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We at The Feminist Wire, and many people around the United States, were shocked but not surprised by the Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby. (Read our statement that we published the day of the decision here.) Justice Ginsburg’s dissent was an inspired piece of writing – but alas, it was a dissent and not the law of the land. As alarming as the Hobby Lobby decision is, I am even more alarmed by the erosion of women’s reproductive rights in my hometown of Huntsville, AL. The week before the Supreme Court issued its decision, the only clinic that provided abortion to women closed as a result of the implementation of TRAP laws (for more on TRAP laws in Alabama, check out this piece over at our friends at RH Reality Check. Journalist and writer Robin Marty has been covering this story and has an article forthcoming in In These Times about what is happening in Huntsville and how we can use it as a lens to the national picture. After all, all politics is local. Jayme Calhoun, director of Public Affairs for Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA), issued this statement exclusively to The Feminist Wire:
“In the fight for reproductive care in the United States, Alabama Women’s Center has become the latest casualty. The TRAP laws in Alabama that aren’t being held pending a Supreme Court ruling have gone into effect and have forced us to close our doors. The clinic, which was a block from the emergency room entrance, has fallen victim to a vicious plan to undermine Roe v Wade by questioning the safety of women that use these facilities. This method is unfortunately successful in closing abortion facilities by requiring them to make unnecessary renovations and meet building standards that one would expect only to find in a hospital operating room or surgery center. With our voluntary surrender of our license to perform abortions, there in now a gap from Nashville, TN to Tuscaloosa, AL for these procedures. We are losing access, clinic by clinic, to people who care less about the living, breathing women of our state than their own personal agendas. While the thought of our clinic closing is personally heartbreaking for me, I find myself thinking about these women that came to us for help. We know the lengths that women go to out of desperation. We know that many of these women could barely afford an abortion locally without the financial burden of travel expenses and an overnight stay because of a mandated counseling session 24 hours prior to their abortion. That is why we are fully committed to reopening this clinic. We are currently working on bringing a new building up to the standards of the law. There will be access in Huntsville, Alabama again soon, and we will not stop until all women in our state and surrounding areas have the basic human right to control their own bodies.”
ARRA is also raising funds to help fund travel expenses for women seeking abortion. (You can donate here.)
She also submitted this video on the closing of the clinic:
It is my hope that we will step up in our own towns, cities, and states to address the war on women – after all, that is really where it is happening. Not just in my hometown, but also in yours.
So here’s what is happening in Huntsville, AL – and I’m finishing up this piece now so I can go get crafty at a protest in front of the local Hobby Lobby (photos forthcoming). But before I go, I conclude this piece here with a call to all of you: As you are planning and doing demonstrations, lobbying work, loud actions, or anything else to protest the erosion of women’s rights – and with them, women’s status as people – share your creativity with us in the comments below. We’d love to bring together different events, actions, and statements from around the country and the world. From my hometown to yours, we simply must unite in our strength and protect our rights.