Trust Women opposes Sen. Session’s nomination

Greg Nash

I am a target of death threats, bomb threats, harassment and intimidation. I am a target because I am the founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation, an organization that provides abortion for women in underserved communities.

From this perch, I vehemently object the incoming administration and the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States.

{mosads}Sooner than we can fathom, we will have a president occupying the White House whose comments on the campaign trail and nominations for his cabinet — particularly his nominee for attorney general — instill fear in women across the country who value the ability to control their own bodies. President-elect Trump has said that women might have to travel farther for abortion care — a burden many women already face. He also advocated for punishing women who have abortion in this country

The attorney general enforces one of the most important laws that protects patients and staff entering reproductive health clinics — the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (commonly called the “FACE Act”). The law was enacted to protect the very rights to which Sen. Sessions has expressed long-standing opposition. Sen. Sessions holds views that are hostile to reproductive rights and, as a result, I fear he may be uncommitted to punishing wrongdoers through the FACE Act and may not direct federal law enforcement to protect people, such as myself, my staff and most importantly, our patients.

I want to be clear: Anti-choice protesters have used slogans and signs such as “Finish the Job,” “Prepare to Meet Thy God” and “Where is Your Church?” in their attempts to intimidate me and others at our workplaces and homes.

I know these are not idle threats. On May 31, 2009, my boss, Dr. George Tiller, was fatally shot by anti-abortion extremist. On that devastating Sunday morning, Dr. Tiller was simply serving as an usher at church when his life was ended. In response, Attorney General Eric Holder directed the U.S. Marshals Service to offer protection to other abortion providers across the country. Would Sen. Sessions do the same as attorney general?

Two weeks after Dr. Tiller’s murder, I told his widow that I was going to re-open his clinic. It didn’t take long for anti-choice activists to learn of my plans. They harassed and tried to intimidate me.

Shortly after I bought the clinic, David Leach, affiliated with the Army of God (an extremist anti-choice group), had a 45-minute phone conversation (recorded by prison officials) with Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Dr. Tiller. In that conversation, Leach expressed that by opening the clinic I had put a target on my back, and Scott Roeder agreed. They insinuated that someone might murder me as well.

The business of reproductive healthcare is certainly not for the faint of heart. And while I am not one to be cowed, I do fully believe that I — along with my staff and my patients — deserve protection from our government (including and especially our attorney general) from anti-choice extremists.

As we move into this new Trump regime, I call on everyone who believes that women’s rights need to be protected and preserved to call their senators to oppose Sen. Sessions’ nomination.

Julie A. Burkhart is the founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation. Trust Women opens clinics that provide abortion care in underserved communities so that all women can make their own decisions about their healthcare.

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Tags anti-abortion Eric Holder Jeff Sessions Jeff Sessions
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