The Center for Closing the Health Gap: Fighting Indifference, Building Communities

Persistent systemic racism fuels the gap in health outcomes. One group’s strategy for fighting back.

renee-head-shot-e1382600016486By Guest Contributor Renee Mehaffey Harris

“The most difficult social problem in the matter of Negro health is the peculiar attitude of the nation toward the well-being of the race. There have . . . been few other cases in the history of civilized peoples where human suffering has been viewed with such peculiar indifference.”—W. E. B. Du Bois

The past few weeks have been a stark reminder as to why the Center for Closing Health Gap remains essential to Cincinnati.    Committed to raising awareness about and eliminating racial and health disparities across Greater Cincinnati, the Health Gap works collaboratively with hospitals, government offices, associations and businesses.  We educate, empower, and mobilize the community at every level.  But, recent media reports have cast a shadow on our work.  Continue reading “The Center for Closing the Health Gap: Fighting Indifference, Building Communities”

Terminating a Wanted Pregnancy: Access, Ignorance, and the Law

By Guest Contributor, Batsheva Guy

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Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch assured the Senate Judiciary Committee in no uncertain terms that he would not overturn Roe v. Wade, declaring that he would “walk out the door” if President Trump asked him to do so.

That’s all well and good. But what would Judge Gorsuch do about making sure women have access to this procedure, which as he recognizes, has been legal for a long time?  I know from experience that state laws may not outlaw abortion, but they make it practically inaccessible for many women.

In September 2015, I terminated my wanted pregnancy.

At around 23 weeks, during a routine ultrasound, right after discovering that we were having a baby girl, my husband and I were told that the fetus was not viable outside of the womb due to a fetal anomaly. She was not growing properly, and I was losing amniotic fluid quickly. If my baby girl did survive to birth, she would not be alive for more then a few hours. We were forced to make an abrupt decision as a result of restrictive laws surrounding abortion. About thirty seconds after we found out the news, we looked at each other and silently made the choice, because we knew if we didn’t soon, it may be too late.

This story is not about me. It is about the thousands of women who are denied access to safe and legal abortions every year. It is about the women who do not have the means to travel across the country, pay exorbitant sums of money, and take large chunks of time away from jobs, school, or families to terminate their pregnancies. This is my story, but I hope it gives a voice to others.

After we got the news, I didn’t have time to process any of it. I knew I would be on a time crunch and that I had to push through the pain. I had no time to grieve, no time to cry, no time to think.  I knew it may be too late to terminate.

I asked the doctor, “Can I terminate in Ohio?”

She replied, “Oh, I don’t know what the laws are.”

She knew nothing because abortion isn’t a health care issue, it’s a political issue. She basically told me, “Figure it out on your own.”

Fortunately, I had the background knowledge to figure out next steps.i_stand_with_planned_parenthood_2 I called Planned Parenthood, which confirmed by fears—Governor Kasich had signed a law banning abortions performed after 20 weeks.  I also learned that closest place I could go to legally terminate my pregnancy this late was Chicago. So, my husband, his parents, and I had to drop everything and drive to Illinois from Ohio. I couldn’t help thinking that we were privileged for being able to do so. Why did I have the ability to travel for this medically necessary procedure, while other women would have no option but carrying their babies to term? These were the thoughts going through my mind while I dealt with my own personal hell.

We didn’t have space to mourn. The law wouldn’t allow it. We had to pick up and go.

We arrived in Chicago on a Thursday afternoon, just two days after the diagnosis. We drove straight to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and made our way to the clinic. I had to have another ultrasound in which I was forced to see my baby girl one last time. Even though I was at almost 23 weeks, she measured only at 18 weeks; my amniotic fluid was almost gone at this point. I was dilated the next day, a Friday, and had the procedure on Saturday. In the fewer than three days between my diagnosis and the start of the procedure, I endured one genetic counseling session and four ultrasounds. And then I was done.

We drove home the next day, a Sunday, and I began to weep as we left the city.

chicago-882415_960_720I had to go all the way to Chicago for a legal medical procedure that should have been available in my hometown. My insurance company refused to cover the abortion, even though it was safer for my health and well- being than carrying the baby to term.

But worst of all, I had to leave my baby alone in a strange city, knowing I would never have her back.

I was forced to leave home during the most painful event in my life.  But not everyone would have been able to make the same decision.  Financial and other limitations would have prevented them from having a “choice” at all.

Ultimately, it all boils down to access—who has it and who doesn’t. According to John Oliver, “abortion cannot just be theoretically legal; it has to be literally accessible.” I was lucky enough to have the means and support to choose to terminate my pregnancy and be able to travel to do so if necessary. Not everyone has that luxury.

Sheva Guy (M.S.) is a second- year doctoral student in the Educational and Community- Based Action Research (ECAR) program within Educational Studies at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Sheva’s research interests revolve around gender equality in STEM fields as well as women’s reproductive health. Sheva is passionate about instigating and inspiring change at institutional levels in regards to gender equality and women’s rights.

Semper Fi? Sex, Social Media, and the Marine Corps

Defense Secretary Mattis should take the lead on fighting misogyny in the Marines.

As partisan rancor continues on the Hill, one group of lawmakers joined forces this week to speak out against harassment of women in the  Marine Corps.  Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) spearheaded a letter  to Defense Secretary James Mattis urging him to facebook-346725_960_720take action, including authorizing another investigation into current and former Marines soliciting and posting  nude photos of their female colleagues on Facebook.   Thomas James Brennan , who broke the story, reports that some of the women were followed and photographed without their knowledge.  The Facebook posts drew
thousands of comments, some urging sexual violence, such as:

“take her out back and pound her out,” as well as graphic suggestions, like penetrating women  in the “butt.  And throat. And ears. Both of them.  Video it though…for science.”

According to Brennan, the photos first appeared within a month of women being assigned to the first Marine infantry unit.   Continue reading “Semper Fi? Sex, Social Media, and the Marine Corps”

From Catastrophe to Intervention, Support, and Love

Adam J. Foss shares his vision for prosecutors at the YWCA Racial Justice Breakfast.

In less than ten years, Adam J. Foss has demonstrated how one young lawyer can make a difference.  A cum laude graduate from Suffolk Law School in Boston in 2008, Foss became

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Adam J. Foss via http://www.newprofit.org

a prosecuting attorney who quickly realized just how much power he wielded.  Choosing solutions over a high conviction rate, Foss worked with criminal defendants to achieve justice, something he said never learned in law school.  Foss shares his insights on criminal justice at the YWCA Racial Justice Breakfast on Tuesday, March 21.  The Center will livestream his talk in room 118 at 8 a.m.pic1-5413200bc8a56

Foss has since left the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, to work full time at Prosecutor Integrity, which he co-founded with John Legend and his manager Ty Stiklorius.  This new organization seeks to broaden prosecutors’ perspectives by training them to see defendants as individuals not defined by their crimes and, in so doing, challenge a mindset that measures success in terms of convictions.  In his popular TED talk, Foss said that prosecutors can be the difference between catastrophe and intervention, support, or even love.

To see Foss’s talk at the College of Law, register here.  It’s free and breakfast will be provided.

 

 

The Long Shadow of Race and the Legal Challenges to the Muslim Ban

The revised immigration Executive Order remains a ban on Muslims.

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By Guest Contributor, Nicholas Espiritu

By issuing a new travel ban reportedly framed to address constitutional concerns and avoid protests, the Trump Administration seeks to hit the “reset” button.  But, this executive order’s new language can’t hide the fact that it’s targeting Muslims, not terrorism. Continue reading “The Long Shadow of Race and the Legal Challenges to the Muslim Ban”

Black Feminist Futures Ahead

February 24 Symposium features Dr. Tanisha Ford and discussions about Black feminist theory in higher education, activism, and popular culture.

Building upon the voices of millions of women who, just about a month ago, made clear their opposition President Trump’s call to misogyny, racism, and xenophobia, UC Women’s Center hosts a symposium this coming Friday, February 24 at Tangeman University Center entitled:  Creating Black Feminist Futures.  The Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice proudly co-sponsors this event.  Continue reading “Black Feminist Futures Ahead”

Breaking the Mold?

Melania Trump’s actions suggest she may not be a traditional First Lady.

Could Melania Trump be challenging the traditional First Lady script?  She’s living in New York with her youngest son and recently declined to accompany her Japanese counterpart Akie Abe when she was visited Washington.  Is Mrs. Trump planning to remake the East Wing?   Continue reading “Breaking the Mold?”