Tacoma Protests the Abortion Bans

On Tuesday, May 21, several Tacoma residents gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse to speak out for women’s rights and to protect access to abortion.  I was incredibly proud to see such a strong turnout and meet some great people. Here are some photos from the event.

It is great to see so many young people involved in this fight.
But, the fact that this fight is still going on today is infuriating. Women deserve bodily autonomy.
Mothers understand the importance of protecting the right of autonomy for our daughters.
It’s our duty to ensure the next generation understands their rights and how to fight for them.
We can’t keep letting history repeat itself.
When abortion is illegal, women die.
The Raging Grannies were on hand to encourage us to speak up and sing out.
Here’s a closeup of some of the lyrics.
We can’t sit back and watch our rights be stolen.
When one group is attacked, it paves the way for other vulnerable populations to be attacked. The abortion bans are not about protecting life. The bans are about taking power away from women — just as other conservative policies are doing to immigrants, people of color, LGBTQIA individuals, low-income populations, and more.
If we want change, we must stand together.
We need to fight for human rights.

 

For more pictures from this event, please visit my photo gallery.

The Fight Against Fracked Gas: Activism and Changing Minds

Governor Jay Inslee has changed his mind and says he is now opposed to the Liquefied Natural Gas Plant in Tacoma, WA. My first impression regarding his change of mind was cynicism. Activists have been fighting for years to protect not only the potential danger to our community from a leak in the storage facility or a derailed train, but those communities in which toxic fracking operations already poison and deplete the water supply. In fact, here is a podcast I produced in 2016 with some of the activists that first brought the dangers of the Tacoma LNG project specifically to the public’s attention. [This was after our community’s successful battle against the proposed Methanol plant.] But this is a huge fight, and we need all the allies we can get: late to the battlefield or not.

We need to pay attention to the science and keep fighting for sound environmental policies. Climate change is real, man-made, and threatens the safety of our current and future generations. The disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color necessitates that anyone interested in protecting human rights also pay attention to environmental protections.

Use your skills to contribute to this fight: Do your research with credible resources. Question funding sources for studies. Continue to hold elected officials and candidates accountable on these issues. Use the PDC to track campaign contributions. Write letters. Call representatives. Organize rallies. Make posters. Share information via social media. And parents/ educators, teach your kids why activism is so important. Change is possible and imperative.

Georgia’s Anti-Abortion Law is an Attack on Women Everywhere

Under Georgia’s new abortion law, I would very likely be in prison.

I miscarried in 2011 after being exposed to tear gas while working abroad for a major local university; my student employee insurance (in our very own progressive Washington State) wouldn’t cover me fully. At first, I was told they didn’t cover “elective abortions”, and then that my D&C for contractions, bleeding, and preventing potentially deadly complications wasn’t an emergency. I was told I should have flown back to Seattle from Athens, Greece (my assigned worksite), to get help in network. I spent years dealing with the fallout of not having my reproductive health care fully protected: paperwork that went nowhere, getting letters from licensed doctors in Greece AND the US that still weren’t considered enough evidence, doing independent reviews of research in a field where men’s bodies are considered the standard and women’s bodies deviations to the accepted model, testifying at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, attending lobbying events at every chance with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. I never got full resolution. I was left with medical bills and the impact on my career with my employer of more than 3 years. I couldn’t imagine having to prove to law enforcement that I failed to carry to term because of law enforcement’s abusive crowd control tactics.

This is a direct quote from Mark Joseph Stern’s May 7, 2019 Slate article:

“Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses. Even women who seek lawful abortions out of state may not escape punishment. If a Georgia resident plans to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. An individual who helps a woman plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion, or transports her to the clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy. These individuals, after all, are ‘conspiring’ to end of the life of a ‘person’ with ‘full legal recognition’ under Georgia law.”

One half of the population of one state has now been put in a position where their fertility and ability/ willingness to carry a baby to term determines their status as free individuals. One fucking half of the population. I shouldn’t even have to address anything further, but that impacts children, spouses, elderly parents depending on women (daughters/ daughters-in-law) for caregiving, employers whose workers will now be expected to take time off work to get reproductive care outside the state and/or spend time in court defending themselves for what should be a personal decision.

This can and will be used as a precedent for other states. If you weren’t political before, get political. Call your representatives today and tell them reproductive health care is a human right. Donate to Planned Parenthood, Cedar Rivers Clinic, NARAL Pro-Choice, and abortion funds in your community. Volunteer as a clinic escort. And contact the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp (here is his Facebook page), to tell him the abortion ban is a vile and blatant violation of the US Constitution.

When You Love Somebody…

… Sometimes you have to call them out.

It’s February, so I should be devoting time to my Valentine, Isobel. She just turned 4 this last week. Every day she does something else to remind me how quickly she’s growing, and how soon this magical time will be gone.

But the time I could be spending with my little one has been spent actively fighting a new danger to my Northwest community. It’s not bad enough that our local government has proven to be nothing more than a way for rich residents to play dynasty. Our Port has leased land to a Chinese LLC which aims to build the world’s largest methanol refinery to date using fracked gas in Tacoma. Methanol is a highly combustible compound, and the refinery will be placed next to a new natural gas facility, amplifying the potential for worst case scenarios (leaks, explosions, irreversible damage to water and soil, worsening of air quality, increasing health disparity, etc.).

I have been attending Environmental Impact Scoping meetings every chance I get. The most recent meeting I attended saw 1200+ residents against and three paid representatives for the project. The plant will use up to 20,000 gallons of water a minute despite the world wide shortage of clean water and a global rallying cry to convert to green energy. The purpose of the methanol refinery? Making plastics in China.

As an appointed member of the City of Tacoma Human Rights Commission, I was particularly troubled by the Tacoma Fire Department’s plan for detainees in the Northwest Immigration Detention Center that in case of catastrophe, there will not be an evacuation, instead they are to “shelter in place.”

So Tacoma, I love you, but I’m calling you out.

And for those who come to this page looking for cute drawings, not politics, I leave you the first in a series of illustrated responses to the proposed Tacoma Methanol Refinery. so as not to disappoint.

 

Otter_Destruction_Draft
Draft: Otter Destruction. 2016. S. Skaar

I’ll post the finished illustration when it’s complete. If you want to learn more about the methanol refinery and how you can help protect our environment, please check out Red Line Tacoma.

Tear Gas Exposure

While we try to keep politics off the studio page, there are certain events we cannot let pass by without comment. Our nation claims to provide the constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and speech, and yet protesters are met with tear gas and rubber bullets. People of Ferguson and other global revolutions, our thoughts are with you. Please share this information regarding tear gas exposure. It’s not a joke. Our studio is named for our daughter who’s here, but I don’t go a day without thinking about the child we lost to tear gas in 2011.

Don’t let this violation of civil rights go on. We deserve the right to be heard as citizens of this world, regardless of race or socio-economic class.

Suzanne

Ban Tear Gas Now!

If tear gas is deployed and you are exposed, please remember that this is not a joke. It is not harmless, and others around you may be impacted by it more than you. Even if you don’t immediately feel the effects, seek medical assistance quickly. Rinse your eyes and discard clothing that has been exposed as soon as possible. In some cases, water can actually reactivate the tear gas, which is why it is important to seek medical attention.

If you are pregnant, remain calm, but immediately leave the area. Tell others so that they can assist you. Get to the nearest emergency room and explain what has happened. Demand an ultrasound and a plan for follow-up care. Do not let a doctor brush off your exposure due to a lack of experience on his or her part. US Poison Control may state that at as long as you were…

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