Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Moving to New Website

From now on, all of our new blog posts will be published in the Latest News section of our fantastic new website. Click here to check it out, and thank you for supporting Trust Women.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The State of Abortion Rights in Kansas

Written by Diane Wahto

The Kansas Legislature joined several other states in the late 1960s and early 1970s in loosening restrictions on abortion. However, by May 5, 2010, when the override vote of Gov. Mark Parkinson’s veto of substitute HB 2115 failed by one vote, anti-choice Kansas legislators and groups were already looking to the 2011 legislative session. It was then that they were counting on getting enough anti-choice lawmakers on board to pass the restrictive law with a certain guarantee that an anti-choice governor would sign the law.

Thanks to discontent with government, fueled by the misinformed, lying, and outright racist Tea Party activists and right-wing media pundits, Republicans did indeed prevail on Nov. 2, 2010, around the country and in the State of Kansas. Unfortunately, these aren’t moderate Republicans like Bill Graves and Mike Hayden, governors who trusted women to make the right choice about their own reproduction. No, these are Republicans from the far right, anti-woman, anti-tax, anti-good government wing of the party. These are Republicans, such as Kris Kobach, the incoming Secretary of State, who want to make sure every voter has an ID in order to vote. This despite the cost of such a venture and despite the burden it places on people without a car or a driver’s license who would have to pay to acquire such an ID. This despite the cost to the state of any potential lawsuits that would arise against this policy. This despite the fact that there have been no problems with voter fraud in Kansas.

Apply this line of reasoning, making assumptions that something needs fixing when it’s not broken, to physicians who perform late-term abortions. The abortion restrictions such as those in HB 2115 assume that physicians don’t follow the law governing late-term abortions in Kansas.

HB 2115 would have required abortion providers to supply the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with the exact medical diagnosis that formed the basis for the abortion. The bill also would have required the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to revoke the license of any doctor found in violation of the late-term abortion laws. Additionally, under the law, a woman, her husband, or her parents, if she was a minor, could have sued a provider if any one of these people thought a late-term abortion was performed illegally.

As a result of this law, women would have lost their privacy rights, and doctors would have been under a constant threat of reprisals from anti-choice zealots who would have pressured patients to sue doctors.

Now that Kansas is dominated by right-wing, anti-choice legislators, and a governor who thinks zygotes talk to him, who knows what will happen to abortion rights in this state?
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, an anti-choice lobbying group, said that KFL members have already started discussing what goals it will pursue in the next legislative session. In the past, even though both the House and Senate have passed bills restricting late-term abortions, these bills have been vetoed by Democratic governors. Now, no such safety net is in place.

Culp was quoted in a Nov. 3, 2010, Wichita Eagle article, written by Jeannine Koranda: “It is nice to know that when a [restrictive abortion] bill gets to Sen. Brownback's desk, it will get signed.”

Republicans will have a 31-9 majority in the Senate and a 92-33 majority in the House. Given that most of those Republicans are anti-choice, pro-choice activists in Kansas have their work cut out for them. The State of Kansas might find itself in a costly legal battle to secure abortion rights if the lawmakers go too far in curtailing those rights. And, once again, women will find themselves facing the prospect of being unable to exercise their power to make choices about their bodies.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reacting to the MSNBC Documentary on Dr. Tiller

Written by Trust Women PAC's Executive Director Julie Burkhart

Undeniably, The Assassination of Dr. Tiller, which aired on MSNBC last night, stirred sadness, grief and anger over the loss of such a tremendous person, physician and mentor. The loss of Dr. Tiller remains a deep valley within the reproductive health and justice movement.

Former clinic director JoAn Armentrout, former head nurse Cathy Reavis, along with Drs. Sella and Robinson got it right. When anti-choice organizations and leaders use language laced with images of violence and conflict, the expected outcome is unequivocally going to be violence. Anti-choice leaders have distanced themselves from the trigger man, but they are still complicit for the inflammatory language they have chosen to use over the years.

Last night's documentary reminds us all of the work that lies ahead. Trust Women has a plan of action for the next several years, which addresses the challenging issues facing the reproductive rights and justice movement. We must collectively help to ensure that no woman goes without the reproductive health care she needs and that all clinic staff are able to go to work each day with out fear of harassment and violence.

In order to succeed, we need your help. Please click here to make a contribution today. Your financial support will help us implement our very necessary plan of action in the Midwest and the South.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Reverend's View on Abortion Rights

Written by Brenda Fletchall

As a reverend, I want nothing more than respect, equality, safety and spiritual integrity for women. However, the current climate has horrified and worried me. Here is a brief glimpse into my decision to support choice options that include abortion, as I believe that women have decision-making power and are fully competent.

In addition to my own personal experiences, when I observe the following (among other factors) I am troubled and horrified at the state of women's rights:

- Increased risk of domestic violence and murder for pregnant women.
- 12% of female high school students in Oklahoma have been forced to engage in intercourse or sexual activity.
- Male abusers often sabotage birth control with partner

In response to these and other needs surrounding the vulnerability of women in our culture, I work to increase the power of personal agency and decision-making power of women and to support non-stigmatized and un-harassed access to reproductive health, including the choice of legal abortions according to the decision women want to make as fully competent adults.

I suspect that when folks are unable or unwilling to grasp abortion as a medical procedure and respect women as fully competent adults, they'll continue to be locked in a battle that fears and denigrates the decision-making power of women over their bodies and their reproductive health.
The belief that a fetus is "ensouled" or is a “person” is a religious belief to which not everyone adheres (for a glimpse into “how communities and individuals throughout history were able to address the question of when human life begins,” see “When Does Human Life Begin?”). The religious belief that a fetus is a “person” is used in ways that tramples over the personal agency of women as competent adults who are fully able and empowered to make decisions about legal medical procedures such as abortion. Because I do not subscribe to the theoretical claims that a fetus is a full, complete human at some instantaneous point in the pregnancy (such as at conception/fertilization), there is no ethical dilemma for me to support a woman’s own choice to have an abortion.

I hold to the belief that the onset of human personhood is a non-discrete, ambiguous, and complex process about which there are (and always have been) a myriad of belief perspectives. For a resource into historic religious and philosophical thoughts, see “When Does Human Life Begin?” in Developmental Biology by Scott F. Gilbert and Susan R. Singer.

I also hold to the belief of the necessity for religious liberty (including freedom from religion) which precludes the imposition of one religious belief onto an entire population. I do not support impositions of forced sterilizations, mandated abortions, nor prevention or impediments to access to abortion options. Therefore, in the ambiguities of life’s process, I prioritize an advocacy for the personal agency of women as fully competent adults empowered to choose (or not) to pursue the option of abortion in response to their own pregnancy.

I support work that removes the stigma from both women's personal agency and their decision to choose abortion. And so I am glad to serve on the board with Faith Aloud. I realize that others hold to a different perspective than I do on this topic and I respect your need to be faithful to the values you hold dear. My words are not an attempt to impose my perspective on others, but an attempt to provide a glimpse into my need to be faithful to the values I hold dear as a Christian.

I support the decision-making power of women as fully competent adults, which includes their choice of abortion.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Give Women Freedom of Choice

Here at Trust Women PAC, we are outraged by the introduction of the "Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act" by Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE). It's a bill that says politicians know better than parents what's good for their families when it comes to personal medical decisions.

It's not surprising that abortion rights opponents who support the bill insist that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. But their opinion has no support from this country's two largest and most reputable medical organizations: the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The American Medical Association states that, "Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited, but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester." The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that it knows of no legitimate evidence that shows a fetus can experience pain. (American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, February 13, 1984, Statement on pain of the fetus, ACOG, Washington DC). The full quotation is as follows: "A fetus' brain begins its final stage of development between the 20th and 40th weeks of pregnancy, and that certain hormones that develop in the final trimester also must be present for it to feel pain. It's not known exactly when those hormones are formed."

It is clear that the issue of fetal pain is a red herring, it's not the true issue; the real issue is about attempting to ban abortion services prior to viability and narrowing the health exception for women, which does nothing to help women and families in time of medical need. Click here to sign our petition to demand that your senators trust women to make their own medical decisions.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Connect the Dots

by Executive Director Julie Burkhart

When Scott Roeder murdered my mentor, Dr. George Tiller, was he acting alone? Skepticism has always been front and center regarding his claim to being a lone gunman.

As you may have heard, a federal grand jury in Kansas City is now investigating whether Roeder was actually part of a radical anti-abortion conspiracy that led up to the murder of Dr. Tiller. After Roeder was apprehended, The Pitch Weekly, out of Kansas City, reported that a slip of paper with the name and phone number of an extremist anti-choice advocate was found in his car.

It sure doesn't appear that Roeder was a lone wolf, but the grand jury has that to decide. Our friend, Dr. Tiller, was threatened aggressively, month after month, year after year, by anti-choice extremists. They did more than protest at his clinic. In the mid-1980s, his clinic was bombed. In 1993, the first assassination attempt was made on his life. Given the history of violence against abortion providers, especially those who have lost their lives providing care for women - one has to wonder if Roeder did not act alone.

Please join me in sending a thank you note to your local physicians and medical teams - those who put their lives on the line each day. Click here to find out where your local abortion provider is located.

Here's to the day when women all across America have equal access to health care and when medical staff can go to work without fear of violence.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Red State Round Up: Is Colorado's Amendment 62 Showing the Truth about the Anti-Choice Movement?

By Persephone, a pro-choice activist in Colorado

We're dealing with yet another personhood amendment here in Colorado this year. Amendment 62 is essentially a slightly beefed up version of an amendment defeated in 2008 by a margin of 73% to 27%. Hopefully we'll have just as much support this time around, especially since this one would stretch the definition of a person much more than the original to include stem cell research and in-vitro fertilization.

The specifics of this amendment and the controversy surrounding it shed some light on the way the anti-choice movement uses false information and what they're really all about.

Recently the 2010 Colorado Ballot Information Booklet (or Blue Book) was published. This book is provided by the state of Colorado to provide a fair and impartial analysis of each initiated or referred constitutional amendment, law or question on the ballot.

Personhood Colorado, an offshoot of Personhood USA and one of the main groups lobbying for amendment 62, has filed a lawsuit against the Legislative Council of the General Assembly alleging that the Blue Book used false statements and was not fair and impartial as is required by Colorado law.

They claim that none of their arguments were used for the pro side and the arguments presented for the con side were factually inaccurate.

At the Abortion Gang blog, we point out examples of anti-choicers using made up and/or skewed facts to promote their side on a regular basis. Amendment 62 is yet another example of anti-choice lies backed up by the Legislative Council of the General Assembly.

The lawsuit states "the ballot information booklet is, in effect, one big argument against Amendment 62." Could this be because there are no legitimate arguments for passing amendment 62 other than it being a ruse to do away with reproductive freedom?

I tried to find the pro-62 arguments that Personhood Colorado gave to the council but was unable to. I did however find the points that they claim are false in the anti-62 arguments.

According to Personhood Colorado's Scare Tactics Page the following include some of the misinformation being presented in the blue book.

It won’t ban contraception - They claim that the statement that amendment 62 will ban contraception is wrong because the term contraception has been skewed to include hormonal birth control methods. Since Personhood Colorado believes that hormonal birth control isn't actually a contraception, they claim the statement is false. The fact still remains that amendment 62 will outlaw all forms of birth control other than barrier methods.

It won’t ban or penalize in vitro fertilization - However, it will totally remake the program so that clinics can no longer create extra embryos making the process more difficult and much more expensive.

It won’t threaten the death penalty on doctors who do legitimate invasive surgery that could unintentionally harm a child in the womb - First, I don't know where they came up with the death penalty addition here. The blue book actually states that doctors can be penalized, not put to death. According to Personhood Colorado, "in those extremely rare situations where a woman needs treatment that might unintentionally result in the death of the child, the doctor would not have acted with intent to kill or even harm the child, but with intent to cure the mother." My question is how do they expect that this can be regulated? Since PC considers these instances rare, if a doctor preforms too many of these procedures will they then be investigated or penalized?

It won’t open the door to criminal investigations of women who miscarry - Just like the situation above, I wonder how this will be regulated. Again, if a woman has too many miscarriages will she then be put through an investigation?

So, in a nutshell this is what I got from the scare tactics page:

  • All forms of birth control other than barrier methods will be outlawed
  • In-Vitro Fertilization will be revamped, making it more difficult and more expensive
  • Women who miscarry and doctors providing legal medical procedures could be open to legal investigations
  • Ectopic pregnancies can be terminated with no new regulations
  • Abortion will be made illegal
  • Chemical "abortifacients" will be made illegal, and because antis (wrongly) consider hormonal birth control an abortifacient, this makes hormonal birth control illegal
  • Human embryonic stem cell research will be made illegal

So, What's the Real Motivation?

If amendment 62 is passed, we will still have a case of the inalienable rights of a woman versus the inalienable rights of the fetus. And since it's the fetus that requires the use of the woman's body to live, the woman should have the right to maintain her bodily autonomy.

The fact that anti-choicers aren't fighting the rights of parents to refuse to give blood, bone marrow, organs, etc to save the life of their child once it's born, is a strong indicator that it's really not about the life of the child for them, but rather punishing women for being sexually active.

A Bonus Dose of Racism from Personhood USA

And as an added bonus, here's a really disturbing and problematic statement from Keith Mason, the President for Personhood USA during the amendment 62 debate.

I think it's important to note with the term fertilized egg, that's the same thing as using the N-word for an African American, because it's a dehumanizing term and it's not based in science. The term would be a zygote, or an embryo, speaking of a unique individual.

Learn More About Amendment 62

(Cross posted at the abortion gang)