It was a week filled with thwarted bomb threats, successful clinic openings, and Planned Parenthood video fatigue. Maybe we’re just tired of watching anti-choicers play the “medicine is gross” card in their “exposes”-that-aren’t, but frankly, we’re kind of glad the weekend is upon us.
Speaking of those so-called exposes, they may not be landing with the intended impact–investigations of Planned Parenthood’s practices by state legislatures around the country have turned up zero evidence of wrongdoing–but anti-choice leaders are continuing to use them to drum up support with their conservative base. Just yesterday, the anti-choice site LifeNews reports, far-right Congresswoman Mia Love of Utah broke into tears while telling CNN’s Lou Dobbs that “We’ve got to do everything we can … to make sure that we don’t allow [lifesaving fetal tissue research] to happen.”
As The New York Times and many other publications have pointed out, fetal stem cells have been used to create vaccines for hepatitis A, rubella, chickenpox and shingles, as well as research into cures for cancer, blindness, HIV, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases.
Meanwhile, in Kansas, a man was arrested for attempting to carry a bomb into a Kansas abortion clinic in the same building where George Tiller, who was murdered for providing abortions in 2009, worked. The man, who had set up an interview for a job as a canvasser, claimed he brought the bomb into the clinic only because he was homeless and had no where else to put the bomb.
Responding to this bizarre claim ,which authorities have indicated they believe, Melissa McEwan at Shakesville noted wearily that such acts and attempted acts of domestic terrorism are almost never described as such, nor do they get much press: This should be at least as newsworthy as the Planned Parenthood videos, but it won’t even get a mention by most news outlets.”
In some good but perhaps temporary news, two clinics have been allowed to open despite howls of protest from abortion opponents. The first one, in El Paso, closed along with almost half of Texas’ abortion clinics after the state passed a law, HB 2, banning abortions after 20 weeks and requiring abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, which include operating rooms the size of a studio apartment, on-site pre-op beds, vast recovery rooms where clients can lie down after their procedures, and many other costly requirements. The Texas Observer took a detailed look inside the new El Paso clinic, which cost $3 million to build. Most closed clinics don’t have the capacity to meet the unnecessary and costly standards set by the new law—which, of course, is exactly the point.
And in Alabama, a judge blocked regulations that would have required abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, an especially tricky requirement given that, under the law, hospitals may choose, for any reason, to deny a clinic admitting privileges. That’s exactly what happened in Alabama, when a Tuscaloosa clinic doctor was unable to convince any local hospital to give him admitting privileges.
According to Mother Jones, the judge’s order overturning the admitting privilege requirement “cited evidence that the increased distances and the additional strain on the state’s remaining clinics forced women to delay abortions until their pregnancies were past the 20-week limit” to obtain an abortion in the state.
[US District Judge Myron] Thompson also cited the concern that the regulation’s effect on reducing abortion access “increased the risk that women will take their abortion into their own hands,” and noted that the Huntsville clinic reported calls from women seeking advice on how to terminate their own pregnancies, or threatening to do so. Thompson also referred to a “‘severe scarcity of abortion doctors…nationwide and particularly in the South,’ with no residency program offering training in performing abortion in Louisiana, Alabama, or Mississippi.”
Finally, a couple of think pieces you might have missed. The first, “Anti-Abortion Advocates Don’t Care About Black People,” from Ebony, challenges the absurd and offensive anti-choice claim that pro-choice advocates just want to lower the black population. Meanwhile, they oppose policies that would actually help black people currently living in the United States, while opposing funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides critical health care services to thousands of low-income African American women.
The second piece, from the Washington Post‘s center-left columnist Dana Milibank, soundly refutes the notion peddled by some conservatives that access to birth control does not reduce abortions. It’s a soundly argued piece that highlights the absurdity of conservatives who argue that we should make abortion illegal but oppose access to the very medicines and devices that prevent pregnancy in the first place.