Courtney on Reproductive Rights (2:00)
Nicole Harris, Robin Marty, Aoife O’Riordan, Fausta Luchini, Bree Pearsall, Greg Laden and Brianne Bilyeu

2:10 – Annnnnd we’re off! There was a bit of a late spot, so here we are with the introductions!

Brianne Bilyeu blogs at Biodork and is a clinic escort.

Aiofe O’Riordan is an Irish reproductive rights activist who blogs at Consider the Tea Cosy.

Bree Pearsall is also a clinic escort.

Fausta Luchini is a mental health counselor and clinic escort.

Greg Laden was an activist around the time Roe V. Wade hit its 20-year-anniversary.

Nicole Harris is on the board for Secular Women!

A brief description of clinic escorts and the amazing work they do to help women get in the doors with the least amount of harassment possible. They provide support and provide a buffer for women who are making the difficult decision of abortion.

Protestors will block driveways so women can’t get their cars into clinic parking lots and even throw things into open car windows.

Fausta has a Crisis Pregnancy Center next door to the clinic she volunteers with who will try to co-opt women into their center.

Many people have no idea that women (in 2013!) are being harassed on their way to a medical appointment.

2:20 – Why should atheists care about reproductive rights? Most of the arguments against abortion are purely religious though, as Nicole points out, abortion isn’t actually mentioned in the Bible.

Nicole talks about how the Bible is very old, and abortion has also been around a while. If God felt so strongly about abortion, why didn’t he include anything about it in any of his communications to us? The arguments from religion against abortion are from verses that have been retrofitted to fit their agenda.

Brianne mentions the common “God’s law is greater than man’s law” soundbite which also applies to another common atheist theme: The separation of church and state.

Onto non-religious arguments against abortion!

2:30 – Aoife is going to talk about some of the arguments used to justify the 20-week bans we’re starting to see more of.

The stories of people who have abortions after 20 weeks tend to be the stories about women who wanted to deliver but have health reasons for abortion.

Aoife tells the story of a woman named Claire that she found through a group called Terminations for Medical Reasons. The story is of an Irish woman who had been trying for months to try and conceive with her husband. Sadly, once they conceived, the couple was told that their baby had little to no chance of living even if a labor took place. She travelled to the UK to have an abortion with little to no resources to help her find where the best clinics were.

Aoife stresses that stories like these are why the 20-week abortion ban is so crucial to women like Claire who want to have a baby. These women are put through the emotional turmoil of not being able to get the care they need at a time when they are struggling to make a life-changing and emotionally charged decision.

2:40 – Now the panelists, specifically Fausta, are discussing the supposed mental health dangers of abortion to women. The APA did a study that showed most women experience distress before abortion and relief/happiness afterwards. However, in cases where there is mental duress post-abortion, it’s often in situations where the women lack of emotional support. There are also correlations with stigma.

Bree says one of the biggest problems with the mental health argument (aside from its blatant falsity), is that it paints all women’s experiences as the same. This is yet another example of the dehumanization women often feel at the hands of religion.

Atheists need to voice vocal support of reproductive rights so we can reduce stigma.

Greg is going to talk about the atmosphere of abortion acceptance and clinic access was like in the early 90’s versus today. Greg starts off by saying not much has changed in the past 20 years. He tells stories of Boston anti-choice protesters who would use sheer volume to keep women from getting into clinics.

Brianne is now explaining FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances). Protesters are no longer allowed to block entrances, sidewalks, etc; however, that was not the case when Greg was active.

2:50 – Greg: “If you take out God and put in some Divine Leader who’s kind of a jerk of a patriarchal, mysoginistic society, the Bible kind of flows better as a story!”

Aoife is now talking about about how in Ireland, once you are pregnant, your life is equal to that of the fetus – regardless of whether you wanted that fetus or not (no exceptions for rape, incest, etc). Constitutionally in pregnant you have several rights: You can travel overseas for an abortion, you can get access to information about abortion (previously it was censored), and if your life is at risk you are able to get an abortion.

3:00 – Aoife tells us how Women in Ireland could be raped and get an abortion illegally would be eligible for much more prison time than a rapist ever would be.

Aoife plugs the UK Abortion Support Network that provides women in Ireland support for travelling to get abortions.

Bree wants to plug a similar group for Kentucky women: Kentucky Health Justice Network

No time for questions, but you can email [email protected] with any questions and she’ll send them along to the panelists!