Shameless theft from ThinkProgress: a great source for progressive truth, and some new insight into Arizona craziness

Every now and then, when you’re dismayed and distressed about having zero time to put down any thoughts worth someone else’s time, you remember the excellent thoughts of someone else. In this case, a blog about recent goings-on in Arizona that was posted last week by my friend and very astute reporter on reproductive justice, Tara Culp-Ressler, Health Editor of ThinkProgress.org.

Arizona actions are a little difficult to follow, but they have to do with large issues. Issues like: when does your right to your religion trump my right to be who I am? Or, can your religion control my life? As in, does your religion have the right to determine whether or not I may choose to abort an 8-week fetus?

There is also a great deal of word-play going on (see ‘On choosing one’s words’ below.) As a general rule in these Arizona debates, “religious liberty” can be translated “I really don’t like gay people.” And “protecting women’s health” usually refers to limiting access to abortion. It’s easy to get lost in the wording and inuendo, and that’s why I appreciate others’ careful reporting and analysis. Here is the beginning of a thorough explanation of recent happenings in Arizona, lifted from Tara Culp-Ressler’s ThinkProgress page, which you may want to bookmark.

“All eyes were on Arizona this past week, after the legislature approved an anti-gay bill that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT individuals under the guise of preserving religious liberty. The intense national backlash culminated in Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R) decision to veto the legislation. But that doesn’t mean the lawmakers in the Grand Canyon State are putting controversial social issues to rest.

“Just one day after Brewer’s widely publicized veto, lawmakers in Arizona advanced new legislation to attack abortion rights. HB 2284, misleadingly named the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” would allow for surprise inspections at abortion clinics to try to catch them violating state law. The measure also stipulates that abortion clinics need to “report whenever an infant is born alive after a botched abortion and report what is done to save that child’s life,” inflammatory language that the anti-choice community often deploys to suggest that some doctors are committing infanticide.

“HB 2284 is being spearheaded by the Center for Arizona Policy, or CAP, the same right-wing group that was behind the controversial “right to discriminate” bill.

“State lawmakers gave the measure preliminary approval on Thursday. “I mean, for goodness’ sake, we even do unannounced inspections of Burger King and McDonald’s, but we’re not allowing them at abortion clinics?” Rep. Debbie Lesko (R), the bill’s sponsor, said during the legislative hearing on the measure.

“In reality, Lesko’s legislation is seeking to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist. Abortion is already one of the safest medical procedures in the country, and the clinics that perform these procedures are already highly regulated. There’s no good reason to single out abortion providers for this additional red tape. Enacting these type of laws simply gives abortion opponents the opportunity to trigger state investigations — and, depending on the political affiliations of the people who serve on state health boards, this can be an avenue to force clinics out of business.

“’As an organization, we support bills that truly protect patient safety, but House Bill 2284 opens the door to provider and patient harassment,’ Jodi Liggett, the director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Arizona, told ThinkProgress in a statement.

“HB 2284 is part of a coordinated strategy to close abortion clinics that’s advancing across the country. And it’s also a clear reminder that, regardless of Brewer’s recent veto, the fight against “religious liberty” legislation isn’t over. This line of argument is driving efforts to restrict LGBT rights in other states across the country — and it’s directly related to attacks on reproductive freedom, too.”

For the rest of the story, surf over to ThinkProgress. Click those buttons at the top of the page if you appreciate it as much as this writer.

All kinds of greetings this season

Christmas bells

Christmas bells (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first thing that dropped out of the Christmas card was a front page torn from The Flint (MI) Journal of September 5, 2013:

ABORTION CLINIC CLOSES; ONE REMAINS IN AREA read the banner headline at the top of the page.

My friends keep track of things for me. News and notes get saved — sometimes for three months — because holiday cards are still my generation’s catch-up communication of choice. Who went off to college, got married, landed a new job, took an exotic trip, (got sick or died) — news of the old year comes with good wishes for the new. This year’s news, for me, tended to focus on reproductive rights. Thus the clipping from The Flint Journal (on whose payroll Bud Johns appeared as a kid, and a young reporter.)

The story wasn’t one that would have made lasting news much beyond Genessee County, Michigan. An ugly report about a woman saying she was “forced” to have an abortion, a lawsuit, and that was the end of the Feminine Health Care Clinic.

It’s still possible to obtain an abortion in the area, though obviously now more difficult. The closing of FHCC brought the number of abortion-providing clinics in the area down from four not long ago to, currently, one. And that, according to Flint Area Right to Life Director Judy Climer who’s been leading this effort, “makes us feel we’re on the right track.” Climer’s track leads to total denial of abortion access. And the interesting point of the whole long, sad story is summed up later in the article:

Lori Lamerand, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Mid and South Michigan points out toward the end of the story that all of these things “were not done solely in the best interest of the patient.”

This week will bring more cards. Next week will bring a new year. If miracles happen — and isn’t this the season of miracles? — the new year will bring some sort of rational public dialog about protecting the patient, i.e. pregnant woman, while somehow respecting those who blindly hold that her fetus is all that matters.

Miracles do happen.

 

Who’s fighting for reproductive rights?

lisaalone1AC-TI-VIST: Vigorous advocate for a cause. Or, Lisa Lindelef (among a lot of others. )

As Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion rights, turned 40 early this year, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 7 out of 10 Americans want the law to stand. Those who believe otherwise, though, have been working to make abortion access difficult in many states, and are reportedly preparing a case that will lead back to the Court and potential repeal of Roe v Wade.

Enter the activists. They include the staff and countless volunteers for Planned Parenthood, the forces of groups like Trust Women Silver Ribbon campaign, the people of National Abortion Federation, National Organization of Women and…

NARAL Pro-Choice America. NARAL Pro-Choice is the one that’s drawn the interest and energies of Lisa Lindelef, one of the panelists on the Commonwealth Club of California’s October 17th program, Women at Risk: What’s Ahead for Reproductive Rights. She’ll be adding the perspective of a long-time activist to that of other panelists; if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, come join the discussion. Lisa currently serves on the board of the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, whose mission is “to support and protect, as a fundamental right and value, a woman’s freedom to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices through education, training, organizing, legal action, and public policy.”

About her personal motivations, and decision to work with NARAL, Lisa has this to say:

“I’ve been involved with the pro-choice and reproductive rights movement since before Roe, ever since I saw young women I knew “disappear” and never reappear.  As choice gradually, and now increasingly, has become threatened by restrictions designed to weaken the Roe decision without actually undoing it, I decided it was time to put serious time and resources into the fight.  The pro-choice coalition has many admirable and steadfast members but NARAL Pro-Choice America has been, and remains, the political leader of the pro-choice movement.  With its combined state and federal organization structure, it is uniquely positioned to lead the fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.

Since 1973, safe and legal abortion has been offered by physicians across the U.S., including members of Physicians for Reproductive Health, and through clinics maintained by Planned Parenthood and other groups such as the Feminist Women’s Health Centers in Atlanta, GA and Washington. Those who oppose abortion rights have been whittling them away, state by state, through restrictive laws and regulations, putting women with unintended pregnancies often at considerable risk; having been one of those women in the days before 1973, I know the risks.

Which is why I applaud the activists for choice like Lisa Lindelef.

Without abortion rights, poor women suffer

There are no winners when abortion is criminalized — unless you count conservative politicians and embryos. But there are losers.

Local public radio station KQED broadcasted an interesting hour of commentary on abortion rights August 7, one of its regular morning Forum shows. This one was hosted by Scott Shafer, and included Amy Everitt, state director for NARAL Pro-Choice CA speaking for choice and lawyer Jennifer Popick for the anti view.

The show included most of the usual arguments pro and con abortion rights, but one caller raised the issue that ought to be prominent in every news report: it’s poor women who suffer and die when abortion rights are denied. The caller pointed out that well-off women can simply go somewhere else for a safe procedure; women without money or resources have no option but to make desperate and often dangerous attempts to end an unintended, unwanted pregnancy.

I wanted to call in to read a few stories, put a few faces (like my own) on women yesterday and today without reproductive choice, but think it would be hard to do in just an hour.

Retired Presbyterian minister and former theological seminary president Laird Stuart, put it this way after reading Perilous Times: “If you doubt there is a war on women or a war on the poor, listen to the men and women, the boys and girls in this book.”

Decisions Congress shouldn’t make

English: View of Capitol Hill from the U.S. Su...

English: View of Capitol Hill from the U.S. Supreme Court Česky: Pohled na Kapitol z budovy Nejvyššího soudu Spojených států (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent New York Times op ed piece by Judy Nicastro tells the wrenching story of an abortion she had at 23 weeks.

The decision — which involved aborting a fetus that would have faced only suffering if it survived — was made after agonizing weeks. It was informed by sonograms, an M.R.I., tests, studies and extensive discussions between Nicastro, her husband and many medical professionals.

The decision to tell her story was prompted by the House vote on June 18 to ban abortion after 22 weeks. No one among those who voted for the bill (which is not expected to pass the Senate) has experienced anything like the agonizing struggle Nicastro and her husband went through, or even just a troubled pregnancy — most of the votes were cast by men, after all.

The decision was anguished, soul-searching, unique — and above all, private.

Which raises the question:

Should a decision about an unintended or unadvised pregnancy be made by the woman involved, with advice from medical professionals, after discussion with her partner, in consideration of the unique circumstances that apply?

Or by the U.S. Congress?