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Entries in abortion (20)


Profile: ACCESS Women's Health Justice

The Bay Area is home to many fabulous organizations focused on reproductive health and justice working on local, regional, and national levels. To connect, share, and showcase the exciting work being done by all these organizations we will be profiling them here in our blog. Today we are focusing on ACCESS Women's Health Justice, who we have recently partnered with. Sierra Harris, Policy Associate at ACCESS, took time to answer our questions, as follows.

BADP: What is a bit of ACCESS' history?

ACCESS was founded in 1993 by a group of clinic escorts who saw first hand how difficult it was for many women to physically get to their abortion appointments.  However, the clinic escorts quickly realized that women they worked with were facing multiple barriers to accessing care that went beyond the protestors at clinics. In September of 1993, ACCESS answered its first Healthline call. With a few phones, a handful of volunteers, and binders of referrals we began challenging the barriers to reproductive health care- whether that meant providing a woman with basic information about her menstrual cycle or offering rides so women could get to their abortion appointments. Since then, ACCESS has grown into an organization that serves 48 counties in northern and central California, is multicultural, multigenerational and bilingual, and serves as a leader in state advocacy efforts.
BADP: What is the overall mission of ACCESS? Who does it serve and how?

ACCESS' mission is to remove barriers to sexual and reproductive health care and to build the power of women and girls to demand equity and dignity. Our work is grounded in values of justice, dignity and equity and our vision dictates the arc of our work:
We believe in and trust women- all women
We envision a future where women decide for themselves whether, when, and how to have children. A future where women have access to the resources and options they need to realize their sexual and reproductive health decisions.
We envision a future where women are treated with dignity and respect in those decisions. A future where people understand the context of women's decision-making around pregnancy, and where those decisions are free from stigma.
We envision a future where women's voices are clear and strong; where each woman trusts herself, knows her own power and uses it to demand that all women have the social, political and economic power and resources to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families. 
The heart of our work is our bilingual Healthline, which connects women and girls throughout California to information, referrals and advocacy on sexual and reproductive health issues.  We help women navigate programs that pay for health care-such as Medi-Cal and Family PACT- and are experts in offering resources for abortion, adoption and parenting  When women are in need of housing, food or transportation to ensure timely access to abortion care, we connect them to our network of volunteers who can provide this support or to funds when volunteer resources are unavailable. 
Many of our callers lack access to equitable care including young women, women of color, folks living in rural areas, undocumented immigrants, and those with limited English proficiency.  We are not afraid to name these inequities, and is why we utilize the reproductive justice framework in our policy work and movement building.  

BADP: What is one major success of the organization?

ACCESS will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013 and we have had many wonderful successes. One policy success was defeating Prop 4, Parental Notification, along with several reproductive justice allies and organizations in 2008.  Our work with the California Coalition of Reproductive Freedom has also enabled ACCESS to work with several allies across the state and engage in legislative and administrative advocacy for over 12 years. Our work with Medi-Cal advocacy and health care reform implantation has been very successful as well- we are working to ensure that women in California will have robust and comprehensive reproductive health coverage (including abortion) and making sure that enrollment is easy for all the diverse communities throughout the state.
BADP: What would you like to see happen with ACCESS in the next 1-5 years?

I believe ACCESS to be a powerful and unique organization in California and in the reproductive justice movement. Our Healthline gives us a unique and intimate perspective of women's lives and the real barriers they face in accessing care. Because of this, I would like to see ACCESS' policy work grow and to solidify our place as a powerful leader in statewide and national reproductive movements. 
BADP: Is it possible for others to get involved, and if yes, how?

Yes! We are always looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in working on our Healthline, becoming a practical support volunteer, or becoming involved in advocacy as a reproductive justice activist, you should definitely apply to our training. We hold our Reproductive Justice in Action trainings quarterly, and our next one will be in February 2013. You can find out more information on our website.

Thank you very much to Sierra for answering our questions and to ACCESS for the amazing work they do supporting people seeking abortion in our state!



Tuesday Guest Post: "Abortion in the Rural Northwest"

Abortion in the Rural Northwest

By Holly Carpenter

This summer, I road tripped around the Northwestern quarter of our country, hitting up Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. As a future rural abortion provider, I was keenly interested not only in getting a glimpse of what abortion culture was like in those states, but also to scope out possible places to live and work. I decided to make it into a sort of anti-protester trip, where I visited clinics to drop off little appreciation gifts and messages of support.

I started in Boise, but my schedule ended up conflicting with the clinic’s hours and I wasn’t able to stop by in person. So I sent them an envelope of Exhale cards, and a note to say that I appreciated their brave work in my home state. I traveled on to Missoula, Montana, through hundreds of miles of tiny towns and beautiful mountains. There, I asked friends and contacts about local health care options, and who the local abortion providers were. There was a Planned Parenthood, one of the two in the state of 145,545 square miles and almost a million people. I decided, however, to visit a private clinic, offering a unique mix of primary care, mental health, reproductive health care, and abortion services. I stopped by the local food co-op and picked out a few boxes of chocolate and a card (I know, so romantic!)

Pulling up to the clinic, I noticed the ten-foot tall metal fence surrounding the property. The gate was open, so I parked, noting the surveillance cameras covering the parking lot. Getting into the front lobby required pressing a bell, speaking to a receptionist, and then going through two thick glass doors, which I assume must have been bulletproof. Like many clinics, the receptionists sat behind another bulletproof glass window, and communication happened through a microphone. I introduced myself, realizing as I said the cheery words “Hi! I’m a UCSF nursing grad student and I just wanted to stop by to say thanks for the work you do!” that this wasn’t something that happened often around there. It took a good deal of awkward explanations to convey why I was there and what I wanted. I handed over the chocolates and card, which they picked up gingerly and gave me a cautious “thank you?” for. I left shortly after, feeling disturbed and confused.

When I did a little more research online, I discovered that their first clinic had been firebombed and destroyed in 1993. The site I visited had been opened two years later, through collective efforts in the Missoula community. It dawned on me that there was no way they were going to eat those chocolates. They were most likely checking them for anthrax and then throwing them into biohazard bags. Our culture of stigmatizing, demonizing, and attacking people seeking abortions and their providers had created an atmosphere in which even the most well-intentioned visitor could inspire fear in the staff who work in clinics that provide abortion. This was so sad.

I gave up my naïve quest to visit these clinics, and instead spent time reflecting on the ways in which I can bring about a different culture, one in which people are respected and supported in making choices about their bodies, lives, and families. We need to create a world in which abortion providers can accept thank you cards from patients and visitors, and protesters don’t encircle people going into Planned Parenthood any more than they do patients at a dermatology clinic. I’m so grateful to my fellow BADP’ers, the New York Doula Project, and all the other full spectrum projects starting in urban areas around the U.S., and I’m looking forward to seeing the full spectrum doula movement percolate out to rural communities.

Holly Carpenter is currently an RN and full-spectrum midwifery graduate student at University of California, San Francisco and previously volunteered as a birth/post-partum doula at San Francisco General Hospital. Originally from northern Idaho, she became a California-convert while completing her B.A. at Pitzer College. After volunteering for reproductive justice for years, she decided to depart from politics and policy in search of more tangible, direct work in women's health care. She sought experience in a variety of settings, from patient care in rural teen clinics and Planned Parenthood to several years as an after-abortion counselor with Oakland-based Exhale. As a Pro-Voice Lead Counselor, she heard thousands of abortion stories and facilitated a team of thirty fellow counselors as they provided conscious, compassionate, and non-judgmental support to women and their partners. The missing link between emotional support and clinical services inspired her to work with this group of incredible women to found the Bay Area Doula Project. As a future clinician providing birth and abortion services, she appreciates every chance to support people through every pregnancy outcome, and to ease experiences that can be painful, relieving, complicated and empowering, to name a few. 

What does a full-spectrum doula do?

"So, what exactly does an abortion doula do?" This inevitable question comes up in the course of talking about one's work as a full-spectrum doula and is not always easy to answer. Luckily, there are some amazing resources out there from others who have been able to articulate their roles in a clear, informative, and personal manner. 

As part of their 1 in 3 Campaign, a series of videos of people telling their abortion stories, an organization called Advocates for Youth recently posted a video of Bianca from The Doula Project in NYC talking about her work as an abortion doula. In the video Bianca talks about the scope of The Doula Project as an organization as well as her personal role as a one-on-one abortion doula. She describes what she does before, during, and after the procedure and ends with a personal story of why this work is meaningful for her. Overall it's an awesome video and I would highly recommend checking it out here.

 Another fabulous resource for people doing full-spectrum doula work is Miriam Zoila Pérez's recently published book, The Radical Doula Guide. Miriam is a writer and reproductive justice activist, a former editor at and creator of the wonderful blog Radical Doula. As described on the blog, The Radical Doula Guide "provides an introduction to full spectrum doula work—supporting people during all phases of pregnancy, including abortion, miscarriage, birth and adoption—as well as a discussion of how issues like race, class, immigration, gender and more affect our work as doulas." Check out a review of the guide from feminist blogger Anna J. Cook, and order a copy of the book here


Interview on BBC World Newshour with BADP Volunteer Renee Bracey Sherman

In July, Renee was asked to be a guest on BBC World Newshour to discuss why she chose to come out about her abortion experience publicly. She was joined by ‘Jane’ from and Erin Ryan of Jezebel

Click here for a link to this awesome interview!

We hope to see you at the Salon Series event, "Spirituality and Reproductive Experience," tomorrow, Wednesday, August 29 from 7-8:30pm at Million Fishes Art Collective (2501 Bryant Street, San Francisco)!


Tuesday Guest Post: "The New Face of Illegal Abortion"

Every Tuesday we feature a guest post related to abortion support, reproductive justice, and other topics relevant to our mission as an organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental, compassionate and empowering full-spectrum doula services. If you are interested in writing a post for our Tuesday series, email Kelly N.  

This week's post was written by Lily Shield, contributing editor at The Provider Project. Lily has worked in abortion clinics for the past three years, and she hopes one day to found a reproductive health clinic where empowering, patient-centered care is the standard. She is a trained counselor in the subjects of abortion, pregnancy options, and birth control, and also enjoys working on the medical side of the clinic. She hopes that the framework of reproductive justice will one day make "pro-choice" an obsolete anachronism. Lily lives in Connecticut with her partner and future dog, and plans to go to nursing school within a few years. Besides living and breathing reproductive health care, she enjoys lifting weights, reading the feminist blogosphere, and watching both trashy and quality TV. 


The New Face of Illegal Abortion

By Lily Shield
Originally posted at The Provider Project 


AlterNet has a great profile up of Women on Waves, which, if you haven't heard of them, is a bad-ass organization that travels around the world providing safe medication abortion in countries where abortion is illegal or restricted. They accomplish this - legally - by traveling by ship and docking in international waters outside the country in question, and then bringing women who need abortions aboard, where their doctor, founder, and pretty much all-around kick-ass superhero Rebecca Gomperts supervises their medical abortions. Oh yeah, and their sister organization, Women on Web, sends medical abortion pills through the mail. Seriously. Bad. Ass!

According to the article, Women on Waves has been influential enough to inspire various countries to ban misoprostol, which is one of the two main medications used in medical abortion. Unlike mifepristone (the drug formerly known as RU-486, or "the abortion pill"), misoprostol has other uses besides its abortifacient properties. It's primarily approved as an ulcer treatment, and so is widely available in many countries without a prescription for this purpose. Women on Waves' impact has been as much about spreading the information about how to safely access medical abortion as it has been about the actual abortion provision; they now train international women's groups to educate the populace to access and self-administer at-home abortions using misoprostol.

Click to