Jonathan "Song a Day" Mann's latest is "The Vagina Song," inspired by Michigan's legislative fight, in which Republicans have censured a woman Democratic lawmaker for using the word "vagina" in an abortion debate.
Michigan state rep Rep. Lisa Brown intervened in a debate about a pending abortion bill in which she used the word "vagina," for which she was censured, and prohibited from participating in some future, unrelated debates. She was not the only woman legislator prohibited from speaking during the debate. Rep. Barb Byrum was barred from introducing her amendment requiring men to prove that their lives were at risk before they were allowed to have a vasectomy.
Brown, a Democrat, argued that her Jewish faith allowed for therapeutic abortions when the mother's life is in danger without regard to length of pregnancy.
"I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?" she said. But what came next is what got her in trouble: "And finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'"
The Detroit News reports today the House Republican leadership did not allow Brown to speak on a bill about the retirement of school employees.
The Kansas House of Reps passed one of the most draconian and awful abortion bills imaginable last week. Among other things, it allows doctors to lie to their patients to keep them from getting abortions, even if the mother's health demands it, and mandates that doctors lie about health risks from abortion. It also allows doctors and pharmacists to withhold cancer treatment from pregnant women if they believe it might harm the foetus's health. From Amanda Peterson Beadle's writeup in ThinkProgress:
– EXPANDED ‘CONSCIENCE MEASURE: Earlier this week, the state Senate aproved a bill that offers additional legal protection to Kansas health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions. The House had already approved the measure, and it is likely that Gov. Sam Brownback (R) will sign it. But critics of the bill worry the “conscience” measure goes too far, and that it would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control “allow a doctor to refuse to provide chemotherapy to a pregnant cancer patient because it might end her pregnancy,” according to the Associated Press.
– PREVENTING LICENSES FOR PROVIDERS: Last year, the legislature approved licensing regulations that specifically targeted the state’s three abortion providers, potentially making Kansas the first state where a woman could not access abortion services. But when a judge temporarily blocked the regulations from going into effect, Brownback’s administration planned to enact the exact same regulations to skirt around the court’s ruling.
– DEFUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Lawmakers signed off on a law last year to ban Planned Parenthood clinics in Kansas from receiving federal funds, endangering health care for at least 5,700 patients. A judge blocked the law from going into effect, but the state has spent hundreds of thousands continuing to defend the law.
Deborah sez, "This landlord of an abortion clinic has turned the tables on anti-abortion protesters. His army of volunteers calls the anti-abortion protesters at home and say thanks for your concern but he's just a landlord and can't do anything about it. Very nice turning of the tables on the anti-abortionists."
Jezebel's Cassie Murdoch tells the story in detail, describing how Todd Stave, landlord to Germantown, Maryland's Reproductive Health Services Clinic, has faced systematic harassment, and has fought back by enlisting an army of thousands of telephoners who call back the people who place harassing calls and politely tell them off. The group is called Voice of Choice. They look up the family details of harassers who make references to their victims' families and make a point of dropping the names of their kids and their kids' schools into the conversation.
Predictably and sadly, this has upped the ante, and so now the anti-choice squads are doing things like distributing fliers featuring photoshops of Stave as Hitler, with the personal details of Stave's relatives and in-laws to Stave's neighbors. They picket Stave's kids' school on parent-teacher nights, holding signs with pictures of foetuses and bearing Stave's name and contact details. There's even one guy who pickets the dental office of Stave's brother-in-law (that is, he pickets the brother-in-law of the landlord of a doctor who performs abortions).
When asked if he thought this method of payback was harsh, Stave said no: "We gave them back what they gave us." Actually, not even. You gave back a mild, family-friendly version of what they gave to you. You proved to them that you know where they live and who their children are, but you didn't show up at their homes and schools and threaten them. You didn't come onto their lawn with posters detailing terrible imaginary things that they've done. You're serving up Revenge Lite™: Tastes great, less killing.
What's more, Stave is strict about who Voice of Choice will make calls for. If it's just run-of-the-mill protests outside clinics, he won't help them because he believes in people's First Amendment right to be out there saying what's on their mind. Protestors must be personally harassing doctors or landlords in order for Stave to step in. If only abortion opponents had the same respect for people doing what they were allowed by law to do. Ahem.
So this is the part where the evil bullies who've plagued him (and others) at all hours of the day or night learn their lesson after having a taste of their own medicine, right? Yep, yep. They all realized they were being horrible, and now every anti-abortion protester is treating their pro-choice opponents with the utmost respect. HA. No. Actually this is the part in the story where it gets much worse. Ready?
Here's a transcript of some of Kristen Schaal's Daily Show routine on the current mandatory transvaginal ultrasound disgrace and the national attack on women's reproductive rights:
I just flew in from Virginia, and boy is my vagina tired! From the involuntary ultrasound wanding — AM I RIGHT, LADIES? (Beat.) And by the way, why do they call it a ‘wand’? Where are we — Hogwarts? The only thing magically disappearing was my dignity and privacy, BOOM!!!
…What’s the difference between a fertilized egg; a corporation; and a woman? (Beat.) One of them isn’t considered a person in Oklahoma! BOOM!!!
On the gurney lay a young woman the color of white marble. The red pool between her legs, ominously free of clots, offered a silent explanation.
“She arrived a few minutes ago. Not even a note.” My resident was breathless with anger, adrenaline, and panic.
I had an idea who she went to. The same one the others did. The same one many more would visit. A doctor, but considering what I had seen he could’t have any formal gynecology training. The only thing he offered that the well-trained provers didn’t was a cut-rate price. If you don’t know to ask, well, a doctor is a doctor. That’s assuming you are empowered enough to have such a discussion. I was also pretty sure his office didn’t offer interpreters.
I needed equipment not available in an emergency room. I looked at the emergency room attending. “Call the OR and tell them we need a room. Now.” And then I turned to my resident. I was going to tell him to physically make sure a room, any room, was ready when we arrived, but he had already sprinted towards the stairs. He knew.
Read the entire account here: Anatomy of an unsafe abortion.
Required reading in this year of presidential elections in America, in which so many candidates would have us return to the dark era in which abortion was illegal. Outlawing abortion doesn't end abortion, it just makes scenes like this more common.
And here's a follow-up post worth reading, by Dr. Gunter.
(thanks, @Scanman / image: Shutterstock)
Collateral damage in the abortion wars, and bad news for working class and low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood clinics for breast cancer and cervical cancer screening services. The Susan G. Komen Foundation, America's largest and best-funded cancer charity, is reportedly cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, in response to pressure from anti-women's health political groups.
Planned Parenthood provides a wide array of women's health services, including mammograms and cancer screening.
From her 2010 campaign website: "Since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."
Regarding state funds for the women's health clinics which she acknowledged were used for "breast and cervical cancer screening," she said while campaigning, "I’ll eliminate them as your next Governor."
Lame, lame, lame, lame. Cancer doesn't care if you're pro-choice or not.
The founder and chair of @komenforthecure is Nancy Brinker. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO: A crucifix is held aloft during the "March for Life" in Washington January 23, 2012. Nearly 100,000 protesters marched to the U.S. Supreme Court to mark the 39th anniversary of the Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. (REUTERS)
The St. Patrick's Catholic High School students were either sent home or suspended for refusing to remove green pieces of tape with the word "choice" during a pro-life event Thursday, organized by a school chaplain and a student group, in which students sported similar labels with the word "life."*Ontario's public education system is split into four subsystems: French, English, French-Catholic and English-Catholic; it's a product of the delicate negotiation that led to the merger of French and English Canada in the nineteenth century. Catholic schools receive a double-dose of funds, one from the taxpayers, the other from the Church. I sometimes do talks at Catholic schools when I tour in Canada; interestingly, the last couple schools I've been to had a large number of girls in hijabs and boys who self-identified as Muslim. When I asked a teacher why Muslim parents would enroll their children in a Catholic school, she said that sex education in the Catholic system is less explicit and thorough than in the secular schools, so conservative Muslim parents enroll their children and instruct them to ignore all religious elements of the school.
Among the students sent home was Alexandria Szeglet, 15, who initiated the protest after telling her mother that morning she disagreed with the event. Ann Szeglet responded, "Be peaceful about it. Don't make it a big deal."
"I was really respectful, but I just think the school goes a little further than a high school should [in] saying prolife," Alexandria said.
Eileen Gunn sez, "Rep. Jackie Speier (D, CA) spoke passionately in opposition to stripping Planned Parenthood of any US funding. Compare and contrast with smarmy Rep. Chris Smith (R, NJ)."
Speier's point is well-taken: using a budget debate as an excuse to pursue Planned Parenthood is obstructionist, divisive politics at its worst. Imagine if the Democratic House had refused to pass any budget unless it contained amendments blocking funding to every agency, institution, charity and contractor that the American left objected to. The fact that this particular amendment vilifies women who've had to make wrenching decisions and endure difficult and painful procedures, often for life-saving reasons, is all the more infuriating.
(Thanks, Eileen Gunn, via Submitterator!)