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Jamie Lynn Russell: One Pregnant Woman’s Tragic Death Reveals the Human Cost of Devaluing Women

10:43 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

 

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

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How two pain pills and the drug war cost a woman her life.

I don’t like war metaphor. I prefer to think about reproductive justice advocacy in terms of healing and love. But when our nonsensical policies on drugs and reproductive health claim the lives of living, breathing people, it feels like a war.

Jamie Lynn Russell was 33 years old when she went to an emergency room in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma in such debilitating pain that she was unable to move. Because her excruciating pain prevented her from lying down for an examination, hospital staff labeled her “noncompliant,” and called the police. The police discovered that she had two pain pills that weren’t hers. Still in pain, she was released by the hospital as “fit to incarcerate,” arrested for drug possession, and taken to jail, where she died two hours later from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

Two pain pills.

Much of the initial response to the case centered around the actions of the hospital, which likely amount to malpractice. But we must avoid making the mistake that the hospital did: looking at individual actions when they are merely symptoms of deeper, deadlier problems.

Jamie’s needless death shows us where our priorities lie, misplaced: chasing down minor drug offenders in service of a failed war on drugs is more important that human life and dignity; women’s health is not taken seriously and “noncompliance” is cause for punishment. The tragedy of her death once again disproves the myth that women never need abortions and that “modern technology and science” have eliminated maternal mortality.

I hope that her family — and people across Oklahoma and the United States — will demand justice for Jamie so that she is not just another unnamed casualty of the many political and rhetorical wars waged on pregnant women.
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Biblical Abortion: A Christian’s View

10:49 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

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The American version of the War on Women has been going on for quite some time, and one of the most long-standing fronts in this war is abortion. It’s an unpleasant topic that’s fraught with complexities and complications, so it’s been a frequent tool in dividing us into Pro- and Anti- camps of social warfare (and in the cases of murders of doctors and bombings of clinics, actual violent warfare).

The War on Women has been especially effective in getting many to feel as though Christians need to march in lockstep against the idea of allowing abortions of any type to ever be legal, to the point of criminalizing miscarriage, itself. Those who try to conscript religious Christians into this war do so under the argument that the Bible itself demands such a prohibition.

Except that it doesn’t. The Bible never once specifically forbids abortions; it’s actually quite the contrary! Not only were methods of abortion well-known at the time, there’s times when the Bible states God commands that one take place. I’m going to walk through a few examples as illustrations.

Tamar: Killing an Undesirable Pregnancy

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Not In My Backyard! As Local Government Attacks on Women’s Health Increase, Citizens Are Fighting Back

11:39 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

The vicious attacks on women’s health to which we’ve grown so accustomed on the national and state stages are trickling down to the local level, as municipal and county governments get in on the action. Thankfully, time and again, local citizens have mounted fast and furious responses, resulting in the type of swift and satisfying victories that sometimes feel unimaginable on the national stage.

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Local officials around the country have been using the “no taxpayer-funding for abortion” mantra to quietly turn away money for family planning programs that provide vital services for their neediest constituents. These attacks tend to follow a pattern: a program that has been funded without debate for years is suddenly pegged by a politician as “controversial.” Fellow politicians fall in line and vote to defund the program before residents and public health officials have time to react.

But in a few instances, community members are stepping in to stop them once word gets out.

Last year, in Ravalli County, Montana, County Commissioners challenged the approval of $39,000 in Title X funding to the local family planning clinic. The clinic provides services such as pregnancy & STD tests, contraceptives, and nutrition education to over 450 clients, the vast majority of whom are uninsured and live below the poverty line, and a third of whom are teens. The clinic had never before faced a problem receiving funding.

At a July meeting, County Commissioner Matt Kanenwisher raised three objections to the clinic’s funding based on his personal beliefs: its mission of preventing unplanned pregnancy implied that pregnancy was a “disease state,” its provision of emergency contraception was outside the proper role of government, and its promise of confidentiality for services offered to adolescents violated the “sacred relationship” between parent and child. For good measure, he added that it was “easy to debate” whether or not EC causes abortion.

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Fighting Fire with Water: The Christian Role in the War on Women

10:59 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

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Birth should never be about control, but there are those who are working very hard to make it so.  There are those who are doing their level best to usurp control over women’s legal and moral rights to their own lives, under the pretense of protecting hypothetical lives that could come into being.  And they do so under the idea that it is their divinely-appointed place to ensure that each woman is put into hers, regardless of her own conscience and beliefs.

That is, as Christians, they feel that Christ has commanded them to turn even birth control into a fight for Controlling Birth.  To those of us who feel a woman’s right to her own life is a simple matter of fairness and decency, that can be very frustrating.  It can be especially frustrating to those of us who are Christians, and know a Christ who is so very forgiving and generous and kind to women.  We often want to ask them, “When the crowd surrounded Mary Magdalene to put her to death for prostitution, how many stones would you have thrown?”

But it’s pretty hard for Christians to see themselves on the wrong side of Christ, especially as they take sides in history’s latest Holy Crusade.  This is made worse by Fearmongers who will merely use the Bible as a tool for their own ends, seizing women’s sexual health and reproduction as scare-tactic cattle prods to herd their followers to the ballot boxes.  They whip congregations up into a frenzy of fear and disgust over images of wanton women destroying civilization, then send them forth to do battle against these supposed enemies of Christ… coincidentally keeping the Fearmongers in power in the process.

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McDonnell’s Forced Ultrasound Bill Awakens a Sleeping Giant — Pro-Choice Virginians — and They Are Going to the Polls

5:14 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

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

Photo by Erik.

During this year’s General Assembly session, conservative state legislators and Governor McDonnell made their disdain for women’s autonomy and privacy obvious with a slate of bills designed to restrict access to reproductive health care, including the now-infamous mandatory ultrasound bill. With their new power in Richmond, anti-choice politicians thought 2012 was their premier opportunity to railroad these policies into law with little resistance. These lawmakers grossly underestimated the outrage their insidious attacks on women’s health would provoke in Virginia and across the nation. In fact, their agenda awakened the sleeping giant of pro-choice Virginians – the majority of citizens who believe the government should stay out of women’s private medical decisions and personal family choices. With this spring awakening will come retribution at the polls this fall and in fall 2013.

A new Quinnipiac University poll makes this clear. By a 52 to 41 percent margin, Virginians oppose the new mandatory ultrasound law signed by Governor McDonnell, which coerces doctors to perform and women to undergo the procedure before an abortion no matter what. What’s more, the poll revealed 72 percent of Virginians generally oppose laws that try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds. Regardless of their personal feelings on abortion, most people don’t think it’s the government’s place to interfere in their personal decision-making.

This poll adds to the overwhelming evidence we’ve seen this year that once people understand the true intrusive nature and insulting intention of anti-choice laws like ultrasound mandates, they oppose this sort of government invasion into their private lives. Governor McDonnell has tried throughout his time in office to hide his extremist conservative record and agenda on issues like reproductive health care, putting on a “moderate” face. We’ve always known the truth, however, and now Virginians are remembering the true McDonnell as well. His usually strong political armor has shown weakness, with his approval rating taking a 5-point plunge in the last month. The legislature’s approval rating has similarly dropped by 10 points.

I’ll admit that at the beginning of the session, with anti-choice legislators in control of the House and Senate, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that several of the many legislative attacks on reproductive rights would pass. I could never have predicted how this session would unfold.

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