Pedal to the Metal: Trust Women in Oklahoma

by | Jul 22, 2016 | Reproductive Rights

Two weeks after Dr. George Tiller was assassinated at his church, I told his wife I was going to re-establish abortion services in Wichita, Kansas. The city, because of my mentor’s murder, had become the largest in the country without a provider.

“Are you crazy?” I asked myself while driving home that day.

I may be crazy, but I am committed. I founded the Trust Women Foundation in 2009, and Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center opened April 3, 2013.

Three years later, Trust Women is opening its second clinic in Oklahoma City, which is now the largest metropolitan city without a provider.

I grew up in Oklahoma. Although it can be politically hostile to women, the state is dear to my heart. So when we began talking about where to expand, the Sooner state made sense.

Trust Women’s mission is simple: We open clinics that provide abortion care in underserved communities so that all women can make their own decisions about their health care.

But fulfilling our mission is difficult. We focus on the Midwest and the South, in red states with long-held conservative, anti-choice views.

Our Oklahoma City clinic will be the first new clinic licensed there in 40 years. The city has been without an abortion provider since 2014, and those who would like it to stay that way have been vocal.

Advocacy is a big part of what we do at Trust Women. We pushed back against the blatantly unconstitutional SB 1552, passed by Oklahoma legislators but vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin, which would have made performing an abortion a felony. We spoke out against the ban of a medically proven method of abortion, recognizing that physicians know how to best treat their patients.

In Oklahoma, we also have advocated against the state’s required 72-hour waiting period. A woman doesn’t need three additional days after she makes an appointment for an abortion to consider whether she wants to become a mother. Women — not politicians — know what is best for themselves and their families.

Dr. Tiller always knew that.

After the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, we are exploring our options in Oklahoma and Kansas. Because abortion remains one of the safest medical procedures — safer than childbirth and plastic surgery — hospital admitting privileges and burdensome construction requirements do nothing but penalize women by making abortion care more difficult to access.

When we open clinics, we galvanize local supporters so people in the community are empowered to stand up for reproductive choice.

Trust Women has a history of overcoming forceful opposition and successfully navigating onerous and unnecessary regulations. We’ve done it in Kansas, and we will make our mark in Oklahoma as well.

As Dr. Tiller always said, “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”