All Articles Tagged "reproductive rights"
According to Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland), “GOP” doesn’t stand for “Grand Old Party.” It stands for “Get Out of my Panties.”
State Sen. Turner made her statement via t-shirt; one she wore recently to protest Ohio Republicans’ renewed efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood. The press conference was organized by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio in opposition to a bill that would put Planned Parenthood at the bottom of the state’s priority system for federal family planning funds, reports The Huffington Post.
The provocative slogan was used by Turner to highlight a disregard for women´s rights by the Republican party. She declared at the conference, “If they continue their pursuit to condemn women, we will not stand for it,” she said.
African-American women often turn to Planned Parenthood for affordable health care. So much so, in fact, that the organization even has a section of its site dedicated to black patients —“ African Americans for Planned Parenthood.”
Turner, who confirmed she may run for Ohio Secretary of State in 2014, is known as an advocate for women’s reproductive and healthcare rights. She introduced a protest bill earlier this year that would restrict men’s ability to get a Viagra prescription.
“The Ohio state Legislature may also reconsider during its lame duck session the so-called ‘heartbeat bill,’ which would ban abortions after the fetal heartbeat is detected, with no exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother,” according to the Huffington Post.
What do you think of the t-shirt? Too much or just right?
By Tracy Weitz
Once again during last night’s townhall presidential debate, even as the important subject of birth control was raised multiple times, there was a complete omission of the critical issue of abortion from program. Yes, it was raised during last week’s vice presidential debate. Yet, while the moderator Martha Raddatz did a fantastic job with the overall debate, her framing of the abortion question—and the answers it prompted–were disappointing to anyone concerned about the future of abortion care in the U.S and the not-quite-yet-quaint constitutional notion of a separation between church and state.
Let’s begin with a critique of the question. Reinforcing the idea that abortion is mainly a personal and religious issue, Ms. Raddatz asked how the candidate’s religious views have shaped their positions on abortion. While potentially interesting at a forum on personal introspection or while playing Trivial Pursuit, this was a debate concerned with what either Vice President Joe Biden or Congressman Paul Ryan would do as the second most powerful officeholder in a country in which 1.2 million women have an abortion every year. I personally don’t care whether they believe abortion is right, wrong, moral or immoral. I care about what they intend to do as policy makers. Interesting how only abortion, and not economic inequality, war and peace or other matters some relatively prominent Catholics (see: Pope) have talked about as important matters of faith weren’t—and almost never are—fit under the rubric of one’s personal faith.
The question that should have been asked was what policies the candidates support or oppose related to abortion. How would they use the apparatus of the federal government to further restrict or expand access to abortion care? Such an approach would have reminded the audience that while the decision to have an abortion is a personal one, how abortion care is financed, provided, and accessed are all public matters.
And if Ms. Raddatz wanted the question to focus on personal beliefs, she could have asked the candidates how they would treat a woman who told them she had had an abortion. Such an approach would have reminded the candidates that what they are accountable for in their personal lives is the level of respect or judgment they display toward women who have abortions. Abortion is not an abstract question about one’s philosophical beliefs, it is a real experience that is a part of many American women’s lives, and how the candidates intend to treat women who have abortions matters.
Then there were the responses. Needless to say, Paul Ryan ‘s position on abortion is well expressed in the dozens of dangerously extreme laws he has supported to restrict access to any abortion, including a bill that allow hospitals to deny emergency abortion care necessary to save a woman’s life. But he wasn’t asked to offer justifications for these Buchananesque social-policy ideas. Instead, he was allowed to get away with the assertion that his personal religious beliefs could explain hisprior policy record on abortion.
Yet Ryan’s willingness to now support a policy platform that will allow some abortions to remain legal, in order to become the vice president, went unchallenged. Why, Ms. Raddatz could have asked, when his future is at stake are compromises to his abortion position acceptable—but when women’s futures are at stake, are they not? Further Ms. Raddatz could have asked whether Ryan believes that women who have abortions when it is illegal should be criminally prosecuted. “So Congressman Ryan, how much time should women serve in lockup for having an abortion?”
Although Vice President Biden’s strongly affirmed that he cannot tell women what to do with their bodies, he offered no proactive support for women’s access to care. He reinforced the idea that abortion exists because of Roe v. Wade and that the future of abortion resides with the next Supreme Court nominations. But Roe v Wade is not the prevailing constitutional standard for abortion. Rather that was set by the 1992Casey decision, which allows the government to regulate abortion as long as it doesn’t create an “undue burden” for women (a standard defined about as clearly as pornography or the Romney/Ryan “tax plan”).
It is because of Casey that women are forced to delay their abortions due to waiting periods and have to listen to scientifically unsupported information about the harms of abortion, and that clinics must adhere to physical plant requirements that do nothing to improve the safety of abortion and everything to increase the cost. Biden stumbled in providing a simplistic answer to a complicated social issue. Sorry Joe, support for the right to abortion is not enough; I want to know what you are going to do to improve the situation for the women who need and have abortions. “So Vice President Biden, what are you going to do to expand access to abortion care for all women?”
It is time to ask politicians questions that will elicit differences beyond the simple milquetoast dichotomy that democrats “support a woman’s right to choose” and republicans “support life.” Terrific, we already know that. We need to know how they will treat women who actually have abortions and what they will do to reduce or expand access to abortion care.
So January 23, 2013, will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe V Wade, the landmark case, which overturned numerous anti-choice state laws and legalized abortion rights in the United States. While it might be too early to celebrate, we might want to take notice of an apparent coordinated political effort that seeks to turn back the clock to a time when it was okay to deny women autonomy over their bodies.
Over the past two years, several GOP-controlled states, as well as their comrades in Congress, have launched one of the most extreme assaults on women’s choice the U.S. has seen in decades. It’s so extreme that many in media have declared it a “War on Women.” Wherever you stand on reproductive rights issues, you might want to take notice on how your gender, more particularly your body, is being used as a way to gain some political leverage and not necessarily for your benefit. So let me just highlight some of the measures that you should be paying attention to:
Last week, the Georgia House passed the “fetal pain bill,” which seeks to criminalize abortion after 20 weeks, completely overriding the Roe V Wade precedent by 4 weeks. Dubiously dubbed the “women as livestock bill,” this measure makes no exception for rape or incest and requires that women undergo a series of tests to prove that their fetuses might be on the verge of death due to some sort of chromosomal or congenital anomaly before an abortion could be performed. Likewise, the law also stipulates that the abortion must be performed in such a way that the fetus emerges alive. If, by chance the fetus dies during the abortion, the performing doctors will face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison.
This bill garnered national attention after one of its Republican co-signers compared pregnant women carrying stillborn fetuses and seeking abortion to the cows and pigs on his childhood farm, suggesting that just like farmers, have to “deliver calves, dead or alive,” a woman carrying a dead fetus, or one not expected to survive, should have to carry it to term. Once this bill is signed into law (and all signs are suggesting that the governor will sign it), Georgia will become the seventh state including Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, North Carolina and Indiana, which prohibits abortion after 20 weeks.
This past week, Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, (You know the guy that pissed off all the union workers and caused a summer of uprisings in the state?), has signed two Republican backed bills, which require doctors to consult privately with women seeking abortions. You know, to ensure that she is not being forcefully lead into having an abortion. The bill also bans abortion coverage in policies sold through a health insurance exchange, a marketplace for small businesses and individuals to purchase health insurance cheaply, except in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity.
The reproductive debate has been growing in intensity with each new bit of legislation introduced; from laws requiring transvaginal ultrasounds before women can have abortions to requirements over who should fund birth control, to personhood amendments that state rights start the minute sperm fertilizes an egg. For the most part, there have been two faces in this discussion: the white female protesters who will be damned if you take away the rights to procedures they supposedly only need in theory; and the black and Latina female victims who are said to stand to lose the most because they are the ones who need access to family planning services and procedures.
When you look at the facts thrown out about the womb being the most dangerous place for a black child, and then see white abortion rights advocates like Sandra Fluke taking a stand or Margaret Doyle shown here being removed from a General Assembly in Richmond, VA, because she’s so angry over the limiting of reproductive rights, you might ask, like Courtland Milloy did in a Washington Post article yesterday, “what does the white woman really have to be angry about?” As Milloy points out:
“She has the longest life expectancy in the country and, through sheer numbers, dominates the demographic landscape. Her power at the polls is immense. Her risk of falling victim to street crime is low compared with the risk faced by black women. She’s rarely exposed to the AIDS virus, and breast cancer is no longer the death sentence for her that it is for so many others.
“Relatively healthy, happy, safe and financially secure, she is the reigning queen of the ‘golden mean,’ the norm by which other women are measured.”
Yet, these are the women who, despite the fact that they supposedly don’t need the mammograms that Planned Parenthood will continue to fund through grants from Susan G. Komen, or abortions that will require prior ultrasounds in some states, or free contraception, are fighting tooth and nail to stop lawmakers from entering women’s wombs. Why are they so invested, because of an altruistic shared sisterhood or the idea that they want this right, even if everyone would have us believe they don’t need it? When Milloy asked the disgruntled activist what her motives were, she said this:
“To be honest with you, we are rattled because just a few years ago this nation was brought to the absolute brink and we nearly lost everything,” Margaret Doyle said. “If you were comfortable in your lifestyle, had your Colonial home with a picket fence and thought ‘this is my entitlement, I am supposed to have this,’ and then learn that it can all go away in a hot New York minute? And instead of creating jobs, helping us stay in our homes, improving roads and schools, these dangerous men are in the state legislature obsessing over our wombs.”
She certainly has a point about greater attention needing to be placed on far more pressing issues facing our country, but her use of the word entitlement causes Milloy pause in his summation on the differing visibility of white and black women in the debate. He writes, “For the white woman, perhaps, it is the fear of losing the rights that she’d come to take for granted that has led to the explosive displays of rage. For the black woman, thwarted in her drive to win some of those same rights, fear of not getting what she deserves is probably fueling a silent fury that will soon erupt as well.”
In other words, white women wouldn’t be taking a stand in this discussion now if they didn’t finally stand to lose something as well. Of course Milloy is using broad assumptions in making his points about the racial divide in the reproductive debate. There are likely as many white woman who need these services as there are black women who don’t, but the entire discussion reminds me of the black feminist movement and how an entirely new effort evolved among black women in the 1970s because they simply were not fighting for the same things as their white female counterparts. Is that what’s going on with the absence of women of color in this discussion today? Forty years ago black woman created their own movement because white feminists failed to acknowledge oppression based on race and class. Are white women now ignoring that the limiting of reproductive rights is as much, if not more so, about controlling poor women of color and their offspring, as it is women’s bodies in general?
Or maybe black women are largely silent on the national reproductive platform because as Milloy says, “the white woman decides who gets heard in such matters. By her own efforts, but also through her unique access to wealthy men, she builds institutions to support her causes.” When you think about it, would black and Latina women as the true face of this issue—whether that is legitimate or not—ever garner as much attention as it currently does? Or is it the power that the white woman holds and her ability to speak up in certain circles what commands attention from the government?
Thus far, Judy Eason McIntyre, the Oklahoma Senator who held up a sign during a protest at the state’s capitol that read, “If I Wanted the Government in my Womb, I’d F*** a Senator,” continues to be the sole black face in a sea of white ones taking a prominent stand on the reproductive debate. This begs the question of whether black women want to get in on the discussion or if they’ve been pushed out of it. It’s fine for white women to take a stand on this hot button issue but what shouldn’t happen is what Milloy suggests, “other women may sit at the table, but she alone speaks on their behalf.” If women of color stand to lose so much when it comes to reproductive rights, then we should have a voice in this as well.
Do you see the reproductive debate as an opportunity for all women to work together toward a common goal or are the agendas of white women and women of color too different to put up a united front?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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(Wall Street Journal) — A consensus is emerging on how to compensate thousands of men and women sterilized in one of the largest state eugenics programs in the U.S. But North Carolina’s budget troubles make it unlikely that the aging victims will get cash payments anytime soon. A perennial legislative proposal to pay as many as 3,000 sterilized people $20,000 each got a boost this spring after Republicans took over North Carolina’s House and Senate following the November elections. Compensation for victims has long been championed by state Democrats, but the idea gained momentum with the recent endorsement of some high-ranking Republicans who said sterilization was an infringement on individual rights. ”Most of the time, we’re thinking from the neck up, but this one started with me in the stomach, the intuition of it all,” said Republican Rep. Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem, the speaker pro tem of the House. North Carolina is among more than 30 states that once sanctioned eugenics; the vast majority of the victims were sterilized either forcibly or with inadequate consent.
(Time) — The rate of abortion among American women has dropped overall, but not among the poorest women, according to study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology by the Guttmacher Institute. Between 2000 and 2008, abortions among American women aged 15 to 44 fell 8%, reaching a low of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women. The decline applied to most groups: notably, the abortion rate declined 18% among African American women over that time period and 22% among teens aged 15 to 17. However, women living in profound poverty were the one exception. Women whose incomes fell below the federal poverty level ($10,830 for a single woman with no children) accounted for 42% of all abortions in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, the abortion rate among the lowest-income women climbed from 44 to 53 abortions per 1,000 women — an increase of 18% overall.
(New York Times) — At a time when evidence suggests that people in New York City are smoking less, eating better and biking more, one health statistic that has not budged is the abortion rate. Two of every five pregnancies in the city end in abortion, a statistic that has barely changed in more than a decade.At a news conference last month,Timothy M. Dolan, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, called the city’s 41 percent abortion rate “downright chilling.” And on Thursday, State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx brought up the figure repeatedly as he urged a group of anti-abortion ministers to spread the word that abortion was nothing less than an attack on minorities.
(The Root) — Ryan Bomberger was born of a rape nearly 30 years ago. He is alive today because his biological mother made a choice, he says, to put him up for adoption rather than have an abortion. He is grateful, though he realizes the choice was not easy. For one thing, the young white woman lived in a mostly white community in Pennsylvania, and her attacker was a black man. As a result of the incident, she became emblematic of the moral politics of reproductive rights in a battle that erupted after the passage of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion 37 years ago, and rages on today.