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Lee Che and Nick

Lee Che and Nick

left-right: Lee Che Leong, Nick Scholtz

Lee Che and Nick

Bellingham, WA

We are grateful to have escaped much of the impact of the pandemic thusfar. Nick has now joined me in working remotely so he misses his bike commute but we both know how minor that is in the big picture.

While Washington was the initial epicenter in the US, there are so many places that have borne a much heavier burden. My niece in NYC was exposed at work and couldn't get a test her entire 14-day quarantine period. She lives with my sister and brother-in-law who are both in vulnerable populations so that was a highly stressful time.

I worry about my family both because of potential exposure and potential violence: over 1,500 COVID-19 related bias incidents against ethnically Asian people were reported in the US during first month of counting – despite the stay-at-home orders in place in many states. Nick now goes with me when I leave the house because Bellingham feels even less safe for me as a person of colour than before.

Still, we are in positions of great privilege. Breonna Taylor was killed by police in her home and George Floyd was murdered by law enforcement on a public street. The contrast with the calm reception to armed men who crowded state capitols to complain that stay-at-home measures constrain their freedom to get haircuts and go golfing defies comprehension.

Every 31st of May I reflect on the fact that Dr. George Tiller was serving as an usher in his church when he was assassinated by a domestic terrorist in 2009. He was targeted for providing abortions and had survived a previous murder attempt that left bullet wounds in both his arms in 1993. I was in high school at the time of the earlier attack and it stayed with me because a few years before, a friend had faced an unexpected pregnancy. Her experience taught us just how time-sensitive abortion access is: waiting one week or needing three to pull together funds can determine whether you have any options in state or at all.

Between 2001 and 2016, over 300 laws restricting abortion passed in US states leading to delays which increase the complexity and the cost of the procedure, sometimes forcing women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. For anyone with a uterus who wants the basic ability to decide what to do with their body, abortion is a freedom.

-- Lee Che Leong

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