Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reacting to the MSNBC Documentary on Dr. Tiller

Written by Trust Women PAC's Executive Director Julie Burkhart

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Reverend's View on Abortion Rights

Written by Brenda Fletchall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Give Women Freedom of Choice

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Connect the Dots

by Executive Director Julie Burkhart

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

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

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

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

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