Posts Tagged ‘Pro-Choice’

Happy 40th Roe v Wade

January 23, 2013

Some interesting bits from around the web…

Kate Manning on the history of abortion and what happens when desperate women are forced to take matters into their own hands.

PPFA has launched a new effort to move away from labels  and emphasize that every woman’s circumstance differs: Not in her shoes.

Pro-life has moved away from working to reverse Roe v. Wade, because restrictions at the state-level have been much more effective.

135 provisions to restrict access to abortion were enacted since 2011.

Katie J. M. Baker at Jezebel covers the stories of abortion providers who risk their lives every day.

5 things you don’t know about abortion – Interesting piece by Irin Carmon at Salon.


Pro-Lifer Supports Planned Parenthood – Finally Somebody Gets It!

February 10, 2012

John Saveland is pro-life and he supports Planned Parenthood. Here’s why. A must-read for those on any side of this issue. He describes the efforts of those who want to, for instance, defund after Planned Parenthood, as both short-sighted and emotionally driven. Instead, he advocates focusing on things that might actually reduce the number of abortions and  preserve women’s health.

An excerpt:

I want the abortion rate in this country – and every country – to plummet. That’s a given.

But it’s not going to happen by overturning Roe vs. Wade, or cutting funding for healthcare to low-income women and families. It’s going to happen by expanding healthcare access, contraceptive use and sex education.

This is speaking from overwhelming international and historical evidence. [Em. mine]

Eureka! Pro-life and pro-choice advocates have a similar goal – fewer abortions! Who knew? Well, no one who buys into the rhetoric that women have cavalier abortions due to rampant (tsk tsk!), irresponsible sex. Consider Louisiana Congressman John Flemming thought The Onion’s “Abortionplex” satire (of people just like him, turns out) was real news and indignantly tweeted about it? Sheesh.

Anyone who thinks that pro-choicers get pedicures and lattes when they pop into the mall for their umpteenth abortions is either not paying attention, or has a vested interest in not “knowing”.

Lying for the “Cure” – Eskow Points Out Komen’s Hypocrisy

February 4, 2012

Komen’s “this is not politically motivated” assertion was hard to swallow from the start. Especially considering:

  • Its newly appointed anti-abortion VP of Community Relations
  • Its ultra-quiet, but simultaneous decision to sever relationships with any organization funding stem cell research (despite the fact that this research has advanced our knowledge of, provides treatment for and shows promise of providing a CURE for many diseases including CANCER)
  • The oddly stuffy way it handled both the announcement and its backlash. (Mary Elizabeth Williams has an insightful piece on Salon about how a truly non-political decision would have been handled in contrast with the shocked, “why is everyone being mean?” response exhibited by Komen founder Nancy Brinker.)

But, in the inevitable digging that has followed, any ounce of Komen’s remaining credibility on this issue has been entirely shredded. It’s the one question that – at least initially – no one thought to ask:

Of all the organizations that Komen gives money to, the only one under any local, state or federal investigation is Planned Parenthood?

As Richard Eskow reveals, the answer is of course not, not remotely.

A cursory look at Komen’s grantees reveals several under federal investigation, including Harvard, Yale, the University of Texas, Penn State, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

And, although Komen stated no new policies surrounding the legal behavior of its donors, it’s curious to see – when examining even just the super donors of its Million Dollar Council Elite, how many are under federal investigation for such transgressions as faulty auto parts, pension fraud, and mortgage fraud.

So now that that we know we’ve been lied to – and that Komen puts political agenda above saving the lives of cancer victims, what’s next?

Eskow writes:

…I plan to give more money to both Planned Parenthood and another cancer research organization as a result of this incident. I hope others will do the same. This could all turn out for the best, especially if the fall of one organization raises breast cancer awareness and increases support for treatment and research.

Something to think about…

Susan G. Komen & Planned Parenthood: Some thoughts on the backlash

February 1, 2012

As promised, I found a petition site in response Susan G. Komen For The Cure’s announcement yesterday that they will no long provide grants to Planned Parenthood. The petition is managed by Credo Mobile, who, according to the site, is “proud to be the largest corporate sponsor of Planned Parenthood”.

More information has come to light about the new ultra-conservative V.P of Public Policy. Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon writes:

Komen says the move is just about “newly adopted criteria barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities.” You know what else is pretty “new” around Komen? Its senior vice president of public policy, Karen Handel. During the Sarah Palin-endorsed, Tea Party favorite’s 2010 campaign for governor of Georgia, Handel declared, “I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood,” making clear that she “strongly supports” laws prohibiting “the use of taxpayer funds for abortions or abortion-related services.” She did, however, emphasize that she “strongly support(s) the noble work of crisis-pregnancy centers.”

There has been an incredible blast of fervor over the past 24 hours. Some of it, in my opinion, unhelpful. (A post on feminsiting takes time to poke fun at the tackiness of some of Komen’s fund raising products, as does – to a lesser degree – the article I quoted above. But Williams does shed light on some head-scratching tid-bits about the charity. Most strikingly,

according to Komen’s own financial records, it spends almost “a million dollars a year in donor funds” aggressively going after other organizations that dare to use the phrase “for the cure” – including small charities like Kites for a Cure, Par for the Cure, Surfing for a Cure, Cupcakes for a Cure, and even a dog-sledding event called Mush for the Cure. Let me just give you that number again. 

This seems childish and rather uncharitable for a charitable for a non-profit, no? Especially considering that only 24% of funds go to research for a cure. It actually pigeon-holes them since awareness and early detection are as much a part of what they accomplish.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the backlash. Especially the huge numbers of people who have vowed to give more money to PPFA (yay!) and to stop any support of Komen (huh?). I understand the practicality of it. Hitting any organization in the wallet is the swiftest way to provoke change. But the principal of it is completely backward.

If we find fault in the politicization of women’s health – how can we punish an organization that seeks to improve and save women’s lives for political reasons?

It’s the same with anti-abortioners, who steadfastly refuse to acknowledge a single positive thing that Planned Parenthood provides for low-income women. Not even all that they do to prevent unwanted pregnancies in their communities. When they regard PPFA, they need to see only abortion, to the point that they will outright lie to make sensational and baseless claims.

I don’t agree with Komen’s decision. It makes me angry and I’ll raise as much awareness as I can to try to reverse it – or (as seems to be happening) help rile enough economic support from the public that PPFA will not feel a loss of funds at all. But I won’t turn my back on everything Komen does because I don’t like this one thing. If they were misappropriating funds, if donations went to huge salaries and not to research or awareness – I’d cut all support because my money wouldn’t be doing any good.

If I get a chance to do a race for Komen, I’ll take it. If someone tells me about an event, I’ll go. To do anything different would be to walk in the footsteps of pro-lifers who previously pulled the plug on Komen (and any org that gave a dime to PPFA).

Maybe I’m impractical. But if Komen’s ability to effect women’s lives are impacted by this decision the way Planned Parenthood’s may now be – who wins?

The Politics of Cancer: Komen Pulls Grants to Planned Parenthood

January 31, 2012

An AP story today announced that Susan G. Komen will no longer provide what has historically been upwards of half a million dollars in annual grant money to Planned Parenthood for the use of breast cancer screenings and other breast-related health issues.  Komen says that the decision was based on Planned Parenthood’s recent investigation by Congress – which was spear-headed by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., in what is largely seen as a politically-motivated move. The investigation calls for twelve years of documents in exhaustive detail, ostensibly to dig up billing issues and cases where federal money was, in fact, used to fund abortions.

Sen. Henry Waxman, D-CA and Rep. Dianna DeGette, D-CO, of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations wrote a pointed letter to Stearns in which they state:

We question the basis for the investigation and question whether Planned Parenthood is being singled out as part of Republican vendetta against an organization that provides family planning and other medical care to low-income women and men.


We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request of Planned Parenthood. The HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings. These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity, or other abuse that would justify a broad and invasive congressional investigation.

Planned Parenthood believes Komen’s decision was simply a cave to pressure from pro-life groups who reveal their belief – in yet another un-surprising instance – that life in the womb trumps all other life/death/health issues. Period.

Patrick Hurd, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, whose wife is currently battling breast cancer, commented:

“It sounds almost trite, going through this with Betsi, but cancer doesn’t care if you’re pro-choice, anti-choice, progressive, conservative. Victims of cancer could care less about people’s politics.”

Over the past five years, Planned Parenthood has performed nearly 170,000 breast exams that were funded by Komen grants. How many low-income women will be turned away in the next five?

I haven’t yet found a site that organizes petitions, but I’ll post when I do. The Planned Parenthood Action Center might be a good place to start (at the time of this posting both PPFA and Komen sites have no information.)

In the meantime, you can always donate.

“Women voting for McCain-Palin is like chickens voting for Col. Sanders”: Richards on Palin and Women’s Rights

October 3, 2008

At Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has some cutting questions for Govenor Palin about her stance on reproductive rights and her comprehension of birth control methods.

Her answers on reproductive health issues, such as criminalizing abortion, exceptions for rape and incest, and what exactly the morning-after pill is, were a rambling mix of contradictions and platitudes, much like her answers about Russia bordering Alaska, the bailout, health care, and the economy.

The post is brief, but worth checking out.

Feminist or “Fetalist”? Feminism in Light of the ’08 Campaign

September 18, 2008

Feminism has become the new buzzword this presidential election cycle. First Hillary fought hard to shatter that ultimate glass ceiling, then Sarah Palin emerged as a “new face of feminism“, despite holding views that are antithetical to those of most self-described feminists.

Hillary was criticized by Palin herself for pointing out gender-bias during the primaries, yet feminists are being regarded as hypocritical for not supporting the potentially first female Vice President of the United States.

Which got me wondering – what is a feminist?

Palin’s beliefs on sex education, birth control, abortion, and GLBT issues make her decidedly un-woman friendly to the majority of feminists. Yet Palin considers herself extremely woman-friendly and thinks the other side has everything all wrong.

What’s going on? Can there be a Christian conservative feminist?

I struggled with this one. Does believing abortion is murder and that the government isn’t responsible for enforcing gender equality mean that you are against the empowerment and equality of women?

Palin is a member of Feminists for Life. It’s a group that believes “women deserve better than abortion” and strives to “systematically eliminate the circumstances that drive women to abortion.” The latter sounds pretty good. Except they don’t.

The group lobbies for a program of federal grants for pregnant or new parents (or those preparing to adopt) who are students so they don’t have to sacrifice their education in order to support a child. They also oppose family caps for women on welfare. However it seems that, in FFL’s world, financial burden is the only circumstance that provokes women to choose abortion. The site speaks nothing of sex ed or contraception, except when it condemns them. In an article on rape and incest, it mentions birth control:

“birth control counseling and abortion often indirectly contribute to the victim’s sense of shame, guilt, and blame for what is happening, since she is told to “take control” and “be responsible” for her “sexual activity,” implying that this situation is indeed within her power to control.”

Who tells a victim of incest or rape that they should have used birth control? Or implies that she “take control” next time by carrying rubbers around just in case? That’s so offensive, it’s sickening.

A 2005 piece by Kathy Politt in The Nation investigates FFL and interviews its president, Serrin Foster. Foster advocates a ban on abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest, deformity, or when the life or health of the mother is at stake. She makes the thoroughly debunked assertion that an abortion ban would stop abortion altogether and make women safer overall, she ensures her members are “medically informed” by erroneously telling them that abortion causes breast cancer, feels the contraceptive pill is an ” abortifacient” and birth control in general “doesn’t work” for teenagers or swing-shift nurses who lose track of their body clock.

Feminsts for Life isn’t actually about improving the lives of women, nor even addressing the circumstances that lead to abortion. It sounds great to say women need more help juggling babies and education and careers, but in what practical way does FFL represent feminism?

Politt concludes her piece with the answer:

Exposing the constraints on women’s choices, however, is only one side of feminism. The other is acknowledging women as moral agents, trusting women to decide what is best for themselves. For FFL there’s only one right decision: Have that baby. And since women’s moral judgment cannot be trusted, abortion must be outlawed, whatever the consequences for women’s lives and health–for rape victims and 12-year-olds and 50-year-olds, women carrying Tay-Sachs fetuses and women at risk of heart attack or stroke, women who have all the children they can handle and women who don’t want children at all. FFL argues that abortion harms women–that’s why it clings to the outdated cancer claims. But it would oppose abortion just as strongly if it prevented breast cancer, filled every woman’s heart with joy, lowered the national deficit and found Jimmy Hoffa. That’s because they aren’t really feminists–a feminist could not force another woman to bear a child, any more than she could turn a pregnant teenager out into a snowstorm. They are fetalists.

Feminist historian Estelle Freedman told NPR that conservative women (have been known to) appropriate the term for political gain. If you say you’re a feminist, but the nice, family-oriented kind, people hear what they want to hear. Without examining too closely, women believe you’re one their side.

Yet even this can backfire. To the right even of Palin the tag “feminist” is raising some disapproving eyebrows. Olivia St. John of World Net Daily writes that Palin’s decision to work outside the home is a direct contributor to her teenage daughter’s pregnancy. She is accused of gauchely “(stealing) the spotlight” as her husband and children look on from the shadows and further reprobated as “legitimizing the societal phenomenon of the career-centric absentee mother.” I guess you can’t please everyone.

Palin is an accomplished, intelligent, successful woman. She manages a career and a family in a way that appears enviable. She could even become the very first female Vice President of the United States. But Sarah Palin will not make the country better for women. No matter what she says, or what FFL wants you to believe, Sarah Palin is not a feminist.

Changing Hearts: New Op-Ed Urges Pro-Life Pro-Choice “Partnership”

December 22, 2007

NARAL logo RH Reality Check has an interesting article by Anna Clark called “Changing Hearts, From Pro-Life to Pro-Choice.”

She chronicles her tale from fervid anti-choice to passionate pro-choice. And no, her change of heart does not involve her own (or any particular person’s) abortion.

What I love about this piece is that it humanizes the struggle itself. Clark dislikes the idea of two warring sides and laments that her ideas on reproductive rights would have changed much sooner had pro-choicers bothered to talk to her about their beliefs rather than eying her up as the enemy.

It’s difficult not to become enraged about the issue itself, but do we need to be constantly enraged at each other? Pro-choicers watch religious, political, and largely misogynistic rhetoric take away the right to our own bodies and futures (let alone our own personal and/or religious or spiritual beliefs.) Pro-lifers believe that sex-hungry women defile their bodies and wipe away their sin by conveniently aborting their innocent babies.

It’s emotional. It’s volatile. But is it, essentially, for the everyday women who find themselves on one side of the issue or the other, the truth? Are the assumptions made by each side about the other really what’s going on in the hearts and minds of women?

I would argue that it isn’t. That those at the polar extremes of the abortion issue speak the loudest and get the most media attention. And then I wonder if, when someone tells me she’s pro-life, it’s only my own smallness that causes my knee-jerk dislike, even disrespect for her.

Clark writes:

Enemy caricatures mask the greatest strength of pro-choice philosophy: inclusiveness.

Pro-choice society, like democratic society, is predicated on space for those who disagree. When we play sides, we forget there are no enemies in the vision we pursue. Our inclusiveness of those who choose not to have abortions, and even those who judge abortion to be morally wrong, is our movement’s power. When we approach anti-choicers as friends, not only do we act on the heart of our beliefs, but we create space for anti-choicers to become our allies.

I’m not sure how I feel about my ability to embrace the total inclusiveness thing, but women speaking openly and non-divisively to other women (and men) about this critical issue, can only be a good idea.

“Pro-Life begins at conception and ends at birth.”

November 8, 2007

I don’t believe that all pro-lifers are like this, but way too many of them are, as evidenced by this shocking piece by pro-life blogger Jill Stanek. In a review of the new Costner film Mr. Brooks, Stanek concludes that aGf2i serial killer who targets women is slightly “redeemed” because he doesn’t believe in abortion. And in a similar post, a real man who discovers wife/girlfriend has had an abortion will slap the shit out of her (as opposed to the “wimps” of today who say “I’ll support you in whatever you decide.”) -Yay Michael Corleone!

You can’t make this stuff up. Read about it in the very clear and succinct post by Jill on feminste.

By the way, the Godfather II scene is tremendously powerful. And when he slaps her after she admits she aborted his child, it is the exact right action for that character. Michael Corleone, boss of a mob empire, kills when he needs to, maims, roughs-up as called for, spends his life in an effort to maintain utter control of the world around him. Old-school Italian man with a sense of ownership of wife and children – they’re yours to provide for and yours to control. The mafia world is one of male supremacy where the notion of “respect” reigns above all else.

It is a tremendous scene in a tremendous film. It is NOT an across-the-board blueprint for how to behave today.

It is this extreme elasticity of reason that is such a frightening quality in many pro-lifers who, as Stanek so generously illustrates, will go to any lengths to pull together a case for their cause, even when the case they make advocates and/or excuses violence against and killing of women.

The value of life begins at conception and ends at birth. Horrifying.

Why Ron Paul is Not a Libertarian

November 2, 2007


Question: How can you be a libertarian in favor of the defense of marriage act and overturning roe v wade?
Answer: You can’t.

If you feel the government should control some of the most intimate aspects of its citizens’ lives, you are not a libertarian. Libertarians believe in liberty. Personal, social, economic freedom. The government stays out of your life. This means more than lower taxes and privatization. If this is as far as your liberties go, you are not libertarian, you are a republican. The misuse of this word by a candidate who’s erroneously trying to distinguish himself from the pack is particularly vexing because this is the first time that the principals of libertarianism are even part of the mainstream presidential campaign – and they’re being misconstrued.

Want to know where you stand? Take this quiz. Or this one. Or this.

Click the box to the right for my results on the Politopia Quiz. (I’m the red star.)

Paul’s site divides the issues into categories such as “personal liberty” and “life and liberty”. A quick look makes it clear that on certain issues, Paul needs a dictionary, because like too many others, Paul defines liberty as the freedom to live your life the way he thinks you should live it.

Here’s the libertarian stance from the party site (these are just excepts of issues relevant to this election):

On Sexuality and Gender Issues:

Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships. Sexuality or gender should have no impact on the rights of individuals.

Recommended actions…

♦ Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act and state laws and amendments
defining marriage.

♦ Oppose any new laws or Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private relationships.

♦ Repeal any state or federal laws denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration.

♦ End the Defense Department practice of discharging armed forces personnel for sexual orientation.

On Reproductive Rights:

The tragedies caused by unplanned, unwanted pregnancies are aggravated and sometimes created by government policies of censorship, restriction, regulation and prohibition. Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on both sides, we
believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

  • We oppose government laws and policies that restrict the opportunity to choose alternatives to abortion.
  • We support an end to all subsidies for childbearing or child prevention built into our present laws.

Paul is a self-described “unshakable foe” of abortion rights and in 2005 he introduced “the sanctity of life act” that would legally declare that life begins at conception. He is for overturning roe v wade and putting abortion laws in the hands of the states, and a proponent of a federal ban on late-term abortion.

He is for the Defense of Marriage Act, against adoption by gay couples, and thinks the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” is “a decent policy.”

This is yet another case where someone will fervently believe in the virtues of freedom…except in the few cases where they personally feel people are doing something that needs to be controlled….

So stop using the word libertarian!

“I think Planned Parenthood is Amazing.”

October 11, 2007

Actress Kate Walsh is a committed advocate for woman’s reproductive rights and sexual health. Read her interview with Planned Parenthood. She concludes

“I think what Planned Parenthood is doing is amazing. There needs to be a place for women to go to get safe, responsible, up-to-date medical care.”

Despite ardent opposition including gory signs and prayer vigils, the new Planned Parenthood has opened in Aurora Illinois. Protesters have assured the press that they will not stop their efforts to close the clinic. Under what legal precedent? Unacknowledged seems to be the array of vital education and medical services to which many women in this community would otherwise have no access. Zealotry is single-minded almost by definition (in my opinion) but it’s simply irresponsible and inexcusable to not examine the full reality of this situation. Holding signs and pointing fingers seems to be the majority of the pro-life repertoire.

They ignore what Planned Parenthood CEO Steve Trombley succinctly said at the clinic’s opening:

“We know that the services we provide will do more in one day to prevent abortions than our opposition will do in a lifetime of protesting.”

Check out this PP statement: Aurora Struggle Reflects Growing Battle Against Politics Trumping Health Care

Also, see for yourself all the evil happenings at Aurora’s PP blog and website.

The Right To Choose…(Your Candidate)

October 7, 2007


For some many of us in 2008, views on reproductive rights will help inform our Presidential choice. No matter on which side of the issue you stand, the NY Times offers a quickly accessible Election Guide that profiles each candidate and gives a breakdown of some of the main issues. It also gives a semi-informative 1st and 2nd quarter account of funds raised. The piece identifies funds by type and geographical location, but stops short of more prudent info — which individuals? Which committees? Where exactly is the money coming from and how might this later effect policy?

This post though, is about the abortion issue. More telling than each candidate’s unsurprising stance on variants of this topic – (roe v wade, late term, supreme court appointment) – are many of the quotes candidates use to substantiate their views. Those who wish to overturn roe v wade cite, almost without exception, personal belief and religious doctrine. While these are perfectly legitimate bases for one’s own decision and opinion about abortion – indeed what else are you to use when confronting this difficult issue? – this is exactly the opposite of what must be used when determining a law that would force one’s personal and religious beliefs on everyone in the country.

Too often the unspoken mentality is: Everyone should be held to my opinion and religious beliefs because my religious beliefs are the right ones. If you don’t see the light, you’re wrong and I could probably help you. In fact, this is my duty.

For example:

“My view is that after about a period of about eight weeks where there is time for a baby to form. After that period of time I think there should be no further abortions — because I think the child has emerged…” — James Gilmore, R

“I’m pro-life because I believe life begins at conception…” — Mike Huckabee, R

” Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided […] There is not a word in the text of that document, nor in any of its amendments, that conceivably addresses abortion.” — Ron Paul, R (Since when does the fact that something isn’t mentioned in the constitution make it unconstitutional? )

“And when I ran for office, I said I’d protect the law as it was, which is effectively a pro-choice position. About two years ago when we were studying cloning in our state, I said, look, we have gone too far; it’s a brave new world mentality that Roe v. Wade has given us…” — Mitt Romney, R — (Um, WHAT? pro-choicers could site “1984 mentality”, but most often don’t because, I don’t know, it’s overly generalized and wildly hyperbolic?!)

Democrats, of course have a different take on the issue. And one thing they don’t use to reinforce their position is a personal or religious belief.

“This decision, which is one of the most fundamental, difficult and soul searching decisions a woman and a family can make, is also one in which the government should have no role.” — Hilary Clinton, D

“I think that most Americans recognize that this is a profoundly difficult issue for the women and families who make these decisions. They don’t make them casually. And I trust women to make these decisions, in conjunction with their doctors and their families and their clergy…” — Barack Obama, D

When laws are made, interpreted or upheld based on religious belief or personal (political) gain we have things like abolition, slavery, laws against consenting sodomy and oral sex, and assault laws not applying to spouses, just to name a few.

I have plenty more to say on the topic, but more will come later…

Great article on the new Planned Parenthood opening in Arizona on “Blogher”.