Saturday, March 31, 2012

Payback to Clinic Stalkers

Thank you to my daughter Marie for pointing out this commentary on the Jezebel website about Voice of Choice, a new group that calls people who harrass abortion providers and clinic owners.

The Washington Post first reported on Voice of Choice:

Todd Stave is the owner of a building in Germantown, Maryland, that houses the Reproductive Health Services Clinic.  Dr. LeRoy Carhart provides women's health care in this building, including late-term abortions. 

I heard Dr. Carhart speak two years ago in Minneapolis at the annual meeting of Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options. He risks his life daily to continue to offer women choice--including those who are carrying fetuses that cannot survive after birth.  To force these women to complete all nine months of a tragic pregnancy is inhumane.  This doctor is a saint--he worked with Dr. George Tiller and knows the price he may pay for caring about pregnant women who want to end their pregnancies.

When Todd's daughter began being harrassed at her middle school by protestors, he asked friends to call some of the people who routinely left threatening phone calls at his home.  He specified that the calls had to offer prayers for the anti-abortion callers--but that they could mention the names and schools of family members. 

So this is where legal access to abortion stands in 2012 in the US: harrassment of harrassers. 

Meanwhile next door in Mexico, the Roman Catholic Church continues to prevent women from having legal access to ending pregnancies, and the Pope visits to cheer on the Catholic Church in Mexico.

Women continue to lose their lives in botched, back-alley abortions in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and so many countries of the world--but these protestors in the US don't care about that.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pro-Death Policies

LA Times columnist Sandy Banks wrote about Project Prevention on October 17, 2009.

This program gives poor women access to long-term contraception--IUDs, implants, hormone patches, and shots.

Drug-using women who have multiple pregnancies and give the babies away are the target of this program.    See

They are even paid for using birth control through this program.

"We are helping mothers heal when we keep unwanted children from being born," writes Sandy. 

She was moved to write her column after reading about the deaths of two foster children who had made their way through LA County's child welfare system.

Miguel Padilla, age 17, hanged himself, and Lazhanae Harris, age 13, was stabbed to death, both in 2009.

Lazhanae was the third of nine children born to a drug-using mother who gave each child away at birth.  Lazhanae's siblings include one who died as a toddler; five who wound up in foster care, and two who are unaccounted for. In 2009 the mother was only 33 years old. 

Sandy's concluding comment: the rights of these children "ought to be as important as Mom's."

She means that being pro-life while a child is unborn is not enough. 

A truly pro-life policy would make birth control widely available to women at no cost and would not encourage women to complete pregnancies if they don't plan to keep the baby.  It would make sure that unwanted babies actually have good homes and education.

Our new national health care plan would take steps toward making contraception available to all women at no cost.

Those who oppose widespread access to contraception are pro-death.  Their restrictions would cause more abortions, more unwanted babies put up for adoption, and more children ending up in the child welfare systems of the nation. 

The end result is more children like Miguel and Lazhanae who die in their teens or earlier because they were unwanted and never had a fair chance in life.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

We are the Pawns

It's a chess game between the Ayatollah and the Pope. 

On both sides, women are the pawns, along with voters and the religious faithful. 

Sandra Fluke is a pawn who got out of control and became a threat, so the Pope sent out his knight Rush to decapitate her. 

Sandra made it to the finsh line, however, and gained the powers of a queen, quickly taking bishop Santorum. 

We need to place both the Pope and the Ayatollah in checkmate, then unite the pawns and make peace between the red and the black squares of the board.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

How To Control Women

Amid the swirling currents in this year's electoral cauldron, a teachable moment caught the attention of many this week.

Thank you, Rush Limbaugh, for opening our eyes. 

Thank you, President Obama, for making that phone call to Sandra Fluke to support her for speaking in defense of regulations requiring that contraception be available free of charge in the new health care program.

Thank you, Sandra, for your courage.

Without your help, Rush, many people would still be thinking that women have a fair amount of equality in this country.  They might still be thinking that "women's lib," as it was called in 1968, has been accomplished. 

After all, 17% of  our senators are women.  We've seen two women make serious bids for vice president in the last thirty years.

We have the Pill, and women who live near big cities even have access to abortion, unless they go to the wrong hospital or clinic. 

Lots of women, including mothers of young children, have jobs outside the home and earn about 80% of what men earn.  They may even be the sole wage earner for their family if a man has left or been laid off. 

Women with education and ideas are valued almost as much as those with scantily clad bodies, except on television and in films, and in some job interviews. 

It looks good to many, but you opened our eyes, Rush, by calling Sandra "a slut" and "a prostitute" in your show on Feb. 29.

You opened our eyes to the continued existence of the ancient and honorable double standard.

Women can and must be controlled by questioning their sexual purity, but men don't need to be controlled. 

Men get to speak out and have important roles in politics, business, and government, regardless of whether they may be sexually active.  These days they may run into a little media attention if they have multiple divorces and affairs, but certainly not if they are college students. 

Sandra spoke about women at her college not having access to birth control unless they go outside the student health plan and pay up to $1000 per year for the Pill and related doctor visits.  She applauded the new plan that makes contraception part of the basic health care package. 

For this, she is branded with words of shame.

Women having access to contraception is not okay with Russ nor with the Catholic bishops in this country nor with a handful of other religious and political groups.  Rather than debate the issues before Congress, as Sandra tried to do, these folks use barking dogs like Rush to intimidate women. 

It's not so different from Afghanistan, where a woman who shows an inch of her ankle gets the same labels and may even be killed. 

The goal is the same: control women and their bodies.  If they get out of line, whack them.

Only in this way can we preserve the social order.  

In Afghanistan, it's the rule of the Taliban and an ancient interpretation of Muslim law that must be preserved.

In the US, it's political power and a "biblical" view of marriage and sexuality that must be preserved.   

The politicos here and the Taliban there are men, of course.  The ones interpreting the Holy Scriptures have also been men in both places, for the most part

Thus it comes down to gender politics--men trying to retain control over women's bodies and lives, as part of keeping their own political power.

In some places, however, women like Sandra are standing up to these forms of social control.

Call me anything you like, they say.  I will still use my voice.