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NOTORIOUS ABORTIONIST: a conversation with dr. leah torres {official Thing}

(public post)


greetings from long island, where i'm hiding away for a couple days with neil and neil's daughter maddy and her BF for a long weekend of family collapse. i did really want to get this post out the door, though, for your weekend listening pleasure (well, "pleasure").

first, an explanation. i know i've been saying for a while that the podcast is officially launching in september. THIS IS STILL TRUE! but, as i also mention in the intro to this podcast, i didn't want to wait to release this's just too topical and important.

so here goes. 

right before my second show in portland (the last of the north american tour) on june 9th, i sat down with dr. leah torres in a local portland library to talk with her about her work.....and what we can do. 

i believe strongly that if i'm/we're going to get involved in the fight for reproductive rights, we gotta know our shit and start making friends with the right people.

i found dr .torres on twitter a few months ago - i can't remember who followed who first - but i was quickly impressed by her empathetic point of view and her strong stance on women's rights. here was a human being who was actually putting herself out there on a daily basis. i invited her to come to any show on the tour, since she lives in new mexico. she shocked me by saying that she wanted to fly up to portland. i told her that if she was going to come all that way, we might has well do some sort of event and recorded conversation if she was up for it.

oh boy was she up for it.

after looking for a venue online (we used twitter and facebook), multnomah county library in portland put up their hand to host the event, and i really want to give this library a hand. they went above and beyond to host our community and this conversation....a huge thank you to lyndsey and the entire staff at the multnomah county central library for putting their time and energy into making it all happen.

as soon as we locked the venue, we set to work getting a really good recording of whatever the chat was gonna be. we made the tickets to the event FREE.

here we are, right before recording.

we chatted for over an hour....then we took questions from the audience (both from the audience in the room and online).

you can watch the talk HERE , we filmed it on my phone on facebook live:

or, LISTEN.  we used fancy microphones.

it's a really good listen.

without further ado.....the LINK. THIS IS A PUBLIC SOUNDCLOUD LINK, ANYBODY CAN LISTEN! share it around.

thanks to lyndsey runyan of the multnomah county library for the space, chez stock for recording, and the audience for joining us.

.....downloads for $3+ tiers are coming soon. 

i learned things. i hope you do, too.

here’s a link to the book we key bringing up:

i asked leah for an organization to donate a portion of this Thing's proceeds towards, and she recommended the Kentucky Health Justice Network.

so you know: i also asked to cover her travel expenses to make the trip, but leah asked me instead to donate that money to an organization of my choice, and to keep it all in the family...i'm gonna donate that to the kentucky health justice network as we are going to donate a total of $3k!!! that feel goods.

here's what they do.....

Kentucky Health Justice Network builds the power of Kentuckians to achieve reproductive justice. We support this mission through direct support, education and outreach.  
Our work is guided by the reproductive justice framework, developed by women and people of color. We believe reproductive rights are human rights, and that all people should be able to decide if, when, and how to parent. 
KHJN provides direct services through the KHJN Support Fund, a practical support abortion fund. The Fund is a staff supported network of volunteers who help people seeking abortion with financial assistance, transportation, interpretation, and more. Click here to learn more about the Fund or how to access services.
KHJN reaches out to the broader community with "What is Reproductive Justice?" workshops to explore the issues that members of our communities care about, and how those issues relate to reproductive justice. Through a "What is RJ?" presentation, you can learn about the history of the framework, contexts it is used in currently, and why it's different than the pro-choice framework.  Contact us to learn more about these workshops and how to bring one to your group or organization.

KHJN, in collaboration with partners like the T STAR Lab, investigates how trans, genderqueer, and gender non-conforming people in Kentucky access healthcare, and how to ensure healthcare is affordable, responsive, respectful, and inclusive for these communities. Read more about our research at the Trans Health section of this website.

We also facilitate a monthly queer health conversation group. Anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+, queer, or beyond heteronormativity, and who wants to grow and learn, is welcome to join and ask questions respectfully. Together we create an intentionally radical space where we work together on each others' issues and focus on anti-racist, anti-heterosexist, anti-transmisogynistic and anti-cissexist practice. We discuss mental, emotional, and physical health topics identified and agreed upon by the group. Some discussion topics recently have included the Affordable Care Act, endocrinologists and health providers in our area, sexuality such as safe bondage and consent practices, dealing with community members who treat us poorly, and self-care. You can get updates about group meetings at our Facebook page.
We also hold movie nights, book clubs, variety shows, and more.
To get updates, join our mailing list or follow us on social media using the buttons at the top of this page!

here's their site:

groups like this are going to need more and more help as fewer women in these areas can access legal abortion. 

i am glad we could help.


i can't believe this woman actually wanted to be friends with me. 


i now have a real doctor friend? 


this is the article, by the way, from the anti-abortion news site where leah was called a "notorious abortionist". warning, it's hard to read. 

and here some words from My New Friend Dr. Leah Torres herself:

It's funny being asked to reflect on "that time I met Amanda Fucking Palmer"... On my early flight home the morning after our podcast I thought about how I wanted to write down all of my thoughts and feelings... but how could I possibly do this in a way that Amanda would understand how profoundly she touches the souls of people like me? 
I thought, "Maybe I'll email her 'An Open Letter to Amanda Fucking Palmer' but then I thought that was cheesy... and I thought "Who am I? How many people tell her every day how inspiring she is? Like, a lot, right?" So I wrote nothing, thinking the time will come and the moment will present itself. How soon is now? I hung out with a rock star for a day! I should have been dumbstruck and awkward and weird-- but Amanda doesn't let you fall, and she doesn't look down at you from a pedestal, no matter how hard you try to put her up on one. 
I felt like I had known her: like you know a close friend that maybe you don't see very often, but when you get together it's like no time has passed. I'm sure that's because I have followed her peripherally through the years, and I devoured her book, but here's the thing: I felt like she saw me in a similar light. (I could be wrong.) 
We did the podcast and I thought it went smashingly well! We connected. We were there, in front of her family of countless many, me having been welcomed in lovingly as if I had been there all along, and we told our truths. Something that's relatively straight forward but can be complex and sometimes messy. We hoped to inspire others to do the same, and I have a good feeling we did. I can't put my finger on it: Mutual Admiration Society, Mutual Take Down the Patriarchy League, Mutual Not Letting the Bastards Grind Us Down Club, or just plain, simple "Hey, I like you"-- whatever "it" was, there was a connection. 
Could I call Amanda Fucking Palmer "my friend?" Did that just happen??! I giggled to myself as I answered my own thought in the affirmative and wondered why I had ever been nervous to meet up with my friend in the first place. She does that. She is genuine and she will connect with you, if you let her. It's quite remarkable. After hugging her "see ya later" before she went on stage for the last show of her tour, I didn't feel sadness in seeing her off: I felt excited for the next time we would meet, or connect, or work on a project, or have an exchange on Twitter, etc etc. My head was filled with creativity and drive and "go get 'em, lady!" It was UH-mazing.
The dust has settled a bit now but the memories of listening to her book have been on the forefront. The Fraud Police, for example. She hit the nail on the head with that one. Wow. Mine are always on my ass. I remember listening to that part of the book and knowing that we were all the same-- all of us humans on this planet have these things in common. You hear them when she reads her book aloud to you on the app, you hear them when she sings to you as she plays her piano or ukulele... 
We all have so much more in common than we do differences, and the commonalities are SO OBVIOUS because they're all about JUST BEING HUMAN. How can there be so much hate and division in the world when we have this amazing gift called being human?! We all share it, and we all enjoy it so much more when we are together in its experience! 
Amanda talks about "radical compassion" and, although it can be nigh impossible at times, I think it is the only thing that can save us. I received a very scary death threat through Twitter, and it turns out that person did not have the capacity to even leave their own home, let alone make good on my death-- that made me sad for them, and my heart ached thinking about how little human contact they might have, how much love they might be lacking in their life, to drive them to be so hateful to a complete stranger on the Internet. I encounter less threatening hatred (but hatred nonetheless) regularly, but I don't get upset at those people. Weird, right? 
But I do wonder how I might be able to help them, or I wonder what has happened to them in their lives that they hold this inside their hearts. We are all too precious with our brief time on this planet, surrounded by those we love and those who love us for just a moment, for that time to be spent angry and hateful. 
Sure, anger can get things done, but anger at fellow human beings does so much unnecessary damage. Nothing gets done by, nothing is accomplished with, no rewards are given for being angry at people. Be angry at systemic bigotry and hate. Use love to squash these systems out of existence. Live by the code that has never failed me: do unto others as you would have done unto you.
 I don't know you, but I bet if I did, I would love you. 
I would value you. I would ask how you are and really listen to your answer. Let's take all the leaves from Amanda's book of life and see each other with compassion.
Also, I want a ukulele. 
Your friendly neighborhood autonomy protector, 

Leah Torres, MD MS

aw, man. it looks like she's flipping out just as much as i was that we actually made friends.

here's to new friends.

also it looks like i may have to mail somebody a ukulele.


bonus? here's a love pile of all of us backstage right after this conversation and right before my second portland show, backstage at the crystal ballroom....

from left to right: storm, colleen, leah, me, fiona.

speaking of autonomy, storm large - who i also interviewed for the upcoming podcast, has a few shows coming up next week in portland at the portland center stage at the armory, the run is close to selling out:

june 25-30th



i love you all.

have a great weekend.



p.s. photo of me & leah by michael mccomiskey, graphic design for podcast by andrew nelson


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