Mike Huckabee jumps on anti-abortion bandwagon

The goal: criminalize abortion, make it impossible for a physician in the U.S. to perform an abortion or for a woman in the U.S. to obtain a safe, legal abortion. The progress: excellent. The methods: distortion, sensationalism and more than a few outright lies. The concern for women: zero.

But it’s working. Obviously it’s going to get a lot of conservative Republicans elected.

This just in from Georgia Right to Life:

Today (May 3) Governor Mike Huckabee announced his support for SB 529 in a message that is going out to Georgia constituents asking for their support for SB 529. Governor Huckabee noted the importance of this bill, “SB 529 is a simple bill that prevents a woman from being forced to have an abortion against her will and prohibits the use of abortion as a means of race or gender discrimination. I’m asking you to support SB 529 and to ask your representative to support SB 529.”

Two weeks ago the Georgia Senate passed SB 529 with overwhelming support. On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, SB 529 had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, but no vote was taken.

SB 529 was drafted by some of the leading pro-life attorney’s in the nation and was reviewed positively by the American Center for Law and Justice, Liberty Counsel, the Thomas Moore Law Center, Americans United for Life, and Focus on the Family.

Here are just a few interesting factoids: Mike Huckabee is the former governor of Arkansas, currently a regular on Fox News, formerly a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Presumably his “constituents” are those who will now support his next presidential — or whatever — bid because of this brave stand against “forced abortion.” Focus on the Family is a Christian organization that is not averse to messing around in political campaigns. The un-subtle message of that “as a means of race discrimination” is the bizarre hook with which abortion foes are seeking to manipulate African Americans, by equating abortion with Black genocide.

It is simply not so. Women do not need pious white guys protecting them from being marched in droves into abortion clinics. African American women do not need anybody telling them what they may or may not do with their bodies.

What we need is the right to life, our lives. The right to choose. The right to control our own bodies. Once the abortion foes win this battle — which gets scarier by the day — those basic human rights will be taken away from American women. Because women get pregnant. Sometimes that pregnancy is a mistake, a threat, a danger. When abortion becomes illegal, women will have no option but the back alley abortionist.

Decreasing numbers of us know what that was like, but I can tell you. Before Roe v Wade, legions of women, for countless valid reasons, needed to terminate a pregnancy. A few found doctors willing to risk their license in order to give a woman a safe choice. But uncounted thousands of us wound up in the filthy, unsafe, demeaning hands of back alley abortionists. Uncounted thousands died. Those who died were white, Black and all shades in between.

Would Mike Huckabee like to see his daughter go through that tragic indignity? That’s where we are headed.

Abortion foes' 'Black Genocide' campaign draws one woman's thoughtful response

“Black children are an endangered species” the billboards proclaim — and they are having success. At the bottom of each huge sign is the sponsoring site: toomanyaborted.com, whose stated vision is “to eliminate abortion in America.” Eighty such billboards ran, as a campaign to attract more Black members to Georgia Right to Life; if the newly-concluded effort is deemed a success it is expected to be replicated in other states.

A thoughtful story ran in Sunday’s Women’s eNews, and was forwarded to this space by thoughtful reader Melissa. Set aside the valid physical, emotional, economic and other reasons for terminating a pregnancy, author/scholar Margaret Morganroth Gullette‘s personal story illustrates how a combination of factors can also lead to a considered choice.

Gullette tells of learning from her mother, who was then in her eighties, that she had had an illegal abortion when Gullette and her brother were very young. Unlike this writer, and thousands of others who risked (and often lost) their lives in barbaric procedures because a doctor willing to perform a sterile abortion could not be found, Gullette’s mother was able to have a safe abortion in Manhattan. Her parents were poor and her father’s employment uncertain in those 1940s days, Gullette writes, and felt it would be unfair to add a third child to the already struggling family.

I want to add something–temporality–often forgotten or undervalued in the abortion rights debate, even by pro-choice people.

It is hard to define “life” but one thing we know is that it involves time passing. Life time. If a woman who mothers lives after delivery, she is dedicating some hefty chunk of her life time to being responsible for her child. Usually, two decades. The right to decide whether to proceed with a pregnancy takes into account, and must take into account, that irrevocable pledge of responsibility.

It trivializes this life-course decision-making to suggest my mother’s choice was made on the basis of “convenience.” She decided to make my father’s life easier, to devote her maternal attention to her existing children and to study to further her own and our family’s joint life chances.

Everything proved her decision a correct one. She earned a teaching degree, then went to Bank Street College of Education and earned a master’s degree, got tenure, became a wonderful and happy first-grade teacher and earned a good and secure salary that rose every year.

She and my father together moved us up some inches into the lower middle class so that I could get a good education.

In her 80s, when my mother told me about this episode in her life, it was clear that she had never had any regrets.

The Right-to-Lifers would have us believe that no woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy, at any moment after conception occurs. That unwanted, possibly unloved and uncared for children must be brought into the world no matter what.

Suppose — just suppose — they were to quit shrieking about eliminating a woman’s right to control her own body, and focus instead on that irrevocable pledge of responsibility. What a gift to the children of the world — black, white, brown, whatever color — that would be.

My Mother’s Abortion Improved All of Our Lives | Womens eNews.

Study the fetus before abortion: Oklahoma enacts tough new laws

It is still legal to get an abortion in Oklahoma. But first, you’ve got to look at the ultrasound, listen to some technician describe whether the fetus has indications of arms and legs and get your doctor to report on whether or not there is any cardiac activity. If you were not suffering pain and distress from an unwanted &/or unmanageable pregnancy before all this, you will doubtless suffer during and after. Then, maybe the State of Oklahoma will let you resume control of your own body.

No one is more vulnerable than a child in the womb,” said state Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City. “They have no voice except ours.”

Well, I beg to differ with the good senator. Wonder what gender Steve Russell is? A fetus is not a child. Fetuses have voices; their voices belong to the women in whose bodies they reside. Exactly as the voices of a group of ocular cells belong to a woman considering eye surgery. It is nobody’s business but the woman’s whether a group of cells — detectable signs of appendages and heartbeats notwithstanding — should appropriately remain within her body until they might become a baby. It should not be my business to tell Steve Russell, or anybody else, how much he has to study pictures of spermatozoa before he undergoes a vasectomy, which I hope… well, maybe this analogy should not go any farther.

The Oklahoma Senate voted Tuesday to override Gov. Brad Henry‘s veto of two abortion bills, including one that an abortion-rights group has said would be among the nation’s strictest measures against the procedure.

The narrow override votes in the Republican-controlled Senate came a day after the state House voted overwhelmingly to do the same, meaning the bills became law immediately. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights quickly filed a lawsuit, however, seeking to block enforcement of one of the statutes.

It requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion. The person who performs the ultrasound must describe the dimensions of the fetus, whether arms, legs and internal organs are visible and whether the physician can detect cardiac activity. He or she must also turn a screen depicting the images toward the woman so she can see them.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has said the ultrasound requirement intrudes upon a patient’s privacy and forces a woman to hear information that may not be relevant to her medical care. The group also believes it could interfere with the physician-patient relationship by compelling doctors to deliver unwanted speech.

“The constitutional issues are very serious,” said Jennifer Mondino, an attorney for the group. Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich set a hearing Monday on the organization’s request for a temporary restraining order.

The other abortion measure overridden by the Senate prohibits pregnant women from seeking damages if physicians withhold information or provide inaccurate information about their pregnancy. Supporters of that measure have said it is an attempt to keep pregnant women from discriminating against fetuses with disabilities. Mondino said the group’s lawsuit does not seek to block enforcement of that law.

Oklahoma now officially joins Georgia, Ohio and an appallingly growing number of other states enacting, or seeking to enact legislation that is harsh, punitive and grossly inappropriate for women. Pregnant or not, women in the U.S. are entitled to the control of their own bodies. At least, for now. If the (largely white male) opponents of abortion get what they want, American women will be sent back to the dark ages of back-alley abortions.

Oklahoma enacts tough new abortion laws.

Abortion foes stoop to new lows, and new absurdities

Two pregnant women. One has someone behind her holding a gun to her head. The other one, a Black woman, is being led by a white man. They are entering an abortion clinic.

Wait! Saved by Georgia Right to Life!

It could soon be against the law to force someone to have an abortion, or to have an abortion that is “racially motivated” in the state of Georgia. SB 529, the Coercion and Prenatal Non-Discrimination Ban sponsored by Senator Chip Pearson and lustily supported by Georgia Right to Life, passed a couple of weeks ago by a vote of 33 to 14. The bill now goes to the House, where HB 1155 will send the same message into the world: Thou shalt not “coerce” someone into having an abortion; thou shalt not abort “on the basis of race or gender.”

If you have not noticed forced or racially motivated abortions being rampant in this country you may wonder what’s up with Georgia Right to Life.

I happen to think I know. My crystal ball says if the rather ridiculous law passes this is what will follow: GRTL will find some poor woman willing to declare, after seeking a perfectly legal abortion, that her doctor actually forced her to have the procedure. A high profile case will ensue, the doctor may or may not be convicted — that part really doesn’t matter — but more and more doors will close against abortions. Once enough doors are closed, GRTL and others eager to dictate what women may or may not do with their own bodies will have achieved their goal. Legal abortion will be denied the women of Georgia.

So, you say, they can just go to another state (until the method proves effective and other states follow along. Other states are watching.) If they have money and resources, that will be true. But the poor and un-empowered women of Georgia will be left without safe choices. And you can believe that there will be plenty of back-alley abortionists in business by then.

A diminishing number of us know what it was like in the heyday of back-alley abortions. The right-to-life people, who are so worried about embryos but don’t believe women have rights, won’t tell you. I will. Filthy men (and sometimes even women) made big money butchering desperate women who had no other choice. So the women lay on kitchen tables or gurneys bought cheap at hospital supply warehouses, had unsterilized objects puncture their bodies and went home — often to die.

There are two problems with the RTL people. One is their righteous zeal. The Alabama Pro-Life Coalition Education Fund, for example, “cooperates with God and other Christians…” Hmm. I, a committed Christian, have talked with God about a lot of things and She never told me She wanted to consign mature women to barbarity. The second problem is with mature women. The RTLers believe a fertilized egg has more rights than the woman within whose body it is harbored. If you find that as hard to believe as the notion that women in Georgia are being herded into abortion chambers against their will — check out Ohio Right to Life‘s opposition to the current H.B. 333. ORTL opposes the morning-after pill because “it may cause early abortion” on the morning after.

If the RTLers could, for one moment, stand in the shoes of just one poor, desperate, pregnant woman from the days before Roe v Wade they might get a tiny glimpse of the terror that comes from being without choices. The RTLers say, Choose Life, which I do, every day, for myself and everyone else humanly possible. If abortion becomes criminalized, as is the RTL aim, uncounted thousands of women will have no choice but the deadly back-alley abortionist.

Abortion foes invade NY Metro

A new attack on reproductive rights is underway, this time on New York City subways. As if the Georgia anti-choice campaign linking abortion rights to Black genocide or the Polish campaign linking abortion to Hitler weren’t enough, now we have a soft sell campaign complete with well-dressed women ostensibly traumatized by a past abortion and downcast men who  yearn to be good fathers.  Come on, folks. Is it possible that (often poor, often desperate) women choosing to have an abortion have perfectly good brains, and not many of them have the man in question offering support?

The 2,000 ads, which straphangers (are now seeing) in nearly every subway station, depict either a woman saying, “I thought life would be the way it was before,” or a man saying, “I often wonder if there was something I could have done to help her.”

Many people, certainly including this writer, will have reservations about all this.

“The campaign suggests that feelings of sadness and self-harm are the universal experiences for someone who had an abortion,” said Samantha Levine of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. “And there’s no evidence to suggest that that’s true.”

“The organization behind these ads has an agenda,” continued Levine. “They aren’t seeking to help women — they’re seeking to get abortion banned.”

But Michaelene Fredenburg, who started San Diego-based Abortion Changes You (25 years) after her own abortion, says her ads are more about helping people than politics.

“I had an abortion when I was 18,” said Fredenburg, 44. “I had a hard time … I wanted to reach out and say you’re not alone.”

Fredenburg’s agenda could be broader than Levine suggests, or narrower, depending on your degree of cynicism. She has, surprise, a book. You can purchase it on her website at a 20% discount, for $19.95. Plus “outreach materials” that include cards ($20 for 250), posters (set of three, $50.) A disclaimer at the bottom of most pages says it is “not a professional counseling site” or meant to replace such, but you are offered ‘Healing Pathways’ to follow or other readers’ stories to read.

Fredenburg was 8 when Roe v Wade paved the way for her to choose a safe, legal abortion 10 years later. Had that not been the case, she might well have joined the uncounted thousands who died at the hands of back alley butchers rather than lived to create an organization. Contributions are invited, and purportedly tax deductible, although there is no mention of 501(c)3 status. Miscellaneous retreats (and the phone number of a suicide prevention hotline) are listed under the ‘Find Help’ button. Planned Parenthood is notably not listed, although they often help, and they do not force anyone to have an abortion.

I have no reason, other than it seems a great way to sell stuff and make a few bucks, to question Fredenburg’s altruistic intentions in founding Abortion Changes You. (PS, so does an unwanted pregnancy.) But if she is not in cahoots with those who seek to eliminate a woman’s right to control her own body, she is their tool. Should they succeed, women will return to a dark age that today’s 44-year-olds cannot begin to imagine.

When Fredenburg agrees to fight for all women’s right to control their own bodies, and to have access to the safe, sterile, legal abortion she presumably chose for herself, as well as to console others who have long-afterward regrets, I’ll buy her book.

Metro – Don’t look now: You may not like the ads you see.

Polish anti-abortionists invoke Hitler

It gets worse. After yesterday’s post, in which the linking of abortion to “Black Genocide” by Georgia Right to Life was reported with sadness and a little rage, I received a link to a story in the European edition of Telegraph U.K. It concerns a newly launched campaign to link abortion in Poland with Hitler’s extermination of Polish Jews. It reaches a brand new low.

Accompanying the article is a large, color photo of the poster which is at the centerpiece of this campaign. A leering Hitler, two horrific pictures. You may or may not want to read the Telegraph story or view the nightmare-producing poster. You are probably not old enough to remember Adolph Hitler, but I am. His images were all over the newsreels of my childhood. My father woke my sister and me in the middle of the night one night to hear his voice over the short wave radio so we would know the voice of a madman. Some of my most cherished and admired friends are Holocaust survivors or children of Holocaust survivors. Now, because I believe in a woman’s right to control her own body, to be equated with Hitler is a little much.

The provocative images, which appeared in the western city of Poznan as a part of a promised nationwide campaign, also carry the slogan “Abortion for Poles: introduced by Hitler, March 9, 1943.”

Fundacja Pro, the organisation behind the billboard, said that it wanted to remind Poles that abortion was first introduced to Poland during the Second World War by the country’s Nazi occupiers as a means of limiting the population of a people they deemed inferior.

One of Europe’s most devoutly Catholic countries, Poland now has some of the strictest abortion laws in the EU, and any attempt to have them liberalised arouses furious and passionate debate.

“It was Hitler who first introduced abortion to Poland, and in several days it will be the anniversary of that event.

“In this context it is worth recalling the words of Pope John Paul II: ‘History teaches us that democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism’,” Fundacja Pro said in a statement.

Values? Whose values? Does the value of a woman count? Does a woman still have a right, any right, to determine what happens to her own body? Or are only a few pontificating men allowed to decide what our ‘values’ should be?

(T)he use of Hitler, along with the torn foetus pictures, has already incurred the wrath of critics. Nazi Germany inflicted horrific levels of death and destruction on Poland, so any perceived attempt to hijack that suffering for the sake of a political or ethical agenda can be viewed with distaste.

“I understand that this campaign is designed to shock but there are limits to the use of shock,” said Elzbieta Streker-Dembinska, an MP and member of the Polish parliament’s health committee. A foetus and Adolf Hitler is unjustified comparison. The design of the billboard is unacceptable and crosses the boundaries of decency.”

Well, yes. One wonders if decency is a word the creators of this campaign can even begin to comprehend.

March 8 is International Women’s Day.

Hitler abortion poster sparks anger in Poland – Telegraph.

Abortion foes stoop to new low

Not satisfied with the use of fear and intimidation to deprive women of their right to choose an abortion, or closing clinics by murdering dedicated doctors, anti-abortion forces have now taken on a new mission: to convince African American women that pro-choice is really a plot to exterminate their race. In other words, desperate, vulnerable young women will now get a new message: You must always bring an accidental, unwanted child into the world — forget the cost or damage to its mother (and often to the child) — because it is your ethnic duty.

When these people achieve their goal of eliminating abortion rights altogether, it will be these women who will die from butchered, back-alley abortions. Is anybody considering that? Or do they really believe the twisted rhetoric they are employing in the damn-the-torpedoes drive  to abolish a woman’s fundamental right to control her own body?

For years the largely white staff of Georgia Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, tried to tackle the disproportionately high number of black women who undergo abortions. But, staff members said, they found it difficult to make inroads with black audiences.

So in 2009, the group took money that it normally used for advertising a pregnancy hot line and hired a black woman, Catherine Davis, to be its minority outreach coordinator. Ms. Davis traveled to black churches and colleges around the state, delivering the message that abortion is the primary tool in a decades-old conspiracy to kill off blacks.

The idea resonated, said Nancy Smith, the executive director. “We were shocked when we spent less money and had more phone calls” to the hot line, Ms. Smith said.

This month, the group expanded its reach, making national news with 80 billboards around Atlanta that proclaim, “Black children are an endangered species,” and a Web site, www.toomanyaborted.com.

Across the country, the anti-abortion movement, long viewed as almost exclusively white and Republican, is turning its attention to African-Americans and encouraging black abortion opponents across the country to become more active.

A new documentary, written and directed by Mark Crutcher, a white abortion opponent in Denton, Tex., meticulously traces what it says are connections among slavery, Nazi-style eugenics, birth control and abortion, and is being regularly screened by black organizations.

Black abortion opponents, who sometimes refer to abortions as “womb lynchings,” have mounted a sustained attack on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, spurred by a sting operation by young white conservatives who taped Planned Parenthood employees welcoming donations specifically for aborting black children.

“What’s giving it momentum is blacks are finally figuring out what’s going down,” said Johnny M. Hunter, a black pastor and longtime abortion opponent in Fayetteville, N.C. “The game changes when blacks get involved. And in the pro-life movement, a lot of the groups that have been ignored for years, they’re now getting galvanized.”

What’s giving it momentum is a history of ugliness on both sides of the issue, especially ugliness and worse suffered by African Americans. Hunter, of course, cannot understand the desperation of a woman with an unwanted pregnancy. But adopting a tactic of this sort can do nothing for understanding — and a lot to increase the future suffering of women of all colors.

Many black anti-abortion leaders, including Ms. Davis and Alveda King, a niece of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life, often recount their own abortion histories (each woman had two).

Shaila Dewan’s New York Times story detailing this new campaign does not point out the fact that Davis and King had access to safe, legal abortions, which theirs presumably were. Had that not been the case, either or both might well not be here today.

Those who support abortion rights dispute the conspiracy theory, saying it portrays black women as dupes and victims. The reason black women have so many abortions is simple, they say: too many unwanted pregnancies.

“It’s a perfect storm,” said Loretta Ross, the executive director of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective in Atlanta, listing a lack of access to birth control, lack of education, and even a high rate of sexual violence. “There’s an assumption that every time a girl is pregnant it’s because of voluntary activity, and it’s so not the case,” Ms. Ross said.

But, she said, the idea that abortion is intended to wipe out blacks may be finding fertile ground in a population that has experienced so much sanctioned prejudice and violence.

Black opponents of abortion are fond of saying that black people were anti-abortion and anti-birth control early on, pointing to Marcus Garvey’s conviction that blacks could overcome white supremacy through reproduction, and black militants who protested family planning clinics.

But that is only half the picture, scholars say. Black women were eager for birth control even before it was popularized by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and black doctors who provided illegal abortions were lauded as community heroes.

“Some male African-American leaders were so furious about what they perceived as genocidal intentions that in one case they burned down a clinic,” said Carole Joffe, the author of “Dispatches From the Abortion Wars.” “But women were very resolute, saying, ‘We want birth control.’ ”

Sanger was not perfect, and Planned Parenthood employees have made reprehensible statements at times. Crutcher’s documentary, “Maafa 21”, (the name is a Swahili word used to refer to the slavery era) weaves a few threads of truth into a vicious, two-hour screed tying the pro-choice movement to the Nazis and a “great conspiracy,” proclaiming pro-choice as “Black Genocide.” It was screened recently at Morris Brown College, a historically black institution in Atlanta.

“Before we saw the movie, I was pro-choice,” said Markita Eddy, a sophomore. But were she to get pregnant now, Ms. Eddy said, “it showed me that maybe I should want to keep my child no matter what my position was, just because of the conspiracy.”

Eddy at least knows that she still has a choice. The goal of the anti-abortion movement is to eliminate that choice. I would fight for her right to have and keep her baby. But the choice should not be made by some angry white man in Texas, or by someone else’s patriarchal religion or politics. It should be made by her, the owner of her body. To have that choice removed, now that is like slavery. Show me one member of the movement who has had a back-alley abortion and I will discuss that point with her. To promote these tactics, to foster this sort of hate-based rhetoric is almost as cruel as the fate to which the anti-abortion movement would consign American women. Of every color. It makes my heart ache for us all.

(A note: If you find this appalling, check out the subsequent post, and learn what’s going on in Poland. Women’s choices are under attack around the globe.)

To Court Blacks, Foes of Abortion Make Racial Case – NYTimes.com.