Maine grandmothers fight for reproductive rights

"GRR" stands for Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights and it's becoming more well-known thanks to social media. (Courtesy: Judy Kahrl)

ARROWSIC (WGME) -- It's not how they planned to spend their golden years, but a group of grandmothers find themselves once again fighting for reproductive rights.

"GRR" stands for Grandmothers for Reproductive Rights and it's becoming more well-known thanks to social media.

"Well, GRR really started as kind of a joke," said Judy Kahrl, who started it in 2013 to educate and advocate for women's health and reproductive rights.

She and other women her age decided to take a stand after feeling the progress made decades ago is now being threatened.

"I think women are waking up to how threatened this kind of care is," she said.

GRR writes to lawmakers and rallies at the statehouse. Those plans are often made while laughing around a kitchen table.

"There is something about grandmothers doing this, working with this and caring, because it's not for us at this point," said Kahrl. "It is for our daughters, our sons, our grandsons, our granddaughters."

Kahrl said many of them are old enough to remember the days before Roe v. Wade, when abortion was illegal and contraception hard to access.

With Republicans threatening to defund Planned Parenthood because some clinics offer abortions, the women worry about the future.

"Every legislative session there's a bill submitted to restrict women's access," said Kahrl.

Today, GRR has a mailing list of 500 and that number is only growing since a picture of Kahrl and her granddaughters was posted on the Pantsuit Nation Facebook page, garnering 17,000 likes.

"It felt like I was on a 90 foot whale riding a tsunami wave because there were so many responses and they are still coming in," Kahrl said.

More interest means more responsibility, but ultimately it's Kahrl's greatest hope to get more women involved, especially younger the generation.

"I had a totally different picture of what my years would be at this point, but I just have to do this and I think the others feel the same way," she said.

There currently aren't any GRR chapters in other states, but there are some efforts to get them started.

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