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Posts tagged "Reproductive Choice"

Today’s verdict is a victory for the people of Mississippi and for the supporters of reproductive choice. 

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress Health

The vice president of a notorious right-wing legal organization has spent much of 2014 developing one of the most extreme anti-LGBT “news” sites on the internet. Now he’s using the site to hawk a treasure trove of right-wing merchandise and souvenirs.

In January of 2014, Liberty Counsel vice president Matt Barber launched BarbWire.com, a website that claims to offer news and opinion “from a decidedly biblical worldview.”

Though BarbWire isn’t exclusively an anti-LGBT website – the site spares some vitriol for immigrantsMuslimsreproductive choice, and President Barack Obama – LGBT topics have dominated its content since its inception. BarbWire’s first post championed Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for his comments comparing gay people to murderers and equating homosexuality with bestiality. 

In its short existence, the site has featured commentary some of America’s most notorious homophobes; Scott Lively, an American pastor closely linked to anti-LGBT persecution in Uganda and Russia; the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who blames gay men for the HolocaustLaurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, another anti-LGBT hate group; and Robert Oscar Lopez, an anti-gay activist who has made a second career of publishing bizarre gay erotica novels.

Unsurprisingly, BarbWire has become a hub for the kind of anti-LGBT propaganda that even many conservative news sites shy away from:

Hucksterism

But BarbWire is more than just a platform for publishing the Right’s more unsavory anti-LGBT sentiments – it’s also a money-making scheme for Liberty Counsel’s Barber.

In July, subscribers to BarbWire’s mailing list began receiving emails peddling products from Patriot Depot, a website that offers “supplies for the conservative revolution.”

There’s the “’Say Hello To My Little Friend’ Garden Gnome,” available for $18.95:

A tin “Don’t Tread On Me” sign could be yours for $14.95:

You could purchase an “Obama’s Last Day Countdown Clock” for $12.95:

And nothing will stick it to liberals quite like Rise, Kill, & Eat, a paean to “edible wildlife” from “Genesis to Revelation” featuring a foreword by Ted Nugent:

Both BarbWire.com and Patriot Depot are part of Liberty Alliance, a network of conservative web sites and web stores. 

BarbWire And Liberty Counsel

BarbWire’s anti-LGBT extremism closely mirrors the work Barber is known for at Liberty Counsel.

Led by Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel is the legal arm of the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University. Billed as a nonprofit “litigation, education, and policy organization,” Liberty Counsel is notorious for championing even the most extreme anti-gay causes in the name of religious freedom. The organization defended Scott Lively against a federal human rights lawsuit stemming from his role in a 2009 bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda. While Liberty Counsel fancies itself as a serious conservative legal organization, it also churns out bombastic statements denouncing LGBT-inclusive education as “sexual assault” on the nation’s children.

Despite his fondness for fringe causes, Staver’s connections in conservative media and politics have helped elevate Liberty Counsel to a prominent position on the Religious Right. A close associate of Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Staver is a repeat guest on Fox and has testified before Congress in support of “ex-gay” therapy. In recent weeks, Liberty Counsel garnered headlines for defending Florida’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

And though Liberty Counsel is not formally affiliated with BarbWire.com, Staver hasn’t hesitated to be a frequent contributor to his deputy’s website. (Sample headlines: “Obama Puts Homosexual Rights Over Children’s Innocence,” “Sharia Law Is A Growing Threat To American Culture,” and “36,000 New Reasons To Impeach Obama.”)

For years, conservative outlets like Fox have reliably offered Liberty Counsel favorable, accountability-free treatment, allowing figures like Staver to depict Liberty Counsel’s work as part of a noble effort to defend religious liberty and obscuring the group’s true extremism. Now, in order to disseminate that extremism unfiltered, the group’s vice president felt compelled to create his own “news” site – offering an ugly look at the animus that motivates his organization’s work.

See Also: Right Wing Watch’s archives about BarbWire.com

h/t: Luke Brinker at Equality Matters

a person’s a person no matter how small
Dr. Seuss, a pro-choice advocate who publicly donated to Planned Parenthood and actively sued pro-life organizations for using this as a slogan. Stop using this to justify your bullshit pro-life ideals. Not even the original author of the phrase agrees with you.  (via celestialfucker)

(via pro-choice-or-no-voice)

h/t: Zoe Greenburg at RH Reality Check

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

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.”