3/4 of Hobby Lobby's investment funds include contraception, abortion services


Hobby Lobby is so offended by the idea of contributing to its employees' birth control expenses that it fought all the way to the Supreme Court over the issue. But its retirement plan has over $73M sunk into funds that include companies that make contraception.

Read the rest

Supreme Court ruling creates urgent need for abortion clinic escorts


The Supreme Court has struck down a Massachusetts law establishing a "buffer zone" around abortion clinics, defining an area in which anti-choice protesters may not harass women who visit clinics. An important Metafilter post by Anotherpanacea points up the urgent need for more clinic escorts to help women through the gauntlet (I used to do clinic defense in Toronto's Morgantaler Clinic, which was later bombed by anti-choice terrorists).

Read the rest

Crowdfunding money to rebuild destroyed Montana family health clinic

Since 1976, Susan Cahill of All Families Healthcare has been in family practice in Montana, offering compassionate family/reproductive health services -- including abortion. It is for this reason that her clinic was all but destroyed by violent thugs, who even trashed her irreplaceable personal mementos. An Indiegogo fundraiser has brought in about $32K so far. Cory 14

Powerful poetry slam piece on choice, rape and personhood

Personhood, Lauren Zuniga's 2012 performance at the Urbana Poetry Slam, is a powerful piece about choice, social justice, reproductive rights, and rape [TW]. Set against the backdrop of Rick Santorum's remarks on rape (calling pregnancies arising from rape a "gift from God"), the performance tries to bridge the gap between Zuniga's life and beliefs and her conservative grandfather's staunch opposition to choice on abortion.

Lauren Zuniga's "Personhood" (via Wil Wheaton)

14-year-old girl who was called a "whore" for her pro-Choice sign expresses disappointment in adult world


Tuesday Cain is the 14-year-old Texas girl who designed the "Jesus isn't a dick so keep him out of my vagina" sign that went viral in a photo that showed her friend holding it up in front of the Texas Capitol. She was protesting Texas's misogynist, retrograde anti-Choice law. Afterward, a number of self-identified Christian opponents of abortion heaped the vilest, cruelest abuse on her, calling her a "whore" and worse. In this editorial, young Ms Cain explains how this made her feel, and reminds us that calling young women "whores" does not make your case for you.

I'm going to be honest about what it feels like to be called that as a 14-year-old girl who has never had sex and who doesn't plan to have sex anytime soon.

I feel disappointed.

It's hard for me to understand why adults would be calling me this. It's hard for me to understand why anyone would use this term for a 14-year-old girl.

It's not anyone's business, but as I said, I am a virgin, and I don't plan to have sex until I am an adult.

But none of those facts make me feel any less passionate about fighting for a woman's right to choose and the separation of church and state in my home state of Texas.

I'm The 14-Year-Old Who Wrote The "Jesus Isn't A Dick So Keep Him Out of My Vagina" Sign In Texas And Was Labeled A "Whore" By Strangers Online [Tuesday Cain/XOJane]

(via Skepchick)

Come and Take It uterus tees to support Texas Planned Parenthood


Kyle from Bumperactive sez, "Support the thousands of Texans standing for Women's Reproductive Freedom at the State Capitol this morning with a 'Come And Take It' Uterus tee, printed by Austin printshop Bumperactive and designed by liberal Texas troublemakers Cole Latimer and Carrie Collier-Brown. $12.00 from the sale of each $25.00 benefits Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and The Texas Democratic Party in an equal split. The design is riff on the famous flag of the Texian Settlers in the first battle of Texas Revolution. The imprint is a one-color screen-print on a Texas Orange pre-shrunk Gildan tee." Come And Take It

(Thanks, Kyle!)

North Carolina House Republicans sneak abortion rules into motorcycle safety bill without notice

North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state's abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they've reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.

“It is a disgrace to North Carolina that legislators have again resorted to sneak attacks to move their anti-women’s health agenda forward,” said Melissa Reed, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Health Systems said in a statement. “Once again there was no public notice that this bill would be heard. The public and even many legislators on the committee only learned this was a possibility at 9:57am -- three minutes before the committee was to meet -- when a political reporter was tipped off and posted it on Twitter. This is outrageous and not how the people’s business should be conducted.”

Without notice, NC House rushes forward new abortion bill

Amazon reviews of Wendy Davis's running shoes

Texas Sen. Wendy Davis did something amazing when she filibustered for 13 hours solid to kill the state's omnibus abortion bill: standing, without help, food, water, or bathroom breaks, for 13 straight hours. In a pair of Mizuno Women's Wave Rider 16 Running Shoes. Fans of Ms Davis have taken to Amazon to show their support in the reviews, a strange form of public commentary with some precedent: "Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day," and "I tried on a pair at the local mall and suddenly Texas Republicans started telling me what to do with my genitals." Cory 1

700+ Texans ask lawmakers to hear "People's Filibuster" about abortion rights

Over 700 Texans gathered in their legislature to testify before the state government about the impact of Texas's pending omnibus abortion bill. This bill would impose complex, punitive restrictions on abortion clinics that would have the effect of shuttering all but five of the clinics where Texans can have a safe, legal abortion.

The participants in this "People's Filibuster" have found their elected representatives openly contemptuous of comment from the public, especially State Affairs Chair Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) who called the individual, personal testimony "repetitive" and who eventually adjourned the meeting.

Only one woman is filibustering today, Senator Wendy Davis, who is in the middle of a 13-hour filibuster. (livestream)

Reproductive Health Reality Check has done excellent work covering the story, and today, they're raising funds to buy food to support the participants who are waiting all day and all night to tell their stories and be heard. I gave $50. Will you match it?

Doonesbury's transvaginal ultrasound/Republican state house strips


I missed this back in March 2012, but it bears re-visiting. Here's a series of Doonesbury strips that some newspapers refused to run in spring 2012. The strips criticize Republican state legislatures' plans to require transvaginal probes for women contemplating abortion, with special emphasis on Texas governor Rick Perry.

Trudeau wrote: "Ninety-nine percent of American women have or will use contraception during their lifetimes. To see these healthcare rights systematically undermined in state after state by the party of 'limited government' is appalling. "In Texas, the sonograms are the least of it. The legislature has also defunded women's health clinics all over the state, leaving 300,000 women without the contraceptive services that prevent abortions in the first place. Insanity."

Trudeau is dismayed by the newspaper reaction. "I write the strip to be read, not removed. And as a practical matter, many more people will see it in the comics page than on the editorial page," he wrote.

"I don't mean to be disingenuous. Obviously there's some profit to controversy, especially for a satirist. If debate is swirling around a particular strip, and if its absence creates blowback, then I'm contributing to the public conversation in a more powerful way. But I don't get up in the morning and scheme about how to antagonise editors. Some of these folks have supported me for decades."

Oh, Texas... This is why I want to leave you. (via Reddit)

RIP, Henry Morgentaler, Canadian abortion pioneer


Doctor Henry Morgentaler, who pioneered safe, legal abortion in Canada at great personal risk and cost, died today at 90. Canada is a better place for the work he did. Here's a photo of me and Morgentaler when I was 4 1/2 years old.

To his supporters, he was nothing less than a hero. "Canadian women owe Dr. Morgentaler a tremendous debt of gratitude for standing up for their lives and health at great personal sacrifice and risk," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation.

"He survived numerous threats on his life, a clinic bombing and aggressive protests. Yet, he was not deterred," she said.

Judy Rebick, a former head of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, worked with Morgentaler in the 1980s on the effort to legalize abortion.

"I think every women in the country has lost a major ally," she told CBC News. "He changed all of our lives by standing up against the abortion laws and eventually winning in the Supreme Court."

Morgentaler death rekindles abortion divide

Faced with excommunication threat, Irish PM explains separation of church and state to Cardinal


The Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny if he held a scheduled vote on Ireland's new abortion law. He responded:

Everybody’s entitled to their opinion here but as explained to the Cardinal and members of the church my book is the constitution and the constitution is determined by the people. That’s the people’s book. We live in a Republic and I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to legislate in respect of what the people’s wishes are.

Redditor bleacliath created a great graphic for this quote and posted it to /r/atheism.

Politicians ‘have responsibility’ to legislate on abortion issue

25 years of legal abortion in Canada


On Torontoist, an appreciation of the 25th anniversary of R v Morgantaler, the court decision that made safe and legal abortion on demand the rule of the land in Canada:

When police raided Henry Morgentaler’s Harbord Street clinic in July, 1983, no doors were kicked in. “There was a policewoman and a policeman undercover who had booked an appointment,” Dr. Robert Scott recalls, addressing a packed hall at the University of Toronto Tuesday night, at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision decriminalizing abortion. “I was actually doing the procedure when the raid started. They banged on the door and I said, ‘I’m in the middle of a case.’”

Scott stifles a laugh at the relatively subdued beginnings that led to such revolutionary ends. “They were very nice in the sense they said, ‘Go ahead and finish the case.’”

His arrest, along with that of Dr. Frank Smoling and Morgentaler himself, set in motion a chain of events that would test the repatriated constitution of 1982, cementing the foundation of civil rights in Canada. Presented by the David Asper Center for Constitutional Rights, the faculty of law’s panel discussion was convened to take legal and sociopolitical stock, comparing where we are today with the country brimming with volatile change in the early 1980s.

“Our job was to change the consciousness of the country,” recalled Carolyn Egan, longtime trade unionist, political activist, and a key witness in the Morgentaler trial. To Canadians 25 years later, she said, the draconian controls limiting access to abortion may be hard to imagine. Therapeutic Abortion Committees—three-doctor panels with the assumed power of federal judges, so argued Morgentaler’s defence—decided whether an attempt to discontinue a pregnancy was justified. In almost every case, these were doctors with no personal knowledge of a patient’s background, medical or otherwise, and often predominately male. And even that “service” wasn’t available to all. It would depend on resources available at each hospital, often leaving poor, rural, or First Nations communities behind.

My mom was an activist in this fight, and the illustration above is a newspaper article from 1972 about her work to legalise abortion in Canada. The kid on her lap is me!

R v. Morgentaler, 25 Years Later

Anti-choice Tea Party Congressman pressured pregnant mistress to get an abortion

Tennessee Tea Party Rep Dr. Scott DesJarlais -- a serial philanderer who told a court he'd cheated on his wife four times -- calls himself anti-abortion. His website says, "All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life." He has consistently voted for legislation that restricted abortion. But when he got his mistress pregnant, he insisted that she get an abortion. Here's a transcript of some of that conversation:

"If we need to go to Atlanta, or whatever, to get this solved and get it over with so we can get on with our lives, then let's do it," Desjarlais says.

“Well, we’ve got to do something soon. And you’ve even got to admit that because the clock is ticking right?” he says at another point.

I guess that this is consistent with an anti-choice position (he doesn't want women to choose, he wants their married boyfriends to choose), but "pro-life"? Not so much.

Anti-choice GOP Congressman pushed mistress to get abortion (Thanks, Winkel!)

Whence springs Todd Akin's belief in magic, rape-proof vaginas?

Justine Larbalestier provides some context for Republican MO senate nominee Todd Akin statement that, "from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

It turns out that this belief in magic sperm-rejecting vaginas was the kind of thing that was believed in 1785, when Samuel Farr argued in his groundbreaking treatise on law and medicine that:

Samuel Farr, in the first legal-medicine text to be written in English (1785), argued that “without an excitation of lust, or enjoyment in the venereal act, no conception can probably take place.” Whatever a woman might claim to have felt or whatever resistance she might have put up, conception in itself betrayed desire or at least a sufficient measure of acquiescence for her to enjoy the venereal act. This is a very old argument. Soranus had said in second-century Rome that “if some women who were forced to have intercourse conceived . . . the emotion of sexual appetite existed in them too, but was obscured by mental resolve,” and no one before the second half of the eighteenth century or early nineteenth century question the physiological basis of this judgement. The 1756 edition of Burn’s Justice of the Peace, the standard guide for English magistrates, cites authorities back to the Institutes of Justinian to the effect that “a woman can not conceive unless she doth consent.” It does, however, go on to point out that as matter of law, if not of biology, this doctrine is dubious. Another writer argued that pregnancy ought to be taken as proof of acquiescence since the fear, terror, and aversion that accompany a true rape would prevent an orgasm from occurring and thus make conception unlikely.

(Quote from Thomas Laqueur’s Making Sex).

Justine notes that Farr's work was written in the same century in which Mary Toft was widely believed to have given birth to rabbits.

So yeah, that the kind of "science" that Todd Akin will bring to the Senate.

“Legitimate Rape” and Other Craptastic Beliefs From the Olden Days