Repulsive Anti-Choice #TCOT Morons Smear Miss America Winner Kira Kazantsev For Interning At Planned Parenthood
WASHINGTON — Kira Kazantsev has been Miss America for only two days, but she’s already taking a stand on issues that don’t usually make their way into the pageant. Kazantsev, who is from New York, made domestic violence the focus of her platform, speaking out about how she was in an abusive relationship in college.
"I want people to stop asking, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’" Kazantsev said in an interview with NPR. “Every woman is an expert in her own case, and there are so many extenuating circumstances that lead to a woman staying with her abuser.” She said she felt incredibly “alone” in the relationship and wanted people to start talking about domestic violence more openly.
Now, Kazantsev is getting attention for something else. Many conservatives are criticizing her for the fact that she once interned at Planned Parenthood.
Kazantsev’s LinkedIn profile notes that for three months in 2013, she worked at Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, New York, assisting with education programs.
The pro-life site LifeNews.com wrote a piece Monday taking aim at Kazantsev’s work with a company they say “snuffs out of the lives of young baby girls.”
So the woman representing the nation as the new Miss America interned for the very organization that has killed millions of Americans in abortions.
Kazantsev worked for the abortion giant just outside New York City proper for three months, from February 2013-April 2013. One month later, one of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in New York City botched an abortion. The incident occurred at the Margaret Sanger Center Planned Parenthood in New York City, New York.
The criticism spread to Twitter:
Planned Parenthood, of course, does more than just provide abortions. In fact, abortion services account for only 3 percent of what the group does. It also estimates that it prevents about 216,000 abortions each year through its contraceptive services.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood, said the organization was proud of Kazantsev:
Miss America Kira Kazantsev interned last year at her local Planned Parenthood affiliate, where she supported staff members who provide sex education in the community and at local schools. Several past Miss Americas have supported Planned Parenthood’s mission, and we’re thrilled and proud that one of our former interns is the new Miss America.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider of sex education. Every year, we provide more than one million people with accurate, nonjudgmental information about relationships, sexuality, and healthy decision-making. An overwhelming majority of the American public supports access to comprehensive sex education in middle and high schools — the type of sex education programming that Planned Parenthood provides and which gives parents tools to have conversations with their families, and helps keep young people safe and healthy.
Kazantsev, 23, has also interned for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) campaign and the political consulting firm Solidarity Strategies. In 2012, she helped set up the presidential debate at Hofstra University.
UPDATE: 6:21 p.m. — Kazantsev’s LinkedIn profile is no longer available.
Kira Kazantsev = hero.
h/t: Amanda Terkel and Usha Sahay at HuffPost Politics
The most contentious political battle raging in Tennessee this year has nothing to do with control of the US Senate or the governor’s mansion—it’s taking place over a ballot measure that would make Tennessee the next hot zone in the war over abortion rights.
The referendum, called Amendment 1, would amend Tennessee’s constitution to read: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion,” including for pregnancies “resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” If the amendment succeeds, it would allow state lawmakers to pass the kinds of draconian abortion restrictions seen in neighboring states. And pro- and anti-abortion rights groups are raising millions to swing the outcome.
Tennessee Republicans have been striving to put this referendum before voters since 2000, when a state Supreme Court decision blocked several harsh anti-abortion measures from becoming law. The ruling, which struck down several anti-abortion laws passed in 1998, has prevented the Legislature from passing certain strict laws enacted in other states, such as a mandatory abortion waiting period. In 2011, a supermajority of both chambers of the state Legislature, which included many Democrats, passed a measure to place Amendment 1 on the November 2014 ballot.
Amendment 1 would overturn that court decision. “It will basically just open the floodgates for the General Assembly to pass any kind of restriction if the amendment passes,” says Jeff Teague, the president of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee. “We think they probably have a long list of things they’re going to pass.”
VOTE NO ON 1 if you live in Tennessee!
h/t: Molly Redden at Mother Jones
Conservative commentators think we’re more interested in pretty shoes than voting. I wonder why they’re having trouble getting women’s support.
Hello? Oh, I’m sorry, I think you’ve stumbled into the wrong place. This is a piece about politics, and you’re on Cosmopolitan.com. Surely you were looking for something about shoes, or maybe information on how to find a boyfriend? If you’re a young woman, scoot along now, little lady, because all this talk about “issues” and “elections” is probably beyond the purview of what you’re looking for from Cosmopolitan.com. (Do you know what “purview” means? Don’t worry your pretty head about it).
Insulted yet? Well, that’s what folks at Fox News and a series of conservative commentators and websites seem to think about you. On Fox’s Outnumbered — a show so dedicated to serious and not-at-all-sexist political analysis that it bills itself as “Featuring an ensemble of four female panelists &#OneLuckyGuy" — panelists took turns complaining about Cosmopolitan.com's decision to endorse pro-choice candidates, claiming (falsely) that Cosmopolitan.com will “probably leave out jobs and a whole bunch of other stuff that we ladies care about.” Putting aside the fact that Fox commentators have not always shown such a commitment to the interests of working women, our endorsement criteria are actually a little more detailed and include issues such as equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, and leadership on ending violence against women. In the past month, our political stories have included coverage of a Supreme Court justice’s reflections on Roe v. Wade, multiple threatened executions by ISIS, sexual assault in the armed forces, and the militarization of the police in places like Ferguson, Missouri, just to name a few.
"Is this beyond the purview of what the readership of this magazine actually wants to see?" Fox panelist Guy Benson asked about our #CosmoVotes initiative aimed at getting women to the polls. “Do they want to be preached at about politics when they really just want to check out the latest fashions and these wonderful shoes you guys are all wearing?” With that last line, he gestured to the footwear of his four female co-hosts.
One of the reasons we started #CosmoVotes was because we saw how regularly young female voters are derided, condescended to, and insulted. Women hear so often that we’re dumb and uninformed that even the most politically savvy among us start to believe it: Women are less likely than men to think they’re qualified to run for office; they’re less likely to hear they should run for office; and once they do run, they are less confident and less likely to take risks. With the inescapable "Beyonce voter" heckles from the media peanut gallery, who can blame them?
Women who are assertive and confident are punished for that too, because they’re seen as abrasive, while men are just leaders. And so even though more women vote than men and more women are graduating from college than men, women are still sorely underrepresented in every major political body. Men go through life with a pervasive overconfidence, which benefits them in the workplace and in leadership positions; for women, simply having a female name means you’re perceived as less competent. Women, then, opine less and are less likely to see themselves as experts or adequately informed; as a result of that, and the fact that female voices and opinions are routinely derided, womenplay less of a role in public political debate.
It means we realize that pro-life women use birth control and have abortions too, and we think they should have that right.
We think that’s a damn shame. And we want to give our readers the tools to push back on it by encouraging them to vote (no matter which candidate they vote for) and by throwing our weight behind candidates who stand up for women instead of condescending to us.
Yes, that means we are endorsing candidates who are pro-choice. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about our pro-life readers. It means we realize that pro-life women use birth control and have abortions too, and we think they should have that right. It means we realize that outside of the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” monikers, 7 in 10 Americans say they want abortion to be legal. It means we recognize that nearly every American woman will use contraception at some point in her life, and 1 in 3 will have an abortion before her 45th birthday. We recognize that contraception and abortion are normal parts of women’s reproductive lives, and choosing to determine the number and spacing of your children is an act of love, of responsibility, and, sometimes, of basic self-preservation. It means we know women don’t see contraception as a frivolous allowance, but as a cornerstone of their personal and financial well-being — a tool that allows them to complete an education, pursue a career, pick a partner they love and not one they’re tied to out of shame and obligation, and build a family when they are emotionally, financially, and physically ready. And it means we understand that reproductive health care is basic health care and limiting that care is a public health issue: where contraception and abortion are unavailable, women are killed and injured.
No one has to agree with us or with the candidates we’ve endorsed. We welcome vigorous debate, and as we’ve said before, we hope you do your own research, form your own opinions, and vote for the politicians you believe represent your best interests. But we do object to the suggestion that Cosmopolitan.com shouldn’t be issuing endorsements at all because, apparently, we’re bubbleheads who should “stick with fashion and orgasms.” Newspapers that cover, say, sports — not exactly the height of intellectual acuity — aren’t subjected to the same condescension that comes with writing about sex, fashion, and beauty. They don’t hear the accusation that they’re “dictating" what their apparently mindless readers should do or face the assumption that because light content appears on one page, there’s no place for something more serious.
It’s almost as if the problem isn’t that we, like so many other publications, are writing about politics and endorsing candidates, but that we’re writing about politics and endorsing candidates and we’re a publication focused on women.
We think you’re perfectly capable of reading an article about shoes and still walking yourself to your polling place to cast an informed, thoughtful vote.
This is all especially rich coming from conservative media mouthpieces, in an election year when conservative candidates are having a tough time appealing to female voters (the only women who reliably support Republicans are those who are both married and don’t have a college degree). Many conservative policies — like opposition to abortion access, insurance coverage for contraception, equal pay for equal work, a higher minimum wage, and gun control — do women real harm. Of the 10 worst American states for women, measured by women’s economic security, leadership roles, and health, all 10 are Republican-dominated red states. This isn’t just about a horse race; it’s about women’s day-to-day ability to live up to their full potential and to exist in a healthy, cared-for body.
Conservative rhetoric hurts too. It’s not just the cluelessness about how women’s uteruses supposedly “shut down” “legitimate rape.” It’s also the idea that women are more interested in driving their kids to the dentist than in equal pay, that the pay gap isn’t real, that abortion is never necessary, and now that young women just want to see shoe pictures and are too dumb to realize Cosmopolitan.com's endorsements are our analysis and suggestion, not marching orders.
We think you’re perfectly capable of reading an article about shoes and still walking yourself to your polling place to cast an informed, thoughtful vote. We hope you do vote, no matter who it’s for, because the more women cast their ballots, the more all our political parties will have to respond to our needs and interests. But we also hope you’re paying attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle messages that politicians and political commentators send about women, and that you’re making connections between rhetoric, worldview, and policy.
And we hope that doing that analysis is a reminder that political thought and leadership isn’t just for the TV talking heads and the white-haired men in Congress. Listen to what these guys are saying about you — and then don’t believe it.
We’ll see you at the polls on November 4. And we’ll see you right here on Cosmopolitan.com every day before then, writing about, discussing, and sometimes opining on the abundance of issues that shape your health, your financial future, and the many dimensions of your life.
The 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act — landmark legislation that was signed into law by President Clinton on September 13, 1994 — comes at a particularly prescient moment, as the country is engaged in a national conversation about the NFL’s responsibility to adequately respond to incidences of domestic abuse perpetrated by its football players.
As all attention has been focused on the video of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in a hotel elevator, as well as the NFL’s botched response to the surveillance tape evidence, it can be hard to feel like the country is taking any meaningful steps toward taking violence against women seriously. But, while there’s certainly a lot of work left to be done, the national legislation aimed at supporting victims of domestic violence has changed the landscape in some significant ways.
Here’s a look at how we’ve progressed in the past two decades:
We have more resources to address and prevent domestic abuse.
The whole point of VAWA is to provide more institutional resources for domestic violence victims. In order to accomplish that, the law expanded the network of rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters across the country, as well as established the National Domestic Violence Hotline. VAWA also provides funding for efforts to prevent crime, like expanding youth education programs to teach kids about what constitutes dating violence, implementing safety measures on public transportation, and requiring the government to conduct more research into domestic violence so we’ll have a better understanding of the scope of the problem.
Fewer people are becoming victims of violence.
According to data from the Department of Justice, domestic violence rates declined 64 percent between 1993 and 2010. And the rate of women being murdered men in single victim/single offender situations — often characteristic of intimate partner violence — dropped by 26 percent over a similar time period, between 1996 and 2012. One study attempting to figure out why domestic violence rates dropped so dramatically in the 1990s attributed the decline partly to VAWA, which “has been an important impetus for funding in the area of civil legal assistance.”
We’re more comfortable talking about domestic abuse.
“Even just 20 years ago, violence against women in America was an epidemic few people wanted to talk about, let alone do something about,” Vice President Joe Biden, who introduced VAWA and has championed the legislation ever since, pointed out in an op-ed published this week to mark VAWA’s anniversary. But that’s slowly started to change. Victims are becoming more comfortable reaching out; the National Domestic Violence Hotline has received over 3 million calls since 1996, and 92 percent of those callers say it’s their first call for help. Violence against women is no longer considered to be a “private family matter,” and is now widely regarded as something that requires a public solution. According to the advocacy group Futures Without Violence, before the 1980s, there were about 150 articles in major newspapers covering the issue of domestic violence. In the decades of the 2000s, there were more than 7,000.
We’re better at recognizing the diversity of survivors’ experiences.
The latest iteration of VAWA made some important updates to the original 1994 law. It expanded protections for Native American women by giving tribes more authority to prosecute domestic abuse, protected LGBT individuals from being discriminated against in shelters, and ensured that immigrants’ legal status can’t be exploited by their abusers. It also expanded the definition of violence to specifically include crimes like cyberstalking. Those new provisions were a sticking point for many Republicans, who refused to pass the expanded version VAWA in 2013 and allowed the law to lapse in the first time since its 1994 passage. Last February, Congress finally reauthorized VAWA with the protections for diverse groups of victims intact.
We’ve enacted more legal protections for victims.
Before VAWA, we didn’t have a criminal justice system that was set up to handle these issues. Sexual assault and domestic violence weren’t even included in the federal criminal code. VAWA strengthened the federal punishments for those crimes — which led the way for states to reform their own laws in this area so that, for example, spousal rape is now treated just as seriously as stranger rapeacross the country. VAWA funds also train over 500,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges every year so they’ll be able to better respond to cases involving intimate partner violence, abuse, and assault. And, thanks to the federal legislation, victims’ past sexual behavior is not admissible in trials where they’re accusing someone else of sexual misconduct.
Late last night, at around 11:30PM CDT, The Missouri Senate successfully overridden the veto of HB1307 by a 23-7 vote. Just a couple of hours earlier, the House successfully overridden the veto by a 117-44 margin. The bill increases the abortion waiting time from 24 to 72 hours, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or other circumstances that threaten the life of the woman.Missouri lawmakers have overridden a veto to enact one of the nation’s longest abortion waiting periods.STLToday.com:
Legislators passed a measure Wednesday that will require women to wait 72 hours after consulting a physician before having an abortion. That’s the second most-stringent standard behind South Dakota, where a 72-hour wait can sometimes extend longer because weekends and holidays are not counted.
Utah is the only other state with a 72-hour wait, but it has exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances.Missouri’s new waiting period law will take effect 30 days after the veto-override vote.KWMU (St. Louis Public Radio):
Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri’s only licensed abortion clinic in St. Louis, has not said whether it will challenge the 72-hour waiting period court. But the organization has said its patients travel an average of nearly 100 miles for an abortion, and an extra delay could force them to either make two trips or spend additional money on hotels.
Women also could travel just across the state line in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas to abortion clinics in Illinois and Kansas that don’t require as long of a wait.
Missouri’s current waiting-period also lacks an exception for rape or incest. It requires physicians to provide women information about medical risks and alternatives to abortion and offer them an opportunity for an ultrasound of the fetus.
Missouri has a history of enacting abortion restrictions. Republican and Democratic lawmakers twice previously joined together to override vetoes of abortion bills — enacting what proponents referred to as a partial-birth abortion ban in 1999 and instituting a 24-hour abortion waiting period in 2003.
Three Missouri clinics have quit offering abortions in the past decade, and the number performed in Missouri has declined by one-third to a little over 5,400 last year.The Missouri General Assembly has made the state the third in the country to require a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortions, after the state Senate killed off a filibuster.Tweets that sum up the disgraceful veto override vote on HB1307:
The Senate voted 23-7 – along party lines — to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the bill, but only after deploying a procedural action that it hadn’t used in seven years to end a Democratic filibuster that had gone on for about two hours.
The last time the procedure – called “moving the previous question’’ – was used was in 2007, when the Senate also was temporarily paralyzed by an abortion bill. Dubbed a “PQ” for short, the procedure allows a simply majority of senators to end a filibuster.
The Senate action came several hours after the House had voted 117-44 in favor of the override. The House supporters had included almost all Republicans and nine Democrats.
Both votes reflected the intense passions on both sides of the abortion debate, underscored earlier Wednesday by the two morning rallies that had attracted hundreds of people to the state Capitol.
Since Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) revealed in her new memoir that she once made the difficult decision to end a pregnancy she and her husband very much wanted, some conservatives have cast doubt on the truth of Davis’ story and her motivations in telling it.
The right-leaning National Review called Davis’ story “convenient” and “unverifiable” in an article on Tuesday, saying the Davis campaign did not “respond to questions about whether Davis’ highly unusual abortions were matched by any medical evidence, doctor statements, or public verification from her ex-husband or two daughters.” Davis wrote in her memoir that she had also terminated a different pregnancy because it was ectopic, which can be life-threatening for the mother.
Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak accused the campaign of using Davis’ story to promote abortion, a move he called "sickening" and "subhuman," and he noted that the media attention would “impact book sales and also pay dividends for the campaign.” He later apologized for using the word “subhuman” and deleted the original tweet.
But Davis’ decision to end the pregnancy apparently was a painful memory for her family before she announced her campaign for governor. When Davis’ father died in September 2013, his obituary named “Tate Elise” — Davis’ deceased daughter — as one of his relatives.
Davis explains in her memoir that she made the difficult decision to have an abortion after a doctor told her the fetus had developed a severe brain abnormality that was causing her to suffer in the womb. She wrote that she and her husband named and baptized and mourned Tate Elise after the C-section procedure.
"On her feet were crocheted booties, and next to her was a small crocheted pink bunny," Davis wrote. "Jeff and I spent the better part of the day holding her, crying for her and for us."
Davis’ campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Votes, said she is grateful to Davis for “shining a light on a subject that is too often hidden in the shadows of shame and stigma.”
Wendy Davis, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor who sprung to fame when she held back sweeping abortion restrictions, reveals in a new memoir that she terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons.
Davis writes in a new campaign memoir that in the 1990s she had two abortions, including one where the foetus had developed a severe brain abnormality.
Davis writes in Forgetting to be Afraid that she had an abortion in 1996 after an examination revealed that the brain of the foetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides. She also describes ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.
Davis disclosed the terminated pregnancies for the first time since her 13-hour filibuster in the state legislature – she talked non-stop to try to run out the time on proposed legislation bringing in tough new Texas abortion laws.
Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.
She writes that the ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994 during her first trimester. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary. Such pregnancies generally are considered not viable, meaning the foetus can’t survive, and the mother’s life could be in danger. But Davis wrote that in Texas it’s “technically considered an abortion and doctors have to report it as such”.
Davis said she and her former husband, Jeff, wound up expecting another child in 1996. After a later exam revealed the brain defect, doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery.
“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis writes. “She was suffering.”
Davis is running against Republican attorney general Greg Abbott, who is a heavy favourite to replace the incumbent Republican governor, Rick Perry, in 2015.
Davis’s filibuster in June 2013 set off a chaotic scene in the Texas Capitol that extended past midnight. Thousands of people packed watched it live online, with President Barack Obama at one point tweeting: “Something special is happening in Austin tonight.”
The bill required doctors who perform abortion to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and mandated that clinics upgrade facilities to hospital-level operating standards. A federal judge in Austin last month blocked a portion of the law that would have left Texas with only seven abortion facilities statewide.
Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a measure aimed at providing further protections for pregnant women in the workplace.
The legislation bars employers from firing, segregating against or refusing to hire pregnant women. Sponsoring Rep. Mary Flowers, D-Chicago, has said the measure would relieve the issue of some women having to choose between having a child or taking a job.
The bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations based on a woman’s needs, but a boss could ask for a doctor’s note. Women also could seek limited physical duties, such as avoiding heavy lifting.
“This legislation is especially important for low-income workers, who typically have the most physically demanding jobs and are least likely to have access to maternity leave and sick time,” said Wendy Pollack, director of the Women’s Law and Policy Project at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, in a statement issued by Quinn’s office. “Women can’t afford to lose their jobs, along with their income, seniority, and their employer-provided health insurance, or put their pregnancies at risk, due to the denial of a reasonable accommodation.”
Quinn signed the measure as he faces Republican challenger Bruce Rauner in the Nov. 4 election. The bill was not controversial in the General Assembly, passing the Senate 57-0 and the House 115-0. The law takes effect Jan. 1. You can read the bill here.
h/t: Chicago Tribune
The Obama administration has issued a new set of rules to provide contraceptive access to women whose employers object to their insurance plans covering birth control, which is required under the Affordable Care Act.
The new policies are intended to fill gaps left by two Supreme Court moves: The landmark Hobby Lobby decision saying contraceptive coverage violated the religious liberty of a for-profit corporation, and a preliminary order in Wheaton College v. Burwell. With today’s regulations, employees of for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby will be able to access an “accommodation” where the insurer directly provides the cost-free coverage with no financial involvement by the employer. That accommodation was originally limited to religiously-affiliated nonprofits like Little Sisters of the Poor; houses of worship are fully exempt.
For nonprofits like Wheaton College that object to even that accommodation – which involves them signing a form to their insurer – the Obama administration has created a new accommodation to the accommodation. (Yes, it gets complicated.)
“The rules, which are in response to recent court decisions, balance our commitment to helping ensure women have continued access to coverage for preventive services important to their health, with the Administration’s goal of respecting religious beliefs,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.
For the non-profits that object to the form – arguing that signing it triggers the very birth control coverage they oppose – the new rule allows those employers to write to HHS directly, instead of filling out the form. The Supreme Court first suggested the letter-writing option, and so far the litigants have accepted it. But there was some dispute among legal scholars before about whether the letter would result in actual coverage for the women who worked at those companies. The new rule clarifies that it does.
HHS is also seeking comment on exactly how to structure its accommodation for for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby, which is only one of 193 corporations that have sued for an exemption from covering contraception.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s rule that all insurance plans cover contraception without a co-pay as preventative care was a burden on the religious freedom of Hobby Lobby and other “closely held” companies. (That decision now guides courts considering other companies with objections to some or all forms of contraception.) The majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, said the government failed to show it had pursued the least restrictive way of getting women contraceptive coverage, and as proof pointed to the non-profit accommodation as “a system that seeks to respect the religious liberty of religious nonprofit corporations.”
A few days later, when asked to prevent Wheaton College, one of the nonprofits suing over the accommodation, from having to fill out the accommodation form to their insurer while their litigation proceeded, a majority of Justices said Wheaton could write a letter instead. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a fierce dissent signed by the other two female Justices, accused the court of going back on its word in Hobby Lobby, writing, “Let me be absolutely clear: I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs. But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened … does not make it so.”
At the time, Wheaton hailed the letter-writing option as a victory, but it’s far from clear that the new accommodations will mollify all of the plaintiffs now that it’s clear the end result will be women getting no-cost contraception.
In July, after the government signaled it would issue the new rules announced today, Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund, which represents Wheaton College and several other nonprofit litigants, said, “This is just the latest step in the government’s long retreat on the HHS Mandate. It is at least the seventh time in three years that the government has retreated from its original, hard-line stance that only “houses of worship” that hire and serve fellow believers deserve religious freedom.” Windham did not say whether the letter-writing option would ultimately be satisfactory, but said, “We are encouraged that the government is reviewing its policies.”
At oral argument for Hobby Lobby, Justice Sotomayor asked the company’s attorney, Paul Clement, “Will your clients claim that filling out the form, if – you’re saying they would claim an exemption like the churches have already?” She was referring to the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which like Wheaton College is a religiously-affiliated nonprofit that had sued for an exemption, saying the accommodation was not enough. The Supreme Court had told the Little Sisters it could write a letter to HHS instead of filling out the form.
Clement’s reply was cagey. “We haven’t been offered that accommodation, so we haven’t had to decide what kind of objection, if any, we would make to that. But it’s important to recognize that as I understand that litigation, the objection is not to the fact that the insurance or the provider pays for the contraception coverage. The whole debate is about how much complicity there has to be from the employer in order to trigger that coverage. And whatever the answer is for Little Sisters of the Poor, presumably you can extend the same thing to my clients and there wouldn’t be a problem with that.”
Indeed, Marty Lederman, a professor at Georgetown Law School who has written extensively about the contraceptive cases, wrote in July of the letter option, “I think it is likely that most of those organizations will not be satisfied: They will argue that such a ‘fix,’ too, violates their rights under RFRA, because their act of opting out will continue to establish the legal authority for the government to require another party to provide coverage.”
In other words, the legal fights against the Obama administration over contraceptive coverage aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
An undercover video released this week by Progress Texas exposes the primary methods that right-wing activists use to intimidate women from ending a pregnancy and make it too difficult for doctors to work at abortion clinics — like tracking patients’ cars, figuring out where new clinics will be opened, and ensuring that there are protesters outside of clinics during “all hours that abortions are being performed.” The audio was recorded at “Keeping Abortion Facilities Closed,” a training hosted by anti-abortion groups in the state at the beginning of August.
“What’s most telling, I think, is that the training this audio came out of was called something like ‘Keeping Abortion Clinics Closed,’ ” Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in an interview with ThinkProgress. “It wasn’t called, you know, ‘Bringing Safe Options To Women.’ It wasn’t called ‘Helping Women Stay Healthy And Safe.’ It was about closing abortion clinics, and they said it! They put it right out there.”
The speakers on the track are leaders in Texas’ anti-choice community. They’re instructing attendees on four major tactics to accomplish their goal of closing reproductive health facilities: lining the sidewalks outside clinics to dissuade patients from entering; tracking patients’ physical descriptions and license plates; monitoring clinic staff and potential abortion providers; and examining tax records to identify the locations of new abortion doctors.
“It’s totally legal — you track license plates, the license plates that are coming into any abortion facilities,” Karen Garnett, the executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas (CPLC), explained during the training. “We have a very sophisticated kind of little spreadsheet where everybody keeps track… You have license plates, car make, model, description of the person. And then as far as the staff members, the abortionists, you can identify if you got a new abortionist.”
The speakers in the video also confirm their goals have been advanced by an onerous new law in Texas, HB 2, that’s shuttered half of the state’s clinics over the past year. In addition to the broad swaths of the state that no longer have a single abortion facility, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles to get to the nearest clinic, there’s a general atmosphere of uncertainty about where to end a pregnancy now that the law is in effect. Abortion opponents are happy to keep it that way.
“The poorer ones that are going there for abortions, they heard that it was going to close, so they quit going there,” Eileen Romano, a staffer at 40 Days For Life, told trainees. “They started going to health clinics because they thought it was closed and they didn’t have the transportation to get there. God is good.”
Progress Texas and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas are both decrying the “outrageous” and “disturbing” tactics outlined in the video, saying that Americans need to realize the true nature of the activism to end abortion.
“There’s been a misconception that these are just sweet little grannies, praying outside the clinic and just wanting to talk to women about their options,” Busby said. “This video really illustrates and drive home the point that this isn’t just about sitting outside a clinic and praying the rosary. This is about tracking, and stalking, and doing whatever you can to turn people away from a clinic — to intimidate them, to be a constant presence, and to keep women from accessing safe and legal abortion care.”
Progress Texas executive director Ed Espinoza added that the speakers in the video adamantly supported the GOP lawmakers who spearheaded HB 2 last year, and now there’s a “legitimate question” about whether those politicians agree with the extreme tactics being described.
The anti-abortion harassment in the state has only intensified as abortion clinics have been forced out of business, leaving fewer targets for anti-choice activists to go after. Another provision of the new state law, currently the subject of an ongoing court challenge, will impose even more restrictions on clinics if it’s allowed to take effect this fall. Experts in the state predict that the number of clinics will dwindle to just six unless that portion of HB 2 is successfully blocked. With just six clinics, Busby said she “can’t even imagine” how much the anti-abortion harassment in the state will increase.
This issue isn’t specific to Texas. Across the country, patients and staff at abortion clinics face significant harassment and intimidation that sometimes turns violent. Clinics are plagued by bombings, arson, vandalism, burglaries, shootings — and according to the National Abortion Federation, which tracks crimes against abortion providers, there have been 17 attempted murders of doctors since 1991. Imposing fixed buffer zones around abortion clinics is one proactive policy that’s helped keep persistent anti-choice protesters at bay; however, the Supreme Court recently ruled it goes too far to restrict protesters’ free speech rights.
A friend recently posted on her Facebook profile that she saw the bumper sticker “Abortion causes breast cancer,” and she wanted to know if there was any truth in that statement. I, of course, chimed in that no, that statement is not true. Then I wondered, "Who the hell puts a bumper sticker like that on their car?" I put on my investigating hat, and I found a Zazzle store where you can buy as many “abortion causes breast cancer” stickers as you want.
You know where else you can buy this bumper sticker? Well, the Abortion Breast Cancer Coalition also sells them. Yep, there’s actually a coalition devoted to selling the myth that abortion causes cancer. Here is an example of some of their “facts”:
A first trimester miscarriage is quite a different situation from induced abortion of a normal pregnancy in its effect on the woman’s breasts. The longer a woman is pregnant before an induced abortion, the higher her risk of breast cancer. This is because high estrogen levels of the 1st and 2nd trimesters cause breast growth of type 1 & 2 lobules. When her pregnancy is terminated before the breast cells reach full maturity, she is left with more immature type 1 & 2 breast lobules than before her pregnancy started, and therefore is at increased risk. Her breasts never mature to type 3 & 4 lobules, which would have occurred in the 3rd trimester and would have lowered her risk.
Uh, say what?
You’ll notice a couple of items missing from ABC’s link, such as hyperlinks to studies or just generally facts and science. If you click on something purporting to be scientific and it doesn’t list a single source, run, don’t walk, away from that website.
I also really want to know why these folks elected breast cancer as the disease you supposedly get from having an abortion. Why not ovarian or uterine cancer — the lady parts involved in getting pregnant? Why breast? Is it because in the last 20 years, all the pink-washing campaigns have made this particular cancer the tour de force of cancers, and they want to hitch this theory on the cancer with the most household recognition?
From the ABC coalition website:
One of the difficulties with anti-cancer organizations is that radical feminists took up the breast cancer cause in the 1980s. They saw this as a means of championing women’s rights, so it must have come as a surprise to them when they learned that their dominant concern — abortion — caused breast cancer. Once it became apparent that they had a conflict between abortion ideology and protecting women’s health, abortion won hands down!
Ah, feminism is to blame for breast cancer. Gotcha.
I wonder if those who believe abortion causes breast cancer enough to put a bumper sticker on their vehicle actually know that breast cancer isn’t just one disease, either? I want to ask them, “Abortion causes what type of breast cancer?” Invasive ductal carcinoma? Invasive lobular carcinoma? Metaplastic breast cancer? Inflammatory breast cancer? Estrogen-positive, Her2-positive or triple-negative cancer?” I guess there isn’t enough room on a bumper sticker for things like facts and science, huh?
I understand that pro-life people are quite fond of their provocative bumper stickers and in-your-face posters (although, to be fair, pro-choice folks are also fans of the bumper stickers and posters). This particular bumper sticker is just so inaccurate and offensive that I’m really shocked that anyone would put this on their car. Women are the ones who have elective abortions, and women (mostly) get breast cancer, so therefore, abortion causes breast cancer? Come on, let’s be better than this — correlation does not equal causation. I mean, men have vasectomies. Men develop testicular cancer. Does that mean vasectomies cause testicular cancer? (No.)
Let’s go back to the question at hand: Does abortion cause breast cancer? Does this bumper sticker mean all abortions, including spontaneous abortions (aka miscarriages) or stillborn births? When I was 28, I had a miscarriage/spontaneous abortion. Two years later, I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Which means, according to the “abortion causes breast cancer” line of thinking, my miscarriage caused me to have breast cancer?
Nope. No. Just no.
I would wager a bet that every single person who slapped that “abortion causes breast cancer” bumper sticker on their vehicle wanted to shame any woman who had an elective abortion (not a spontaneous abortion/miscarriage). If they had an abortion, “Well, you’re going to get breast cancer and probably die,” and if they had an abortion and later developed breast cancer, “Well, that’s what you get for being a slut.” If that’s the case, though, there is just so much wrong with believing that women who have had elective abortions get breast cancer as punishment, especially when the fact-based science (rather than the pseudoscience of seeking out data to prove one’s ideological beliefs) dismisses any link between the two.
According to the National Cancer Institute’s website, “the Committee on Gynecologic Practice of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded that ‘more rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.’”
The website also gives the following as other findings from the recent studies:
Women who have had an induced abortion have the same risk of breast cancer as other women.
Women who have had a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) have the same risk of breast cancer as other women [emphasis mine].
Cancers other than breast cancer also appear to be unrelated to a history of induced or spontaneous abortion.
Here is another study: “Induced and spontaneous abortion and incidence of breast cancer among young women: a prospective cohort study.” The conclusion of the study, which included women ages 29 to 46 years old: “Among this predominantly premenopausal population, neither induced nor spontaneous abortion was associated with the incidence of breast cancer.”
Oh look, another study (from June 2008): “Incomplete pregnancy is not associated with breast cancer risk: the California Teachers Study.” The authors provide some background on the study: “Early studies of incomplete pregnancy and development of breast cancer suggested that induced abortion might increase risk. Several large prospective studies, which eliminate recall bias [i.e., a ‘systematic error caused by differences in the accuracy or completeness of the recollections retrieved by study participants regarding events or experiences from the past’], did not detect associations, but this relationship continues to be debated.” The study concluded that, “These results provide strong evidence that there is no relationship between incomplete pregnancy and breast cancer risk.”
You know what can increase your risk of developing breast cancer? PerBreastcancer.org, not having children can increase your risk (not cause — big difference): “Women who haven’t had a full-term pregnancy or have their first child after age 30 have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who gave birth before age 30.” That does not mean having an abortion (spontaneous or elective) causes breast cancer.
Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, and it certainly doesn’t care if you have had a spontaneous or elective abortion. Breast cancer doesn’t just happen to “bad people,” because I certainly know a lot of wonderful, loving women who have had cancer and many among those who have died from it. Your morals don’t shield you from ever having breast cancer.
Using breast cancer, a very deadly disease that approximately 40,000 people will die from in 2014, in the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate is disgusting and offensive. Women (mostly) are losing their lives, and you want to add shame (based in bias and anti-science) to their struggles? Shame on every single person who has put that bumper sticker on their car. You are not a virtuous person. You are horrible. Women undergoing breast cancer treatment need your support, not your vitriol and blame.
On Tuesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a law that would have closed down Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, invalidating a 2012 measure requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals. The state’s only two abortion providers fly in from out of state to serve patients and were repeatedly denied partnerships with local hospitals.
The three-judge panel ruled that since the U.S. Supreme Court established a constitutional right to abortion, “Mississippi may not shift its obligation for established constitutional rights of its citizens to another state,” the Associated Press reports.
“Pre-viability, a woman has the constitutional right to end her pregnancy by abortion. H.B. 1390 effectively extinguishes that right within Mississippi’s borders,” judges E. Grady Jolly of Mississippi and Stephan A. Higginson of Louisiana wrote in the 2-1 ruling. Jolly was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, while Higginson was appointed by President Barack Obama.
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic has operated for nearly two decades and has become the state’s sole abortion provider. Back in 1981, Mississippi had as many as 14 different facilities that offered abortion services.
More than half the states have enacted laws that limit women’s access to abortion services by requiring clinics to undergo unnecessary and expensive renovations, including widening hallways, building closets, and installing water fountains. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes these so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws. Still, TRAP laws have already closed more than 50 abortion clinics over the past several years.
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
Even frozen dessert isn’t safe from the culture wars.
Jodie Ostrovsky, who runs an ice cream shop called “What’s The Scoop?” in Portland, Oregon, didn’t expect to wade into the culture wars. But that’s exactly what happened when she agreed to do a fundraiser with Planned Parenthood. After right-wing groups caught wind of the fact that What’s The Scoop? dedicated an ice cream flavor to the women’s health organization, the nasty comments started pouring in.
“Some of them have been scary,” Ostrovsky told the Willamette Week. “We’ve gotten quite a number of phone calls, a lot of Facebook stuff—we’ve gotten comments through the form on our web page. Some of them are bizarre and odd. We don’t know why they’re telling us that we have problems when they’re saying terrible, threatening things.”
Ostrovsky has worked with Planned Parenthood before without much incident, so she was surprised to spark so much controversy this month. The difference appears to be that this partnership — which involved creating a new flavor called “Rose City Revolution” for a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, which was sold at Ostrovsky’s shop for a three-hour window last week, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the women’s health group — was covered on LifeNews.com.
“Abortion giant Planned Parenthood has announced that a local ice cream parlor has created an ice cream just for them. No it will not be called Blood and Scream!” the anti-abortion site reported at the end of last week.
Soon, the ice cream parlor’s Facebook page was inundated with criticism. “Mmmm…murdered baby flavor,” one individual wrote. “Thank you for supporting underage girls to be raped by their stepfather then go to planned Parenthood and get a no questions asked abortion,” another posted.
“Good grief! It’s an ice cream flavor, people!” a Planned Parenthood affiliate responded on its own Facebook page.
Ostrovsky told the Portland Eater that her staff is “still wrapping our minds around the reactions,” but she didn’t back down from her support for the reproductive health organization. “Planned Parenthood is an amazing organization that does so much to help women have access to affordable healthcare,” she said. “The fact that some people only focus on what is such an infinitesimal part of the service they provide is confusing to me.”
This isn’t the only example of persistent anti-abortion activism impacting the food industry. In a different city named Portland — the one located in Maine — a popular sandwich shop actually closed its doors because the surrounding area was too swarmed with protesters picketing the nearby Planned Parenthood clinic. The owner said he was exhausted from battling the protesters, and was even losing business because their graphic signs and persistent chants dissuaded potential customers from visiting his shop.
And across the country, anti-abortion harassment affects much more than ice cream and deli sandwiches. Protesters outside of clinics can actually intimidate patients who are going there to access medical services. Women are sometimes too nervous to enter clinics because they’re confronted with emotional attacks — or, in some cases, physical violence — from the protesters outside, which is why many reproductive health facilities enlist volunteer clinic escorts to help accompany patients to their destination. Although a fixed buffer zone around clinics represents one proactive policy that can help women avoid this type of harassment, the Supreme Court recently ruled they go too far to impede protesters’ free speech rights.
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.
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.