Bus driver refused to bring woman to Planned Parenthood

A Texas bus driver who refused to bring a woman to Planned Parenthood is suing after being fired.

Edwin A. Graning worked for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) near Austin, Texas, for less than a year before he was let go in January. At the time, he told his supervisor that, “in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion,” according to the lawsuit. Graning is an ordained Christian minister.

…He is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

Right…because I’m sure the woman he shamed and refused to drive (which was, you know, his job) wasn’t pained or distressed at all.  This reminds me of extremist pharmacists arguing they shouldn’t have to dispense emergency contraception or birth control pills if it goes against their “conscience.”  It’s bullshit; do your job.  Women’s legal right to access medical and health services trumps some anti-choicer being made to feel uncomfortable.  Even if you have compassion for folks who don’t want to act in a way that compromises their conscience – the fact is that their refusal to do their job could seriously impede someone’s access to care.  And there’s nothing more important than that.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/purplesummer/ Lisa

    I’m getting rather sick of this crap. If anyone else got fired for not doing there job, they would be laughed out of the courtroom for filing a law suit. This guy doesn’t do his job because it goes against his “convictions” and he will most likely get his job back. I also love how he just assumes the woman was getting an abortion. I don’t think anyone would tell their pesky bus driver why they are going to planned parenthood. For all he knows she was going to get a pap smear or get a prescription for birth control.

    • http://feministing.com/members/paperispatient/ paperispatient

      Exactly! Many Planned Parenthood clinics provide prenatal care – how does he know she wasn’t going there for that?

      • gothicguera

        Plus, what if she was there to volunteer or something. arrrgggh, home of the free my foot!

    • mighty-ponygirl

      Let’s not move the goalposts: no one should have to prove to someone else that they’re a “good girl” before they can be given legal medical care. Whatever their reason for going to planned parenthood, the takeaway for the bus driver is “It’s none of your business.” It doesn’t matter if they’re going for a pap, an abortion, prenatal services, or a job interview. All of those things are completely equal and we shouldn’t let the stigma against abortion change the narrative that what this man did was wrong no matter what she was going there for.

      • http://feministing.com/members/alynn/ aLynn

        I agree…everyone is pointing out that she could have been going for any number of less controversial procedures, but that doesn’t really matter does it?

        If she got on the bus and made chit chat which included mentioning that she was on her way to PP for an abortion (while bit of a TMI situation) it shouldn’t affect anything.. It’s his job to get her there regardless of what she’s going for.

      • http://feministing.com/members/purplesummer/ Lisa

        That is my point. She could have been going for a number of different medical reasons. None of those reasons are any of his business. He had no right to refuse to drive her anywhere. Her life is none of his business, so I would love to tell him”fuck off you asshole.”

  • http://feministing.com/members/maude/ H

    I vaguely remember that someone else was called to take the woman to PP (not justifying this asshole, just hoping she got there somehow). Does anyone know?

    • http://feministing.com/members/purplesummer/ Lisa

      Yes, someone did take her to PP. CART send another person to take them to PP because he would not do it.

  • nazza

    No disagreement here. I have to say, purely as devil’s advocate, that if you equate abortion with murder, you might think an action like this is civil disobedience. A Quaker named John Woolman refused to draw up bills of sale for the purchase of slaves, after all, even though they were not his slaves.

    • http://feministing.com/members/mighty-ponygirl/ Mighty Ponygirl

      First of all, Woolman knew exactly what the purpose of drawing up bills of sales was for. The bus driver did not — he was acting on an assumption. That would be like not dropping a man off at the bank because there was an outside chance he was planning to rob it at gunpoint and possibly shoot a woman who could potentially be pregnant.

      Second (and more importantly), CARTs, being a form of public transportation, receives public money. As such, the drivers themselves cannot discriminate and refuse service to their customers based on things like race, gender, etc. By refusing to transport these women, the bus driver was effectively using his state-supported position to discriminate based on gender. Woolman was a private individual and his refusal to draw up bills of sale was not being backed by public money.

  • http://feministing.com/members/tomhouseman/ Tom

    I work as a waiter at a Mexican restaurant. Am I allowed to refuse to bring fried food to customers because I’m trying to fight the obesity epidemic in America? If I get fired, am I allowed to sue the restaurant where I work? No? Because it’s none of my freaking business what people do with/to their bodies as long as they aren’t breaking the law? And I should shut my damn trap and do my job? Well… that’s just the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rhian/ Leela

    This reminds me of something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently–medical residents in OB-Gyn are not obligated to learn how to perform abortions. The procedures can be gruesome, but if you don’t want to even learn how to provide comprehensive reproductive care, I think you should really just pick a different field. But physicians can refuse to perform an abortion (or really any non-emergent medical procedure) if they have a moral or ethical objection to it. So then where do you draw the line? Even if you’re just driving the bus, not performing the procedure, aren’t you effectively an accomplice to something you see as morally wrong?

    • http://feministing.com/members/rmjohnston/ Robert Johnston

      It’s not just OBGYNs who really should be trained in abortion. General practitioners, doctors staffing emergency rooms, and pediatricians all really should be required to receive training in how to perform abortions. In an emergency they should be required to perform abortions for their patients, and in a non-emergency they should at least be required to offer referrals. Psychiatrists should be required to have referral arrangements with a doctor who performs abortions.

      Sadly, we’re far from the day when abortion is seen as a critical component of health care and the failure to make abortion services available to one’s patients who want or need such services is seen as medical malpractice.

  • http://feministing.com/members/scarlett/ scarlett

    as commenters pointed out before me, his job would have been driving people, not playing the morality police.. i still can’t wrap my mind around it, how someone can be so.. mean/arrogant/… ?

  • http://feministing.com/members/ravimatsingh/ Ravi M. Singh

    I don’t really have much to add since the other comments and the post itself pretty much said it all, but this whole situation is downright bizarre. First of all, Planned Parenthood provides lots of services so I’m not sure how the driver could have known if she was indeed going to get an abortion. Even if she was, that still doesn’t excuse what he did since he is supposed to do his job and drop her off at whatever stop she is going to on his route. It’s pretty clear who was in the wrong.

    And the whole freedom of religion defence of the driver’s actions mentioned by his lawyer is a joke. Her getting an abortion, or doing whatever she did at the clinic, does not violate his beliefs since it doesn’t prevent him from holding whatever convictions he does or practising it himself. Freedom of religion does not mean you get to force others to act in accordance with your own belief. Like I said, the whole thing is a joke but I won’t be surprised if he wins his case sadly.

  • http://feministing.com/members/paperispatient/ paperispatient

    In a different article (I don’t have the link anymore), I read that the woman wasn’t even going to PP for an abortion but that he thought she could have been. If that’s true, that makes this even more ridiculous.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kgeise0772/ Katie

    I find “nazza”‘s comment interesting. I never looked at it from that perspective. Though, in all fairness, this is a FAR different situation than slavery… more complex. The issue of abortion is currently extremely controversial and though I would never attempt to tell someone what to believe, the law is the law. If someone cannot perform their job when/if their personal feelings interfere with their public service, then choose a job where that will not affect them. Or suck it up.

  • http://feministing.com/members/tweedledee412/ Tessa

    Not sure if it’s possible, but this story seems to be made worse knowing that it was CARTS and public transport. CARTS is the rural transportation system that surrounds Austin, and predominantly used by lower-income groups. Knowing that this woman (and her friend) probably had to take off work for the day, and then get hassled and delayed on her way to PP is nauseating.

  • http://feministing.com/members/nopowerintheverse/ Nell

    Unbelievable. Excuse me, Mr. Graning, but I’ll have you know that Planned Parenthood is not strictly an abortion clinic. They provide Pap smears, pelvic exams, birth control, and prenatal care for women all across the childbearing spectrum. That you had the GALL to assume that just because a woman was headed there, that must mean she was planning on having an abortion speaks volumes for your own ignorance and judgmental attitude.

    Plus, what did he do, ASK HER why she was going? And did she TELL him that was the reason? I doubt it, because NO woman would just offhandedly mention that sort of thing to a bus driver. It was none of his business to ask or to know what her agenda for the day was. And she got on that bus in good conscience, expecting a city worker to DO HIS FRIGGIN’ JOB AND TAKE HER WHERE SHE WANTED TO GO (PP does appreciate it if you keep your appointment and show up on time, after all!) without question or judgment. I feel sorry for her, and I can only imagine how humiliating that must have been.

    I hope he loses this suit.

    • http://feministing.com/members/mighty-ponygirl/ Mighty Ponygirl

      It’s none of his business why she was going. You shouldn’t have to explain to your bus driver the purpose for your visit to a location. And you know what, who the fuck cares what he assumes? As far as I’m concerned, every time I go into a planned parenthood, I WANT people to think I’m there for an abortion, even if they see me go in every other week because I’m there to drop off paperwork or something random. I throw myself in with the “sluts” as far as these asswipes are concerned.

      • http://feministing.com/members/caitlin/ Caitlin

        Right on.

  • Pingback: What’s Happening « One Witchy Feminist

  • http://feministing.com/members/maddowgirl/ Chelsey Worth

    Christ almighty. He may have very well transported a murderer, rapist, vandal, etc. to his/her destination for all he knows. When you work in the public sector, heck, when you work for a living period, you encounter all different types of people living their lives, maybe in ways you don’t agree with. But if you are going to provide a service to one person, you have to provide it to the next, because at the end of the day, we are all human, and that humanity should be acknowledged even if it’s at the very basic level. Life takes people down many different roads, but they all have to be served and treated with dignity. The article says that the bus driver in question is a minister. If he can’t provide a service to someone whose life choices he disagrees with, even when he provides that service to everyone else, maybe he should go back to living the sheltered, privileged existence the church often provides for its clergy.

    *This is not to say that all religious figures live sheltered, privileged existences. But many do, and that is why some of them are so out of touch with the way the general population lives.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rk/ Anne Marie

    I was thinking about this idea that if you’re anti-choice, you don’t have to do your job and I wonder whether they’d accept a deli worker refuses to serve them meat and cheese because he or she was vegan and found them immoral. I would guess the rules only apply to their morals but I’d certainly like to see it happen.

  • Pingback: The Dimensions of Patriarchal Control, Explained in Three Steps | The Global Sociology Blog