in peril. Low-income families have to sell their belongings, put less food on the table and risk eviction as they use their rent money to pay for abortion care, a medical procedure which should be covered by insurance just like any other medical procedure. And we also know that many of these families never manage to get the money they need to pay for abortion care – which means that they are forced to carry the pregnancy to term.

For those of us that work, advocate and volunteer in this field we know all too well of the difficulties and erroneous barriers that women, girls and transgender people who can get pregnant face everyday.

This year in March the United States Supreme Court will hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a case regarding the deceptive Texas law HB2 which is designed to shut down more than 75 percent of all health clinics that provide abortion services in the state. HB2 would accomplish its goal of shutting down clinics by imposing these two restrictions:

  • Doctors who provide abortion services must obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals no farther than 30 miles away from the clinics.
  • Health care facilities offering abortion care must meet building specifications to essentially become mini-hospitals (also known as ambulatory surgical centers, or ASCs).

These requirements unfairly single out abortion care providers and do not apply to other, comparable medical procedures or practices.

Leading medical experts and organizations strongly oppose these medically unnecessary requirements on reproductive health care services. The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other leading health care experts are united in opposing these burdensome regulations, arguing that they serve no medical purpose, interfere in the doctor/patient relationship, and do nothing to promote reproductive health.

The Supreme Court’s decision on this historic case will have far reaching ramifications. We have seen similar bills introduced in Minnesota, but the MN Choice Coalition partners have been able to defeat them. However, this case could impact our ability to successfully defend access to abortion care in the future.

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Wow – a lot of depressing news…. But remember our movement is strong and bold and compassionate and we will not be intimidated.  This past July partners in the All* Above All Campaign, a national campaign to repeal the Hyde Amendment, introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Woman Act), a groundbreaking piece of legislation for Reproductive Justice. The EACH Woman Act:  

  • Sets up the federal government as a standard-bearer, meaning every woman who receives care or insurance through the federal government will have coverage for abortion services. The EACH Woman Act restores abortion coverage to those:
    • enrolled in a government health insurance plan (i.e., Medicaid, Medicare), including those who live 
in the District of Columbia;
    • enrolled in a government-managed health insurance program (i.e., FEHBP, TRICARE) due to an 
employment relationship;
    • receiving healthcare from a government provider or program (i.e., Indian Health Services, the 
Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Veterans Administration).
  • Prohibits political interference with decisions by private health insurance companies to offer coverage for abortion care. Federal, state and local legislators will not be able to interfere with the private insurance market, including the insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, to prevent insurance companies from providing abortion coverage.

The partners in the MN Choice Coalition and many of our community partners and allies have signed onto this groundbreaking legislation. Here’s what we know to be true, we can’t do this work without you and it’s important that the policy makers who represent you hear from you. We encourage you to use the hashtag #‎ReclaimRoe‬‬ on social media, and to let the people in our state know that we care about upholding Roe v. Wade, keeping abortion care legal, and making abortion care accessible to all who need it.  But more importantly, let them know that we care about the thousands of women, girls and transgender people who can get pregnant whose human right it is to access abortion care.

 

In Peace and Justice,

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Karen Law

 

*statistics and quotes from the Center for Reproductive Rights, National Network of Abortion Funds, and All* Above All.

 

Year End Reflections

Year End Appeal Picture

The end of the year is a time of reflection, and as we reflect over the year at Pro-Choice Resources we are filled with appreciation and resolve. We are very grateful for your support of PCR and the thousands of people in our community that we work with and provide assistance to. We are resolved to lift up your, our, and every other member of this amazing community’s voice to ensure that our stories, informed by our lived experiences, direct the conversation on reproductive health care. We do so knowing the voices of those who promote a rhetoric of anger, intolerance, and hatred cannot be allowed to control the destiny of reproductive rights in this country.

Your support is greatly appreciated. Without you, there would literally be over 7,400 women, girls, and transgender people in Minnesota and the surrounding Midwest with nowhere else to turn. You have given them the gift of being able to make the sexual and reproductive health care decisions that are best for them. As we move forward, we can ensure our common goal of making Reproductive Justice a reality for all. Your support continues and expands EMERGE, our after abortion care support group, strengthens our Reproductive Justice grassroots advocacy program, and of course allows us to say yes to more people who call our line for abortion care funding.

We ask you to join us in continuing this work by reaching out to others in your community. Should you or someone you know be making year-end decisions for charitable contributions, we hope you will think of PCR and make your tax deductible gift before or on December 31. Please consider extending your support, lifting up our community, and joining the majority of people who believe in a person’s right to make personal health care decisions. We need to take back the narrative from those who threaten our essential human rights.

For close to half a century, PCR has been committed to ensuring that we amplify the voices of the people we serve, because these voices must not be silenced and must resonate across our state and nation. We will be in touch regularly throughout the coming year, and look forward to hearing from you in return.

Wishing you well,

Karen Law
Executive Director

One Gunman, Many Accomplices

Complicity: the act of helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.

While only one man stormed the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, November 27th, he had accomplices. Emboldened by aggressive rhetoric used following the release earlier this year of distorted videos of Planned Parenthood employees, he walked into the clinic on the shoulders of the anti-abortion supporters who believe their voice should supersede the voice and choice of all the people who seek abortion care as the best decision for themselves and their families. His bullets were supplied by the politicians and leaders who refuse to take responsibility for the actions their words incite. He pulled the trigger in tandem with those who believe that abortion access and care should be stopped by any means necessary.

This culture of physical, mental, and lingual violence must stop. We must speak up and speak out in our communities. Women and transgender people who can get pregnant shouldn’t have to wonder if accessing reproductive health care will get them killed. Abortion care providers, doctors, staff and clinics should be able to provide critical abortion care services without the threat of violence and the risk of death.

The shooter did tragically end the lives of Ke’Arre Stewart, Jennifer Markovsky, and Officer Garrett Swasey. The shooter did not stop amazing and resilient abortion care providers and abortion clinic staff from providing their services across this country. The shooter did not stop abortion assistance funds, Reproductive Justice organizations, reproductive rights organizations, and All-Options Family Planning providers from showing up this week even more determined to ensure that abortion stays safe, legal, and accessible.  

At PCR we will not let one man nor those who were complicit in this tragedy, nor any of the forces of Reproductive Oppression close our doors. We all remain OPEN for business and make sure that the people who call us everyday to access financial support for abortion care get it. We will continue to facilitate Emerge, our secular after abortion support group, and we will continue to advocate for the right of people to have children, not have children, and to raise children in a healthy and safe environment.

 

In Peace and Solidarity

The Staff at PCR

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Thank you for making Pro-Choice Resources’ 2015 Bowl-A-Thon a huge success

On Thursday, March 26, more than 300 people converged on Park Tavern in St. Louis Park to bowl and celebrate a community that stands for reproductive justice. The Pro-Choice Resources Bowl-a-Thon isn’t just an event to raise money to support PCR’s work – though it certainly is that, as the 1,800+ donorswho helped us raise $90,000 will attest.

It’s also a chance for a pep rally. A chance to find yourself in a building filled with people who go beyond supporting the right to choose. They support the breadth of reproductive justice issues – wage equality, violence prevention, health care access and more. And they’re an active part of PCR’s work to find solutions and eliminate reproductive oppression in our region and across the nation.

Coming at the beginning of the year and in the midst of a legislative session, the Bowl-a-Thon is the perfect opportunity for community members to recharge and kick off a year of making inroads and improvements in their communities. After weeks spent talking to friends, families, neighbors and everyone else within reach about the importance of reproductive justice and PCR’s work, bowlers get to come together and be reminded that they’re part of something bigger. It’s a chance to remember that, despite the protesters, TRAP bills, and other frustrations, there is a movement at work here that is large, vocal and, frankly, fun.

Now this league of advocates will take the energy of more than 2,000 people – from a spectrum of ages, races, economic backgrounds, gender identities, faiths and life experiences – and use it to make an impact in communities across the state and region. From advocating at the Capitol to advocating at your office, church, school and community, there’s a lot of progress we can make together.

The Bowl-a-Thon was a great success on many practical levels – we raised $5,000 more than goal, we partnered with Eat for Equity to bring three new (very successful) teams on board, and we had some of our largest team fundraising totals ever. But more than that, we had the chance to celebrate a community that champions reproductive freedoms. In the words of one bowler, “It’s amazing to be here with all these people and see that there are so many of us who care about this.”

Thank you to all who participated and everyone who continues to work for reproductive justice in our communities.

Five anti-choice bills would especially burden low-income women

 

 

karen-law_132In an article published by MinnPost, Karen Law of Pro-Choice Resources and Andrea Ledger of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota explain the implications of current anti-choice bills making their way through committees in the Minnesota legislature.  They concisely show how these bills target low-income people, and that these bills are merely precursors to ending legal abortion.

This quote states perfectly why we must all raise our voices and speak out for reproductive justice, “The amount of money a person has or doesn’t have should not prohibit her from having an abortion. The ability for each person to make health care decisions for herself, without coercion by politicians or other outsiders, is truly a Minnesotan value.”  Click here to read the whole article.

The Star Tribune makes a trip to Whole Women’s Health

On the Anniversary of Roe v Wade, Jan 22, 1973, the Star Tribune published an article after making a visit to the Whole Women’s Health clinic in Minneapolis.  The article discusses the current political landscape in Minnesota around abortion, issues of access in Minnesota and in other states, and includes some uncommon testimony from a woman who had just gone through the abortion procedure.  Click here to read the whole article.

Pro-Choice Resources and NARAL condemn anti-choice agenda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 22, 2015

Contact: Karen Law – 612-865-8397

Andrea Ledger – 651-356-9358

Minnesota Reproductive Health Groups Condemn Anti-Choice Legislation

Saint Paul, MN (January 22, 2015) — This morning, reproductive health advocates in Minnesota condemned efforts that would restrict women’s access to affordable abortion care. These efforts, which have been put forth by local anti-choice groups including Minnesota Citizens Concern for Life (MCCL), prohibit Minnesota’s Medical Assistance funds from covering abortion care. MCCL and anti-choice groups released their agenda on the 42nd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in the United States.

“In lieu of banning abortion altogether, MCCL and anti-choice groups are targeting Minnesota’s most vulnerable by making abortion care unaffordable. Any woman in Minnesota, from Rochester to Minneapolis to Crookston, should be able to make her own important life decisions, including whether to become a parent. But now our politicians want to treat some women’s health needs differently than others because of their income or source of insurance,” declared Andrea Ledger, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota.

Minnesota is one of 15 states that uses state Medicaid funds to cover both childbirth and abortion care for low-income women. Minnesota’s Supreme Court decision, which was ruled on in 1995, ensures access to reproductive health care for all women, regardless of their financial situation or source of insurance coverage. These efforts, if enacted as legislation, would violate Minnesota’s constitutionally guaranteed reproductive decision-making by imposing coverage bans and other restrictions that limit access to abortion care.

“Politicians shouldn’t be allowed to deny a woman’s health coverage just because she’s poor. These bans disproportionately affect low-income women, women of color, and young people,” explained Karen Law, Executive Director of Pro-Choice Resources. “Minnesotans need more, not less, access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services, and that includes safe and affordable abortion.”

“These efforts are a thinly veiled attack on women’s reproductive decisions and Minnesotans won’t stand for it,” added Ledger.

Fall Newsletter: The New State of Abortion Access in the Midwest

Abortion Access by StateLast fiscal year, with your support we were able to help more than 800 people living in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin access abortion care through our abortion assistance fund.   

As we look back over the data we collect from each caller, this story is shifting.  More than ever before the people we serve are telling us how anti-choice laws and policies specific to public and private health insurance coverage are making it close to impossible for the people we serve to access the abortion care they need.

The sad reality is that if you are low-income, the state you live in will likely be a determining factor of whether or not you will be able to access abortion care.

Read the full story about the impact these laws are having on people with low or no incomes, as well as get program and event updates in our PCR 2014 Fall Newsletter.