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Ignore That Self-Affixed Halo: Anti-Choicers Know Just What They Are Doing to Incite Violence

11:46 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Immediately after the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in the vestibule of his church in Wichita, Kansas just over two years ago, anti-choice leaders who had long used stridently violent language to describe Dr. Tiller specifically and abortion care generally, fell all over themselves proclaiming innocence of any connection to the murder.  Among these was Troy Newman, current president of Operation Rescue, who stated:

“We are shocked at this morning’s disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down… Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning.”

But the fact is that Newman and his cohorts regularly used imagery and language that depicted Dr. Tiller himself as a monster and in many ways indirectly if not directly suggested him as a target for someone willing to commit a violent act. That someone turned out to be Scott Roeder, who had, it turns out, several links to Operation Rescue.

And, as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Any doubt of Newman’s own gruesome feelings of glee about Dr. Tiller’s murder can be summed up in a photo showing Newman standing at the site of Dr. Tiller’s assassination giving a thumbs up.

Operation Rescue and other anti-choicers have now turned their sights on Dr. LeRoy Carhart, who is providing late abortion care to women in need several times a month in Germantown, Maryland.  During the several hours I spent on three days in Germantown, to help with clinic defense, I saw suggestions of violent action everywhere, courtesy of the anti-choicers marshaled by Operation Rescue and its colleague organizations.

First, for example, there was the truck plastered with photos of what the anti-choicers claim are mangled fetuses.  These photos, whether real or not, are obviously distasteful, and meant to be so. But they are also misleading if not outright fake.  If, for example, a woman is carrying a fetus that has died in utero, and it is removed for her own mental and physical health, it may well look grisly. So would, for example, heart surgery. But the implication without context is that someone is killing near-born babies without reason. Using photos-and science for that matter–that is either created entirely for shock value or so grossly misrepresents reality as to have no relation is a primary strategy of the anti-choice movement.

But also plastered across this truck, amidst the “dead baby” photos were photos of Dr. Tiller and those of Dr. Carhart. Those of Dr. Tiller pronounced him “dead,” and tho

se of Dr. Carhart had large yellow arrows fixed around the perimeter with the word “Abortionist” in large black block letters, pointing to Dr. Carhart.  The message, if not explicit, is nonetheless clear: “One of these men is dead, the other is still working. Whaddya gonna do about it?”

Then there were the sidewalk chalk drawings, pictured here.

These drawings, which were one version of other drawings that appeared on a different day as well, were drawn out by teenagers “called in” by OR to help out with th protest.

Among these on Sunday were the sayings:

  • Would it bother us more if they used guns?
  • What would Jesus do? (with a gun)
  • Would it bother us if they used guns?

A drawing of an exploding gun as at the bottom of this row of chalk drawings.

Again, these images have two purposes. One is to suggest violence is an answer to something that anti-choicers don’t like, namely, women exercising self-determination in their lives by determining whether and when to have children, taking control over their own reproduction and sexual health, and safeguarding their own and their family’s health when a wanted pregnancy goes horribly awry.

The other is to intimidate those who are protecting women seeking care, and doctors who serve them. What would come to your mind if you walked the street toward your doctor’s office and there were exploding guns sketched on the sidewalk leading up to the office door?

Operation Rescue and other anti-choice groups such as those in Germantown use religion and piety to advance a patriarchal agenda cloaked in religious fervor.

But it is violence by any other name.

Don’t Judge All Abortion Providers Based on the Case of Steven Brigham

8:09 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Vicki Saporta for – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

It is no surprise that abortion opponents are attempting to use the recent investigation of a Maryland clinic to depict abortion as unsafe and providers as unregulated. However, this case is not representative of the state of abortion care in Maryland or throughout the rest of the country.

Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures provided in the United States due in large part to the skill and expertise of abortion providers who offer high-quality care. However, Steven Brigham’s record makes it clear that he is not one of these providers.

The events in Elkton, MD are just the latest problem for Brigham who has come under fire from state licensing boards and health departments throughout his career. He has had his medical license temporarily suspended, relinquished, or revoked in five states, and this summer the Pennsylvania Department of Health ordered him to shutdown his clinics there and banned him from owning any other abortion clinics in the state. These repeated disciplinary actions make it evident that Brigham operates outside recognized standards for quality abortion care. And just as we wouldn’t judge the entire field for the misconduct of one dentist or dermatologist, we must not make generalizations about abortion providers based on Brigham.

Yet, that is exactly what abortion opponents are doing. They are using this opportunity to call for more regulations on all providers in an attempt to further their goal of limiting women’s access to abortion care. While I agree that Brigham and his clinics in Maryland and surrounding states should be investigated, I do so in order to ensure that women have access to the highest quality abortion care. Abortion is already highly regulated, and additional state regulations are not necessary.

Health care facilities, including abortion clinics, are required to comply with a variety of federal and state regulations. These include the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements, as well as other state and local regulations. Medical professionals, including physicians and clinicians who work in abortion care, are required to maintain professional standards and licenses and complete continuing medical education courses.

Additionally, most abortion providers comply with professional guidelines and established standards of care. The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. NAF members care for more than half the women who choose abortion each year in the United States, Canada, and Mexico City. Each NAF member must comply with NAF’s evidence-based Clinical Policy Guidelines, which are updated annually, and set the standards for abortion care in North America. NAF periodically conducts site visits to confirm that member facilities are in compliance with these guidelines, which help ensure that women receive quality care. Other medical organizations, such as Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have also established professional guidelines for abortion providers that their affiliates and members must follow.

Many states already single out abortion providers for politically-motivated, medically unnecessary regulations. Enactment of this type of legislation discourages health care providers from offering abortion care and can make provision very burdensome and/or expensive for smaller providers. These restrictions — which often dictate the width of hallways or landscaping maintenance— do not make abortion safer, they just make it more difficult for abortion providers to remain open and for women to access the abortion care they need. Abortion providers should not be targeted for more regulations based on the troubled career of Steven Brigham.

Abortion has an outstanding safety record: fewer than 0.3 percent of all abortion patients experience a complication that requires hospitalization.

High-quality abortion care is readily available from providers and clinics who meet NAF’s quality care standards. Women can locate providers offering quality care online or by calling the NAF Hotline referral line 1-877-257-0012.

(VIDEO) Baltimore’s Pregnancy Ministries Must Now Disclose Their True Mission. And They Don’t Like It

6:52 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Keiren Havens for – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

If you are a woman between the ages of 18-24 and you are having sex, you are a target. A local pregnancy ministry, also known as a “crisis pregnancy center,” wants to have a heart-to-heart conversation with you. The nice lady won’t tell you that she believes birth control is bad. But she will offer you a free pregnancy test and even an ultrasound. She will make you feel just like a patient in a health clinic.

Over 1,100 evangelical Christian pregnancy ministries across the US seek to create “a culture where lives are transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and every woman chooses life for her unborn child.” Volunteers and staff lead women to Christ by keeping them away from birth control and abortion. These ministries are devoted to ensuring that sexually active women and girls get pregnant, stay pregnant, and become mothers. After all, that is what happens to women who do not have birth control, regardless of whether they are willingly having sex.

A new law took effect earlier this year in Baltimore City compelling local pregnancy ministries to post signs that say that they do not provide or refer for birth control or abortion. Now they are disgruntled, shocked, appalled. These signs give a hint to unsuspecting women that they are not at a doctor’s office. A simple sign helps women make an informed decision about whether they want evangelistic help or a gynecologist.

But this means that pregnancy ministries must give women–wait for it–a choice. No wonder they’re appalled.

“Why doesn’t Planned Parenthood have to post signs?” they protest. Well, Planned Parenthood (1) is not a religious ministry; (2) is a respected gynecological health care provider; and (3) follows CDC and AMA guidelines, just as city health clinics, private practice gynecologists and hospitals do.

Maybe pregnancy ministries don’t like the fact that Planned Parenthood provides affordable birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and referrals for adoption and prenatal care. These ministries certainly don’t like the fact that women trust Planned Parenthood as a safe and non-judgmental abortion provider.

Pregnancy ministries are not concerned about the practice of gynecology. They are evangelists spreading a form of Christian anti-birth control, anti-abortion morality, which they carefully shroud in the guise of a health clinic. (If they were merely reaching out to their flock of already converted, then why try to look like a health clinic?)

The crux of the problem for pregnancy ministries is that the economic and social structure of the Western world depends upon the ability of individuals to plan families and space children. Nearly every person, when given a choice, will choose a health care provider who offers factual, science-based options to them and their partners.

If these ministries want to pray and offer baby formula and diapers to women who want to start families, that’s one thing. Not fully disclosing their true evangelical, anti-birth control mission, however, is another. Thank goodness we have a government that recognizes the public health value of truth-in-advertising.