Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red State Round-Up: Arizona

Written by pro-choice activist Amanda Webster

On July 29th 2010, Arizona law SB 1304/HB 2649, an expanded abortion reporting bill, went into effect. Observing that our current governor, Jan Brewer is "pro life", as well as the majority of our state's House and Senate, another anti abortion bill passing comes at no major shock to residents of the Grand Canyon State. Certainly it's not the worst of our anti choice legislation considering our mandatory wait period, insurance prohibition, targeted regulation of abortion providers, and teenage consent law.

What do you need to know about a woman who has had an abortion? Does it matter how old she is, her marital status, how much she has in her bank account, or where she works? Are we less judgmental when a woman can "justify" her choice to terminate a pregnancy? Or does the anti choice movement want to strip women of their privacy and place one more roadblock between her and her right to a safe and legal elective abortion? The group Arizona Right to Life brags on their website that "the information [gathered from this bill] gives policymakers and pro-life advocates more statistical information on abortions performed in the state, and the information is also used by crisis pregnancy centers to better serve the needs of women." The movement is sly in their tactics, we can't argue that. Coming from someone who has been a victim of the deception of a "crisis pregnancy center", I can assure you that the information gathered will be used for nothing more than a more educated angle at trying to manipulate women out of their decision to terminate. While I fully support offering resources to women who feel coerced into an abortion, I certainly do not think that giving her false hopes and inaccurate information is going to accomplish that. All it is doing is postponing her decision, but unfortunately sometimes that's all they need to prevent her from obtaining her procedure.

The problem isn't the concept of mandatory reporting, as some statistics can prove beneficial to providing medical research and protecting the health of women. The dilemma with this specific bill is that the recordkeeping required does not respect the patient's confidentiality and right to privacy. For example, reason for abortion data is already required on reports, but the bill language leaves a loophole to include requiring a woman to provide her reason for choosing an elective abortion. Currently, abortion providers are required to report particular information to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS.) This bill expands already existing requirements. It now includes things like seven new court reporting requirements regarding judicial bypass for minors and information from health care professionals about complications that may arise from the procedure. ADHS is already having issues reporting accurate numbers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state, and there is no evidence that requiring additional information will improve reporting outcomes. Despite the fact that individually identifiable references are removed from the final analysis that is available to the public, this law still creates an additional unneccesary burden for the woman, demanding personal information during an already emotional time. Information that is not going to prove beneficial to anyone but those opposed to her right to be there in the first place.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Letter by the Remarkable Dr. Bill Harrison

This is a letter written by Dr. Bill Harrison of the Fayetteville Women's Clinic. We were so moved by it that we wanted to reprint it here.

Jan 22, 2000

A Letter to Medical Students for Choice,

I write this now because I grow older and recently have been granted
a glimpse of my mortality. Like you, I don't know when or where I
will die, but I suspect that I run a little greater risk of meeting a
violent death than most Americans, for I have dared to ride the tiger.

This tiger is ignorance, intolerance and hatred incarnated in some of
the anti-abortion Religious Right which now almost totally controls
the Republican Party and the political right wing in this country.
And I have chosen to ride this tiger unquietly, raking its sides with
verbal spurs, swinging my hat and whooping like a cowboy for the past
15 years. Does riding this tiger in this way rather than silently
going about my business - and avoiding at least as much as I can
attracting its attention - mean that I love my family less than those
Pro-Choice physicians, especially Ob/Gyns, who silence the voices of
their consciences and creep away from the controversy for fear of
social, economic or personal consequences if they do what they know
to be right?

Though many might disagree, I don't think so. I believe that after
loving and supporting the mother of his children, that the greatest
gift a father can give his family, or a brother might give his
siblings and their children, or a child his parents, a citizen his
country, or we frail human beings the world, is to act rightly and
openly to do justice as we are given to know what is right and just.

The greater the cost and risk of doing this, the greater is the
necessity one should so do. In our democracy, when those who know
that they should advocate, advance and act on a particularly humane
and rational public policy, such as Roe v. Wade, remain silent and
still from fear of shrill and hate-filled voices, from fear of the
very real slings and arrows, bullets and bombs of some whom they
might offend - giving way to those who would dictate bad public
policy based on narrow sectarian beliefs or fraudulent propaganda
with no regard for the terrible consequences which face millions of
people every year - then our free society threatens to degenerate
into a totalitarian theocracy or a dictatorship. And dignity and
freedom will be inexorably crushed.

When we dedicate our lives to worthy causes, causes greater than our
own petty dreams and fears, we play the same role as have those who
have gone before us and pledged or given their lives, their fortunes
and their sacred honor in the quest for freedom and dignity. Most who
advance the cause of human dignity and freedom are not called to give
their all in the noise and strife of the battlefield or at the scene
of some great disaster.

But all of us are auditioned and everyone of us constantly tested in
other theatres in this human drama, in arenas which mandate a
different kind of courage. Most of these roles don't require the
sudden adrenalin-propelled acts of nearly superhuman bravery
displayed in war and disasters, but call for a more mundane day-in,
day-out effort to stand up to our own fear and to unrelenting public
criticism, sometimes to threats of violence, often with little or no
obvious support. (Though, sooner or later, support will come if one
is right.)

Quite by chance, I found my place in the age-old conflict between
reason and unreason, freedom and bondage, dignity and indignity -
between good and evil, if you will - while practicing my specialty,
Ob/Gyn, and providing safe, affordable abortion as just one aspect of
my professional duties. I hope that each of you and your medical
school classmates may find in your lives a part so fit, a cause so

William F. Harrison M.D.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Celebrating the 19th Amendment: The Struggles of our Grandmothers, the Rights of Our Daughters

Written by Julie Burkhart, Executive Director of Trust Women PAC
Originally posted on RHRealityCheck.org

This month marks the 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which, after decades of long battles, gave women the right to vote in the United States. When you think about it, 90 years is a relatively short period of time – especially when you ponder things such as the age of the earth, human evolution or the wondrous redwood trees in the Western United States. However, when you’re engaged in the middle of a struggle, as many of us know, even a day can feel like a lifetime. Oppression slows the hands of time, as the oppressed are not fully able to realize the full potential of their lives.

Even within our own families, we have relatives whose lives have intersected with our own and who were well into adulthood before they had the right to vote. My great grandmother, Lillie, born in 1886, was 34 years old before she was able to benefit from the suffragist movement. She died when she was 101 years old so I benefited from a couple of decades spent with her.

I am now a mother to a nine-year-old daughter, Olivia - the apple of my eye. Even though she never met her great- great-grandmother, I work to instill what Lillie taught me as a child. I can remember having long conversations with her in the kitchen as she carefully dissected her daily grapefruit or as she baked a perfectly delicious angel food cake. These moments in time I seek to pass down to my daughter, so that she can also know what was important to Lillie.

When I look into her eyes, it breaks my heart that there are people in the world who do not believe, solely due to the sex of my child, that she’s not capable of full autonomy and rights. When I witness her natural curiosity, hunger for knowledge and unconditional embracement of the world, I know that it is only the oppressive structures and confines of our world that dampens the potential of women and girls.

Being a feminist mom, I try to lead by example and engage my daughter in a variety of discussions. Such discussions might involve talking about the meaning of feminism, what it’s like to be a teenager, how babies are made and born and the meaning of abortion. I always try to lay out the facts, without judgment, so she can then base her conclusions about such things on her own thoughts and feelings. It just so happened that we were driving home one day when I said something about purchasing “back-to-school” clothes and shoes. I’m not even sure what I said, but it set my daughter off on a lengthy diatribe about her body and the rights that she has to make decisions regarding all aspects of her body. It was crystal clear - my daughter had been listening to and absorbing everything I had been saying along the way.

When I was leading the pro-choice community response to the Summer of Mercy Renewal in 2001, when anti-choice groups descended upon Wichita, Kansas, to “finish the job” left unfinished from 1991’s Summer of Mercy, I encountered a situation that still haunts me. One hot summer day, I was standing across the street from Women’s Health Care Services, which was owned and operated by Dr. George Tiller, monitoring the crowds and looking for anything that may appear out of the ordinary. A verbal altercation broke out between anti-choice protestors and pro-choice supporters when an anti-choice man with a very young daughter turned to me and declared that he was proudly raising his daughter to be subservient to her future husband and to follow his rules.

This was absolutely heartbreaking to me. I looked into the brown eyes of that little girl with the dark wavy hair and saw nothing but wonder and curiosity about the world, but knew that some of her hopes and dreams may be dashed because of the strict gender roles that her father adheres to for women and men.

When I think about my daughter and that little girl, I think they deserve to have all the opportunities in the world available to them. They need not be limited by doctrine, or dogma, or fear. These little girls, who will one day be women, are feeling, thinking human beings who deserve to experience life to the fullest. Nothing less is acceptable for them.

Every day, I’m grateful to all the women who fought so tenaciously for universal suffrage; we are the beneficiaries of their vision for a better world. I’m grateful to my great grandmother for helping me understand civic responsibility and the tenuousness of our rights if we do not remain diligent. Without our foremothers, we would not have gained the rights we enjoy today. In these times, women and men go to the polls regularly to vote for candidates from president to city council. It’s almost an afterthought. Women are no longer expected to vote as their husbands or fathers or brothers vote; women vote the way in which they see fit.

I long for the day when all rights are fully realized for women; when women and girls can be freely educated, when women are paid a salary equal to men, when women have universal access to birth control and when women can make decisions about their pregnancies without interference. I thank Lillie for helping me understand the importance and I thank Olivia for her innocent approach to the world and being able to see its limitless possibilities.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Red State Round-Up: Kansas

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. George Tiller’s murder a little more than a year ago and the pending prosecution by the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts of Dr. Ann Kris Neuhaus, the doctor who signed off on the documents allowing the late-term abortions that Dr. Tiller performed for women around the world.

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

The Intersection of Reproductive Rights and Immigration Rights

Written by guest writer Marcy Bloom

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.

And that, of course, could undoubtedly result in the most far-reaching societal chaos of all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Trust Women PAC and Trust Women Foundation Internships

Trust Women Foundation and Trust Women PAC need self-motivated and energetic interns who are eager to work in the women’s rights movement. Interns must be unequivocally pro-choice. An internship with Trust Women PAC or Foundation will give interns hands on experience working for a national women’s rights organization. Internships are on a continuing basis; with a minimum of 15 hours per week required.

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 info@trustwomenpac.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.

To learn more about Trust Women PAC, please visit our website. You can also follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Red State Round-Up: New Mexico

Written by Marshall Martinez, Board President of New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

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

Press Release on the Confirmation of Elena Kagan

Trust Women PAC sends our congratulations to newly-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. We are cautiously optimistic about her tenure on the Court and are hopeful that she will add a moderate, thoughtful voice to the bench. We hope that she, as well as any judge, will fully consider the inherent rights of women, particularly our reproductive rights, when hearing and deliberating cases before the Supreme Court.

Trust Women PAC protects the rights of physicians who provide comprehensive reproductive health care, including later termination of pregnancy, and fights anti-choice legislation and candidates for elected office, particularly in Southern and Mid-Western states.

Red State Round-Up: Oklahoma

Written by Kathleen Wallace, Attorney in Oklahoma City, OK

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.

Additionally, an Oklahoma Women’s Law Center is also in the planning stages.

Stay tuned, Oklahoma’s women are outraged and we plan to let our legislators know it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Introduction: Red State Round-Up

Dear Friend,

As a pro-choice supporter, you’ve seen too often the wrath of the anti-choice movement on women’s rights in Midwestern and Southern states. These states have been an intense breeding ground for right-wing extremists. Women and families suffer the consequences of an anti-choice climate, as it undermines a woman’s individual rights.

Each week, Trust Women PAC will publish a “Red State Round Up.” We’ll highlight political races, proposed legislation and advocates' work at the state-level in order to underscore the plight of some of our most politically fragile areas. In this part of the country, which is often referred to as “The Bible Belt,” the rights of women have been hard fought and all too often disregarded and forgotten.

Trust Women, which grew out of my work with Dr. George Tiller, is committed to highlighting Midwestern and Southern states in our great nation. We cannot afford to leave one woman behind in our fight for equality. All women, no matter where they live, deserve to have laws that afford them protection, instead of potential prosecution and undue shame.

We must trust women to make decisions that are the best for themselves and for their families. We must remember that the women who anti-choice leaders try so hard to control and denigrate are the very same women who give life. I ask that you join with us, as we work for women’s rights in these critical states.