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Open Letter to Representative Trent Franks: What Caring About Women and Babies Really Looks Like

7:31 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Dear Representative Trent Franks,

A mother nurses her infant

What does it mean to care for women? (Photo: See-Ming Lee / Flickr)

Today, I watched you debate during the markup for H.R. 3803, or, as you may know it, the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks in Washington, DC. I watched you valiantly fight to save “the children” from their pain even in the case of rape or incest, or when a mother has been diagnosed with cancer and the treatment needed to save her life is incompatible with the continuation of her pregnancy. I watched you warn the rest of the judiciary committee that abortions are linked to higher rates of suicide, even though this “fact,” and the basis for the bill itself (that 20-week-old fetuses can feel pain) flies in the face of all accredited scientific evidence.

And all I could think about was September 7, 2007.

It may seem strange to you. September 7, 2007 was nearly five years ago. Why think about that now? And why such a specific date?

September 7, 2007 was the night I was raped.

September 7, 2007 was the night that my rapist’s sperm met my egg and I was impregnated with the child of my rapist.

I thought about all of this as I watched you passionately advocate on behalf of “the tiny little babies” and the only reaction I could muster was “how dare you.”

How dare you, Representative Franks. Your claim of caring about the “pain of the tiny babies” rings hollow when one remembers your support of the Ryan Budget, which would have slashed over $36 billion from food assistance programs. You called them “slush funds” and “runaway federal spending.” This from a member of the House of Representatives, who makes more in a month than I do in a year.

How dare you, Representative Franks. Your claim of caring about the “increased risk of suicide” among those who seek abortions rings hollow when, again and again, you have voted to strip people like me of health care by voting for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the slashing of Medicare and Medicaid. These programs that I, personally, rely on so that I can afford counseling to help me deal with the trauma of being raped.  After all, “health care” involves your mental health as well.

How dare you, Representative Franks. Your faux concern for the physical and mental well-being of parents and their children is sickening when you have over and over again proven your concern for both is nonexistent.

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New Hampshire Defunds Planned Parenthood, Leaving Thousands Without Primary Care

11:09 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written for RHRealityCheck.org by Editor-in-Chief Jodi Jacobson. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

In New Hampshire, a group of “executive councilors,” elected officials who approve contracts and gubernatorial appointments as a check on the governor’s power, voted two weeks ago against renewing a contract that would have provided. Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire with $1.8 million in state and federal money for the next two years starting this month.This was a routine contract in place for about 30 years. Some pointed to abortion services that Planned Parenthood provides as the reason for their ‘no’ votes, though evidence suggests a much deeper agenda.

As a result, six Planned Parenthood centers in New Hampshire have now stopped dispensing contraception last week.

According to the Concord Monitor, Planned Parenthood had operated under a limited retail pharmacy license that was contingent on having a state contract. That contract accounts for approximately 20 percent of PP New Hampshire’s annual budget, and would have paid for sexual health education and counseling, distribution of contraceptive supplies, and testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

While Planned Parenthood New Hampshire provides abortions, no public funding can be or is used for these, which are covered by individuals seeking abortion and through private donations. To ensure a firewall, PPNH conducts regular audits to ensure no money is used.

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Yale Daily News Editorial on DKE Rape Song Gets It Dangerously Wrong on Rape Culture

6:18 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Today, we published a powerful condemnation by Will Neville, our colleague from Advocates for Youth, of Yale’s Delta Kappa Epsilon pledge stunt encouraging rape.

In a comment, one of our regular readers and participants at RH Reality Check, Crowepps, linked to an editorial by the Yale Daily News in response to what must have been the widespread reaction by women’s groups to the DKE episode.  I have to thank her for the tip.

And boy, does YDN get it wrong.

Calling the DKE stunt an effort to "push the right buttons to get a rise out of others," and the chanting "idiotic," YDN goes on to say:

And yet, as groups rushed to condemn the foolhardy DKE bros, they threw overwrought epithets, some almost as absurd as the chants themselves.

What was almost as absurd as the chants themselves?  According to YDN, the response by the Yale Women’s Center and feminist blog Broad Recognition that called the chants “an active call for sexual violence.”  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Yale Fraternity’s Chant Reveals Depth of Our Culture’s Misogyny

6:52 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

This article is crossposted from Amplify.org, a project of Advocates for Youth.

This is going to have to be short since I’m about to get on a plane, but I’m too angry NOT to write this. I feel too nauseous. I am too ashamed of my country and the culture we live in.

Apparently, a Yale University fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon decided to induct a new class of pledges with the following chant:

No means yes!
Yes means anal!
No means yes!
Yes means anal!
No means yes!
Yes means anal!
No means yes!
Yes means anal!


Fucking sluts!  . . . Read the rest of this entry →

Misogyny: The Real Root of Opposition to Late Abortion

6:45 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Now that Scott Roeder has been handed a life sentence with parole only possible in 50 years, it’s time to look at the effect his act of terrorism has had on the anti-choice movement. You’d think people who claim to be “pro-life” would be so ashamed of terrorist acts that they’d do anything to distance themselves from them.But instead, Roeder’s murder of Dr. George Tiller, the preeminent late abortion provider in the nation, seems to have emboldened anti-choicers to double down on the harassment of other late abortion providers. Not only have anti-choice protesters moved on to targeted Dr. Carhart for abuse and threats, but as Lynn Harris noted, legislators in Kansas and Nebraska seem to be emboldened by this act of terrorism to put further restrictions on late abortions.

What’s interesting is about the anti-choice focus on late abortions is that it really shows how intellectually bankrupt the anti-abortion rights position is. And not just because anti-choicers get energized by terroristic acts of murder. It’s because the focus shows how much anti-choicers really do think they get to have it both ways. By focusing on late abortion, anti-choicers demonstrate two major contradictions between their stated point of view and their actual point of view.

“Life begins at conception.” The major anti-abortion rights argument has always been that a fertilized egg has the same moral worth as a 5-year-old child, and that abortion is therefore murder.By that measure, an abortion at 8 weeks is the same kind of evil as an abortion at 25 weeks. So why focus more on the latter? Why spend more time trying to restrict the latter, or drawing attention to it? Why focus on doctors who provide late abortions, if they aren’t any morally different than those who perform early abortions?

It’s almost as if anti-choicers agree with the pro-choice view that there’s a difference between a fertilized egg, a fetus later in pregnancy (since most pro-choicers support some restrictions on later abortion), and a baby. Anti-choicers can’t have it both ways. Either a fertilized egg is a person or it’s not. If you think later abortion is worse than early abortion, you admit that you don’t really think early abortions are the same as infanticide.

“We’re ‘pro-life’!” The official anti-choice argument is that they’re not against women, they’re just "for life." But if that’s true, then abortion becomes more understandable if someone’s life is threatened by the pregnancy, or the fetus has defects incompatible with life. In other words, if you’re “pro-life,” late abortions that are all, by law, medically indicated would ostensibly be more defensible than an early abortion done because the woman simply does not want to become a mother.

To be intellectually consistent with both the argument that a fertilized egg is the same as a baby and that this is about life—and not about controlling and punishing female sexuality—the anti-choice movement should work to secure the right of women to obtain medically necessary late abortions. Instead, they work to restrict them even more, and during the recent health care debate, fought hard to make sure women had to pay for abortions out-of-pocket, even those getting abortions that save their lives or to end pregnancies where there’s no real hope of producing a live baby.

The anti-choice approach on late abortions is consistent with one viewpoint: the misogynist one. Let’s assume for a moment that the motivation behind anti-choice activism is not a love of life or a belief that a fertilized egg is the same thing as a baby. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, they’re motivated by a belief that the main role of women in this world is to be baby machines, and that women should mindlessly reproduce even if it kills them. Is this viewpoint consistent with the focus on late abortion?

Absolutely! If this is how you feel, you’d be extremely interested in portraying women as callous, stupid, and mercurial, then you’d be all about portraying late abortion as something that happens because stupid, heartless, fickle women change their minds 6 months into a pregnancy. You wouldn’t be interested in the truth about the medical indications that lead to late abortions, because in your mind, if they can’t have babies, they should die trying. You’d relish the opportunity to use graphic imagery and language to shut down people’s rational thinking, and get them to react to an "ick factor." And you’d be indifferent to the suffering you caused real women, like Tiffany Campbell, who had to abort much-wanted pregnancies because of fetal abnormalities—their feelings don’t matter to you as much as the production model of their uteruses.

It’s true that some people are against late abortion because they’re ignorant. They’ve bought into anti-choice propaganda that paints women as so stupid and cruel they would wait so long in a pregnancy before aborting.

But once you’ve been educated to the realities of the medical reasons a woman might need a late abortion? I have no sympathy for your position. At this point, you are choosing the misogynist view of women against the prevailing evidence.

Considering that the most intellectually consistent reason for anti-choice obsession with the relatively rare procedure of late abortion is misogyny, the willingness to draw energy from terrorist actions like Scott Roeder’s murder of Dr. Tiller makes more sense. Could it be that fundamentalist Christian terrorists have more in common with fundamentalist Muslim terrorists than we usually like to admit? Could both kinds of terrorisms stem from an ideology that glorifies a violent patriarchy and sees female independence as a threat? The only major difference I see between the two is that right wing politicians in the U.S. seem eager to give Christian fundamentalist terrorists exactly what they demand.