Posts Tagged ‘Reproductive Rights’

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…

Power to the People! Komen Reverses Planned Parenthood Decision.

February 3, 2012

After a clamorous uproar, Susan G. Komen Foundation today announced the reversal of its abrupt, two-day-old decision to stop providing grants to Planned Parenthood – grants for breast cancer screening and other breast-related health issues. It continues to insist that neither the initial decision nor the one to revoke it was politically motivated.  Komen founder Nancy Brinker released a statement today that said, in part:

We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.

The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

While it’s an understandable thing to assert, it’s tough to buy, especially considering the dissent from Komen’s own ranks including:

  • All Komen affiliates in California issuing a statement against the move.
  • Mollie Williams, one of Komen’s top officials, quitting over the decision and – when asked about it yesterday explained she couldn’t give a reason, and then went ahead and gave one:

“However, anyone who knows me personally would tell you that I am an advocate for women’s health,” the statement said. “I have dedicated my career to fighting for the rights of the marginalized and underserved. And I believe it would be a mistake for any organization to bow to political pressure and compromise its mission.”

Williams was more direct with the Huffington Post:

“Eliminating this funding will mean there’s no place for these women to go. Where are these women to go to have a mammography? Do they not deserve to have mammography?”

  • Dr. Kathy Plesser, one of Komen’s scientific advisors,vowed to resign if the decision wasn’t reversed, stating:

“I strongly believe women need access to care, particularly underserved women. My understanding is that by eliminating this funding, it will jeopardize the women served by Planned Parenthood in terms of breast care.”

  • And, Komen boardmember John D. Raffaelli who flat out told the Times:

 Komen made the changes to its grant-making process specifically to end its relationship with Planned Parenthood.

It’s important to point out that Brinker’s statement, although apologetic, makes no promise to fund future grants to PPFA. It says that Komen will fulfill current grants (which was the plan anyway), and make PPFA “eligible” for grants in the future.

PPFA President Cecile Richards, whose response to this never once directed supporters to withdraw financial support from Komen, (unlike those who wanted the grants stopped), released a response statement:

The outpouring of support for women in need of lifesaving breast cancer screening this week has been astonishing and is a testament to our nation’s compassion and sincerity.

During the last week, millions spontaneously joined a national conversation about lifesaving breast cancer prevention care and reinforced shared values about access to health care for all. This compassionate outcry in support of those most in need rose above political, ideological, and cultural divides, and will surely be recognized as one of our nation’s better moments during a contentious political time.

[…]

With Komen Foundation grants, over the past five years, Planned Parenthood health centers provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and more than 6,400 mammogram referrals. With the outpouring of support over the past week, even more women in need will receive lifesaving breast cancer care.

This actually has been a postive thing for Planned Parenthood and for awareness in general of health issues for low-income women. PPFA has reportedly raised $1 million over the last two days, including $200,000 from New York Mayor Bloomburg. 48-hours…not bad.

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.

Peruvian Women Denied Legal Abortions

July 23, 2008

Therapeutic (to preserve the life and health of the mother) and eugenic (in the even of a non-viable fetus) abortions are legal in Peru, but you wouldn’t know it by living there. Men, women, and doctors alike share ignorance or confusion about the legality of certain types of abortion, and as a result women are suffering and dying needlessly.

Human Rights Watch recently published My Rights, My Right to Know: Lack of Access to Therapeutic Abortion in Peru. The 52-page report examines a system with vague laws and regulations, legislation passed yet ignored by federal government, fear of criminalization and malpractice, lack of public funds for the procedure, lack of protocols on any level, and exceptionally low awareness levels about the criteria for a legal abortion.

It also tells the sad tales of three women who were denied a procedure they desperately needed.

“M.L.” was 31 years old and pregnant with her second child. An ultra-sound at 30 weeks revealed a malformation. Eventually she was told that the fetus had no brain and no bladder and would likely die in utero. Devastated, she asked for a therapeutic abortion, but was told by the hospital that it was illegal. In fact, legislation legalizing abortion “in cases of sexual violence, non-consented artificial insemination, and fetal abnormalities incompatible with life” was passed by Peruvian Congress in 1989, but was never made widely known by the Executive government. Neither the doctors nor M.L. knew it was an option.

She considered an illegal procedure, but she and her husband decided that it was too dangerous. Besides, they had no way of raising the $700 fee. At 38 weeks she returned to the hospital with contractions and was given medication to delay labor. By the time her full term was up, the fetus had died inside her and had to be removed by Cesarean.

After the trauma M.L. suffered severe anxiety and depression. She said

“I wouldn’t want this to happen to any other woman; it’s something horrible that happened to me…. I dropped down to 40 kilos (about 88 pounds). People don’t know how much one suffers [in this situation]; they don’t want to know the truth about that kind of suffering.”

“K.L.” was a 17 year old girl who, at 14 weeks, discovered the fetus she carried was anencephalic. Anencephaly is a birth defect where the brain and spinal cord fail to develop and the child either dies in utero or a few days after birth. It also jeopardizes both the mental and physical health of the mother. Her physician recommended ending the pregnancy. K.L. and her family prepared for this and returned to the hospital, where they were told they needed the consent of the hospital’s director, who then flatly refused the procedure. She carried the child to term and when she gave birth (three weeks late) she was forced her to breast feed for four days before the child died.

K.L. required psychiatric treatment following her ordeal.

The final case is the saddest. “L.C.” was raped repeatedly for several months at age fourteen. She told no one, not even when she discovered she was pregnant. Instead, according to her mother, she threw herself from the roof of her family’s home. The suicide attempt failed, however it did injure her spinal cord and render her a quadriplegic. In the hospital, her mother first learned of the rape.

L.C. and her family requested a legal abortion so that she may undergo an operation on her spinal cord that might restore some mobility. The request was denied on the grounds that it was illegal. When her mother protested and said that a medical committee could review and approve the abortion, they met with resistance and unexplained delays. When the window of opportunity for the spinal surgery had passed, a review came through denying the abortion on the grounds that the fetus didn’t negatively effect L.C.’s health. She later miscarried in the hospital, when there was no longer anything that could be done to restore her mobility.

International human rights groups have criticized Peru for their lack of reproductive rights, but it is unclear how this criticism is being received by Peruvian officials. Ii can understand confusion and fear on the part of medical personnel, but I cannot understand the feet-dragging on the part of the government that allows this to continue.

Abortions are not more rare in Peru. They are simply more deadly. As in all countries, that number of abortions remains constant whether it is legal or not. What rises are simply mortality rates and mental anguish.

On Reproductive Rights, McCain Looks to Coburn – So Who is He?

March 25, 2008

It’s one thing to have staunch beliefs about sex, contraception, Christianity, abortion, and the global AIDS crisis. It’s quite another to be a prominent U.S. Presidential candidate, for the second time in your life, and have given little thought to your stance on policies regarding these issues.

Evidence of the dearth of consideration McCain expends on global HIV and family planning surfaced last March when a New York Times reporter stumped the candidate with questions about basic reproductive rights and the restrictions of the global gag rule.

Here’s the transcript from a NY Times Caucus post on the incident.

(Weaver is John Weaver, his senior adviser, and Brian is Mr. Jones, his press secretary):

Reporter: “Should U.S. taxpayer money go to places like Africa to fund contraception to prevent AIDS?”

Mr. McCain: “Well I think it’s a combination. The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn. He believes – and I was just reading the thing he wrote– that you should do what you can to encourage abstinence where there is going to be sexual activity. Where that doesn’t succeed, than he thinks that we should employ contraceptives as well. But I agree with him that the first priority is on abstinence. I look to people like Dr. Coburn. I’m not very wise on it.”

(Mr. McCain turns to take a question on Iraq, but a moment later looks back to the reporter who asked him about AIDS.)

Mr. McCain: “I haven’t thought about it. Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don’t know if I would use taxpayers’ money for it.”

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?”

Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk express? I’m not informed enough on it. Let me find out. You know, I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it on the past. I have to find out what my position was. Brian, would you find out what my position is on contraception – I’m sure I’m opposed to government spending on it, I’m sure I support the president’s policies on it.”

Q: “But you would agree that condoms do stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Would you say: ‘No, we’re not going to distribute them,’ knowing that?”

Mr. McCain: (Twelve-second pause) “Get me Coburn’s thing, ask Weaver to get me Coburn’s paper that he just gave me in the last couple of days. I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

This went on for a few more moments until a reporter from the Chicago Tribune broke in and asked Mr. McCain about the weight of a pig that he saw at the Iowa State Fair last year.

I haven’t thought about it. I’ve never gotten into these issues before. I’m not informed enough about it. I’m sure I’ve taken a position on it in the past. I have to find out what that position was.

And the kicker? The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn.

Let’s forgo the obvious critique of “I need to look up what I once told people I believe in because I can’t think this through for myself and don’t generally concern myself with these things.” Any ignorance or ill-preparedness or plain poor memory to be analyzed from the exchange pales in comparison to what a little bit of research revealed.

Let’s take a look at the revered Dr. Coburn.

Tom Coburn is a Republican Senator from Oklahoma, and he’s not a subtle guy. During more than three years in the Senate he has spoken out against both sex education and contraception (which didn’t prevent Bush from appointing him co-chair of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS). A 2007 article on his government-sponsored website likens sex ed to pornography.

He is a self-proclaimed unwavering defender of the sanctity of “life”. That being said, he believes unequivocally that anyone performing an abortion should be put to death by the state.

Coburn’s Chief of Staff is Michael Schwartz. During the 2007 conference entitled “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith” Schwartz distinguished himself with a speech in which he advocated

“the mass impeachment of judges” and denounced the Supreme Court for giving Americans “the right to commit buggery.”

In the 80’s Schwartz was a founding member of Operation Rescue, the vigilante “pro-life” group that has advocated militant tactics. In 1993 the group distributed “wanted” posters for abortion provider Dr. David Gunn. Later that year an Operation Rescue member shot and killed Dr. Gunn during a protest. The group has been implicated in various acts of violence over the years from vandalism and arson, to stalking, assault, and bombings. Although the violence has quieted since the turn of the millennium, it’s worthwhile to note that in 1999 the Catholic pro-life organization American Life League created the Pro-Life Proclamation Against Violence. Operation Rescue was one of the few anti-abortion groups to refuse to sign it.

(more…)

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.

Colorado Ballot Initiative Seeks to Define “Personhood” At Conception

November 17, 2007

Egg1
The Colorado supreme court gave the go-ahead to a ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to assert that “personhood” begins at conception. Denver post writes

The amendment, if approved by voters, would extend constitutional protections from the moment of conception, guaranteeing every fertilized egg the right to life, liberty, equality of justice and due process of law.

How would this work, exactly? Do they get a social security number? Can you declare them as a dependent? What about the 20-50% of fertilized eggs that never implant to the uterine wall and are flushed from the body? Funerals? Do you need to file a “fertilization certificate” with the state as soon as you’re sure? Could miscarriages be manslaughter? No more in-vitro. No more research using stem cells

The typical craziness ensues in the comment board. Some make great points, but much of it is just frightening.

Anyway, you gotta love the guy in the article that equates abortion with the Columbine shootings…