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Is Your iPhone’s Siri a Forced-Birth Proponent?

1:38 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

It appears that the helpful assistant, Siri, who lives in your shiny new iPhone 4S might be anti-choice. From Raw Story:

Ask the Siri, the new iPhone 4 assistant, where to get an abortion, and, if you happen to be in Washington, D.C., she won’t direct you to the Planned Parenthood on 16th St, NW. Instead, she’ll suggest you pay a visit to the 1st Choice Women’s Health Center, an anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Landsdowne, Virginia, or Human Life Services, a CPC in York, Pennsylvania. Ask Google the same question, and you’ll get ads for no less than 7 metro-area abortion clinics, 2 CPCs and a nationwide abortion referral service.

Ask in New York City, and Siri will tell you “I didn’t find any abortion clinics.”

The hell?

Siri’s anti-choice bent doesn’t appear to be limited to opposition to abortion service providers, either. Women can’t find any number of reproductive-related health services from their handy little iPhone assistant, despite the abundance of them online:

It’s a similar experience for women seeking emergency contraception: in New York City, Siri doesn’t know what Plan B is and, asked for emergency contraception, offers up a Google results page of definitions.

You won’t be surprised at the list of things Siri can find for you, compiled by Raw Story’s Executive Editor Megan Carpentier. Her list begins with Viagra and continues with hospitals where you can seek help for your four-hour-plus erection. Click here for Ms Carpentier’s list that proves, pretty conclusively, that Siri is a better assistant for the gentlemen than the ladies.

GOP Bill Will Require IRS to Audit Abortions

7:05 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge


IRS by alykat, on Flickr

Another step towards smaller, less intrusive government, courtesy of the libertarian-minded teabagger-dominated House majority: Internal Revenue Service agents will be required to determine whether your abortion was paid for with tax dollars. Even more horrifying, income tax return filing forms may need to ask if you’d had an abortion and how you paid for it.

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

The absurdly redundant ‘forcible rape’ language since stripped from this bill, sure to pass the House, was a Trojan horse. The remaining legislation is the most sweeping assault on women’s reproductive health ever undertaken by Congress.

“Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest,” says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. “If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it.”

Speaker John Boehner has declared this bill to be a top priority of the new GOP Congress. Can you find the jobs agenda in this bill, except possibly the need to hire more IRS auditors to review women’s tax returns and inquire about how their abortion was paid for? Or whether parents paid for a daughter’s abortion with pre-tax health savings accounts?
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Is Elena Kagan Why We Elected a Democratic President?

5:42 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Those of us who oppose the right-wing encroachment on a woman’s right to choose are told quadrennially that we simply must vote for the Democratic choice for President. This is the only way to ensure that the Supreme Court doesn’t continue to chip away at women’s reproductive rights. So why has Barack Obama chosen someone like Elena Kagan?

As a White House adviser in 1997, Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee, urged then-President Bill Clinton to support a ban on late-term abortions.

This seems like a bright line, as Jonathan Turley mentioned about Elena Kagan in another area: her work "shows a willingness to compromise on free speech issues." Do we elect a Democratic President to choose a SCOTUS nominee who writes slippery-slope arguments about the First Amendment?

Do we elect a Democratic President to choose a SCOTUS nominee who writes slippery-slope arguments about abortion?

Just a with the sanctity of free speech, abortion is an issue about which Supreme Court nominees of Democratic presidents should not, in their past, have advocacy of compromise:

The proposal was a compromise by Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle. Clinton supported it, despite opposition from pro-abortion rights groups. The compromise failed and Clinton vetoed a stricter Republican ban.

Democrats are permitted to dissent on this nominee: Elena Kagan’s free speech slippery-slope writings and, now, her proposal that another Democratic President compromise on abortion, are views no Democratic President’s nominee should hold. Those of us who worked hard to elect Barack Obama president have the right to expect him to nominate Supreme Court justices whose views on these two topics are unassailable.

Boxer: “Not All the Choice Groups Oppose This Bill”

1:58 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Senator Barbara Boxer, touting the Nelson "compromise" abortion language and confronted with Planned Parenthood’s opposition to the bill, claims that "not all the choice groups oppose this bill." (2:34)

Senator Boxer’s "friends at Planned Parenthood" have been joined by NARAL/Pro-Choice America and the National Organization for Women (NOW) in opposing the Senate bill. I would very much like to know what ‘choice groups’ Barbara Boxer refers to in her statement in this video.

Which ‘choice groups’ do not oppose this bill, Senator?

AARP to Score Cloture Vote on HCR; Will NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood Counter?

5:59 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

AARP has announced that their organization will ‘score’ the cloture vote on the Manager’s Amendment on health care ‘reform’ as a Key Vote, informing their members how Senators voted when the election comes around. Of course, AARP favors the Manager’s Amendment, which includes the odious forced-birth Nelson language that has led NOW, NARAL/Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood to come out against the bill.

Notorious for allowing Senators to slide on cloture votes in the past, will these organizations put their considerable muscle behind their opposition and announce they plan to ‘score’ votes on cloture as well as the bill itself?

First, AARP (letter at link):

In a letter to all senators, AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond says the Monday 1 a.m. cloture vote will be among those the group tells members about when the next election rolls around.

They also are doing a new ad campaign that focuses on older Americans. It will run through Wednesday in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska and North Dakota, states that are home to key Democratic senators and one Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

And here’s part of the NOW announcement, with no mention of whether they’ll score health care or the cloture vote:

The National Organization for Women is outraged that Senate leadership would cave in to Sen. Ben Nelson, offering a compromise that amounts to a Stupak-like ban on insurance coverage for abortion care. Right-wing ideologues like Nelson and the Catholic Bishops may not understand this, but abortion is health care. And health care reform is not true reform if it denies women coverage for the full range of reproductive health services.

We call on all senators who consider themselves friends of women’s rights to reject the Manager’s Amendment, and if it remains, to defeat this cruelly over-compromised legislation.

Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL/Pro-Choice America, had this to say, but was also mute on scoring or the cloture vote itself:

"It is outrageous that, two weeks after pro-choice Americans came to Capitol Hill united against the egregious Stupak-Pitts amendment, the Senate has succumbed to including further anti-choice language in its bill. While the Senate bill does not include the Stupak-Pitts provision, this new language is unacceptable. It is inexplicable that a bill seeking to expand health coverage for Americans would impose such great administrative burdens on women who purchase abortion coverage and plans that offer it.

"At every turn, our standard has been consistent and clear: Women should not lose ground in the new health-care system. The bill does include other provisions that will improve women’s access to reproductive-health services significantly. However, the language regarding abortion coverage comes at too high a price for reproductive health. Thus, we must oppose this new Nelson language. And NARAL Pro-Choice America withholds support from the overall health-reform legislation until we assess the totality of provisions in the final bill that comes out of a conference committee between the House and Senate.

Finally, Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood issued this statement, which was also silent on how her organization would score a vote, and whether they’ll score the cloture vote as well:

"As many members of Congress and the president believe, Planned Parenthood does not think that health care reform is the forum to litigate abortion policy. Unfortunately, opponents continue to use abortion as a political wedge at every step of the reform process.

"There is no policy reason for this action, it is simply a political maneuver. We understand that leaders in the Senate and the White House want to move the process forward, but given this provision, we have no choice but to oppose the Senate bill. Planned Parenthood will now work with leaders to fix the abortion coverage language in conference."

These organizations need to understand that the progressive base understands cloture, and scoring for their handy scorecards published at election time. Thankfully, AARP has now brought cloture scoring front and center in the debate. It’s not enough to say you’ll oppose the bill and hope to fix it in conference, especially if both conferring Houses of Congress have passed draconian forced-birth language.

Banning federal funds for women’s health services ensures the continued financial health of these three organizations. If the fight goes on, so do they. Unless they announce, and quickly, that they will downgrade their ratings on any Senators who vote for cloture AND the Manager’s Amendment, their opposition means nothing.

Will Senators Boxer, Feinstein, Stabenow, McCaskill, Murray, Cantwell, Gillibrand, and the Mainers go against these women’s rights organizations if they know their vote will result in a downgrade on their pro-choice efforts? More importantly, will these organizations put their incumbent allies in a position to choose between a downgraded rating on an Election Day scorecard and the leadership’s need for all 60 votes?

Speak up, ladies: time’s running out.

The Bishops’ Billion-Dollar Business Bonanza

5:07 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Overlooked in the discussion of the Catholic Bishops’ heartfelt moral compulsion to intervene in the health care reform debate to ensure no woman assisted with federal dollars ever gets an abortion is the business assist the Bishops get from Stupak-Pitts.

What the Stupak-Pitts amendment does for the Catholic health care system is omit a competitive advantage secular and other religiously-affiliated hospitals without doctrinal restrictions can use to simultaneously market their services to both the expected influx of newly insured patients and the outpatient medical professionals who will treat them.

By restricting insurance coverage of women’s reproductive health care, the competitive barriers faced by Catholic institutions will be eliminated — provided the amendment is not stripped out of the final bill that emerges from House-Senate health care reform conference committee. Which is why pro-choice advocates should expect nothing short of a full-frontal attack by the Vatican on conservative Senators.

And in the case of an industry that accounts for 18 percent of the gross domestic product and is expected to double in less than 10 years, it’s absolutely critical to follow the money.

Eliminating a competitive advantage of their hospital competitors is not small change.

The Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives is now the largest of the church’s hospital systems in the country with 78 hospitals and 40 long-term care facilities in 20 states and operating revenues exceeding $9.6 billion ranking it sixth among all for-profit and charity health care networks.

Now consider that there are 60 some Catholic-affiliated hospital systems in all 50 states — representing 13 percent of the nation’s entire in-patient health care system. That’s easily tens of billions of dollars flowing through the business arm of the Catholic church that continues to grow through mergers with private and other religiously-affiliated hospitals.

Isn’t it wonderful when business interests coincide so completely with theology and its focus on the unborn?

For the business arm of the Catholic church it’s a theological and economic two-fer.

The bishops can extract abortion care from the private insurance benefits of millions of American women that are federally subsidized ten ways to Sunday (with the blessing of conservative lawmakers’ corporate welfare earmarks) and they level the competitive playing field without having to revise its medical doctrine to modern standards of care.

Analyzing the bishops’ lobbying efforts from a cold, calculating green eyeshade perspective adds a very different dimension to their motives that may help spur secular business interests to protect both a woman’s right to choose and their own bottom line.

Our lawmakers need to understand that the muscle the Bishops brought to bear on this amendment isn’t simply based in doctrine: their accountants and business planners surely laid out for them the business argument for eliminating a primary competitive distinction for non-Catholic hospitals.

As always, follow the money.

via digby

My Response to OFA

4:14 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Just got an email from Organizing For America *DNC* asking me to thank my representative (Nancy Pelosi) for passing health care last night, and asking me to write a letter to the editor thanking her and Obama for passing health care in the House. Here’s what I wrote:

It is shocking that in order to pass a Health Care Reform bill in the House of Representatives, with a 60% majority, our Democratic leadership allowed a vote on an amendment that will eliminate choice for any women enrolled in plans offered on the national exchange.

When we worked to elect Democrats to Congress and to the White House, activists never expected to see women’s rights go backwards in America. This is a horrifying development.

I hope the United States Senate will not take up this loathsome Stupak Amendment and that conferees will remove it before health care reform goes to President Obama to sign.

Saturday was a bitter, hollow victory for our sisters, daughters, and mothers whose health care was bargained away needlessly so that Rahm Emanuel could have a "W" in the health care column.

Breaking News: Wichita Doctor George Tiller Murdered at Church

11:08 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

George Tiller, who earlier this year was acquitted on nineteen charges stemming from Kansas’ ever-restrictive abortion laws, was murdered by a gunman this morning at his Wichita church.

WICHITA – George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody. Police said they are looking for white male who was driving a 1990s powder blue Ford Taurus with Kansas license plate 225 BAB.

George Tiller and his clinic have been a constant target of anti-abortion forces.

Protesters blockaded Tiller’s clinic during Operation Rescue’s "Summer of Mercy" protests during the summer of 1991, and Tiller was shot by Rachelle Shannon at his clinic in 1993. Tiller was wounded in both arms, and Shannon remains in prison for the shooting.

Tiller’s clinic was severely vandalized earlier this month. Read the rest of this entry →