Choice News

Friday Femorandum: History, Made

Like you, we’ve been absolutely immersed in all the Democratic National Convention coverage this week, and we were really struck by how positive the convention was compared to the weeklong parade of doom, gloom, and D-list celebrities the Republicans rolled out the previous week. So in the spirit of Michelle Obama’s speech, we’re going to go high this week by giving you some of the highlights of this historic convention, featuring the first female nominee in US history and the woman who will save the world from Donald Trump.

That time when a Muslim American father whose son died in combat offered Donald Trump his copy of the US Constitution:

That time when NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue told her abortion story, another historic first for a US political party convention and a symbol of the emphasis Clinton has placed on the right to choose during this election:

That time when former US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in a 2011 massacre that killed five and was permanently disabled, walked out on the DNC stage without assistance and said, “Speaking is difficult for me. But come January, I want to say these two words: ‘Madame President.’”

That time that former President Bill Clinton spoke with humility and pride about his wife Hillary, setting his own ego aside and telling the nation about “the real Hillary,” not Hillary the “cartoon.” “You could drop her into any trouble spot, pick one, come back in a month and somehow, some way she will have made it better. That is just who she is,” Clinton said.

That time when Michelle Obama delivered the speech of a lifetime. True story: The day after Obama’s speech, we overheard an elderly African American woman in a wheelchair tell the five-year-old who was with her, “When they go low, we go high.” And then Michelle said this:

“That is the story of this country, the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves,” she said.

“And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent, black young women playing with their dogs on the White House lawn. And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”

 And there was a tissue shortage throughout the nation.

And finally… That time when the first woman ever nominated by a major party took the stage and accepted that nomination, breaking through one of the tallest, toughest glass ceilings in the nation and declaring, “When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”

We were fortunate to watch history being made in a roomful of joyful, rowdy women (and men) of all ages and backgrounds, and the cheers when Hillary walked onstage were absolutely deafening. Whether you supported her in the primary or not, the choice between these two candidates could not be more clear. And as Hillary said in her acceptance speech, we are stronger together.

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Sore Losers

Welcome to the weekly Friday Femorandum, illustrated this week with cute puppy gifs because sometimes we all just want to crawl back under the covers.

pug blanketThe backlash to last week’s Supreme Court decision, in which 5 of 8 justices ruled that two Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions in Texas, was swift and predictable, as abortion opponents doubled down on efforts to keep women from exercising their right to choose.

In Texas, antichoice politicians decided that if they couldn’t force abortion providers to build mini-hospitals or have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals, they’d make the process more expensive and humiliating instead. On Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered  the state’s health department to write new rules requiring women to pay for the burial of fetal remains that result from abortions. Currently, in all 50 states, fetal remains are disposed of as medical waste, because that’s what they are. To put this proposal in perspective, it would be like requiring people who have a tumor removed or a body part amputated to put it in a coffin and give it a graveside service. Embryos are not people, nor should women be forced into some grim pantomine of a funeral by delusional politicians who pretend that they are.

While that moves forward (likely through the courts; a similar proposal in Indiana has been halted by a judge), Texas anti-choicers aren’t sitting still. According to the Texas Tribune, they’re focusing their efforts on banning the safest form of second-trimester abortions, known as dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures, which account for only about 7 percent of all abortions in Texas but make for grisly headlines because they are performed later in pregnancy than most abortions. They’re also seeking to limit abortion access by increasing administrative regulations, specifically “increasing funding to the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, increasing data collection on abortion complications and banning wrongful birth lawsuits, which allow parents to sue doctors for failing to properly warn them of the risks of giving birth to a child with serious abnormalities,” the AP reports. All of which are designed to place more risk on doctors who perform abortions, and more pressure on pregnant women to carry unplanned pregnancies to term.

cute puppy roll blanketAt the federal level, Republicans in the US House of Representatives are holding funding for Zika victims hostage over funding for birth control and other family-planning options for low-income women and families, the Huffington Post reports. The GOP’s Zika funding plan would eliminate the Title X program, which provides low-cost sexual health services to about 4.1 million patients and prevents about 1 million unplanned pregnancies a year. Because nothing says “we care about women who might get this virus that causes massive, sometimes fatal fetal abnormalities” better than cutting funds that help women not get pregnant!

And not preventing those pregnancies has real-life consequences that people who are ostensibly concerned about women’s health, rather than just reflexively opposed to anything that increases women’s reproductive freedom, would presumably be against. As Pharmacy Times reports, the virus appears to be increasing orders for the drugs used in medical abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol, particularly in the Latin American countries that are most impacted by Zika and where access to birth control and abortion services is most limited. According to Women on Web, which offers telemedicine abortions to women who live in countries where abortion services aren’t available, orders for pills used in medical abortions have gone up between 38 and 106 percent over baseline since the World Health Organization issued its Zika warning several months ago.

animals dog hiding blanket

Zika, as the Frisky  notes, has recently been linked not just to microcephaly, in which infants are born with abnormally small heads and other neurological and physical abnormalities, but other abnormalities such as frequent seizures, limbs that don’t function, and developmental delays “that only become apparent in the weeks and months after birth.”

Researchers concluded that the WoW study has implications for states in the US where Zika will likely be prevalent and access to abortion is limited, including Mississippi, Florida, and–you guessed it–Texas.

 

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: This Time, We Won!!!

CBS dance happy celebrate happy danceAs you undoubtedly are aware if you have a uterus or know someone who does, this week, the US Supreme Court ruled that laws in Texas requiring abortion clinics to be rebuilt to hospital-like standards and for clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals constitutes an undue burden on women’s right to choose–upholding the centerpiece of Roe v. Wade.

To celebrate this HUGE victory for women’s rights this week, Friday Fem is adhering to a strict no-bummers policy this week (OK, if you want ONE bummer, click here) and bringing you a roundup of stories about what the Court did, what the ruling means, and what implications it’s likely to have for states going forward. Happy Independence Day, everybody!

For a basic explanation of the case, known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, check out The Morning Consult, the Atlantic, Rewire, the Atlantic  again, Think Progress, and NPR.

“Facts and evidence eventually prevail.” That’s the  conclusion of an Austin Chronicle story celebrating Monday’s victory,  in which, the Chron reports, the Court “picked apart the state and 5th Circuit’s often illogical arguments for the two provisions,” which required abortion clinics to be rebuilt as mini-hospitals and mandated that doctors who performed abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The court ruled that both provisions were undue burdens on women’s ability to access abortion, were medically unnecessary, and were motivated by a political desire to limit abortion access, not to protect women’s health. happy dance michelle obama cabbage patch

(Texas attorney General Ken Paxton, of course, disagrees, continuing to claim disingenuously that his state’s unconstitutional anti-choice laws were really meant to “protect women,” calling it “exceedingly unfortunate that the court has taken the ability to protect women’s health out of the hands of Texas citizens and their duly-elected representatives, Talking Points Memo reports.)

Kaiser Health News has an informative guide called “5 Things to Know About the Supreme Court’s Texas Abortion Decision,” which includes the answer to one common question: Will this force other states with Texas-like Targeted Restriction of Abortion Provider, or TRAP, laws to repeal those laws? Kaiser reports: “[T]he decision does not automatically invalidate similar laws in other states because the impact of such statutes is different in every community. For example, what may amount to an “undue burden” in Texas because of the sheer size of the state might not be so burdensome in states with clinics closer together.”

happy dancing excited happy dance excitingAnd in fact, the AP reports, Planned Parenthood is already on the offense on this front, announcing it will challenge TRAP laws in eight other states that include provisions similar to the unconstitutional Texas law: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. They’ll also target laws in Texas that were not directly addressed by the Supreme Court ruling, and may sue to overturn TRAP laws in other states later.

Mississippi and Wisconsin have already seen repercussions from the landmark ruling, as the Court also rejected efforts in those states to revive their own TRAP laws; Mississippi’s proposal, which would have required abortion clinics to obtain formal affiliation with a hospital within 30 miles, would have shut down the only remaining abortion provider in the state, Think Progress and Reuters  report.

Talking Points Memo points out that although SCOTUS’ rulings only impact three states directly, there are a lot of dominoes that could still topple: 11 states have laws requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions, and 24 require hospital-like settings for clinics where abortions are provided.

 

Abortion Care, Choice News, Supreme Court Watch

Victory for Women’s Rights in Texas and Beyond!

unnamed

Today’s decisive victory in Whole Women’s v. Hellerstedt affirms once and for all the right to abortion established more than 40 years ago under Roe v. Wade, striking down two provisions of a Texas law, HB2, that had forced the closure of all but a handful of Texas abortion clinics.

The ruling is the biggest victory for reproductive rights since Roe. And it sends an important messages to the many states where antichoice legislators have spent the past several years chipping away at abortion rights: You cannot legislate the right to choose out of existence. In ruling that the Texas laws constituted an undue burden on women’s rights, and were designed not to protect women’s health (as the state of Texas disingenuously claimed) but to prevent women from accessing abortion, the Court made it paved the way for clinics to reopen in Texas and made it harder for other states to pass similarly unnecessary, restrictive laws in the future. Lawmakers across the country are on notice: They have no right to inject their religious beliefs into women’s personal decisions.

Today’s ruling is a huge victory for anyone who believes women deserve the right to choose when and whether to start or expand their families But the fight for abortion access doesn’t end today. You’ve probably noticed there’s an election coming up. The next President will choose several new Supreme Court nominees over his or her time in office. These are lifetime appointments, so it’s important we choose a President for whom the right to choose has always been a fundamental principle–not the guy who promised to “punish” women who try to exercise that right.

Choice News, Uncategorized

The Bad News: More Abortion Bans. The Good News: Teen Pregnancy Declines!

This week, state lawmakers in Louisiana spent their taxpayer-funded time passing an unconstitutional abortion ban, attempts at self-induced abortions continued to spike, and despite all odds, the teen birth rate declined thanks to–spoiler–better access to contraception.

Louisiana moved forward this week with two radical anti-abortion bills. The first, passed by the state senate yesterday, bans abortions based on fetal abnormalities, forcing women to carry fetuses with even life-threatening or fatal birth defects. The bill almost certainly violates the constitutional right to end a pregnancy enshrined Roe v. Wade, which allows only limited restrictions on the right to choose.

thinking oprah hmm concerned

The second, which Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law this week, bans the most common form of second-trimester abortion, known as dilation and evacuation, and is identical to bills in several other states, including neighboring Mississippi and Alabama, Rewire reports. The identical wording of the bills is no coincidence; the “anti-choice legislation mill” known as the National Right to Life Committee drafted the bill and distributed it to anti-choice legislators across the country.

In absolutely related news, the Guardian reports on a nationwide wave of self-induced abortion attempts in the US, as women without access to abortion services become desperate enough to take matters into their own hands. Methods include self-poisoning, dubious herbal concoctions, drugs obtained from Mexican pharmacies, and other unproven, often unsafe, methods.

There are phone calls about substances that carry warning labels for pregnancy: “‘What if I drank a whole bottle of this-or-that?”’ said Sue Postal, who recently closed her clinic in Toledo. Others take more drastic measures, such as the young woman in Postal’s clinic whose boyfriend had punched her in the stomach as hard as he could – at the woman’s insistence,” the Guardian reports.

 

Not surprisingly, anti-choice activists deflect blame for such dangerous desperate measures away from themselves and on to women who attempt to end their pregnancies. Mark Crutcher, the Texas-based anti-choice activist who inspired the fraudulent attack videos that  launched dozens of investigations into Planned Parenthood, said on his TV show this week that people like him who want to ban all abortions won’t be responsible if women die from botched coat hanger abortions in a post-Roe America.

His reasoning, according to Right Wing Watch? Anti-choice activists won’t themselves be performing illegal abortions; therefore, they aren’t culpable if abortion is banned and dangerous illegal abortions are the only option.. “The fact is, if women wind up dying — every women that has ever died in an abortion, every woman that was ever was raped in an abortion clinic, was killed by a pro-abort or raped by a pro-abort. Why are we responsible for that?” he said. “So if you don’t like coat-hanger abortions, don’t do abortions.” I’m sure he feels exactly this way about every other basic medical procedure, right?nope goodbye done laptop ragequit

Finally, in a rare bit of positive news for reproductive rights, the teen pregnancy rate in the US dropped eight percent last year, to an all-time low of 22.3 live births per thousand teenagers age 15 to 19. According to Slate, “The steady drop in the U.S. teen birth rate has been largely credited with raising the average age of first-time mothers 1.4 years since 2000.” One likely reason: Greater access to birth control, including long-acting contraceptive methods like IUDs, which are among the most effective forms of birth control.