Tag Archives: anti-abortion

Debunking Sisters for Life

8 Aug

This year, the Sisters of Life celebrates its twentieth birthday. The Sisters of Life is a religious order established in 1991. They exist “to protect and enhance the sacredness of every human life.” If you visit the Sisters of Life’s website, you will read stories about pregnant women receiving help from the compassionate nuns, either at one of the housing facilities they provide, or in the form of strollers and baby clothes. The website paints a pretty picture of nuns in their habits, but it is a very incomplete picture at best.

The language that the Sisters of Life use may seem woman-centric on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper, you realize that they are only concerned with the fetus, not the woman. The tactics they use are very similar to those at crisis pregnancy centers. When women approach them for help, they are given biased information against abortion and are only offered assistance if they continue their pregnancy.

Sisters of Life currently serve under the supervision of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The archbishop has been very vocal about his positions on birth control and abortion. During his installation as the president of the USCCB, he stated that he would use the post to “to embrace and protect the dignity of every human person, the sanctity of human life, from the tiny baby in the womb to the last moment of natural passing into eternal life.” Archbishop Dolan and the USCCB have been in the news recently criticizing the Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement that it supports no co-pay birth control, despite the HHS exception for religious hospitals and insurance programs.

I think it’s important to compare Sisters of Life to the group Catholics for Choice, which serves as “a voice for Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.” Catholics for Choice argues that abortion and birth control are a matter of individual conscience, and that each woman has the ability to make her own decisions about what is best for her health and her family.

I’m not a Catholic myself, but I really respect the work of Catholics for Choice. They use Catholic theology to justify their position, and they educate pro-choice advocates about the best way to reach out to the Catholic community. CFC trusts and respects women, while the Sisters of Life assume that the Pope ultimately knows what’s best for women’s lives.

Although I think it’s commendable that the nuns who belong to Sisters of Life have dedicated their lives to serving others, I think their message cannot be taken at face value. Abortion and birth control are ultimately a personal decision. The fact that 98% of Catholic women say that they have used some form of birth control should be a sign to the Catholic hierarchy that they are out of touch with their parishioners’ lives.

Guess the Anti-Choice Filmmakers’ Real Message (Hint: It is Not About Abortion)

14 Jun

You may have heard about a few new anti-choice movies that will likely not be coming to a theater near you any time soon. The first to hit the internet was “Life Zone,” a psychological thriller about three kidnapped pregnant women held against their will. The trailer brims with local commercial-level line readings. But it boosts at least one “real” actor, Robert Loggia (who appears on screen via video and all his scenes were filmed remotely). A Soprano-level actor! That means it must be professional!

Another movie trailer making the rounds is “Gates of Hell” or what the producers of the unfinished product are calling a “documentary” of 2016 about a band of black terrorists who seem to go around the country killing abortion providers because they are racists. Or black women are. I don’t know, it’s all kind of confusing because the filmmakers would like a $100,000 to finish their movie.

Can I admit I kind of want to see “Life Zone?” The description sounds like it’s ripe for Mystery Science Theater 3000 style-riffing. From the Jersey Journal which attended the premiere at the Hoboken International Film Festival the final plot twist sounds like it came straight from the anti-choice cerebral cortex:

Three pregnant women wake up imprisoned in a hospital. Their only other contact is with their jailor – a mystery man played by Robert Loggia who occasionally appears on video to answer the women’s questions and explain the consequences of their disobedience – and an obstetrician, actress Blanche Baker as Dr. Victoria Wise, who will deliver the captive women’s babies whether or not their pro-choice views are changed.

It turns out Dr. Wise’s husband left her because she turned out to be barren cause she didn’t eat right and worked too hard and stuff.

Of course two of the three imprisoned women become happy about being imprisoned and being forced to give birth, but one, stubborn Staci, just can’t take the idea of giving birth to a real live child. So she tries to cause a miscarriage but instead gives birth to twins while the other two women give birth to their single babies. (Discussion question: Was Staci more blessed than the other two women or more punished for having to give birth twice? Hold that thought.)

But in the final fucked up plot twist the real moral of the story is revealed.

Later, Staci wakes up. The two new mothers are no longer captives, they’ve presumably ascended to heaven with their babies. It’s revealed all along the women had been in Purgatory, after having died on the operating table of abortion clinics. But because Staci attempted to miscarry even after a second chance at motherhood, and because she never accepted the error of her ways until she experienced the physical joy of giving birth, of seeing her children for the first time, she will be doomed to eternity in Hell.

Loggia is Satan and he informs Staci she will spend all eternity in a cycle of pregnancy and childbirth and Dr. Wise will forever be her doctor, as the movie’s final twist plays out: Wise too will spend eternity in Hell. She was so weak she committed suicide when her marriage collapsed and must suffer the fate of forever bringing life into the world, endlessly having to appreciate what she did not value on Earth.

And there is the anti-choice message laid out: women should literally be punished with childbirth. Childbirth is your enteral punishment from Satan. I’m sure the director also thinks their punishment should be eternal rape from Satan as well. Also in case you didn’t notice this life lesson: women who work too much will become barren and kill themselves. Rarely is the true anti-choice id spelled out so explicitly.

Strangely in the other anti-choice movie “Gates of Hell,” women, especially the black-race destroying black women, aren’t featured at all in the trailer. That’s because the movie’s target message is also racial as well as misogynist. As Jess Taylor at Pandagon best describes the trailer for “Gates of Hell:”

…the crux of this is clear: evil big government liberals use abortion as a secret method to commit mass genocide against blacks. Blacks who are also the most reliable group of voters for evil big government liberals. And are also a part of another conspiracy to have public money funneled to them so that they have more kids.

It’s like a completely useless cycle where you earn money to buy matches to burn money, but it involves black people, so the soundtrack is by Young Money.

One might argue, if one were painfully naive in a manner that bordered on certifiable brain damage, that this is simply an effort for “pro-lifers” to get their message out using the corollary of violent black people uprising against a system of oppression.

Now the movie has been made by a Finnish director and a white executive producer Jason Mitchell. Mitchell, which Taylor points out, seems to be okay with the killing of black people as long as they are gay.

Jason here advocated for the Ugandan anti-gay bill that would have allowed the government to kill gay Ugandans. For being gay, not for having abortions, which is a totally different thing.

Without seeing the whole movie it’s hard to tell exactly what issues with black men and women Jason Taylor has, but I’m sure not-to-far-from-the-surface is a belief in his (white) racial superiority.

In addition to those low-budget freak fests the Los Angeles Times also notes another movie – one with an actual chance of distribution — has an “Easter egg” surprise for anti-choicers. “Doonby” is about a handsome drifter (played by Dukes of Hazard’s Bo Duke) who comes to town, and has a mysterious past. But a subplot in involves an unmarried woman who apparently is seeking an abortion and an elderly woman who tries to talk her out of it. The woman is played by Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe vs Wade fame who later converted to Christianity. This is her first acting role.

Of the three, “Doonby” is the only film to seem to have a budget (it also has Martin Sheen’s less talented brother!) and might make it onto the independent film circuit, whereas “Gates of Hell” (if it’s ever finished) and “Life Zone” will probably be coming to a church-basement near you.

The Racist Billboards Are Coming for You Next

7 Jun

Late this afternoon I received an email with a link to this article about racist anti-abortion billboards. Great, I thought, more of the same bullshit. I opened the link, prepared to be disgusted, and my blood pressure shot through the roof. This is the image that glared back at me:

Racist Billboard

The text reads, “El lugar mas peligroso para un Latino es el vientre de su madre/The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb.” This strategy is not new, but one word is: Latino.

Some of you might not know, since I’m a pretty pale lady, but my mother is a Brazillian Jew and my father is an American Jew. I identify as Latina, as white, as Jewish, as American.  It’s not explicitly stated in the billboard, but the tone implies that all Latinas are alike and fit a certain stereotype–we’re low-income, uneducated, and, as a result, committing genocide against our own people. The language takes advantage of the current national racist, ignorant, anti-immigrant discourse that defines a Latino person as an “other.” In reality, the Latino community is as diverse as any other, yet the polarizing language of this billboard reinforces both racist and classist prejudices.

On the surface it may not seem like it, but this billboard is targeting people like me. And if you don’t speak out about this racist propaganda, they will target you next.

According to Yahoo, this disgusting billboard is set to go up in Los Angeles this week and is sponsored by a group called the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. This group promotes the dangerous (and absolutely false) idea that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood specifically target minority communities.

They seemed to have missed the memo. Planned Parenthood serves the Latina community with dignity and respect. If you’re concerned about the rate of abortion among Latinas, invest in comprehensive sex education. Combat poverty. Give our families access to the best education the US has to offer. Give us jobs. Give us labor rights and domestic worker’s rights and all the basic civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Or you could focus on the facts: “No Conspiracy Theories Needed: Higher Abortion Rates Among Women of Color Reflect Higher Rates of Unintended Pregnancy, Improving Access to High-Quality, Affordable Contraceptive Services Among Steps Needed to Reduce Health Disparities.”

But I digress. These billboards are beyond offensive. They take advantage of deeply rooted, dangerous attitudes about race and genocide. They seek to splinter minority communities, igniting a non-existent battle around women who are supposedly the cause of their own community’s extinction.  Sistersong reveals the true motives of those behind these insulting billboards :

They believe in population control and use false compassion for children to disguise a racist and sexist agenda. Our opponents are manipulative, zealous, and immoral. They lie using religion as a cover. They try to use combination of guilt and force to undermine our human rights. They accuse us of practicing genocide on our people when we stand up for ourselves.

And what can you do about this hate masquerading as concern? Below are tips from Sistersong and the Trust Black Women Partnership:

  • Watch: Join your sisters by telling staying in the loop about local anti-abortion billboards, legislation, or rallies. Contact SisterSong and the nearest Trust Black Women partnering organization to speak up for your community. Send your information here.
  • Write: Write a letter to the editor of your local print and online news publication, community radio or online radio station, blog, or use social media to support Black [and Latina] women and our reproductive options. We have strong messaging that supports our human right to reproductive justice. If you need a template or sample, contact SisterSong and Trust Black Women. Send us a copy of your letter.
  • Advocate: Contact us directly or the nearest Trust Black Women partnering organization to find out about organizing efforts near you. If you want to stop reproductive injustices in your local community and you would like us to help promote your efforts, contact us today.
  • Share: Send information about Trust Black Women to your friends through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Give: You can give a financial contribution to Trust Black Women and support our national organizing. Maybe you are too busy to work on a campaign but you agree that Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Donate . Specify you are contributing to Trust Black Women.

Get on it. They shamed black women. Now they’re after Latinas. Don’t be fooled: these ads may be race-specific, but they are deeply offensive to ALL women.

Learning From American Mistakes

18 May

On May 2nd, Canadians made a horrible decision. Well 39% of the 61.4% (5.8 million of 33 million people) of the population that voted did anyways. We gave Stephen Harper his long-coveted majority.

While he has sworn up and down that his party (ironically referred to as the CPC) won’t touch abortion, nobody in the pro-choice world believes him. His party is full of antis who would like nothing more than to see women die rather than obtain safe, legal abortions. Now that Harper can do just about anything he wants for the next 4 years, the pro-choice world is holding it’s breath, waiting for the first anti-choice bill to be introduced in the 41st Parliament. It will most certainly be a Private Member Bill, which usually means a free vote. But of course nothing is truly free. Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) has just released their breakdown of pro- and anti-choice MPs. Unfortunately there is a large number of, mostly CPC, MPs with an “unknown” stance so the number of anti-choice MPs may very well outnumber pro-choicers or the numbers may be tight. The NDP may be the saving feature because they are a pro-choice party (vs the Liberals who allow MPs to “vote with their conscience”) and the NDP is the Official Opposition. What I am waiting to see is if we learn from America’s mistakes.

Roe v. Wade was not nearly as strong a support for abortions rights as the Morgentaler decision, but that doesn’t mean we won’t fall prey to the “concessions” made with the antis – giving up the rights of low-income women so that wealthy women still have access to abortion. The problem, as is most evident now than ever, is that if you give an anti an inch, they will take a mile. We have been diligent in Canada, us pro-choicers, in protecting our abortions rights, but there is only so much we can do. Now it is up to the MPs in the house to not concede one millimeter. They cannot agree to one concession with the antis because that one concession, over time, will inevitably snowball into the situation we see in America.

Our government is bound and determined to not learn from America’s “war on drugs” and mega-prison mentality. Harper is hell-bent on remaking those mistakes. The pro-choicers in Canada must stand their ground. We must not accept one single concession. We must demand more. More access, more prevention, more freedom. We must not look to “agree to disagree” or appease the antis. We must look them in the eye and tell them they can take their “moral high-ground” and stick it. We are going to demand abortions access in the most remote areas; we must demand more support for those who choose abortion. Pro-choicers in Canada must fight fire with fire. We cannot give in because as soon as we do, as soon as we concede one point, we lose everything.

Write your MPs and let them know your stance on right to access. The antis certainly make their presence be known, so make yours be known as well. Pay attention to the Bills that come before the house. Be diligent. Fight every single one as if it wants to thrown women in jail for abortions because that is what will come if we don’t.