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Julian Assange Says Being Anti-Choice Represents ‘Non-Violence.’ Non-Violent for Whom?

11:12 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Lauren Rankin for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Drawing of Julian Assange

Assange claims his anti-abortion views are “nonviolent.”

During a recent online Q&A session with Campus Reform, Julian Assange, founder of the government secret-leaking group WikiLeaks, admitted he’s a “big admirer” of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), for what he called “their very principled positions.” Specifically, he praised them and their libertarian Republican brethren for, among other things, their fervent opposition to abortion rights, characterizing their position on abortion as a reflection of their commitment to non-violence.

In response to a question about his thoughts on Rand Paul, Assange heralded him as the “only hope” for U.S. electoral politics. He lauded both men for their commitment to “non-violence,” highlighting the various ways in which he sees that commitment reflected in their political stances. “So, non-violence, well, don’t go and invade a foreign country,” said Assange. “Non-violence, don’t force people at the barrel of a gun to serve in the U.S. army. Non-violence, don’t extort taxes from people to the federal government. Similarly, other aspects of non-violence in relation to abortion that they hold.”

According to Assange, opposition to abortion is grounded in a commitment to non-violence. But non-violent for whom?

According to the National Abortion Federation, there have been 6,461 reported incidents of violence against abortion providers since 1977, including eight murders and 17 attempted murders. Abortion providers and clinics have faced numerous bombings, cases of arson, butyric acid attacks, death threats, kidnappings, and more, all from opponents of abortion rights. In 2009, Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed while at church with his family. His convicted killer, Scott Roeder, is heralded as a “hero” in some anti-choice circles.

In 1965, eight years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States, illegal abortion accounted for 17 percent of all deaths attributed to pregnancy and childbirth. And today, around the globe—mostly in the developing world—at least 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions each year (roughly 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide) and many times that number suffer serious and sometimes lifelong health consequences.

It is impossible to quantify how many people in the United States avoid accessing safe and legal abortion care because of fear of harassment and intimidation, but with 5,165 abortion clinics reporting some form of disruption or harassment in 2011 alone, it’s safe to assume that it plays at least a small role; people often avoid accessing the basic reproductive health care to which they have a constitutional right because of virulent hostility from abortion opponents.

What’s that about anti-abortion views being non-violent again?

In a political climate so openly hostile and threatening to abortion rights, one in which states have enacted 43 abortion restrictions in the first six months of 2013 alone, where 37 of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas will be forced to close because of an omnibus anti-abortion bill, where serious legal threats to Roe v. Wade abound every day, women’s lives are literally at risk.

So why are men like Assange essentially telling women to get over the abortion issue and praise Ron and Rand Paul anyway? It’s simple: privilege.

While these white, cisgender men may be able to pick and choose which political positions they like from the Pauls, marginalized groups do not have that luxury. They are essentially asking women and people of color to praise politicians who disdain and combat their very existence. This is not petty partisanship; it is a fundamental lack of respect for who we are as people. A simple look at their political records proves this.

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Condom Sabotage Isn’t A Joke

8:39 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Without commenting either way on the validity of the accusations against Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks who was recently arrested under politically suspicious circumstances for rape charges in Sweden international officials would usually ignore, I want to say that the charges themselves are very serious.  I realize it’s hopeless to suggest that pointing out the charges are serious isn’t the same as stating he’s guilty.  And that it’s probably hopeless to beg people not to rehash the same tired accusations that are always whipped out against women who file criminal complaints about rape.  When someone who has ever done anything that someone else liked is accused of rape, Rape Apology Day is declared, and all common sense is usually thrown out the window.  But I beg of you, this article has nothing to do with the validity of the charges or rendering judgment on Wikileaks itself.

This is about the seriousness of the charges and of birth control sabotage. Both of which are being downplayed by interested parties who struggle to grasp both that a man could do something they admire and do something that is immoral and illegal. Not that he did do it (please, people, calm down!).  But surely grown-ups can realize that people are complicated, and many can have both good and evil inside them.

The charges in this case, from what has been accurately reported, are rape, sexual molestation, and coercion—including accusations of holding a woman down and having sex with a sleeping woman.  But, as Jessica Valenti reports, there has been some information to suggest that one of the women is charging that Assange assaulted her by having sex with her after she withdrew her consent because he reneged on a promise to use a condom.  Unsurprisingly, the usual rape apologists stood by their usual claim that if a woman consents to [fill in the blank], then a man has a free pass to force whatever sexual acts he wishes on her.  But more surprisingly, some people came up the novel idea that birth control sabotage is not, in and of itself, a good enough reason for a woman to withdraw consent. Read more