Choice News

Friday Femorandum: 90 Percent Likelihood

Happy 45th Women’s Equality Day! Here’s your present for this year: The New York Times’ election tracker now puts the odds of a Hillary Clinton victory over Donald Trump at 90 percent, the highest that number has ever been. We’re not ones to count our chickens (Wikileaks founder and unaccountable accused rapist Julian Assange continues his anti-Hillary crusade from exile, pledging  to release documents that will help Trump and damage the Clinton campaign), but those are pretty solid numbers. Fingers crossed that by the time the 46th anniversary of Women’s Equality Day rolls around, we’ll be able to celebrate living proof of women’s progress in this country: The first female president of the United States.

Speaking of Women’s Equality Day, Jezebel  has a short photo and video pictorial honoring Congresswomen Shirley Chihsolm and Bella Abzug, the two feminist pioneers who, along with thousands of women who marched down Fifth Avenue in New York City demanding changes to health care and child care policies and protesting women’s lack of educational and professional opportunities, made Women’s Equality Day a reality in 1976. Abzug was a Jewish, Democratic Congresswoman from New York; Chisholm, the first African American ever elected to Congress. Together, the two founded the National Women’s Political Caucus, which works to get elect progressive women elected.

Election 2016 meryl streep dnc democratic national convention cheerAnd speaking of Trump, did you hear the one about how his new campaign “CEO” (allegedly) beat up his first ex-wife back in 1996 and then (allegedly) forced her to leave the state to avoid testifying against him in court? The New York Post has all the sad, sordid details: In 1996, Bannon was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery, and dissuading a witness after an altercation that left his then-wife with injuries on her throats and wrist, then threatened to take away the couple’s twin girls if his wife did not leave town to avoid testifying. The case was dismissed because Bannon’s wife was not available to testify. Bannon was most recently the head of Breitbart News, an ultraconservative website linked to white nationalist and antisemitic groups.

reactions wtf frustrated stupid facepalmA New York Times report this week detailed on the impact the Zika virus has on babies. It’s an alarming read that includes graphic, disturbing photos of Zika-affected babies, and it raises important issues around women’s ability to avoid getting pregnant in Zika-affected areas, as well as access to abortion for pregnant women who contract the virus. Currently, NPR reports, Planned Parenthood is going door-to-door in Miami, where Zika cases have been confirmed, to let people know about the risks of the virus, which can be transmitted sexually as well as by mosquitoes. Planned Parenthood is doing this important work without the help of the state or federal government; the state, under Republican Gov. Rick Scott, has tried repeatedly to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, and has blocked expansion of Medicaid for low-income Floridians.

toy story woody shake fist fist shake shakes fistCongress, which is on extended vacation, has done nothing to combat Zika in the US and its territories, instead blocking legislation that could expand access to contraception, especially in Puerto Rico. Rewire  reports that a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says “access to contraception isn’t really an issue in 2016”–which is probably news to people in Miami-Dade County, which, according to the NPR report linked above, has the state’s largest population of uninsured people.

Still have a few minutes before you can leave work and go enjoy the sunshine (and, if you’re in Seattle, 85-degree temperatures) today? Take this Buzzfeed quiz, which reveals what, exactly, Donald Trump wants to do to YOU if he’s elected!

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Campaign Shakeups and Clinic Shakedowns

It was a week of campaign shakeups, gubernatorial debates, and record-high temperatures at NARAL HQ, so let’s jump right in (so we can all go jump in a lake!)

In addition to firing his Putin-friendly campaign adviser Paul Manafort and hiring the executive of a terrifying alt-right white nationalist website as his “campaign CEO” (barf), Donald Trump this week hired a right-wing pollster, Kellyanne Conway, to serve as his new campaign manager. Conway is supposed to serve as a sort of Trump Whisperer to women, who really, really, really, really hate the candidate known for saying Megyn Kelly was mean to him because she had “blood coming out of her whatever.” (Wonder why?reactions wtf britney spears confused unsure


As a political consultant and image burnisher, New York magazine reports, Conway is best known for trying to turn the ship around when Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin suggested that women who experienced “legitimate rape” had mysterious “ways” to ensure that they wouldn’t get pregnant. (You know: “The female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”–that guy.)

“By 2014, she had used her experience with Akin to develop a rap (delivered on one occasion to a House Republican Conference retreat) on how conservative pols could avoid offending women without, of course, changing their positions on issues like abortion,” NY Mag writes. Akin, of course, was not elected, but Trump still apparently believes the disgraced candidate’s adviser on women’s issues can get the ladies to vote for a guy who “jokes” about dating his own hot daughter and famously called women he didn’t like “fat,” “ugly,” “disgusting” “pigs.”

Best of luck, Kellyanne!


Trump’s other new hire, Breitbart News chairman Steven Bannon, is best known for turning the conservative news site into a home for white nationalist and white supremacist rhetoric. But Breitbart isn’t just racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic; it’s also virulently sexist, as Media Matters explains in a post  documenting the site’s lies about Planned Parenthood and birth control. Breitbart has on various occasions accused Planned Parenthood of “black genocide”; having “racist, pro-Nazi roots”; and “carving up murdered babies… Mengele-style.”

gross do not want yuck gag barfThey’ve also claimed that birth control in the water supply causes infertility, gone all-in to defend anti-choice activist David Daleiden and his fraudulent videos attacking Planned Parenthood; and asserted that birth control pills turn women who take them into “fat,” “unsexy” “sluts.”

We predict great things from this dynamic duo!

Texas isn’t letting the Supreme Court get in the way of restricting abortion rights, no sir! Think Progress reports that lawmakers in the Lone Star State (hook ’em!) Anti-choice legislators are seeking to find hard data that backs up their (false, and rejected) claim that abortion is really, really dangerous for women. To find that (nonexistent) data, they’re seeking access to private medical records of thousands of Texas women, Rewire reports. However, “The data they are looking for — records of botched abortions, deaths linked to abortion procedures, statistics on patients’ ages, the gestational age of aborted fetuses, and other details — may be hard to find, if not illegal under privacy laws.” seinfeld idk shrug julia louis dreyfus jerry seinfeld

Meanwhile, pregnancy remains far more dangerous in Texas than abortion, and pregnancy-related deaths have skyrocketed even as abortion has become more and more difficult to access.


Rewire  took a thoughtful, nuanced look this week at the debate over Zika, abortion, and disability, noting that even as anti-choice activists dismiss the developmental disabilities associated with the virus as mere inconveniences (while dehumanizing people with disabilities as “angelic, inspirational, and sometimes educational” for others), pro-choicers sometimes also use disability as a rhetorical device, running the risk of suggesting that some lives are worth more than others.

It’s a smart piece that challenges assumptions about how those of us on both sides think about the thorny issue of Zika, which causes microcephaly and is most common in countries with strict laws banning all or most abortions.

Finally, did you watch the gubernatorial debate? The whole thing, which aired Wednesday, is available here. There are four more debates scheduled; maybe at one of them they’ll manage to #askaboutabortion? (Republican candidate Bill Bryant has not said whether he supports the right to choose, and we think the public deserves to know.)

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Making America Male Again

Happy Friday! Did you know that Donald Trump is terrible? Donald Trump is terrible! Here are some of the ways in which he was terrible for women, in particular, this week:

After declining, ahem, to name any women other than his daughter Ivanka who he would appoint to his cabinet (“there’s just so many to choose from,” the candidate demurred), Trump announced his team of economic advisers, which did not include a single woman. So on top of a virulently anti-choice vice presidential pick, Trump has chosen an economic team that will, it’s safe to assume, be unlikely to place women’s economic and reproductive freedom front and center. Election 2016 donald trump rnc shrug republican national convention

Speaking of Ivanka: Remember that time when Donald told us that if his daughter was sexually harassed, she would simply quit her job or switch careers, because she (unlike those women who “complain”–looking at you, Gretchen Carlson) is an independent woman? Of course you do–it was just this week! Trump’s son Eric doubled down in defense of his dad’s caveman comments, saying that Ivanka wouldn’t “allow herself to be subjected to” harassment because she is a “strong, powerful woman.” Ivanka herself has said nothing about whether being strong and powerful inoculates women from sexual harassment (it doesn’t), but we have to think she might have disputed her dad and brother’s claims; after all, it was Ivanka who wrote in her 2009 autobiography about being harassed by workers at one of her dad’s construction sites. (She did tell FOX News that “harassment in general, sexual or otherwise, is totally inexcusable.”)

Election 2016 donald trump rnc pat pattingAlso this week, Trump just literally came out and called Hillary Clinton “the devil.” After saying Bernie Sanders had made a “deal with the devil” by endorsing Clinton, Trump paused, then went on to make it explicit: “She’s the devil. He made a deal with the devil.” Your Republican candidate for President, ladies and gentlemen!

Some other stuff also happened this week!

Washington State held an election and pro-choice champions advanced across the state, proving once again that pro-choice values win elections! From Pramila Jayapal in the 7th Congressional District, to Lisa Wellman for state senate in the 41st, to Kristine Reeves for state representative in the 30th, to Darcy Burner for state rep in the 5th, pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-family candidates headed toward the general election.

lol laughing hillary clinton hillary busting upAcross the nation, voters took their pro-choice values to the polls, notching up coast-to-coast wins including the defeat of US Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, a member of the extreme right-wing House Freedom Caucus. According to Rewire, in 2012, Huelskamp “notoriously delivered a speech on the House floor comparing abortion care to slavery and accusing both Planned Parenthood and the Obama administration of being racist. He again used race to push his anti-choice position in 2015, tweeting that those who accepted awards from Planned Parenthood supported a ‘racist’ agenda.”

In Texas, anti-choice fanatics who applauded when Gov. Greg Abbott announced new rules requiring all fetal remains (including embryonic remains that are currently incinerated or discarded, like all medical waste) to be cremated or buried will have to figure out to pay for all those funeral ceremonies. According to the Texas Observer, the new anti-choice rule is not only burdensome, it’s also expensive–on average, about $2,000, or several times the price of an abortion procedure. It’s unclear how Texas would pay for all thousands of funerals to dispose of fetal remains the size of poppyseeds, but if they tack funeral costs on to the price of an abortion, they’ll likely be veering into undue-burden territory–the same issue that led the Supreme Court to rule against the state in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which said that Texas couldn’t impose regulations on abortion providers designed to put them out of business.

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.