On Texas Anti-Abortion Law

Copying today’s article from Chicago Tribune by By ANGIE LEVENTIS LOURGOS:

In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to block a Texas law that bans most abortions as early as about six weeks, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

The law — considered among the most restrictive in the nation — is unconventional in its approach, because it permits any private citizen to sue abortion providers or anyone aiding women in terminating a pregnancy, including someone who provides women rides to an abortion clinic or helps fund the procedure. The measure prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

Abortion rights activists fear the case could set precedence and other states might adopt similar laws, particularly some in the Midwest and southern swathes of the nation. Other state laws that have attempted such restrictive gestational limits on the procedure were previously blocked or struck down by the courts, citing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that established a woman’s right to an abortion.

Here are four things to know about the impact the Supreme Court ruling and the law in Texas might have on Illinois:

  1. Is the right to an abortion threatened in Illinois? No, Illinois has firmly codified abortion rights, with some of the most permissive laws in the nation in terms of abortion access. The Reproductive Health Act, signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2019, established the “fundamental right” to an abortion here.

“Residents of Illinois can take slight solace in this moment,” said Ameri Klafeta, director of the Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “We must continue to defend and expand those protections. We recommit ourselves to this effort today as we think of the millions of people across the United States who now are at risk of losing their access to abortion due to the Court’s failure to act.”

Pritzker on Thursday said he was “deeply concerned about the anti-abortion legislation that was passed and signed in Texas and that the Supreme Court has now said they will not hear or overturn.”

He added that he remains “focused on making sure that here in Illinois we are a beacon of hope for women who need reproductive health,” including those traveling here from other states.

  1. What about neighboring states in the Midwest? Opponents of abortion are hopeful that the ruling paves the way for more abortion restrictions in more states. Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, called the Texas law “a completely novel way of enforcing an abortion ban.”

“We encourage the other 49 states to catch up with Texas and continue this historic expansion of human rights,” he said.

While it’s hard to envision Illinois lawmakers enacting a measure like this, “it’s not at all hard to imagine a state like Missouri or Indiana following suit; and I could see other Midwestern states doing so as well,” he said.

  1. Does this mean more women will travel to Illinois for abortion access? Activists from both sides of the abortion debate believe Illinois will see an uptick in travel here for the procedure.

“I think we’re definitely going to be seeing higher abortion rates in Illinois,” Scheidler said. “That trend will continue as other states enact other pro-life measures, whether we’re talking about measures that have already been upheld by the Supreme Court or measures that are completely new like this Texas law.”

Thousands of women already travel to Illinois from other states each year to access abortions. In 2019, roughly 7,500 crossed state lines for the procedure, about 16% of all terminated pregnancies in Illinois that year. The number of out-of-state abortions has increased every year since 2014, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data.

While it’s impossible to know the reasons for each individual decision to travel for the procedure, many experts have attributed the overall rise to increasing restrictions in other states.

  1. Can Illinois services and providers handle any potential surge in patients that might come from this law, and others that could follow?

Jennifer Welch, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said her agency and its 17 health centers are already preparing for a possible increase in patients from other states.

“We know that there will be patients from other states,” she said. “Illinois is a haven in the Midwest. We will do everything we can to serve patients who are forced to come here from out of state.”

During the earlier days of the pandemic, she said, more Texas patients traveled to Illinois seeking abortions after their home state temporarily banned most abortions, saying they didn’t qualify as essential surgeries during the COVID-19 outbreak. Welch recalled that one patient traveled more than a thousand miles to terminate a pregnancy at a clinic in west suburban Aurora.

Welch added that this more recent Texas law, the gestational ban, “sets a dangerous precedent and it’s making a path for neighboring states (in the Midwest) to override well-established constitutional rights.”

“I absolutely do expect similar laws across the country,” she said. “I absolutely expect more to come.”

Escorting

I was escorting today after almost a month of not escorting. That’s because we now have to skip two weeks after any out-of-state travel, so I had to skip after Michigan, and then I Lena was visiting. 

Today I was finally back. 

It was quiet first, but then we got three young priests with a large group of school-age kids. I do not think all of them were high-schoolers; some didn’t look older than eleven.

So they line up and pray, and each woman who goes to the clinic and comes back has to march through this corridor of human bodies. One of the priests even got into a verbal fight with one of the escorts. He said that he does not know what a bubble zone is and that we speak to him in an unacceptable tone. 

He didn’t sound like a Christian to me! Cardinal Cupich is a far better person! I don’t know on which assembly line such “priests” are produced!

At some point, a patient came out of the clinic doors and stopped in hesitation. I told her that I could walk her through this line of prayers. She turned to me: but what are those people? What are they trying to achieve?

–They are trying to tell you and others that you are committing a sin..

–Oh, they are! I already have three children, and my husband passed away a year and a half ago; why should I bring one more child into this world? They won’t be around when the baby comes; I would have to do it on my own.

Invisible Women: a Book Review

One more time, I am so behind in the book reviews that I can hardly remember what the last book I reviewed was. But consulting my Audible library, here are the three books I wanted to write about. 

The first on the list is Invisible Women Data Bias in a World Designed for Men A person who recommended it said that it’s a horror book. I thought that maybe it’s a horror for them, but I could hardly imagine that there can be something in the book about women’s unfair treatment that I do not know. And boy, how wrong I was!

When I checked the reviews, I saw that many readers shared the same sentiment, saying that they could not even think about the depth of prejudgement and that there are so many defaults they never thought of. 

I can relate to all these sentiments since I felt the same way. This book is about the data gaps which are present in nearly every research in virtually any field. Each chapter of this book is dedicated to one of the areas in which research routinely exclude or under-represent women: medical trails, interior design, government… The book introduces a “default male,” and I never realized how deeply this default male concept is enrooted in almost all assumptions I make. An eye-opening moment was when I realized that when I write or say “a user,” I picture a male! And that’s me, a fierce advocate of women’s equality in technology! 

If you want to know the depth of your own “default to male” presumption, I highly recommend this book! 

That’s Why We Are Here!

Today’s clinic escort shift was very quiet, almost no antis, when suddenly, we saw a group of athletic-looking men, walking on our side of the street with visible intention to stop by us. We were puzzled for a moment – is it a new group of antis, yet unknown to us? When they reached the first person in the escort line, they stopped and started to reach to their pockets, and we heard: I knew there was something else I forgot! In a couple of seconds, we realized that they saw us in masks and put their masks on. They kept marching to the clinic entrance, and only when they stopped there and started talking again, I realized that there was one smaller figure in jeans and a t-shirt among these athletic males.

“Well, ask them!” said the tallest guy, responding to the question I didn’t hear. The small figure turned to us: “I have no idea where I should go now!” “Do you have an appointment?” our team lead asked, – “then just go in!” (The challenging part is that these days no accompanying person can go into the clinic). The two embraced and said to each other, “just call me when…”

The small figure disappeared in the clinic, and the trio still stood awkwardly, and then one of them said to us: sorry… we just thought we all come, because, you know… in case somebody…

We all laughed, and our shift leader said: no problem, that’s why we are here! And you know – on a quiet day like this one, you wonder – why I am here? What’s the purpose of me standing here in a pink vest? That’s why: because not everybody can bring three bodyguards to accompany them…

Some Thoughts About “The Second Shift”

I read this book accidentally. I didn’t even know that the book in which the term “second shift” was first introduced. I saw a Russian blog post, in which was saying something to the effect, that “I saw that book review, and that review had an excerpt from this book, and it looks so dumb, this couple does not have enough money, it is not about sharing responsibilities. That didn’t sound right to me, and I decided to check out the book they talked about and turned out that it’s that classic. The translation was not super accurate, and in any case, you should not judge the book by just a couple of pages. I tried to reason, got a dismissive reply of “we do not need any of your American experience,” and walked away (that’s why I am trying not to get into any discussions on Russian blogosphere these days). 

I was going to return the book because I thought – well, I already checked to source and proved that the author of the blog post was wrong, why should I finish this book? I do not need to know anything about the “second shift at home.” But the book already captured my attention, and I ended up finishing it – after all, it’s classic 🙂

And then I thought – why I am saying I do not care about the second shift? Why is it that I never felt it’s a problem in my life?

The answer is obvious: my first marriage was brief, and in the second one, we rarely shared the house. And then I remember something else, from the times which I described in my previous blog post. One of my co-workers talked about her daughter, how she does not have time to do things with her children, because she is busy with this and that. And I said: well, how come I have time to do this and that, and some more? For which she replied; It’s easier on you! You do not have a husband!

Funny thing, I agreed on the spot. I knew that it was easier when you do not need to sync with somebody else on your schedule, parenting style, food preferences, and million other things. 

Which makes me wonder: why the amount of housework multiplies when people start to live together? All these families from the book had some household chores issues even before they had any children. And when you live by yourself, you need to do stuff for yourself, and you can’t blame anybody except yourself when things are not done. People usually do not complain that they have “too much to do” when they are single. It should be less work for each of the two people when they move in together. Why is it more?

I hope that eventually, somebody will explain it to me!

A Magic Mug

I signed up to receive a magic mug when I donated to Midwest Access Coalition back in March. At that time, volunteers could not host clients coming to Illinois for abortion (due to COVID restrictions), and I donated money to help place clients in the hotels.
That was back in March, and I completely forgot about the mug. When it arrived yesterday, it took me a while to recall what it was all about, yet along how it works. And it works magically – just pour some hot tea or coffee in it!

Continue reading “A Magic Mug”

Escorting During Pandemic

Today, I went to the clinic escort for the second time after our activities were resumed.

Look at our cool new masks!

Now, we do not throw our vests back to the common pile; we take our vests home and bring them back for the next shift. I like it, because now I always have my XS size, and do not need to search for it in the bag! We can’t share food anymore, and we can’t take food from our supporters, but that’s OK.

Since we are in the Pride Week (although events are canceled), there were people in the Pride gear biking on the streets, and they were cheering us. Also, there was one funny episode. A couple passed by, looking attentively at us, antis, the doors of the clinic, and the folding sign, which is explaining the bubble zone. And then the man said: I get it now! You are the good guys! We cheered: you got it right! 

Most of the antis do not wear masks. Our shift leader asked the lady in the middle: I heard you said that your mother has cancer, and you are visiting her. Yet, you do not wear a mask… For which she replied: Oh, she does not wear a mask either! 

What can I say?!

The Disappearance of Volunteering

This week was a week of thing falling apart. Ok, maybe not falling apart, but shutting down, with speed I could not imagine. It’s true that two weeks ago we lived in a different country and a different world.

We were ordered to work from home last Thursday night. The four of us still showed up in the office on Friday, for a variety of reasons, including one co-worker who was off on Thursday and didn’t check corporate emails:).

I wrote about the rapid museums and cultural venues closers, which followed. I was able to catch “the last of” most of them. And no matter how much my mind can understand the necessity of closers, my soul weeps.

As I’ve already mentioned, I went to escort last Saturday. It didn’t go great, and I promised to return when it is warmer. A woman with two boys stopped her car by the clinic and came out with a huge box of Girl Scout cookies – that’s for you guys! Each of us picked one:).

Continue reading “The Disappearance of Volunteering”

Honoring the International Women’s Day

Last week, my friend posted about the 150th anniversary of the first women college in Cambridge, and I could not resist commenting that Knox college accepted female students from the day it was founded. 

My daughter Anna graduated from Knox, and I firmly believe the Knox was one of the best things that happened in her life. And one of the best things about Knox and its history is the fact that it would accept females and blacks from the very beginning, and never rejected any student based on lack of funds.  The college founders stated:

It is beginning to be believed, and not without good reason, that females are to act a much more important part in the conversion of the world than has been generally supposed; not as preachers of the gospel, but as help-meets of those who are, and as instructors and guides of the rising generations, not only in the nursery, but in the public school. It should therefore be an object of special aim with all who pray and labor for the conversion of the world, to provide for the thorough and well-directed education of females.

George Washington Gale

However, the history of women’s education at Knox was not so straightforward. First of all, the college founders belonged to their times, and although they believed the women should have access to education, they thought it should differ from what men were offered:

Under the influence of the Gospel a different station is allotted to her, she is regarded man’s equal in worth; and although her cares, labors and responsibilities, to a considerable extent, be in a different direction, yet they are no less honorable, and require no less of intellectual and moral culture than his

Hiram Kellogg

It took several years to come up with courses designed for women.

…fiscal restrictions delayed plans for an advanced female course of study at the College’s outset. When the means for a women’s course were finally realized, seven years after the College’s first class of men had entered, courses were initially held in the new Academy building that had been built for the College’s preparatory students (due to a lack of sufficient public education, the College maintained a preparatory school for younger students, male and female, seeking admission to the College courses).

It was not until 1856 that the College’s finances finally allowed for the construction of separate housing for the seminary students. 

Knox college

Separate social standards for men and women contributed to the perception that men’s and women’s education had separate purposes. When Knox College incorporated a college program for women in 1848, it was based upon the programs of other female seminaries and therein upon a tradition of separate education.

In 1860 – 70s then Board of Trustees President Howard Curtis was strongly supporting separation of men and women education, while Miss Lydia Howard, a principle of the Seminary worked on expanded curriculum

Here is what happened next:

On Friday, March 20, 1867, the debate came to a head. President Curtis and Principal Howard were engaged in an argument over the programming for the next year’s catalogue for the Seminary when President Curtis forcibly took the catalogue from Miss Howard’s hands in an act of physical violence. When word of Curtis’ behavior reached the students the fallout was immediate. The following Saturday morning the students, who largely disliked President Curtis but admired Principal Howard, turned out in numbers on the lawn of Old Main, ringing the building’s bell and causing a commotion. From one eyewitness account, “20 or 30 of the College and Academy students … had cut the rope of the bell [in Old Main] and were turning it over and over,” in protest. The students organized a sit-down strike on the lawn, staying away from classes that following Monday and Tuesday, and demanding President Curtis’s resignation. Late on Tuesday, the Board of Trustees acquiesced to the students’ demands, and asked for Curtis’s recognition.

As part of the controversy, Howard tendered her resignation as well, leaving the Board of Trustees with questions about the future of the Female Seminary at Knox. A Trustee “Committee on Seminary” reported that their actions in hiring Miss Howard to revamp the Seminary’s curricula had been “a new and somewhat hazardous experiment.” The Committee recommended changes in the oversight of the Seminary, saying that the interests of the Seminary should be decided upon by the Seminary faculty.

The actions of President Curtis and Principal Howard had focused attention on the Female Seminary, and in the 1869 catalogue it was reported that growing interest in women’s education had prompted the Board of Trustees to consider a plan of co-education. The catalogue further called it “a happy day … when the brief, irregular, superficial, and too often contemptible style of female education shall give way to a culture which shall furnish the same facilities for success in life … now accorded to men.” By the next year, 1870, the Board of Trustees took the final step of merging the men’s and women’s courses and awarding women Bachelor’s degrees for the first time. Although the Female Seminary would remain open to accommodate women who did not desire a degree, women who were adequately prepared could follow the same coursework as their male counterparts.

I think it’s a great story, and it is very appropriate to remember on the International Women’s Day. Nowadays, when you visit Knox college and look at the graduation pictures of the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century, you can see approximately the same number of male and female graduates.

Still earlier than Cambridge 🙂

Goodman Theater: Roe

Today, Igor, Mom, and I went to see a new play “Roe” in Goodman Theater, and it was so powerful! Everything: the play itself, the performance, staging, actors – everything was excellent, and the content is mind-blowing.

As you can guess from the title, the play is about Roe vs. Wade. To be more precise – it tells the actual story of the case, told separately by two women: attorney Sarah Weddington and plaintiff Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe). 

Turned out, I knew nothing about the story. Yes, I heard that “Jane Roe” ended up speaking against the Roe-v-Wade amendment, but I knew nothing about her as a person, about her story, her circumstances. To put it bluntly, she was misled by two young attorneys, who made her believe she will be able to have an abortion, which was not going to happen. She was designated to suffer “for the sake of future generations of women.” Which leaves the audience with an eternal question – can good cause justify all means? 

That’s exactly what I said after the show, at “Drinks and Discussion” after-show event. The even was full, and all the participants had chance to share their thoughts and to talk to the actors.

The play is incredibly deep and moving. It gives voices to the people from all sides, and it does not provide an out-of-the-box answer. I highly recommend it, o matter what your political affiliation is and what your believes are. It runs for three more weeks!