KYGA17 HB1 vs HB2

Here in Kentucky our GOP controlled legislature made passing what they call “Right to Work” legislation its priority. It is such a priority that they made it HB1 – the first bill to be addressed by the House of Representatives in the 2017 session. This legislation, from a liberal perspective, is a move toward edging out the union influence and the power of collective bargaining in the blue-collar workforce. I’m aligned with those who oppose this legislation, but have an issue with what is going on on Frankfort today from a female perspective.

The call went out for protesters to come literally make their voices heard in the capitol this morning. The Kentucky Democratic Party even reserved the rotunda so protesters could be inside out of the weather. The pictures of the rotunda I’ve seen this morning show a LOT of union folks there to protest HB1. That’s fantastic that they’ve turned out… However, there are very few or no obvious folks there in opposition to HB2 (requiring a woman to have an ultrasound prior to pregnancy termination). This frustrates me.

Yes, I seem to be a hypocrite as I sit here in my warm office space listening to NPR and my dogs snoring while I read media reports from Frankfort rather than schlepping it to Frankfort first thing this morning to protest in person. It wasn’t public fact that legislators would be meeting today, Saturday, until very late in the day Friday. This caused a lot of scrambling by the folks in opposition to the issues in question which seems to have been at least the partial GOP intent of holding sessions on Saturday. I didn’t learn of today’s sessions until almost 6pm yesterday. Whether traveling last night or early this morning to make it to Frankfort by 8:30am I would have been traveling in the dark on roads still damp in spots from our snow – in single digit temperatures. This is not a trip I would take unless for emergency purposes or a well-planned trip.

We ladies of eastern Kentucky have no one in Frankfort who has our back… Who is willing to risk losing votes because people are ill-educated as to the intent of these bills… Those folks who hear the word abortion and tune out anything else with a resounding cry of, “I’m agin’ it!” A person who has her own uterus is entitled to her own opinion as to whether or not pregnancy termination is an option for HER and only HER. No one else. If you don’t have a uterus, you have no dog in this fight at all.

I know of a few women in the region who are brave enough to voice their support of reproductive rights, but not many. We have to stop being shamed into silence. We have to speak up. We have to refuse to let the rights our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts worked so hard for in previous decades simply go quietly into that dark night.

Barefoot and Not Pregnant

This is the post excerpt.

Growing up, I hated being Appalachian. There, I said it. I hated my accent. I hated the holler where I grew up. I hated having to travel an hour on curvy, decrepit roads for my mother to spend what little money we had to buy school clothes. I hated the poverty. I hated the need. I hated the food. I hated the stereotype. I left as soon as I could. I attended Morehead State University, initially on an academic scholarship, a mere 30 miles north of my hometown of West Liberty, KY. After earning my BA in Communications, I immediately moved to Louisville. Over the years I also lived in central Kentucky and eventually landed right back here in West “by gawd” Liberty in my mid-thirties.

I lost my home in every sense of the word when I lost my mother in 2000. I had been roaming with no tether until my hometown was wiped out by a tornado in the Spring of 2012. It was in volunteering and working with others that I felt reconnected to this place, this armpit of humanity… that suddenly no longer seemed like such a decrepit place. Appalachia had set its hooks in my adult self. The foothills reclaimed me.

This is a glorious land of amazing people. I love growing generational green beans passed down by my Grand Daddy. I love growing six types of heirloom tomatoes. I even have chickens now and have begun saying “ya’ll” with no sense of irony.

So, here I am… a liberal, passionate woman who is pissed as hell at what is going on not only nationally but also locally – state and closer to home. With the takeover of the GOP the immediate legislative issues being taken to task by the Kentucky General Assembly include an all-new  HB2 . HB2 passed in the 2016 Assembly became the first bill signed into law by newly elected Governor Matt Bevin (R) and revised “informed consent” by a woman seeking pregnancy termination to require that she must meet with the practitioner to receive said information 24 hours prior to consenting to the procedure. 2017’s HB2 which sailed through committee and House already will require that a woman have an ultrasound prior to receiving the procedure in Kentucky. It is expected to sail through all steps toward becoming a law. It should be noted that since Bevin took on the only abortion provider in Lexington, Kentucky  in 2016, women can now only attain the service in Louisville within the state of Kentucky. The passing of 2016’s SB2 added additional hardship in the 24 hour waiting period when women of eastern Kentucky live sometimes close to 5 hours of drive time away from the urban location and often cannot afford the cost of a hotel. Some compensation was made in the 2016 bill in allowing women to meet electronically 24 hours in advance. This, however, would require high speed internet and machinery for a video conference. I’m not sure everyone would be comfortable completing this step at their friendly public library.

Face to face in early 2016 with a fairly prominent KY legislator, I asked him why he voted for HB2. He looked at my blankly, as if he had no clue to which bill I referred. I reminded him of its content and he stated that as far as he was concerned, the abortion issue was made moot by Roe v Wade. However, he continued that he felt he voted as his constituents would support. I reminded him that eastern Kentucky women like myself would disagree – to which he replied, “But you’re certainly the minority.”

I’m the minority but I know I am not alone. I am all-too aware that abortion is a hot button topic. I know that all the God-fearing good folks of Appalachia are pretty sure I’m going to hell anyway, so why not make the ride worth something? Why not stand up for the women who do need or prefer the option to terminate?

I’ve already had some backlash to the name of this blog – that it perpetuates the stereotype. I prefer to think it plays with the stereotype. I like being barefoot – when it’s an option and there aren’t bees in the clover. I also like not being pregnant as that just isn’t the right choice for me at this point in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore children. I sometimes am regretful that I’ve never had a child, but my reason is this – I’ve never been in a relationship with a man who I trusted enough to be a father and I have never dreamed of being a single parent. That shit is hard.

I don’t intend this site to only be about reproductive rights. I will go off on pretty much anything that ticks off my little, black, liberal heart. I hope other women will speak up. I invite you to submit content for this lil blog. It may turn into something and it may not. Who knows? Hopefully I’ll figure out posting podcasts next. Chins up, ladies. Let’s get organized and figure out how to make these old white men hear our voices!