“I’m so fortunate that I could choose when to start a family and had access to legal abortion when I needed it.”
Gayle Raskin has volunteered with the Reproductive Health Access Project since 2015 after attending a screening of Vessel, a documentary about Women on Waves – a team of international women and medical professionals who aimed to prevent unsafe abortions by traveling on a boat to international waters near countries where abortion is illegal. Since then, she has been one of our most visible volunteers, donating her time to help stuff envelopes for our Spring and End-of-Year appeals, and lending a hand during our annual Roe v. Wade events. Reproductive rights have always been an interest and a priority for Gayle, who worked professionally as a social worker in the field of sexual violence until her third child was two years old. At that time, she switched fields to have more time to raise her children.
“It is now my goal to ensure that my children and all others have the same access to reproductive health care that I have had. At this point in my life, I am extremely distressed about a political climate where our rights to abortion and comprehensive reproductive care are under threat, forcing us to fight fights I thought were long over and decided.” Because of this immediate need, Gayle has decided to focus more of her time and energy to pushing back against challenges to reproductive health care access, and to defending the rights of women seeking reproductive health care and those who provide it.
“I so appreciate RHAP’s commitment and the fact that they partner with primary care physicians to provide comprehensive reproductive health care to women throughout the country.” We are thankful for Gayle and her commitment to helping RHAP in every way she can, from volunteering for an event to helping us send out hundreds of letters. Thank you for your endless support. Click here to learn more about how you can volunteer with RHAP too!
On March 20, 2018, the Supreme Court heard the case NIFLA v. Becerra, which centers around the constitutionality of a California state law called the Reproductive FACT Act. This important piece of legislation sets standards for ensuring that visitors to clinics whose “primary purpose is providing family planning or pregnancy-related services” are properly informed about California’s low-cost family planning, pre-natal, and abortion services. The law also requires these clinics to publicly post information about whether their staff members are actually medically-licensed. This law is important because crisis pregnancy centers have historically withheld information from clients in order to mislead them, keeping them from being truly informed of their reproductive health care options. Mandatory factual disclosures like the type required under the Reproductive FACT Act are not new; states all over the country require them for various reasons for different businesses.
RHAP recently signed onto an amicus brief created by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the National Women’s Law Center which details the ways in which crisis pregnancy centers intentionally deceive women. If you’re concerned about the dangers of deceptive and misleading crisis pregnancy centers, you can get involved with an active campaign RHAP is proud to be a part of, #ExposeFakeClinics. We believe that all people should have access to accurate information about their reproductive health care options, and that fake clinics – which disproportionately target low-income women and women of color – need to be exposed for what they truly are. To show your support, go to exposefakeclinics.com to find out ways you can take action!
The Reproductive Health Access Network – RHAP’s national community of pro-choice providers who work locally and across the country to expand access to reproductive health care – is growing every day. Since the election, we have established 13 more Clusters in 12 more states, and we’ve also been working with leaders in several more states. Many of these states are places where RHAP hasn’t had a lot of Network members, including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Since March 2017, membership has grown over 50%, adding 600+ members to the Network. Currently, we are connected with 1,900 clinicians across 46 states and Washington D.C.- and even abroad! With this expansion, our Clusters have been able to mobilize in new and exciting ways, pushing their community-based work to new heights. We are so grateful for and inspired by the ongoing leadership of our Network members, especially in these challenging times.
Most of our Clusters are in the midst of setting their programming for the spring and summer months. For example, our Idaho Cluster is hosting their third meeting, a screening of Birthright: A war story, followed by a discussion with representatives from Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. As a long-term goal, they plan to do more legislative outreach, especially as it relates to “physician-only” laws within their state. On the West Coast, our Northern California Cluster is working on finalizing their next meeting, where they will focus on developing their knowledge of reproductive justice and the role of medicine in this movement. Dr. Aisha Wagner, former RHAP fellow and current PRH LTA fellow, will facilitate a conversation about the historical context of the reproductive justice movement and how clinicians can apply principles of reproductive justice to their clinical and advocacy work. These are just two of our many Clusters planning exciting things this spring.
If you are a clinician and would like to join the Network, please sign up here. If you are a provider living in an area where we have a Cluster and would like to be connected, please email Laura Riker, Senior Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Although no one will be profiled in our reproductive justice campaign this month, we want to emphasize how important it is within the reproductive justice movement to highlight this public health and human rights issue.
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact, ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Sexual assault is a form of reproductive oppression that can cause short and long-term consequences on an individual’s reproductive health, including unintended pregnancy, inability to access emergency contraception within the right time frame, and a higher risk for contracting a sexually transmitted disease such as HIV.
One in five women and one in 67 men in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.  The statistics are more alarming for the LGBTQ community, which faces a higher rate of sexual abuse; violence starts as early as childhood for many queer survivors. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey reports that 47% of transgender individuals are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, with American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%), and Black (58%) respondents being the most affected.
The abundance of barriers, including stigma and lack of available services for quality care, are some of the many health disparities that marginalized people of color face. Other aspects of a survivor’s identity – such as race, sexuality, socio-economic status, disability, educational inequalities, and immigration status – play a role in their hesitance to ask for help from resources that are most likely going to stigmatize them precisely because of those aspects of their identity. A reproductive justice framework is needed to combat cultural incompetency, bias, and systemic abuse for a better outreach model for survivors and a more critical foundation for violence prevention.
Check out the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to learn more about their 2018 campaign “Embrace Your Voice!” If you want to learn more about the Reproductive Health Access Project’s patient-centered techniques to lower stress and anxiety for trauma survivors, check out our Trauma-informed Pelvic Exam Contraceptive Pearl.
We have long known that abortion can be safely provided by primary care clinicians in their offices. The recent report on “Abortion Safety and Quality,” released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, leaves no doubt that this is the case. A team of top researchers combed through years of data, both national and international, and issued a definitive analysis of the key factors affecting abortion safety and quality. State laws, purportedly established to make abortion safe, actually make the service less accessible and ultimately cause more harm to women. The report also found that a wide variety of clinicians are capable of providing abortion care – including family physicians and advanced practice clinicians. We’ve issued a statement in response to the report and will be using the report’s findings to advocate for policy change to ensure that primary care clinicians are able to provide abortion. Stay tuned for ways you can help us amplify our message.
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