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MY BODY, MY VOICE: The courts won’t protect us anymore

Elections — and votes — do matter

Barbara Ann Luttrell

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.



More By This Writer

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

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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.

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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.

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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  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.

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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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Article

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(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
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