Rally for Reproductive Rights and Basic Health

Keep Abortion Legal Sisters Organizing for Survival, a campaign of Radical Women, was at it again on Friday, agitating for justice and for changes to the way the state treats the poor and economically disadvantaged. Speakers at the rally celebrated women's rights relating to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which guarantees women certain access to reproductive health care regarding abortive measures, that is, for the termination of unwanted pregnancies.

During an open mic segment, one participant addressed the assembled crowd by pointing out that abortion has always been available to the wealthy (regardless of Roe v. Wade,) so that attacks on Roe v. Wade essentially amount to attacks on the economically disadvantaged.

Participants also called for an expansion of basic health services. In a time of revenue shortfall, it was suggested that the best way to cover the costs of basic health care for all would be through progressive taxation of income and wealth, and corporate profits.

[update here is an article from The News Tribune: Roe v. Wade rally attracts supporters to Capitol, there was also TV coverage by KOMO 4 and KING 5.]

The rally connected abortion rights and Basic Health. According to a press release:

Lisa Clarke, a working mother of two who helped to organize the rally, thinks these issues are inseparable: "Women's right to abortion is a healthcare issue and real reproductive choice involves quality, affordable healthcare for families and individuals of all ages. Our rights are denied when rate hikes force tens of thousands off the Basic Health Plan, when children's medical services are threatened, and when two-thirds of Washington counties have no abortion providers. Instead, these vital programs should be expanded. The funds are there if legislators would tax the profits of large corporations and the income of the wealthy."
Here are some more photos from the event:

Rally for Reproductive Rights and Basic Health, Olympia, Washington


The article reads: "During

The article reads: "During an open mic segment, one participant addressed the assembled crowd by pointing out that abortion has always been available to the wealthy (regardless of Roe v. Wade,) so that attacks on Roe v. Wade essentially amount to attacks on the economically disadvantaged." Really? An abortion costs about $400 without insurance if you're rich, and DSHS will pay for the whole thing including medications if you are poor. If anything, abortion amounts to attacks on the economically disadvantaged, because rich kids have no fear of being able to feed, dress, and buy nannies, while poor kids who get pregnant often think that the $400 abortion is the only affordable choice. Yikes.

As I read the quote...

The speaker's point seems to be about the situation before Roe v. Wade, when abortion wasn't legal in many states, not about the situation now...

(Presumably, the person quoted thinks that if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned and we return to some version of the situation before 1975, it will again be much easier for people who have money to get safe abortions than it will be for people who don't have money - by traveling, by paying more for them, etc...)


Best wishes,


Agree, but...

Hi Thad, You are correct that the actual quote refers to the past, but that meaning was effectively transferred to the present with the underlying assumption that RvW still helps the poor to receive abortions now with the presumption that without RvW only the rich would be able to afford (illegal) abortions. RvW effectively made it easy for the poor (usually minority as well) to get abortions, and I am effectively suggesting that *that* is an attack on the poor. I attempted to support my presumption by suggesting that some young poor girls may find the $400 abortion to be "more affordable" than missing college to feed a baby.

A lot of women are too

A lot of women are too "rich" to get a free abortion from DSHS and too poor to think the cost of an abortion is insignificant. I believe they are called "the working poor" or the "underinsured."

Hi, I am a member of "the

Hi, I am a member of "the working poor" and the "underinsured". Unfortunately(?) I thus cannot qualify for a state-funded abortion. However, the fact remains that for me it is cheaper to pay for a $400 abortion than it is to support a new baby instead of attending college. Now lets talk about the "actual poor" who (I believe) do not include me and you. The "actual poor" who DSHS streamlines into immediate abortion approval are typically the children of migrant farm workers, or the slaves of pimps posing as the children of migrant farm workers. Many foreign stdents also find it easy to get fast approval from the State. These are the people who are streamlined into abortions. Womens' rights? This takes "the right to remain silent" to a whole different level.

How magnanimous of you to

How magnanimous of you to speak for these people, Chez! Please, share their stories with us -- because I've never actually heard a poor woman complain that it was too easy to get an abortion. These people must be very silent indeed! Please tell us more about your experiences with poor women who are streamlined into immediate abortion, and the other things you're doing to help them.

Women DO Regret

Women DO Regret Abortion. You can read LOTS of testimonies from women who were streamlined into an abortion here: http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/testimonies/index.aspx Take care, Mary
Women DO Regret Abortion

Most Women DON'T, and the statistics prove it

There was an interesting article in the New YOrk Times a few years ago about how the pro-life movement is creating a myth about "post abortion syndrome" as a tactic. Apparently these people are so deeply concerned about the welfare of women, they want to force them to give birth against their will. That's evangelical Christian logic for ya.

The truth is, most women don't regret terminating unwanted pregnancies. Of course, forced abortion is as deplorable as forced birth, and it's too bad it ever happens. But this "regret movement" is kind of strange. Some of those testimonies on the silentnomore website are blaming everything from drug addiction to eating disorders on abortion. Any woman who blames bulimia on "30 years of trying to stuff the deep wound that abortion [a procedure she CHOSE] left stamped on my very soul," is evading responsibility for her own problems. The way Rachel's Vineyard and Silent No More enable and encourage such blame-shifting is kind of sleazy, if you ask me.

Women's Right to Choose

Hi Chez. I can assure you that the participants in this rally were not supportive of the idea of forced sterilization nor forced contraception, nor forced abortion. One person even told a story which I can't remember very clearly, but it was about a Native American child who was adopted and subjected to attempts of forced sterilization. So I think we can all rest assured knowing that the Sisters Organizing for Survival are not prone to racist attitudes. Nor is the eugenics argument likely to prevail upon this particular bunch.

Secondly, I am curious, do you support the right of women to choose, for themselves, whether or not to carry a fetus to birth?


Hi Berd, firstly this doesn't concern anything "forced", and secondly I left the ? there because whether or not I agree with a Woman's right to choose is not relevant to the discussion of whether or not abortion could be construed as an attack on the poor in some situations. Can we talk about abortion in a negative light, or is it only positive?

Your Argument

I am having difficulty understanding your argument. This is a very complex and emotional issue for everyone. First off, I don't think there are many people who are pro-abortion. People who support the Roe v. Wade decision are pro-choice - and I think it's safe to say that most are also pro-family.

Secondly, if I am hearing you right, I think we agree that the fundamental issue here is economic justice, so that no one is forced to make a decision about terminating a pregnancy due to being too poor to support a child.

How many abortion doctors

How many abortion doctors are there statewide? It would be interesting to see how many other specialists are not available in 2/3 of our counties. Maybe patients will just have to travel a bit to see the abortionist (term?) like they would a neurologist. Is this the priority healthcare we need for the poor in our state, abortion services? Do we have the basic health needs of everyone met at this point?

Number of abortionists state wide

Norm -- It's hard to know the exact number because they don't usuually publicize it. It is very shameful work and they don't want people to know they they are doing them. Many doctors just do a few abortions here and there at the request of their regular patients. I've done some research into this and it seems like Planned Parenthood has about 20 - 25 abortionists statewide. But it's hard to know exaclty because they now have ARNP committing chemical abortions. Ironic that they people who wanted "safe" abortion have now turned it over to less skilled, lower payed, mostly women to administer a highly dangerous drug. The complication rate has gone up since this drug was introduced. Mary Women DO Regret Abortion
Women DO Regret Abortion


I'm looking for citations to support your statement:

"The "actual poor" who DSHS streamlines into immediate abortion approval are typically the children of migrant farm workers, or the slaves of pimps posing as the children of migrant farm workers. Many foreign stdents also find it easy to get fast approval from the State. These are the people who are streamlined into abortions."

I'm interested in how you so confidently speak about the demographics of recipients of state-funded abortions in Washington State.  I'd also like to know how you came to the conclusion that DSHS "streamlines" anyone into an abortion.  Considering how medical eligibility is determined, I'm a bit mystified by that characterization. 


While there is no stated policy at DSHS for "fast tracking" people towards abortion, there is a discretionary element as far as the caseworker is concerned in terms of which direction they steer their client.

It's not totally out of the ordinary for DSHS caseworkers to carry their personal prejudices into their work, skewing certain services when it comes to low income minority groups. Thats not the same as an institutional policy.

Also the suggestion of a fast track is a bit odd. Pregnancy termination is somewhat time sensitive. Slow tracking anyone seems like a worse deal as the later in the the pregnancy, the more difficult and dangerous the procedure. 

The nexus of the client-caseworker relationship

is rather vague here. It's not as if all poor women have a "DSHS Caseworker" looming over them. A pregnant woman can go to a local Community Service Office and apply for medical assistance. If her income is low enough, she'll qualify for Medicaid. It is up to her to seek prenatal medical care or find an abortion provider who is willing to bill the state for the service. The "caseworker" in this case is the person who determines whether or not the applicant is eligible for medical assistance (note that eligibility may also be determined retrospectively). To my knowledge, there is not an "abortion services path" down which DSHS employees routinely send certain clients (Psst. Here's $500 bucks and a taxi to Planned Parenthood).


But that scenario only applies if the person knows they are pregnant. DSHS offers free pregnancy tests on a walk in basis. Upon a positive, they can set you up with programs such as WIC.

During the intake process A caseworker has a lot of opportunity to editorialize on what they believe a person should do. I've personally heard some pretty bold statements from DSHS caseworkers simply applying for foodstamps. I can imagine the influence possible over a person in a tough spot who just discovered they were pregnant.

Still, I think this is evidence of how DSHS allows human error and prejudice to impact access to services and not that they have a spoken or written policy of steering low income persons toward abortion.

CSO's offer pregnancy tests?

I don't think so. I could be wrong, but I think NARAL desribes how it works here.


I just poked around the DSHS site and they don't mention free testing but there's a sign up at the food stamp office that says "if you would like a free pregnancy test, ask to see the nurse"

 I was just there a few days ago. Maybe it's just that office? 

What office is that?


Women ARE streamlined into abortion...

and are streamlined into it. You can read testimonies from women who have had abortions and know the pressure that is put on them to abort. It's much cheaper for the state to pay $400 for an abortion for a poor woman than it is to help her with childbirth costs. Also, the corporations like abortion so their workers don't lose any time off from work. http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/testimonies/index.aspx I would also encourage you to look at how your langage can influence someone toward choosing abortion. Words like "fetus", "blob of tissue", and "non-person" deny the truth that an unborn child is her baby even before it's born. How can a woman make a choice if she's not even given the facts? Many social workers ARE pro-abortion or don't see anything wrong with it and whether they realize it or not, simply don't want the hassle of helping a client and her child. Abortion is the default position. Women DO Regret Abortion
Women DO Regret Abortion

This is unsupported...

Many social workers...simply don't want the hassle of helping a client and her child.

In most cases, all a "social worker" does is determine if a woman is eligible for public assistance: medical, nutrition, financial, etc. They determine eligibility and refer clients to services. In this respect, it is no less of a "hassle" to work with a woman who wants an abortion than with one who wants to carry her child to term. The case worker, social worker, or what ever you want to call these vague overloards, has little to do with medical service delivery, whether it's an abortion or prenatal care.  And to be clear, Choice is the default position.

Women are pressured by their families and/or the fathers

in the testimonies on this website. If you search for the tag "Forced Abortions" on the website you get three testimonies, and there are twenty-two tagged "Coerced Abortion" (compared, for example, to 807 tagged "Women Who Regret Their Abortions.") All of these testimonies are about family members or the men involved pushing women to get abortions. There are a few stories in which women say that counselors or medical people at the abortion clinics they eventually went to should have done more to persuade them not to have abortions, but there aren't any social workers involved in any of the testimonies.

This website is an international project of Anglicans for Life and Priests for Life, so most of the stories are from quite religious women. Reading through them makes it seem pretty plain to me that if churches could only manage to reduce the guilt and shame many of their members feel about sex, and if the Catholic Church could just embrace using birth control, that would do a great deal more toward reducing problematic pregnancies (and abortions) than any amount of worrying about what social workers say to women once they've ended up pregnant. (I do think many churches have made some progress in this direction, and some of the testimonies are about events quite a while ago, so things may be better than reading the website makes them seem.)

But according to a lot of social science research, evangelical teenagers are more sexually active than mainstream Protestants, Mormons, or Jews. On the average, they start having sex earlier (shortly after 16) than teens in any other major religious group except black Protestants, and they're significantly less likely to use contraception. So they have high teen pregnancy rates. Here's an article I thought was interesting about some of the issues if you want to know more.


Best wishes,


Top Ten Things You Can Do to Prevent Abortion

It is so awesome that people care enough about women that they don't want them pushed into having abortions that they regret! So, I think all of us that care about women should work to make some societal changes that will help prevent abortion. Here's my top ten list.

    • Make Sure People Know How Birth Control Works!  Enough of this abstinence only b.s.  Give people the fact.
    • Make Sure People Can Get Birth Control!  So let's get those people with those awful signs from blocking Planned Parenthood.
    • Make Sure People Can Afford Birth Control!   If health insurance covers Viagra, why doesn't it cover the pill?  This makes no sense at all.
    • Make Motherhood Affordable!  So, make sure that women who decide to continue with a pregnancy and have a baby can get prenatal health care.
    • Make Motherhood Affordable!  Make sure that babies and children get healthcare even if their mothers are single and low income.
    • Make Motherhood Affordable!  We need reasonable low income housing for single parent families.  This just simply does not exist in our community right now, and the waiting list for housing assistance is rediculous.
    • Make Motherhood Affordable!  How about some low cost daycare so mothers can work, that is a good environment for the children? 
    • Make It Possible for single mothers to complete their education and also make sure there are adequate public transportation options so they can hold jobs even if they can't afford a car and car insurance
    • Take the Stigma away from Single Motherhood!  Some of the same people that scream that abortion is murder turn around and start complaining about Welfare Queens the minute the baby is born.

I haven't really noticed that women regret their abortions, most of the women I know have not sufferered regrets or depression afterward, but even one woman who has regrets is too many, so let's create a society where motherhood is celebrated and where it's possible to make that choice if you want it, and avoid pregnancy if you don't!