Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

January 28, 2013

When it Comes to Abortion Rights, the Issue is Access

Although we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Roe last week, access to abortion is not only difficult for many women, but legislators are working to make it even more difficult.

On Saturday, Melissa Harris-Perry opened a discussion on her show with these remarks:

Before 1973′s Roe v. Wade, complications from abortion was the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age. This was especially true for women of color. As access to abortion once again narrows, it puts women’s lives in danger. So while much of the debate about reproductive rights is focused on the legal interpretation and the Constitution and the bodily rights of women, we can’t forget the basic issue of access. [...] Access is the frontier on which we need to be fighting. 

It was a great conversation (watch above if you missed it!), and we were thrilled to see Steph Herold, a New York Abortion Access Fund board member and a contributor to the new edition of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” (which we’re aiming to send to all members of Congress; learn more here), and Feministing editor Chloe Angyal taking part in the round table, along with The Nation editor/publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel and Demos senior fellow Bob Herbert.

Herold talked about the implications of the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has banned Medicaid coverage of abortion, and how that limits access for low-income women.

“We really believe that however people feel about abortion, politicians shouldn’t be be able to deny women health care coverage just because they’re poor,” said Herold.

As legislatures reconvene for the new year, we’re keeping an eye on proposed bills that further restrict access to abortion.

In the states:
Proposed bills in Arkansas would prohibit all abortions after 20 weeks, ban the practice of remotely prescribing medication for abortions (otherwise known as telemedicine), and ban abortion coverage in health insurance exchanges.

A bill has been introduced in Florida to ban all abortions except in medical emergencies and to sentence abortion providers (or those who assist or own/run clinics) with up to life to prison. The bill has failed in previous years.

The previously defeated personhood bill is back in Oklahoma.

You may have seen news of a New Mexico bill from Republican state Rep. Cathrynn Brown, which would make it a felony for a woman to have an abortion if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. The bill frames such abortions as “evidence tampering.”

Brown claims the bill is being misunderstood; at the very least, it’s poorly written, as it very clearly prohibits not only “compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion” but also “procuring or facilitating an abortion.” The bill is reportedly being re-written; advocates should keep an eye out for clarification of the language.

Here’s another summary on more abortion restrictions being proposed around the country.

At the federal level:
Multiple bills have been proposed by Tennessee lawmakers to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X family planning funding (here’s my personal take as a Tennessean).

A bill has been introduced to define “life” as starting at fertilization.

Other bills would require hospital admitting privileges nationwide for abortion providers (a medically unnecessary move intended to restrict access), and would criminalize people who take a minor across state lines to access abortion, including a sister or aunt as well as other relatives and friends.

January 22, 2013

Roe Round-Up: Analysis on the 40th Anniversary of Legalized Abortion

Lizz Winstead, Daily Show co-creator and producer, has a message for what’s at stake on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

On the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, we celebrate four decades of legal abortion — which has undoubtedly changed and saved many women’s live. Yet we recognize there is still much work to be done.

To help change policy and to ensure that all legislators understand the basics about women’s bodies and reproduction, OBOS has re-opened the campaign to send copies of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to every member of Congress.

Let your friends and colleagues know there’s still time to join the campaign — we’ll be delivering the books to D.C. starting in late February.

OBOS is also taking part in Trust Women Week to urge policy makers to support reproductive justice and access to contraception and abortion. You can add your name to a petition that will be sent to legislators. If you’re in San Francisco, there’s an event this Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Justin Herman Plaza.

Many organizations and individuals are covering the anniversary today from a variety of personal and political perspectives. Below are some interesting commentaries and reminders of what has been accomplished and how we can work to ensure access for all women. Please leave your favorite links in the comments.

At reddit, two abortion clinic workers have answered a wide variety of questions from readers.

Kimberly Inez McGuire of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health spoke at a Center for American Progress panel on Roe 2.0: Strategies for the Next Generation of Reproductive Rights Activism. Also, check out the group’s new Yo Te Apoyo (I Support You) campaign and Roe v. Wade 40 years later: Latinas weigh in on abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is holding their annual Blog for Choice day; expect links to many posts on the topic of personal stories and abortion.

Planned Parenthood has a 40th anniversary video.

The author at Deana’s blog, a professor of sociology, talks about the new study documenting attacks on pregnant women’s autonomy (see our recent post on this issue).

The National Women’s Law Center encourages us all to write our legislators to support abortion access and stand against restrictions.

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health have made available online the documentary “Voices of Choice: Physicians Who Provided Abortions Before Roe v. Wade.” The film includes interviews with Bylle Avery, founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project, and Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was murdered.

The 1 in 3 campaign, a project of Advocates for Youth, provides stories from individuals who’ve had an abortion. The organization has also released a book of stories and resources for college campuses.

Shanelle Matthews has a powerful story and insightful commentary at The Crunk Feminist Collective: The story that’s taken ten years to tell: On abortion, race and the power of story. Here’s an excerpt:

The narrative that abortion gives women and transpeople an opportunity to live the rest of our lives, to become a doctor or a lawyer or whatever isn’t true for everyone. For some of us, abortion just provides one more day. One more day to live our lives exactly the way we want to. For some of us the decision isn’t political, it’s essential. It is essential to taking care of the children we already have, to circumventing difficult medical experiences or to just not be pregnant. There is nothing heroic about having an abortion. It is an essential part of reproductive health care.

Bridgette Dunlap at RH Reality Check describes an unusual argument for the legality of abortion, resting not in the right to privacy but in the 13th Amendment forbidding slavery and involuntary servitude. This argument suggests the government may not outlaw abortion, because “to do so would be to require physical service from a woman for the benefit of a fetus.”

Flyover Feminism is hosting a week-long series on reproductive rights.

In Mississippi, the state’s only abortion clinic may close. Coverage includes “Inside Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic,” from Mother Jones, and “In Jackson, Mississippi, Southern Hospitality and Food for Thought on Access to Abortion“ at RH Reality Check.

Monica Raye Simpson, Executive Director of SisterSong issued a statement celebrating Roe but highlighting the bigger picture: “We need to discuss how issues such as economics, immigration reform, interpersonal violence, rape and lack of comprehensive sexual education are all a part of the equation needed for reproductive justice to be achieved.”

Jill Filipovic in “Roe v Wade at 40: what American women owe to abortion rights” writes about the ongoing struggle to make reproductive rights accessible to all women:

The primary victims of the pro-life strategy are poor women. The pro-life movement has stepped up its legislative game in the past two years, introducing and passing record-breaking numbers of anti-choice laws in 2011 and keeping the victories coming in 2012. They’ve made it not only hard to get an abortion, but to get birth control, sex ed and health care generally.

The result is that Roe’s promise of abortion rights isn’t available to large swaths of the American population.

The National Women’s Law Center explains that the health care reform allows states to pass laws banning private insurance coverage of abortion in state exchange plans, meaning that “in twenty states, a woman will not be allowed to purchase an exchange-based health plan that covers abortion services, and also may not be able to purchase a plan that provides insurance coverage for abortion at all.”

As we were saying, there’s plenty of work left to do.

January 3, 2013

Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary Events

This January 22 marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.

Many local and national pro-choice and reproductive justice organizations will be holding events to mark this anniversary. Here are a couple we know about, including one we’re excited to co-sponsor with many great organizations in our home state. Know of others or want to share your own? Please tell us in the comments!

Roe v Wade 40th anniversary Massachusetts eventIn Massachussetts, we’re co-sponsoring the Roe v. Wade 40th Anniversary Legislative Breakfast and Lobby Day at the State House on January 14. You can sign up to attend the breakfast, with keynote speaker Paula Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and/or the lobby events, a chance for you to meet with elected officials after a brief advocacy training. Please sign up online to participate.

In Manhattan on Jan 14, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health is hosting “Roe Revealed: Doctors Tell Their Stories on the 40th Anniversary of Legalized Abortion,” with Dr. Willie Parker, Dr. Linda Prine, and a special guest. The event with these abortion providers is $20; additional tickets are required for the reception.

NARAL Pro-Choice America is holding its annual Blog for Choice Day on Jan 22. This year, they’re asking participants to share their own stories of why they’re pro-choice. As usual, you can sign up online to join in.

While there’s plenty of reason to celebrate 40 years of Roe, legislative attacks on reproductive and sexual health and choice continue around the country. In 2011 alone, U.S. lawmakers enacted 92 abortion-restricting provisions in bills designed to curtail women’s rights to health services. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that number shattered the previous single-year record of 34 such provisions enacted in 2005. Such laws make it more difficult, and painful, for women to exercise their legal right to terminate a pregnancy.

What will you do this year to ensure reproductive justice for all? For starters, check out Our Bodies, Our Votes, our resource for fighting back against attacks on women’s health and rights. While you’re there, order a sticker and submit your picture to our awesome Click It, Stick It, Share It tumblr.

History of Abortion in the U.S. – an “Our Bodies, Ourselves” excerpt
The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: A Teachable Moment, by Linda K. Kerber

November 7, 2012

Our Bodies, Our Votes: Election 2012 Highlights

Last night, the War on Women suffered a setback — due largely to women voters who used the ballot to re-elect President Barack Obama and to push back against absurd, insulting and just plain offensive comments about rape and women’s bodies.

As Veronica Arreola posted on Facebook:

Two of the biggest losers last night were the gentlemen who claimed that women have magic wombs that stop pregnancy from occurring during legitimate rape and if it does happen, it was a gift from God. The magic was in our votes, ladies. We’ve had it all along.

Erin Gloria Ryan’s post at Jezebel is succinctly titled “Team Rape Lost Big Last Night.” Read it for a complete look at races around the country.

Some highlights …

Missouri Rep. Todd Akin failed to unseat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, causing Twitter to explode with a new round of Akin-related humor, like “Claire McCaskill legitimately wins and shuts that whole Akin thing down!”

John Koster was defeated by Suzan DelBene in Washington state — Koster famously referred to “the rape thing” and confused one woman’s choice with controlling all women’s choices: “I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption and doesn’t regret it.”

And in Illinois, Rep. Joe Walsh, who doesn’t believe abortion is ever necessary to save the life or health of a mother, lost to challenger Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs in combat.

For more analysis, Bryce Covert at The Nation examines the impact of politicians’ misogyny on the election outcomes, and concludes: “Score one for women’s rights, zero for attempts to control their bodies.”


Our Bodies, Our Votes …

“Our Bodies, Ourselves” turned up in a number of tweets last night. Anne Elizabeth Moore, who led The Ladydrawers on the road trip to deliver “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to the offices of Akin and McCaskill, posted this upon news of Akin’s defeat:

hey @RepToddAkin, now maybe you’ll finally have time to get crackin at all those books @oboshealth and @TheLadydrawers dropped off!

We heartily second that recommendation.

Following the defeat of Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock — who recently said, “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen” — Jason Lefkowitz tweeted: ”And in Indiana, Mourdock has officially been buried under a massive pile of hardback copies of ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves.’”

Jason Cherkis also took note of the upsets, tweeting: ”GOP furiously buying ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ on Amazon.”

No need; with the public’s help, we’ll deliver the book to each and every member of Congress (41 days left to make this happen!).


Big gains for women and marriage equality …

binders full of women headed for the u.s. senateWe now have a record number of women in Senate, with 20 women Senators elected.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator, and the first woman senator from Wisconsin. Rep. Mazie Hirono became the first woman senator from Hawaii as well as the first Japan-born immigrant to be elected to the Senate and the first Buddhist.

Another big success last night was the passage of ballot measures in Maine and Maryland approving same-sex marriage, the first time it has been made legal through a popular vote. An amendment to ban same-sex marriage was defeated in Minnesota.

We’re still waiting to hear for sure about Washington state, but early returns are promising. Same-sex marriage is now legal in eight states as well as in Washington, D.C.

More good news: Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins is staying on the bench – he had been targeted for removal because of his role in the legalization of gay marriage in that state.


Mixed results on abortion-related measures …

Abortion-related measures were considered in two states. In Florida, voters defeated Amendment 6, which would have prevented state employees from using their healthcare coverage for most abortions, and would have affected privacy rights in a way that could have led to further restrictions.

In Montana, voters approved a parental notification measure requiring girls under age 16 to notify a parent or seek judicial bypass prior to terminating a pregnancy.


Lessons learned and work to be done …

Akiba Solomon at Colorlines shares “Five Race and Gender Justice Lessons Learned from This Marathon Election Cycle,” including this important point: “The Republican-led war on abortion, Title X-funded reproductive health care and contraceptive access was—and still is—a war on poor women of color and their families.”

And if anyone needs a reminder of the work we still have before us, On the Issues magazine has appropriately titled its fall issue “The Day After.”

From the editor’s note: “On wide-ranging issues — the economy to the environment, reproductive freedom to voting freedom, sexuality to media representation — our writers, artists and thinkers in The Day After remind us to extend our vision beyond the ballot box to where we need to place our energies, build our muscles and put our feet on the ground every day of the year.”

In other words, it’s time to get busy — again.

September 28, 2012

My Body is Mine! – Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion

Sept 28 Global Day of Action: Accessible Legal Safe Abortion

Globally, 47,000 deaths occur each year as a result of unsafe abortion, accounting for 13 percent of all maternal mortality.

Today, activists are calling attention to the need for safe, legal abortion in all countries, urging scrutiny of governments that restrict or forbid abortion.

The Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion campaign site includes a public statement that reads in part:

[P]regnancy-related deaths and unsafe abortion remain a major public health problem in large parts of the world. Most countries that allow women to die in childbirth also allow them to die and suffer from unsafe abortions. Why? Because they do not value women’s health and lives, including when they are pregnant. This is what makes women’s right to safe abortion a public health and human rights issue.

The number of maternal deaths has declined substantially globally between 1990 and 2008, while the number of deaths from unsafe abortion has fallen to 47,000 per year in 2008. However, the proportion of all maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion has not been reduced but remained at 13% of all maternal deaths in that period. In 2008, of the 43.8 million induced abortions globally, 21.6 million were unsafe, 98% of them in developing countries. (Sedgh et al, Lancet 2012) And an estimated 5 million of those 21.6 million women each year had to be hospitalised for treatment of complications of unsafe abortion, (Singh et al, Lancet 2007) putting a heavy burden on scarce hospital resources (up to 50% of hospital maternity beds in some countries). [...]

Adolescent girls suffer the most from complications of unsafe abortion and have the highest unmet need for contraception. More than 40% (8.7 million) of the 21.2 million unsafe abortions in developing countries in 2008 were in young women aged 15–24 years. Of these, 3.2 million were adolescents aged 15–19 years, and 5.5 million were aged 20–24 years. (Shah, RHM May 2012)

The website also explains the clinical, legal and social health determinants that characterize what is meant by “unsafe abortion”:

  • Illegal or legally restricted
  • Dangerous method
  • Untrained/unskilled provider
  • Unsafe conditions
  • Self-induced without help or information
  • Incorrect usage (of pills)
  • Little or no access to treatment for complications
  • Stigma and fear and isolation
  • Violence, rejection (by family, school, work) and murder, including of doctors providing abortion care
  • Threat of prosecution
  • Prosecution and imprisonment

Actions taking place around the globe are listed here by country. A letter has been written by young feminists to the United Nations, urging the UN to commit to women’s reproductive rights as human rights in upcoming negotiations. You can sign on to the letter via this petition site.

You can also keep up with the campaign on Twitter at @mybodycampaign and via the hashtag #safeabortion.

August 11, 2009

Anti-Abortion Militants Visit George Tiller’s Killer – And Women’s Health Advocates Ask Why

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Rachel Maddow devoted more than seven minutes of Monday night’s show to the elevated threat against doctors who provide abortions, noting that “perpertrators of violence [against doctors] are not just being turned into martyrs — they’re being turned into leaders.”

The coverage was sparked by a Kansas City Star story on the high number of anti-abortion rights activists who have been visiting and communicating with Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing abortion doctor George Tiller.

The list, writes Judy L. Thomas, “reads like a who’s who of anti-abortion militants”:

Two convicted clinic bombers. The man behind the Army of God Web site. Several activists who once signed a declaration that defended the killing of abortion doctors.

And federal agents have now talked to many of them. [...]

The federal investigation into the possible existence of a conspiracy began after Tiller — one of a handful of doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions — was shot in his Wichita church on May 31 while serving as an usher. Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, was charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty, and a trial is scheduled for Sept. 21.

Roeder’s bond was originally set at $5 million, but a judge raised it to $20 million after Roeder called The Associated Press on June 7 and warned that there were “many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal.”

Maddow’s guest, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, said that visitors to the county jail where Roeder is being held are parading “in broad daylight, almost in defiance that the government will do anything about it.”

Meanwhile, Jodi Jacobson reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has removed the federal marshals assigned to protect Dr. Leroy Carhart, whose clinic in Nebraska has long been the target of protests. Carhart recently said he intends to open another clinic in Kansas.

June 3, 2009

Support & Honor Women’s Health Care Providers and the George Tiller Memorial Fund

Dr. George Tiller’s murder offers us all an opportunity to reflect upon and honor the work of so many women’s health care professionals who continue to offer abortion services despite ongoing threats to themselves and their families.

That such a kind and dedicated human being could be attacked and killed like this sends all of us reeling once again. How is it that those who purport to care about life can spew forth the kind of hateful rhetoric that foments destructive passions in already unstable individuals like Dr. Tiller’s attacker?

I think about a few physicians I know who have had to walk around their communities wearing bullet-proof vests. Even though there has not been a shooting like this one in some years, they are well aware of the recent increase of harassment and violent incidents related to abortion clinics in this country.

Terrorist behavior like this is designed to deter other women’s health care practitioners from providing abortion services. And it is precisely because of this that we must all be outspoken in our support of all physicians willing to provide such services — and of the women who seek these services.

Widespread community resolve and solidarity will be key to our ability to restore a civil society in which such acts of violence will not be met with so many cheers by those who would use any means to stop women from having abortions. We now need to find more ways to honor and support women’s health providers like Dr. Tiller.

This week I re-read the moving speech of Dr. Garson Romalis, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Vancouver, British Columbia, who was attacked twice (in 1994 and again in 2000). He spoke last January at a University of Toronto Law School symposium marking the 20th anniversary of R. vs. Morgentaler about why he continued to provide abortions despite two attempts upon his life. It is a speech I think that all of us need to read again.

His courage, commitment and resolve will help inspire many of us to keep working toward a world in which women are respected and supported in their times of need. One concrete action we can all take is to support the George Tiller Memorial Fund, established by the National Network of Abortion Funds to provide assistance to the same women Dr. Tiller served, or any of a number of groups now working to preserve women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health services. Here’s more info (pdf) about the fund.

- Judy Norsigian, Our Bodies Ourselves Executive Director