Reproductive Rights

The Obama campaign addresses reproductive rights:

Romney is saying now he supports allowing legal abortion in cases of rape. But at one time or another Romney has held many different opinions on reproductive rights.

Way to Go, Fetus People

I keep hearing about states like Mississippi and Arizona closing abortion clinics and restricting abortion, and I’ve been wondering why we haven’t heard much about back-alley abortions. And now I know why. Women who can’t get an abortion in the U.S. are going to Mexico, where a miscarriage-inducing drug is available over the counter.

The catch is that abortion is illegal in most of Mexico also, so even though the drug — mifepristone — is available over the counter, and everyone knows taking it can terminate a pregnancy, women who purchase it have to pretend its for their ulcers. And the pharmacy workers, who know good and well why all these women are buying mifepristone, cannot give them directions about the correct dosage. So the women either don’t take enough, and stay pregnant; or they take too much and have to be hospitalized for bleeding.

Let’s Wage a War on Stupid

Having milked “partial-birth abortion” dry, the Fetus People* are now whipping up scare stories about a tidal wage of gender-selection abortions being promoted and abetted by their arch-nemesis, Planned Parenthood. And they’ve tied this into a pushback against the “war on women” charge, claiming the real war on women are all those girl babies that are being aborted just for being girls.

Dana Milbank writes that legislation being pushed by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, to prohibit gender-selection abortion could alienate Asian Americans. That’s because as near as anyone can tell, the only gender selection going on in the U.S. is in ethnic Asian communities.

Whether Franks’s law would lose any Asian American votes I cannot say. People are guesstimating that gender selection must be going on in ethnic Asian communities because the ratio of boys versus girls being born among ethnic Asians skews more in favor of boys than nature normally allows. In the population as a whole, however, there is no data suggesting the male-female birth ratio is going out of whack.

There is no question that in some parts of the world, in particular India and China, healthy girl fetuses are often aborted just because they are girls, and I think that’s terribly sad. However, there is no statistical evidence that the practice is growing in the U.S.

That hasn’t stopped Live Action from ginning up hysteria about the “gendercide” being promoted by Planned Parenthood. They’ve got the obligatory, and heavily edited, sting video showing some newbie PP employee mishandling a gender-selection abortion question, which seems to be their entire “proof” that Planned Parenthood is promoting such abortions nationwide. The employee has since been fired. No word on how many “stings” Live Action attempted before they found someone who took the bait.

Amanda Peterson Beadle writes,

After Republicans opposed expanding contraception access and would not back the Violence Against Women Act until it had been watered down, Democrats accused the party of waging a war on women

But ahead of tomorrow’s vote on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), a bill that would ban physicians from performing abortions based on the fetus’ sex, anti-choice organizations have clumsily attempted to co-opt the “war on women” meme.

This is followed by some quotes. Here are a couple:

– “This is a real war on women. And it is wrong when we turn a blind eye to women being eliminated in the womb simply for being a member of the female sex.” [Americans United for Life letter]

– “Members who recently have embraced contrived political rhetoric asserting they are resisting a ‘war on women’ must reflect on whether they wish to be recorded as being defenders of the escalating war on baby girls.” [National Right to Life Committee letter]

I wrote about gender-selection abortion awhile back:

I take it that several years ago, strategists among pro-criminalizaton activists came up with Asia’s gender selection issue as a way to make western liberals uncomfortable with abortion, or to force us into a debate over whether the right to choose includes gender selection — since girls, presumably, will be the gender targeted for termination. And then, of course, if women don’t have a right to gender-select, then the right to abortion is not absolute and can be picked apart.

However,I also noted that in the U.S., girl babies actually are preferred over boy babies.

Girl babies actually are highly prized in America. Studies from all over the place show that American couples seeking to adopt a baby prefer girls over boys.

Further, when couples attempt to manipulate conception to tilt the odds in favor of one gender over another, they are more likely to try for a girl rather than a boy.

This being so, why would anyone assume that gender selection abortions would always target girls? Hmmm? But maybe we shouldn’t tell them that. The gender selection that appears to be going on among ethnic Asian Americans is a vestige of Asian culture, obviously, and not likely to spill over to non-ethnic Asians anytime soon, if ever.

Speaking of Domestic Terrorism . . .

I mentioned a couple of days ago that obstetric-gyncological clinics in the Atlanta area were being burglarized and set on fire. Arsonists have hit abortion clinics as well as practices that don’t do abortion.

Now some of the obstetricians are saying they fear they are being targeted because they publicly opposed Georgia’s “fetal pain” bill.

“You hate to point fingers, but when you start to see a pattern I think it’s a little more worrisome,” said Dr. Richard Zane, whose Atlanta Women’s Health Group office in Sandy Springs was burglarized March 4.

Act 631, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this month, reduces the time period for when an elective abortion can occur from about 26 weeks to 20 weeks. Some doctors said restricting medical exceptions to abortions between 20 and 26 weeks would prevent them from treating mothers who are having difficult pregnancies.

The crimes began shortly after the January legislative session started. …

… The three physicians who were victims of burglaries and of Sunday’s fire in Lilburn do not perform abortions. However, they had all visited the Georgia Capitol this session to discuss the impact of the legislation on pregnant women and their unborn children, said Dr. David Byck, president of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.

The arsonists have been breaking into doctors’ offices and stealing computers before setting their fires. So far no one has been hurt. However, one fire was set during office hours while the clinic (which does do abortions) was full of staff and patients. Everyone was evacuated safely, but clearly the arsonists aren’t being careful not to kill someone.

The offices of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society were burglarized the night before a Senate committee was to discuss amending the bill to continue to keep private the names of physicians who have to report abortions to the state.

The intruders bypassed three laptops and appeared to make a beeline for two laptop computers in the executive directors office which stored the names and addresses of doctors.

Like that’s a coincidence? The ATF and FBI are investigating, and so far they are not saying for certain that the clinics are being targeted by anti-reproduction rights terrorists. If it turns out that they are, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the shriekers on the Right to condemn the arsonists, though.

Arsonists Target Atlanta OB-GYN Clinics

Someone may be making the war on women literal. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that there have been a series of burglaries and arsons in the Atlanta area targeting abortion clinics and OB-GYN practices that don’t do abortion. In other words, they’re going after any clinic or practice that deals exclusively with women’s reproductive health care.

The latest arson was the most brazen one, occurring during business hours Wednesday morning at Alpha Group GYN, which provides abortion services and counseling, on Powers Ferry Road in Marietta.

Another suspicious fire on Sunday occurred at the Atlanta Gynecology and Obstetrics Gwinnett office in Lilburn, which also was the site of a burglary on Jan. 26. The thieves stole a desktop computer.

Two other burglaries at obstetrics and gynecology offices occurred in March in Sandy Springs and unincorporated Suwanee. Most of the clinics do not perform abortions.

The FBI has begun an investigation.

Women Fighting Back Through Social Media

An Oklahoma judge overturned an ultrasound law today. Score one for us.

The more interesting story is that women around the country are organizing through social media to push back against what is going on in their states. A record number of abortion restrictions were passed in 2011, but so far in 2012 a lot of similar bills are hitting a wall of resistance. Some of them are getting passed, but many others have been blocked by a lot of pissed-off women.

Here’s a great article at Salon explaining how women are using social media to get the word out and organize protests. Many of these women have never been active before, but they’ve been shaken up by attacks on Planned Parenthood as well as by things said by some really, really stupid state politicians —

In Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that hundreds of people attended hearings on the state’s proposed ban on abortion after 20 weeks – a law based on scientifically spurious claims of “fetal pain” that six other states have passed since 2010. It failed partly because legislators couldn’t agree on an exception for “medically futile” pregnancies. In Pennsylvania, a forced-ultrasound bill “has been shelved indefinitely by House leaders, in part because of outcries by more moderate GOP lawmakers who don’t want to deal with it in their election year,” according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News. (But not without Gov. Tom Corbett, who weighed in cluelessly in another widely circulated comment: “I don’t know how you make anybody watch, OK? Because you just have to close your eyes.”) In Tennessee, a legislator felt compelled to back off posting abortion records online, citing a fierce backlash and, he claimed, death threats.

“Every time a politician says something terrible, people respond emotionally to that,” says Luther. “It makes people in Florida care about what’s happening in Idaho.” It was harder, she adds, to get people fired up about Utah’s mandatory waiting period, maybe because there was no single tweetable moment.

Some pro-choice organizations have talked about an “enthusiasm gap” among the younger generation, which doesn’t remember back-alley abortions and which they say isn’t fired up the way young anti-abortion activists are. But social media has made it possible for women and men to keep up with the laws that emerge seemingly by the minute — and then sign a petition or, if they’re up for it, flood legislators’ Facebook pages with graphic updates about the vulvas the politicians are so interested in regulating. For progressives in conservative states, who often feel alone in their views, all this can be particularly galvanizing.

People are organizing on their own initiative. NARAL hasn’t been part of it, which doesn’t surprise me. More than 30 years ago I stopped paying dues to NARAL because I felt they were completely out of touch with anything going on outside of Washington, and sending them dues was a bit like throwing money into a black hole — you never saw any results from it. And the Democratic Party hasn’t been any better, especially at state level in right-wing states.

So this is a good thing. Maybe there’s hope.

Sex and God

Is it just me, or does it seem the Right is on the edge of a catastrophic meltdown?

They’re starting to remind me of Hal, the Computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the end, as Dave takes Hal apart, his knowledge base degrades back to his first programming. Similarly, as Republicans lose ownership of what had been their strongest issues — national security and business — all the ugly muck at the depths of their ids is rising to the surface. Finally, there is nothing left but the primordial concern gnawing at their bones all these years — sex.

I started to say “sex and God,” but if you think about it, mostly God exists for them as a bulwark against sexual chaos. So it really is just about sex.

You don’t need a Ph.D. in psychiatry to recognize that James Poulos (“What Are Women For?“), for example, is massively bleeped up about sex and frantic to find something to protect him from women and their frightening, alien bodies. And what is the Virginia ultrasound law but a means to keep women in their place through state-sanctioned rape?

And the answer to the question “What are Republicans thinking?” is, what thinking?

Stuff to Read

I’m still out of it with the motherbleeping cold. Entertain yourselves —

Matt Taibbi, Wall Street Should Stop Whining

Inside the New Hate

Ed Kilgore, Poor Handel-ing

The Bishops Overreach — see also USA Today

The White House is “all talk, no action” on moving toward compromise, said Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “There has been a lot of talk in the last couple days about compromise, but it sounds to us like a way to turn down the heat, to placate people without doing anything in particular,” Picarello said. “We’re not going to do anything until this is fixed.”

That means removing the provision from the health care law altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and their insurers. He cited the problem that would create for “good Catholic business people who can’t in good conscience cooperate with this.”

“If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I’d be covered by the mandate,” Picarello said.

From what I’ve heard, the White House is not caving. Fingers crossed.

Andrew Rosenthal, “It’s Not About Religious Freedom

Karen Handel Pushed Onto Her Sword

Karen Handel, the Fetus Person probably at the center of Komen for the Fail’s recent catastrophe, has resigned from (i.e., been forced out) of her job at Komen. Word is she has refused a severance package, which probably would have required her to keep her mouth shut. So she’s gonna blab. Should be fun.

Her resignation letter oozes with what the witty folks at Balloon Juice are calling “Handel’s Messiah Complex.”

We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.

What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision – one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact – has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.

Poor baby. Not a clue.

IMO some sacrifice was necessary for Komen to hang on to any of its corporate sponsors. The people disillusioned by Komen’s bleep-up were not going to trust it again with their time and donations as long as Handel was still in place. Komen’s prestige will still suffer long-term damage, but this may earn enough forgiveness to enable it to continue some of its merchandising deals.

On the other hand, Art Caplan, a Ph.D. bioethicist, says Handel’s departure is too little, too late.

There is one last step that can be taken to save the mighty Komen from running aground permanently. The entire executive leadership and board must resign. Now. Anything less means that the prominence that Komen achieved will become simply one more in a long list of worthy causes that Americans may or may not choose to support.

What’s especially sad about this is that Komen CEO Nancy Brinker should have known better. Per Soonergrunt, in 2010 Komen turned down money from Curves because it came with a condition to cut off Planned Parenthood. Yeah, the guy who owns Curves is a five-alarm fundy and convicted deadbeat dad who thinks women are cows. Anyway, Brinker wrote,

“The grants in question supplied breast health counseling, screening, and treatment to rural women, poor women, Native American women, many women of color who were underserved—if served at all—in areas where Planned Parenthood facilities were often the only infrastructure available. Though it meant losing corporate money from Curves, we were not about to turn our backs on these women.”

A shame for Komen, but as I said, they knew better.

The folks at LifeNews still don’t have a clue what just happened:

Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life expressed the sentiment of many pro-life advocates responding to the decision, by saying Handel resigned because of Planned Parenthood’s aggressive attacks on Komen after its initial decision.

“Karen Handel was sick and tired of being held hostage by the largest pro-abortion lobby in the country when she and the Komen Foundation were supposed to be focused on saving women’s lives, not endangering them,” she told LifeNews. “They held the Komen Foundation, and the millions of women they serve, hostage until they got their way, pocketing merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to their extensive funding.”

No, what happened is that a whole lot of women and men all around the country spontaneously took to Twitter and Facebook and raised hell. Planned Parenthood by itself doesn’t have the clout to hold anybody hostage. What smacked down Komen was a roar of public opinion.

Are you paying attention, Congress?