Hartford Shows Up at City Hall!

A week ago, hundreds of people flooded to Hartford City Hall to address the Pregnancy Information and Disclosure Ordinance, introduced by Mayor Bronin. The ordinance would require any pregnancy services center to be forthright about the services they provide, and whether there are licensed medical providers on site. 

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The tension in the hallway outside the hearing room was deeply felt. We had been organizing for months documenting the deceptive practices of the CPC, quietly spreading the word in the community, writing, editing, and practicing testimony, and readying the community voices that needed to be heard. My hands were shaking and my voice was raspy as I signed my name on the list to speak first in the lineup of Hartford residents. Regular anti-choice protestors I see outside the clinic stood around the table calling out "Erica, why are you spending so much time looking at the list, what are you doing, Erica? Erica?"-- all in attempt to intimidate. I took a deep breath and said to myself, "Breathe. This is it. We've prepared and brought all the voices in this room. The community is behind you. You've got this."

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Just before the doors of the hearing room opened, the chairman stood up on the table outside the door to address the crowd: residents first, non-residents second. The divide was clear: Outsiders showed up with an anti-choice agenda. Hartford residents showed up to support transparency and honesty. This is what they had to say... 

It’s important that we listen to stories of women, that we hear their voices, that we hear their truths... and to make sure that women in our community, especially low-income black and brown women who this primarily impacts, and residents of Hartford who this primarily impacts, are at the center of the conversation. This is about transparency and honesty.
— Bulaong Ramiz-Hall, Hartford resident
Since the opening of the crisis pregnancy center in our courtyard, I have been collecting stories from our patients. I know that you can hear the energy in my voice tonight because I have sat in the waiting room with our patients and listened to their stories about being confused and intercepted by the crisis pregnancy center. It is heartbreaking for me to see... we have seen patients chased, lied to, and scared.
— Erica Crowley, Hartford resident, Organizer & Volunteer Coordinator, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut & Hartford GYN Center
I’ve encountered people from the CPC and they have never been positive experiences. Over the summer I’ve had the misfortune of watching them become more predatory and aggressive. Just this summer I’ve been followed on foot by representatives who demanded to know if I was there for an abortion or birth control. I was told estrogen and birth control cause cancer, and that they can reverse the abortion pill, in fact that’s on the little card that they pass out. I was approached by someone who represented herself as a nurse.
— Erica, Hartford resident and patient, Hartford GYN Center
I am a mother, a grandmother, a Hartford resident, a co-founder of Moral Monday Connecticut, and a woman of faith. I am appalled at the arrogance of the “Hartford Women’s Center” to blatantly attempt to confuse, mislead, and deceive women looking for legitimate medical care at the Hartford GYN Center... Voices like these claim a moral authority, as if women don’t have the agency to determine what is right for them, their families, or communities.
— Lady Pamela Selders and Bishop John Selders, Moral Monday CT
The deceptive practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers are dangerous for many reasons, but I want to bring to your attention one glaring reason that I’ve recognized. That is the issue of reproductive healthcare access for LGBT+ people, particularly LGBT+ youth like myself... Members of the LGBT+ community, especially LGBT+ youth of color, have a higher risk of having an unintended pregnancy, HIV, and experiencing sexual violence. Additionally, LGBT+ youth, especially transgender youth of color, experience high rates of violence against them. I am concerned about what could happen to a young queer person who accidentally walks through the wrong door when they are seeking medical care.
— Xena, Hartford resident, intern at True Colors, Inc.
I just want to say I’m astonished by how many nonresidents are here tonight... To listen to you come into my city, and say you people are too ignorant to make your own decisions, is offensive. Council — we voted for you to represent us. Not to represent East Granby.
— Kamora Herrington, Hartford resident
I’ve been a Hartford City Resident for 25 years as well as a Women’s Health Provider here in the city, providing care to women and their families in the metropolitan area as a Certified Nurse Midwife... Too often, communities of color or poor communities have been the target of misrepresentation, outright lies and yes, human rights abuses by organizations or authorities in the guise of “helping” them... I applaud the Mayor and Council’s efforts to pass the ordinance. Join me on being “with women”—the true meaning of Midwife.
— Polly Moran, Hartford resident and Certified Nurse Midwife
Do they understand the needs and challenges of the women in our community? In my community? What I see is shaming of women as they are seeking services from a licensed family planning clinic.
— Jenevieve Thompson, Hartford resident, MSW Policy student, University of Connecticut School of Social Work
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Author: Erica Crowley, Organizer & Volunteer Coordinator, NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut and Hartford GYN Center