, 30 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
I've seen loads of people discussing the #Alabama #AbortionRights issue this morning, shocked that this could happen. As an anthropologist and (former) six-year resident of "lower Alabama" (FL panhandle), let me give you a bit of history.

I lived in Pensacola, FL, for six years, as a tenure-track (and then tenured) professor at the University of West Florida. I got a job offer there in summer of 2012.

As I started looking into the place that would be the new home for me, my husband, and our then-3-year-old daughter, this was the top news item:


My partner and I planned to have a second kid, which meant my establishing an OBGYN in town. I started digging further into Pensacola's history with anti-abortion activists and learned that it's been ground zero since the 1990s:


From that PNJ article, "Pensacola was the hotbed of the whole movement. [...] It's still somewhat puzzling why exactly, but I think a common thread is the fundamentalist culture there..." LA Times reporter James Risen said.

Pensacola suffered numerous shootings in the 1990s of abortion providers and other clinic workers and family members:


It was within this milieu that I started a tenure-track job in anthropology and considered ways to have a safe pregnancy and delivery. I first went to the website "Pro Life OBGYNs" in order to rule out those doctors.


I can't find him now, but there's a famous antiabortion obgyn in Pensacola who travels the country showing horrific videos that lie about this (important, life-saving, and necessary) medical procedure. I was shocked to find that out.

So I picked a large OBGYN practice that had female doctors when I decided I wanted to have a second kid. Made an appointment with the nurse practitioner and, halfway through the appointment, just straight up asked if their facility provides abortion care.

I was 36 at the time and, as a bioanthropologist, knew that pregnancies at that age can mean issues. I wanted to be assured of my options. She told me that they did not provide that, but some of the doctors would be able to refer me to someone who could if I needed one.

At the time, the closest abortion services to me in Pensacola were in Mobile, Alabama, an hour's drive away. As a white woman of means, I reasoned that I was OK with that. And my pregnancy and delivery were relatively uncomplicated in the end.

As I lived and worked in Pensacola, I witnessed a rise in anti-abortion sentiment. The public university I worked at, UWF, had ads for "Safe Harbor", a crisis pregnancy center. If you don't know what one of these is, let John Oliver tell you:

I got so furious that my public university was allowing a Christian-centered CPC to advertise that I complained all the way up to the president of the university, a fellow anthropologist. She shrugged and said she didn't intend to do anything about the CPC ads.

And, to be honest, I think that CPCs and the anti-abortion movement worked in Pensacola (and work across much of the Deep South) because of a deadly combination of guns and an insular mentality:


And that insularity is in part due to the fact that many people don't have the means to travel. The number of people in the US with a valid passport is about 40%. But the number in certain states, like Alabama, is MUCH lower:


I've been an anthropologist for about 15 years now, having taught at community college, large state uni, regional uni, and private uni. And I've found, across the board, that the students who have traveled and have seen how other people live and work are...

... more open to understanding others' experiences. But those who have had little education or travel outside their natal community are much more insular and prone to believing an echo chamber. Having taught anthropology for 15 years, I tried to open minds.

But, to be honest, teaching in Pensacola was tough. From students who didn't "believe" in human evolution to those who refused to do any assignment that required them to read the "fake news" NY Times to those who brought guns to class.

When I had my second daughter, I delivered at the best hospital in town (a Catholic one, with crucifixes on the wall). But I also didn't have a job for a semester, as UWF had no paid maternity leave. My privilege and wealth allowed me both of these things.

So when people say they're surprised & shocked about Alabama's latest regressive legislation, I tell them about my experiences & about the history of southern AL & the FL panhandle in terms of abortion, violence, CPCs, insularity, and lack of maternity/postnatal care.

TIL: The Planned Parenthood in Mobile is closed for renovations until the end of 2019. I have no idea where lower AL/FL residents would go for high-quality abortion care now. Probably Tallahassee, which is 2.5hr drive from Pensacola. 😨
Oh, and PS: If anyone is curious about the true nature of Pensacola, just remember that it's in FL-1, the congressional district represented by the most notorious right-wing troll in congress, Matt Gaetz. Not only did my neighbors and colleagues vote him in, they *reelected* him.
A relevant link about Pensacola's congresscritter's regressive ideas about abortion and straight-up pandering to religious fundamentalists:

And Gaetz's Democratic opponent in his 2018 reelection? Dr. Jennifer Zimmerman, a physician who ran on a platform of increased funding for public education and healthcare, among other issues. Electing Gaetz was no accident, as he handily trumped Zimmerman w/ 67% of the vote.
FL-1 is as white and under-educated and under-employed as any "flyover" county that the national media likes to talk to. 78% white, unemployment at a ridiculously high 10%, and a much lower than national avg college grad rate. (From Ballotpedia)
In terms of health stats, NW FL is also miserable. If you look at stats for just Escambia Co (where Pensacola is), there's a higher-than-state-avg rate of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Also of infant mortality. 😨

So the places that are energized about electing regressive Republicans, at least in NW FL, are the places that are below average in jobs, earnings, education, and health. I don't know how many of them want to ban abortion.
But I sure as hell know that banning abortion is either a happy side-effect or something that isn't a deal breaker for most right-wing residents of places like FL-1. They keep voting in people like Gaetz. I don't see that changing anytime soon. Just one of the reasons I left.
We met great people when we lived in the FL panhandle. Some of those have moved away like we did; others are sticking it out and hoping for change. I admire the Democrats who challenge the entrenched Republicans in state and local elections in NW FL. But I couldn't live there.
tl;dr of this thread - the #AlabamaAbortionBan is neither surprising nor the last attempt to throw the country into a theocratic, authoritarian patriarchy.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Kristina Killgrove
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!