Hope your weekend was great!
It’s been a depressing and sad few days as we continue to watch the world’s fundamentalist religions–based in so much Iron Age Mythology–continue to assert the need to control and dominate women. Saudi Arabia has sentenced a maid to death by stoning for adultery while giving the man a few symbolic lashes. Here in the US, Republican candidates for the US presidency appease a similarly addicted religious minority by skirting the real issues surrounding the shooting at Colorado’s Planned Parenthood. What we are seeing is the same poison fruit from the same poison tree.
There are so many mass shootings in this country—in a school or a church, a movie theatre or a mall—and so little is expected of American politicians in regard to them that, in the two days since Robert Dear began firing his gun at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, the Republican Presidential contenders have largely been able to hide from the tragedy. At midday on Friday, Dear initiated a gun battle that lasted five hours and took the lives of three people, including a police officer, and wounded nine others. Dear’s motives, and his mental state, are not yet fully known. But, of all the places he could have walked into, he chose a Planned Parenthood clinic, and, of all the fragments of deranged rhetoric he could have repeated, he chose, according to the Times and other press reports, to say something about “no more baby parts.” This is a reference to the false charge that Planned Parenthood has illegally trafficked in the sale of fetal organs—and that is the mildest way of framing the allegations that anyone listening to a Republican debate or rally would likely have heard. The loudness of the slurs against the organization is in telling contrast to the cautious silence that descended when it became a target of gun violence.
I remember my work in high school and university on modernizing state laws so that crimes against women and children were moved from the areas of property crimes to crimes against people. I was appalled to find that state law required three witnesses to a rape as evidence a crime had happened. I worked at a nascent rape and domestic violence crisis center back in the early 70s that was started by the Junior League and still continues as a major operation at the local YWCA.
I also remember a panel discussion at my Presbyterian church when SCOTUS was deciding Roe v. Wade. It was my first experience seeing so many ignorant and angry people expressing the need to control other people’s bodies and lives. I thought that the progress we had made would continue. Then, came the 1980s and a backlash from the pews of what my family used to refer to as “holy rollers”.
I have two grown daughters now and I never thought that they’d face so many of the same issues that I faced at their age. When they were very young, I saw those same angry, ignorant faces of my youth beginning to coordinate and organize to target women. We’ve gone so far back since the early 1980’s and we’ve endured so much harassment from radical religionists that it’s sometimes difficult for me to believe we live in a developed country. But, here in many parts of the United States, folks take Iron Age Mythology as seriously as they do in the hills and tribes of Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Women and children have always been at the forefront of the suffering inflicted by the hyperreligious. Vigilance and action is required continually and today like never before.
We are going backwards.
We are losing many battles in a war fought to take away women’s rights and autonomy. I spent some time reading this MoJo article on the last few years of Republican control of many local legislatures. Again, I cannot believe my daughters face challenges that no modern, civilized nation should create.
This is what 2015 looks like: Abortion providers struggle against overwhelming odds to stay open, while women “turn themselves into pretzels” to get to them, as one researcher put it. Activists have been calling it the “war on women.” But the onslaught of new abortion restrictions has been so successful, so strategically designed, and so well coordinated that the war in many places has essentially been lost.
Most abortions today involve some combination of endless wait, interminable journey, military-level coordination, and lots of money. Roe v. Wade was supposed to put an end to women crossing state lines for their abortions. But while reporting this story, I learned of women who drove from Kentucky to New Jersey, or flew from Texas to Washington, DC, because it was the only way they could have the procedure. Even where laws can’t quite make it impossible for abortion clinics to stay open—they are closing down at a rate of 1.5 every single week—they can make it exhausting to operate one. In every corner of America, four years of unrelenting assaults on reproductive rights have transformed all facets of giving an abortion or getting one—possibly for good.
“Every day is just frightening,” Chelian said. “I think things are bad, and then they get worse somewhere else. And you go, ‘Oh my God, it could be worse.’ And I go to sleep with that. I wake up with that.”
Ever since Texas passed HB2 in 2013, the omnibus abortion law at the heart of a pivotal case the Supreme Court will review early next year, more than half of the state’s 41 abortion clinics have been forced to close. As these closures have mounted, advocates in the state have worried that the decline in abortion access could lead to a rise in the number of women trying to terminate pregnancies by themselves.
A new study quantifies some of those fears: At least 100,000 Texas women—and as many as 240,000—between the ages of 18 and 49 have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a report released today by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study also found that it is possible that the rate of women attempting to self-induce abortions is rising in Texas as a result of the state’s additional restrictions on abortion care. The report points to previous studies that have explored the correlation between a rise in abortion restrictions and the prevalence of self-induced abortions. A 2008 national study found that about 2 percent of women reported that they tried to terminate pregnancies on their own. In 2012, a year after Texas passed several new abortion restrictions, a study of Texas women seeking care at an abortion clinic found that about 7 percent reported attempting to end their pregnancies without medical assistance before seeking clinic care.
“This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California-San Francisco, in a press call Tuesday morning.
None of us that have been active in the women’s right movement for decades were surprised at the most recent attack and murders at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. We anticipated it happening some where and we are not surprised by the deflection of the enablers of violence against women and those who help women. There has been a long, well-funded and organized racket supported by media outlets and capitalized on by the Republican party to reinstate witch hunts and burnings. We also know this is not about life. It’s about controlling women. Amanda Marcotte–writing for Salon–explains this well.
Victim-blaming and avoiding responsibility was the norm on the right, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger going on CNN while Dear was still holding the clinic hostage and ranting about “these barbaric videos,” in reference to the hoax videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of “selling” fetal tissue that were released over the summer and that all Republicans are apparently duty-bound to pretend are somehow meaningful despite being thoroughly debunked. He also pushed the idea that there’s a chance that Dear’s choice of a target is random and not rooted in anti-choice ideology.
Since then, of course, conservatives’ slim hope that Dear was somehow just a random psycho instead of an anti-choice nut has grown slimmer. Sources spoke about the “baby parts” line and that Dear mentioned Obama in his statements to police.
Ever since the Paris attacks, we’ve been hearing from the right how there is no excuse for religious fundamentalists using violence to terrorize people for the making life choices the fundamentalists don’t approve of. I do wish they would take their own advice on this front.
This whole display is especially bizarre when you consider that there is nothing new about anti-choice terrorism, which has taken the lives of eight clinic workers prior to this attack. That this would happen was entirely predictable. Since the release of those hoax videos, there’s been a rash of arsons and bombings of Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, a story which has received a surprisingly small amount of media coverage.
In other words, this is what everyone in pro-choice circles has been dreading would happen any day now. As recently as October 29, an abortion provider in Washington, D.C., penned an op-ed in the Washington Post about how her life is being rather unsubtly threatened by anti-choicers who put her picture and address online. You know, for “information.” Answers about who would need that, except someone who was intending to harm her, are not offered.
Anti-choice demagoguery is fruitful politics for the right. There’s a lot of fear out there about women’s changing social roles and increasing independence, coupled with a ton of resentment over other people’s sex lives. The anti-choice movement has created a perfect cover story—it’s about “life” and “babies”!—that allows conservatives to indulge these ugly urges while pretending to have noble intentions.
This combination has been so successful at inciting the masses, raising money, and turning out the vote that the anti-choice movement has become increasingly bold in recent years, expanding the legal attacks beyond abortion and looking for ways to undermine access to contraception as well. The increased outrage at Planned Parenthood in recent months, while ostensibly about abortion, is in actuality a lot more about contraception. None of the money that Republicans are cutting from Planned Parenthood is for abortion, but for contraception and STI prevention and treatment. Or even prenatal care, in some cases.
You cannot relentlessly stoke people’s sexual resentments, day in and day out, while calling it “moral” without some of those people (mostly men) tipping over into outright violence. Anti-choice extremism is a logical home for angry, bitter men who want to blame women and women’s sexuality for their own personal failings and frustrations. And there are a lot of angry men out there, furious at women for not being what they want us to be, using “baby killer” as a cover for resentments that have nothing to do with actual babies.
There’s so much evidence and history that’s it’s very hard to deny that this is a well orchestrated and well funded movement. We have only to go back and remind ourselves of the murder of the late Dr. Tiller and the words of Bill O’Reilly to see how the right lights the fires of fanaticism and violence.
O’Reilly said that liberal groups were targeting him unfairly.
“Even though I reported on the doctor honestly, the loons asserted that my analysis of him was ‘hateful,'” O’Reilly wrote. “Chief of among the complaints was the doctor’s nickname, ‘Tiller the baby killer.’ Some prolifers branded him with that, and I reported it. So did hundreds of other news sources.”
O’Reilly went on to criticize media outlets for glorifying Tiller in order to silence those who oppose abortion, especially late-term abortion.
We wanted to see what O’Reilly had said about Tiller, to see if O’Reilly was indeed being criticized for his reporting on other groups’ characterization of Tiller as he said.
We searched transcripts of The O’Reilly Factor , his show that appears on the Fox News Channel.
We found at least 42 instances of O’Reilly mentioning Tiller by name, going back to 2005. In 24 instances, we found that O’Reilly referred to Tiller specifically as a “baby killer.”
Most of the time, O’Reilly would simply refer to the Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” or as “Dr. George Tiller, known as Tiller the baby killer” without attributing it to anyone. We found four times when O’Reilly said that “some” called him Tiller the baby killer. We did not find any instance where O’Reilly named an individual or a particular antiabortion group that referred to Tiller that way.
Here is how O’Reilly has discussed Tiller in 2009, prior to Tiller’s death:
• May 15: O’Reilly discussed President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame University, saying he was troubled that a Catholic school would allow Obama to speak. “Barack Obama throughout his political career has enabled abortion. There’s no doubt that he has. All right? He has recently appointed Gov. (Kathleen) Sebelius to (Secretary of) Health and Human Services. Gov. Sebelius is the most proabortion governor in the United States. Based upon Dr. Tiller, the baby killer in her state and all of that, all right.”
• May 11: O’Reilly wondered whom Obama would nominate to the Supreme Court, saying that he thought Obama was “callous” when it came to abortion. “I mean, the guy puts Sebelius in as the health — you can’t get a more fanatically — and that woman is proabortion,” O’Reilly said. “She wants the babies done for. She supported Tiller the Baby Killer out there. So, enough with her.”
• April 27: O’Reilly discussed Sebelius’ nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services. O’Reilly said that Sebelius “recently vetoed a bill that placed restrictions on late-term abortions in Kansas. The bill was introduced because of the notorious Tiller the Baby Killer case, where Dr. George Tiller destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000. There’s no question Ms. Sebelius is one of the most proabortion politicians in America.”
• March 27: Tiller was charged with misdemeanor offenses for violating Kansas law on late-term abortions. Tiller was acquitted. O’Reilly said, “Now, we have bad news to report that Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted. Acquitted today of murdering babies. I wasn’t in the courtroom. I didn’t sit on the jury. But this, there’s got to be a special place in hell for this guy.”
• March 26: O’Reilly talked about the ongoing trial: “Another revolting situation is Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, known as Tiller the Baby Killer, who’s on trial for killing babies who are about to be born, late-term abortions.” O’Reilly also said, “If you want to kill a baby, you hire Tiller, you’ve got to pay him 5,000 up front, and he’ll kill the baby. … You should know, his best friend is the governor of Kansas, Sebelius. … She has taken specific steps to carve out the law so that it will protect Tiller the baby killer.”
• March 17: Still on the Tiller trial, O’Reilly said, “You know this George Tiller, called Tiller the baby killer, is charged with 19 misdemeanors. And what this guy does, and we have proven it beyond a reasonable doubt, Kelly, is that he kills babies in late term. He aborts them in late term. They’re no longer fetuses. They’re viable babies. He aborts them for any and all reasons if you pay him $5,000.”
• March 2: O’Reilly said Sebelius took “campaign money from George Tiller, known as Tiller, the baby killer. He’s currently charged with a variety of crimes centering on his abortion practice. He aborts babies at any time for just about any reason if you pay him $5,000.”
• Jan. 26: O’Reilly discussed an executive order Obama signed allowing federal money to go to international family planning groups that provide abortions. O’Reilly complained that Obama quietly signed the order rather than publicizing it. “I wanted George Tiller the baby killer going, ‘Yeah, can I make more money killing babies now,'” O’Reilly said.
That’s just from 2009. There were many other examples in previous years.
There is so much history between the inflammatory and false propaganda from radical christianists that we actually have a term for it. This is an example of “stochastic terrorism”. Republicans and radical christianists systematically incite violence against women and organizations designed to give them rights.
Republican members of the Religious Right incited violence as predictably as if they had issued a call for Christian abortion foes to take up arms. Inciting violence this way is called stochastic terrorism:
“Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.”
In an incident of stochastic terrorism, the person who pulls the trigger gets the blame. He—I use the male pronoun deliberately because the triggerman is almost always male—may go to jail or even be killed during his act of violence. Meanwhile, the person or persons who have triggered the triggerman, in other words, the actual stochastic terrorists, often go free, protected by plausible deniability. The formula is perversely brilliant:
- A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
- With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
- Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past “purges” against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
- When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the “tragedy.”
Stochastic terrorism is not a fringe concept. It is a terrorist modality that has been described at length by analysts. It produces terrorism patterns that should be known to any member of Congress or any presidential candidate who has ever thought deeply about national or domestic security issues, which one might hope, is all of them.
We can be confident that communications teams for Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and others are scrambling at this very moment to figure out the nuances of plausible deniability—weighing how best to distance themselves from the violence that killed a police officer and two others without making their protestations of surprised dismay sound as hollow as they actually are—without actually denouncing the disgust and dehumanization of women who have abortions and those who provide them.
The FBI warned about the uptick in terrorist threats against Women’s Health Clinics and specifically Planned Parenthood months ago. There have been firebombings and other acts of vandalism. It was only a matter of time before that video and the rhetoric of the Republican Presidential candidates turned into direct violence against people.
For several months now, law enforcement has been concerned about people targeting reproductive health facilities — specifically Planned Parenthood locations across the country.
As CBS News first reported in September, an FBI intelligence bulletin went out to law enforcement agencies nationwide with that warning. It came asCongress was debating Planned Parenthood funding and on the heels of the release of a series of videos by Center for Medical Progress that purported to show Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue from abortions.
The intelligence bulletin warned of “lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement.”
At that time there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia.
In one incident in August, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard’s car and set the vehicle on fire. According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility, also causing a fire.
The public faces of these fanatics are quick to pray the one day they aren’t harassing women at clinics. You can read JJ’s and BB’s last post over the weekend for many examples of the reaction of the right to the attack on the clinic and the murder of three people. All you have to do is volunteer to be a clinic escort or watch the antics of “protestors” to see the roots of the violence and know that it’s not about life or love.
I was the first appointment that day and noticed a few men, all in their 50s or 60s, milling around the parking lot when we pulled in. Once we got out of the car, one made a beeline for us with a fistful of pamphlets. My aunt said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and he got irate, screaming, “How can you do this? You’re killing your baby to continue on your whore lifestyle, you jezebel!’ Suddenly we were surrounded by five other men — that’s when the baby-doll parts starting hitting us.
They had a box filled with torn apart baby dolls covered with red paint. All three of us were hit — in the head, chest, torso. As they were pelting us, they yelled, “This is what you’re doing to your baby! Look at the street! It’s strewn with the blood of your baby. That’s your baby scattered across the street!” It was surreal and terrifying at once. And we still had to cross a wide street to enter the clinic. Then they shouted at my aunt, “Grandma, why are you letting her do this? Tell her to give her baby up for adoption!” My aunt responded, “First of all, I’m not old enough to be a grandma. Second, come talk to me when you have a uterus and a vagina.”
It’s a systemic attack on women’s autonomy. We know that it’s nationwide, well-funded, well-organized and it’s basically a syndicate like organized crimes. We know this because many of the law suits against these people involve Civil RICCO.
I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get the majority of this country to realize that we have a huge issue with homegrown white male, christianist terrorism. We can’t get sensible gun regulation because of the NRA syndicate. We also see systemic demonization of Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood. One of the major political parties and its small but vocal and voting minority are the problem.
What’s on your voting and blogging list today?
My apologies if this post is a little incoherent. I’m hopping mad right now! We don’t yet live in a theocracy–although that danger clearly exists. As of today, the U.S. Constitution still requires the separation of church and state. Priests, ministers, bishops, and other church leaders are not supposed to be advocating for and against political candidates from the pulpit. In their roles as private citizens, they can hold whatever political beliefs they want and they can donate to political candidates. But they need to stop forcing their political views on church audiences.
Yesterday, in Catholic churches all over the U.S., parishioners heard a letter from their bishop denouncing the Obama administration for the January 20th HHS decision to require health plans to cover birth control services without requiring “a co-pay, co-insurance, or a deductible.” HHS Secretary Katherine Sibelius stated that the reason for this requirement is that access to contraception is important to women’s health.
Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, it is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing.
Sibelius explained that this requirement applies to religion-based institutions that employ or serve people who don’t belong to their religion. Therefore, churches per se would be except from the rule, but universities and other religious-based organizations would have to abide by the rule.
Via Business Insider, here is the full text of letter that was read in churches in the Diocese of Marquette (Michigan):
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I write to you concerning an alarming and serious matter that negatively impacts the Church in the United States directly, and that strikes at the fundamental right to religious liberty for all citizens of any faith. The federal government, which claims to be “of, by, and for the people,” has just been dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that almost all employers,
including Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees’ health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception. Almost all health insurers will be forced to include those “services” in the health policies they write. And almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies.
In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration’s sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.
We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture,
only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights. In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.
And therefore, I would ask of you two things. First, as a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. Second, I would also recommend visiting http://www.usccb.org/conscience,to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the Obama Administration’s decision.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Alexander K. Sample
Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette
The author of the Business Insider article, Michael Brendan Dougherty, uses a flawed analogy to defend the bishops for their action and their decision to flout the law.
it would be like the government mandating that all delis, even Kosher delis, serve pork products and then justifying it by saying that protein is healthy, and many Jews who don’t follow Kosher laws and many non-Jews go to those delis. The law wouldn’t technically ban Jews from owning delis, but it would effectively ban their ability to run them according to their conscience.
WTF?! Jewish delis do not receive federal funds to subsidize the selling of pork, and scientists have not found pork to be vital to the health of more than half of the U.S. population. For Dougherty’s information, unwanted pregnancies can be dangerous to women’s physical and mental health. Furthermore, the more unwanted pregnancies there are, the more abortions there will be. The rule will therefore reduce the number of abortions in this country. And BTW, no individual is required to use birth control. The Catholic bishops know that most Catholics used it, and they are simply trying to intimidate people. If an individual Catholic wants to follow the church’s ludicrous (IMO) rules against birth control, she is free to do so. An editorial by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says it much better than I could:
The Obama administration…made the right decision. Birth control access is critical for women and children’s health, ensuring that kids are born to parents ready for this responsibility. Lost in all the heated rhetoric over this milestone public health measure are several important points.
This policy does not require anyone to use birth control. In addition, courts have already rejected claims by Catholic organizations that requiring contraceptive coverage in employee health plans violates their religious freedom.
Requiring these religiously affiliated institutions to cover birth control in their plans is nothing new. Twenty-eight states (Minnesota isn’t one) already have “contraceptive equity” laws requiring birth control coverage for many plans covering prescription drugs.
In 2004, the California Supreme Court, noting that many of these organizations’ employees are not Catholic, soundly rejected a challenge to the state’s contraceptive equity law. It concluded that the state can enact employment laws to protect workers, even if these laws conflict with the employers’ religious beliefs.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Catholic Charities’ appeal. New York’s highest court rejected a similar claim by Catholic Charities on grounds that the law didn’t target religious beliefs and that a broad public interest is served by addressing gender disparities in medical costs.
The U.S. Supreme Court has also decided on multiple occasions that religious beliefs do not protect discriminatory practices, such as failing to comply with civil rights laws.
Denise Grady, in an article published in The New York Times and The Herald Tribune writes:
About half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and about four out of 10 of those end in abortion, according to the Institute of Medicine report, which was released last July. It noted that providing birth control could lower both pregnancy and abortion rates. It also cited studies showing that women with unintended pregnancies are more likely to be depressed and to smoke, drink and delay or skip prenatal care, potentially harming fetuses and putting babies at increased risk of being born prematurely and having low birth weight.
Grady provides a number of real-life examples. Here’s just one:
One recent Georgetown law graduate, who asked not to be identified for reasons of medical privacy, said she had polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition for which her doctor prescribed birth control pills. She is gay and had no other reason to take the pills. Georgetown does not cover birth control for students, so she made sure her doctor noted the diagnosis on her prescription. Even so, coverage was denied several times. She finally gave up and paid out of pocket, more than $100 a month. After a few months she could no longer afford the pills. Within months she developed a large ovarian cyst that had to be removed surgically — along with her ovary.
“If I want children, I’ll need a fertility specialist because I have only one working ovary,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Georgetown, Stacy Kerr, said that problems like this were rare and that doctors at the health service knew how to help students get coverage for contraceptives needed for medical reasons.
Really? Then why was this woman “denied” coverage “several times?” Give me a break!
Even supposed “liberal” E.J. Dionne weighed in on the side of the church:
In its interim rules in August, HHS excluded from this requirement only those “religious employers” who primarily serve and employ members of their own faith traditions. This exempted churches from the rule, but not Catholic universities or social-service agencies and hospitals that help tens of thousands of non-Catholics.
As a general matter, it made perfect sense to cover contraception. Many see doing so as protecting women’s rights, and expanded contraception coverage will likely reduce the number of abortions. While the Catholic Church formally opposes contraception, this teaching is widely ignored by the faithful. One does not see many Catholic families of six or 10 or twelve that were quite common in the 1950s. Contraception might have something to do with this.
Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings. The administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here.
I am sick and tired of this sh*t! We’re talking about the rights and the health of more than half of the population! Does Dionne realize that 98% of Catholics have used birth control at one time or another? It’s time to take away the tax exempt status of churches who use the power of the pulpit to try to intimidate their parishioners into voting for or against a candidate based on ridiculous (IMO) religious rules that hurt women. If religious universities and charities wish to ignore the law, then they too should lose their government subsidies and/or tax exemptions.
I watched the last presidential presser this afternoon. The President wants to be seen as a fighter, yet once again, the President will not fight for the constitutional rights or health of our country’s women.
President Obama said today that “as the father of two daughters,” he supports his Health secretary’s decision to block over-the-counter sales of the Plan B “morning after” birth control pill to girls under 17 years of age.
“I did not get involved in the process,” Obama said during a White House news conference, though he added he supports the decision by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Sebelius, overruling the Food and Drug Administration, said there are too many questions about the safety of Plan B for girls who can bear children as young as 10 or 11 years old.
“I think it is important for us to make sure that we apply some common sense to various rules when it comes to over-the-counter medicine,” Obama said during an impromptu news conference at the White House.
He said Sebelius decided 10- and 11-year-olds should not be able to buy the drug “alongside bubble gum or batteries” because it could have an adverse effect if not used properly. He said “most parents” probably feel the same way.
Put another way:
Barack Obama, who was educated in the country’s most esteemed universities, has implied that having daughters has convinced him the government should ignore science.
This is a pure expression of male paternalism regarding women being able to make their own reproductive decisions. … Who needs lengthy scientific review, when apparently father knows best?
I have only one more question. Have any of you ever seen any kind of drug stored next to batteries or bubble gum? When is the last time this man visited a pharmacy?
I’m so glad Think Progress watches Fox News so I don’t have to! Apparently the TV voice of right wing craziness has been in an uproar this week because the Obama administration finally did something positive for women.
The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that health insurers will be required to cover contraception and other reproductive health care services without additional cost sharing, accepting most of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations. The administration did add an additional caveat that would allow “religious institutions that offer insurance to their employees the choice of whether or not to cover contraception services.” “This regulation is modeled on the most common accommodation for churches available in the majority of the 28 states that already require insurance companies to cover contraception,” the agency notes. The services will include:
– well-woman visits;
– screening for gestational diabetes;
– human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing for women 30 years and older;
– sexually-transmitted infection counseling;
– human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and counseling;
– FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling;
– breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; and
– domestic violence screening and counseling.
This decision was based on recommendations by scientists at the Institute of Medicine.
But that isn’t good enough for Fox “News,” which invited a so-called “expert” (actually a fanatical wingnut), Sandy Rios of Family Pac Federal, to debate the decision with Jehmu Greene, former president of the Women’s Media Center.
Greene offered the facts that support greater access to birth control. Namely, “50 percent of pregnancies in this country are unintended pregnancies” –the leading reason why women seek abortions — which costs the U.S. over $11 billion a year. Noting that contraception not only allows women to space out their pregnancies and commit to parenting, but also reduces the number of abortions, Greene determined the new policy to be a “text-book definition of win-win.”
Fox’s anti-birth control “expert,” Family PAC Federal Vice President Sandy Rios, however, found her own reasons to lambast the policy as “ridiculous.” Telling Greene that she lives in “la la land,” Rios offered the following “arguments” against the new policy and a woman’s right to use birth control, which are so ludicrous they’re worth listing:
– “Is the White House out of their mind? Does the West Wing not know what the left wing is doing? We’re $14 trillion in debt and now we’re going to cover birth control, breast pumps, counseling for abuse? Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well?”
According to Rios, providing counseling for women who have been beaten by their partners is analogous to paying for manicures and pedicures? WTF?!
But that’s not the worst of it. Jemu Greene also appeared on Sean Hannity’s show to debate the issue. According to Hannity, providing birth control for women is an outrage, but paying for Viagra for men is OK, because it’s a “medical problem.”
Piling on to the conservative apoplexia over the Obama administration’s recent ruling that insurance companies should cover birth control without co-pays, Fox News host Sean Hannity slammed the policy last night for encouraging “screwing around,” but defended coverage of Viagra. Taking a bold stance again reason, Hannity said, “I don’t care about the scientists” who recommended the move and insisted that the birth control is “not a women’s health issue.” Asked how he felt about insurance companies covering male enhancement medication, Hannity strongly defended the practice, saying, “That is a medical problem!”
Check it out:
I’ve been trying to post this most of the day. It seems WordPress had a dashboard outage. That outage made it impossible for us to get to any thing beyond what was already on the front page. Earlier this evening, ability to comment completely disappeared. I’ll try to get this out in short order. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal now.
South Dakota continues its assault on women. Fetus fetishists continue to believe that setting up any and all road blocks will discourage women from exercising their right to abortion. Women in South Dakota must now wait 3 days prior to the procedure. The only thing this really does it make it extremely difficult for women in rural areas to get to clinics. Some need to travel miles and don’t have resources to pay for places to stay for that number of days. They also have to leave jobs and families to sit around and wait.
Women who want an abortion in South Dakota will face the longest waiting period in the nation — three days — and have to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions under a measure signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Within minutes of Daugaard’s announcement that he had signed the measure, abortion rights groups said they plan to file a lawsuit challenging the measure, which one said could create particular hardships for women who live in rural areas hundreds of miles from the state’s only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls.
Daugaard, who gave no interviews after signing the bill, said in a written statement that he had conferred with state attorneys who will defend the law in court and a sponsor who has pledged to raise private money to finance the state’s court fight. Officials have said estimated the cost of defending the law at $1.7 million to $4.5 million.
This is nothing more than harassment. It’s hard to imagine any sane person wanting to live in a state that doesn’t believe you’re capable of making an adult decision without the state lecturing you, creating hurdles for exercising your constitutional rights, and inserting itself into your doctor’s ability to do the job. This is outrageous.
Meanwhile, religious fanatics in Washington not only want to stop access or slow down access to abortion, they want to defund Title X family planning funds. These funds have been in place since the Nixon years (1970) and are used to provide access to family plan, basic care, and birth control for poor women, men, and children. These funds allow state programs under Medicaid and private providers to get services to poor people. The funding has been shown to help women off welfare. Even some Republican Senators have been appalled by this attempt to force childbearing on any one without the means to fund pregnancy prevention. It also creates a public health issue because of the role these funds play in treating and prevent STDs.
House Republicans have sought to eliminate all federal grants and contracts with Planned Parenthood, some $300 million, because the agency provides abortion services. By law, none of the federal money can be used to pay for abortions, but abortion-rights opponents have argued that any financial support for Planned Parenthood frees up other money that could be used for abortions.
The argument comes as part of an ongoing budget fight: Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have been unable to agree on a budget to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year; Congress has recently passed two short-term stopgaps to allow more time to reach a long-term deal.
Racist, anti-choice propaganda has outraged many students at Princeton. The Christian right stops at nothing to further its radical agenda to instill its narrow view on all peoples.
It has become the talk among African American students at the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary — racially charged fliers and postings. All of it is apparently anti-abortion literature.
Among the fliers was one that displayed a noose and another with the words “in the new klan lynching is for amateurs.”
“I was shocked and appalled that someone would place something like that up at this particular institution,” seminary student Maurice Stinnett told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
“There was a lot of devastation for me, psychological damage, injury, because I saw this as social bullying,” student Shirley Thomas said.
Student leaders at the seminary, which neighbors Princeton University but is not directly affiliated, said the fliers first appeared on campus last November then reappeared in February for Black History Month.
The fliers originate from various sources, pointing out the number of African American deaths by abortion.
Student Katherine Timpte called the fliers “appalling and tragic and upsetting at all levels.”
There is some good news. Religion may become extinct in 9 countries. These 9 go straight to the top of my get me out of this crazy place list. It really amazes me that some many people in legislative positions have no problem forcing their superstitions on other people. Interestingly enough, most of the countries come out on nearly all the top lists for highest standard of living and best living conditions. They also rate well in education, low crime, and health and nutrition. The U.S. continues to score high on the superstition and nasty living standards lists. We certainly under assault by Christian Taliban in this country. I really wish more moderate Christians would speak out against the actions of these radicals.
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.
The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.
The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.
The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.
The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Okay, well, that will give you a few things to chomp on while we catch up with all the stuff that went awry today.
Arizona Passes Anti-Abortion Bill To Send Doctors, Clinicians To Jail For Abortions Based On Race Or Gender
In the race to secure the most destructive state anti-abortion law, Arizona may leap ahead of South Dakota by seeking to tackle a problem that doesn’t exist. In a 41-18 vote last month, the House passed a bill to prohibit abortions sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or the race of the parent. Seeking to prevent “race- or sex-based discrimination against the unborn,” the bill would allow lawsuits and civil fines against “abortion providers who knowingly provide such abortions.”