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Posts tagged "Reproductive Choice"

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Hundreds of anti-choice activists are currently congregating in New Orleansto stage protests against abortion around the city, an event that’s expected to last all week long. So far, tensions have come to a head in an unexpected place: the sanctuary of a church, where abortion opponents interrupted a service to tell congregants that they don’t have a “true faith” because their denomination supports reproductive rights.

This week’s protests are being spearheaded by the national anti-abortion group Operation Save America, which used to go by the name Operation Rescue National. That far-right organization, frequently criticized for its “militant” tactics, is perhaps best known for being tied to Dr. George Tiller’s assassination. And on Sunday, as part of its week long protest in Louisiana, group members decided to take their message straight to the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans.

As the Uptown Messenger reports, anti-abortion activists interrupted worship at the church — specifically, disrupting a moment of silence for a church member who recently passed away — to declare that this particular church isn’t a “true faith” and tell the service attendees to “repent.” Operation Save America’s opinion about the First Unitarian Universalist Church is made clear on its website, which refers to the “church” and its “pastor” in scare quotes and calls it a “synagogue of Satan.”

Rev. Deanna Vandiver, a guest speaker at the service, invited the protesters to either join the service respectfully or hold their protest outside of the building. As the congregation sang, church leaders led the loudest anti-abortion activists out of the sanctuary.

Vandiver told the Uptown Messenger that she wasn’t entirely sure why the church was targeted — but it’s likely because of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s progressive stance on reproductive rights. Even before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion throughout the country, UU churches officially affirmed the right to choose. Since then, the religious body has passed several resolutions related to reproductive justice and continues to be very involved in efforts to support abortion rights. The Unitarian Universalist Association’s official policy states an explicit opposition to “any attempt to enact a position on private morality into public law.”

“Beloved, we have a lot of different opinions in this country about family planning. I believe, however, that there is a moral consensus about religious terrorism. NO ONE should invade the sanctuary of another’s faith to terrorize people as they worship,” Vandiver wrote on Facebook following the incident. “I call on everyone of every faith tradition and no faith tradition to stand with on the side of love and resist the evil of the week of hate being visited upon the city of New Orleans.”

Holding protests in church is certainly not unheard of, although it often walks a fine line. In 2012, members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot were infamously arrested after performing a “punk prayer” in Russia’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, criticizing corruption within the Orthodox Church and calling for Putin’s removal. And in the 1980s, thousands of LGBT activists protested at Catholic churches to call for more inclusive policies on abortion, homosexuality, and AIDS; although most of those protesters gathered outside of church buildings, several dozen were criticized forentering a sanctuary and disrupting Mass.

Local law enforcement is on alert as they anticipate more potentially disruptive protests from Operation Save America activists this week. Anti-abortion activists have already held an open-casket wake for a fetus in a public square. And outraged residents of one New Orleans neighborhood complained that their privacy was violated on Saturday when protesters picketed the private home of a doctor who lives there.

Nonetheless, over the weekend, the mayor of New Orleans issued an official proclamation of welcome to the protesters, signing a certificate thanking the anti-choice group for its “service” to the city. That prompted more than 500 New Orleans residents to sign a petition asking the mayor to reconsider. “Regardless of personal ideologies, most Americans agree that harassing women and threatening doctors is extreme behavior that should not be welcomed by the mayor’s office. The certificates signed by you gives them a legitimacy that they do not deserve,” the petition reads.

The members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans appear to feel similarly. “Whatever your faith tradition, I invite you to stand with Unitarian Universalists and other liberal religions besieged by hate-filled rhetoric that can trip so easily from violent words to violent deeds,” Rev. Deanna Vandiver wrote in a blog post about the incident.

Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate are already gearing up for a big fight in Tennessee this fall, preparing to pour millions of dollars into a campaign regarding an abortion-related ballot measure up for consideration in November. The issue at hand, which is related to one paragraph in Tennessee’s constitution, isn’t necessarily on most Americans’ radars. But the outcome of that fight could actually have big implications for women living in other states.

Essentially, when voters in Tennessee cast their ballots on Amendment 1, they’ll be deciding whether to give their state the power to restrict abortion more stringently than it currently does. Thanks to a 2000 Tennessee Supreme Court ruling that defined abortion as a “fundamental” right, the state’s constitution actually has even broader protections for reproductive rights than the U.S. Constitution does. But Amendment 1 would strip out that proactive language and allow lawmakers to enact more hurdles to the medical procedure, like mandatory waiting periods and forced counseling requirements, that are currently considered to be unconstitutional.

The “Yes on 1” campaign is trying to raise $2.1 million to ensure the ballot initiative will pass, saying that it’s important to allow elected officials to determine state laws related to abortion. They’ve even enlisted Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who star in the TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” to drum up public support for Amendment 1. Meanwhile, reproductive rights advocates are hoping to raise twice that much to defeat Amendment 1, making the argument that the campaign for the measure is based on an entirely misleading premise.

“Anti-choice members of the General Assembly claim that abortion is completely unregulated in Tennessee and argue that the amendment is necessary in order for them to place restrictions on or regulate access to abortion. However, the Assembly has been passing laws for years that do just that,” Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee notes on its site, pointing out that lawmakers have already imposed restrictions like abortion insurance bans and parental consent laws. And in general, abortion is a medical procedure that’s already highly regulated.

Ultimately, if Amendment 1 passes, it threatens to make it even more difficult to get an abortion in an area of the country where women’s reproductive rights are already under siege. Thanks to harsh restrictions on abortions that are forcing clinics out of business, a broad swath of the South is losing access to reproductive heath facilities altogether. Right now, Tennessee remains an option for women in neighboring states who are running out of other choices.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in four abortions performed in Tennessee are sought by a resident of a different state. The “Yes On 1″ campaign touts that statistic as evidence that the state is becoming ripe for “abortion tourism,” arguing that it points to the need for additional regulation. But reproductive rights advocates have a very different take on the issue — they say that women are crossing the border in Tennessee because it’s too hard to get an abortion in their own states, and enacting additional barriers in Tennessee will make a bad situation even worse.

“Abortion rights in the South are going away, and it’s tragic,” Jeff Teague, the president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, told the Tennessean. “We’re creating a situation where women only in certain parts of the country have access. If the abortion amendment passes, we’re likely to see similar rights disappearing here.”

Over the past several years, as states have passed a record-breaking number of restrictions on abortion, there’s been an increase in the number of women crossing state lines to have the medical procedure. Clinic closures obviously send women farther in search of a facility where they can get an abortion, but they’re not the only type of situation in which women may choose to go to a different state. The type of requirements that Amendment 1 would allow Tennessee to enact, like forced waiting periods, make it more difficult for women to get an abortion because they often have to make multiple trips to a clinic. Some women choose to circumvent that situation by going to a state where there are fewer hoops to jump through.

So if the “Yes On 1″ campaign is ultimately successful, the new policy won’t just affect the women who live in Tennessee. It will also mean that the people in Alabama and Mississippi, where abortion clinics are dwindling, may have fewer places to turn to exercise their right to choose. It will further the emerging trend in the South that’s making abortion nearly impossible to get. And it will give the anti-choice ammunition for their claim that abortion isn’t really a constitutionally protected right.

So far, the concept behind Amendment 1 doesn’t appear to be very popular with the public. According to a recent Vanderbilt University poll, an overwhelming 71 percent of Tennessee voters don’t agree that the legislature should have more authority to restrict abortions. Even the majority of Republican voters are opposed to that concept. However, Vanderbilt researchers point out that doesn’t necessarily translate to a clear defeat for the ballot measure, depending on whether voters are swayed by the “Yes On 1″ campaign materials.

Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Republican-majority legislatures in many red states are gorging themselves on new laws to restrict safe, legal abortion out of existence, but things have been pretty stable for the women of Tennessee, a state that has 14 doctors providing abortion, compared with a mere eight in Alabama and two in Mississippi. Because of this, 1 in 4 women getting an abortion in Tennessee hails from out of state.

One major reason it’s relatively easy to get a safe abortion in Tennessee is a state Supreme Court decision in 2000 that held that “a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy is a vital part of the right to privacy guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution,” meaning that medically unnecessary abortion restrictions are largely unconstitutional.

Now anti-choicers are pushing back, advocating for a ballot measure called Amendment 1 that would amend the state constitution to single out abortion as the one medical procedure not covered by the privacy rights enshrined elsewhere in the state constitution. “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” reads the proposed amendment, and activists on both sides of the issue are pouring money into the campaign to determine whether state legislators can be free to pass laws restricting safe abortion access in the state. “We’ve been trying to put this back to a neutral position to say that the legislators should be the ones setting this policy, not liberal courts,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told an audience at a fundraiser last November.

So far, polling data shows that the anti-abortion side isn’t doing well in the polls, with 71 percent of voters opposing attempts to give the legislature more power to regulate abortion and even a majority of Republicans disliking this proposed amendment.

Anti-choice efforts to turn public opinion in their favor seem misguided, if you ask me. According to ThinkProgress, “They’ve even enlisted Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, who star in the TLC reality show ‘19 Kids and Counting,’ to drum up public support for Amendment 1.” People may like that TV show, but if you’re trying to persuade voters to support anti-choice laws, it’s probably not wise to put extremist Christian fundamentalists who believe you should have a bazillion children at the front of your campaign. For most of us, living like the Duggars sounds like a nightmare, regardless of your position on abortion. Putting them out front only serves to confirm people’s worst fears about the end goals of the anti-choice movement. 

 

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Exactly a year ago, despite Wendy Davis’ historic 11-hour filibuster that energized pro-choice activists across the country, Texas approved a stringent package of abortion restrictions that represented some of the harshest in the nation. As Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) signed the new anti-abortion law into law, he called it a “very happy, celebratory day.” But since then, there hasn’t been much to celebrate.

The number of clinics in the state has been cut in half over the past year, dropping from 41 to just 20, according to a report from Houston Public Media. Many of those reproductive health facilities — which provided family planning services and routine well woman exams, in addition to abortion services — were forced of out business because they can’t comply with the new law, which requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals. Although that policy is framed in terms of keeping patients safe, medical experts are opposed to Texas’ law because it doesn’t actually do anything to improve women’s health.

Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, told Houston Public Media that the changing landscape is having serious consequences for the estimated 5.4 million women of reproductive age living in the state. With a dwindling number of clinics available, there are long lines at the facilities that remain open. “We’re seeing people being pushed further into pregnancy, having to leave the state, having to drive and sleep in their cars in parking lots because of these barriers to access,” Busbysaid.

It gets worse. At the beginning of September, another provision of the new law takes effect. Then, clinics will be required to bring their facilities in line with the building codes for ambulatory surgical centers — something that forces them to make unnecessary and costly renovations, like widening hallways and installing air filtration systems. At that point, reproductive health advocates in the state expect the number of abortion clinics to drop to just six; the other 14 facilities won’t be able to afford to make the updates.

None of this is a surprise for the people who have been following the unfolding situation in Texas. For months, abortion providers in the state have been warning that abortion clinics are disappearing, and pointing out that those closures are disproportionately impacting the state’s poorest and most vulnerable residents who don’t necessarily have the means to travel several hours to the nearest abortion provider. In March, when the rural Rio Grande Valley — one of the poorest cities in America — lost its last clinics, advocates called it “a state of emergency for Texas women.”

Now, there are increasing reports of impoverished Texas residents resorting to illegal methods of ending a pregnancy, like buying abortion-inducing drugs on the black market in Mexico. Emergency rooms are suddenly seeing more women suffering from miscarriages — bleeding because they took pills to end their pregnancy outside of the supervision of a doctor. But not everyone can get their hands on those pills. Some women are throwing themselves down the stairs or asking their significant other to punch them in the stomach.

Soon, the crisis won’t be contained within Texas’ borders. Other anti-choice lawmakers have followed in Texas’ footsteps and proposed the exact same type of laws in their own states. In May, Oklahoma and Louisiana became the latest states to approve identical admitting privilege requirements. As these laws sweep the South, abortion clinics are in danger throughout broad swath of the United States. And that’s on top of the dozens of abortion-related restrictions, like mandatory waiting periods, that are already impeding women’s access to health care.

“Every time a law passes there’s a group of women who can still make it over that barrier,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, who runs several reproductive health facilities in Texas, said in a recent interview with Cosmopolitan. “But with each law, that group gets smaller and smaller. With each law, there’s a group of women who get left behind.”

Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress

ppaction:

Timeline: 100 Years of Birth Control

Since Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger coined the term “birth control” in 1914, contraception has truly revolutionized women’s lives in the United States, and around the world. Brush up on your birth control history, and see just how far we’ve come in 100 years.

SEE THE HIRES VERSION HERE

Conservative media have revived false comparisons of legal abortion to convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell in the wake of a Senate hearing regarding a proposed bill to prohibit states from imposing unusually onerous regulations on abortion clinics, despite the fact that Gosnell’s crimes have nothing to do with legal abortion procedures.

On July 15, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Women’s Health Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT.) The bill would bar states from enacting laws restricting abortion that are more burdensome than restrictions for similar outpatient procedures.

The hearings sent right-wing media into a frenzy, renewing comparisons between legal abortion and Kermit Gosnell, a former doctor sentenced to life in prison without parole for the three counts of first-degree murder. National Review Online invoked Gosnell in an editorial titled “Gosnell Nation” on July 16. NRO suggested the title of the bill should be renamed to the “Kermit Gosnell Enabling Act of 2014” and provided a detailed description of Gosnell’s horrific crimes, claiming the bill would lead to more cases like Gosnell’s 

A July 15 Fox News report on the bill also cited Gosnell, attributing many new state abortion restrictions to a reaction to his crimes. 

But Gosnell’s crimes bear no resemblance to legal abortions performed at clinics these state regulations target. The grand jury in Gosnell’s case found that ”Gosnell’s approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low - and break the law. That was his competitive edge.” And University of California reproductive health professor Tracy Weitz has explained that Gosnell’s actions have “nothing to do with the way in which the standard of care and later abortion procedures are performed in the United States,” and that his practices are “nowhere in the medical literature.” 

The Blumenthal bill is intended to prevent the harmful effects on women’s health that the rapid expansion of state abortion regulations, known as Targeted Regulations of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws, has had. TRAP laws target abortion clinics for restrictions not imposed on other clinics that provide procedures with similar risk, like colonoscopies. In fact, such onerous and constitutionally questionable regulations have already driven many abortion clinics in the states to close — which, according to Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller, puts “more women at risk for later term abortions or for illicit abortions outside the medical community.”

Since the news of Gosnell’s horrific crimes emerged, right-wing media have continuously attempted to tie the case to legal abortions — the vast majority of which are safe and occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.

h/t: Olivia Marshall at MMFA

No surprise here sadly. 

h/t: Donna Cassata at AP, via Yahoo

holygoddamnshitballs:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn used her time at this Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on The Women’s Health Protection Act to push for even more dangerous 20-week abortion bans and for the passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which, as Kate Shepard at Mother Jones explained, is based on “bad science routinely trotted out by anti-abortion advocates.”

h/t: George Zornick at The Nation

h/t: Michael Sherrard at TPM

The offending 1992 ad in question:

h/t: Isaac Saul at HuffPost Women

From Sen. Patty Murray (D)’s Official Senate Page:

Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) will introduce the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women’s access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” said Senator Murray. “This bicameral legislation will ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care, period. I hope Republicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decisions, about their own health care and their own bodies.”

"The U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives. Coloradans understand that women should never have to ask their bosses for a permission slip to access common forms of birth control or other critical health services,"said Senator Udall. ”My common-sense proposal will keep women’s private health decisions out of corporate board rooms, because your boss shouldn’t be able to dictate what is best for you and your family.”

“With this bill, Congress can begin to fix the damage done by the Supreme Court’s decision to allow for-profit corporations to deny their employees birth control coverage. The Supreme Court last week opened the door to a wide range of discrimination and denial of services. This bill would help close the door for denying contraception before more corporations can walk through it,” said Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  ”As the nation’s leading advocate for women’s reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is committed to making sure women can get the no-copay birth control benefit that we and others fought so hard to pass and protect. No woman should lose access to birth control because her boss doesn’t approve of it.” 

"Last week, we heard a collective gasp across the country as Americans everywhere tried to make sense of five male Justices on the Supreme Court deciding that our bosses could have control over our birth control in the Hobby Lobby decision,” said Ilyse Hogue, President, NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Today, we hear those gasps turn to cheers as we see champions in Congress move to right this wrong. Ninety-nine percent of American women use some form a of birth control in our lifetimes, and all medical experts agree that these remedies should be included in comprehensive healthcare. Anything less than this amounts to discrimination against women in the workplace. If there’s one thing we can agree upon more than the idea that politicians aren’t equipped to decide for us how and when and with whom we have families, it’s that our bosses are even less so. This bill is the first step in making sure those personal healthcare decision stay where they belong — in the hands of the women whose lives are affected.”

“This critical legislation will protect women’s health care services guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and safeguard their rights,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President, National Women’s Law Center. “Women have worked for and earned the right to have their health needs covered—just as men do.  This legislation makes it unmistakably clear that businesses, in the name of religion, can neither discriminate against their female employees nor impose their religious beliefs on them.  Bosses should stick to what they know best—the board room and the bottom line—and stay out of the bedroom and exam room.”

Senators Murray and Udall were joined in introducing the legislation today by: Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Timothy Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Harry Reid (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), John Walsh (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

In January, Senator Murray led eighteen other Senate Democrats in filing an amicus brief in support of the government’s position in the cases of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius. The brief filed by Senator Murray and her colleagues provided an authoritative account of the legislative history and intent underlying the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Senators urged the Supreme Court to reverse the Tenth Circuit’s expansion of RFRA’s scope and purpose as applied to secular, for-profit corporations and their shareholders seeking to evade the contraceptive-coverage requirement under the ACA.

Senator Udall decried the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to allow some employers to refuse to cover contraception as part of employees’ health insurance policies and vowed to introduce legislation to restore Americans’ freedom to make their own health care decisions without corporate intrusion. A longtime champion for Colorado women’s access to affordable health care, Senator Udall has fought to expand access to preventive health care services for women and has championed women’s rights to make their own health care decisions.

Read full bill text here

h/t: Lambda Legal

My #WCW this week goes out to the six heroes of the women’s reproductive rights movement.

They are: Sonia Sotomayor, Sandra Fluke, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sarah Slamen, Wendy Davis, and Cecile Richards.