Abortion in the Heartland: What’s the Solution

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The South Winds Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas has been open since April of 2013, and they just celebrated their 1st year of being open. Opening the clinic was a long and difficult journey that took a lot of fundraising and hard work from the Trust Women Organization and their director Julie Burkhart. Burkhart worked with Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider, who was assassinated at his church in 2009.

wichita3n-1-webIn the first 7 months, they performed 650 abortions which is almost 100 a month, and a majority of those women were low-income living under the poverty line. To me this is proof that income and poverty have a major impact on reproductive justice. If they are performing almost 100 abortions in Wichita, KS a month, how many more do you think that are actually wanted? People come from states all over to get access to services. Kansas women have 1 choice in Wichita and a few are located in Kansas city, 200 miles away or a few in Oklahoma City, which is also 200 miles away.

Texas recently shut down a huge majority of their clinics. Now, the entire state relies on 5 clinics that provide abortion care. Of course the South Winds Women’s Center offers a whole lot more than just abortion, but once you say abortion, many people stop listening especially in Kansas. Trust Women and the South Winds Women’s Clinic do not necessarily share my views about everything I’m writing, but I wanted to offer an overview of the services we provide here in Wichita, KS.

So, I offer this question to all who are anti-abortion: What is your solution?

In states where the laws are harshest about sexual health education, the teen pregnancy rates are highest. This can not be a coincidence. There are many opinions about sex and very strong opinions on reproductive justice. However, we seem to have no problem profiting off porn and sexual advertisements. But, when it comes to talking to our youth about sex education with options other than abstinence, many people are against it.

It’s time to speak up about sex education and reproductive justice! If you truly want to decrease abortions, we need to get on board with comprehensive sexual health education and access to affordable reproductive health services. According recent studies, abortions have decreased and not it’s not due to the increased anti-choice legislature according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Oklahoma Restaurant Owner Refuses to Serve Minorities, Gays, & Disabled Customers

by Vilissa K. Thompson, LMSW

In Enid, Oklahoma, outrage has spurred over claims that a restaurant owner refuses to serve those with disabilities, African Americans, Latinos, and those who are LGBTQ.  Gary James, the man behind the controversy, has proclaimed that he has the right to deny service how he sees fit.

James is the owner of Gary’s Chicaros, a restaurant and bar that has been in business for over four decades.  James’ establishment has acquired a reputation due to his views about certain groups, and his discriminatory practices against members within those groups.

Person Holding Knife & ForkMatt Gard was a patron at James’ restaurant for years, and was well aware of James’ views about certain groups.  Gard had ignored James’ antics until he found himself a victim of his bigotry.  Gard stated that he was recently denied service at the restaurant because he is a person with a disability.

James claims that Gard caused a scene, which is why he is no longer welcomed at his establishment.  Gard shared his experience on a Facebook page where over 140 people had left comments about James’ discriminatory conduct.

I wanted to share a few statements James provided for an interview on KFOR-TV News Channel 4 in Oklahoma City.  From his statements, James stands steadfastly behind his actions, and is unapologetic about his views:

I’ve been in business 44 years.  I think I can spot a freak or a “f-word.”  [Offensive gay slur]

I don’t deal with these people walking down the street with no jobs on welfare.

If I reached over there and slapped the s**t out of you, you should be offended.  But to call someone a “c-word” [offensive racial slur] or someone call me a bigot, that doesn’t bother me.

I really don’t want gays around.  Any man that would compromise his own body would compromise anything.

Well if you work, you own a business, pay your taxes, you’re more than welcome here.  If you’re on welfare, stay at home and spend my money, there.

(Excerpts from KFOR-TV’s interview with Gary James.)

Learning about this story perturbed me not because a person with a disability was discriminated against, but the mere fact that Matt Gard, and countless others, had failed to challenge James’ offensive practices for years.  It upset me that Gard finally took a stand when he was targeted by James.  Regardless of your racial, ability, gender, or orientation background, when one person or group is targeted, we are ALL affected by the ills of hatred and discrimination.

When we chose to ignore or remain silent in the face of bigotry, our inaction sends the message that the offender has our support. The failure to take proactive measures does not just occur in small towns like Enid, they occur throughout our nation.  We cannot continue to support individuals or businesses who openly offend one or several groups of people.  It is our responsibility to report such incidences and refuse to spend our money at those establishments; those kind of acts speak volumes, and cannot be ignored by the violators.

(Featured headline image:  Courtesy of Pimphop.)

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