Friday Femorandum: The CDC’s Condescending Advice for Women

As you’re probably aware, especially if you’re under 45 and have a uterus, the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines on pregnancy and drinking this week that called on women and girls between 15 and 45 to abstain from drinking completely if they aren’t on birth control. More than 3 million fertile women who aren’t on birth control could potentially damage their babies by drinking, the CDC warns–without noting that many of those women don’t plan to get pregnant or would have abortions if they did.

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This advice, which directs all fertile women to make life choices based on the possibility that they might get pregnant whether or not they are trying to do so, was widely ridiculed across the blogosphere and in respected newspapers like the Washington Post, where columnist Alexandra Petri wondered whether the CDC understands how pregnancy works. Petri also took issue with another aspect of the recommendations, which states that “drinking too much can have many risks for women,” including sexually transmitted diseases and violence.

“Who knew that drinking alcohol could give ‘any woman’ a sexually transmitted disease?,” Petri writes. “That’s the last time I drink merlot alone in my apartment. I don’t want herpes.”

“One of the unexpected costs of being female,” Petri notes, is that people keep holding you accountable for other people’s behavior.”alcohol aubrey plaza tv parks and recreation drunk

Echidne of the Snakes, a blog that frequently points out flaws in scientific studies, notes that the CDC’s recommendations are based on the premise that all women are essentially incubators, not people with autonomy; that they aren’t supported by real science (there may be “no acceptable level” of alcohol consumption while pregnant, but that’s because it’s impossible to do a double-blind study, the same reason there’s “no acceptable level” of Tylenol or coffee, two substances pregnant women are entrusted to consume); and that they erase men from the whole pregnancy equation.

And the Daily Beast quotes Lisa Wade of the feminist blog Sociological Images, who also notes that the recommendations “seem not to be based in science,” and adds that the guidance “suggests that we are willing to compromise a woman’s autonomy and quality of life on the tiny sliver of a possibility that she might get pregnant and then have a child that is diagnosed with” fetal alcohol syndrome.

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In happier (?) news, anti-choice crusader David Daleiden, the guy behind the fraudulently obtained and edited videos that led to many fruitless investigations of Planned Parenthood around the country, turned himself in to authorities in Texas this week after a Harris County grand jury indicted him for creating a fake ID and attempting to purchase human body parts.

OK, so – per the Washington Post – Daleiden posted bond immediately. (But not before snapping a pretty smug-looking mugshot, via Jezebel). But his crusade to take down health-care providers for imaginary violations did see another setback this week, when a federal judge in San Francisco rules that he could not disclose some of the heavily-edited footage at the center of his indictment to the US Supreme Court, which is hearing a Texas case about laws designed to shut down most abortion clinics in that state.

The judge was apparently persuaded by arguments that making the videos public would violate the privacy of, and potentially endanger, the people who were filmed without their knowledge or consent. The San Francisco Chronicle has that story.

Choice News

Monday Motivation: Scrambling to Dump Trump

Mashable donald trump whatever who cares wave offAs the Iowa caucuses approached today and a Trump anointment by Republican voters in that state appeared increasingly likely, anti-choice activists across the nation sought to disavow the real-estate mogul and discredit his “pro-life” credentials. Trump’s ascension may be the ne plus ultra of chickens coming home to roost (his outrageous public statements are really just a vocalization of what so many on the far right wing are thinking), but it’s still entertaining to watch conservatives try to walk back their support for him now that his nomination seems plausible.

Breitbart, not usually a staunch defender of women’s rights, jumps to the defense of FOX host Megyn Kelly and nominal Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, arguing that Trump’s comments about the two women make him unfit for the Presidency. Citing a letter several anti-choice groups sent to Iowa voters arguing that Trump has “impugned the dignity of women,” the site notes (as if it’s news) that some of Trump’s casinos house strip clubs, and argues that Fiorina, who spoke at the anti-choice March for Life last month, is the better-candidate for abortion opponents.

donald trump wtf politics humor election 2016Similarly, Glenn Beck’s website The Blaze seems to jump on the conservative “Anyone but Trump” bandwagon, in part because he “refused to say” whether emergency contraception, also known as Plan B, causes abortion. (It doesn’t, but don’t tell anti-choicers that.)

In a rally-the-troops editorial titled “Donald Trump and the Failure to Act Pro-Life,” Live Action News decries Trump’s silence on the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and outline his once pro-choice record as evidence that his new opposition to the right to choose is purely political, not deeply held. (The shock that a casino mogul and reality TV star would be insincere is as rich as Trump himself).

Among the evidence in their indictment: “While [Trump] is willing to state that abortion is ‘brutal’ and that he is ‘totally against it’… in the same breath, he is willing to spread the lie that abortion is a ‘fairly small part’ of what Planned Parenthood does. He also failed to acknowledge that a baby is a person deserving of protection from conception, statinginstead that she became a person with rights ‘as the process goes along.’”

weird confused donald trump debate facesThe Christian Post also questions Trump’s anti-choice credentials, arguing that he “has shown signs throughout the campaign that his once pro-choice attitude and close connections with abortion proponents could play a damaging role in the success of the pro-life movement if he is elected president.”

They continue: “Although Trump now claims to be pro-life and is touting the support he is receiving among rank-and-file evangelical churchgoers, he might not realize that some of the things he says during campaign events show social conservative voters that he is not all that serious about protecting the dignity of the unborn, an issue that many conservative evangelicals take seriously.”

Or he might realize exactly that.

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Reality Checks

For a woman who wants to be President, Carly Fiorina sure doesn’t have much faith in “the justice system of our country.”

This week, Talking Points Memo reports, the nominal Presidential candidate said she wasn’t surprised that a Houston grand jury didn’t indict Planned Parenthood after a lengthy investigation into charges that it was “selling baby body parts” (after exonerating the health-care provider, the jury indicted anti-choice activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for falsifying government documents and attempting to purchase human organs), given that Hillary Clinton wasn’t indicted in the recent controversy over her private emails.

“You know, Hillary Clinton hasn’t been indicted either,” Fiorina responded. “So that tells us a lot about our justice system in this country. But, look, the facts of Planned Parenthood have not changed, folks, and I will not be rendered silent on this issue or any other issue and it doesn’t matter what stage I’m on.”

Demonstrating quite convincingly that she has not, in fact, been “rendered silent,” Fiorina went on to reiterate her unsubstantiated, utterly discredited claims that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts and that Hillary Clinton wants to allow abortion “up until the moment of birth.”


snl no kristen wiig bill hader nopeSo far, every single state that has launched a taxpayer-funded investigation into Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation practices has reached the same conclusion: Planned Parenthood does not sell fetal body parts. If you want the state-by-state breakdown, NPR has a primer.

RH Reality Check points out some of the reasons why it’s unrealistic and unworkable to tell women in El Salvador and other Latin American countries to simply “avoid becoming pregnant” to avoid the Zika virus, which can cause brain malformation in infants, for the next two years.

Reason 1: Birth control can be difficult or impossible to access in many parts of Latin America. Reason 2: For those who do become pregnant, abortion is illegal or extremely restricted in many of the heavily Catholic nations where Zika is prevalent. Reason 3: Many women don’t have the autonomy to simply avoid sex for two years; that strategy requires, among other conditions, a cooperative, understanding male partner. And reason 4: Nearly a third of all pregnancies in El Salvador in 2014 were to girls between 10 and 19 years old, suggesting that many of those pregnancies were the result of rape.

By executive order today, President Obama announced new rules that will require all businesses with more than 100 employees to report what they pay men and women, a step toward pay transparency that could help alleviate the stubborn 21-percent pay gap between men and women who do the same work. The Atlantic has details on the announcement and its (Republican) discontents.

The Comeback HBO tv dance dancing hboBut Shakesville raises some important cautionary questions about the policy, which will need to include strict controls to prevent employers from disguising gender pay inequity through creative use of job descriptions or by denying women their proper job titles to avoid paying them salary commensurate with the work they’re doing.

Finally, Apple is still directing women seeking information about abortion services to crisis pregnancy centers (fake clinics that try to persuade women to carry pregnancies to term) and adoption centers, RH Reality Check reports. This time, an investigation by Fast Company has revealed that when reporters looked up “abortion” on Apple Maps or asked Siri, “Where can I find an abortion provider?” while standing in the middle of San Francisco, they were directed to an adoption agency 30 miles outside the city–and to no abortion clinics. Apple first defended its omission of abortion services from search directories and Siri five years ago, claiming the oversight was “unintentional.” That “unintentional” omission has only gotten worse during the intervening five years Apple had to fix the problem.


Monday Motivation: “Family Values” in Action

Welcome to the Monday Motivation, where we read all the anti-choice news and spin so you don’t have to.

Lifenews, the fact-averse anti-choice news aggregator, praises “Frasier” actor Kelsey Grammer for braving the cold to stand with other abortion opponents at last week’s national March For Life. Grammer was accompanied at the march by his wife Kayte Walsh, a former flight attendant 25 years his junior whom he married after cheating with her on his former wife, Camille, who is 47.

Camille Grammer recently revealed that her former husband refuses to speak to her or to help parent the two children they had together, leaving her to raise the kids without a father.
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Previously, Mr. Family Values won praise from abortion rights opponents for wearing a shirt emblazoned, “Would it bother us more if they used guns?” along with the web address of an anti-abortion campaign.

It took them a few hours, but LifeNews has decided how to spin the the highly ironic indictment of Center for Medical Progress director David Daleiden, which resulted from an investigation into Planned Parenthood in Houston instigated by Daleiden. After months of reviewing Daleiden’s fraudulently obtained videos at his behest, a grand jury found Planned Parenthood had done nothing wrong but that Daleiden had tampered with a government document and illegally attempted to purchase human organs.

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After racking their brains for a while to figure out how to blame Planned Parenthood, LifeNews went with crediting “undue influence by abortion activists” for the indictments. That’s right – when extremists get caught breaking the law to take down health-care providers who’ve done nothing wrong, they blame it on a conspiracy by Big Abortion.

Another CMP representative, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on the document-tampering count.

Wonder what impact the criminal indictments will have on Daleiden’s reported plans to release even more fraudulent videos? On Friday, The Church Militantreported that the CMP planned to release more videos “soon,” but it seems likely that the indictment might keep Daleiden’s hands busy for a while.

Fading Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, struggling to establish his anti-choice bona fides, argued on CNN that what pregnant women see during a sonogram (a sonogram they may have been forced to undergo as punishment for seeking an abortion) “isn’t a fetus, [it’s] a live, beautiful human being” – and that seeing such images should convince women not to exercise their right to choose. The medical establishment had no comment on Bush’s assertion that a fetus is not a fetus.

Congratulations, Oklahoma! You’re now officially the very worst state to be a woman! Or best, if you get your news from One News Now, which praises the state for “taking the lead in protecting the unborn” this past year by passing the most anti-choice bills and filing the most anti-choice lawsuits of any state. Once again, “for the seventh year in a row, Washington state is the worst state in the entire nation for protecting life.”

Pregnant Worker Fairness Act

Pregnant Workers Deserve Fair Treatment

Advocates for pregnant women, medical professionals, and a worker who was fired because of conditions related to pregnancy explained why pregnant women deserve reasonable accommodations at work to members of the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee this week.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, sponsored in the house by Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-46), and in the Senate by Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33) would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, such as bathroom breaks, access to food and water, and temporary reassignment to lighter duty.

Danielle Campoamor, who testified at the hearing about how Washington’s current system failed her,  was 15 weeks pregnant with twins when she was hospitalized for complications related to her pregnancy. When she returned, she was fired because her “condition” was “too unpredictable.” One week later, she lost one of the twins. 
“I can’t say that the stress of my work situation and subsequent termination contributed to the death of one of my sons. That wouldn’t be fair, as I don’t know that for sure. But I can sit here and tell you that no woman should be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a steady paycheck. I do know for sure that no woman should feel what I felt on the day I was fired for being pregnant,” Campoamor told the committee.
Also this week, several Republican lawmakers signed on to the senate version of the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, including Sens. Steve Litzow (R-41), Andy Hill (R-45) and (frequent NARAL adversary) Don Benton (R-17). At a legislative launch for the Stand with Women campaign, which connects women’s reproductive freedom to economic justice, today, Keiser noted that the PWFA is a truly bipartisan bill.
Protecting pregnant workers leads to better birth outcomes, healthier families, more stable workplaces, and more advancement opportunities for women, particularly women of color, who make up a disproportionate number of workers in low-wage, physically demanding jobs such as restaurant, housekeeping, and retail work.
“This legislation helps women get the small changes to workplace norms that will promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, keep women in the workforce and help businesses by reducing turnover,” House bill sponsor Farrell said at the PWFA hearing. “No pregnant woman should be forced to quit her job because her pregnancy requires frequent restroom breaks or because she can’t stand up for 8 hours.”
Watch the whole hearing here