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
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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.