Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Fight For Reproductive Choice In Kentucky

I've just made Google Reader my homepage and discovered subscribing to RSS readers. Wow! I guess I shouldn't admit this since I'm probably about the last person to figure out how to use RSS readers.
Anyway, one of the stories I came across was an inspiring and alarming tale about the struggle to maintain the last vestiges of women's reproductive rights in Kentucky. A group of women have organized a "clinic defense" in Louisville, Kentucky every Saturday morning at one of only two clinics that provide abortion services in the state. The anti-choice (pictured left) show up to harass and intimidate women who try to access the services. Clinic defense, amongst other things, involves escorting women through the gauntlet of nutjobs praying, yelling and slandering women just trying to access health services that should be their fundamental right.
It's a sad state that things have reached this point. At the end of the 1970s there were 17 abortion providers in Kentucky. Such has been the rollback in women's services - and the story of Kentucky is really the story of the United States in general.
"Nationally, only 13 percent of counties offer abortion services; in Kentucky, only two of 120 counties have abortion clinics--Louisville Metro (Jefferson) and Lexington Metro (Lafayette). The clinic in Lexington only operates on a part-time basis. Just one clinic remains open in Louisville. According to Guttmacher Institute, 77 percent of Kentucky's women live in those other 118 counties. Six other metropolitan areas have no abortion provider."
It will be an uphill battle to restore women's reproductive rights in the United States but women and men have fought this battle before - more than once - and, I have faith, they will win these rights and services again. I remember my grandmother telling me once that she almost died during WWII from a self-induced abortion because there were no legal abortion services in Canada. My grandfather was overseas, fighting for freedom, leaving her to look after the two children they already had. She was told that having another child would put her life in danger. She was a brave and determined woman who did what was necessary to provide for her children - including being a lead hand working on heavy machinery at the Dominion Bridge Company, making shells to help in the "fight for freedom". Sadly that "freedom" didn't include her reproductive health.
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