During the Iranian Hostage Crisis a ticker ran with the days the hostages had been held, in NY there is a ticker with the national debt soaring upward, and on the Guttmacher Institute web pages there is a list of the ever-growing anti-abortion legislation that is being considered. Given the lackluster job recovery, it is even more remarkable that so much attention would focus on diminishing the rights of women. If state and federal legislators were as creative with ways to stimulate the economy and motivate businesses to hire more workers as they are with taking away the right to reproductive freedom, the economy would be booming.
Many of the laws revolve around the religious precepts of when life begins in the womb with little regard for scientific fact. Personhood at the moment of conception is a favorite of legislators but not voters who reject the concept whenever given the opportunity to vote for or against it. Most voters understand the logical implications of such a law. It would render abortion impossible at any stage of pregnancy. Some of the laws revolving around this concept would allow the state to investigate miscarriages, stillbirths and any pregnancy not resulting in a live birth. In Mississippi, Rennie Gibbs, a 15 year old, is charged with murder under the personhood law. At 36 weeks Rennie had a stillbirth. When it was discovered that she had a drug habit, she was charged with “depraved-heart murder” of her child. She faces a mandatory life sentence even though there is no medical proof that the drugs caused the stillbirth. Other states are also prosecuting pregnant women for crimes. Just as being a woman is a pre-existing condition to health insurers, a woman who is pregnant is being deprived of her constitutional rights. In Indiana Bei Bei Shuai is being held for murder because she tried to commit suicide after her boyfriend abandoned her. She lost the baby four days after the attempt. In Alabama women are being charged with crimes for chemical use during pregnancy. At the heart of these laws is the protection of the fetus from the moment of conception. The result is criminalization of women and depriving them of their rights. Many of the laws are being challenged in the courts. In the Rennie Gibbs case, Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer, asked the state supreme court, “If it's not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is.”
The newest salvo on attacking abortion and Planned Parenthood is the Pro-Life Wisconsin Group’s lawsuit aimed at the University of Wisconsin’s medical department for training medical students to provide abortions. They claim it violates the no taxpayer-funding of abortion rules. To avoid this conflict the university sends its students to Planned Parenthood where they are trained. If this latest attack succeeds in Wisconsin and in other teaching hospitals, it will mean that new doctors will not know how to provide medically necessary D&C’s. According to Dr. Fredrik Broekhuizen, the medical director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, “It is vital for medical students to be trained in abortion services. There are medically indicated pregnancy terminations, and physicians need to have skills to do that. There are situations where patients have fetal death in utero at 16 to 18 weeks of gestation,” he says. “The mode of delivery in the case of a dead fetus is exactly the same procedure as an abortion procedure. So learning these techniques is an essential part of what an ob/gyn needs to know in order to provide comprehensive care to women, regardless of where they choose to practice.”
As the ticker clicks upward on more ways to prevent women from making their own reproductive and health choices, the damage to families and women is growing. There are real emotional and physical implications for the people caught in this web. Take the mother who is imprisoned for “chemical use” during pregnancy -- who cares for her child while she is jailed? Who cares for the psychological damage to a family when a woman dies due to lack of medical intervention because of these laws? Who has the right to invade the most private sphere of a woman and determine that she cannot control her own health and reproductive rights? And when do we rise up and yell “Enough!”? It is time to stand together and tell elected officials across the country, in state and federal government, "Focus on jobs and the economy and stay out of our wombs."
Basic Equality for Women---Denied
The old saw that all politics is local is gaining traction as state legislators pass law after law violating women’s constitutional rights to privacy and reproductive choice. According to a recent article in AlterNet, 916 new restrictive laws were introduced by state legislators in the first quarter of 2011. The laws are the most creative, restrictive laws passed since Roe vs Wade became law of the land.
The common core is:
- The Gestational limits on abortion- they have plucked 20 weeks as the standard though viability is not assured at that time.
- Wait time - often women are subjected to (frequently medically inaccurate) propaganda by religious zealots while required to wait for their procedure.
- Mandatory ultrasounds
- Curtailing insurance coverage in state exchanges
- Mandatory visits to crisis pregnancy centers
The common denominator is to render abortion impossible. The goal is to render women powerless.
The reverberations from Nebraska’s 20 weeks limit on abortion were felt when Danielle Deaver was forced to continue a pregnancy with a nonviable fetus. Her family had to suffer watching their baby die. When lawmakers subvert both a legal procedure and medical science, it is time for them to leave the legislatures. Medical privacy and medical conditions are rights that are guaranteed to women as well as men. Similar scenarios can be expected to occur as more women have medical problems beyond 20 weeks.
South Dakota has the unique distinction of introducing and passing the most restrictive laws regarding wait time and pregnancy crisis centers. Beginning in July, a woman must wait 72 hours after consulting with a physician about an abortion. She also has to visit a registered pregnancy crisis center and listen to these volunteer, non-certified, non-medical personnel give incorrect information about abortions. These clinics are not subject to privacy laws so a woman’s medical record is no longer private. She also has to be read a statement written by the legislators about abortion.
Abortion is difficult enough without these new laws. There is one clinic in the state that has an abortion provider flown in once a week. How the women are to meet with the provider, wait 72 hours, meet with the pregnancy crisis center and have the procedure in a timely fashion has not been worked out. Most of the women are financially unable to pay for hotels or childcare so this is an undue financial burden. Additionally, the pregnancy crisis centers have not signed on to participate in this new program, so it is unclear if the women will be denied abortions because no centers are involved. Could this be any worse? This is a state where voters have twice voted not to ban abortion, but the legislature believes it knows better.
The ultrasound ploy is a favorite of many states. Women are forced to undergo a procedure that they do not want, and which is many times not medically necessary. Depending on the state, they must either watch the ultrasound or listen to a graphic description. Women, many of whom have limited funds, must also pay for this state-mandated procedure. Isn’t there an argument by conservatives about mandatory payments? Hmmm, just not for women when they have abortions.
Insurance is the latest weapon in the war on women’s health in both the states and the federal government. In the US House, HR 3 passed with unanimous consent of the Republicans. This bill would tax insurance plans that cover abortions. It would tax health credits. It would tax people who use them. It would allow the IRS to audit a woman’s abortion. This is all from the no tax, no government in private affairs folks. They will not tax oil companies, but women’s health is fair game.
In the states there is an attempt to restrict abortion coverage in state exchanges. The degree varies but 23 states have already considered such legislation.
While all these laws are aimed at overturning Roe vs Wade, there is the additional attack on the born children. Programs for nutritional programs and child health care are being slashed. Contraception is no longer covered by some states. How does this promote a culture of life?
The Republican-controlled House is railing against the deficit and slashing social programs while refusing to raise taxes. But its microfocus is on depriving women of their basic equality - the right to privacy, the right to control their own lives and the right to make their own decisions without help from the government.
Contribute your energy and money to electing pro-choice legislators. Support JAC as we work together to elect pro-choice legislators who will protect women's reproductive rights. The attacks will continue until women mobilize in town halls, in voting booths and in the halls of Congress.
|l to r: Linda Rae Sher, Sarah Grime, Gail Yamner, Joy Malkus, Dana Gordon, Marcia Balonick of JAC at the 'Stand Up for Women's Health' Lobby Day in Washington, DC - April 7, 2011|
When do women and the men who love them wake up and realize what all the new abortion laws in State Houses and the Federal Government mean? When do they understand about Title X? Title X provides health care to 5,000,000 women a year. This funding goes to provide routine breast exams, cancer screens and pelvic exams. At the rally yesterday we heard stories from survivors whose lives were saved by having had routine exams at Planned Parenthood. Most of the women had been in their late teens or early twenties and had had paps smears which found the abnormal cells. Thanks to this care at Planned Parenthood they were living and had been able to have families and healthy lives.
When do our citizens understand that attaching socially restrictive riders to the Continuing Resolutions to the budget are a way of controlling women? When will they understand that there is already a federal statute that says there is no use of federal funds for abortion? These amendments have one agenda - to deny women health care.
Take the issue of the rider that wants to restrict the District of Columbia from using its local taxes for helping low income women have abortions. These states’ rights Republicans are meddling in the DC local rule. Maybe rights don’t apply when it concerns women’s health and reproductive rights?
Look carefully at the language in HR 3. Among other points like redefining rape, there is a restriction for women who pay for their own health care and who have had abortions having to report it to the IRS to prove that they did not use federal funds to pay for the abortion. Additionally, they cannot use pretax dollars to pay for this legal procedure. This law would also tax businesses who provide health care that covers abortion. This in effect is raising taxes on women and businesses. The part where a patient has to disclose private medical decisions and care is certainly a violation of HIPAA - maybe privacy is not for women? There is also an attempt to prevent people who pay for their own insurance and whose insurance is in a state insurance exchange from getting abortion coverage.
At the rally on the mall the intensity was palpable. Women and men of all ages carrying signs and wearing pink t-shirts loudly shouted for the rights of women and booed those who would take away these rights. There were eloquent speeches and pledges from Senators Schumer, Boxer, Murray, and Lautenberg, Representatives Delauro, Slaugher, Kapps and DeGette as well as Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, David Eigenberg and Connie Britton. Everyone on the stage and on the mall understood that this is not about abortion. It is taking away health care and reproductive choice for women. It is about putting women back almost a century. If you control health and the uterus, you can be masters of the workplace and the home.
Today I opened The New York Times and finally found one small article on page 18 where the importance of the issue was not understood nor was the impact of seeing hundreds, possibly thousands of women on the Hill in offices analyzed. Radio and TV did not point out that while the deliberations on the budget, which hinge on the socially restrictive measures that are attached are being fought, that voters who care about women’s health and rights were fighting in DC as well. Yes, we are invisible and penned in by a group of men who would take away our rights, our health and all the while pretending it is to save money and the unborn. I am frustrated and angry.
To borrow a quote: the conservative are interested in shrinking government so small that it will only fit in your bedroom and your medicine cabinet. And I say "no more, never again!" And I also believe that it is time for the millions who sit silently by to join us next time in DC and to join us in voting these people out.
The Real Agenda: Women As Second Class Citizens
I am going to DC on April 7 to stand alongside women who are speaking out against the repression that is occurring. I ask you to join me and other JAC women as we puncture through the hypocrisy and the rhetoric. I ask you to change your plans for the day and board a train, a bus or a plane and come to DC. We are women hear us roar.
Unfortunately, today's Republican party has few moderates who are supportive of a centrist government that is fiscally responsive to the needy in our society. The moderates who voted against the Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood are Rep. Charlie Bass (NH), Rep. Judy Biggert (IL), Rep. Mary Bono-Mack (CA), Rep. Charlie Dent (PA), Rep. Robert Dold (IL), Rep. Richard Hanna (NY) and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ). In the Senate Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Olympia Snowe. These brave legislators are reminders of the past when Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the rights of women and reining in an intrusion into women's health.
While governor of New Jersey, Governor Christie Whitman often took stands that put her at odds with the more conservative national Republicans. She always chose women's reproductive rights even though it cost her a national platform. Governor Christie Whitman continues to rise above partisan politics and work for women's health. As a woman who lives in NJ, I am proud of her stance. In the article below from New Jersey's Bergen Record, she writes an eloquent defense for Planned Parenthood.
"Opinion: Don’t touch funding for Planned ParenthoodBy CHRISTIE WHITMAN
AS A FORMER governor, I understand that this country faces a growing deficit and we must exercise fiscal discipline. As a Republican, I also understand that women, no matter their party affiliation, are concerned about the health of their mothers, their daughters and their sisters.
That’s why I am concerned that social conservatives are trying to hijack the budget process to include proposals that would wipe out access to family planning, HIV testing and counseling and breast and cervical cancer screening for millions of American women.
The health of American women, preventing unintended pregnancies and supporting sound family planning are goals that all of us, irrespective of political persuasion, should support. Not surprisingly, it turns out that what is good for women’s health is also good for our pocketbooks.
The simple fact is that every public dollar invested in family planning saves taxpayers nearly $4. Yet, the House is proposing to eliminate the National Family Planning Program, also known as Title X. Eliminating Title X would mean in just one year, at least two million women would be denied access to Pap tests, 2.3 million would go without clinical breast exams and more than five million women and men wouldn’t benefit from contraceptive services.
The House leadership is also proposing to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds. This is unacceptable.
Value of preventive careI know firsthand the value of Planned Parenthood health centers in providing preventive care to women. In rural areas, Planned Parenthood is often the only place to turn for vital health care needs as well as sex education, and in dense urban areas, Planned Parenthood provides these same services to women in disproportionately low income and underserved communities.
Every year, Planned Parenthood’s doctors and nurses provide more than 3 million women with preventive health care, including nearly one million lifesaving screenings for cervical cancer, 830,000 breast exams, contraception to nearly 2.5 million patients and nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Literally, they are a trusted health care provider to millions of women.
For those who oppose abortion, they should know that Planned Parenthood’s services prevent 973,000 unintended pregnancies and 406,000 abortions each year. Those are statistics that Republicans and Democrats should wholeheartedly embrace.
But the extreme proposals undermining both the National Family Planning Program and Planned Parenthood will have an adverse effect on those numbers. While defunding Planned Parenthood will do nothing to reduce the deficit or improve the economy, it will lead to an increase in unplanned pregnancies and abortions and result in escalating Medicaid costs.
Barring Planned Parenthood from critical federal public health funding would mean these women would face tremendous difficulties finding other health care providers to deliver high-quality reproductive health care. This would only increase these women’s risk of undetected cancer and unintended pregnancy.
In the heated, partisan environment in Washington, it is often forgotten that a Republican ushered the National Family Planning Program into existence. In 1970, President Richard Nixon signed Title X into law as a bipartisan approach to ensuring low-income Americans access to basic reproductive and preventive health care services.
No funding for abortionA point often lost in this debate is this: Not a single cent of Title X funding may be used for abortion services. Not only is this fact stated in the Title X law, but it is also further supported by the Hyde amendment, banning the use of federal funds for abortions: the standard since its enactment in 1976.More than 40 years later, as more women and families are facing difficulties in accessing health care due to increasing costs and a struggling economy, I urge the Congress to ensure women continue to have access to the health care they need and the trusted providers in their community by rejecting efforts to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds and eliminating the Title X family planning program."
In the late 1930s Hitler tried and almost succeeded in murdering all the Jews of Europe. The brutality and inhumanity of that era should be indelibly etched in the minds of all. The depths to which even good people can sink are measured in the stories of survivors and of witnesses.
From that dark period, the United Nations decreed that the land of the Bible should be returned to the Jews who had originally settled there and who were widely dispersed through-out nations. For those who wish to return to the home of their ancestors, there was now a land. From 1948 until 1967 the Arab nations fought the Israelis for this land. In 1967 Israel won a major victory and was able to secure safer borders and to be able to visit its holiest place in Jerusalem. Since that time, there have been numerous calls to go back to the pre-1967 borders. No other country who has been wrongly attacked has had to give back lands that were its own at one time or lands that protect its citizens from threats of annihilation.
The threat of war and the constant barrage of missiles and suicide bombers led Israel to formulate a protective strategy of keeping the "bad guys" out and establishing security zones. The West Bank and Gaza are sealed off from Israel to protect Israeli citizens. Groups like Hamas still want to push Israel into the sea and establish their own restrictive society. Israel's greatest goal is to live in peace with its neighbors but the neighbors do not share the same goal.
What can be done to stop the delegitimization of Israel? Arm yourself with the facts. Run lectures. Invite dialogue with people who have different views.
Be proud of the land of Israel and support it.
March 8 , 2011
Each of these laws is a violation of a family’s right to privacy and an invasion into the private lives of Americans. The very nature of these laws is to promote one group’s morality over the rights of parents. It also promotes real pain and suffering for women and children. While there is no way to measure pain inside the uterus, there is a way to watch the anguish of a baby racked with pain for hours, days or weeks. Whose pain is it? It is our pain if we do not protest against these laws and demand a return to privacy and the rights of the women to make their own determinations.
February 24, 2011
The new morality astounds me. In order to protect a fetus no act is too dire. Speaking from new “pulpits” in Congress and State legislatures, proponents of the culture of life are proposing new methods to circumvent federal law, Constitutional rights and human decency. While claiming to want smaller, less expansive, less intrusive government, these new bills encroach on families’ lives in here-to-fore unimaginable ways. They are twisting the screws so that prochoice advocates will agree to untenable compromises in the hope of saving cherished programs.
This happened during the health care debate with the Stupak Amendment. In order to derail health care, very restrictive abortion measures were proposed. To save health care, compromise was made on these and now it appears that in many states (too numerous to mention - SC is the latest) it will be impossible for women to have insurance, even privately paid from their own wallets, that will cover abortion. Is the real agenda with the Pence Amendment to Defund Planned Parenthood to make Senate Democrats compromise even more on women’s health? Make no mistake when Planned Parenthood loses funding many women and men will lose their access to health care. These funds covered preventative health screenings and visits. The costs to health care both on a state and federal fund will drive up the deficit that Republicans claim that they want to lower. Babies will be born with health issues that will be with them their wholes lives as their parents did not receive prenatal care. Is this caring for the born? If one truly believes in life and the sanctity of life, then providing for these unborn is a priority. Oh, also once they are born, they have to be given health care. How can you defund health care and provide it for the culture of life?
The latest measure in Nebraska, the home of the hostile-to-women-land, is the justifiable homicide one. While this was tabled in South Dakota, Nebraska's legislature has decided it is a good idea. In this one, it is legal to kill anyone who might harm a fetus. So a person who sees a pregnant woman go into a clinic may kill her if he thinks that harm might occur to her fetus. While it might not be the same as stoning a married woman who was accused of adultery, it strongly invokes a feeling of the same mindset.
In the same vein in Georgia, there is proposed legislation to create "uterus police," who would be in charge of investigating any miscarriages, which would be renamed "prenatal murders." A woman undergoing the trauma of a miscarriage would now be subject to an investigation to see if she caused the miscarriage, and possibly be charged with murder. Another violation of the HIPAA Act which protects patient rights and privacy, and another intrusion into women's personal lives.
In South Dakota, there is a frightening proposal that seems to be crossing the line of separation of religion and state (Constitutional issue), the line of privacy between a doctor and patient (government intrusion into a private relationship between a woman and her doctor), and the line between government and the individual. This law boggles the mind. A volunteer or staff person (not a trained professional) would determine a woman’s state of mind when she has decided to have a legal abortion. This same untrained person would have access to a woman’s private medical history. This same untrained person may use a religious argument and try to impose her religious thoughts on the patient. Church-based control of a woman’s right make her own reproductive choices are set forth in this law.
We are confronting a new world where the right to choose for women is under constant assault. We are confronting a new world where it may be legal to kill the woman to save the fetus and once that is done there will be no one to take care of the fetus, if the fetus survives. We are confronting a new world where a woman has no right to medical privacy and where doctors no longer make medical decisions about a woman’s health. We are confronting a world, where established law is being chipped away and where soon abortions will no longer be legal for rich or for poor. We are confronting a new world that screams for all of us to stop the lunacy. Women are not the enemy - these new laws are. These proposed laws take away everyone's freedoms. Will yours be the next?
February 17, 2011
For the past few weeks, we have witnessed the Middle East erupt as people demanded their right to govern. Here in America, we have smugly watched them fight and freely given our advice. Meanwhile in a America, there is an outright war on women. Where are the reporters, the breaking news, the 24-hour coverage? Thank goodness for Rachel Maddow, she gets it. Using facts and real people, she continues to expose the hypocrisy and attacks on women.
Monday night on her show, she had the doctor in Kansas who bravely announced she would continue to perform legal abortions and protect women. Last night, Ms. Maddow told of the wide spread threats against the doctor at her home. She faces threats and intimidation from anti-abortion groups who liken her to a murderer and call for drastic measures. Next week, Ms. Maddow is moving part of her show to Kansas so that America can see the threat to women and the war on the ground.
The war is not just in Kansas, and not just against one doctor. It is in State Houses and the US Congress. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. For good measure, he also amended this bill:
"to stop funding for women's health services, gynecological exams, access to birth control, HIV testing, private care, or infertility counseling. The Continuing Resolution proposed by House Republicans also slashes or eliminates funding for many programs crucial to women's health; it would completely eliminate Title X domestic family planning programs, and would dramatically cut (by $758 million) the Women Infant Children (WIC) program, which provides food for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women."
So let's analyze this: Rep. Pence speaks passionately about believing in a culture of life, but that means before birth. Once the fetus is born, becoming an individual person, that person should not have proper nutrition or support. Women who must nurture an egg into becoming a human being should not have the right medicines and food. And once these children are born, the state no longer cares about them.
If that sounds like a wacky new world, consider the new laws that Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) are proposing where hospitals and doctors may turn away gravely ill women who need abortions to save their lives. In this case, murder the vessel to save the fetus (which in many cases will not survive). So murder of a woman could be a new law. That is not unlike a proposed bill in South Dakota that would have potentially said that killing anyone who might harm a fetus would be justifiable homicide. Wiser head prevailed and the bill has been shelved, for now.
No discussion of this new world reality can be had without noting that in HR 3, Rep. Smith redefined rape to a narrow phrase of "forced rape." Now he is a lexicographer who has a new meaning of rape. Not quite sure what it is, as the very nature of the word means an unwilling sex act, nor has he offered a definition. Despite many promises and public statements following the outcry over this change, he still has not removed the offending word from the bill.
Every day a new legislator comes up a with a way to pass a law that is an end run around established law. Abortion is legal, and yet, it is not in many states. Not only are these state legislatures ignoring established law by passing heartbeat bills, ultrasound bills, fetal pain bills, permission to kill women bills, and personhood bills, but they have all become scientists, doctors and social workers who know medical facts and psychology intuitively.
This lunacy must end. We should fight to rescind the Hyde Amendment. We should assemble in Washington to show that we will not have our lives and freedoms destroyed. We should call, email, and visit our representatives in our states and Washington, DC.
February 9, 2011
I am confused about how to find the check-off box on the Federal Income Tax form that designates where you want your tax dollars to be spent. I actually have spent some time looking for it and cannot find the box to check off my preferences. It must be there as the recent onslaught of anti-abortion bill sponsors are loudly proclaiming that tax dollars should not be used for abortions and that tax payers object to paying for them.
Using fiscal arguments, the Republicans are proposing to severely restrict women’s access to reproductive rights. They are using the new health care law to prevent women from using their own funds to pay for abortions, to disallow tax deductions by businesses who pay for abortion coverage in plans and to cut off funds to health care clinics. Additionally, they want to defund Planned Parenthood whose major function is the providing of health care such as pap smears, mammograms and family planning to lower income women. According to an article in the New York Times, conservatives are energized by their new majority and are determined to push their own anti-abortion priorities. Instead of dealing with jobs they are dealing with abortion.
Democratic leaders like Senators Gillibrand, Boxer, Murray and Blumenthal are fighting back. They promise to stand with women and repel these attacks on the rights and health of more then fifty percent of the population. Senator Lautenberg who joined this group compared the new proposals to “a Third World country that’s requiring women to wear head shawls to cover their faces even if they do not want to.”
As these Senators stand with women, women must stand with them and other women. We must demand that our pro-choice tax payer dollars support women and their health. We demand that women’s lives and health be covered by insurance. We demand that our tax payer dollars help fund Planned Parenthood. We demand that our tax payer dollars be used to help the children who are born to women/girls who have no resources to care for them.
We must demand that our dollars do not belong to their conservative agenda.
Support pro-choice elected officials. JAC supports pro-choice candidates regardless of gender. Donate today. The lives that you save may be yours, your daughters, your friend’s daughter or a woman that you do not know.
February 8, 2011
In the US House, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) included in his No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion (H.R. 3) a provision about “forcible” rape - clearly changing the definition of rape. The outcry was so loud and Jon Stewart so belittling that he promised to removed the term. To date the language remains - is this another empty Republican promise? To make his bill even more dangerous to women he included the same provision that is in H.R. 358, The Protect Life Bill introduced by Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA). This provision says that if a pregnant woman comes to a hospital and is in danger of dying due to medical complication, a hospital can refuse treatment if the treatment would destroy the fetus while saving the mother. To restate this - a fetus is more important than the woman. It is okay to kill the woman. Her life is forfeit, not worth saving. The protected life in this bill is not for the woman. (As an aside, since 1986 all hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding have been bound to provide care in the case of life or death situations regardless of ability to pay and other factors, under EMTALA.)
In Idaho, recently a pharmacist refused to fill a prescription because he thought it was for post-abortion care. This was ruled to be legal based on his not having to give medicine that is against his conscience. The fact that the woman could bleed to death was not considered a matter of conscience.
In Arkansas, a bill is being proposed to limit (prevent) abortion coverage in private insurance plans. In fact, blocking insurance coverage for abortion is being discussed through out the country and in some of the bills in the US House. The intent is to make it impossible for women to have insurance coverage for abortion even in private plans.
Controlling women’s bodies and minds is the real agenda of the 2011 elected Republicans. These draconian laws should not even be discussed in the 21st Century America. For a party that screams about Big Brother, government coming between a doctor and patient, death panels and the right of an individual to bear arms, these attacks on women are the ultimate in hypocrisy. The ultrasounds, the determination of viability, the 100% intervention between a doctor and a patient are glaring examples of a party that wants to force its beliefs on women. Forcing a woman to undergo a procedure like an ultrasound is a violation of her rights. Forcing her to view and/or listen to a description is not only a violation of her rights but sadistic. Forcing a woman to die rather then give her life-saving treatment is murder. Forcing a woman to bear a child she cannot care for is Big Brother in 2011.
Silence is unacceptable. The outrage against the forcible rape language may have caused Rep. Smith to change his language. The outrage at all of these laws must be loud and persuasive. Please contact your elected representatives. Please join JAC in Washington May 5 as we visit our elected representatives and let them know we are watching and expect them to support our rights. We will not accept Big Brother in 2011.
January 21, 2011
Tomorrow is the 38th anniversary of Roe vs Wade becoming the law of land. And it is still being debated as if the Supreme Court had not ruled and as if it were still up to states and the US legislatures to take away a woman's basic right to own her body. The day will be commemorated with a weekend of anti-abortion marches, vigils against Planned Parenthood, targeting the few abortion providers we have, and a host of events designed to promote the anti-abortion forces. The shrill voices of the anti-abortion movement are drowning out the pro-choice, women's rights voices.
On January 18 ABC News reported that Randall Terry plans to run against President Obama next year. His campaign, beginning with that great political event--The Super Bowl--will attempt to run very graphic anti-abortion ads. It is up to all of us to write CBS and demand that they reject this type of ad. We all remember the infamous failure of costuming that led to a nano section boob exposure and the outcry. Surely, showing graphic pictures would fall into a category of not belonging on tv?
NPR's Julie Rovner reports that Speaker Boehner claims, "A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the people, and it ought to be the will of the land." The Congress that was elected to work foremost on jobs is now focusing on its real agenda. First, the symbolic vote on repeal of the "job-killing health care" bill. Note, no new legislation was introduced to replace this. They also broke their own rules of showing where the Constitution allows this new law and how the repeal reduces the deficit. According to the neutral Congressional Budget Office, the current bill reduces the deficit. Oh, well, rules are for everyone else, not those who wrote them.
January 18, 2011
Words Have Consequences
The first urgent business for the incoming 112th Congress was supposed to be a call to repeal the health care bill. Proclaiming a mandate, newly elected Congressional members and incumbents were on message about ObamaCare and what the American people want. They decried the mandatory purchase of health insurance and the penalty for refusing to do so. While they focused on the "will of the people," as they read it from the results of the midterm elections, they were very busy planning the will of the conservatives to enact new, highly restrictive abortion laws.
To start off the new session and the first of many assaults on abortion, Representative Mike Pense (R-Ind) has written a bill with the catchy title, "Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act (HR 217)." He was able to garner over 122 co-sponsors to this bill, which literally would make organizations that offer abortion services with their own funds ineligible for federal Title X grants. These grants fund family planning and other preventive health services. Pense cites Planned Parenthood as one of his major targets, but claims that funding for organizations that do family planning but do not offer abortions could keep their funds. Hmm, which ones? Are they faith based? Are they violating separation of church and state? There is already a law prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortions in Title X programs, so what is the real agenda?
And on the theory of let’s repeat ourselves on the no taxpayer funds for abortions theme, Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) has insisted that the Congress needs yet another law restricting taxpayer funding of abortions. The Hyde Amendment covers this but that does not seem to stop new legislation. Smith has introduced the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 5939)," and currently has 185 co-sponsors. This bill was highlighted in the Pledge to
On another front in
In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell is considering backing a law that will impose more regulations on abortion clinics. He is also looking into the high rates of abortions in metropolitan areas. If Rep. Pense’s legislation to defund Planned Parenthood is passed, then the Governor may find that pregnancy rates climb even higher as low income teens have no places for counseling. If these teens cannot receive contraceptive information, the state may be overwhelmed with either botched abortions from backroom alleys or have their Medicaid funds stretched to pay for these dependent children. In many cases, this applies to the mother and the child.
For a comprehensive list of legislative trends in 2010, RHReality has a very well written article. As always, you can find a list of laws by state that have been passed since the murder of George Tiller on our blog under Reproductive Choice.
Whether on a state or a federal level, conservatives are mounting a full frontal assault on the rights of women. When women control their bodies, they control their destinies. When laws control their bodies, they become trapped by their own biology. Roe vs Wade is under attack. We can no longer count on a Supreme Court that will rule on precedent. We can no longer count on a Congress that will stop this attack. Over the past year we have seen women’s reproductive rights being compromised again and again for other issues. We can only count on ourselves to confront this challenge.
January 11, 2011
The story of a paraplegic using a device to allow him to rise from his chair and walk was recently featured on Glee. This is the stuff of science fiction and it gives hope to many people who expect to spend their days in wheelchairs. Rewalk is now being used in some US hospitals.
Sight is a precious sense and the loss of it as one ages is a fear many experience. In July, the FDA gave approval for the use of CentraSight, a tiny implantable telescope that gives people with end stage AMD (age-related macular degeneration) improved vision. While the technology is not available yet, it will be embraced by many and holds promise for additional technology for visual impairments.
Israel 21c writes of the top ten innovations of the last year. Starting with revolutionary glasses that deal with problems caused by bifocal and multifocal lenses to a new sniff device that will allow paralyzed people to surf the web, communicate and steer their wheelchairs. The work includes solar energy innovations, airport security and even smartphones. It appears that there is no limit to the scope of Israeli innovations.
Generally, discussions of Israel center on the political atmosphere. The opinions are as diverse as the Jewish people and the world. There are no simple solutions for resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But we can further our support of Israel by recognizing the developments that flow from there to the US and the world.
At JAC we believe in a strong US-Israel relationship. It is clear that the US greatly benefits from the many scientific and technological inventions that originate in Israel. Support this relationship by coming to DC with us to work for a continuation of a strong bond between Israel and the US.
January 8, 2011
This week while I was in DC attending the Swearing-In ceremonies at the Capitol someone remarked about the incredible security to get into the Senate, House and Capitol. She commented that since so many legislators believe that it is an individual liberty to have guns in public places that they should be willing to have guns brought into their spaces. Of course, she was not advocating this but ironically discussing the danger of guns.
And now we have the tragic shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and 11 or 12 other people. At this time the news is grim. The Congresswoman is in critical condition, 6 others were killed and 5 others wounded. This incident speaks to why guns are dangerous and should not be easily owned or worn.
It is with tears and a full heart that I watch the unfolding news about the shooting. On Wednesday I attended a reception in the Congresswoman's office. Her staff was eager to begin working on legislation and ready to work on her priorities for her constituents and the country. There was a long line to go into her private office and speak with her. I can picture her as she stood there in her tweed suit with a new hairdo and a brilliant smile. She told us she had had a hard fight and was eager to begin the new Congressional session. We promised to meet with her soon to discuss our mutual interests. Then we walked over to her mother who spoke so proudly of her daughter. And we expressed our thoughts about how wonderful Gabby is.
As JAC president, I have had the privilege to spend time with her and can say with no reservations that she is an incredible woman who believes in an America that is for everyone. As we wait for news, we can only pray that she and the other wounded will survive. And as we wait, we should view this shooting as a wake up. The heated rhetoric and passionate discourse about targets and the use of the second Amendment can lead to actions such as this one. In July there was a twitter calling for the violent removal of Giffords. Join us in Washington as we advocate for an end to the angry dialogue by politicians. It is time that we demand that partisan politics remain civil and that our politicians think before they issue a call to arms.
January 3, 2011
The Choice Is A Woman's
Many years ago I read a novel about a judge who was virulently anti-abortion. His rulings were so extreme and so anti-choice that a group of women decided to teach him the realities of childbearing. A doctor was able to implant a womb into him and impregnated him.
The book chronicles his 10 months of pregnancy, and of course, he has an entirely different perspective on choice.
As I read Russ Douthat's column in today's NY Times my mind wandered back to this novel. Part of his premise is that abortion is preventing many white unmarried women from carrying unwanted, unplanned babies to term then giving them up for adoption. Would he feel the same way if he were the one who was pregnant? He also cites an article from the November 28, 2010 issue of New York Magazine to say that the pill has created a biological unreality for women and their fertility and they now regret using it. So now we see the attacks begin. The Pill is the enemy of women who want to be pregnant. As we listen to Speaker Boehner who wants to remove the pill as preventative care from the new health care bill, we can understand the seeds that are becoming part of the media narrative. The Pill, which liberated women and made them able to prevent unwanted pregnancies, is under attack.
Let's look at this paradox: the pill prevents pregnancy thereby eliminating the need for abortion, but the conservatives want to eliminate the pill and encourage more births. But they also want to cut entitlement programs to care for these children. Now that is a paradox that confounds me every time I hear the discussions about cutting spending and restricting abortion.
The Times article ends with a poem about a heartbeat. The only thing that I hear is the drum beat of a war against reproductive rights.
January 2, 2011
December 22, 2010
President Obama had to compromise his principles with the Bush tax extensions, but in so doing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was passed. The New Start Treaty was ratified today. Much good came from the compromise. Of course, there were losses with the Dream Act but Latino voters now understand where they need to increase their voter registration and work to elect different Congressional Representatives. Another loss was the International Child Marriage act that failed because of the anti-abortion faction. Now women and men must work to elect people who believe in the right to marry when one chooses, not forced or sold into marriage at a young age. The ban for women in the military forces overseas to pay for abortions was side lined. We cannot neglect these women and must fight for them. It is time for pro-choice people to get off their duffs and work to elect representatives who will ensure their rights.
I know we can move forward, but it must be done together. This legislation required input from all of us to get passed. Calls were made, emails were sent, petitions were signed, and voices were heard. We must continue to make ourselves heard, to be a nation of the people, especially during the upcoming 112th Congress. The new House Leadership has already stated it wants to repeal the advances we have made as a country. The Senate Minority Leader has declared their role is to make sure President Obama only serves one term, not to legislate and move our country forward. We must make ourselves heard, we must stand together, and we must not give up now.
As the 111th Congress and 2010 come to a close, please consider joining JAC if you have not done so or making a year-end contribution. Plan on joining us in Washington this spring to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, join our Facebook page, join our email list to receive updates and action alerts, and share us with your friends.
Legislatively the past two years have been good for the country. Today I heard the President that I voted for and I know that he can and we can go forward.
Notable Legislation passed by the 111th Congress:
The 111th Congress has been noted recently as passing more legislation affecting Americans than any since "The Great Society" of the 1960s, with some historians noting that this Congress has produced legislative output that may rival any other since the New Deal in scope and ambition. Here are the highlights of what has been passed in the 111th Congress:
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
- Cash for Clunkers
- Wall Street Reform
- Health Care Reform
- HIRE Act (Jobs Package)
- Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell
- Tax Relief Package
- Small Business Lending Fund
- Lilly Ledbeter Fair Pay Act
- Children's Health Insurance Program
- Child Nutrition Act
- Food Safety Act
- First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit
- Travel Promotion Act
- Housing Loan Modification
- Fraud Enforcement & Recovery Act
- Pigford/Cobell Settlement
- Credit Card Regulations
- Education Funding/Student Loan Reform
- FMAP Funding
- Tobacco Regulation
- Public and Management Act
- National Service Programs
- Weapons Acquisition Overhaul
- Defense Appropriation & Supplemental
- Hate Crimes Prevention
- Veterans Caregiver Assistance
- Iran Sanctions
- CALM Act - Sound regulation on television
- COBRA Extension
- Unemployment Benefits Extensions
- Community Radio Act
- Tribal Law and Order Act
- Confirmation of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court
- Ratification of the START Treaty
- 9/11 First Responders Health Bill
From the list sent out by Senate Democrats
For those of you who care, let our gift be to the women and children who are forced into marriage, servitude or who cannot control their own bodies or who are raped or trapped by their biology. Let our gift to them be our voices in Congress. Let's pledge to be as persistent as any other civil rights movement.
December 12, 2010
Genetically, they are double X’s. But that is the only common bond. What do these new women offer women? They offer a return to the days before Roe vs Wade. They are so anti-abortion that do not believe in exceptions for rape and incest. They would have 13 year-olds bear children of their rapist but would not vote for any social services to help them once they were born. Angle would demolish the department of education so that they could not be educated. O’Donnell would invade their bedrooms and their science classes. Palin would teach them to wear guns in public.
These anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-contraception, anti-stem cell, anti-gun control, anti-ecology, anti-social security positions are a striking mockery of the inroads that women have made in the last 90 years. Their policies would set women back a century.
Our pride in Hillary Clinton was in her ability to articulate the means to improve our world and to shape the path toward those means. She challenged us to work on behalf of women not against them. Please continue that work by voting for the right person not the gender.
BREAKING NEWS Senator Kerry just canceled the Senate Foreign Relations I-VAWA mark-up meeting scheduled for today. If with a Democratic majority in the Senate and the House and with bipartisan support, this bill cannot even go to a mark up in committee what will happen if the majorities change? When a bill that works for stopping violence against women cannot even have a hearing, one wonders at the forces at work.
Yesterday I asked how far will forces against choice go? Here are a few examples:
Janice Shaw in a column at townhall.com writes that I-VAWA is an anti-family, gender quota and abortion-push bill. She seems determined to proove that a lot of reports of abuse are false, and if they happen, it is in non-traditional family situations. It is frightening to read her view of this bill and only serves to prove why passage is so important.
According to ifeminists.com "A coalition of women’s organizations, men’s groups, pro-family advocates, and victim advocacy organizations had lobbied against the bill, saying it would promote a gender ideology, discriminate against male victims, and do little to address the known causes of domestic violence." The Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) also worked against I-VAWA’s passage, noting “India and other countries have had extensive experience with such abuse-reduction laws, which have had a disastrous impact on our society.”
It is even more imperative that you call or email your Senators and Representatives and ask them to urge for a vote on I-VAWA.
September 29, 2010
How far can "pro-life" groups (anti-choice) go to thwart women? These organizations continue to block comprehensive health programs in the name of a culture of life. With that said, expect them to rail against The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) which is being brought up by The Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.
I-VAWA is a bipartisan effort to pass legislation that would address world-wide violence against women. This bill arose from the frightening statistic that that one out of every three women will be physically, sexually or culturally abused during her lifetime. In some countries the rate is close to 70%.
If passed, I-VAWA would allow the U.S. government to create a thorough, five-year plan to reduce violence in countries that have the highest levels of incidence against women and girls. The bill would acknowledge that violence against women, particularly rape, has reached almost epidemic conditions. It also would address the economic and health issues that threaten women world-wide. Additionally, the bill will allow our government to study and work against honor killings, stonings, female genital mutilation and human trafficking.
This bill has bicameral, bipartisan support. And what could be more American than working to support the rights of women? Again, anti-choice proponents see this as a threat to their opposition to choice. They tend to see most legislation that helps women achieve equal rights and protections as threats. In Lifenews, an article refers to I-VAWA as such a threat.
Stopping violence against women is just that -- it is stopping violence against women. Please call or email your Senators and Representatives and ask them to vote for I-VAWA. Once you contact them, let us know about it. Send the information to friends and have them contact Congress. We cannot allow another legislative session end without passage.
The Tea Party scored huge victories in Tuesday's primaries in Delaware and New York. Inflamed, enthused voters ousted the Republican Party-endorsed candidates and selected angry, ultra-conservative candidates who see no real role for the federal government and who want to repeal almost all social programs and restrict abortion rights.
Anger, poverty, joblessness are fueling the flames of discontent that inspire the Tea Party. Much of the anger is directed at Washington and the expansive role of the government. But interestingly, many of these activists want "the government out of the their Medicare" and want to continue drawing social security. It is as if the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Or like the people marching do not really understand what these anti-government candidates like Rand Paul, Carl Paladino and Christine O'Donnell are espousing.
They voted for Christine O'Donnell who is so far to the right that Karl Rove described her as nutty. Today's New York Times discusses the many problems that she has, including questionable use of campaign funds.
And no mention of Christine O'Donnell can fail to look at her extreme position on sexuality. Ms. O'Donnell believes in government staying out of peoples lives but believes that masturbation should not occur in one's bedroom and that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape. Ms. O'Donnell is such a flawed, ill-equipped candidate that her campaign would be a joke if there were not a chance that the Tea Party will rally its voters to come out and moderates and liberals will sulk at home.
Just as concerning is who is funding her campaign. She raised very little money in her state. Most of it came from out of state. The Tea Party candidates are receiving huge donations from companies and groups that do not have to disclose themselves. Are these donors pulling the strings and manipulating sincere voters into believing that they have their interests at heart?
Mr. Paladino, who is a blunt man with outrageous views about social programs like people on welfare going to prisons to collect their checks and who is unapologetic about racist comments, pornographic emails and inflammatory language against Sheldon Silver, is reaching into his own deep pockets to pay for his campaign. (New York Times) But that was yesterday. He will more than likely receive many outside donations.
Funds are flowing into all these campaigns, tea party activists are driving the get out the vote.
It is time for most of America to wake up, see what is going on and get some fire before many of the programs that we all treasure and need are dismantled and before many of our rights are restricted.
Women, we have come a long since the certification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Today we salute all the valiant women who risked their homes, families, reputations and limbs to ensure that women were treated as equals and could become active participants in their country. These women left us a legacy that we must cherish and we must not neglect. Sometimes life and a myriad of activities pulls us in six different directions. Make time for being active in the policies of our country.
An ideal place to start is being a part of JAC's efforts to press for ratification of CEDAW. CEDAW is the working abbreviation for a UN treaty, Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Violence Against Women. This treaty was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly and in use by 1981. The purpose of te treaty was to formally acknowledge that woman and girls have fundamental human rights and equality. It works to end slave trafficking and domestic violence, to empower women to have their own businesses and to end forced marriages.
To date 186 countries have formally ratified this treaty in their home countries - 6 have not: Sudan, Somalia, Iran, 3 small Pacific Island Nations and the United States of America.
Shocked? We are. Twice before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in a bipartisan vote voted for the ratification. It never made it out of committee to the floor of the Senate where 67 votes are needed for ratification. JAC is actively pursuing different avenues to educate the public and to work with members of the Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate.
It is hard to fathom why the US has not ratified the treaty and become a full partner in the effort. The reasons do not matter but your help does. Please contact JAC on our facebook page or through this blog and find out what you can do to help. As we commemorate the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, make CEDAW part of the legacy of women's rights.
August 25, 2010
Rape is a tool of war. What better way to destroy a society then to violate a woman or child in front of the family? The horror of this act does not seem to penetrate the world's conscious.
August 24, 2010
Why You Have to Vote
August 22, 2010
In an article last weekend The New York Times had a moving article that spoke about women's rights in Afghanistan being in jeopardy as America begins its withdrawal. Over the last few years women have been elected to participate in the government, owned and run businesses and had the right to go to school. Of course, they had to look out for acid-throwing Taliban henchmen as they ventured out of their homes. At the moment it appears that no women are part of the discussion of making a truce with the Taliban. If there is no outcry, these women will once again go behind the veil and another generation of women will be lost.
Men like Greg Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute have worked hard for the last 15 or so years to build schools, particularly for women, in Pakistan and Afghanistan. What will happen to these wonderful places of learning? How do we allow this to happen?
As our government plans to leave, we must insure that women maintain the rights that they have. We cannot abandon these women. We can fight for these women and women world-wide by asking our Senators to please ratify the UN treaty, CEDAW (the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women). The treaty passed by 186 other countries was first introduced in 1977. The US stands with Iran and like countries in not passing this treaty. It is time that we women stand up and shout out that discrimination against women is unacceptable. Call, write, bother your Senators to ratify this treaty.
Visit us at www.jacpac.org.
May 6, 2010
The Tennessee Legislature just passed a law that places an additional burden on a woman seeking an abortion. In the latest attack on abortion rights, this law says that none of the Tennessee State health exchanges, public or private, can offer an abortion option. The legislators claim that the public is concerned that the funds are fungible.
If funds are so easily mixed, we need to address the whole issue of any tax payment going where the funds could be fungible. According to that logic, then our religious organizations should not be getting funds from the government since these funds too must be fungible.
While I really don't want my tax dollars to be spent on many things, like financing the Iraq War, I understand that my personal beliefs cannot dictate the way each dollar is spent. Why is it that only a woman's right to have an abortion falls into this category?
Write your legislators and help us stop this rush to make women second-class citizens.