Choice News, Uncategorized

Monday Motivation: “Typical Low-Information Women”

Rushlowinfo - ladies: So "low-information,"  amirite?

Opponents of choice continued their schadenfreude parade after the release of heavily edited tapes by an undercover anti-choice activist earlier this month prompted a nationwide call to defund Planned Parenthood. The tapes showed a Planned Parenthood official discussing the cost to donate fetal tissue for medical research purposes after abortions–a standard practice among medical care providers that helps researchers develop vaccines and gain better understanding of human and cell biology.

The radical activists who released the tape say it proves Planned Parenthood “sells  baby body parts” for profit and without consent. In reality, not only does fetal tissue go for vital research, Planned Parenthood and other medical providers do not “sell” the tissue; they are reimbursed for the costs associated with providing it to researchs; and they do not donate tissue without a patient’s consent.

That hasn’t stopped anti-choice radicals from celebrating the bad press for Planned Parenthood and exploiting it for their own purposes.

Professional liar Rush Limbaugh weighed in on the non-story, telling listeners that “typical low-information women” (typical!) would probably try to sue Planned Parenthood to collect their “share” of the “profit” from fetal donations. Limbaugh likely knows but does not care that  fetal tissue is being donated for scientific research, not “sold off to the highest bidder,” but outrage fuels profits and profits keep gutter dwellers like Rush on the radio, so this won’t be the last of his lies about abortion providers.

Ross Douthat, the right-wing ideologue whom the New York Times continues to promote as the thinking man’s conservative,  offered an unhinged column this weekend comparing abortion to slavery, My Lai, and Nagasaki, and quoting a 40-year-old short story as evidence that “we just don’t want to look” at what abortion entails, because if we did, we’d immediately ban it. Having established this falsehood (women who choose abortion are well aware of what it entails, as are pro-choice advocates and the doctors who perform the procedures), Douthat declares, “This reluctance is a human universal.”  It remains completely opaque to me why the paper of record decided to put this angry man’s Livejournal on their editorial page.

Using unattributed 15-year-old “quotes” from an anonymous “PP physician,” inaccurate information about stem cell research, and threats about the imminent release of “a video depicting the removal of organs from an aborted baby,” the Patriot Post argues that sex should have consequences–specifically, the consequence of unwanted, unplanned pregnancy–and suggests that pro-choice advocates are really just trying to promote abortion and also reduce the black population. And they claim we’re the ones who lie.

In a similar vein, the Daily Signal reports that, calling abortion rights “the new Jim Crow,” the Daily Signal reports, an anti-choice group in Virginia went so far as to claim that if Congress doesn’t eliminate Planned Parenthood’s funding, “then shame on us. Shame on America, shame on every black person in this nation, every white person, every Latino person, that we would openly allow an organization that targets people based on their color of their skin to continue operating and harvesting the body parts of the unborn.”

New drinking game: Every time they invoke the name of Margaret Sanger, take a shot?


Friday Femorandum: Legalizing Plan B

In case you (somehow) missed it, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled this week that pharmacies have to fill all lawful prescriptions, even if a pharmacist has a religious objection to doing his or her job. Although the situation on the ground has changed substantially since the original case was filed in 2007 (emergency contraception, or Plan B, is now also available over the counter), the ruling is still a major victory. Pharmacists who refuse to do their jobs and dispense legally prescribed medication will no longer be able to so under the vague mantle of “religious freedom.”

Excited Yes animated GIFAs the Olympian notes, the plaintiffs (Ralph’s Thriftway in Olympia and two individual pharmacists) plan to appeal the decision, which could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood found itself in the crosshairs of the radical anti-choice movement this week, when a group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress released a heavily edited video it said proved that the pro-choice organization was “selling aborted baby body parts” for nefarious purposes and at a profit. (In reality, as readers are probably aware, Planned Parenthood’s donations of fetal tissue are legal, standard medical practice, contribute to critical medical research for which fetal tissue is best suited, and do not profit the organization.)

RH Reality Check has been all over the story, with a wide range of pieces on everything from why the state of California, where the hidden-camera video was taken, should investigate the CMP, which posed as a medical research firm, for fraud; to the larger context of this concerted, long-planned attack on Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers; to the tactics used by the anti-choice front group, which included routinely plying their targets with alcohol to get them to say things on hidden camera that could then be edited and used out of context to promote their radical agenda.Wtf Crazy animated GIF

RH Reality Check also has a handy infographic showing who is behind this latest round of attacks on Planned Parenthood, including the Family Research Council, the notorious violent hate group Operation Rescue, and Congressional Republicans. It’s a must-view if you’re curious who’s responsible for this ugly, dishonest smear campaign.

The New York Times editorial board also weighed in on the manufactured scandal this week, calling the efforts just “the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks” against reproductive health-care providers.

applause animated GIF “The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal. Lawmakers responding by promoting their own anti-choice agenda are rewarding deception and putting women’s health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk,” the Timesconcluded.

And Hillary herself got in on the action, defending Planned Parenthood at a campaign event in South Carolina, according to ThinkProgress. Clinton said, “I think it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood has been the object of such a concerted attack for so many years,” the Democratic front-runner said at an event in Greenville, South Carolina. “And it’s really an attack against a woman’s right to choose, to make the most personal, difficult decisions that any woman would face, based on her faith and the medical advice that she’s given.”

We wouldn’t have minded some less-tepid rhetoric from HRC (later, she walked back her support a bit, saying Congress would have to decide whether the video justified defunding Planned Parenthood), but we’re glad she’s talking about health care access for women–and linking women’s equality to the success of the economy as a whole, as she did in a recent campaign video targeting opponents who accuse anyone who mentions women of “playing the gender card,” the Washington Post reports.

Writing at Raw Story, the inimitable Amanda Marcotte points out that conservatives who sputter furiously that 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget pays for abortions are simply wrong. In fact, only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget is abortion-related, and the bulk of their funding provides birth control for low-income women–“and that is why they hate it,” Marcotte says. “Planned Parenthood combines two things that conservatives hate: 1) It provides services that allow low income people to live better lives and improve their economic opportunities. 2) It promotes the idea that women should be able to have sex on their own terms.”

And speaking of that absurd 90-percent claim, here’s Media Matters on the Republican/FOX News glee over the prospect of cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding, which demonstrates clearly that anti-choice commentators are blissfully unaware of what both Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act actually do.

Birth Control Access

Right Wing Attacks Seattle Clinics That Give Teens Better Birth Control but not Coca-Cola

This guest post is by NARAL Pro-Choice Washington supporter Valerie Tarico. 

Pregnant and obese, with rotten teeth? Seattle is leading the way on teen pregnancy prevention, but if conservative commentators had their druthers, sexually active Seattle teens would get Coca-Cola instead of contraceptives. 

In King County, an innovative public-private partnership brings adolescent health services to youth where they are—in schools. Healthcare systems like Swedish, Group Health, and Neighborcare operate small clinics right on campus in Seattle high schools. These clinics provide outpatient adolescent medicine services, including vaccinations and mental and sexual health services.

Since one of the primary reasons girls drop out of high school is pregnancy, onsite clinics in Seattle high schools have long included family planning services, and Washington voters have long defended teen access to this vital health care, whether young people have supportive parental adults they can turn to for help or not.

Since 2010, a model program developed by Neighborcare Health and adopted by other primary care providers has applied “medical best practices” shown in Missouri and Colorado to dramatically decrease teen pregnancy. This includes onsite provision of top-tier “fit and forget” contraceptives–IUDs and implants that are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC as the most effective form of contraception for sexually active teens.

Even responsible teens find it hard to use every-day or every-time birth control perfectly. So do adults.  Thanks in part to inconsistent Pill use, almost 1 out of every 10 women on the Pill gets pregnant each year, as compared with 1 in 500 for the least effective IUD! That’s why, when Colorado made IUD’s and implants widely available and free, the teen pregnancy rate dropped by 40 percent.

But conservatives in Colorado have killed funding for that program, and if they could, they would kill Seattle’s teen pregnancy prevention services as well. Conservative outlets including Fox and Breitbart launched a media assault when they learned that Seattle youth can receive top tier contraceptives with or without parental involvement. In unison, they depicted mythical 11-year-old 6th graders sneaking behind the backs of their otherwise doting parents to get “dangerous” IUDs, “gynecological procedures” and “invasive contraceptives” from unqualified government bureaucrats. They complained that young people could get reproductive healthcare on campus but not Coca-cola or other sugary soft drinks. And social media lit up with a chorus of horrified screeching.

In reality, the highly trained professionals in Seattle’s school-based clinics include parents in conversations and care where possible. Clinicians routinely ask students if they have told their parents about a visit, when they think they might tell their parents, and how the clinic can support them in that process, even facilitating family discussions.

But in the right-wing assault on Seattle care providers and teens, reality matters little. Conservative commentators don’t appear to care that their mascot, the 11-year-old IUD seeker, is fictitious. Nor do they care that real teens who do exist have received the best family planning care available, stacking the odds in favor of their education, their dreams, and their future families.

America’s epidemic of teen moms mired in poverty is no accident. In state after state, conservative politicians in the thrall of the Religious Right have obstructed or destroyed programs that drive down the number of unplanned pregnancies. I, for one, am proud to live in Washington, where we take care of our teens, and am grateful for brave nonprofits like Neighborcare that forge ahead to provide the state-of-the-art care even at the risk of a reactionary feeding frenzy like the one that erupted on Fox this week. Launching healthy young adults takes a village, and here in Washington, taxpayers and parents and neighbors and educators and clinicians together form the village that helps young people to care for themselves and graduate and pursue their dreams.

Every session, conservatives in Olympia try to take away the ability of teens to seek reproductive care independently, and NARAL has to organize a defense. Our work is never done. Thank you for making it possible, and please help us keep our work going by contributing what you can to NARAL Pro-Choice Washington today. 


NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Endorses in Seattle Races, Elections Across State


NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, the state’s leading pro-choice advocacy and political organization, is excited to announce our endorsements for the August 4, 2015 primary election.

Starting this year, seven Seattle City Council members will be elected by geographic district, and two will be elected citywide. All nine seats are up for grabs–an unprecedented opportunity for pro-choice voters to have an impact on the future of the city and vote for pro-choice champions.

Local races matter. Although city and county officials don’t often vote directly on laws affecting the availability and access of reproductive health care, their advocacy can make a huge difference in the policies that impact women and their families at the regional, state, and national level.

For example, county health departments are often the primary source of health care, including family planning services, for low-income women and families. Cities lobby state legislatures directly for funding for the services they consider priorities, which can mean the difference between a budget that funds reproductive health care and one that does not. And local government advocacy, such as the resolution the Seattle City Council passed last year opposing the federal Hyde Amendment, which bars programs like Medicaid from paying for abortions, can help determine the direction of federal policies.:

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington chose candidates to endorse based on several key questions:

• Did the candidate hold 100% pro-choice beliefs, including support for the right to choose when and whether to have children; opposition to fake clinics (known as “crisis pregnancy centeres”) that attempt to shame and misinform vulnerable pregnant women; opposition to parental notification mandates for minor women to obtain abortion care; and support for policies that not only preserve but expand access to the full range of reproductive services?

• Did the candidate express a deep knowledge and understanding of the pro-choice position, including the ways in which economic, racial, and social justice interact with reproductive freedom?

• Was the candidate enthusiastic about preserving and expanding the right to choose as part of his or her role as an elected official, both as a vocal advocate for choice and by sponsoring pro-choice legislation, and did he or she have specific ideas about how to accomplish that goal in the office he or she was seeking?

Candidates who were not endorsed but were pro-choice are listed as 100% pro-choice.

For Seattle City Council, NARAL endorses:

District 1: Dual: Brianna Thomas, Shannon Braddock

District 2: Dual: Tammy Morales, Bruce Harrell

District 3: No endorsement

District 4: Dual: Jean Godden, Michael Maddux

District 5: Dual: Mercedes Elizalde, Halei Watkins

District 6: Mike O’Brien

District 7: Sally Bagshaw

Position 8: No endorsement

Position 9: Lorena Gonzalez

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington also made endorsements in city and county races across the state, including Bellevue, Bellingham, Spokane, Tacoma, and Olympia.


Monday Motivation: What Rick Santorum “Knows”

rickysanto - real talk from professor santorum

Welcome to the Monday Motivation, your weekly reminder of why the pro-choice movement matters.

Let’s start this week’s Motivation with a palate-cleansing roundup of what right-wingers had to say about women’s right to choose at last week’s National Right to Life Convention in New Orleans. Among the anti-choicers’ most absurd claims about abortion rights, according to ThinkProgress: The fight against choice is as important as the abolition of slavery and women’s suffrage (Marco Rubio);  those who oppose laws forcing women to undergo and look at ultrasounds are just people who “want to kill babies” (Ben Carson); and if you believe in climate science, you should also believe in anti-abortion “science” (Rick Santorum).

Santorum won heavy praise for his hardline anti-choice positions from LifeNews, which raved about another comment he made at the event: “I don’t believe life begins at conception, I know it does.” That’s right, the guy who doesn’t believe in science when it comes to climate change sure thinks he’s qualified to “know” that a fertilized egg is actually a fully formed “life” from the moment of conception. Thanks, Professor Santorum?

Speaking of things Rick Santorum thinks he knows, the Presidential hopeful also said this weekend that this month’s historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is part of the “cancer” that is the spread of abortion rights. Right Wing Watch reports that Santorum said Roe v. Wade and other decisions on abortion rights have led America to “fundamental rewriting of the Constitution, ignoring truth, ignoring Nature and Nature’s Law.” He then said the Supreme Court did not have the final word on the law; “the people” do. Rick Santorum, anarchist?

The New York Times‘ “Room for Debate” feature this week centered on the issue of “birth control on demand,” with three women arguing for wider access to contraception and two arguing against. (Side note: Imagine if the New York Times had an all-or even mostly female panel debating a non-“women’s” issue! That would truly represent some progress.) The two choice opponents, one with the March for Life and one with the libertarian Galen Institute, argue, respectively, that birth control is “dangerous” and that “safe sex” without the risk of pregnancy removes women’s “dignity.” (Seriously. She puts “safe sex” in quotes.)

The March for Life representative, Jeanne Mancini, correctly points out that IUDs and other non-barrier methods of contraception do not protect women from sexually transmitted diseases, but leaps from there to the bizarre claim that IUDs cause abortions (is she reading from Rick Santorum’s playbook?) and the utterly unrealistic suggestion that women have sex with only one person, their husband, ever (and only after marriage). Abstinence followed by lifelong marriage to someone you’ve never had sex with is, according to Mancini, “the path to success and a happy, healthy life.”