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Sizing Up the Maryland Attack on Women’s Rights

20 Jan

In case you missed the latest news coming out of Maryland, I have a breakdown of this recycled attack coming from the right under the guises of health and safety. Once again anti-choice proponents have levied an attack on the clinics filling the much needed role of providers of complete reproductive health for women given that hospitals across the country no longer can be counted on in this capacity. So what are they trying to pull now? Chances are, you will recognize the tactic, as they have attempted this in the past on a grander scale. Perhaps that defeat did not cause them to see the errors of their thinking on this issue, as much as it did just make them retreat for a time until the public’s mind was elsewhere when they could relapse and try again on a smaller, one community at a time, kind of approach.

The story, as reported by Change.Org’s Women’s Rights blog:

Delegates Adelaide C. Eckardt and Pamela Beidle have… introduced a bill requiring abortion providers to be regulated as surgical centers. Senator Nancy Jacobs plans to introduce a similar bill in the State Senate.

Surgical centers are held to tougher requirements than clinics and doctors offices, where 95% of abortions are performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Surgical centers must have wider doors and hallways, and specialized medical equipment, like ventilators, that are not required at clinics. According to John Nugent, President of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, few (if any) of the 41 abortion providers in the state have the financial means to implement such medically unnecessary changes. Probably because they’re spending their money, you know, treating their patients.

So what is this really about? Is it about the patient as the dressing of the bills would have us believe? In this case, it is only about the patient in so much as they are attempting to keep the patients from having access to abortions. By enforcing unnecessary regulations like these, anti-choice advocates are attempting to find a way to sneak their agendas in through the back door without anyone paying attention to their true motivations. This has nothing to do with the patient experience or well being. It is simply about shutting down as many clinics as possible through their inability to finance the reconstruction these new regulations would demand. If you think that I am just being paranoid, just look a little deeper.

Similar bills in prior legislative session have failed, but legislators and advocates believe these bills have a stronger chance this time, in part because Dr. LeRoy Carhart began practicing in Maryland in December. After the murder of Dr. George Tiller, Dr. Carhart is one of the few remaining late-term abortion providers in the country.

Perhaps it is the cynic within, but when I hear things like this, I cannot help but see any motivations behind the actions of these delegates other than to shut down a clinic that stands as a target to the anti movement. Especially when they are not seeking to regulate plastic surgeons and other health care providers with this legislation as well. Which is understandable, given that said accompanying regulation on other providers is what stopped these kinds of legislative attacks in the past.

The hallway extension to 12ft. that clinics would have to comply with, is one of the unnecessary additions being called for. Presumably, surgical centers are required to have such large hallways because they have to have room for multiple gurneys to go through the hall at once, or to turn around, etc. But that is not necessary in these clinics and our delegates should be better informed about what is needed in the clinics before they attempt to regulate them. Especially when their acts will knowingly limit access to the services that women can get from these clinics that no other health care providers offer.

In short, this is an underhanded attempt to revive a failed attack from the right and hopefully the public will see it for what it is. Sad. Unnecessary. And a move that has already been rejected in the past. Perhaps our side should take comfort in this act, and see this recycling as a sign that they are scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel of ideas. A sign that they are running on empty.

The Dangers and Implications of Medical Murder

19 Jan

In a shocking article recently published by the Associated Press, it was revealed that a Pennsylvania doctor has been charged with eight counts of murder in a case that screams for the public’s attention for many reasons. I will go ahead and warn you now, this is a horribly graphic and heartbreaking account, so please read with discretion. Now it is also important to note that this story is just coming to light, and so the full scope and validity of all of the allegations put forth in the article have yet to be fully substantiated. However, if true, this does highlight a number of points that need to be examined.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many illegal, late-term abortions as he could, prosecutors said. State regulators ignored complaints about him and failed to inspect his clinic since 1993, but no charges were warranted against them given time limits and existing law, District Attorney Seth Williams said. Nine of Gosnell’s employees also were charged.

Gosnell “induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord,” Williams said.

What makes this story ever the more tragic, is that there were complaints lodged to the State that were not investigated for so long. In fact, if it had not been for complaints about drugs that stemmed from the clinic, investigators would seemingly never have looked into the complaints that were filed. How many of these victims could have been prevented had the State not only listened to the complaints being filed, but acknowledged the overwhelming number of women finding themselves in need of services they could not get anywhere else. So there are numerous implications that Pennsylvanian representatives need to address, and now!

This is a prime example of how the stigma attached to abortion, and the attacks on abortion which limit a woman’s access to safe procedures, gives rise to this kind of barbarism. If you thought that the ‘back-alley’ abortions were just a horror story of the past, then think again. Just now there are clinics like this one where women are subjected to opportunistic and conscienceless practitioners who do not have the patient’s care as a priority at all.

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Public Disservice: The Sexual Miseducation of Jane and John Q. Public

6 Jan

For many years now a problem has been brewing that has led to the growing rise of unintended pregnancy and the spread of STIs among young adults. That problem is one that stemmed from a lack of access to comprehensive sexual education. And instead of continuing to address this problem in the correct and responsible manner as we saw it unfolding, the dialog was hijacked by the right. So we attacked the issue by adding dangerous new fuel to the fire in the way of abstinence-only educational programs forced into the school system. Today we need only look around the blogosphere to hear stunning and unnerving declaration after stunning and unnerving declaration that we are still suffering through the damaging impacts of this public sexual miseducation.

As reported by the Guttmacher Institute in January of 2010:

The significant drop in teen pregnancy rates in the 1990s was overwhelmingly the result of more and better use of contraceptives among sexually active teens. However, this decline started to stall out in the early 2000s, at the same time that sex education programs aimed exclusively at promoting abstinence—and prohibited by law from discussing the benefits of contraception—became increasingly widespread and teens’ use of contraceptives declined.

So initially progress was being made, however it did not satisfy the right, who saw sex-ed as providing kids with an open license for promiscuity and the means to protect themselves while engaging in unwholesome behavior. So they sought to change the direction of this educational path, and steer things towards a place where their moral compass more comfortably guided them. Believing this would be the better, moral way forward. However, there were those more reasonably looking at this situation who believed that we needed to deviate away from this new tactic that was proving more harmful than helpful.

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For Choice: A Poem

1 Dec

It’s time to fight the propaganda
For there is far too much to lose,
In this deadly war their waging
To steal a woman’s right to choose!

Welcome to the dialog,
Unpolluted by false facts.
I know you’re unaccustomed
To receiving truth like that.
Because for many decades now
All across this nation,
The pool of truth has been diluted
By their misinformation.
They scream out about murder.
They insult and they berate.
Without any consideration for
What brought on this twist of fate.
Then they argue it’s morality
Which feeds all they have done,
But their actions paint another picture,
A more damaging one.
One where their moral definitions
Are used to control our lives.
Where it doesn’t matter what occurs
So long as the fetus survives.
Forget about the woman
Here she gets no sympathy,
For she’s nothing to them but
A flesh and blood baby factory…

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Junk Mail: Catching Up with Antis, Judgmental Edition

29 Sep

A series a la Anti-Feminist Mailbag where we respond to some of the hateful and/or bigoted comments we often get on our posts.

We got an e-mail a while back here at the Abortion Gang in response to a post we had up, and I opted to address the ‘concerns’ of the sender. Not because I felt that the sender had put so much thought into their questions that they deserved to be responded to, and not because they had touched on anything that profound or original. Mainly because their message was so hateful baring overwhelming classist and racist overtones that I did not feel like they should get to sit smugly in the glow of their computer screen feeling proud of themselves for the baseless things they said thinking that they were helping change minds and make a difference.

Also, I wanted to address this e-mail, because I know a horrible truth. That there are others out there who believe just like the sender of the e-mail. Perhaps one of them can be reached through a thoughtful reply to these ideas. The message, in all its glory, is shared below. The name has been withheld to protect the ignorant…you know who you are. As you read, just remember to breathe. This too shall pass.

Here’s a novel idea. How about women make the CONSCIOUS DECISION to NOT get pregnant while they’re homeless, jobless, already have several children, in an abusive relationship, etc.??? Take responsibility for yourself! I’m not about to feel sorry for a woman because she’s pregnant with her 4th child (and probably 4th baby daddy) and now “the gubment” isn’t doing enough to help her out. Of course this isn’t indicative of all homeless women and I’m certainly over-simplifying the situation. But it’s comparable to the situation in many 3rd world countries. People are sick and dying, not enough food or clean drinking water, but they’re having babies! I don’t understand the logic.

First things first. A novel idea is one that is defined as new or unusual in an interesting way. Unfortunately you suffer from a bit of naivety in believing that anything you have proposed here is new, unusual, or in any sense interesting. So right off the bat, I had to burst that bubble, because I previously mentioned, I have heard these utterances in the past. Now onto your next statement, or rather should I say, modest proposal. Rather than answer it right away, I would rather make a proposal of my own to the sender and anyone else out there is prone to this same disrespectful behavior. How about everyone STOP JUDGING women and their situations, especially when you have no idea about their lives or their circumstances?? Mind the business that is yours and yours alone!

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Pro-Life Propaganda: Weapons of Mass Destruction

28 Aug

Not sure if anyone saw it, but there used to be a show on TV called Lost. Two of the central characters that were at odds with one another through the entire series were the aptly charged Man of Faith (John Locke) and the Man of Science (Jack Shephard). And it got me thinking about the divide between the Pro- and Anti-choice crowds, and how we essentially have this same dynamic affecting these movements. You have the antis, whose faith tends to guide their approach and their dialogue on this issue. And you have the pros, who tend more towards using scientific facts to guide their dialogue and mission. Wherein lies the issue that I want to discuss today.

Earlier this week, here on the Gang, Persephone had a fantastic article that debunked a number of the myths that the Antis use to try and pollute this discussion of facts. It’s odd that so many who use their faith to guide them through this struggle would so boldly use lies to misinform and frighten the public away from this medical procedure. They make up propagandized talking points to willfully corrupt and program the thinking of the masses with lies. How is this okay? How can a group of self-proclaimed moralists use underhanded and dishonest means to attack this issue in such a disgraceful Machiavellian manner? They cling to their godly assertion that the ends justify the means…and that works for them. But what about the rest of us?

For you see, when you are talking about a portion of the masses using false information to steer an issue that affects every single person in our society, their justification does not matter because it only satisfies their positions, which are obviously at odds with the majority of the people. Because their ends affect us all, then said justification would have to satisfy our concerns as well. However, society has demonstrated repeatedly that it does not share their faith-based outlook on this issue. Time and again, society has gone the way of science on this matter. So they lie, trying to manipulate the science that has built the foundation beneath the pro-choice arguments. Why? For the purpose of turning facts to propaganda, and to confuse people into buying into their lies.

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Times for Intimidation – Irresponsible Acts of Media

19 Jul

I am writing today in response to an article that was recently written by Emily Bazelon and published by the New York Times online, The New Abortion Providers. An article that I read thinking it would be an encouraging and somewhat inspiring piece that showed an increasing access to abortion on tomorrow’s horizon. However, I quickly realized that what I was reading was more troubling than hopeful, and the deeper I read, the more the piece began to feel like a page out of the anti-choice intimidation tactic handbook. And the more I read, the more disturbed I grew.

Now Bazelon is someone who is known to be an advocate of choice, so her article took me by surprise, could even be said that it knocked the wind of out me. I am not saying that she was irresponsible in her journalistic pursuit of a story, but I do think that she was perhaps a bit blinded by the mission of the reporting the story that she missed the actual message that was being presented. In several cases throughout the article, Bazelon, in uncomfortable detail, exposes a number of sensitive areas without the responsible filter that you would expect from the media. Or perhaps, I should say, would have expected from the media. You know, back in the days when journalistic responsibility and integrity meant something, before news became fully commercialized an sought ratings and numbers over anything else.

Perhaps this is why Bazelon’s story hurt me as much as it did? Because she was someone who has been looked up to in the past for her work and stances, but in what could be construed as a total disregard for the well being of the movement she was supposedly reporting favorably on. The article took a look at the new wave of abortion educators and providers in training, and could have held the tone of a more hopeful tomorrow. But instead, what transpired through the article was quite the opposite. In the beginning of the article, Bazelon writes about the past intimidation tactics of the anti movement and chronicles how effective they have been in stifling access to this point.

She describes what horrible and misguided actions were taken in the past and explains how because of this not only has access dwindled, but that the Pro-Choice movement has had to kind of move underground in order to remain effective. How educating young doctors has become key for choice to win out and remain accessible to all women, at all times. How through this underground approach, hope has been reaching back into the medical industry to help get abortion back into mainstream practice. And then she shines a big bright warning light for the antis on all of these people and places that are working hard to ensure choice for tomorrow.

Now as was pointed out in the article by some of the doctors that Bazelon interviewed, this silence has in no way stemmed from any mixed feelings they have about what they are doing. But rather it stems from a desire to keep the people in the programs and the programs themselves from being targeted by these protests that leave many in the community feeling unsafe. They wish to provide a calm and comfortable environment and that tends to disappear in the wake of the antis descending to degrade the dialog and degenerate the situation. And I think it was an important point to make and to reiterate. Though I wish that Bazelon had paid more attention to what they were saying because she systematically uncovers facilities where the training is occurring. Continue reading

Reclaiming Reproductive Justice.

6 Apr

No, right-wingers, real reproductive justice is not something those working hard to limit the choices and freedom of women are allowed to define! For those who are scratching your heads a bit at my opening assertion, I kind of envy you a little. You see, you may not be aware of this, but members of the anti-choice movement are out to try and co-opt, and perhaps what is worse, define, terminology that was coined and used to define a position in complete contrast to their own. Below is an excerpt from one such source, who have tried on a couple of recent ocassions to use the term Reproductive Justice in an anti-choice context.

Warning – the following statement could cause those whose brain logic centers are functioning properly to repeatedly face-palm upon reading. Just remember to breathe. This feeling shall pass.
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Why I am Pro-Choice.

21 Mar

I am pro-choice for so many reasons, but only one that truly matters. Not that I want to diminish the other reasons that I have built my pro-choice foundation on, but in my heart and in my mind I know that this one reason burns brighter than the others. By no fault of their own, mind you, they are perfectly good reasons each one of them. But the main reason that I am pro-choice, and the reason that everyone should be, is because NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE (hence the overly emphatic all caps typing), has the right to control any woman’s reproductive choices other than the woman herself.

I could talk about the ethics of bodily autonomy being behind my reasoning, or I could point to the resource and population control necessities pulling a string or two in my thought processes. I could talk about the science behind my beliefs which place a high value on sentience, or expound on the ways that I do not believe a person is a person until they are born. I could talk about any number of backers to my way of thinking, but again, the one that matters the most, is a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own choices. And this is a right that no government, no religious body or followers, nor any rapidly dividing mass of cells within her body should be able to take away from her.
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