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A Letter to White Progressive Women After Charlottesville

Dear White Progressive Women,

By the light of tiki torches, the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., illuminated what was already hidden in plain sight: the sin of racism that has plagued our nation’s soul since its founding.

But for those like me and other people of color, I didn’t need the hoods to come off to know that whiteness reigns supreme in our nation. To know that I am welcome in this country as long as I dare not challenge the model minority myth that pits Asians against other minorities. To know that black and brown bodies threaten the very structures of white power and privilege that serve to colonize others into submission.

While the violence and hatred in Charlottesville was a shock to many of you, the last Facebook post of Heather Heyer – the young white woman who was terrorized by an Ohio man and subsequently killed during the protest – says it all: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

If you didn’t know that this nation in all its red, white, and blue glory was founded through the blood, sweat, and tears of genocide and slavery, here’s your sign.

If you’re alarmed that racism persists today not only through neo-Nazis but also in the form of police brutality and the ongoing Flint water crisis, here’s your wake up call.

And if you’re still surprised that many white people continue to defend our racist, sexist, transphobic, Muslim-hating, xenophobic president, here’s your chance to do something about it.

So what does this mean for those in the fight for reproductive freedom – a movement that has historically been led by white, cisgender women? In these troubling times, what can you learn from Charlottesville to help develop your moral compass and inform your activism?

It may sound like a paradox, but it’s time for white feminists and progressive supporters to step back and step up for reproductive justice:

  1. Step back and humbly acknowledge the limitations of the pro-choice movement. In the 1990s, a group of black women birthed the term “reproductive justice” to counter the “right to choose” framework, recognizing that poor women, women of color, women subject to violence, and women without access to healthcare really have no “choice” when it comes to their reproductive lives. Broadening the reproductive rights agenda beyond abortion rights, reproductive justice looks at the whole health and well-being of women and their communities. Learn more about reproductive justice, a comprehensive social justice and intersectional movement led by women of color that promotes a person’s right to have children, the right not to have children, and the right to raise children in safe and healthy environments.
  2. Step back and support leaders of color. Draw the circle wide, share power, and honor the gifts and perspectives of emerging leaders to strengthen our collective movement for reproductive freedom (all without resorting to tokenism or benevolent racism). Check out these groups which center the lives, leadership, and voices of women of color for reproductive justice: New Voices Cleveland, ROOTT, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, Native Youth Sexual Health Network, and Sister Song.
  3. Step up and sit in your discomfort. If all this talk about racism and white supremacy makes you uncomfortable, do not look away or stop listening. Those with darker melanin don’t have that option. Reflect on this powerful visual and take some time to unpack how you have implicitly (or even explicitly) participated in white supremacy and reproductive injustice through word, thought, or deed.
  4. Step up and speak out. Silence (and ignorance) is violence. Not only is it exhausting for people of color to advocate for themselves, but it’s often burdensome for POC to educate our white counterparts about systemic oppression. If we are to dismantle white supremacy and advance reproductive justice, it must start with white people holding their own accountable and taking risks to create a more just and equal world. Read this article on why white supremacy must be named and addressed by white people.

While this list is just a starting point, I urge you to discern more ways to do the holy and hard work of rooting out white supremacy in your own heart, in your community, in your place of worship (oh yes, even there), and in the wider movement for reproductive health, rights, choice, and justice.

Racial justice is reproductive justice. Criminal justice is reproductive justice. LGBTQ justice is reproductive justice. Economic justice is reproductive justice…and on and on and on.

And it’s time to start paying attention.

Sincerely,
Your Asian Sister (aka Elaina Ramsey)

Blog Post

Have you heard about Reproductive Health Happy Hours?

There’s a lot of opportunities out there to volunteer, to protest, to advocate, and raise hell for reproductive justice, especially here in Ohio, but it can be tiring, if not straight overwhelming.

What if you just want to hang out with some like-minded pro-choice people and have a good time? Well, have you heard about Reproductive Health Happy Hours?

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Repro Health Happy Hour is a monthly networking event for people working on sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice, and issues of gender and sexuality, and all pro-choice individuals looking for fun and progressive drinking buddies.

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The event was founded in New York City in 2004 and has now spread to more than 32 cities worldwide. Ohio has two Repro Health Happy Hours, one in Columbus and Cleveland.

Each month, organizers pick a local pro-choice friendly bar and take donations at the door. The proceeds from the door go to a pro-choice cause, including NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Planned Parenthood, Women Have Options / Ohio, Founder’s Women’s Health Center, CHOICES, and others.

 

When I first moved to Ohio, I was somewhat at a loss of how to meet friends “as an adult.” It’s much harder to meet people when you’re not on campus, constantly shoved into spaces with strangers. After attending the FOCO Pro-Choice Advocacy Day in 2015, I was introduced to an organizer of the Repro Health Happy Hours in Columbus and was absolutely thrilled.

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Here was a way for me to meet people in a new city who shared my values. I got to learn new places, drink, and support those values to boot! It’s amazing how many people in my life who mean the absolute world to me I originally met at Repro Health Happy Hours.

While RHHH are a great place to meet people, they’re also a great place to see people and sustain friendships. Sometimes life gets busy and it’s nice to have a monthly self-care event where you can just hang out with the people in the trenches with you week-to-week. It’s also a fantastic event to find out about volunteer events when you’re ready to return to the real world! 😉

The next Repro Health Happy Hour in Columbus will be August 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at GROWL! in Clintonville.

We’d love to see you there!

Interested in starting a Repro Health Happy Hour in your city? We’d love to help! Email volunteer@prochoiceohio.org.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

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What’s the Buzz at NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio?

Without contest, the best part of organizing for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is the relationships you form with the volunteers. People come out of the woodwork all the time to become movers and shakers. With hundreds of concerned citizens fighting for sorely needed access to reproductive healthcare, you meet some really cool, special individuals that are full of surprises.

Take my friend at Second Harvest Foodbank of North Central Ohio. After meeting at various pro-choice actions hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, they contacted me last month with an incredible opportunity — while working for Second Harvest, they noticed they had mistakenly received over 80 lbs. of sex toys with no way to legally distribute them to needy folks. They asked if NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio would be able to use them and I enthusiastically accepted the offer, figuring out the paperwork together so I could adopt these homeless sex toys for a progressive cause. Today, they came to their new home at our Cleveland office.

Here are our spoils:


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

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NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio joins forces with the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Two of the state’s leading pro-choice organizations — NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (ORCRC)—recently launched a formal partnership to advance reproductive freedom for Ohio women.

Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio:

Too often, religion is used to shame and stigmatize people who have had an abortion or use contraceptives. That is why the work of the Ohio Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is so important—Ohioans need to know that people of faith trust them to make their own reproductive health decisions.

Elaina Ramsey, ORCRC’s new executive director:

A pro-faith, pro-family, and pro-choice organization, ORCRC provides public education, advocacy, and spiritual counseling. It’s an honor to partner with the NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio team in bringing the moral power of religious communities to the reproductive health, rights, and justice movement.

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Elaina Ramsey

A dedicated community organizer and campaign strategist, Ramsey is the first woman of color to lead ORCRC. She is committed to communities of color, low-income women, and immigrants.

Copeland, a longtime advocate of reproductive freedom, has path forward for reproductive rights in Ohio without engaging more people of faith.

Both organizations remain independent but have begun to share office space, resources, and strategies. Through innovation and collaboration, the groups seek to equip secular and faith communities in securing reproductive healthcare for every Ohioan—including access to birth control, comprehensive sexuality education, and safe, legal abortion.

Together, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and ORCRC will protect the moral and constitutional rights of all Ohioans to make their own reproductive health decisions without shame and stigma and without interference from the state.

Find more information at http://www.ohiorcrc.org/


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

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Annie’s Youngstown speech

Our own Annie Krol was rallying for health care in Youngstown! Trump was inside, but she joined other labor and progressive groups in opposing the Republican plan to destroy access to health care. (Photo credit: Sarah Lowry)

Hello, I’m Annie Krol with NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio! NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio has fifty thousand supporters across the state committed to protecting reproductive rights. We can make it fifty thousand and one if you visit http://prochoiceohio.org and sign up. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, too.

This afternoon, the US Senate began their deliberation on a plan to destroy access to affordable health care. The first thing we should do is thank Senator Sherrod Brown for voting against this plan. Ohioans are very fortunate that Senator Brown has always had our back. Even though we know we can always count on him, we shouldn’t take him for granted. Thank you, Sherrod Brown!

And then we have Senator Rob Portman…

Republicans have laid their cards on the table, and the hand they want to play is a disaster for women and families. Both the process and the substance of this bill are an abomination. If Senator Portman thinks our nation will be stronger when tens of millions of Americans lose their health coverage and women lose access to basic medical care, then he should resign.

Let’s be crystal clear: The Republican bill is a direct attack on the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of Americans. It is an attack on women’s healthcare in particular. It is just as cruel as Paul Ryan’s proposal approved by the House.

It’s clear that the Trump administration and the GOP’s concern with being ‘pro-life’ only reaches as far as the nearest tax cut for millionaires.

They want to defund women’s health centers.

They want to deny abortion coverage to Americans who get their insurance through the exchanges or who receive tax subsidies.

And they want to slash healthcare for the families who need it most.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is raising the alarm about the GOP’s shameful plan to put their extreme ideological agenda before the health of American families.

Senate Republicans’ bill to take away healthcare from millions of Americans would wreak a special kind of havoc on women. In particular, the Republican bill would limit access to basic reproductive healthcare, including abortion and contraception. This is part of a long-term plan to chip away at Americans’ reproductive freedom.

Here’s what you need to know about the Republican bill in the Senate:

It significantly reduces abortion coverage in the private market, potentially eliminating it entirely.

It creates financial penalties for privately purchasing abortion coverage. This will drive consumers away from these plans and cause insurers to stop offering this coverage at all.

The bill blocks small businesses who receive tax credits from choosing plans that include abortion coverage, even if these small businesses use their own funds to purchase the plan.

The bill bans abortion coverage in plans offered in state health-insurance exchanges, similar to the failed Stupak amendment offered during debate on the ACA. Ohio already bans these plans from our exchange, today’s vote will ban coverage in all of the state exchanges.

The bill devastates our nation’s family-planning network by defunding Planned Parenthood.

The bill forces Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation to close by disqualifying them from federal healthcare programs, leaving patients without care.

Anti-choice lawmakers have attempted to obscure their intentions by not calling out Planned Parenthood by name in the bill — but don’t be fooled. As confirmed in the CBO report, Planned Parenthood is the target of the defunding provision.

Republicans claim that other healthcare providers can pick up the onslaught of new patients, but this is simply false. Community health centers themselves have said they cannot absorb so many new patients.

Eliminating Planned Parenthood from communities would have a devastating impact on women and families.

Yet again, the so-called ‘pro-life’ Republican Party is pushing legislation that could leave people quite literally to die. NARAL members won’t stand for that.

We know that women need access to Planned Parenthood, yet this bill blocks it.

Moms need maternity coverage, and this bill puts it at risk.

Families need Medicaid and affordable health insurance, but the GOP proposal guts the coverage they rely on to access lifesaving care.

Bottom line: forcing women and families to pay more for less coverage is insane. This will leave millions of Americans scrambling to pay for care while getting sicker in the process. This bill is a disaster and far worse than their last bill.

Six months ago, women organized the largest protest movement in history, flooding the streets to denounce Donald Trump. We oppose anti-choice politicians who want to roll back our right to access basic reproductive healthcare, including abortion.

It’s telling that months later, those same politicians are ignoring the millions of women who marched in favor of appeasing the fringe elements of their base.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is watching, women are watching, and anti-choice politicians will be held accountable.

Women are the backbone of this nation and of this resistance and we’ll actively work against anyone who wants to compromise on our freedoms.

You can help by calling Rob Portman at 216-522-7095 and tell him to vote No on repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The Senate is working on completing this bill as we stand here. There’s still time for you to speak up for Ohio women.

Thank you.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and safe & legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

Contribute to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

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Another Ohio abortion clinic has closed

Last week one of Akron’s two clinics, Akron Women’s Medical Group, made the decision to close its doors. That leaves eight clinics in the entire state, exactly half the number we had in 2011 when John Kasich first took office. Between regulatory overreach from the Ohio General Assembly and the Ohio Department of Health, and continued legislative action on abortion bans, Ohio is quickly putting abortion out of reach for thousands across the state.

To really understand the impact of another closure, consider this: the US census estimates that there are 2,267,746 women between the ages of 14 and 44 in Ohio. That means there’s now just one abortion clinic for every 283,468 women of reproductive age. Contrast that with New York, where women may obtain first trimester abortions at clinics, hospitals, or doctors’ offices, with no mandatory waiting periods or other medically unnecessary restrictions.

We’re facing a crisis, but you can help by contributing now to NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.

Don’t let Ohio’s lawmakers keep playing politics with women’s health. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio is the only state-wide organization exclusively focused on keeping abortion safe, legal, and accessible in our state. We work every day to build an active, engaged, and empowered pro-choice majority. But we need your help.

Can you chip in $8—a dollar for each abortion clinic left in Ohio? Or better still, $16—the number we had before Kasich and his cronies took office?

Together, we can make a difference.

Thanks for all you do for choice,

Kellie Copeland
Executive Director
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio

p.s. — Want to get more involved? Contact us about volunteer opportunities.

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NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio statement on #BlackPride4 protest

Columbus, Ohio — NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio cherishes Ohio’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer communities, and Ohio’s diverse communities of color. We are working to build a state where everyone has the right to make their own reproductive health care decisions and determine if, when, and with whom they have children or create a family. Black and transgender individuals are frequently targeted for violence, even by those who have sworn to protect and serve us all: the police. Reproductive freedom, nor reproductive justice, can be achieved unless this changes.

We call for all charges to be dropped for all individuals involved in protest at Columbus Pride.

The protesters were peaceably bringing attention the dangers faced by people of color in our nation. Fourteen trans women of color have been murdered this year, our country should take notice instead of averting our eyes and moving on. Black and transgender communities have been asking for solutions, and we have all failed to bring adequate assistance. This is a wake-up call we cannot ignore.

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