We’ve been watching state after state wage a coordinated war against women. Here’s a summary of this year’s assault on women’s health by NYT’s Emily Bazelon. Women better wake up and smell the threat to their right to self-determination.
Ever since Republicans took control of half the country’s statehouses this year, the anti-abortion movement has won one victory after another. At least 64 new anti-abortion laws have passed, with more than 30 of them in April alone. The campaign is the largest in history and also the most creative. Virginia started regulating abortion clinics as if they were hospitals. Utah, Nebraska and several other states have stopped private health insurers from covering abortions, with rare exceptions. South Dakota will soon tell women that before they go to an abortion clinic, they must first visit a crisis pregnancy center whose mission is to talk them out of it.
It’s amazing to me that after 8 years of Republican focus on the war on Terror, their focus turns towards turning the clock back decades for American women. What is behind these reactionaries? What is fueling the fantancism? Why have they suddenly switched strategies?
Instead, lawyers representing their side have been challenging the laws that hurt women most — which are also the ones most likely to sway public opinion back to their side. Can it really be good politics for a state to tell private health insurers what kind of coverage for women’s health they can and can’t provide? Or to take away the money that allows Planned Parenthood to prescribe birth control and treat S.T.D.’s? Quinnipiac and CNN polls from earlier this year both found majority support for continuing government financing of Planned Parenthood. There’s also a clear argument against laws like the ones that permit Virginia to regulate abortion clinics like hospitals or that allow Louisiana to immediately close an abortion clinic for any technical rule violation. In making early abortions more burdensome and costly, these laws take aim at the ordinary version of the procedure that women experience and for which support is greatest. In a 2007 poll, Gallup found that twice as many people favor making late-term abortion illegal than favor overturning Roe (72 percent versus 35 percent).
Abortion rights advocates are also trying to prevent South Dakota from mandating that women wait a full 72 hours for an abortion. This comes on the heels of a lawsuit that challenges the requirement that mandatory counseling include the claim that abortion is linked to an increased risk of suicide (there is no reliable evidence to support this). In Casey, the Supreme Court allowed states to impose only a 24-hour waiting period and to require counseling that accurately explained the stages of fetal development. The South Dakota law is far out enough that when I asked Yoest about it, she said only, “That’s not one of our pieces of legislation.” If the battle reaches the Supreme Court, there’s presumably little chance that Justice Kennedy would sign off on requiring doctors to read a script of made-up data posing as facts.
These are precisely the kinds of cases that lawyers in support of reproductive rights should pursue, because they portray abortion foes as radical. The South Dakota fight shows that in the name of protecting women, abortion opponents are willing to demean them — by forcing them to visit a crisis pregnancy center and listen to unsupported medical claims. (According to a 2006 Congressional investigation, most of these centers give out inaccurate information about abortion’s health effects.)
At this point, there seems to be no organized women’s movement to get us off the defensive and put us back on the offensive. Religious activists have worked hard to ensure that nearly all Republican candidates are not pro-choice. The entire Republican contingent in the U.S. House of Representatives from a solid anti-choice block. It’s time for those of us that support a women’s right to make a decision regarding her own body to go on the offensive. We need to recruit and support more pro-choice candidates.
Morning, news junkies.
Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…
Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:
This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”
That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.
Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.
Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…
- William and Kate are married. You can now call them Duke and Duchess. That’s all I’m going to cover on that.
Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words
- via the Columbia Missourian, PHOTO GALLERY: Tornado damage in Alabama. The photo of the woman carrying her clothes away while looking down at what used to be her home says so much, so simply. Also, via the Mobile Press-Register, Alabama tornadoes: Epic scenes of disaster across state (photos, video)
- In case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a facebook page called “Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes” trying to help victims find their belongings. Here’s a CNN report on it.
“Depressing women’s history news of the week”
- via Historiann, Roe v. Wade lawyer Sarah Weddington to be fired from adjunct position at U. Texas. Way to not Hook ’em, Horns.
- Pro-choice, defined. This one is a real barn-burner, though it’s sad that in the year 2011, the pro-choice position has to be spelled out to both Republicans AND Democrats:
Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.
The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?
The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.
- Solidarity forever. WI State Journal/Capital Times… Fight Songs: Musicians take a stand to support Wisconsin protests, quoting RATM guitarist Tom Morello:
“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”
- The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.
- Sean Penn spotted at Foggy Bottom on Thursday. Rozen says one reason for his visit to the State Department might be his recent humanitarian work in Haiti.
- Hill pic of the week — Women in power pow-wow: Hillary and Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa met on Friday:
When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn
- Via yahoo’s The Ticket, Condoleezza Rice fires back at ‘grumpy’ Donald Rumsfeld:
First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.
As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…
- This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):
You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.
- For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:
“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”
- In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says “what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”
The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China
- Friday was Another bloody day of rage in Syria (via Rozen/Envoy):
In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.
“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”
- Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum in NY, in a special to CNN about detained Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei: A dangerous mix of art and politics. See also FP’s slideshow on the detention of Weiwei and others.
- China’s DDoS attack on Change.org after petition backing Weiwei went viral; Stacy at SecyClintonBlog: “The silence from the administration is deafening.”
- Nick Kristof, Great Leap Backward. Teaser:
Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.
Timeout: Art break
- Did you know this much intricacy could be created by the art of creasing? Check out this slideshow of Simon Schubert’s folded paper artwork. There are some gorgeous interior pieces in there!
We’re about halfway through, so click to read the rest… Read the rest of this entry »
The Republican Party is waging a war against American women and is being joined by a few bad Democratic sell outs. Representatives like Joe Pitts are attacking the rights of women to make personal health-related decisions daily. HR#3 is just the first of a series of bills designed to narrow definitions of rape, prevention, and what constitutes federal support of women’s reproductive health. Any one that voted for any Republican under the guise of being pissed at Democrats should take this as a lesson. Republicans cannot be trusted to do right by women.
This is nothing less than a crusade against the autonomy and adulthood of women. We need to take to the streets again. This is the latest affront: Under Banner of Fiscal Restraint, Republicans Plan New Abortion Bills.
All but invisible during the midterm elections, the abortion debate has returned to Congress.
Invoking the mantra of fiscal restraint that has dominated House action since lawmakers reconvened last month, Republicans began committee work this week on two bills that would greatly expand restrictions on financing for and access to abortions. Another bill, one that would cut off federal dollars to women’s health care clinics that offer abortions, is expected to surface later this year.
“This House is more pro-life than it’s ever been,” said Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania and the author of one of the bills to limit money for abortions.
Democrats in both the House and Senate immediately fought back Tuesday, working closely with reproductive rights advocates. They have appropriated the Republican charge from last year that Democrats were working on a liberal policy agenda instead of on job creation and the economy, and turned it on its head.
We’re fortunate that some Democratic office holders are fighting against this religious crusade against American Women. Others are not as reported here by StarkReports. Is HR#3 so overreaching that it could end even the watered down abortion rights that we now know in the US? Will Democrats like Harry Reid be complicit? The Youtube above and the quote below cover the recent Democratic Press Conference on Republican attempts to control women. It makes this important point. Dozens of Democrats will probably join their crazed Republican counterparts to pass this abomination. There is one thing in particular that I’d like to point out in bold below that will let you know why no woman that respects her own autonomy can vote Republican period. This should also increase our skepticism of Democrats too.
Since every Representative in the Republican House majority is anti-choice, and since there are probably dozens of anti-choice Democrats that will join them, HR3 will assuredly pass the House.
In the Senate, Harry Reid is anti-choice and has been rolled by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans at every turn. Moreover, procedure in the Senate is much more amenable to minority priorities. Abortion supporters are hopeful, but nobody is saying with any degree of certitude that HR3 will die in the Senate.
With that in mind, I decided to ask the people in the room if they were willing to withhold their support from the President if he signed the bill if it reached his desk. Nadler dodged the question, saying it was premature. I pointed out that there was a reason he called the press conference: that he didn’t wan’t to see this bill become law. He stayed silent on the President.
The Republican party no longer represents a sane alternative to the Democratic Party. Still, the Democratic Party cannot be trusted to do the right thing by women either. Women have no choice but to ensure that any one that is willing to sell us out to religious extremists in the Democratic party does not get our vote. PERIOD.
HR#3 and its counterparts make women second class citizens. There is no other personal health decision that the government feels the need to make for any man. This says that the majority of people in Congress and a good deal of them in the Senate do not think we are adult enough to make a ‘moral choice’. It also continues the special treatment of fetus fetishists to opt out of paying taxes for women’s health while forcing the rest of us to pay for their bridges to no where, their murderous wars, and their religion-based stupidity like ‘abstinence education’. The rape redefinition trick is still in these bills too.
One bill, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” would eliminate tax breaks for private employers who provide health coverage if their plans offer abortion services, and would forbid women who use a flexible spending plan to use pre-tax dollars for abortions. Those restrictions would go well beyond current law prohibiting the use of federal money for abortion services.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey, has drawn fire over language that undercuts a longstanding exemption on the ban on using federal money for abortions in the case of rape or incest; the measure narrows the definition of rape to “forcible rape,” a term that his office has never defined. Democratic lawmakers and others repeatedly hammered on the term, saying it suggested that victims of statutory rape and other crimes could not get abortions paid for with federal money.
While Mr. Smith’s staff said last week that the term “forcible rape” would be removed from the bill, the staff of Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, said that language remained intact as of Tuesday.
Another bill, sponsored by Mr. Pitts, addresses the health care overhaul head-on by prohibiting Americans who receive insurance through state exchanges from purchasing abortion coverage, even with their own money. The bill is essentially a resurrection of a provision in the House version of the health care law but was not in the Senate version.
The bill would also permit hospitals to refuse abortions to women, even in emergency situations, if such care would offend the conscience of the health care providers.
We now have senators whose narrow religious views will be used to define rape and will allow hospitals to let women die. Many of you have heard this story before, but my daughter has already experienced some of this conscious clause bullshit during her forth year in Medical School while doing a rotation in Michigan. A resident left my daughter–not a qualified physician at the time–and a nurse to clean up the remnants of a botched abortion that was rapidly going septic in one woman’s uterus. That’s right. This woman was left by a doctor to a fourth year medical student and a nurse as a result of an abortion-gone-wrong. The doctor basically left her to die. Thankfully, my daughter was a competent and conscientious caregiver and so was the nurse. This last bill allows entire hospitals to walk away from dying women.
These bills would go no where with out the duplicity of Democrats like Nebraska’s wacko Senator Ben Nelson. We need to make it loud and clear that we will not contribute to any mass campaign fund that includes support for people who believe women are not adult enough to make moral decisions for themselves. You need to make sure that your donations do not go to Democratic Politician’s PACS that can sneak money to these culprits. Lastly, we need a pledge that pro choice Democrats will not sell out women for any reason. There needs to be an absolute understanding that these bills will not reach the President’s desk and if they do, the President will not sign them.
Woman’s should not be hung on a cross of bipartisanship or kumbaya centrist compromises. It’s time to make that very clear. We do not want to return to the days of forced pregnancy or wire hangers. We need to know that we can trust each and every one of them to stand by us before they get any form of support from us. This includes the President.
Rachel Maddow is on the forefront of this fight. You can follow her efforts and get more information here at The Maddow Blog. Send letters to your congressman via NARAL. Support Planned Parenthood here. Read more Feminist bloggers on this. We are not alone in our fear and outrage. Here’s the latest from Shakesville: ‘Take Your Legislation OFF Me‘.