On a windy Wednesday in Uptown Minneapolis, people gathered to cheer the demolition of a Planned Parenthood clinic — a demolition that’s making way for a better, shinier Planned Parenthood clinic.
The groundbreaking comes as other states compete to out-restrict their citizens’ rights to safe, legal and accessible abortion.
There are new laws that deny abortions to women who’ve been raped. Laws that ban abortions weeks after conception, and weeks before most women realize they’re pregnant.
Georgia could turn miscarriages into criminal investigations. Alabama’s ready to toss doctors in jail.
And Minnesota ? Minnesota’s getting even more access to birth control and reproductive health care.
Small consolation, considering the national headlines and the 20-week abortion ban that just sailed through the state Senate.
The protesters who crowded the Capitol steps this week weren’t looking for consolation anyway.
They came with their fists in the air and their voices raised in collective fury that here, in the year 2019, they had to pull on a Handmaid costume, draw a glitter-pen uterus on a protest sign, and battle for control over their own bodies.
Thousands of people showed up at hundreds of these #StopTheBans rallies around the country this week.
Lawmakers used to try to ban abortion one tiny bureaucratic tweak at a time.
“Death of a thousand cuts” is how Andrea Ledger, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, described it. “Minnesota’s not immune. We’re down to four clinics.”
Lawmakers would quibble over the width of clinic hallways, knowing enough restrictions will force the smaller clinics to close their doors.
“Those laws have the same impact as banning abortion,” Ledger said. “They still make abortion out of reach for people who need it.”
Now the battle is out in the open, and that’s the fight groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL have been waiting for.
“It was a major tactical blunder for them to go quite that far,” said Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. The Uptown clinic will provide abortion services and reproductive health care to 14,000 people a year. They’ll see patients at a temporary Uptown clinic during construction.
“They were operating pretty strategically up until then. They were nipping away here and nipping away there, and it was harder for the opposition to mobilize,” she added. “But once they did that, they laid their agenda open and completely bare to the entire country.”
Stoesz remembers what happened when South Dakota put abortion on the ballot in 2006. South Dakotans — people who live in a state with only one abortion clinic and no resident abortion providers — repealed the ban their lawmakers had passed.
For many people, abortion is a tragedy, not a political talking point.
I get it. I really do. I spent 12 years in parochial school. When you wear the plaid that long, you see a lot of photos of dismembered fetuses. And while I was studying those tiny severed feet, every girl who got pregnant at my nice Catholic high school got expelled to the public vocational school.
Just the girls, of course.
Never the boys.
Pregnant classmates are a near occasion of sin, they told us. Besides, they were unwed mothers now, so college really wasn’t in the cards.
That was my first introduction to the way the world can treat pregnant women like soiled container ships hauling precious cargo.
Once the cargo is delivered, it needs food and shelter and education. So you go back to the people who insisted on the delivery and you ask for more money for food stamps or public housing, or to pay higher property taxes so we can build new schools.
Out of the question, they’ll tell you.
This is a matter of personal responsibility.
They shouldn’t have had all those children if they couldn’t afford to take care of them.