A heartfelt goodbye to an atheist icon.

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Four Decades and 20,000 Abortions Later, Anne Nicol Gaylor’s Organization is Still Going Strong

Anne Nicol Gaylor is an 86-year-old abortion provider with no medical training of her own. Her “office supplies” consist of little more than a pen, paper, checkbook, and a telephone. On a Tuesday morning this past July, in a retirement home just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, I sat in her living room as we waited for calls from women who needed (or wanted) to obtain abortions but just didn’t have the ability to pay for them. She is their last hope for a handout.

As the founder of Women’s Medical Fund, Inc., a non-profit group she formed in 1976, Gaylor asks intimate questions of strangers without the slightest hesitation. There’s no time for emotion. There’s work to be done.

Are you single or married?

How much money do you make?

Did you use contraception?

Is the man involved helping you?

How much will your procedure cost?

Did you see a doctor yet?

Have you had an ultrasound?

Gaylor has answered the phone like this more than 20,000 times. Since 1995, WMF has raised and spent nearly $3,000,000 to help women, with most of the money — just over $200, on average, per caller — going to a small handful of providers like Planned Parenthood. The funding comes mostly from individual donors, though about a quarter of the funding last year came from foundation grants. Its mission is to make sure that a woman’s right to reproductive choice is not denied because she doesn’t have enough money, regardless of whether the pregnancy is unintended or unwanted. The organization has no paid staffers, only dedicated volunteers. And, for the moment, Gaylor is just sitting in her recliner, waiting for the next caller, waiting to write her next check.

Anne Gaylor at her 80th birthday party (via Annie Laurie Gaylor)

Depending on who you ask, I’m sitting in front of a sweet woman in the final years of her life or someone who will dread meeting her Maker; a modern-day savior or a prolific serial killer; one of the great feminist activists of the past several decades or, as one newspaper columnist put it, “Granny Blood-Money.”

There are only a few prerequisites that must be met before a check can be written: the caller must live in (or plan to obtain the abortion from a shortlist of clinics in) Wisconsin, she must be more than eight weeks pregnant, and she must visit a clinic to confirm her pregnancy. Once Gaylor can verify that information, she writes out a check for up to $400 directly to the hospital, clinic, or physician performing the procedure. She also refers the callers to another national organization that may be able to write out an additional check, allowing the women to pay as little out of pocket as possible. Gaylor used to give out some of the money as a loan, hoping to get paid back eventually, but she knows better now. The women are just too poor. Still, she tries to get them to put up a little money of their own, even if it’s only $25, so that they don’t see her fund as a form of free birth control.

When I ask Gaylor how young her callers are, she opens up a nearby nightstand and pulls out a folder containing a stack of papers, all records of her phone conversations over the past few days. A sheet near the top documents a phone call she received the day before my visit, concerning a 13-year-old girl who had been raped by her 17-year-old brother.

How is anyone even supposed to process information like that?

I’m not sure whether to follow up with a question about the incest, the rape, or their ages. All crimes are reported to the police by the clinics, so Gaylor doesn’t deal with those issues. Her primary concern is whether the caller (in this case, the girl’s older sister) can pay for the procedure.

She’s immune to the horror stories by now. While it’s the first time I’ve ever heard such an awful story, she hears them on a regular basis. The youngest caller this year, she tells me, was only 11.

Gaylor knows the trends, too. While she hears from women all throughout the month, the calls tend to come near the end of the week, when some of the women receive a paycheck, and around the first of the month, when the welfare checks arrive. They don’t cry as much as they used to. They all cried when abortions were harder to come by, she recalls, but now only some shed tears. Most are just nervous. Emotional. Worried about how to pay for it. Wondering how they’ll reconcile their religious faith with their decision. Wondering if they can keep this a secret from their immediate and extended families.

Do you ever hear back from the women who call for help? She shakes her head. Few of them ever want to talk about the procedure after it’s happened. Gaylor herself has never had an abortion. In 1958, a few years after giving birth to her fourth child, she had a tubal ligation (something she highly recommends to women who’ll listen).

I wonder if there’s anything that could help make things better for her organization. More donations? Paid staffers? Nope. None of that. She just wishes women had easier access to birth control. She wishes young women could more easily report instances of rape and get immediate help. But “as long as men keep attacking women, you’re going to have a need” for abortion services.

Women’s Medical Fund, Inc. unofficially began in March of 1970, just after Wisconsin’s anti-abortion laws were declared unconstitutional by a district court. The ruling effectively made first-trimester abortions legal in the state. (It wasn’t until 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, took a similar position.)

Gaylor was already a vocal abortion-rights advocate at the time. In 1967, she wrote an editorial (she believes it to be the first of its kind) in favor of an overhaul of the state’s abortion laws. In the years to follow, she joined the Association for the Study of Abortion and the Wisconsin Committee to Legalize Abortion, spoke about the issue on radio and TV shows, and wrote a number of letters-to-the-editor of local newspapers. But in 1970, building off a program launched by scientist Paul Ehrlich, Gaylor began the Zero Population Growth Referral Service (ZPG), where she could direct women to cities where abortion services were readily available. After the Wisconsin court’s ruling, her phone began ringing — women knew they could get abortions now, but they weren’t sure from where, and they believed the outspoken Gaylor would have the answers.

On August 12, 1970, Gaylor placed an ad in two local newspapers that included ZPG’s post office box and her personal phone number. The ad urged women to contact her if their doctors weren’t helping them obtain an abortion. In the weeks to follow, nearly 100 women contacted her. Playboy magazine later mentioned her as a resource for women who needed such help, which only ramped up the number of phone calls. (“Contrary to popular opinion,” she later wrote, “Playboy readers rarely went to bed.”)

Unfortunately, local hospitals were expensive, often had long waiting periods, and required getting through all sorts of bureaucratic red tape (including, in one hospital’s case, letters from two physicians confirming that the procedure was required to save the life of the woman). One provider in Madison, Dr. Alfred Kennan, opened up an outpatient clinic for women who needed abortions, but he was limited to seeing about 100 patients a week. It wasn’t long before Gaylor began referring her callers to sites in Mexico, where the total cost for the flight, procedure, and hotel room was still less than a trip to the expensive hospital next door. (Abortions were illegal in Mexico, and still are in many parts of the country, but bribes to police officers allowed some doctors to practice without problem.) Referrals to New York soon followed.

With the help of University of Wisconsin professor Robert West, Gaylor began Women’s Medical Fund, Inc. in 1972 as an outgrowth of the service she was already providing. It was incorporated as a non-profit in 1976 and is now said to be the country’s largest and oldest independent, all-volunteer abortion fund.

The Hyde Amendment, passed by Congress in 1976 and still in effect today, resulted in an even greater demand for Gaylor’s service. The legislation bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, with exceptions made only for rape, incest, and to save the life of the woman. Because Medicaid funds are included in this ban, poor women are disproportionately affected and they frequently need financial help to go through with the procedure. According to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which WMF is a member of, “[t]here are 15 states that use their own money to pay for abortion care as part of their Medicaid programs, but there are 35 that do not.” Wisconsin is one of the 35.

WMF no longer advertises as it once did, but local clinics are aware of it and they frequently refer clients who need financial assistance to Gaylor’s organization. It’s not hard to see why: the non-profit has virtually no overhead costs and, as the group’s financial records show, more than 99% of its income goes right back to paying for abortion care.

If you called WMF today, using information available on some older websites, you might reach the offices of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), another organization Gaylor founded in the late 1970s. FFRF is a church/state separation watchdog, writing letters of complaint to those who appear to be violating the First Amendment and filing lawsuits against them if needed. Gaylor officially retired from the organization in 2004, though she still holds the title of “president emerita.” Staffers at FFRF screen the callers and only then give them Gaylor’s direct line — to the phone in her living room — offering her an additional layer of security. (Most clinics, after screening the women, give them Gaylor’s number directly.)

After 61 years of marriage, Gaylor’s husband Paul died of brain cancer in 2011 and she moved into the retirement home where she now lives in the summer of 2012. Gaylor herself suffers from macular degeneration and glaucoma, but her voice, while frail, is still strong enough to answer the calls. (Her daughter Annie Laurie Gaylor said about her in a 2004 tribute, “She may be losing her eyesight, but she is not losing her vision.”)

Gaylor’s only daughter inherited her mother’s activist streak. Annie Laurie Gaylor is one of the co-presidents of the FFRF, along with Dan Barker, and she’s also no stranger to anger from the opposition. At FFRF’s headquarters in Madison, they even have a system in place for dealing with all the hate-mail they receive: Serious threats go in one pile, angry letters go in another.

According to Annie Laurie, fighting for church/state separation is similar to fighting for abortion rights, but “they want to kill you more” when you do abortion work.

The elder Gaylor is used to that kind of hostility, too. When I asked how she responded to threats, her voice became a little stronger, a little more confident.

“I ignore them.”

Anne Nicol Gaylor and daughter Annie Laurie stand near the family tombstone (via Annie Laurie Gaylor)

Just as I’m leaving Gaylor’s apartment, with my computer packed up and my keys in hand, the phone rings. Gaylor answers it while instinctively picking up a pen and a form. She listens quietly for a few seconds while jotting down some basic information about the caller. Gaylor asks where she’s from. And how much the provider is charging. And if she’s visited the clinic for her first appointment. There’s an extended pause after that question, after which I hear Gaylor gently cut in: “You have to have that appointment before I can take your application, because at that point, they will do the ultrasound which will confirm exactly how far you are, and then they’ll be able to tell you exactly what the cost will be.”

The call lasts only two minutes before Gaylor hangs up the phone and smiles at me. “Ordinarily, they’re more interesting to listen to,” she jokes.

WMF won’t last — can’t last — much longer in its current form. Gaylor won’t always be around to answer the phone. But a contingency plan has already been drawn up. When the time comes, the group’s board of directors and additional volunteers will take over the phone calls and other menial tasks that Gaylor has been doing for decades now. They haven’t worked out all the logistics yet, but thankfully, they haven’t had to. They’re considering getting a dedicated cell phone that is assigned to volunteers during shifts or getting a phone number that goes straight to voicemail and having volunteers call the women back. For now, Gaylor is able to answer all the calls herself on a landline without leaving her home.

One of WMF’s board members, Nora Cusack, wrote to me that if abortion services were covered by health insurance providers or Medicaid the same way as other medical procedures, the phone might just stop ringing. Or at least not ring as much. That, too, would ease the succession problem.

Gaylor’s mission when she began WMF was to help women obtain legal abortions even if they couldn’t afford them. That mission hasn’t changed, but as she sits back down to wait for the next call, she reflects on the grander vision she has for the future: “It would be nice to not be needed.”

-Best wishes to the family of Anne Nicol Gaylor, a woman who did more for humanity than most in taking care of the needs of women and fighting religious bullies on their own ground! This is a sad time for all who respect the separation of church and state.

Scumbags

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It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of one of the New York prison escapees………Haaaaaa! Just kidding! Death to the next scumbag once they catch him! I hope he rides the lead sled to a painful sleep!

Win! Win!

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Washington (CNN)In a landmark opinion, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, establishing a new civil right and handing gay rights advocates a victory that until very recently would have seemed unthinkable.

The 5-4 ruling had Justice Anthony Kennedy writing for the majority with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.

The far-reaching decision settles one of the major civil rights fights of this era — one that has rapidly evolved in the minds of the American pubic and its leaders, including President Barack Obama. He struggled publicly with the issue and ultimately embraced same-sex marriage in the months before his 2012 re-election.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Kennedy wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.”

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia blasted the Court’s “threat to American democracy.”

“The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me,” he wrote. “But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.”

The relevant cases were argued earlier this year. Attorney John Bursch, serving as Michigan’s Special Assistant Attorney General, defended four states’ bans on gay marriage before the Court, arguing that the case was not about how to define marriage, but rather about who gets to decide the question.

The case came before the Supreme Court after several lower courts overturned state bans on gay marriage. A federal appeals court had previously ruled in favor of the state bans, with Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals writing a majority opinion in line with the rationale that the issue should be decided through the political process, not the courts.

Fourteen couples and two widowers challenged the bans. Attorneys Mary Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier presented their case before the Court, arguing that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right for all people and should not be left to popular vote.

Three years after President Barack Obama first voiced his support for gay couples’ right to marry, his administration supported the same sex couples at the Supreme Court.

4 things we learned about John Roberts

“Gay and lesbian people are equal,” Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices at the oral arguments earlier this year. “It is simply untenable — untenable — to suggest that they can be denied the right of equal participation in an institution of marriage, or that they can be required to wait until the majority decides that it is ready to treat gay and lesbian people as equals.

The same-sex couples who challenged gay marriage bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio were just a few of the estimated 650,000 same-sex couples in the United States, 125,000 of whom are raising children.

The challenges included same-sex couples who wanted to marry, those who sought to have their lawful out-of-state marriage recognized, as well as those who wanted to amend a birth or death certificate with their marriage status.

By the numbers: Same-sex marriage

The lead plaintiff in the case is Jim Obergefell who married his spouse John Arthur in 2013 months before Arthur died.

The couple, who lived in Ohio, had to travel to Maryland aboard a medical jet to get married when Arthur became gravely ill. And when Arthur died, Obergefell began to fight to be recognized as Arthur’s spouse on his death certificate.

Map: Where same-sex marriage is recognized in the U.S.

The plaintiffs from Michigan are April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two Detroit-area nurses who are also foster parents. They took to the courts after they took in four special-needs newborns who were either abandoned or surrendered at birth, but could not jointly adopt the children because Michigan’s adoption code requires that couples be married to adopt.

Milestones for LGBT rights

Sgt. Ijpe Dekoe and Thomas Kostura became plaintiffs in the gay marriage case after they moved to Tennessee from New York.

The pair had married in New York in 2011, but Dekoe’s position in the Army took the couple to Tennessee, which banned gay marriage and refused to recognize gay marriages performed in other states.

–SCOTUS has finally stepped in where others were afraid to tread and FUCK Antonin Scalia and his dissent! Finally a sweeping tribute to freedom and a definite slap in the face to conservative cousin-fucking Duggerites!

The gospel of lies

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Joel Osteen’s church theft opens can of worms: Jaws drop as folks do the math

Joel Osteen recently reported the theft of $600,000 from the safe in his church, but the theft wasn’t the only information of interest revealed. After finding out that this large chunk of money was from just one weekend of Osteen’s collected church donations, jaws dropped around the nation.

Joel Osteen's church robbery opens a can of worms!

According to News Max on March 18, it didn’t take long for folks on the outside to do the math. Based on Osteen’s reported amount of money in this theft, it appears his Lakewood Church takes in an estimated $32 million a year, but some say that is a very low estimate. Calculator keys were punched around the nation taking the $600,000 for Olsteen’s weekend donation collection and multiplying this by the 52 weeks in a year.

Many consider this a conservative estimate of donations this church receives, as March is just an average month with no holidays for the church. The spirit of giving around the Christmas holidays has to net this church more than the average week. Then there’s Easter and other holidays, not to mention the weekdays. The amount reported taken from the church was only for their take over a weekend.

Osteen’s church released a statement at the time of the theft last week saying:

“It is important to note this was not an electronic data breach, but was instead limited to donations made in the services on March 8 and 9, 2014. You were not affected if you put your offering in a drop box, you gave online or through other electronic means, or you made a bookstore purchase.”

If you combine the stolen money with what Osteen’s church rakes in from “other electronic means” and from the folks who give “online,” this amount must be astronomical. The “electronic” and “online” donations were an undisclosed amount of money that wasn’t included in the money stolen. Putting all this together you are more than likely talking about a substantial amount of money, much more than the estimate of $32 million each year.

With Osteen’s best selling books, his TV work and the tours around the world, Osteen and his church are more than likely reaping rewards that are unimaginable.

If you think about it, this heist got the sum of money that you’d expect to hear was raked in from a casino heist! It seems that the reported theft of the money in Osteen’s church last week opened a new can of worms. It’s the church’s astronomical donations that should really be the headlines here. What happened to the days of the poor boxes filled with change?

-Funny how stupid people can be huh? 99.99% of these people are taking an 84 Billion dollar a year tax break on their backs and have been for some time!

Yoomanists and tha poor!

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I am a person who is really prejudiced against the poor because I lived in Section 8 housing and was homeless until I was 18 years old. I see the ‘Will work for food.'; people as a plague of lazy assholes apart from the mentally ill who cannot help the things that they do.

I overcame the assholes who were in charge to accomplish the middle class goals that I have met today. I send my children to guitar and ballet lessons because that is what responsible people do! Where is the Government agency to keep meth head assholes people from having kids? Someone needs to take responsibility to keep these irresponsible assholes from bringing kids into the wonderful welfare world in which they exist!

Keep these assholes from propagating and and the pregnancies of these useless assholes!!

Bigoted asshole!

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Wells Fargo’s gay couple ad sparks evangelist protest
By Jackie Wattles @jackiewattles

In April, Wells Fargo became the first American bank to feature an LGBT relationship in its ads
Christian Evangelist Franklin Graham has sparked an angry Facebook debate about gay rights when he announced he is pulling all of his organization’s millions out of Wells Fargo accounts in response to the bank’s recent ad campaign featuring a lesbian couple.
“Have you ever asked yourself–how can we fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community?” Graham wrote in a Facebook post on June 5. “At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are moving our accounts from Wells Fargo to another bank.”

That new bank will be BB&T, the association confirmed. But social media users were quick to point out the North Carolina-based bank is a sponsor for Miami Beach Gay Pride, an annual festival celebrating the LGBT community.
In response to Graham’s decision, BB&T’s chief corporate communications officer, Cythina Williams, issued a statement saying the bank “embraces diversity and inclusion for our associates and in all aspects of our business” — but the company declined to take a formal position on gay rights, saying its sponsorship of the gay pride event does not imply an endorsement.
Graham’s association is moving forward either way. A spokesperson confirmed the organization has begun the 30-day process of moving its accounts, which could total more than $100 million. According to the most recent financial disclosure forms available for the nonprofit, BGEA was worth $128 million in 2013.
Graham is the 62-year-old son of famed televangelist Billy Graham, who became internationally known in the 1950s for his large religious rallies and radio/TV sermons. The younger Graham now heads the North Carolina-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association — which continues to broadcast sermons, coordinate community service and offers a $99 online school of Evangelism.
In addition to closing his accounts with Wells Fargo, Graham wrote that he plans to boycott Tiffany & Co. (TIF) in response to an ad the jeweler released in January that shows two men getting engaged.
franklin graham
Franklin Graham is the president and CEO of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Graham’s Facebook (FB, Tech30) post received more 95,000 likes and 42,600 shares, but not all responses were positive. Its 11,000-plus comments contain a slew of angered users that disagree with Graham’s stance.
“It is so hypocritical of him and so many others to pick just the one rule from a plethora of rules that allows them to discriminate against a group of people that they consider less than,” one user, Betty Miliano, wrote in a recent comment. “They know that they have lost this battle and are on the wrong side of history.”
Related: Bogus gay marriage study sends news outlets scrambling
Wells Fargo (CBEAX) stood behind its ad campaign and issued a statement saying its support of the LGBT community “reflects our company’s values.”
“We were not naive to think that there would be no negative responses,” Wells Fargo spokesperson Valerie Williams said. She added that the vast majority of reactions to the ad were not in line with Graham’s, and overall the response was “overwhelmingly positive.”
Tiffany & Co. also responded to Graham’s post. Spokesperson Carson Glover said, “We want everyone who shops with us to feel welcome and appreciated.” He also pointed to a February press release from the company saying the nontraditional couples depicted in the ad “represent the spectrum of people who visit Tiffany every day.”
Graham is also the president and CEO of the $200 million humanitarian aid nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, though a spokesperson for the organization said its finances are handled by a different bank.

-How about you take your assets and stuff them up your myth-believing, hate speech riddled asshole, you tent revival, bible-beating bigot!! Fuck you and fuck your church of the poisoned mind you Chik-Fil-A gobbling jackass!