Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Celebrating Equal Rights for Everyone!

And YOU have rights, and YOU have rights, and YOU have rights…

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For this week’s Femorandum, we’re gathering some of the best reactions from around the web to this week’s TWO historic Supreme Court rulings–one upholding a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, protecting health care and access to reproductive services for millions of American women, and the other affirming the right of couples across the nation to marry who they choose! In the immortal words of Shakesville’s Melissa McEwan, “I WILL WRITE MORE SHORTLY IN THIS SPACE BUT I WANTED TO POST THIS IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE OMG YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!”

Melissa did write more, including this (content note: profanity):

This is a GREAT DAY for all the LGB people who don’t even give a fuck about getting married, but feel validated by the fact that they now have another piece of equality conferred by this decision.

This is a GREAT DAY for all the LGBTQ people who recognize that marriage is just one step on a long journey to comprehensive and meaningful equality, but needed like whoa a big win to fill their sails with air to keep them moving on their way.

And this is a GREAT DAY for anyone who believes that everyone should have the option to get married, and everyone who believes that the institution of marriage is worth more when it is not used as a point of division but opened wide to anyone who wants access.

This new world is pretty fucking great, and I am happy to be in it.

Towleroad, which is currently doing wall-to-wall coverage of the ruling, has a legal analysis of the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, that the Supreme Court decided today. gay animated GIF It’s worth noting, as Towleroad does,  that Justice Kennedy talked at length in his decision about the history of marriage and its importance in our culture. If marriage is so culturally important, Kennedy said, the government cannot deny the right to marry to any couple–a nuanced view of marriage that turns the usual “traditional marriage” arguments on their head.

Feministing offers affirmations for “nontraditional” families who don’t fit into the marriage mold (like single moms, families where kids are raised by aunts and uncles, and other “new and creative” family structures, while Slate argues that today’s ruling could be a major step forward for trans* rights. “The court’s recognition that both Due Process and Equal Protection require that individuals be permitted to self-determine—to define and express themselves—has unmistakable extension to rights for the transgender community.”

Meanwhile, Right Wing Watch has a great roundup of all the right-wing reactions to today’s SCOTUS ruling, including a collection of responses from religious right figures like Brian Fischer, Mike Huckabee, and the Family Research Council. We’re not going to quote them here, because WHO CARES what those irrelevant fossils think (same goes for you, Alito) but if you’re curious, Right Wing Watch is your source.

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The Affordable Care Act was also upheld this week, in a 6-3 ruling that affirmed the right of the federal government to subsidize health care for low-income people in states that refused to set up their own health care exchanges because Obamacare.

Mother Jones collected the eight best lines from the decision that upheld health care subsidies, with a focus on Chief Justice (and G.W. Bush appointee) John Roberts, who wrote the majority decision in the health care case. (Roberts signed the dissent in the marriage equality case). “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve  health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Roberts wrote. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

In a statement yesterday, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Executive Director Rachel Berkson said,

“The ruling is a huge victory not only for women in states that have refused to participate in the federal exchange program, but for women in Washington state as well, because it ensures that Washington residents will continue to have access to the full range of reproductive health care, including birth control. NARAL Pro-Choice Washington applauds the Supreme Court’s decision, and will continue to fight to expand access to all forms of reproductive care, including abortion, for women across our state.”

Have a fabulous and celebratory weekend, Femorandies!



Access Without Affordability Isn’t Access at All

Threaten family planning, raise hell: #BirthControlHelpedMe challenges congressional lunacy
Image via TIME.

55 years ago this week, “The Pill,” marketed as Enova, became available by prescription. But, as for women across the US before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, cost was a significant barrier to access. At the time, the Pill cost about $10 a month–the equivalent of $80 a month today.

It’s worth noting that access without affordability isn’t really access at all. If the Affordable Care Act is overturned, women will again be at the mercy of insurance and drug companies when seeking birth control; those who can’t afford it won’t use it, and the rate of unintended pregnancies, which is now declining, will rise again.

Even if the Supreme Court does uphold the ACA, women still face significant barriers to affordability and access–from employers who refuse to pay for birth control on religious grounds, to a Congress that’s currently debating the elimination of all federal family planning funds, to Republicans who pretend they want to improve access to birth control by making it available without a prescription, but whose goal is really to make women pay for birth control that the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to provide for free.

If we want to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies, access to birth control is critical, and affordability is a critical part of access


“Wedge Issue” of Abortion Rights is Worth Fighting For

Recently, the Seattle Times ran an editorial arguing pro-choice advocates should forget about abortion and focus on issues that are more palatable to most Americans. Calling abortion a distraction and a “wedge” issue, the Times said “legislators at the local, state, and federal levels” should focus on pregnancy prevention and not “get lost in the abortion fray.” Although the editorial board made a good point about the need for more access to birth control, we disagreed that abortion was a mere side issue that advocates should abandon because it’s at the middle of a national “fray.”

In a letter published in the Times on Saturday, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Executive Director Rachel Berkson explained why this narrow perspective ignores the bigger picture. “While we applaud The Times’ attention to the need to make birth control accessible, we strongly dispute the notion that abortion is a mere distraction or wedge issue in Washington state,” Berkson wrote. “To the contrary, it is part of the continuum of reproductive health care, and it’s under active assault.”

Currently, we live in a nation where lawmakers at every level are proposing 20-week bans, forcing doctors to lie to their patients about the risks of abortion, and shutting down abortion clinics by setting standards (such as admitting privileges at a local hospital, or construction codes intended for emergency rooms) that are impossible to meet. As long as that’s the case, we must fight for access to all reproductive health services . Better access to birth control is no reason to abandon the battle for abortion access.

Choice News, Uncategorized

Friday Femorandum: Feminists to Pope: Nope.

Welcome to the Friday Femorandum, your weekly guide to all the choice news that’s fit to reprint. Here’s what happened this week in reproductive rights.

Days after US Sen. and Presidential contender Lindsay Graham (R-SC) proposed a near-total ban on all abortions after 20 weeks, the Washington Post ran a piece by Dana Milbank not only blasting the ban but questioning Graham and other choice opponents’ logical faculties. Noting that just over 1 percent of abortions happen after 20 weeks (in some states, such as Wisconsin, adopted 20-week bans have little impact anyway because there are no clinics that perform them), Milbank writes, “Even in the extremely unlikely event Graham were to persuade his colleagues and President Obama to agree to the bill, it would make barely a dent in the number of abortions. 

“By contrast, if Graham were to support efforts to make contraception cheaper and more widely available, the number of abortions would almost certainly plummet.”

Meanwhile, at the Guardian, Jessica Valenti points out that so-called “pro-life” 20-week bans ignore the significant risks and dangers, for both a woman and her fetus, of these bans. In addition to the physical risks of delivering babies at five months’ gestation (even if they do survive, these babies are likely to have lifelong physical disabilities), Valenti notes that 20 weeks is around the time when sonograms can start to detect serious physical and maternal health problems. Denying women, along with their doctors, the right to decide whether to have an  abortion at this stage could be a death sentence for a woman or her fetus.

Progressives in the US continue to swoon over Pope Francis, who cares about the climate and gay people and nuns who don’t rock the boat too much.Reactions Crush animated GIF

One group that isn’t on that list, the Independent points out, is women worldwide, whose right to determine how many children they have and when the pope firmly opposes. This week, as the pope made an impassioned, 180-page argument for battling climate change, progressives largely ignored the fact that Francis’ encyclical also argued that “a reduction in the birth rate” worldwide as a climate solution ran against traditional Catholicism, which abhors birth control and abortion rights. Fetuses are part of nature, he continued, and since “everything is connected,” women shouldn’t be given the right to choose whether or not they get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term.

This blithe equivalency ignores the fact that overpopulation is a major contributor to climate change, and is particularly common in areas of the world without access to reliable birth control, and that women worldwide would like to be able to choose whether and when they have children. Those are real-life decisions that shouldn’t be dictated from an ivory tower in Italy by a wealthy, celibate man who will never get pregnant.

nope animated GIF The attorney general of Arizona has agreed not to enforce a wackadoo law that require doctors to lie to women and tell them their medical abortions were “reversible,” the AP reports. The requirement, which the AG notes is not based in medicine or science (and is probably unconstitutional), is being challenged as part of a larger lawsuit against larger anti-choice legislation passed by the state’s Republican-led senate, which bars all state residents from buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act that covers abortion care.

Want to know how it’s even possible that a woman could be a mother and pro-choice? If you’re reading this, we’re pretty sure you’re clear on that one, but you should still check out “Pregnant, Parenting, and Pro-Choice, a new tumblog that showcases pro-choice parents or parents-to-be and the decisions they made when planning their own families.

Have a great weekend, Femorandies!

Choice News

Monday Motivation: A Whole Can of NOPE

Welcome the Monday Motivation, your guide to what the anti-choice movement is saying about us this week!


If you spent the weekend reading about how access to birth control and medically accurate sex education has led to declining abortion rates, then you probably missed this Very Important Counternarrative on LifeNews, which reports that–despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary–the real reason abortion rates are down is that states have made it harder for women to get abortions in the first place.

They put it a little differently, of course:



LifeNews reports, “The survey found abortions are dropping the most in states that have passed the most pro-life laws, but abortions are down even in pro-abortion states that haven’t passed as many pro-life laws. Those figures make it clear that national pro-life educational efforts, pregnancy support services and pro-life prayer and educational campaigns at abortion clinics nationwide are making a difference in providing women with abortion alternatives.”

Also via LifeNews (which, incidentally, sent out a fundraising appeal this past weekend that read, basically, “Our fundraising efforts have failed, please give us money:”), this bit of doublespeak about the Supreme Court’s decision, today, overturning a North Carolina law that forced doctors to perform an ultrasound and describe the fetus to women seeking abortions: “Supreme Court Prevents Women from Seeing Ultrasound before Abortion.”

I’m gonna spray a whole can of NOPE all over that one, since women are still free to request (and pay for) an ultrasound if they want one; the trouble with the North Carolina law, the Supremes ruled in their 8-1 decision (Scalia dissenting) was that it violated doctors’ free-speech rights by compelling them to say something dictated by the state for ideological purposes.

A more accurate assessment comes from FiveThirtyEight, which points out (under the headline, “The Abortion Rate Is Falling Because Fewer Women Are Getting Pregnant”) that declining birth rates prove that as woman and teenage girls across the country gain access to birth control, largely through the Affordable Care Act, fewer of them are getting pregnant in the first place. If more women were choosing “abortion alternatives” (AKA pregnancy, birth, and adoption), the birth rate would have increased. Instead, it’s done exactly the opposite.

Showing an unsurprising lack of familiarity with humor, sarcasm, context, and the well-known critiques of the claim in the book Freakanomics that Roe v. Wade eliminated a wave of crime because black women chose to have abortions, NewsBusters decided to go moralistic on “Orange Is the New Black,” of all things. In one of the new season’s episodes, the lesbian character Big Boo comes upon the Appalachian meth addict, Pennsatucky, holding a funeral for her six aborted fetuses.

Boo tells Pennsatucky that it was probably just as well that she had six abortions rather than bringing children into the world, because–per Freakanomics–they would have turned into criminal methheads just like her. It’s a joke  by the writers, and one that’s used to both develop the characters and build audience empathy for the budding friendship between these very unlikely compatriots. But to the irony-deprived folks at NewsBusters, this odd little scene is a sign that a fictional television show is endorsing abortion as a way of keeping bad potential people out of the world. Cool logic you got there, bros.

And speaking of logic: Also this week, a California state assemblywoman (via RH Reality Check) announced that the ongoing drought in the state was God’s punishment for not adopting stricter anti-choice laws. “Texas was in a long period of drought until Governor Perry signed the fetal pain bill,” she said, referring to that state’s 20-week abortion ban. “It rained that night. Now God has His hold on California.”


Apparently it’s been a slow news week over at Live Action News (what–no Hillary-bashing opportunities in Clinton’s epic, pro-choice kickoff speech?), which reported yesterday that “there is  great deal of conflict going on behind closed doors” within the pro-choice movement. Their evidence? A post on the defunct blog Abortion Gang from 2012, in which an anonymous writer aired his/her grievances against his/her unnamed former employer. From this single, anonymous post, Live Action News extrapolates:

The systematic exploitation she describes is not surprising when you consider the pro-choice movement’s goal – promoting the killing of preborn children in order to make their mother’s lives easier. It stands to reason that an organization that would exploit and sacrifice human lives when they are in the womb would exploit human lives outside of the womb. That the pro-choice movement, considered by many to be “tolerant” and “progressive” would allow racism in its ranks is also illuminating.

Even taking the original writer’s claims at face value, it’s a leap of epic proportions to conclude that the pro-choice movement is racist and exploitative based on a single post on a defunct blog by an anonymous disgruntled ex-employee.