Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- Amendment 62: Colorado to Vote on Whether Fertilized Eggs Are People (Again) at Big Think
- Colorado Fetal Personhood, Amendment 62 (2010) at Ballotpedia
- Personhood initiative lining up friends and foes at the Colorado Independent
- Buck changes stance on personhood amendment at 9news.com
(Cross posted at the abortion gang)
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Up until last year I had never heard of a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC), which is funny, considering that there are 52 operating in Virginia, 38 of which receive state funding from ‘Choose Life’ license plates. In contrast, there are only 21 offices providing abortion services to the women of Virginia, 17 of which could be shut down if anti-choice zealots pursue targeted regulations through the state Board of Health. CPCs, for those who don’t know what they are, are unlicensed anti-choice, pro-abstinence facilities posing as medical clinics which exist solely to dissuade women from choosing abortion. In order to do so, they engage in misinformation and manipulation of women who may find themselves in a confusing and emotional situation. Frequently, it seems the pregnant woman’s ability to make her own informed choice is of little consequence, and they will do whatever they can to convince her to carry the pregnancy to term. Often CPCs list their services under “abortion” in the Yellow Pages so that women seeking abortions will end up going to them instead of a comprehensive women’s health clinic. Many of them advertise “post-abortion trauma syndrome” in their literature, saying that women may feel guilty or suicidal after having an abortion. One pamphlet used by CPCs entitled, “The Condom: Do Condoms Make Sex Safer?” states that “to date, there is no evidence that consistent use of condoms during oral sex reduces your chance of getting most STIs, including HIV” (Life Cycle Books). Much of what they do is steeped in a right-wing Christian agenda that strips women of reproductive choice and bodily autonomy.
I wanted to find out more about CPCs myself, from firsthand experience, so a friend and I decided to pose as a couple facing a possible unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Since we attend James Madison University in Harrisonburg, we visited the local CPC (tagline: You Have More Choices than You Think), which was surreal—I was nervous that I’d slip up or seem suspicious, and I had no idea what to expect. I was assured during my training that my nervousness was actually a good thing, since any pregnant woman entering the clinic would probably be more freaked out than I was. Calligraphic bible verses and framed words like “peace” were the main decorative motif. Religious paraphernalia aside, the facility looked like a typical doctor’s office—reception window up front, pale green walls, and light-colored wicker furniture. Pictures of landscapes and flowers adorned the walls of the hallway. I had already been briefed on how things were going to go, since most CPCs follow the same basic formula: check in, pregnancy test, “options counseling,” and then results. After checking in I was required to fill out a form asking medical information, along with several probing questions about my views on abortion. For one such multiple choice question, the leading answers were “a) I think abortion is morally wrong, b) I’m not sure, and c) abortion is okay…” My male friend who had accompanied me to pose as my boyfriend was also required to fill out a form, since they had offered to counsel him as well. After a few minutes in the admittedly calming waiting room, their (licensed) nurse took me to the bathroom where I was instructed to pee in a cup, leave the urine sample on the bathroom counter, and then go into the room where I would be counseled.
The woman who counseled me came in a few minutes after I did and talked in a quiet soothing voice the entire time. Possibly the most infuriating thing about the visit was that she didn’t seem to actually know much about what I was asking her. Not only was she providing me with inaccurate medical information, she was mostly just reading it to me from various pamphlets and offering up vague anecdotes about women she had met. Additionally, the pamphlets did not provide much clearer information. “Before You Decide” contains what has become my favorite statistic of all time: “Use of the abortion pill has resulted in the death of a number of women due to sepsis.” I can’t believe that they would tout something so vague as a believable statistic—two is a number, but so is 200. Clearly the literature is meant only to scare women who seek abortion, as opposed to providing accurate medical information. As soon as she sat down the nurse fumbled with a “pregnancy wheel” in order to determine how far along I was (despite the fact that we didn’t even have the results of the test yet), and initially came to the conclusion, judging from my last period, that I was 10 weeks along before recanting and saying I was only seven weeks along. I asked her about the abortion pill (RU-486), and she told me that I was too far along to take it (I wasn’t – see heading What Is the Abortion Pill), and then pulled out another pamphlet, specific to RU-486. Opening the booklet to a picture of a forlorn looking blonde, she looked at me and said, “See? She looks sad… I think she really regrets her decision now.” The CPC places a heavy emphasis on the horrors of “post-abortion trauma syndrome,” which is evident in their campus advertising (“Had an abortion? Feeling scared? Nervous? Guilty? Suicidal?”), and their in-clinic talking points. She informed me that some women can have an abortion and seem totally fine, but 10 years down the road they’ll end up fraught with guilt and inner turmoil. She also said that women in her generation who had had abortions ended up with infertility later in life.
Eventually, the nurse came in to give me my results and answer any other medical questions I had. When I asked her about abortion side effects, she explained to me that most women hemorrhage after having abortions, that infertility and breast cancer are common side effects, and that the uterus is frequently perforated—all blatantly false statements. Later I asked whether or not they provide contraceptives, and I was handed a pamphlet about the inadequacies of condoms, and another pamphlet declaring that “the only safe sex is no sex until faithful married sex.” Abstinence only until marriage is a core value at CPCs, and after my negative pregnancy test result came back, my counselor said, “Now that you’re feeling so good about this result, why don’t we bring your boyfriend in to have a little discussion about your relationship?” She spent another 25 to 30 minutes with my friend and me pressuring us to promise abstinence, even telling us that having sex before marriage with someone other than your eventual spouse is akin to infidelity. At the end of this counseling session, my counselor informed me that she actually teaches a family life class at my university, which was not particularly reassuring about the unbiased quality of the education that myself and other students receive.
After my visit I flipped through all the literature that my friend and I had been given. The emotionally manipulative techniques are still unfathomable to me—I can’t believe that anyone would lie about someone else’s reproductive health just to push along their own political agenda. Not to mention, the paternalistic and misogynistic literature my male friend received was unbelievable. One pamphlet has an entire section on the apparent “Double Standard” of abortion—that when men push women to have abortions it’s seen as coercive and abusive, but when women choose abortion it’s an expression of freedom. Sorry to shake up your whole worldview, Life Cycle Books, but abortion is not about men, and not about the “Forgotten Fathers of Abortion.” It’s about women making very real medical decisions about their own body, and the fact that they should be able to do so without fearing stigmatization and shame from society. After this experience I began working with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia on a campaign called “Support without Shame” because women need to have bodily autonomy and make crucial decisions for themselves. The Support without Shame campaign is not attempting to shut down CPCs. We just believe that all women facing unintended pregnancies deserve respect, freedom from shame and guilt, and access to unbiased medically accurate and science based information regarding ALL options. Women should be trusted with their own bodies. It’s not as if there are laws on the books constantly governing what men do with their bodies. At the CPC, I was stressed and upset as someone who wasn’t pregnant, and who was actually expecting to be manipulated and lied to. I can’t imagine what this would be like for an unsuspecting and vulnerable pregnant woman who believes what she is being told by people who can barely keep their own information straight.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Written by Steph Herold, Social Media Strategist for Trust Women PAC
Last week, anti-choice zealot and violence enthusiast Justin Carl Moose was arrested in North Carolina for providing information to create explosives designed to blow up an abortion clinic. Thankfully, he was caught before any harm was done to the clinic, staff, and patients, but if it wasn’t for Facebook, he might have gone unnoticed.
A week or two ago, I received what I thought was an innocent instant message: a friend asking for quick advice. Thinking it was going to be about roommate drama or boy issues, I said yes and expected to get back to my own work in a few minutes. What I didn’t anticipate was that my friend, who works at a prominent pro-choice organization, was dealing with an anti-choice zealot on Facebook, a possible terrorist, and was looking to me to help her decide the right course of action to take.
I took a look at the offenders’ Facebook profile, on which he had listed such aphorisms as “end abortion by any means necessary and at any cost” and “save a life, shoot an abortionist.” Seeing these shockingly violent aspirations stated so bluntly with such pride gave me chills. My friend shared that he wrote threatening messages on the Facebook page of her place of employment, which is what led her to his profile in the first place.
After skimming through all of the hateful messages on Moose’s profile, I told my friend to contact the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, her local police, and the police in his area. I also suggested she contact the National Abortion Federation and any clinics local to this guy to put them on alert. It turns out that all of these authorities knew about him already and were vigilantly monitoring his activities. While writing violent threats on a pro-choice organization’s Facebook wall isn’t enough to launch a police investigation, it did put them on high alert, which lead to his eventual arrest.
No matter the venue, anti-choice terrorism or threats of violence cannot be ignored. Besides reporting it to the proper authorities, there are a number of other things you can do:
- Educate your peers about anti-choice violence. Let your friends and family know that abortion providers are in literal danger and that the right for women to make reproductive choices is constantly under siege. The more people that know about it, the more action we can take to prevent it.
- If you feel safe doing so, write a letter to the editor of your local paper supporting your local abortion provider. Public support is important, especially when abortion is such a stigmatized subject.
- Become a clinic escort at your local clinic. This allows you to make sure patients and staff get into the clinic despite harassing protesters. This also lets you know exactly what the anti-choice people in your area look like and what activities they participate in, which is useful information should you have to report anything to the police.
- Write to your elected officials at the local, county and state levels and explain why you support your local abortion providers. Make sure you let policy makers know that you want them to do whatever they can to protect providers in your area.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Advocates Claim Politics Behind the Closing Of Louisiana Abortion Clinic
Telemedicine Should Help Expand Care, Not Limit Choice
Anti-Abortion Group Target Democrats in Radio Ads
For the first time in recent history, both South Carolina gubernatorial candidates are anti-choice.
Palin Continues To Damage Women While Others Spend Time, Money To Help Them
What are you reading?
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Written by Diane Wahto of Wichita, Kansas
Kansas liberals have their work cut out for them after a legislative session in which Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson vetoed bills that tightened abortion restrictions, denied federal family planning money intended for Planned Parenthood, and funneled money intended for Public Broadcasting to the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs. Additionally, conservatives have mounted a campaign to remove Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Bier from office and to change the way judges are selected.
These events take place against the backdrop of Dr.
The last several years, Kansans have become accustomed to having moderate Democratic and Republican governors, including Republicans Bill Graves, Mike Hayden, and Democrats John Carlin, Kathleen Sebelius, and Mark Parkinson. Parkinson, formerly a Republican, changed parties in order to run for lt. governor with Sebelius because he saw the Republican Party moving too far to the right. He ranks high in the polls and probably could win a second full term if he chose to run again. However, both he and Troy Findley, his lt. governor, announced that they would not run for governor at the end of their terms.
That leaves us with a choice between unknown Democratic candidate and staunch pro-choice supporter Tom Holland and Republican Senator Sam Brownback, who is an avowed enemy of Roe v. Wade, Public Broadcasting, Planned Parenthood, and taxes. He also believes the problems with Social Security have come about because women have abortion rights, thus leaving unborn the tax-paying workers who would be contributing to Social Security. His Senate voting record shows he has consistently voted against the interests of Kansans. Despite that, right now the polls show Brownback ahead by a large margin over Holland.
When Parkinson vetoed SB 218, the bill restricting late-term abortions, the Senate override attempt failed, but the House attempt passed by one vote. The bill came back up for an override vote and this time the override failed by two votes. One vote change came about after intense e-mail, phone, and Facebook lobbying efforts of one representative. This bill would have ended the so-called partial birth abortion 'mental health' exceptions and stipulate precise reporting of late-term abortions.
If Brownback does succeed in his run for governor, there will be no defense against anti-choice attempts to toughen late-term abortion restrictions in the state. Right now, no Kansas provider performs late-term abortions, but the anti-choice faction is trying to guard against having Dr. Leroy Carhart, an associate of Dr. Tiller’s, move to Kansas from Nebraska.
Another Tiller associate, Dr. Ann Kris Neuhaus, faces an 11-count disciplinary complaint relating to the second opinion documents she signed for Dr. Tiller. The complaint alleges she failed to properly evaluate whether the abortion was necessary to save the life or the health of the woman, as required by Kansas state law, a charge she denies. Dr. Tiller, acquitted of misdemeanor charges in a court of law in April 2009 , faced the same charges. They were dropped when he was killed. The charges are questionable, given that the petition was made public by Operation Rescue, which had filed the initial charges against both doctors. An evidentiary hearing is set for Jan. 11, 2011.
In the meantime, the Kansas political scene, coming off a heated, mudslinging primary among Republicans, will roll on to the November election. With Brownback having the edge in name recognition, pro-choice voters can only hope that Holland can make himself known and let voters know how reactionary Brownback is. After all, he’s the senator who stood on the floor of the Senate in front of a hand-drawn picture of embryos, labeled in childish scrawl, “We love you.”
If Kansans for Life succeed in their push to remove Justice Bier and conservatives prevail in their move to change the method of appointing Kansas Supreme Court justices, Kansas will face a perfect storm of Red State rollback. Currently, state Supreme Court justices are picked by a nine-member nominating commission; four of those commissioners are non-lawyers appointed by the governor. The other five, including the chair, are elected by lawyers. The proposed change touted by conservatives would allow the governor to send nominees’ names to the legislature for approval. Rather than take politics out of the mix, as conservatives claim, this process would politicize the process beyond repair.Fortunately, many Kansans are stepping up to make sure their state stays semi-purple. Democrats at their state meeting on Aug. 14, were energized and ready to go to work for their well-qualified candidates. Kansas NOW and Wichita NOW have energetic people working for women’s reproductive rights. A new group, The Group, has started a grass roots movement to get moderate Republican women as well as Democratic women involved in the political process. Even though she didn’t win the primary, pro-choice Republican Jean Shodorf moved ahead of a well-funded anti-choice opponent, thanks in part to the efforts of The Group. Kansans don’t plan to throw in the towel just yet.
Friday, August 20, 2010
As the current U.S. political landscape continues to unfold, I have observed the emergence of a clear intersection between the attacks on immigrant rights and women’s reproductive rights. This commonality encourages all of us doing abortion rights and reproductive justice work in a human rights context to more deeply understand the ongoing struggles and human rights violations faced by the immigrants of our country.
Examining right-wing attacks on the lives, rights, health, and dignity of immigrants and women, whether violent attacks against persons or property, or the numerous legislative attacks that label, disparage, scapegoat, and stereotype both groups~gleans some fundamental themes.
Immigrants, particularly those with brown skin and who speak Spanish, and regardless of their longevity in their communities and their vast contributions to the U.S. economy and our entire society, are labeled “the other.” The right-wing constantly asserts that this population consists chiefly of law-breakers and threats to the public safety, stealers of jobs from the “real” Americans, abusers of scarce societal resources, and destroyers of the so-called American way of life. In similar attempts at isolation, demonization, shame, and stigmatization, women who are sexual, who use contraception, and who may choose to access abortion when facing an unintended pregnancy, are also vilified, cursed, judged, and viewed as carrying the scarlet letter. This is yet another example of “the other.” Immigrants are branded and are also seen as viewed the carriers of a scarlet letter.
Both groups are used as a basis for fear-mongering, hatred, and polarization within the electorate as women seeking to access their reproductive rights and immigrants seeking a better life in the U.S. are blamed and denounced in right-wing declarations as immoral and as core contributors to the downfall of Western civilization....at least as far as such demagogues as Palin, Beck, O’Reilly, and Limbaugh view their alleged civilization and their small-minded and bigoted way of life.
The utilization of the gender lens is critical in looking at the recent passage in Arizona of SB 1070, considered to be the most onerous state immigration law in the country. Although most parts of this oppressive law were recently struck down~specifically on the grounds of the jurisdiction of immigration law as a federal matter and that the most onerous aspects of SB 1070 encouraged discriminatory racial profiling based on “foreign appearance” - Arizona is actually the fifth state to introduce laws that criminalize immigrants on the state level. And at least a dozen others are considering the introduction of very similar bills.
Amie Newman clearly describes significant background of immigrant rights as a women’s rights and reproductive justice issue in Rh Reality Check,
“Immigration [now] has a female face....it’s not about the invisibility of the immigrant men...it’s about the unique story of women who are now emigrating to the United States in greater numbers than ever before, while still remaining dependent more often than not on a male partners’ visa to remain in this country. It’s about the vulnerability of the female experience as it relates to her body and health. It’s about the fact that a woman is exposed to vastly different, dangerous scenarios because of her sex....[and] women now make up more than half of all immigrants coming to this country...[they are] doing so during their prime reproductive years. These are young women seeking opportunities for their families, to improve their lives and the lives of their current and future children....[and] one-third of immigrant women who enter this country are also acting as heads of households once they are here....[and ] are in unique positions as caretakers and protectors of their children’s lives and health as well. [According to a 2009 New American Media poll], some 90 percent of women interviewed (30 percent of whom are undocumented) report that their family units are intact-their husbands live with them, and their children are either born here or have joined them in this country...but female immigrant life is [still] a fragile one that needs a stronger foundation, not more cracks. ” And laws such as SB 1070 are enormous cracks that ultimately take “women and families down a backwards path of disruption and discord.”
According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), SB 1070’s effect is that “women, whether documented or undocumented, who are in violent relationships will be far more fearful to deal with the law, the police department, and all other official institutions. They [have seen so much of, and ] deeply fear deportation and the break-up of their families. So even more women and families will [now] go underground. In Arizona, after being in this country for five years, legal permanent residents qualify for Medicaid; this includes children and pregnant women. Five years, however, is a very long time to wait. For the undocumented, it is even worse, as they are only eligible for emergency Medicaid. “Treatment is limited to serious health emergencies such as labor and childbirth. Therefore, most undocumented women forgo routine health care, including prenatal care and other preventive reproductive health services.
“With respect to abortion, undocumented immigrant women’s access to safe abortion care is even more limited than their access to [other] sexual and reproductive health services. The fact is that abortion through safe and legal channels has numerous barriers, including but not only economic barriers, and has become inaccessible for many low-income and immigrant Latinas.” This then leads many women to self-abort using misoprostol, which is accessible and well-known as an abortifacient in their home countries. In Latin America, abortion is virtually illegal, women refer to misoprostol as “star pills” for their hexagonal shape, and where its use as a “do-it-yourself abortion tool” to self-induce abortion is known as “bringing your period down.” The use of the “star pills” turns a secretive and stigmatized procedure into a process that resembles a miscarriage...and it is all done without any medical supervision. Yes, this occurs even in the United States, where abortion has been legal~but highly restricted and essentially inaccessible~throughout the country since 1973.
NLIRH boldly and eloquently speaks out on immigrant rights and reproductive justice as intersecting issues that require movement unity and mutual advocacy:
“There are 17.5 million immigrant women in the United States today, 3 million of whom are undocumented, and 16 percent of whom live in poverty. These women encounter obstacles to employment and health access; they also face violence and discrimination....Immigrant rights and reproductive justice are intrinsically linked because the reproductive health of immigrant women is profoundly affected by immigration policy.
“Advocates of fair immigration reform are demanding the right to: live in our society without fearing deportation and discrimination; have access to our educational, health, and safety-net programs and systems; and work with basic protections and benefits, including health care coverage. Reproductive justice activists are similarly fighting for women’s equal opportunity to fully participate in society, the freedom to determine the course of their lives, and the right and ability to access basic reproductive health services free of discrimination, harassment, and shame. Both our progressive social agendas have been called ‘radical’ and out of the mainstream. We know, however, that our shared values of self-determination and the freedom to live our lives with dignity are anything but radical.
“Immigration rights and abortion rights are two of the most volatile issues of our time. The anti-immigrant and anti-choice movements have been vey successful over the last several years at eroding basic rights at the state and federal levels....In this very hostile political environment, advocates for reproductive rights and immigrant rights must support each other. We must work together to stop efforts to criminalize immigrants and criminalize abortion...We must work together and support each other in our common quest for salud, dignidad, justicia [health, dignity, and justice].”
As yet another example of the important connections between these issues that impact all women, Russell Pearce, the Republican state Senator who was the major force behind SB 1070 has even bigger, and even more devastating, dehumanizing ideas that he intends to set into motion. He intends to push for an “anchor baby” bill that would essentially overturn the 14th Amendment by no longer granting citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants who were born in the United States. (“Anchor babies” is a derogatory and yet another fear-mongering politically charged term used by the right to disparage the U.S citizen children of undocumented parents.) Although this offensive and divisive assault on a long-established constitutional right - birthright citizenship - will undoubtedly not pass such scrutiny, Pearce actually has the support of some of his Arizona constituents. Pearce openly agreed with one of his misguided followers who wrote to him in blatant sexist and racist terms: “If we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother. Call it sexist (writer’s note: yes, it is!), but that’s the way nature made it. Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.” Pearce also has the support of several U.S. senators. In fact, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently told Fox News~also using blatant sexist and racist terms~ that “We can’t just have people swimming across the river having children here. That’s chaos.”
What’s truly chaotic, of course, is the lack of a humane immigration policy, the persistent attacks on reproductive rights, and the utter disregard for human rights and respect for women, immigrants, and our lives and dignity. What’s chaotic and very clear is that this type of language and beliefs divides the country, spreads false information about women, immigrants, reproductive rights, and immigrant rights, and serves to whip up the conservative electorate in time for them to be led by the fear of false prophets in preparation for the upcoming November election. What’s chaotic and shocking is that both immigrant rights and abortion rights may ultimately land on the desks of the U.S. Supreme Court justices as they ponder the constitutionality of these relentless and oppressive right-wing assaults on our society.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Ella – progress and a reminder that we cannot rest until reproductive freedom comes at Feministing.com
Rape, Violence, Abortion? Radical Right Says its All Your Fault at RHRealityCheck.org
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Do women have the clout that they ought to in progressive politics? at the Women's Campaign Forum
Anti-Choice Group Says Its ‘Prayers’ Have Been Answered When Abortion Clinic Closes Due To Doctor’s Leukemia at Think Progress
Abortion hotline in Pakistan faces violent opposition at the UK Independent
Colorado & The Personhood Amendment – It’s Back! at the American Fertility Association
What are you reading?
Friday, August 13, 2010
Trust Women is an organization that’s less than a year old; therefore, an intern would gain invaluable experience working with a small, but growing pro-choice organization. Trust Women offers various projects in areas such as fundraising, program development and political/policy research.
If you’re interested in an internship position, please call 202.642.2518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our main office is located in St. Louis, Missouri, but living in another part of the country does not preclude you from obtaining a position.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010
It has been just over a year since the murder of Dr. George Tiller robbed us of an exceptional physician who stood with unflinching resolve against all who tried to stop his life-saving work. I will always remember the shock and sadness of that Sunday, May 31, when Dr. Tiller was gunned down as he stood in the foyer of his Lutheran church in Wichita, welcoming anyone entering to worship. That he was killed in his church, and that he found strength and purpose through his religious faith made his death especially grievous for us as people of faith.
Since then, women who needed late term abortion care have had nowhere to turn, until January of this year when Curtis Boyd, MD PC made the decision to provide late term abortions into the third trimester on a case by case basis. In response, Troy Newman has posted on Operation Rescue’s website their plans to collaborate with Project Defending Life, Catholic Pro-Life Ministries in New Mexico to, "strategize about future efforts to close the abortion business here after the largest late-term abortion clinic in the nation closed last year in Wichita, Kansas."
As most readers of this blog already know, when convicted murderer Scott Roeder was arrested for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, in Wichita, KS the police found the name and phone number of Cheryl Sullenger in his car. Cheryl Sullenger is Operation Rescue's senior policy advisor and she served two years in prison for conspiring to bomb abortion clinics in 1988. In spite of this, Operation Rescue has denied having any responsibility for the assassination of Dr. Tiller. Now they have announced plans to "..open a satellite office in Albuquerque that will be directed from our headquarters in Wichita."
Prior to the partnership between Operation Rescue and Project Defending Life, the Catholic Pro-life community of New Mexico had always been peaceful and prayerful during any demonstrations at abortion clinics. I am disappointed that Archbishop Sheehan would turn over his leadership in the Pro-life community of New Mexico to Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger and their use of intimidation, harassment and violence which is in complete opposition to everything I believe in as a Catholic. As a child growing up in a Catholic family in southern New Mexico, I was taught to live the Catholic values of compassion and mercy and to treat everyone with love and respect, regardless of whether I agreed with them or not. Service to the church and community was done through love and humility in order to grow the Catholic values of compassion, mercy and respect in the community. I believe that Operation Rescue’s presence here will attract unstable, extremist individuals to New Mexico and could result in the same kind of violence that has happened in Wichita, Kansas and other communities
The director and founder of Project Defending Life is Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, a priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and therefore under the authority of Archbishop Michael Sheehan. The New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice has asked the Archbishop to issue a written statement directing all of his religious leaders and laity to avoid all association, cooperation and collaboration with Operation Rescue, Operation Save America and all other "pro-life" hate groups, but has not received any response. You can help by signing our petition.
Friday, August 6, 2010
I. The Oklahoma Legislature Passes 8 Anti-Choice Bills in 2010
On May 28, 2010, the Oklahoma legislature adjourned for the session without overriding Governor Brad Henry's veto of an abortion insurance bill. This was the only veto (of 4) that escaped over-ride. Among other things, the legislation would have banned insurers planning to participate in the new federal insurance exchange from offering abortion coverage. There were eight abortion restriction passed by the legislature this session.
Two of the most offensive bills were specifically targeted by our lobbying efforts: The ultrasound requirement (HB 2780) and the reporting requirements bills (HB 3284). The ultrasound requirement bill forces a woman seeking an abortion to hear in detail a description of an ultrasound image, even if she objects. The reporting law requires doctors to inquire about the most private aspects of the life of a woman seeking an abortion, touching on about 90 different factors including her race and ethnicity and whether financial or relationship problems are the reason she is planning to have an abortion. That information will then be published on a public website.
II. The Pro-Choice Response
A. In Court
The Center for Reproductive Rights was set to argue for a temporary restraining order on the ultrasound bill on Monday, July 19, 2010, but attorneys for both sides agreed to accept the order before the court hearing, Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich said. She signed the order Monday afternoon. Attorney General Drew Edmondson agreed to the order to give his office more time to retain Teresa Collett, a University of St. Thomas Law School professor who represented the state when a similar law passed in 2008 was challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Teresa Collett currently resides in Minnesota but is originally from Norman, OK.
The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2011.
B. In the community
Women in Oklahoma were shocked when they found out about these laws. Over 60 activists assembled in Norman Oklahoma in May to plan some action. From this group, the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice was formed (http://ocrj.org/). This group is having a planning meeting in mid-August to strategize regarding next steps. Also, Jordan Goldberg, attorney from Center from Reproductive Rights in NYC will be in Oklahoma City soon to discuss our options with us.
In addition, Oklahoma now has a vibrant new pro-choice PAC, Sally’s List.
Stillwater, Oklahoma is home to the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the pro-choice women there have a web presence at OK 4 R J.
Stay tuned, Oklahoma’s women are outraged and we plan to let our legislators know it.