Tag: contraception

ENDORSEMENT: NO on Missouri Personhood Amendment

The Republican-controlled Missouri House of Representatives advanced a so-called “personhood amendment” to the Missouri Constitution out of committee on a party-line vote. If placed on the ballot by both houses of the Missouri General Assembly and approved by voters, the so-called “personhood amendment” would grant more legal rights to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses than women, and, in effect, ban abortion, many forms of contraception, and stem cell research in Missouri.

Should the so-called “personhood amendment” be placed on the Missouri ballot, I strongly encourage Missouri voters to vote NO on the proposed amendment.

The so-called “personhood amendment” effectively grants more legal rights to fetuses, which are dependent on the would-be mother for survival, than women. Unlike what Republicans and bible-thumping bigots claim, life legally and biologically begins at birth, not conception or at any other point before birth. The so-called “personhood amendment” would strip Missouri women of their legal right to control their own body and make their own health care decisions.

Voters in states like North Dakota and Mississippi have rejected similar measures in recent years, and I believe that Missouri voters should, if it appears on their ballot, vote NO on the so-called “personhood amendment”.

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JoAnne Kloppenburg runs brilliant, factual attack ad against Rebecca Bradley

In Wisconsin, the major-party presidential primaries are overshadowed by an officially non-partisan general election for one of seven seats on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in which there are two candidates vying for a seat on Wisconsin’s highest bench. One of the candidates in the state supreme court race is Rebecca Bradley, a far-right incumbent state supreme court justice appointed to the court by Republican Governor Scott Walker. Bradley’s opponent is JoAnne Kloppenburg, a dedicated public servant and jurist who is currently a state appellate court justice and previously served as a Wisconsin assistant attorney general under both Democratic and Republican state attorneys general.

Many, many years before Bradley became a state supreme court justice, Bradley wrote a series of hateful columns for the student newspaper and student magazine of Marquette University. Bradley also has a very long history of saying incredibly offensive things, even long after she graduated from college.

Kloppenburg is running a brilliant, factual attack ad against Bradley, using Bradley’s own words against her:

Long story short, I believe that the people of Wisconsin cannot afford ten more years of an ideologically-motivated politician like Rebecca Bradley issuing decisions from Wisconsin’s highest bench. That’s why I encourage Wisconsinites to vote for the only independent-minded jurist running for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court: JoAnne Kloppenburg. Kloppenburg believes that justices should interpret the laws, not use the judiciary to enact a political agenda by judicial fiat.

The general election for Wisconsin Supreme Court is April 5, and will be held alongside the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in Wisconsin. Go, Jo, Go!

Her body is amazing

I think that a woman’s body is absolutely amazing.

Sure, her body can produce children, care for children, cook, and clean, but her body can do far more things. Her body can walk, run, jump, swim, dive, dance, sail, play sports, coach athletes, lift weights, paddle boats, ride bicycles, ride motorcycles, and drive automobiles. Her body can write, draw, paint, take pictures, film, record videos, produce radio programs, produce television programs, sing, play musical instruments, talk, act, tell jokes, study, think, and teach. Her body can invent, explore the world, explore the universe, conduct experiments, preserve species, solve math problems, care for the injured, care for the ill, care for the disabled, and use technology. Her body can work jobs, own businesses, run businesses, run non-profit groups, advise people, manufacture things, build houses, build buildings, build infrastructure, farm, ranch, sell insurance, sell homes, and trade financial instruments. Her body can vote, participate in democracy, fight for democracy, fight for her rights, fight for the rights of others, serve in an armed force, work for government agencies, run government agencies, make laws, interpret laws, enforce laws, represent plaintiffs, represent defendants, lead communities, lead regions, lead nations, and lead the world. Her body can date, marry, love men, and love women. Her body can become his body, and his body can become her body. Her body can do many other things as well.

This is why I support progressive policies that value her and her body. I support requiring equal pay for equal work. I support requiring paid family, medical, and maternity leave. I support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. I support protecting and expanding her right to determine what kind of health care she wants for her body, including what kind of reproductive health care she wants for her body. I support prohibiting all forms of discrimination. I support universal health care, so that she can afford the kind of health care she wants for her body. I support many other progressive policies that value her and her body.

Virginia feminist Erin Matson schools Senate Democrats on women’s rights and political messaging

Erin Matson, a Virginia progressive activist and reproductive rights supporter, sharply criticized U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for including “defending a woman’s right to choose” on a survey that was sent out by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which is led by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). Matson responded by saying that Democrats should “stop defending and act to expand abortion access!”.

You can view Matson’s response to the DSCC survey here. Here’s what Matson said about Democratic messaging on reproductive rights, as well as a few other important issues, on her blog:

The voter priorities suggestions are instructive. We can — and should — raise the minimum wage,reform campaign finance law, regulate Wall Street and big banking, and expand health care coverage. These are all positive goals, and activist goals at that. (Beyond the abortion whopper, WHICH WE’LL GET TO NEXT, notice that the only other negative statement of priority refers to “protecting” Social Security and Medicare. Figures. Expansions to these programs would disproportionately benefit women, since women tend to live longer and have fewer savings.)

But “defending a woman’s right to choose” is laughable because people are faced with a reproductive health care crisis today in large part due to very new laws that restrict the human rights and dignity of women.

Abortion clinics are closing, y’all. Terrorist group Operation Rescue claims that three out of four abortion clinics that were open in 1991 are no longer open today — and that 73 clinics closed last year.

So when Harry Reid sends out a mailer in early 2015 saying we need to “defend” a woman’s right to choose, I frankly wonder what the Jupiter he is talking about. How much is left to defend? The financial and logistical barriers to abortion created and approved by elected officials of all parties means this country is filled with women who can’t “choose” their way out of a one-way street.

While Democrats and reproductive rights supporters aren’t currently in a position to actually implement any reproductive rights measures at the federal level, Matson is right in that there really isn’t a whole lot left for pro-women’s rights Democrats to defend when it comes to reproductive rights. Since Roe v. Wade became law of the land over four decades ago, Republicans and anti-abortion Democrats have enacted restrictive legislation at the federal and state levels of government making it harder for women to get the reproductive health care they want or need. Not only is it getting harder and harder for women to get an abortion, it’s getting harder and harder for women to access basic reproductive health measures, such as contraception. Democrats need to start talking about expanding reproductive rights in this country, not merely “defending a woman’s right to choose”, as Democrats talking about merely “defending a woman’s right to choose” makes it sound like Democrats aren’t really interested in making it easier for women to access reproductive health procedures.

Sadly, this is only one example of Democrats absolutely sucking at political messaging.

The Progressive Midwesterner’s 2014 Person of the Year: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I promised you that I would pick someone very notorious to be The Progressive Midwesterner’s 2014 Person of the Year.

Well, I’m proud to announce that my 2014 Person of the Year is…Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Ginsburg, widely thought of as the most liberal of the nine justices on the conservative-controlled Supreme Court, has earned a loyal following among progressives, feminists, and reproductive rights supporters after the conservative majority on the court ruled that businesses owned by people who want to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of their employees, such as the arts and crafts store chain Hobby Lobby, could deny their employees health insurance coverage of contraception, even if they have a medical need for it. Ginsburg, in her dissenting opinion of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision, blasted the court’s conservative majority for allowing employers to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of their employees:

The reason why is hardly obscure. Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations. […] The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.

Ginsburg earned such a loyal following among progressives, feminists, and reproductive rights supporters in this country after her blistering dissent of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, she became known as The Notorious RBG, and “join the dissent” became a rallying cry for supporters of women’s rights.

For bravely standing up to a conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court that has dismantled religious freedom and has tried to take reproductive rights away from women, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has earned my 2014 Person of the Year award.

NARAL and Planned Parenthood send out joint press release praising Republicans who oppose reproductive rights

Cecile Richards, the daughter of former Democratic Texas Governor Ann Richards and the national head of the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood, praised Republican U.S. Senators-elect Cory Gardner (CO), Joni Ernst (IA) and Thom Tillis (NC) in a press release issued by the reproductive rights organization NARAL Pro-Choice America, despite the fact that Gardner, Ernst, and Tillis are all strongly opposed to reproductive rights:

“If you remember one thing about election night, it should be this: Far from women’s health and rights being a losing issue, it was an issue that helped both Democrats and Republicans win. That’s a huge shift,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Politicians like Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis and Joni Ernst won by moderating their positions on access to birth control and abortion. This data clearly shows that voters didn’t elect them to restrict women’s access to health care, and voters will hold them accountable to what they promised.”

Cory Gardner, Joni Ernst, and Thom Tillis did absolutely nothing to moderate their far-right opposition to reproductive rights. All three of them ran away from and/or outright lied about their opposition to allowing women to control their own health care decisions and their support for extreme anti-women’s rights measures like the Personhood Amendment. That’s not being moderate, that’s being afraid to admit their real anti-woman agenda, which would, among other things, result in more unsafe, backalley abortions and women being legally unable to obtain birth control.

What Cecile Richards said about Gardner, Ernst, and Tillis (doesn’t that sound like a shady law firm to you?) amounts to Richards giving political cover to Republicans by allowing them to lie about their medieval views on women’s issues and get away with it. What Richards said in that press release would make her mother roll over in her grave.

Republican control of the U.S. Senate would be absolutely frightening

With the possibility of Republicans winning control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the first two years of George W. Bush’s second term in the White House looming over the November 4 elections, I want to remind everybody how frightening Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate and retaining control of the U.S. House is.

Should Republicans win control of the Senate and retain control of the House, Republicans will probably pass a sweeping, Wisconsin-style far-right agenda, including legislation like:

  • Passing a nationwide right-to-work-for-less bill, allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without paying union dues for collective bargaining (if not completely banning labor unions altogether)
  • Passing restrictions on abortion, contraception, and other women’s health procedures, up to and including attempting to propose a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion, contraception, and many other women’s health procedures
  • Repealing the federal Voting Rights Act, making it easier for states to implement voter suppression schemes
  • Repealing the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, allowing many forms of racial discrimination
  • Eliminating Pell grants and other programs that help people pay for college, making it harder for young people to go to college
  • Completely repealing the Affordable Care Act, taking away health insurance from millions of Americans who were recently uninsured
  • Eliminating regulations on banks and other financial institutions, making it easier for them to engage in risky practices that were the primary cause of the Great Recession
  • Allowing mining and drilling in National Parks and other federally-protected lands, destroying the value of our country’s natural wonders and hurting the tourism industry
  • Handing out tax cuts and other tax breaks to wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests, resulting in a bigger federal budget deficit and national debt (if not implementing a full-blown regressive taxation scheme by completely repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax, shifting the tax burden to poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans)
  • Completely repealing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs, leaving millions of seniors without a source of income and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance
  • Eliminating all federal campaign finance restrictions, making it even easier for wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests to buy federal elections and have an even bigger undue influence over federal politicians
  • Repealing the federal minimum wage, putting millions of working Americans into poverty and driving millions more into even deeper poverty
  • Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and federal environmental regulations, allowing corporations to pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink
  • Repealing federal laws mandating equal pay for equal work, allowing employers to discriminate against women by paying men more than women

Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the right-wing legislation that a fully Republican-controlled Congress could pass. Don’t think for one second that people like Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins would oppose some or most of the far-right agenda just because they represent states/constituencies that usually vote for Democratic presidential candidates. The Ted Cruz-types in the Republican Party are going to demand that they pass as much far-right legislation as possible, and the so-called “moderates” in the GOP would go along with them every time and rubber stamp everything they do.

Should Republicans win control of the Senate, they will be hell bent on turning America into a third-world country. The only thing that would stop them from doing is President Barack Obama, who would likely veto nearly everything the Republicans pass. If you don’t want Republicans passing a destructive far-right agenda, go vote against the Republican bastards on November 4.

Chuck Todd gives anti-abortion zealots like Joni Ernst political cover

Chuck Todd, the right-wing beltway media hack who is the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, gave supporters of the proposed personhood amendment political cover in a piece about Iowa Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst:

In a profile of Iowa Republican nominee for U.S. Senate Joni Ernst, NBC host Chuck Todd asserted over the weekend that a so-called “personhood” amendment that she supported would protect “unborn human beings.”

On Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, Todd visited Iowa and noted that the winner of the race would likely decide control of the U.S. Senate.

“Ernst hopes to benefit from the fact that her first name isn’t congressman,” Todd explained. “But what could be holding her back—in what is clearly an anti-Washington year—is some of her very conservative positions, including something called personhood which in some cases would grant all unborn human beings with equal protections.”

The personhood amendment is a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions that would legally define human life as beginning at conception. What the personhood amendment would do is take away a woman’s right to make many reproductive health decisions, including whether or not to terminate a pregnancy and whether or not to use birth control. The personhood amendment would force pregnant women to carry fetuses to term, even if an abortion were necessary to save the life of the mother. That is a downright barbaric idea.

Chuck Todd giving political cover to far-right anti-abortion zealots like Joni Ernst is yet another example of the corporate media in this country being completely in the tank for the far-right Republicans. Iowans should vote for Bruce Braley on November 4 in order to send a message to the corporate media that they’re tired of them giving political cover to far-right extremists like Joni Ernst.