Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Cool Party, Bro

Cool party you got there, bros: A Republican state representative in Alabama has proposed legislation that would require doctors to immediately inform law enforcement officials if they merely suspect a pregnant patient has been using drugs.

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Raw Story reports that the bill, sponsored by Rep. Mack Butler, is supposed to make it easier to apprehend pregnant women who use illicit drugs by requiring docs to turn them in to police within two hours of their appointment. “Crackheads don’t have permanent addresses,” Butler said, which is his super-sensitive way of explaining why doctors should be deputized to violate patient confidentiality by ratting drug-addicted women to out to law enforcement.

Demonstrating a Butler-esque level of understanding of how addiction works, Alabama is one of the few states that arrests and prosecutes pregnant women who use illegal drugs instead of offering them treatment or any other kind of help to give their babies a better start in life .

Ms. Magazine showed some love for NARAL Pro-Choice America this week, showering our parent organization with praise for a recent undercover investigation of crisis pregnancy centers, faux clinics that lure in women and girls in by promising to provide them with information about their “options” and then lie to them about the risks of abortion and understate the dangers and burdens of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.

scared animated GIF According to the report, “In 91 percent of the centers visited, this script included telling our investigator that having an abortion was linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility, miscarriage, and/or the made-up ‘post-abortion depression’ that results in suicide.”

Just FYI, via Right Wing Watch, Pastor (and frequent religious right keynote speaker) Joel Rosenberg thought you might want to know that the end times are coming, on account of America allowing legal abortions. Think about it, he says: “If we hit 60 million abortions, we as Americans will have murdered 10 times more human beings than the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis,” and “we know the judgment that fell on Nazi Germany, the devastation.” Yes, in this scenario, abortion is (yet again) the same as the Holocaust, and God won World War II. Anti-choice extremists: Weak on logic, even weaker on history!

At the Huffington Post, author David Grimes has a succinct list of several ways in which legal abortion has helped American women and families–perfect for the next time your anti-choice second cousin starts a conversation at the family reunion by asking, “Doesn’t abortion just encourage irresponsible sex?”

mad men animated GIF Among Grimes’ bullet-point retorts: Legal abortion has made it easier for women to join the workforce and head their households, diminished the prevalence of “shotgun weddings,” and reduced child abuse and neglect. “Duh” to you, maybe; news to others who might not think about the long-term consequences of forcing women to carry unplanned pregnancies to term.

Have a great weekend and (if you’re in the U.S.) a restful Memorial Day!

Choice News

Monday Motivation: Scientifish

Welcome to the Monday Motivation, an eye-opening look at what the anti-choicers are saying about us this week.

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Here’s some wacky anti-choice logic to start your week: The Concord Monitor argues that Planned Parenthood’s “reprehensible” Mother’s Day message–in which mothers explained why they supported choice and were glad they had the ability to plan their families–was actually “rubbing salt in the wounds” of women who had abortions or lost children. The logic behind the latter is that women who have had abortions automatically and universally regret it; the logic behind the former is that women who lose their children automatically oppose abortion, because they would prefer a world in which all pregnant women would have to bring children, wanted or unwanted, into the world.

By similar logic, Mother’s Day itself rubs salt in the wound of those who wanted to have kids but couldn’t conceive, or those who didn’t want kids but would still like to be celebrated. Would choice opponents be satisfied if we just did away with Mother’s Day and called the second Sunday in May Celebrating Women Day? Given that anti-choice activists believe zygotes have more rights than women, I’m not holding my breath.

The brain trust over at Breitbart really put on their real medical doctor lab coats this week, reporting on some actual news about birth control pills and some fake “news” about abortion pills.

The real-ish news is that, according to a single study, birth control pills may thin the cortex in certain parts of the brain, including an area related to regulating emotions. Although the actual scientists who conducted the study were quick to say there was no proof that the pill was associated with “moodiness” or other neurological side effects (and a separate study showed the exact opposite effect, cortical thickening, in 2010), that didn’t stop Breitbart from insinuating that birth control makes ladies go unhinged, nor from citing completely unrelated studies about people who suffered cortical brain damage.

(Catholic World Report also featured a hyperventilating story on the study last week, provocatively headlined, “Is the Pill Shrinking Parts of Women’s Brains? New Report Suggests Yes,” coming to essentially the same conclusions.)

In other science-y news, Breitbart has resurrected the absurd anti-choice claim that medical abortions using RU-486 can be “reversed” by administering large doses of hormones to women. Pinning the notion that abortion is a permanent procedure on “lying” “abortion promoters,” the right-wing site claims that pro-choice advocates have managed to keep the supposed abortion reversal procedure a secret, despite the “fact” that an unspecified “surprising number” of women who choose medical abortion immediately regret it.

As RH Reality Check points out, the “reversal” claim, which doctors in Arizona will soon be required to explain to patients before performing abortions, is medically flawed, based on a sample size of six patients, and unsupported by any peer-reviewed science, anywhere.

And sorry to turn this into Breitbart Watch, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the report with a screaming subhead that begins, “A new chemical abortion clinic, calling itself a ‘posh spa’…” The piece goes on to claim the clinic is actively billing itself as a “spa,” or “spa-like,” in quotes, three more times. First rule of journalism? Don’t put something in quotes when nobody said it. Turns out that only abortion opponents are claiming the clinic, which does indeed advertise in D.C. (with billboards that say “Abortion? Yeah, we do that”) but does not bill itself as spa-like or a spa, posh or otherwise.

Finally, the Atlantic  ran a much-linked piece about the 20-week abortion ban just adopted by the U.S. house that ostensibly examines the political divide between people who are pro-choice and “pro-life.” The author concludes that politicians would do better to listen to public opinion and fall somewhere “in between” the two positions (a spot the writer conveniently defines as passing 20-week bans and the like, because the American public says so.) Two things to note about all this: 1) Fortunately, we do not determine the constitutionality of laws in this country by surveying the American public. And 2) What a Google search will tell you, and what the Atlantic doesn’t see fit to point out, is that the author of the piece, one Charles Camosy, is a Catholic theologian and ethicist who fervently opposes abortion rights.

If you like the Monday Motivation, sign up to have us deliver it right to your inbox! You can also sign up for the Friday Femorandum, our weekly roundup of the latest in reproductive news.

Affordable Care Act, Birth Control Access

Seattle Times: Insurance Companies Need to Get Their Act Together

Hopefully, not usThis morning, the Seattle Times ran a second editorial, headlined “Patients must expect more from providers on birth control,” highlighting the failure of many insurance companies’ to provide accurate information about what birth control options they cover (a shortfall that can lead women to use options that aren’t best for them or forego birth control altogether), as well as their documented failure to provide all FDA-approved forms of birth control free of charge, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

Two reports, by the National Women’s Law Center and Kaiser, respectively, showed that across the board, insurance companies were denying women free access to approved forms of birth control, telling some, for example, that because the long-acting NuvaRing and birth controls both contain hormones, women prescribed the NuvaRing should be content to take birth control pills instead.

Citing an April report by NARAL Pro-Choice Washington and Northwest Health Law Advocates, which revealed that insurance companies were giving women inaccurate information about what birth control they covered, the Times writes, “Now that the rules are clear, insurance providers must comply.

“Women’s health advocates are watching closely. So is Sen. [Patty] Murray,” who has been a champion on this issue, the Times continues.

Listing a number of checklist items people should know before they call their insurance providers, the Times suggests that anyone who believes they have been given false information about or denied the no-cost contraceptive coverage that’s guaranteed by the law should file a complaint with Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, who plans to meet with eight insurance companies, along with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington and NOHLA, to follow up on their progress in October.

And if you have your own story of being denied coverage or given false information by an insurance company rep, drop us a line and share your experience.

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Bogus Agendas and Free Slut-Shaming

This week, the Congress that couldn’t pass meaningful immigration reform, approve an attorney general in a timely fashion, or pass a transportation budget made time to ensure that women who need later abortions, often for medical reasons, will no longer be allowed to do so.

RH Reality Check reports that the 20-week ban, which bears the disingenuous, over-the-top moniker “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” includes no exception for a woman’s health (requiring women to wait until their lives are literally in danger before being granted Congressional permission to get late abortions), and requires rape victims to obtain counseling or medical care from a doctor who is not performing their abortion at least 48 hours before the procedure, adding a federal two-day waiting period, unwanted “counseling,” and additional cost to what is already an expensive and time-consuming procedure. (Incest victims under 18 would be required to file a police report accusing their relative of molesting them, and incest victims 18 or older are subject to the total ban).

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Washington State US Sen. Patty Murray took a strong stand against the ban this week, as did the New York Times,  which called it “simply another attempt by conservative Republicans to undercut women’s constitutionally protected reproductive rights.”

Citing the “bogus arguments” made by House Republicans who supported the ban, the Times wrote, “Making it hard to get an abortion early in a pregnancy — by restricting the use of health insurance for abortion, closing clinics and mandating waiting periods — and then banning the procedure after 20 weeks would essentially prohibit abortion for those with limited resources.” It’s a strategy from the states up and from the federal government down, with the ultimate goal of banning all abortions for all women under all circumstances.

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A good example of how states are working to hack, not whittle, away at Roe comes from Texas, where, Texas Monthly reports, the state legislature is hard at work on a number of laws that would make it even more difficult for women to obtain abortions. Among them are a ban on abortion coverage in private insurance plans; an amendment that would force women to bring non-viable fetuses to term; and a new requirement that anyone seeking an abortion must provide a government-issued ID.

All of these new restrictions (like similar restrictions in other states) make it less likely that women will be able to access abortion services early in their pregnancies, a fact that, in concert with the 20-week ban, could put abortion out of reach for many women.

(Lest you feel tempted to mess with Texas for being uniquely backward in its treatment of women, though, take note: The Atlantic  says that another state, South Dakota, actually wins the prize for worst state for abortion rights in the nation.)

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Alaska’s state government has a great plan for keeping women from drinking while pregnant: Provide free pregnancy tests … in bars! Fetal alcohol syndrome is a serious problem in Alaska, but, as Slate notes, free condoms would probably be a better use of government funding than after-the-fact pregnancy tests, as would investment in alcohol abuse prevention and treatment.  (The sponsor of the bill that funded the test dispensers, who has called abortion an “American Holocaust,” explicitly stipulated that condoms wouldn’t be covered, presumably because birth control encourages wantonness.)

The photo on the dispenser, which shows a pregnant woman guzzling directly from a bottle and a tube connecting the alcohol to the fetus, is worth the price of entry.

“When you can’t afford a choice it’s not a choice at all.”

That’s the lead to Valerie Tarico’s piece on IUDs this week in Salon, which argues that monopoly pricing by drug companies has put IUDs and other long-acting reversible contraceptives out of reach for many low-income Americans.  Although insurance companies are required to cover all FDA-approved forms of birth control, women without contraceptive coverage (including those who work for religious companies, like Hobby Lobby) are often faced with costs of hundreds of dollars up-front, and even insured women must often jump through hoops, such as multiple appointments, to access these forms of birth control.

Have a wonderful weekend, Femorandies!


Choice News

Monday Motivation: They Know What’s Best for Women

Dr. Kermit Gosnell
Kermit Gosnell: Not apropos anti-choice ammunition.

House Republicans are using the anniversary of the conviction of Kermit Gosnell, the doctor convicted of murdering three infants in a filthy, illegally operated abortion clinic, as the occasion to launch a renewed push for a nationwide 20-week abortion ban. According to right-wing site The Blaze, House Republicans plan to time the introduction of the 20-week ban legislation to coincide with Gosnell’s conviction to communicate that the GOP is working “to ensure that tragedies like those that occurred in Kermit Gosnell’s office will not happen again.” In reality, Gosnell’s crimes were already against the law, which prohibits murder, but as they did at the time, anti-choicers are equating Gosnell’s actions, which were murder, with safe second-trimester abortion, which is not.

While reasonable minds were trying to process the stupefying revelation that the anti-choice nation of Paraguay planned to force a ten-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather to give birth, “pro-life” advocates (blissfully ignorant of the irony in forcing a little girl to risk her own life to “save” an embryo) are celebrating the news. Citing unsubstantiated safety claims from the hospital director about nine-year-olds having babies safely in Paraguay all the time, and false stats about the relative dangers of childbirth and abortion, LifeNews  reports blithely that “The truth is abortion will only traumatize the girl further and add another tragedy on top of an already horrific situation.” Involuntary childbirth and motherhood through rape at 10 years old, to anti-choicers, is a “miracle,” not a tragedy.

This “amazing couple” from the US knows what’s best for impoverished, pregnant Cambodian girls and women.

Speaking of opposing reproductive rights in other countries, LifeNews  also reports on a couple who’s bringing Crisis Pregnancy Centers (anti-choice facilities that prod women and girls to carry their pregnancies to term, no matter what their desires or circumstances) to Cambodia. The facilities will require pregnant women to regularly go to church, do chores, take classes on “how to raise your child,” and “participate in daily devotion”; in exchange, they will provide “reintegration services” for three months, give “spiritual input” into how the women should live their lives, and build a (presumably quite large) orphanage for babies the women do not want or cannot support. What could possibly go wrong?

Even as the Obama Administration issued new guidelines to educate insurance companies about their obligations under the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate (rule: Pay for all contraception), Life Site was once again busy disseminating false information about birth control, claiming that the pill increases the risk of potentially deadly blood clots by 300 to 500 times. In fact, one of the sources Life cites, Stop the Clot, reports explicitly that birth control pills “do not cause blood clots,” and that the risk is elevated only for women with preexisting risk factors like thrombophilia, by a factor of about 3 to 4 (not 300 to 500!)

Hyperventilating as usual over a restriction on their freedom that does not exist, the conservative Daily Caller reassures its readers that companies in D.C. that don’t want to follow the district’s anti-discrimination law, which prohibits employers from firing workers if they use birth control, have babies out of wedlock, or make other reproductive choices that offend their religious sensibility, will simply ignore it. Or, more specifically, that a few right-wing political advocacy groups will continue to hire employees whose political views match their own, a practice that is already legal and has nothing to do with the D.C. law. Feminists just dying to work against women’s rights: You’re on notice. Anti-choice groups no longer have to hire you! Nor did they ever.