Jo Ann Dale of KRCRC Talks Faith and a Pro-Choice Attitude

Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists For Choice. Today we are talking to Jo Ann Dale, board member of the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (KRCRC) about the organization, faith, and a pro-choice attitude.

Tell our readers a little bit about Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (KRCRC).

KRCRC, in existence for three decades, is an affiliate of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). The backbone of RCRC was a network of religious leaders who had been quietly helping women locate abortion services in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They formed RCRC following decriminalization (Roe v. Wade) because they believed it would take several years for the right to become firmly established. As time went on, RCRC broadened from a specific focus on the legal right to abortion to address larger matters of reproductive justice, including contraception and structural impediments to women’s access to reproductive rights.

KRCRC carries on this work in Kentucky. Our primary focus is on abortion, contraception, and sexuality education. We maintain contacts with faith leaders from many traditions, and we provide speakers and materials for community and congregational programs. We attempt to reassure and educate those women who have been confused by the misleading or outright inaccurate statements of so-called “crisis pregnancy clinics,” whose goals are actually to eliminate abortion from the options facing a pregnant woman. We provide spiritual and emotional support for escorts and abortion provider staff, who are faced with scorn and ridicule from the protestors who gather at the clinic. We partner with other groups, such as Planned Parenthood of Kentucky and the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, to further shared goals. We maintain a list of pastoral counselors who can provide true “all options” counseling to the woman who is confused or conflicted about an unwelcome pregnancy or about perinatal loss. We monitor activity in the state legislature, and we talk with legislators to make it clear that the religious voice does not speak only from the far right, but from the middle and the left as well.

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Religious Pro-Choicers are Speaking Up for the Right to Choose

What caught my attention the other day was a clip that highlighted religious pro-choicers in Louisville, Kentucky. Women from an array of different faiths have gathered in order to challenge the pro-life movement and to put forward the argument that they are pro-choice partly because of their faith. These women have organized and come together in order to, often with the support of religious authorities, claim that the Bible does not say that abortion is illegal.

Jo Ann Dale, a board member of the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (KRCRC), who represented the group for the interview, stated that a pro-choice attitude is definitely compatible with religion and religious views. She further said that: “The angel did not say that you are going to be the mother of God, the angel said: are you willing to do this? She had the choice”. Thereby, pro-choice is encouraged in the Bible and is definitely accepted. 

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Women’s History Month: bell hooks

bell hooks is a Distinguished Professor of English at City College in New York. Born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, hooks grew up in a segregated South and was educated by strong black women who shaped her self-esteem. Contrary to what society at large expected of hooks, she was outspoken about racism and sexism. She realized that her eagerness to learn was perceived as a threat to white authority.

After receiving her B.A. from Stanford University in 1973, she gained her M.A. from University of Wisconsin in 1976 and her Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983. Her work is situated on intersectionality of class, gender, race, sexuality, and other identity factors. She does not believe these issues can be looked at separately from one another.

hooks chooses not to capitalize the first letters of her name, because she prefers that the focus to be on her work, not her name. By taking her mother’s middle name and grandmother’s last name, she chose to honor her grandmother and mother with her pseudonym. At the age of nineteen, hooks began writing her most influential book, Ain’t I a Woman, which took six years to write. This book gained hooks wide academic recognition for looking at gender and race during era that focused on those issues separately. She commonly uses the phrase “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” to refer to the dominant political, economic, and social systems of power that exclude certain bodies from opportunities and freedom.

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Friday News Roundup

It’s been a busy week, what with a new Congress being sworn in and all.  If you need a break from news coverage of John Boehner weeping like a baby, here are some pro-choice news items for you.

Naomi Woolf Wants “Sex Crime Accusers” to be Named Publicly – The Daily Femme
Home Birth Common Ground? – RH Reality Check
Everything You Wanted to Know About Abortion Hosting, But Were Afraid to Ask – Abortioneers
New York Archbishop Denounces Abortion – New York Times
Kentucky Senate Passes “Informed Consent” Abortion Bill – Courier Journal

Cheyenne Williams Brutally Attacked: Juvenile Prank OR Hate Crime

WKYT

Cheyenne Williams was brutally attacked and kidnapped by three of her classmates. Even worse, they tried to push Cheyenne over a 50-foot cliff. Moreover, the incident happened on the national “Day of Silence” – a day intended to raise awareness about gender and sexual based violence. Cheyenne and her mother call it a hate crime. The police call it a juvenile prank. It baffles me that prior to further investigation the Kentucky State police officers are already dismissing the idea of this being a hate crime. Of course this wouldn’t be the first time the justice system completely ignored homophobic violence when it was right in their face. Here are some of the specifics.

Williams has known the three suspects since sixth grade and has been “out” for years, but Kentucky State Police say they haven’t yet found evidence to substantiate a qualification of a hate crime, according to CBS affiliate WKYT. [Read more...]

Anti-Choice Legislation Across the Country

The week of March 14 saw several states passing anti-choice laws, and a potential 2010 ballot initiative in Colorado.

In Kentucky, a bill that would require in-person counseling 24 hours and an ultrasound prior to an abortion stalled in the House. The state Senate voted in favor of the bill in late January; last month, the measure received a tie vote in the House’s Health and Welfare Committee, marking the fourth time the bill had failed to move out of a House committee. Pro-choice advocates are concerned that the requirement will create additional burdens to accessing abortion care.

Idaho’s House of Representatives approved a “conscience bill,” which would allow health care professionals to refuse access to contraception, abortion, and end-of-life treatment. Written by abortion opponents and sponsored in the House by Rep. Tom Loertscher (R-Iona), the measure has already been passed by the Senate and now goes to Governor C.L. Otter for final approval. The measure’s opponents fear that the bill would intrude into private decisions, as well as conflict with current laws regarding medical treatment.

Idaho politicians also decided to follow in the steps of anti-choice legislators in Georgia, introducing a bill that would ban race- or sex-selective abortions. Rep. Steve Kren introduced the bill, saying, “It’s not something that I know of that is a problem, but it is something I feel we should protect against.” Arizona, Mississippi, and New Jersey are considering similar legislations. Opponents of the bill contend that it violates both individual clinics’ First Amendment rights and a woman’s right to privacy, as well as placing an undue burden on providers. [Read more...]