Monday, September 29, 2008

Email Campaign Triggers Donations to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s Name

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

Research shows a major shift in Abortion Demographics

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

Reproductive Health Care Access: Prince George’s County Hospital Sale!

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

Don't be Fooled by Anti-Choice Websites

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

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, 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

Quick and Quippy: McCain on The View

Ever since Senator Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for the presidency, McCain has been trying to manipulate the white female voter to his side of the ballot box. This has been met with a varying degree of success. At the moment, it seems McCain is up in the polls in direct correlation with his hold on the white female vote. This comes as no surprise when you think about the many unabashedly desperate attempts McCain has made to snag the female vote.
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

Last Chance to Speak Out Against Bush’s Attack on Birth Control

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

Juno in Juneau

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…

New McCain Ad Attacks Obama’s Pro Sex-Ed Record

I am not often surprised by politicians’ ability to manipulate and distort the truth in order to get votes, but McCain's new advertisement attacking Barack Obama’s record in the Illinois State Senate floored me. The ad claims Obama's one accomplishment on education is legislation that would have established comprehensive sex education for young children. In actuality, the bill (which never passed) was a moderate plan to establish age-appropriate sex education and would have even allowed parents to pull their children from classes if they so chose.

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 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

APA Report proves there is no such thing as a Post-Abortion Syndrome

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.