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If you're a child, pregnant, and fear or can't find your parents in states like Florida, you can still get an abortion, but only by convincing a judge, by way of a grueling, kafkaesque, humiliating procedure.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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?
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."
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."
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.
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!
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.
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.
Todd Stave from Voice of Choice (previously covered here) says, "This flyer was put on the doors of the homes in my wife’s parents neighborhood. They are targeting me because I am the landlord to an abortion doctor. The people who made this piece of art felt that best way to convey their desire for me to terminate my lease with the doctor was to litter my in-laws' neighborhood and attempt to embarrass them."
An anonymous MD has a guest-post on John Scalzi's blog describing her/his medical outrage at being asked to perform medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds on women seeking abortion, in accordance with laws proposed and passed by several Republican-dominated state legislatures. As the doctor writes, "If I insert ANY object into ANY orifice without informed consent, it is rape. And coercion of any kind negates consent, informed or otherwise." The article is a strong tonic and much-welcome -- the ethics of medical professionals should not (and must not) become subservient to cheap political stunting, and especially not when political stunt requires doctors' complicity in state-ordered sexual assaults.
1) Just don’t comply. No matter how much our autonomy as physicians has been eroded, we still have control of what our hands do and do not do with a transvaginal ultrasound wand. If this legislation is completely ignored by the people who are supposed to implement it, it will soon be worth less than the paper it is written on.
2) Reinforce patient autonomy. It does not matter what a politician says. A woman is in charge of determining what does and what does not go into her body. If she WANTS a transvaginal ultrasound, fine. If it’s medically indicated, fine… have that discussion with her. We have informed consent for a reason. If she has to be forced to get a transvaginal ultrasound through coercion or overly impassioned argument or implied threats of withdrawal of care, that is NOT FINE.
Our position is to recommend medically-indicated tests and treatments that have a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio… and it is up to the patient to decide what she will and will not allow. Period. Politicians do not have any role in this process. NO ONE has a role in this process but the patient and her physician. If anyone tries to get in the way of that, it is our duty to run interference.
As Doonesbury tackles mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds for women considering abortions, rumours abound that newspapers will drop or substitute the strip:
In the "Doonesbury" strip, a woman goes to a Texas clinic to have the procedure and is forced to get a sonogram, Roush said.
The cartoon ends with the woman going home to wait 24 hours before having the abortion, as the Texas law requires, Roush said. The woman is a new character in "Doonesbury," she said.
Editors from about a dozen newspapers have reached out to Universal Uclick with questions about the strip authored by Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau, with some newspapers asking about whether an alternate strip will be offered, Roush said.
"I would imagine that some will make that choice" not to run the abortion-related strip, Roush said.
Jonathan Mann has devoted today's song-a-day entry to the notorious Virginia transvaginal ultrasound. He notes, "As I was writing this song, the Virginia house passed a bill which still mandates ultrasounds within 24 hours of an abortion, but thankfully, they left out the transvaginal part. I still think the songs stands, though."
Back in the Nixon administration, George Bush (the elder) congratulated family planning advocates on all their successes:
As United States Ambassador to the United Nations under the Nixon Administration, President George H.W. Bush (the first President Bush) wrote a letter to Alan Guttmacher (founder of the Guttmacher Institute) congratulating him on creation of a "family planning" stamp commemorating (gasp!!) Margaret Sanger.
This was in the good ol' days: Republicans were for it before they were against it. The Bush family sat on the board of Planned Parenthood and in numerous and sundry other ways supported global efforts to promote access to family planning services.
While women's rights have always been political, this was before it became fashionable and politically expedient to quite obviously sacrifice both evidence and women's bodies openly on the altar of electoral gains.
(via Beth Pratt)