The Abortion Fight & Right | Mike Gilliam: Let It Rip


>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Alright,
here we go. Episode seven of Let it Rip. Today we are
going to talk about abortion. Should be a hot topic. Hey, I’m Mike Gilliam in
the CUNY TV studios in the shadow of the Empire State
Building in New York City. Welcome to Let it Rip. Roe v Wade is the law
of the land and has been since the Supreme
Court decision was handed down in 1973 allowing
abortions in all 50 states, but increasingly
women’s reproductive rights have been
endangered. Under attack. A number of states have
moved to make it far more difficult for a woman to
get an abortion. Now some Republican-led states have
passed so-called heartbeat laws making abortions
illegal after a detectable heartbeat. In some cases,
these laws would kick in as early as six weeks into
a pregnancy. It’s often before a woman even knows
that she’s pregnant and laws like the one in Alabama,
which is the most restrictive, call for the doctor to face
up to 99 years in prison, if he or she performs an
abortion. That’s life in prison. Now many of these laws
were passed with an eye towards eventually challenging
Roe v Wade in the courts with the hope that a conservative
leaning Supreme Court would revisit Roe and overturn
it. The issues will become hotly contested and will
be one of the defining issues in the next
presidential race. Battle lines are drawn and we
have some of the people on the front lines here to
dig deeper into the issue. Planned Parenthood’s Chief
of External Affairs, Christina Chang, is here
along with the Organizing and Innovation Manager at
Girls for Gender Equity, Brittany Brathwaite.
Welcome to Let it Rip. >>>BOTH: Thank you. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: It’s
good to have you. Missouri’s another state
that currently has only one clinic in the entire
state providing abortions. It’s run by Planned
Parenthood. It could easily be shut down. I
want to play a clip and we’ll talk on the other
side. This is Missouri State Rep Nick Schroer. >>>REP. NICK SCHROER:
Across the nation we have been plagued with extreme
states such as New York, Virginia, Illinois to say
the least, that are not only repealing any and all
restrictions on abortion, some are even allowing for
the murder of a child up to and even after the
point they exit their mother’s womb. Recently, a
legislator in Alabama argued->>>SPEAKER OF HOUSE:
Members and guests. We will keep our
conversations to a whisper or we will take them
outside. >>>MIKE GILLIAM:
Reaction? Christina. >>>CHRISTINA CHANG: I
have many reactions to that. I think that to call
New York extremist is the pot calling the kettle
black. It’s in fact places like Missouri that is
taking some of the most extreme positions on
abortion, which is a safe legal procedure. Abortion
is Healthcare and they are trying to rip away access
to that. They are spreading lies and
heightening rhetoric, you know talking about
abortion in ways that just flat out are untruths. >>>MIKE GILLIAM:
Brittany? >>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE: Yeah,
I agree a lot with Christina. I feel like, to her point,
abortion is healthcare. Abortion is a human right
and all people should have access to abortion. And
so when we have people that make these egregious
statements, many of them do not even walk through the
world ever having to think about abortion and how that is
going to play out in their own world and families.
And so it’s easy to make an extreme comment when your
life is not determined. There’s no determination around
your life because you’re not impacted by it at all. And
so I don’t find myself listening to those
statements very much because those people do
not look like me, don’t sound like me, and don’t live
in the bodies that I live in.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Neither of you
touched on the word murder.>>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE:
Because abortion is not murder.>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: It’s
healthcare plain and simple.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Let’s listen
to Senator Elizabeth Warren.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: What do
you think about her reaction? What she’s saying there?>>>BRITTANY BATHWAITE: I
don’t think anybody should be in the way of anyone’s
decision, right? The government, even the
people that she listed, I think that it is the
individual’s decision about abortion or any
other forms of healthcare they choose to access and
I think what’s really important is that this is
not new, right? And the attack on abortion and
people’s bodily autonomy is not, we’re in an
extreme time. We’re seeing extreme things happen, but
this is not new and these attacks have looked a lot
different and we can talk about this for a long
time. Whether it’s controlling people’s
bodily autonomy or subjecting people to forms
of violence that the attacks that we’re seeing
are, they’re new, they’re new packaging but
they’re not new. They’re not new attacks. They’re just
repackaged and really, you know extreme ways and so I
agree the government has no place in a woman’s body
and also has no place in anyone’s decision about
what you do with your body.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: You
mentioned violence. What did you mean there?>>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE: I
mean, so I think about abortion or restricting
access to abortion as a form of reproductive
violence, which means that it attempts to control the
autonomy that people have to make decisions about
their bodies, their healthcare, their families, and their
communities and so we can think about abortion
as a form of violence. We can also think about
the murder of trans women as a form of violence that
really, really creates reproductive Injustice for
ourselves and our communities. And it’s when I frame it as
a form of violence because it really takes away a person’s
agency to make decisions about their lives. It’s
not simply just a topic. It’s not just an issue.
It’s not just a thing that we can talk about when it
comes to legislation. It impacts the day-to-day
ways that we move through the world and is
inextricably linked to everything that we do and
so I see that as violence because you take away
someone’s agency and control to make decisions
about anything. Abortion falls into reproductive
violence and what we fight for every day at Girl for
Gender Equity is reproductive justice. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: When I
look at some of the stuff, Christina, I think it’s
almost as if they want to turn the clock back to
like the 1950s. >>>CHRISTINA CHANG: In
some respects, yes. I mean, I think it goes back
to what Brittany was saying about just the
fundamental ability to choose your own destiny,
to find your own path and to decide what that looks
like and becoming a parent. If you want to and
how that affects your trajectory is your
decision and yours alone. And so that’s fundamental
so you can talk about it in terms of turning the
clock back and in terms of women in the workforce,
but it goes back more fundamentally than that. It’s
about taking away the rights of self-determination
for half of the population.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: One of
the things that kind of strikes me is the fact
that you have people who are against abortion. Call
that murder but at the same time they favor the
death penalty. I want to play a clip right now.
This is Barry Hovis of Missouri talking about the
death penalty. >>>BARRY HOVIS: I know we
talked or I heard earlier about the death penalty. How,
you know, we want to allow babies that we believe in
pro-life, but then we will still do the death penalty,
but there’s a big exception. When we’re talking about
innocent life and someone who’s went out and purposely killed
someone that would make them eligible for that
death penalty.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: To me it just
seems strange to use terms like murder and all that when we’re
talking about a person’s health.>>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE:
Yeah. I don’t think that they are the they are the
same conversation. They just don’t appear to be
the same conversation to me, the use of the term. I
mean, the rhetoric has been created that it’s a
strategy when you say things like murder, when
you call a fetus a baby, things like that are years
of planning of strategic design to get people to
think about abortion in a certain type of way, which
is why those of us who are reproductive justice
advocates and activists and pro-abortion really
don’t use those terms or even repeat them because
we know that they have been strategized to create
language and rhetoric that is harmful to what the
actual care is. Abortion is healthcare. Period. >>>CHRISTINA CHANG: One
thing I would also put out there is that you know,
when you talk about comparing the death
penalty and an abortion, I think that what is
fundamental there is placing judgment, right?
And so talking about innocent life versus
judging someone else’s life. And I think that
what we really want to be able to underscore here is
that, you know, that healthcare should not be
judgmental. There shouldn’t be any judgment
in there. Should be about compassion. It should be
about your well-being and should be about having
your right to make your own decision. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: It’s
interesting though in reality, nearly six out of
ten Americans feel that abortion should be legal.
So it’s a small minority. But to me, it appears that
what they have done and I think that history will
prove this out is that they’ve identified an
issue and a certain bloc of people and that’s a
block that politicians can get to vote for them. And
so part of this is really steeped in not so much
health care, but the fact that that’s a voting bloc
and its political as well. What do you think about
that? >>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE: I
mean abortion has been used as, I’m a black
person who does organizing with black people.
Abortion has been used for a long time as a wedge
issue to divide very progressive communities
who have always voted on progressive policies to
divide a group of people, right? And so that to your
point is one of the strategies that are being
used here like abortion, religion. Let’s throw this
all in together. Why would you vote for this
candidate if they believe this? But my friend Renee
Bracey Sherman always says that everyone loves the
one that has had an abortion. Right? One in
three women have had an abortion in the United
States. And so it’s not uncommon that the people
that are also against this have also had abortions
and the conversations also are also steeped in stigma
and shame and people are coming from a place there.
They figure out how to get people to come from a
place of sticker stigma and shame to shape that
conversation. And so it’s about voting box is about
splitting people who love people that have had
abortions and still will go out and vote another
way and they have, they have done a good job.
Well, I don’t, never mind. I don’t give them credit
for doing anything, but they, they have been very,
very strategic. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: They’ve
been effective. >>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE:
They’ve been effective in creating divisions between
communities using abortion as a wedge issue, as an
issue that people feel stigma and shame around in
order to get them to vote for less progressive
policies and people. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: You work
very closely with a grassroots effort, with
people on the streets in your community. How in
fact would young women that you work with be
affected if they overturn Roe v Wade and abortion
was no longer legal? >>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE:
Oh they were. It would be terrible. It would be
horrible. But I mean young people that I work with
already face barriers to abortion, right? They, we,
are living in New York. There are lots of ways and
we’re lucky to have Planned Parenthood
affiliate, Planned Parenthood of New York
City that has made abortion and other
healthcare necessary, healthcare services,
really affordable and accessible and
compassionate to young people trying to access
abortion, but it is very hard for young people to
even identify a safe adult to talk to about having an
abortion. >>>MIKE GILLIAM:
Christina, just real quick the new restrictive laws. What
is your take on those laws? How concerned are you
about what’s happening? Like in Louisiana,
Missouri, Alabama. >>>CHRISTINA CHANG: We’re
absolutely concerned about that. I think that what
we’re trying, what we’re seeing them do is pass,
deliberately pass, unconstitutional laws so
that as you said earlier in your opening, so that
they are trying to provoke the Supreme Court to hear
these cases in their hopes of overturning Roe v Wade.
And we’ve already seen what the world looks like
in a pre-Roe v Wade era. We saw that women were
dying. We saw that when you, the only way to make
the one true way of making abortion unsafe is to make
it illegal. And to make it inaccessible and so when
we see these bans being passed, when we see them
continuing to move that line. We are going to move
to a world where there’s going to be haves and have
nots. This is just as Brittany said, you know
abortion was always accessible to people of
means. What this will do is actually impact folks
who may not be able to have the resources and the
wherewithal to be able to. If you can’t come to New
York and get an abortion, from Louisiana,
Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, all these other
states and so by doing that we have just, we have
fundamentally taken away people’s rights to
self-determination and that’s fundamentally what
they’re trying to chip away at.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Okay.
We’re going to take a short break. When we come
back, I want to talk a little bit about politics,
the presidential race and all of that and how that
all fits into this. Okay? You’re listening to Let it
Rip. We’ll be right back.>>>You’re watching CUNY TV. The City University of New York.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Alright,
welcome back to Let it Rip. We’re talking about a
woman’s right to choose abortion today and one of
the things that really struck me is like how
hotly the debate has been around this issue. When
they were debating this in Alabama, it was just as
they say off the hook. Let’s take a quick listen
right now to Bobby Singleton and what was
going on with the legislature in Alabama
before they passed that very restrictive law. >>>All those in favor,
say aye. Any opposed? Motion passes.>>>No, no, no. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman. There was no motion.
There was a motion.>>>There was a motion. He made
a motion->>>He didn’t even make a motion
Mr. President.>>>Hold up sir->>>He did not make a motion.>>>He made a motion to table.>>>He did not make a motion.
There was no motion from the other side.>>>He made a motion to table.>>>Heck no. He didn’t
even make a motion. When was the motion made? No
motion was made->>>Excuse me. Senator
Chambliss, you’re recognized.>>>I don’t care what the chair
is about, he did not make a motion.>>>In response to the number of
abortions that have been->>>No, no, no.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Wow.
Okay. So have a situation where maybe someone was
trying to delay the vote just a little bit. Maybe
they didn’t want to have the vote. But that was
something. What was your reaction when you saw this
going on down in Alabama?>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: That
doesn’t sound like a debate to me at all. I think that that
is purely political rhetoric.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: We
didn’t hear a lot of women’s voices in there either.>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: Not at all.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: What do
you think about that aspect of this whole issue? Do we
have too many men making the decisions?>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: I
think that we have people making decisions for
experiences that they have no insight into at all. I
think that we have and that’s why elections are
so important. It’s why we need to have people
getting mobilized to vote for candidates that
reflect their values and their views. I think here
in New York state we saw in 2018 for the first time
a New York state senate that was that turned over
to a pro reproductive health majority, in 2018.
And with that we saw a passage of the
Reproductive Health Act that was signed into law
January 2019. In that law, we enshrined the
protections of Roe v Wade here in New York state and
expanded access to abortion. And so it’s
fundamental to be able to do, to be able to vote for
leaders who are going to be reflective of the
communities that they serve and know what they
need. And to be accountable to that and so
we’re seeing that happening now and I think
not just for the benefit of New Yorkers, but
unfortunately we hear about when you hear these
clips from Alabama and from Missouri potentially
for people across the country.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: One of
the things that’s kind of interesting about all this
is that it is forcing those who are going to be
running in the next election to deal with this
head-on. Joe Biden, former vice president, had some
real issues with this because of his record.
Let’s listen to him as he makes a reversal. He
pivots on this issue. >>>JOE BIDEN: I can’t
justify leaving millions of women without access to
the care they need and the ability to
exercise their constitutionally protected
right. If I believe healthcare is a right, as
I do, I can no longer support an amendment that
makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: A
complete reversal from where he had been before.
He says his religion had a lot to do with his position
before. Good enough?>>>CHRISTINA CHANG. I
think it’s a step in the right direction. I think
that, I think that what we’re seeing here is a
recognition of the barriers that have been
placed up by politicians to prevent people,
particularly communities of color, people with low
income, people who do not have a voice, people who
are disenfranchised to be able to access the care
that one might have if you were privileged and lived
in a community that had means and were able to
choose whatever healthcare you wanted and so I think
what Biden was recognizing there was the Hyde
Amendment, right? Which was a bar on federal
funding to cover abortion specifically and by doing
that, making it an exception for abortion
when it’s healthcare, just like any other
procedure that one might be able to have is
taking away that right and that access to poor people
across America and I think that that’s a, that’s an
important recognition and that reversal is welcome,
but it’s not just enough to say that you actually
have to put it into pieces to make it, to make that a
reality to allow you to actually be able to
exercise that right? So that means actually being
able to support the expansion of health
centers that provide abortion. It means to reverse
the stigma that is out there around abortion and
people who choose that option for themselves for
a variety of different reasons.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: So to
roll up their sleeves and do the work.>>>CHRISTINA CHANG:
Absolutely. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: How
important do you think this issue will be in the
2020 presidential race? I’d like to hear from both
of you on this. >>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE:
Yeah, I think, I mean, given the timing I think
that it is definitely an issue that people want to
hear from the candidates on, right, it’s everywhere.
People are finally starting to talk about abortion. You can’t
open up a browser tab without seeing abortion in the headline.
So it’s definitely something that I think folks want to hear
candidates on where do you stand on this issue? Where
are you able to put resourcing towards this
issue? How far along on the, it’s not okay to just
say I believe in abortion. It’s not just enough to
say I believe in abortion. I think people want to see
exactly what that means and sort of operationalize
the day-to-day like healthcare, fair wages,
it’s a large issue. It’s not just access to
abortion means that there’s a health center
you can go to, right? There’s a lot of things
that come into creating safe communities,
reversing trap laws. There’s a whole host of
issues connected to really receiving safe affordable
accessible and compassionate abortion
care. And so I think that people are going to want
to see where people land on this issue and how
expansive their ideas and strategies are around creating
abortion access for folks.>>>MIKE GILLIAM:
Christina what do you think? You think it’s a very important
issue for this this election? Do you
think is the defining issue?>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: I
think that abortion is definitely going to be an
important issue but it’s one issue among the many
issues because what we’re seeing right now is a
rollback of the advancements of rights for
a whole range of people. We think about immigrants
who are coming to this country. We think about
people with low wages. We think about LGBT
individuals where there was an expansion in
recognition of their rights and protection of
those rights and we’re seeing a rollback. So I
think that abortion plays into all those different
issues because it’s about fundamentally seeing our
humanity and recognizing that and supporting those
decisions. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: Most of
the candidates are taking on the issue head on. If you listen to them out on the
campaign trail, they often address this
issue. Let’s take a listen to Kamala Harris right now
out on the stump. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: How
important is it that women are out front on this
issue in this presidential race? That there are women
who are candidates.>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: I
think it’s fundamental. You had asked, you know,
are there too many men making the decisions? And
I think it goes back to the need to elect leaders
who reflect their communities and their
needs and wants and so having more women
representing districts and States across the country
is really important. Having LGBT people
representing their communities, having
immigrants represented in communities are all
vitally important to be able to get the issues out
there and to take some positive steps to protect
them. >>>BRITTANY BRATHWAITE: I
agree. I mean, I work alongside middle
schoolers, right, who identify as girls and gender
non-conforming young people who are civically
engaged and really interested in shaping a
new politic, a new, shaping a new world for us.
They are equipped with the skills and if we give them
the leadership roles that they deserve, they are
more than capable to make decisions about this
country and let alone this world and it’s so
important. I have the honor and privilege of
working alongside young people that are in those
spaces, but it’s such a privilege to get to
witness what is really possible when we actually
allow those that are impacted by these issues
to take the lead. I know that’s what I want to see
in this country. What is really possible you know
in this democracy that we’re creating is that
people that are really deeply impacted by the
issues we’re talking about, actually taking the
lead on those issues. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: Okay,
let’s talk, before we wrap up, talk to us a little bit about
what each of your organizations are doing here in New
York City. Christina?>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: I
think that we talked a little bit about the
Reproductive Health Act sort of opening the way
for New York to really double down on our
commitment and our mission to allow, to expand
the access to sexual reproductive Health Care
here. And so at Planned Parenthood New York City,
we were really excited to be announcing a merger
with four other affiliates across the state, so that
we can actually provide more care to more New
Yorkers and really be able to build on the strengths
of our affiliates. We are also opening up our doors
offering evening hours. We’re expanding
transgender affirming care. We are really trying
to expand access and not just for New Yorkers. I
was looking over at my notes and noted that in
2014 about 2% of our abortion patients came
from out of state. This year already 4% of our
patients are coming from out of state and so we are
thinking through not just about how we can expand
access to abortion for or to healthcare services and
you know sexual reproductive healthcare
services for New Yorkers, but also now beyond and
really creating a safe haven for human rights
right here in New York City.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Uh huh.
Brittany? >>>BRITTANY BATHWAITE:
Girls for Gender Equity is about two decades old now
and we have been working really hard to empower
young people to be able to make decisions about their
own lives and to become leaders in their
communities. And so some of the things that we are
working on is creating the opportunity to remove the
barriers that construct the freedom of young
people being able to live self-determined lives, and
that looks like expanding comprehensive sexuality
education in schools and so we can’t really have a
conversation about reproductive health access
without talking about comprehensive sexuality
education, which is not offered here in New York
state and K through 12 and many, many locals
across the country. And so we are mobilizing young people
to be able to take action on getting comprehensive
sexuality education here and across the country.
We’re also building leaders through the young
women’s advisory council across the state to have
young women of color be able to be civically
engaged and make decisions on their local levels
about things that impact them from healthcare to
juvenile justice or injustice to the city that
they want to live in and so we’re really working
alongside young people to shape this country and
shape the narratives that will go on and live on
forever and that’s an honor and privilege to do
that work. >>>MIKE GILLIAM: Planned
Parenthood’s Christina Chang, Girls for Gender
Equity Brittany Brathwaite. I want to thank you both.
You were great guests. Thanks for coming on Let It Rip.>>>CHRISTINA CHANG: Thank you.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: We’ll be back
with some final thoughts.>>>MIKE GILLIAM: Now for
some final thoughts. Abortion remains a
hot-button issue for many. On the one side, the vast
majority of women and men support a woman’s right to
choose. To have control over their bodies and not
go back to the days of back alley abortions and
the dangerous practices that existed before
abortion became legal for all in 1973. Supporters
are vocal and politically organized and those
wanting their votes in 2020 will have to
demonstrate their support for abortion rights.
Increasingly, this group is saying that this is one
of the most important issues for them. On the
other side, well, the numbers aren’t as large,
but they are emboldened by the president’s picks for
the Supreme Court and the majority the conservative
majority they hold there. And they’re passionate about
protecting the unborn. They frame the issue as
taking a life and have been working for decades
to overturn Roe v Wade. Politicians see this as a
viable block of votes that can be harnessed for an
election. Both sides are passionate about their
positions and when it comes down to the time to
go to the polls, it may all come down to that
passion and mobilization. Whether or not a woman
continues to have the right to choose may well
come down to which side can push a candidate with
their beliefs across the finish line and into the
White House. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see
you next time on Let It Rip.

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