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Twelve Things You Can Do To Help Increase Abortion Access

9:16 am in Government, Health care by RH Reality Check

Written by Frances Kissling for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

The end of the year is a special time. Some of us make a slew of year-end contributions; others make New Year’s resolutions. We think back and we think forward. My thoughts as the year ends turn to the greatest challenge facing abortion-rights supporters: the absence of adequate federal, state and personal financial support for women who have chosen to have abortions and simply don’t have the money. I am struck by the almost absolute apathy of most of the movement when it comes to this pressing concern.

When we look back, we are critical of the movement of the mid-seventies which chose to focus its attention on rallying the troops about a less-than-real challenge to Roe’s constitutionality rather than on the first and most significant blow to Roe: the 1980 Harris v. McRae Supreme Court decision which ruled that neither the states nor the federal government were obliged to pay for abortions through various funding mechanisms.

Efforts to overturn the Hyde Amendment as well as state laws prohibiting the use of state money for abortions have consistently taken a back seat to efforts designed to secure adolescent access to abortion services and fight waiting periods, phony informed consent laws and restrictions on later term abortions and on specific types of medical procedures.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

An Anti-Choice Wishlist for the New Congress

10:39 am in Government, Health care, Legislature by RH Reality Check

Written by Robin Marty for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

The anti-choice movement spent a great deal of time and money in campaigning for Republican candidates that would flip the leadership of the House from Democrat to Republican control in 2011.  Focusing primarily on the weakest candidates, anti-abortion Democrats running in conservative districts, groups like National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony list managed to create a new army of Republicans who owe their seats to the funding and backing of anti-choice activists.

Now those activists want their payback.

Via Lifenews, the anti-choice Republican groups have created a wishlist of the “top priorities” for congress once the new members are sworn in.  For the most part, the list is unsurprising — it is legislation that they have been pushing for nationally for years, and advocating for and often passing on a state by state basis.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Ready for Some Comic Relief? Bristol Palin and “The Situation” Are Promoting Safe Sex

7:49 am in Health care by RH Reality Check

Written by jaz for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

For the first season ever, I’ve been watching Dancing With The Stars namely because of two characters (yes, they are characters): Bristol Palin and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino from MTV’s Jersey Shore. I have no…well, maybe a little…shame about it, ABC knows how to draw in viewers.

If you watch the show, you’ll notice that Bristol Palin is always introduced as a “teen activist” for her work promoting abstinence. We are all hyper-aware of the inherent irony of Bristol coming out as a staunch advocate of abstinence-until-marriage, considering she is the unwed mother of a toddler. Now for more comic relief, she has teamed up with her randy DTWS co-star, promiscuous panty-chaser “The Situation,” for a new safe sex public service announcement sponsored by The Candies Foundation (which signed on Bristol as a spokeswoman last year).

I want to warn you that this video is painful to watch, make sure you are sitting down and that there are no loose objects hanging around for you to throw. Read more

Moving To The Right: Not An Effective Strategy

6:43 am in Government, Health care, Legislature by RH Reality Check

Written by Amanda Marcotte for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

One of the occasional great joys of political prognosticating is the chance to go back over what you wrote and see how right or wrong you were, though it’s obviously more fun if you were right.  And on October 24th, I published a column where I argued that Republican candidates might find that being hard right on reproductive rights helps them win primaries, but can be devastating in the general election.

I’m happy to say that I was right.  Not every time–some of the most extreme anti-choice candidates did win–but many of the candidates who lost races that they were earlier predicted to win in a walk were candidates whose extreme views on abortion rights were well-publicized.  It wasn’t just Christine O’Donnell, either, though she was probably doomed from the moment it was exposed that her hostility to sexual freedom went beyond opposing rights that make women’s lives better right on to opposing masturbation, a popular activity among men, the ones who generally police and are not subject to the anti-sex police’s policing.  Anti-choice extremism wasn’t what you wanted on your side to beat the Democrats this election.

Sharron Angle, who was assumed over the summer to have an easy win against the unpopular Harry Reid in a state with nearly 15 percent unemployment, was beaten for a number of reasons involving her inability to stay quiet about extreme right wing views on everything from Medicare to gun control.  But her hostility to women who need abortions—even minors who are raped by family members—haunted her, particularly her quote about said victims trying to turn the “lemons” of rape into the supposed lemonade of bearing a child to give it away.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Choice ‘C-Streeter’ Opposing Pelosi for Minority Leader

7:04 am in Government, Health care, Legislature by RH Reality Check

Written by Jodi Jacobson for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Remember the words, “Stupak Amendment?” Keep those in mind as you read further.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announced that she would place herself in the running to become House minority leader when Congress reconvenes.

Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House, was in large part responsible for ensuring the success of virtually every piece of legislation passed during the Obama Administration, including health care reform. Some bills that succeeded in the House failed in the Senate due to lack of effective action to pass them. Pelosi did not allow this to happen in the House while she held the gavel in her hand.

While clearly elements of some of these laws leave something to be desired–such as the ban on coverage for abortion care in private insurance policies–Pelosi’s ability to navigate and garner majority votes from an often fractious Democratic majority has won accolades even from opponents.

Pelosi also endured–seemingly without batting an eyelash–a flood of mean-spirited and sexist campaigns against her by both Republican and Tea Party actors seeking to vilify her through the use of imagery and strategies devised by people with the maturity level of sixth graders, and in what could only be described as a bid to distract from their own lack of ideas, lack of experience, lack of true leadership ability, or all of the above.

Pelosi, however, is being challenged by none other than Congressman Heath Shuler, a good ol’ boy conservative southern Blue Dog Democrat. Read more

PersonhoodUSA’s Radical, Fetal-Separatist Agenda

6:57 am in Government, Health care, Legislature, State Government by RH Reality Check

Written by Lynn Paltrow for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Next week, people in Colorado will be voting on Amendment 62, a ballot measure sponsored by PersonhoodUSA. This organization seeks to establish the “pre-born,” including eggs, embryos and fetuses as separate “legal persons with protection under the law.”

This organization claims that its goal is to end the “injustice of abortion.” In fact they are promoting a Fetal Separatist movement, one that is trying to legally separate pregnant women and the fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses inside of them. Their efforts are dangerous to all pregnant women including those who go to term, those who expect confidential medical care, and those who want to preserve their right to life and liberty.

The argument that eggs and fetuses may be treated as if they are legally independent of the women who carry them has been used to deprive pregnant women of their status as full constitutional persons.  Angela Carder was forced to have cesarean surgery to advance the rights of the fetus inside of her. Shortly after the surgery both the baby and Ms. Carder died. Ms. Carder was deprived of her right to life. Recently, a pregnant woman was kept prisoner in a Florida hospital because doctors believed that doing so would advance the rights and health of the fetus. She nevertheless suffered a stillbirth. Ms. Burton was deprived of her right to liberty. Although courts in both cases eventually held that these deprivations of life and liberty were wrong, adopting fetal separatist measures would allow outsiders to take similar actions whenever they disagreed with the pregnant woman.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

On Health and Rights, What Happened to the Churches?

6:59 am in Health care by RH Reality Check

Written by Trusting Women for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

In a pair of blog postings last week, Dan Savage, a sex columnist based in Seattle, assigns the blame to negligent teachers and school administrators, bullying classmates and “hate groups that warp some young minds and torment others.”

“There are accomplices out there,” he wrote Saturday. In an interview, Mr. Savage, who is gay, said he was particularly irate at religious leaders who used “antigay rhetoric.”

“The problem is that kids are being exposed to this rhetoric, and then they go to the school and there’s this gay kid,” he said. “And how are they going to treat this gay kid who they’ve been told is trying to destroy their family? They’re going to abuse him.”

Statements like these from a recent New York Times article break my heart.  Break my heart because they are true and break my heart because I grew up religious.  But not the kind of religious Savage is referring to.  I grew up in liberal religion. . . .

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Paging Dr. Paul: Medicaid Coverage for Births, Family Planning is Essential

6:17 am in Health care by RH Reality Check

Written by Cory Richards for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Rand Paul, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, caused a stir last week when he argued that too many births in Kentucky are paid for by Medicaid, the joint federal-state insurance program for low-income Americans. According to Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Medicaid pays for about half of the state’s 57,000 annual births. Paul is quoted by the Associated Press as saying that “Half of the people in Kentucky are not poor. We’ve made it too easy.”

In reality, paying for a pregnancy can be anything but easy. According to the March of Dimes, maternity care costs more than $8,800, on average, and these costs can quickly escalate into the tens of thousands of dollars if complications arise (for instance, in the case of a premature birth). That’s why having insurance coverage is so critical. Employer-based group plans usually have good maternity care coverage, but most low-income women don’t get insurance through the workplace. And the National Women’s Law Center has documented that in the individual insurance market, few plans include maternity care coverage at all.

The recently enacted health care reform law would require all private insurance plans to cover maternity care starting in 2014. Meanwhile, however, insurance trends are moving in the wrong direction. Read more

Breast Cancer Awareness: What Are We Buying Into?

6:35 am in Culture, Health care by RH Reality Check

Written by jaz for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive justice.

Breast cancer awareness has become synonymous with the ubiquitous pink ribbon. Everyone know what the pink ribbon means, it’s successfully become a logo associated with the disease. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you have most likely seen the pink ribbon plastered on everything from potato chips to dryer sheets to alcohol. There are numerous commercials promoting that if you buy "X" product, they will give some portion of each sold to (insert breast cancer research organization or charity here).

The Internet, as an infinite mode of spreading information, is also an active frontier for awareness raising campaigns, particularly via Facebook and Twitter. Remember a Facebook campaign is why Betty White hosted her first episode of Saturday Night Live despite having a 50+ year career in television. There were Twibbons (Twitter ribbons) that tweeters posted on their avatars (the small photo that accompanies your profile) for Haiti earthquake relief and many turned their avatars green in support of democracy in Iran during their elections last year. There’s pink ribbons available all year for breast cancer awareness. My question is what does "awareness" mean?

By now, most women from tweens to seniors know that we should be doing self-exams and checking for lumps in the shower. We know that we should get mammograms at 50, despite conflicting research. This is key information for both women and men. We also know that the branding of the color pink in October signifies breast cancer. But are we as a society using ribbons and social media to truly advance the cause?   . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Working with Jailed Pregnant Women Changes a Physician’s Career

6:25 am in Health care by RH Reality Check

Written by Dr. Carolyn Suffrin for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Late one night during my first months as a physician, I was helping a woman deliver her baby. I was a first year resident in obstetrics and gynecology, training at a hospital in Pennsylvania. It was already a familiar scene to me: the mix of excited anticipation for the beautiful and messy arrival of new life, and of nervous anticipation for the possible complications which any doctor-in-training fears. It was, by all accounts, a typical delivery room scene. Except by one account: the mother-to-be was shackled to the bed.

She was incarcerated at a nearby prison, and though I had no idea what alleged offense got her there, I had some idea that the pangs of labor and the numbing effects of her epidural seemed to override the need for any kind of restraints; how could she possibly flee in between painful contractions? I watched the baby’s heart rate on the monitor dip with each contraction, hoping desperately the mother would push her little one out soon. What if we needed to do an emergency cesarean section, I thought? How would we quickly transfer her from the labor room into the operating room with metal chains attaching her to the bed? As it turns out, she did push her baby out, and we welcomed new life into the world. I handed mom her baby, which she cradled in her one unshackled arm.

That moment in the delivery room troubled me so deeply that it has started me on a path to caring for incarcerated women in California. I now practice as an OB-Gyn at the San Francisco County Jail and at San Francisco General Hospital, the county hospital where jailed pregnant women deliver their babies. . . .

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