Monday, December 29, 2008
Baltimore CRAB is ready for the next level and needs your involvement. Even with the elections over and a pro-choice president taking office, there is still an immense amount of work that needs to be done. A strong community of committed activists will ensure that the momentum of the Baltimore CRAB and the amazing energy of the recent election continue to grow.
To help expand and strengthen the Baltimore CRAB we are hosting this contest to create a new name and logo for our Baltimore pro-choice activist group, a name that expresses the values of being pro-choice and working to promote pro-choice values in your community.
Give it your best shot and submit your idea today!
The winner will receive:
* Recognition to 4,000 members through our website, social networking sites, and annual newsletter.
* A one-year membership to NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland.
* A NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland swag bag full of pro-choice goodies.
Send submissions to Melissa at Melissa@prochocicemd.org by 5pm on January 19, 2009. Files should be Microsoft compatible.
The winner will be announced at the 2009 kickoff event, a happy hour commemorating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Mark your calendar for January 28! More details coming soon!
The day we have been dreading has finally come. President Bush signed the executive order to enact the final draft of the Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) regulation . The new regulation allows people only tangentially related to the provision of health care and an increased number of medical institutions to refuse a woman care based on religious and moral beliefs. This regulation could jeopardize patients’ rights to receive quality, comprehensive health-care services.
The regulation presents numerous problems. For example, it jeopardizes women's access to birth control by leaving open the possibility that providers will be able to define contraception as abortion. The regulation also expands the universe of individuals and institutions that are explicitly afforded refusal rights, such as receptionists scheduling appointments, and it may grant entire health-care corporations (hospitals, HMOs, insurance companies) the same "conscience" rights as those offered to individuals.
The regulation also allows individuals to refuse to give referrals and information about a broad range of services. Current law allows individuals the right to refuse to refer or counsel patients for abortion services, but the regulation may allow individuals to refuse to provide referrals and information about any health-care services. This could affect reproductive-health services and many other health-care services beyond.
There has been considerable outcry against this regulation. NARAL Pro-Choice America sent 2,500 birth-control packs to the Department of HHS to represent the thousands of activists who signed a petition to protest the Bush administration’s proposal. The organization also channeled 25,558 comments to the public forum section of the HHS website. The public outcry caused the enactment of the proposed regulation to be postponed almost two months.
Leading members of the U.S. Senate and House from both sides of the aisle sent letters calling on Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt to abandon the regulation. In November, Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation intended to block the HHS rule . A coalition formed of policy makers and medical groups, including The American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Hospital Association, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, campaigned tirelessly ruthlessly against the enactment of the HHS rule, but unfortunately their objections were ignored.
Thankfully, Bush will only be president for one more month. While the regulation is expected to be reversed by president-elect Obama, the offensiveness of Bush’s actions should not be overlooked. In his final days, Bush chose to once again blatantly disregard women’s health.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
New York City Council speaker, Christine Quinn proposed a bill in September that would protect patients and abortion providers from anti-choice harassment. The bill would allow those who had been harassed, including clinic employees, to file charges against protesters. The bill is largely supported in the City Council and is expected to pass as early as this week according to the New York Times.
Council member Quinn credits the creation of the bill to NARAL Pro-Choice New York, who brought the harassment by protesters to Quinn’s attention 6 months ago. NARAL Pro-Choice New York informed the Councilwoman that the protesters have been consistently harassing targeted clinics for at least two years. While anti-choice zealots have been protesting clinics for decades, recent anti-choice campaigns, like the 40 Days for Life, had them camped out in front of clinics for extended periods of times. While the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 prevents protesters from blocking entrances, they are still able to display grotesque pictures, distribute false information, and verbally harass clinic workers and patients. Kudos to NARAL Pro-Choice New York and Councilmember Christine Quinn for protecting women’s ability to make private medical decisions without the inference of anti-choice extremists. Let’s hope this bill will encourage other states to acknowledge and address the severity of clinic harassment.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In the Washington Post Sunday paper, English teacher Patrick Welsh wrote an insightfularticle on the growing number of teen pregnancies at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA. Of the 2,211 students at Alexandria's T.C. Williams High School, at least 70 girls are soon-to-be or already mothers. Welsh discusses his concern that a growing ambivalence toward teen pregnancy throughout the country has greatly affected how the girls feel about becoming pregnant.
Welsh argues the efforts to decrease teen pregnancy do not include adequate information about the hardships associated with early motherhood. The problem, Welsh claims, is that teen mothers do not have realistic expectations of parenting because of the many social services offered by both the state and the school. The high school even has a brand new day-care center called Tiny Titans, which provides free child-care to assist teen mothers complete their high school education. With the growing numbers of teen parents at T.C, Williams, child-care is greatly in demand and Tiny Titans has a long waiting list.
While Welsh is in no way advocating for the end of these programs, he admits that he is an old-fashioned guy who can’t shake the feeling that the support may actually be enabling young women. It cannot be denied that the shame and secrecy that once surrounded teen pregnancy has been replaced with in part with celebrity glamour and reluctant acceptance. Welsh believes that in addition to comprehensive sex education, access to birth control, and support programs to teen parents, teens need to be given a clear message that teen pregnancy is harmful. The stats on teen pregnancy certainly back Welsh’s claim.
While Welsh’s article provides interesting food for thought, there appears to be two important factors missing. First, while Welsh briefly discusses the role young men play after a child is born, boys aren’t mentioned as a necessary part for the prevention equation. Its true- young women are disproportionately affected by pregnancy, but the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality has gone on for far too long. How can we expect men to be equally responsible for their children if we do not require them to be equally responsible for themselves?
The second issue is that Welsh may be underestimating the enormous pressure that is put on women, especially young women, to be ‘good’ mothers. This pressure can prevent many women from sharing their difficult experiences with motherhood for fear of being labeled as a bad mother. The truth of the matter is that parenting is a challenge regardless of your age, but as women have historically been the primary caregivers, the seriousness and complexities of child rearing have often been undermined. If we start honestly acknowledging the holistic experience of parenting, perhaps teens would gain a better understanding the physical, emotional, and financial responsibilities that come with having a child, and what their future after childbirth might hold.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Anti-abortion groups are lobbying state and local governments to reduce public funding for Planned Parenthood, claiming that the organization does not need or deserve public support. Anti-abortion groups insist Planned Parenthood “shouldn't be granted scarce public funds at a time of economic crisis,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
One third of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from government grants and contracts to support non-abortion-related health care for poor women and teenagers. Anti-abortion groups maintain this finical support indirectly goes to funding abortions. Planned Parenthood provides crucial medical services to low-income women and men. The need for affordable health care is only increasing as many families face layoffs and the loss of medical insurance. In the past, funding cuts have forced Planned Parenthood clinics to close, raise fees, and cut back on subsidized contraception.
The Family Research Council, one of the loudest voices in this campaign, has sent letters to 1,200 state lawmakers urging them to redistribute public funds. Planned Parenthood executives say the campaign misleads legislators about the actual state of the group’s finances. Many argue that cutting Planned Parenthood funding is thoughtless because it will cost taxpayers more in the long run if women do not have access to birth control.
In fact, according to NFPRHA, for every dollar of public funding that goes into family planning, four dollars are saved in Medicaid costs. Each year, approximately 7 million women receive contraceptive services from publicly funded family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood. These family planning clinics funded by Title X are not only needed but are vital to the well-being of women’s health in this country. If the funding was taken away from these clinics when they are needed most it would be a disaster. Do not let anti-choice voices be the only ones heard. Tell your elected officials that you support funding for family planning clinics today!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Loretta discusses how the white anti-choice movement has attracted African -American right-wing conservatives and religious zealots to speak on their behalf to the African-American community. Dr. Alveda King, the niece of the famous civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is an anti-choice advocate and has made speeches across the country against reproductive freedom. She has used her connection with the King family effectively to garner attention for African American anti-choice activists, despite the fact that MLK Jr. was a supporter of family planning and Planned Parenthood.)
What kinds of things are being said? These anti-choice activists proclaim that abortion is a form of genocide and the source of social problems with communities of color. African American women are being “accused of ‘lynching’ our children in our wombs and practicing white supremacy on ourselves.” The views expressed by Dr. Alveda King and others are a vocal minority, but the attention their comments garner does not give this impression.
What can you do?
Don’t believe the hype. The arguments put forth by the African-American anti-choice movement fail to acknowledge the complicated role racism, socio-economic status, and sexism play in the daily experiences of women of color. In fact, the very foundation of this movement is rooted in blatantly sexist rhetoric that undercuts women’s ability to make appropriate decisions for themselves and their families.
Pay attention. Ross notes the importance of knowing the background of these self-appointed representatives of communities of color. It is crucial to know the context, connections, and funding sources to understand the true motivations of any spokesperson.
Speak out in support of reproductive justice. Every woman should be guaranteed the fundamental right to decide if and when she chooses to start a family. Talk to your friends, family, and even strangers about your commitment to reproductive justice and debunk the misinformation being spread by the anti-choice movement. Don’t allow your voice to be drowned out by a small group of people who don’t represent your beliefs. As Loretta Ross notes, “we need to let the world know that they do not speak for Black women.” I am a black woman interning at NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and they do not speak for me!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Former Kansas District Attorney Phil Kline has been ordered to return the women’s private medical records he obtained through questionable methods during the investigation of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. As reported in this recent post, Phil Kline has been on a witch-hunt of sorts to criminalize abortion providers. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the Kansas Supreme Court found Kline’s overzealous mission to prosecute Planned Parenthood led him to abuse his power and obtain approximately three dozen records illegally.
The court had this to say about Kline’s behavior and conduct:
"Kline exhibits little, if any, respect for the authority of this court or for his responsibility to it and to the rule of law it husbands. His attitude and behavior are inexcusable, particularly for someone who purports to be a professional prosecutor. It is plain that he is interested in the pursuit of justice only as he chooses to define it."
After all has been said and done, Kline insists that he will continue to pursue the case against Planned Parenthood.
Friday, December 5, 2008
We hope that these latest studies will discourage anti-choice politicians from insisting that misinformation linking abortion to depression be required of health care providers. "Based on the best available evidence, emotional harm should not be a factor in abortion policy. If the goal is to help women, program and policy decisions should not distort science to advance political agendas," said Hopkins researcher Vignetta Charles . The misguided manipulation of science has been used to further the anti-choice agenda for long enough. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 19 states require health care providers to give information about the possible psychological effects of abortion. Seven of those states only list negative psychological effects. Studies such as these underscore the importance of nonjudgmental care, which helps ensure the emotional well-being of any patient.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
NARAL Pro-Choice America has launched a new campaign aimed at the savvy youth of the nation. The interactive website, www.myfreewillpower.com, is designed to reach a new generation of pro-choice activists passionate about individual freedom and personal responsibility. As the website states, we have the freedom to make decisions about our lives, we have the will to be educated, informed, and responsible and we have the power to stand up and declare our rights. The website provides information from every state as well as national issues that affect free.will.power.
According to Nancy Keenan, the success of President-elect Barak Obama’s campaign has allowed NARAL Pro-Choice America to realize that the way to the youth vote is through technology. It is widely known that today’s youth spend a substantial amount of time on their cell phones, ipods, and computers. In an effort to continue to engage teens and young adults, free.will.power promotes the use of extremely popular social networking sites. On these sites you are able to join the group and stay updated and informed about important issues that affect you. Aside from computer connections, you can receive up-to-date information with text messages. All you have to do is sign up!
To get the message out creatively, NARAL has enlisted the support of spoken-word artists Shira Erlichman, Alvin, Lau, and Deja Taylor to create videos promoting the message of free.will.power. These videos can currently be seen on the website.
If you’re interested in expressing your creative side, free.will.power. invites you to enter their contest to create the official t-shirt of free.will.power. The general public will vote for the winner who will receive a monetary prize alongside being recognized as the official t-shirt artist. The deadline to submit designs is December 5, 2008. It’s important to note that voting is open to everyone and starts December 9, 2008. With your will to be informed, you now have the freedom to use your power and vote!
Monday, December 1, 2008
The ads premiered in New York and will go national in the beginning of 2009. The campaign’s goal is to de-stigmatize condom usage in Catholic and Latino communities and promote an ongoing conversation on sexual health. Kudos to Catholics for Choice and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health for coming together to promote healthy sexual relationships and breaking down the cultural stigmas toward contraception!
Ad #1: Grandmother
Ad #2: Couple
In Campo Grande Brazil, over a 1,200 women are being investigated by police for having illegal abortions. Thus far, 150 women have been charged and at least 30 women have been sentenced to community service. Brazilian law currently restricts abortion to cases of rape or when the life or health of the women is at risk. The investigation of the women followed directly after the closing of a family planning clinic in Campo Grande when the patients’ medical records were seized in 2007.
Women’s rights organizations are outraged by the outcome of the trial and the highly intrusive investigation. According to the BBC News the investigation included “demands for intimate medical examinations,” interviews with the partners of the women, and the mistreatment of their medical information. The investigation was highly criticized for mistreating and humiliating women when thousands of medical records were made available to the public.
Think that this egregious invasion of privacy could never happen in the U.S.? Think again. There is a startling similarity between the practices used in Brazil and the trial involving Kansas abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller. The investigation into Dr. Tiller was instigated by former Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline, a well-known opponent of abortion. Kline demanded access to confidential patient medical records, sparking a national debate on the fundamental right to privacy.
Kline is accused of unethical conduct including intentionally misleading judges and state agencies, and releasing patients’ private medical data, according to a Washington Post article. In addition, Kline has been accused of using anti-abortion groups to obtain information on the staff working at the clinic. Dr. Tiller’s trial is scheduled for March, but a special hearing has been ordered to determine if the investigation was lawful. If convicted, Tiller could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined $2,500 for each charge.
Privacy is not a privilege. It is a right. It is a right that should not have to be surrendered by, of all people, doctors and women. We need to be vigilant of attempts to violate privacy. As the number of anti-choice supporters in the federal government dwindles, anti-choice advocates are going to be searching for different methods to weaken the right to choose. And what better way to prevent women from getting abortions? Threatening to tell the world about such a private, difficult decision.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Washington Post Magazine on Sunday followed a University of Maryland medical student’s path to choosing a specialty. Lesley Wojick, a member of the group Medical Students for Choice, was certain she wanted to work in obstetrics and gynecology and become an abortion provider. Ultimately, she chooses not to work in ob/gyn, a decision she struggled with. Her experience gives us a clearer look into the challenges that young medical students who want to become abortion providers face.
According to the article, abortion is mentioned rarely in the first three or four years of medical school, when students must begin to focus on a specialty and eventually apply for residency training. Students who want to learn about abortion must participate in an “externship” with a provider, as abortion is not taught in any formal lectures. This enormous lack of education about abortion will lead to diminished numbers of providers in the state. In fact, in Maryland, only 6 of the 24 counties have abortion providers. What is the use in having the right to an abortion if you cannot find a health care provider who offers abortion care? The right to choose will be practically meaningless without trained abortion providers.
The story also detailed the everyday trials of being abortion provider. During a conference organized by Lesley and the Medical Students for Choice, long-time abortion providers Dr. Carole Meyers and Dr. Myron Rose described the dangers of being a provider only a decade ago. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, clinics were bombed and a few doctors were killed. Today, the violence has lessened considerably, but some providers are still concerned with the possibility of harassment by anti-choice advocates.
Very rarely is this aspect of the abortion debate scrutinized. According to Medical Students for Choice (http://www.ms4c.org/issuereform.htm), only 15% of chief residents in family medicine residency programs had clinical experience providing first trimester abortions. Abortion training in ob/gyn residency programs is also severely limited. And only 5% of abortions are performed in hospitals, where most medical students and residents are trained.
Abortion is one of the most common procedures in the United States. 49% of pregnancies among American women are unintended; half of these end in abortion. Pro-choice doctors and activists should continue to advocate for formal abortion training in medical schools and residency in an effort to educate students about this important procedure. Because without trained providers, there will not be any meaningful right to choose.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including its lawyer who was appointed by the President, oppose the change. EEOC officials said they were not even consulted before the rule was issued. In July, twenty-eight senators joined Clinton and Murray in signing a letter in opposition to the new regulations; President-Elect Obama was one of the signatories. Obama has said that he would rescind the ruling as soon as he can, but the process could take up to 6 months. The Protecting Patients and Health Care Act proposed by Clinton and Murray yesterday will block HHS from finalizing or implementing the regulations.
“The rule being proposed by the administration would limit patients' access to basic reproductive health care services and information. The Protecting Patients and Health Care Act would prevent HHS from implementing this ill-conceived, midnight regulation,” said Sen. Clinton in a recent article.
Read Hilary Clintons Article on the Bill
Read More About the HHS Regulation
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This new coalition hopes to find middle ground with pro-choice groups by sponsoring bi-partisan legislation that would increase funding for social programs for pregnant women, such as affordable health care, day care and maternity group homes.
Ironically, but not surprisingly, this move towards supporting pregnant women has been highly criticized by some anti-choice groups, causing fractures on the “pro-life” front. Opponents of the coalition view this compromise as a betrayal of the cause Extreme anti- choice activists are calling individuals who support the new approach traitors and sending them hate mail, reports The Washington Post. The negative response to the new strategy to reduce abortions has not deterred the proponents and they maintain that the “time has come for more cooperation on difficult social and moral issues such as abortion.” While this new spirit of compromise is welcome and much needed, one can’t help but feel that a true compromise between pro-choicers and anti-abortionist would include the most successful tactics to lower abortion numbers such as birth control and comprehensive sex ed.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Uruguay Congress Votes to Legalize Early Abortion
Last week the Uruguay Congress voted 17 to 13 in favor of a bill to legalize early abortion. Unfortunately, the President is expected to veto the bill. "Whether the president vetoes it or not, it's important that Congress has established this right," said ruling party senator Margarita Percovich in an interview with Reuters.
UK starts Campaign to Increase Contraception Availability for Teens
The UK government has begun a campaign to increase access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) for teen girls. The campaign encourages doctors to offer their patients aged 13 and older long-term birth control injections or implants and requires abortion clinics to offer information on long-term contraception. Though there has been some resistance to the program, supporters maintain that increased access to effective birth control will have a positive impact for young women and girls. According to a UK Times article, “The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence estimated the move would cut unplanned pregnancies by 73,000 a year.”
Reproductive Rights Activists in Kenya Launch Pro-Choice Bill
A Reproductive Health and Rights Bill proposed by the Nairobi-based women’s group Coalition on Violence Against Women calls for more access to safe abortion, as well as comprehensive sex education, education about sexually transmitted diseases, and full access to contraception. According to Womensphere.com “The campaigns will aim at ensuring the enactment of a comprehensive reproductive health rights law and policies.” Current Kenyan law restricts all abortions expect in cases where the mother’s health is in danger. According to a Global Voices article.
The proposed bill would expand abortion access to include instances of sexual assault, rape, defilement or incest.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The majority of the Bishops expressed reservations and fear over an Obama presidency and the possible passage of the Freedom of Choice Act that Obama has said he supports. The legislation would solidify the legal right to an abortion, causing concern amongst the bishops. The bishops have written a letter to President-Elect Obama and members of Congress urging them to reject the pro-choice legislation. The Bishops stated that "pro-abortion policies" would be viewed "as an attack on the church."
Along with this warning to Congress and Obama, the bishops debated whether pro-choice politicians should be refused communion.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City said repeatedly that politicians who support abortion rights should stop taking Holy Communion. "They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief.” Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis said that "any one of us would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion," reported the Washington Post.
Amid the extreme voices at the conference, there were also a few who called for compromise. Dr. Patrick Whelan, a pediatrician and president of Catholic Democrats, said “that angry statements from church leaders were counterproductive and would only alienate Catholics.” In a recent Washington Post article Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, said many of the bishops are "in a tailspin" after unsuccessfully urging Catholic voters to make abortion a priority. "These people represent a minority view of Catholics in the United States and in the world." According the the Guttmacher Institute 37% of women who have abortions are Catholic. Only 22% of Catholics agree with the bishops’ position and believe that abortion should be illegal.
With these numbers, it appears that the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion is greatly out of touch with the majority of their members.
Friday, November 7, 2008
California, South Dakota, and Colorado each had ballot initiatives that would place limitations on abortions and voters rejected them all. In California, Proposition 4, the third effort in four years to enact a law requiring parental notification before a minor can have an abortion, failed once again. Californians clearly understand that such restrictions are harmful to some young women. The fact that the vast majority of young women turn to their parent’s supports the idea that parental notification laws are just another tactic to make abortion services less accessible.
In Colorado, Amendment 48, an amendment that would officially define a fertilized egg as a “person” under the state constitution failed. “Opposition to the measure came from voters of all age groups and majorities of men and women,” reports an article from National Partnership. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised the leaders of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and their state-based allies for leading the successful campaign to defeat Amendment 48. "Tonight's victory belongs to the vast majority of Coloradans who acted on their pro-choice values and rejected this extreme abortion ban,” Keenan said. “Coloradans’ common sense prevailed.”
In South Dakota, Measure 11, a bill to criminalize all abortion with the exception of rape and health endangerment, also did not pass. The initiative proposed to criminalize abortions - with a penalty for doctors of up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 fine. Last year, a similar bill that would have made abortion that contained no exceptions was rejected 56% to 44%. This year, despite the fact that the altered bill, included exceptions for rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten the life or health of the woman, the bill was still rejected 55% to 45%.
This loss in South Dakota takes a big toll on the anti-abortion groups’ momentum. "South Dakotans have affirmed by their votes tonight that no vague law can account for every individual circumstance. And that is precisely why women and families, not the government, should make these personal healthcare decisions," said Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, in a LA Times article.
This election we can celebrate an amazing victory for women's rights. The people have said no to anti-choice propaganda and the demonizing of pro-choice laws, and maybe just maybe the anti-choice groups will get the hint and give it up.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
At 11:00pm on Tuesday, Nov 4th Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the United States of America, causing a catharsis of celebration to erupt most pointedly in the Capital and Times Square, New York City. “Mr. McCain’s campaign was eclipsed by an opponent who was nothing short of a phenomenon, drawing huge crowds epitomized by the tens of thousands of people who turned out to hear Mr. Obama’s victory speech in Grant Park in Chicago,” according to a New York Times article. Crowds numbering in the thousands gathered in front of the White House. The U Street and 16th street areas in DC were packed with people who flooded out of bars, restaurants, and houses to celebrate the election of the first African American President of the USA. “Senator Obama campaigned on the need for government to solve problems, rather than create them.
Nothing could be more welcome to women in America. For too long, our health and rights have been used as a political battering ram,” wrote one Huffington Post article. Not only did Obama capture the presidency and our hearts, but he led his party to sharp gains in Congress. This puts Democrats in control of the House, the Senate and the White House. This is an immense step toward preserving women’s reproductive rights in this country and finally we can breath a sigh of relief after months of worry and uncertainty. Obama is the first pro-choice president since Clinton and together, united in hope we celebrate this crucial victory.
Click Here to See Obama’s Victory Speech
Monday, November 3, 2008
Get Out The Vote!
Tomorrow will be a historic day in our lifetime. Never before has this country seen the voter turnout that is expected tomorrow. But don’t let that fool you into not voting. Every vote counts. In 2000, the entire election came down to a small number of votes. With so much on the line, many people are concerned with false voter registration and the suppression of legitimate voters. These fears over voter suppression and fraud should motivate, not prevent, us from taking part in one of the most significant elections in decades. The most important action that we as Americans can take tomorrow is simply to vote. Remind your friends, bug your family, and get to the polls early!!
If you have any concerns about how or where you can vote, click here
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Last week a Christian pharmacy in Virginia opened in Chantilly, becoming the 7th official pharmacy in the country that refuses to dispense contraception on religious grounds. The pharmacy, Divine Mercy Care is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, but the organization is guided by church teachings that prohibit contraception, including birth control pills, emergency contraception, and condoms. At the opening last week the pharmacy received a blessing from Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde. According to a recent Associated Press article, pharmacists in Virginia can turn away any prescription for any reason. Even though roughly 10 percent of pharmacy business is in contraceptives, the Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy is confident they can make up this loss of business with the patronage of the large Catholic population in the area. Pharmacy manager Robert Semler dismisses the threat to women’s access to birth control by saying that there are two pharmacies that do dispense contraception close by. Nevertheless, according to a National Partnership article “Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy does not display a sign stating that it does not dispense contraception.”
The opening of this pharmacy comes at a time when the country has been wrestling with the issue of health care providers refusing to provide reproductive health care services on religious grounds. In a recent Washington Times article Richard P. Sloan, professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, said the DMC Pharmacy should at least refer people to stores that dispense birth control. “Not doing so appears to violate any number of professional codes of ethics of the American Pharmacists Association," he said. "The central element is that the pharmacy must place the well-being of the patient over the pharmacist's personal well-being."
NARAL Pro-Choice VA has already called for a boycott of the pharmacy and collected over a thousand signatures protesting the pharmacy's policy. "If this emboldens other pharmacies in other parts of the state, it could really affect low-income and rural women in terms of access," said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice VA.
For more information on access to birth control in Maryland pharmacies visit our website
Monday, October 27, 2008
Perhaps most damaging, South Dakota has yet another ballot initiative that would effectively ban abortion. Last year, a similar bill that would have made abortion completely illegal was rejected 56% to 44%. The current initiative includes very limited exceptions for rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten the life or health of the woman. This measure is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and endangers the lives and health of women in South Dakota.
Though all three ballot initiatives are distressing, the South Dakota ballot initiative could impact the dignity, autonomy, and equality of women across the country in the event it passes and a challenge to Roe results. NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, has been closely monitoring and fighting against this bill since its inception. This election will decide the fate of women for years to come and we urge South Dakotans to reject this harmful initiative.
For Information on Pro-choice/Anti-Choice Maryland Legislation Visit our Website
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
So-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are often staffed by volunteers who push religious agendas and rhetoric. CPCs repeat myths about abortion in attempt to scare women and even often frown upon birth control. There have also been reports of delay tactics and harassment to pressure women into not exploring their options.
NARAL Pro-Choice MD conducted an undercover investigation of the Maryland crisis pregnancy centers. The Full Report Shows 100% of the CPC’s investigators visited provided misleading or false information. The result of this report was the introduction of several bills that called for the Maryland CPC’s to post a disclaimer detailing the limitations of their services. Not surprisingly, conservative anti-choice groups such as the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) are opposed to such disclosure. CBN who wrote in a recent article that the bill would
“Force certain speech issues on pregnancy centers.” Hmm…like honesty?.
Though it comes as no surprise that anti-abortion forces would stoop to using propaganda and slanted journalism to paint us as the bad guys, it shows that our important work is striking a nerve. Thank you 700 Club, for highlighting our important work!
Link to the 700 Club video
Link to the full undercover report “The Truth Revealed”
For more information on CPC’s Click Here
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
In the final presidential debate of the year, women everywhere were hoping to finally hear some straight talk from the candidates on reproductive rights. RHRealityCheck.org breaks down the showdown line by line to wade through the double talk and innuendo.Obama, sounding very reasonable, suggested finding middle ground between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, providing better adoption services and education to women, while still fortifying his stance on putting the health of the mother first. McCain on the other hand took this opportunity to mock women’s health, accuse Obama of being a radical baby-killer, and generally alienate women everywhere.
At one point he uses air quotes around the words “Women’s Health,” causing voters and mainstream media to shake their heads in astonishment and disapproval. "The part of the debate where Sen. McCain seemed to mock the issue of a woman's health was weird and ... well, kind of disgusting. It's hard for me to see how he’s seriously pushing for the women's vote." says editor of Talkingpointsmemo.com Josh Marshall . In a similar vein,
Amanda Marcotte at www.pandagon.net believes McCain’s comments show a “searing contempt for women”. Indeed, it seems McCain has undone all his efforts to woo the female vote to his side during the one instance he has been forced to discuss women’s rights for longer than a minute.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Washington Post reported in a moving article on Oct 12th on the dangers of giving birth in one of the poorest nations in the world. In Sierra Leone the mortality rate during childbirth are approximately 1 in 8 women, by far the highest in the world. In the United States, the mortality rate of giving birth is 1 in 4,800. “More than 500,000 women a year -- about one every minute -- die in childbirth across the globe, almost exclusively in the developing world, and almost always from causes preventable with basic medical care,” reported the Post. “The women die from bleeding, infection, obstructed labor and preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. But often the underlying cause is simply life in poor countries.”
The Post article outlines the reasons why living in a poor nation causes high mortality rates, highlighting the lack of decent hospitals or doctors and the fact that families cannot afford medications. Furthermore, a lack of education and poor infrastructure lead to women choosing to have an unassisted home birth or not coming in for post-birth treatment. These conditions are exacerbated by the fact that rising maternal mortality rates is rarely addressed in foreign aid and charity organizations, which tend to be focused on global diseases such as malaria and HIV. While there is no fast and easy solution to this problem, it’s good to see the media acknowledge what’s being tagged as the “Invisible Death” of childbirth mortality.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
McCain's campaign Web site calls Roe a "flawed decision that must be overturned." McCain on the site promises to nominate Supreme Court justices who "understand that courts should not be in the business of legislating from the bench," adding that overturning Roe would restore” constitutional balance" by "returning the abortion decision to individual states."
To see the rest of the Series on McCain vs. Women’s Rights Visit our Youtube Channel
According to a National Partnerships for Women and Families news report “The report found that U.S. hospital charges for maternal and newborn care increased from $79 billion in 2005 to $86 billion in 2006. More than $2.5 billion is spent annually on unnecessary c-sections, which now make up almost one-third of all deliveries.”
USA Today reported that there is an increasing interest in birth assistants or Doulas because they would cut costs while improving the health of the mother. More and more women everyday are trying more natural births, not only for the health and well being of their child but also because hospital births are increasingly becoming to pricey to handle. Voluntary c-sections, increased amount of sedation and drug use, and prolonged hospital visits that cost hundreds of dollars a day even with insurance are all adding to the already astronomical childbirth costs. These costs are hindering women from having safe, affordable hospital births, which could in turn lead to an increase in women opting out of prenatal and postnatal care because of expenses.
Friday, October 10, 2008
A new study out of Yale University highlights the different reactions between conservatives and liberals when their beliefs are challenged. The study’s results show a "backfire effect" when conservatives are confronted with facts that disprove their preconceived notions. The study “confirms what argumentative liberals have long known: offering reality-based rebuttals to conservative misinformation only makes conservatives cling to those lies even harder,” reports one Huffington Post article. The study, conducted by political scientist John Bullock, involved experiments where volunteers were given various examples of political statements containing misinformation followed by factual information that disproved the statement. Throughout the study, the volunteers were polled to see how they reacted to the contradicting information they received. Both liberals and conservatives had difficultly dismissing the misinformation, however the conservatives actually showed an increased resistance to facts that challenged their beliefs. The lesson from this study is clear: Never argue with a conservative using facts. It will only convince them of the lies. We have seen this same “backfire” effect over and over. We show anti-choice activists scientific evidence that legal abortion is very safe and does not cause increased risks of cancer. We explain that when abortion was illegal women were hurt through back-alley abortions and lack of access to safe abortion providers. Moreover, we explain that birth control is not abortion and that increased access can prevent unintended pregnancy, But they are only more convinced to they are right. So how do we ever win the argument if using facts with conservative anti-choicers only entrenches their false views? Any suggestions?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-sweeney/theres-no-arguing-with-co_b_126805.html>Read the full story on the study here
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
On Tuesday, October 14th NARAL MD along with coalition partners will take part in a rally to discuss the sale of Prince Georges County Hospitals
Due to financial hardships, a government-appointed Hospital Authority is seeking proposals from private health systems to take over the publicly-operated Prince George’s County system. A change in ownership could negatively impact quality of care and result in a reduction of services available to patients.
The residents of Prince George’s County deserve a healthcare system that is prepared to meet the basic health care needs of county residents. Any organization seeking to own and operate the Prince George’s County health system must guarantee to improve the quality of medical care available to county residents while maintaining the current level of services, including
• Access to family planning and abortion services;
• Access to emergency contraception; and
• HIV prevention education.
In collaboration with coalition partners, NPCM is hosting a rally to educate, motivate, and activate the community. Scheduled speakers include Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Rev. Katherine Ragsdale. The musical group N-Delible will be there to energize the crowd.
Let your voice be heard! Come to the rally to maintain access to quality health care in Prince Georges County!
When: Tuesday, October 14, 6:00pm-9:00pm.
Where: Prince George's Community College/ Queen Anne Auditorium.
Location: 301 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD.
If you cannot attend the rally, be sure to sign the on-line petition and pass it on to 5 friends!
The Petition to Keep our Care!
Monday, October 6, 2008
While the founder of CRACK maintains that the program is simply offering people incentive to act responsibly, the program has received strong criticisms for being potentially coercive, racist, and unethical. Check the Baltimore City Paper for more information.
Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo recently presented a similar program. The proposed plan offers to pay $1,000 to every low-income woman who gets sterilized. Not surprisingly, LaBruzzo has received similar criticisms as well.
In a recent video LaBruzza attempted to defend his proposal, complaining that the media misinterpreted his real intentions.
Both of these programs claim to offer realistic solutions to long standing problems, but the controversy surrounding the potential coercion of low-income and minority women can’t be ignored. What are your thoughts?
You are invited to our Annual Evening of Chocolate Gala on Friday, October 24, 2008 - 8 pm.
The Gala will take place at VisArts, a beautiful new facility at Rockville Town Center that features a gallery and artist studios. Come enjoy martinis and fabulous artwork!
Our keynote speaker this year will be long-time women's rights activist and newly-elected Congresswoman Donna Edwards!
This year, we will be holding a live auction and raffle featuring artwork and select luxury items. Stay tuned for more information!
Order Tickets Now!
By supporting this event, you are protecting women in their ability to make their own personal decisions.
Evening of Chocolate Gala
When: Friday, October 24, 2008 - 8 pm.
Where: VisArts at Rockville Town Center
Metropolitan Center for the Visual Arts
155 Gibbs Street
Keynote Speaker: Congresswoman Donna Edwards
Black tie optional. RSVP by October 17.
Cost of tickets: $70 members, $90 non-members.
For more information please call 301-565-4154 or email Erin
19th Annual Evening of Chocolate Sponsors
Friday, October 3, 2008
For the last year and a half, reproductive health advocates have been fighting a provision in the 2006 Deficit Reduction Act that inadvertently eliminated an incentive that enabled pharmaceutical companies to provide large discounts on birth control for college campuses and family planning clinics. As a result, birth control prices have soared.
Last week, the Senate failed to advance a bill that would have reversed this harmful provision (Senators Mikulski and Cardin from Maryland voted to pass the bill). Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration objects to the provision that would make birth control more affordable. This means that college students and low-income women in Maryland will continue to see the price of their birth control skyrocket. This is unacceptable and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland continues to urge Congress and President Bush to make this fix as soon as possible.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The Healthy Howard Access Plan or HHAP provides access to primary, specialty and hospital care, as well as prescriptions for a premium of ranging between $50-$85 a month. The program, funded by individual premiums, county general fund dollars and charitable contributions, aims to “fill in the gaps” of the county’s uninsured residents. According to the Howard County website, “The Healthy Howard Access Plan connects Howard County residents to affordable health care services and helps members overcome barriers to healthy living.” HHAP is set to launch today, Wednesday, October 1st. Applications can be submitted on Thursday, October 2nd at specific locations. Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County health commissioner, said in a recent article on Healthcareblog.com that “this is the most ambitious local effort at universal coverage since San Francisco launched a universal coverage plan in April 2007.” This Plan is a big step forward at providing affordable healthcare for every person, and is hopefully going to be the first of many similar county-run programs in the future.
HHAP eligibility is based on age, income and location.
For more information on the Healthy Howard Plan visit the official website.
Does it sound crazy that it could happen here in the United States? It’s not. Click here to read her article about how it might happen, and why this year’s election matters so much for women.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Three weeks ago an internet campaign started by an unknown source began asking people to put their dislike of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to good use by donating 10 dollars to Planned Parenthood in the candidate’s name. One e-mail in the campaign says: "Instead of (actually, in addition to) all of us all sending more e-mails about how absolutely horrible she is, let's all make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin's name."
Since then, there have been a record number of donations to the PPFA foundation. In the past two weeks, Planned Parenthood has received over a hundred thousand dollars in Palin’s name. Planned Parenthood officials insist the campaign is not their doing, and in fact, were not aware of it until the checks started coming in. Several email chains, websites and blogs were used to spread the word to people who were angered and frightened by Palin’s staunch anti-choice position on reproductive rights. As was noted in a Rocky Mountain News article “The campaign is meant to translate anger at her position into money for an agency that provides sex education, women's health care and abortion services.” This campaign charges us with a mission, to actively take part in protesting the VP candidate’s position on women’s rights. Simply talking about how we disagree with Sarah Palin is not enough; we must make her aware of it.
The icing on the top of this fantastically proactive campaign is this: For every donation Planned Parenthood receives, they must send a handwritten thank you card to the donator. This means that tens of thousands of thank you cards have arrived at Republican presidential nominee John McCain's national headquarters, thanking Sarah for her thoughtful donation. The McCain crusade is calling it a “crass political stunt,” I call it absolutely brilliant.
Let's Follow Suit, Donate Now to NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland!
Friday, September 26, 2008
A new study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization, highlights a significant shift in the demographics of women who get abortions. The report also shows that abortion rates overall have dropped significantly. The study, which was conducted over the last 30 years, is the first comprehensive study on abortion demographics released since 1974.
The study shows a major decline in the number of abortions, particularly within the teenage and Caucasian groups. It was also noted that the decline in abortion was not seen as significantly in the Hispanic and older women demographics. "We've made the most important progress in reducing teen pregnancy and abortion rate, [rather] than reducing unintended pregnancy in older women," said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, in a recent Washington Post article
These finding should be encouraging as they indicate that where there has been the greatest push for birth control, there has been relative success. However, the study’s findings also indicate that there is a greater need for efforts to extend to all women and not just among teenagers. "A lot of policymakers are stuck 30 years back when most women getting abortions are teenagers and college students, and that isn't so much the case these days." Jones says.
In addition, the study shows a less significant decrease in the number of Hispanic and African American women getting abortions. Laurie Rubiner, Vice President of Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, attributes this to the fact that affordable birth control is hard to come by without insurance. “Birth control is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies," said Rubiner, "Unfortunately there's a large number of uninsured people in this country.” The discrepancies in abortion rates between these demographics illustrate a real need for affordable health care and access to birth control for minorities.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland is closely monitoring the prospective sale of Prince George’s County Hospital System. The system, which is owned by the county and managed by the nonprofit Dimensions Healthcare Systems, serves over 180,000 patients each year. Appointed by members of the state and county government, a special Hospital Authority is soliciting proposals from private health systems to take over the publicly-operated Prince George’s County system. A change in ownership could negatively impact quality of care and result in a reduction of services available to patients.
The residents of Prince George’s County deserve a healthcare system that is prepared to meet the basic health care needs of county residents. Any organization seeking to own and operate the Prince George’s County health system must guarantee to improve the quality of medical care available to county residents while maintaining the current level of services, including access to family planning and abortion, HIV prevention education, and emergency contraception.
If you are interested in Volunteering please contact Melissa
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Once again, the anti-choice groups have used manipulation to shove their agenda in the faces of women. Several months ago we told you of anti-choice groups new strategy to buy pro-choice domain names and use them to intentionally deceive women who are searching for reproductive health information. Anti-choice groups recently added to their list of deceitful websites by launching www.morningafterpill.org.
If you are anything like me, you will be outraged by how low anti-choice groups will stoop to in order to intentionally confuse women about their reproductive health options. Similar to underhanded tactics used by so-called crisis pregnancy centers, Morningafterpill.org uses similar colors and shapes to le mimic the Plan B® logo. This is a sneaky attempt to give credibility to a site that offers nothing but incorrect and misleading medical information.
The site falsely claims that Plan B® is “very dangerous” for women and lists a slew of exceedingly rare side effects associated with the birth control pill. It is true that women with certain medical conditions should consult a medical professional before taking hormonal birth control or Plan B®. However, it is dubious, some may even say unethical, to imply that these rare and extreme side effects occur on a regular basis. For the record, the most common side effect associated with the morning after pill is nausea.
Do not be fooled! Be on the watch for these sites and tell your friends and family about them. Do not let these groups claw their way into legitimate medical sites domain. Click here for correct, unbiased medical information on Plan B®.
Friday, September 19, 2008
In his efforts to win over women, he has tried everything from selecting a “hockey mom” joke of a VP running mate to wooing burned ex-Hillary supporters. Recently he was a guest on the overwhelmingly female oriented daytime show “The View.” Despite the feeling that this election has torn the feminist community asunder, I was once again renewed in my faith in womankind when the audience began to boo McCain for claiming Roe .v. Wade was a “mistake.” "I believe Roe v. Wade was a very bad decision,” he said of the 1973 Supreme Court case that established a woman's right to obtain an abortion. Besides the fact that I do not agree with McCain’s statement, the very nerve of the man to say that to a virtually all-female audience without expecting consequences horrified me. While McCain blusters on and tries to rationalize his remarks, one cannot help but be terrified of this man’s opinions becoming law.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
As you may have heard, new Bush Administration rules that so many of us have been dreading could go into effect as early as September 25th. We should be prepared for the consequences of this regulation, aware of how it will affect our daily lives, and most importantly, we should speak out against it to our congressional representatives and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The proposed rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from hundreds of thousands of hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors' offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.
Although the proposed language specifically mentions abortion and sterilization, it does not define either procedure, leaving the open the possibility that anti-choice individuals could refuse to prescribe or provide birth control as well as a broad range of services. So, not only is abortion under attack, but family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research are also under threatened.
There are already laws on the books that balance health care providers’ religious beliefs in a way that accommodated patients’ needs. Formulating a solution in search of a problem, the Bush Administration has taken a non-issue to an illogical extreme, limiting the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate health information about abortion and contraception.
This new regulation is unnecessary, and could jeopardize the pro-choice laws and programs that women rely on for their medical care.. Write your Congressman now to ensure that this happens. Take action now to protect women’s health care needs!
Monday, September 15, 2008
While I snagged the title of this post from one of Sarah Palin’s (fake) twitters , it’s just too funny not to steal.
I’ve been teetering between enthusiastic laughter (filled with sarcasm) and outright disgust at the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s VP.
Despite the fact that Palin has a vagina, she should be every woman’s nightmare. More anti-choice than McCain, Palin is against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. She remarked once that even if her adolescent daughter was raped and became pregnant, she would still “choose life.” Nice to know that our potential (though hopefully not) VP values the self-determination of her daughter.
But the big news story over the past weeks has been Palin’s 17 year old, 5 month pregnant daughter Bristol. A lot of people have been asking “Can Palin be VP with such a chaotic family life?” Having a pregnant teenage daughter hasn’t made me think that Palin is unprepared to be vice-president. Her lack of experience and interview with Charlie Gibson last week have done that for me already. But it certainly bolsters my frustration over the hypocrisy of the anti-choice platform during this election.
For years now, anti-choicers have advocated for abstinence-only sex education, believing that telling kids to keep it in their pants is an effective way of preventing teen pregnancy.
I must be dreaming though – b/c one of the staunchest anti-choicers around has a pregnant teenage daughter. Despite a lifetime of what I’m sure was filled with abstinence-only propaganda, the young, spry 17 year old did what a lot of teens who received an abstinence only education have done: had sex.
You’d think abstinence only advocates would wise up when one of their own can’t even abstain.
And what makes the hypocrisy of anti-choicers even worse is the strategy they are using to deal with questions about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy.
“She CHOSE to have the baby.”
“This is a private, family matter.”
“The government should stay out of this.”
The right-wingers are using OUR argument.
Thanks for agreeing I guess…
The McCain ad uses this legislation to discredit Obama’s entire platform of improving education, blatantly misrepresenting the bill. "Learning about sex before learning to read?" the McCain ad says. "Barack Obama. Wrong on education. Wrong for your family." Forgetting for a moment that Obama is the most vocal candidate on the importance of early education, the ad goes so far as to make Obama look like he wanted to teach kindergarteners about condoms. A recent article on MSNBC.com claims "non-partisan fact-checkers have criticized the McCain ad, noting that the legislation didn't teach the birds and bees to kindergartners -- instead it taught "age-appropriate" sex education to help warn children about inappropriate touching and sexual predators." Is educating children on how to protect themselves from sexual abuse bad in the anti-choice handbook?
Has McCain run out of actual information on Obama to use in his attacks that he has to resort to fabricating misinformation? This latest ad proves once again that McCain/Palin have no problem with dirty politics. The Obama campaign, which has repeatedly called for new, cleaner political strategy, was shocked. Obama spokesperson Bill Burton stated that it is "shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls." A recent editorial in the New York Times has also expressed disapproval of the blatant misrepresentation of truth in McCain's Ad. The writer says simply "The kindergarten ad flat-out lies. The lesson for voters is to be wary of all ads from the McCain machine."
Last week, Planned Parenthood launched their controversial new ad countering Senator McCain's ad. The ad, which will be strategically playing in the same states as the McCain ad, has caused a wave of positive reinforcement from the press already. The Planned Parenthood ad asks if McCain is "just another politician who'll say anything to get elected." Those of us who are outraged and offended by McCain's bravado at releasing this intentionally misleading video welcome Planned Parenthood’s retort. The ad, embedded below, ensures that our voices are heard by the same people who are seeing this heinous video of McCain's. And for that we can be thankful.
To see the full propaganda McCain Ad on Obama Click Here
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Last month the APA (American Psychological Association) Task Force on
Mental Health and Abortion completed their two-year long study on the
negative effects of having an abortion on a woman's mental health. The report
re-asserts that there is "no credible evidence that an elective abortion
of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health
problems for adult women." In a press releaseBrenda Major, the chairwoman of the panel, said "The best scientific evidence published indicates that the relative risk of mental health problems is no
greater if they have a single elective, first-trimester abortion or
deliver that pregnancy,"
This report is the culmination of a two-year long study and included
some of the most highly respected scientists in the country; surely
this is a sign that the anti-abortion argument should no longer include the so-called “Post-Abortion Stress Syndrome”? Since the report came out last month there has been an endless stream of backlash from anti-choice groups, who are arguing that the report disregarded many personal accounts of traumatic experiences. "For the APA to simply restate its previous position shows that the group is callous towards the well-being of women," said Tony Perkins the President of the Family Research Council, a socially conservative Christian lobbyist group.
However, the APA report acknowledges specifically that every woman's experience is unique and like many other significant life decisions, complex emotions play a role in the experience. While the report is very clear that these emotions or "side effects" are no more or less evident in women who terminated the pregnancy than in women who delivered, there is no intention to disregard women who report a difficult abortion experience.
The insistence that abortion in and of itself causes emotional harm to women has become a popular tactic in current politics. Previously, anti-choice rhetoric focused solely on the potential life of the unborn. This new strategy now includes an emphasis on the mother’s health. According to a recent New York
Times article, a growing number of “abortion-recovery activists” want to dismantle this old framework and replace it with the concept that abortion is detrimental to women.
What I find most egregious about this tactic (just in case you weren’t clear: the exploitation of women’s emotions and experiences is a specific component to the multi-faceted strategy to outlaw abortion and birth control) is how anti-choice groups self-righteously and conveniently lay claim to women’s experiences when it suits their needs. What about the experiences of the rape survivors who are refused emergency contraception in the ER? What about the experiences of women who died as a result of an illegal abortion? What about the experiences of their families? What about the experiences of women who discover that something has gone terribly wrong with their much wanted pregnancy and that she is unable to have the procedure that her physician deems safest? What about the women who have to pass through a crowd of people screaming judgmental accusations when they don’t know anything about their life? What about the women who believe that having an abortion was the best decision they ever made? Oh, but those experiences contradict your agenda, so we should what? Not count them?
Women who have abortions report a wide range of experiences and I don’t think a single one should be discounted. But if anti-choice groups are sincerely concerned about women’s emotional health they would acknowledge complexity of the issue and perhaps stop contributing to social stigma surrounding abortion that affects how many women feel about their abortion experiences. The bottom line is that conservatives use liberal arguments like "disregard for women's health" when it suits their needs. It's hypocritical and I'm calling them out on it.