Tag: women’s health

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”.

Advertisements

Debbie Wasserman Schultz launches condescending attack on pro-choice millennials

Ladies and gentlemen, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has, once again, insulted a large segment of her own party’s electorate. No, I’m not talking about Bernie Sanders supporters. I’m talking about millennials who support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions, including the right to decide whether or not to have an abortion.

In an interview with The New York Times, Wasserman Schultz was asked a beltway media-type question about whether or not she thought there was a generational divide in regards to enthusiasm for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign among female Democratic voters. Wasserman Schultz didn’t directly answer the question (apparently because she’s supposed to remain neutral in the Democratic presidential race, although she’s not been truly neutral) and decided to launch a political attack against the future of her own party:

Here’s what I see: a complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided.

I’m a proud millennial who supports a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and I am deeply offended by Wasserman Schultz’s offensive remarks. Us millennials are not stupid, lazy, or complacent. Us millennials strongly believe in democracy and civic engagement, most of us are very progressive on many issues, and most of us regard protecting women’s rights to be very important. There are three Democratic candidates running for president, and all three of them are strongly pro-choice when it comes to reproductive health issues.

I think that it’s past time for Debbie Wasserman Schultz to leave politics altogether and let the future of the Democratic Party lead the way on protecting women’s rights and many other important political issues. It’s clear to me that Wasserman Schultz has a deep-seeded bigotry towards young people.

Anti-abortion politicians and activists are fueling right-wing domestic terrorism in America

Republican politicians and right-wing political activists have, by constantly railing against the idea that women should be able to control their own bodies and releasing heavily-edited videos as part of a political smear campaign, have encouraged terrorist attacks against the reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood, two of which have occurred within the last month and a half.

The recent terror attack against Planned Parenthood that has received the most media attention was the recent shooting and siege of the Colorado Springs, Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, in which perpetrator Robert Lewis Dear killed three people, Jennifer Markovsky, Ke’Arre Stewart, and Garrett Swasey, and wounded several others before surrendering to police.

However, another recent terror attack against Planned Parenthood that hasn’t gotten anywhere near as much media attention was an attack that occurred a little more than a month ago. That attack involved a hatchet attack at the Claremont, New Hampshire Planned Parenthood clinic, and the attack resulted in extensive property damage to the clinic, as well as water damage to an adjacent business:

A minor was arrested early on Wednesday after allegedly vandalizing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Claremont, New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.

“Today’s damage was particularly extensive including the use of a hatchet to destroy computers, furniture, plumbing fixtures, office equipment, medical equipment, phone lines, windows and walls,” Police Chief Alexander Scott said in a statement.

Officers spotted the suspect while checking the building. Scott added that the suspect also defaced the office’s walls with spray paint, and that his actions also caused flooding that affected a business adjacent to the office. As a result, the clinic was closed as of Wednesday afternoon.

By my definition of terrorism, any act intended to kill, maim, injure, and/or stoke fear in a large group of people in the name of a political ideology is an act of terrorism.

In the same way that ISIS is inspiring Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who aren’t officially affiliated with ISIS to carry out “lone wolf”-style terrorist attacks, Republican elected officials and presidential candidates are inspiring anti-abortion terrorists to carry out “lone wolf”-style attacks at women’s health clinics right here in America. In fact, it’s not proper to call these types of terrorists “lone wolves”, as some in the media have described the Colorado Springs terrorist. I prefer to use the term “stoked wolves” to describe terrorists who don’t have any known affiliation with a terrorist group or other entity, but are inspired by a terrorist group or other entity to carry out a terrorist attack.

 

GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger owes Planned Parenthood an apology

Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of the 16th Congressional District of Illinois (much of north-central and parts of east-central Illinois, stretching from South Beloit in Winnebago County to Sheldon in Iroquois County) falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood was wrong to claim that its Colorado Springs, Colorado office was the target of a terrorist attack that started earlier today:

The truth of the matter is that the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic was (apparently) the target of the Colorado Springs shooting (which is still an ongoing situation as I write this blog post), as ABC News is reporting that, according to law enforcement, the shooting began at the clinic. Planned Parenthood has every right to claim that they were the target of a terrorist attack, and Adam Kinzinger owes Planned Parenthood and the American people an apology.

Republican Wisconsin Assemblywoman Janel Brandtjen compares women to cars and refers to women as sex objects

In Wisconsin State Assembly debate on legislation to prohibit federal funding to be used for women’s reproductive health care, Wisconsin State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menominee Falls) referred to Planned Parenthood as a maintenance garage and falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood treats women like sex objects:

Where the hell did Brandtjen get her expertise about women’s reproductive health? Motor Trend magazine? The truth of the matter is that Brandtjen, despite being female herself, has zero understanding of women’s health issues and apparently thinks that women’s reproductive health measures are like fixing a transmission on a car, which is obviously not the case, since women don’t have any kind of car parts inside of them.

Also, Planned Parenthood does not treat women like sex objects. Planned Parenthood, which Republicans and what few anti-women’s health Democrats are still in office have long wanted to defund at every level of government in this country, treats women like people who have a right to control their own bodies.

Women’s health care is a serious issue, and the Republican approach to women’s health care in this country would lead to more unintended pregnancies, more sexually transmitted diseases, and more pregnant women dying.

Wisconsin Republicans want to take the opportunity for cures away from people across America

In response to the recent release of heavily-edited videos by a right-wing smear group as part of a political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin Republicans are pushing to enact an outright ban on the use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research.

Make no mistake about it, banning fetal tissue from being used in medical research would be disastrous, not just for Wisconsin, but the entire country. Not only would Wisconsin lose jobs if this legislation were to be enacted, the entire country would lose out on research, conducted by the University of Wisconsin System, that seeks to find cures for serious ailments like Parkinson’s disease, heart defects, various forms of cancer, and multiple sclerosis, just to name a few. This would make it far more difficult for researchers to find cures for serious ailments that affect millions of people in this country. I don’t think that there are any colleges or universities outside of Wisconsin that do medical research with fetal tissue, but I could be wrong about that.

The right-wing political witchhunt against Planned Parenthood and other pro-women groups is incredibly short-sighted. In Wisconsin, the right-wing witchhunt against Planned Parenthood has officially turned into a full-on attack against sick people and medical research.

Bernie Sanders stands up for Planned Parenthood and calls for expanding funding for women’s health care

While reducing rampant income inequality and ending the culture of big-money politics in this country are two of the main causes of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, he’s also a staunch supporter for reproductive rights. In a recent fundraising email, Bernie called for increasing funding for women’s health care, not defunding women’s health care like what the far-right Republicans who control Congress and are running for president want to do:

Let me tell you what I believe: we need to be spending a lot more money on women’s health care. We need to be investing in organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide absolutely essential health services for women, particularly in low-income communities.

And Americans need a president who knows women in this nation deserve a whole lot more than $3 a person for health care.

Regarding Bernie’s claim about spending $3/woman on women’s reproductive health care, that’s a reference to Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush complaining about spending “half a billion dollars for women’s health issues”. If the U.S. spent $500,000,000 annually on women’s reproductive health care (I’m not sure what the actual figure is, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it were close to that figure), that would translate to, rounded to the nearest cent, $3.19 per woman, since there were 156,964,212 women (50.8% of total U.S. population) in the United States as of the 2010 U.S. Census. Rounded to the nearest whole dollar ($3.19 rounded to nearest whole dollar is $3), Bernie’s claim is correct.

It’s common sense to increase funding and access to reproductive health care. Reproductive health care organizations like Planned Parenthood provide a wide array of reproductive health care services designed to prevent abortions and stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health services to men, in addition to reproductive health services to women.

The push by Republicans and right-wing smear artists to defund reproductive health care providers like Planned Parenthood have had disastrous consequences in Indiana, where a Republican-led push to defund Planned Parenthood resulted in an HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana. This is one of many reasons why we need more public funding, not less, for reproductive health care.

An open letter to America about Scott Walker from an Illinoisan who has blogged about Walker

My fellow Americans,

Sometime tomorrow, Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker will formally launch his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

As someone who has blogged about Walker on a regular basis for the past few years, I’ve come to know Walker as a horrible politician who, with the help of his political allies in the Wisconsin State Legislature, has destroyed Wisconsin’s economy, reputation, and quality of life. In a sane world, Walker’s record as Governor of Wisconsin would be an immediate disqualifier for any future campaign for public office. To give you a description of Walker’s style of politics, if one combined the worst elements of Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Jerry Falwell, and Grover Norquist, you’d get Walker.

Since taking office as Wisconsin’s chief executive four and a half years ago, Scott Walker has, among other things:

  • Stripped collective bargaining rights from public employee unions
  • Enacted wage theft laws allowing non-union workers at unionized workplaces to refuse to join a labor union and/or pay union dues despite receiving union-negotiated wages and benefits
  • Drastically cut the pay of public employees
  • Made it harder for Wisconsin women to seek legal recourse if they’ve been denied equal pay for the same work as their male counterparts
  • Established a corporate welfare agency in Wisconsin that is rife with corruption, cronyism, and mismanagement
  • Cut funding from public elementary, secondary, and higher education
  • Expanded Wisconsin’s school voucher programs that funnel taxpayer money to religious schools
  • Made it harder for Wisconsin women to get the reproductive health care they want
  • Given out tax breaks to big businesses and the wealthy
  • Weakened environmental protections
  • Arrested people for singing
  • Enacted discriminatory voter ID laws designed to keep Wisconsinites from voting
  • Stripped local control from counties and communities in Wisconsin that usually vote for Democratic candidates
  • Openly compared the people of Wisconsin to terrorists
  • Blatantly violated campaign finance laws
  • Given wealthy right-wingers and big business interests virtually complete control of Wisconsin’s state government

Walker’s policies and actions have, among other things:

  • Driven down the wages of Wisconsinites
  • Stifled economic growth in Wisconsin
  • Has made Wisconsin one of the most corrupt states in the entire country
  • Lowered the percentage of middle-class Wisconsin households
  • Left Wisconsin with severe budget problems
  • Made Wisconsin the laughingstock of America

However, we don’t live in a sane world. Walker has been elected Governor of Wisconsin three times in a four-year period against weak, uninspiring corporate Democrats. I believe that, if Democrats do not nominate Bernie Sanders for president, Scott Walker will become the next President of the United States, and, given how he’s wrecked Wisconsin over the past four and a half years, that is a truly scary thought. If Walker is elected president, what little remains of the American middle class and American sovereignty will be completely destroyed, big business interests will completely take over the federal government at every level, America’s federal budget deficit and national debt will grow massively, social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare will be privatized or outright eliminated, America’s economy will crash again, and corruption will run amok in the federal government.

You can read about Scott Walker’s horrible track record here, here, here, here, and here, among many other places. Furthermore, if you ever get in touch with these people either in person or by other means, you can ask people like Lori Compas, Wendi Kent, Karen Vieth, Kati Walsh, Chris “Capper” Liebenthal, Zach Wisniewski, Kelda Roys, Chris Taylor, Melissa Sargent, Kathleen Vinehout, Rebecca Kemble, Fred Risser, Kelly Westlund, Barbara With, Randy Bryce, Sara Goldrick-Rab, Heather DuBois Bourenane, Ingrid Laas, Sachi Komai, Laura Komai, Jenni Dye, JoCasta Zamarripa, Laura Manriquez, Mandela Barnes, LaTonya Johnson, Angela Walker, Christine Sinicki, Lisa Mux, and Mike McCabe, just to name a few, about what they think about Scott Walker…they’re all Wisconsinites, and they know how horrible Scott Walker’s policies and actions have been for Wisconsin.

As a lifelong Illinoisan and proud progressive, I would walk through fire to vote for the Democratic opponent to Scott Walker if he were to be nominated by the Republican Party for the office of President of the United States if that’s what it took for me to get to the polls.

Sincerely,
Aaron Camp
Westville, Illinois

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.

Crisis pregnancy center in my home county in Illinois caught violating patient privacy by local media

The Women’s Care Clinic of Danville (WCC), a crisis pregnancy center located in Danville, Illinois, which is located in Vermilion County, posted pictures of the sonogram of a pregnant woman’s fetus on their Facebook page and stated that the woman had scheduled an abortion and wanted people to pray that the woman would change her mind and not had the pregnancy terminated.

WCIA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Champaign, ran a segment on one of their local newscasts earlier today calling WCC out for violating patient privacy. While I’m not going to directly link to the article about this story on their website, illinoishomepage.net, as the online article includes a video that shows the sonogram in question, and it would be unethical for me to post or link to anything containing the sonogram in question, this is from their online article, titled “Clinic’s post causes privacy concerns” and dated February 11, 2015:

A picture of an unborn baby is causing controversy online. An area clinic posted what leaders say was a picture from a patient’s sonogram. It’s raising the issue of privacy. The clinic took the post down the same day it went up.

The Women’s Care Clinic of Danville says the image was removed because comments were “too negative.” The post shows a sonogram picture stating the baby’s mother had scheduled an abortion and asked people to pray she would change her mind.

But, clinic managers say they don’t know if the picture is an actual sonogram from the patient mentioned in the post. They say they didn’t identify who it was, so it wasn’t an invasion of privacy, adding clients agree any images can be used for promotion or education.

WCIA’s online article went on to describe WCC as an organization that “provides counseling and support groups for post-abortion” and that WCC stated that “asking for prayers for certain clients” is normal operating procedure for them.

Here’s my thoughts about this:

  • WCIA used a considerable amount of anti-abortion framing in their TV report about the WCC posting a sonogram online, which is not surprising given the fact that WCIA’s local newscasts have a heavy right-wing bias. For example, “Picture of an unborn baby” is not the medically correct term for a sonogram of a fetus; “sonogram of a fetus” is the medically correct term for that. Also, the reason why comments on WCC’s Facebook page got “too negative” is because WCC operates in a highly unethical manner, and those who made “negative” comments on their Facebook page were rightfully criticizing them for operating in a highly unethical manner.
  • WCIA is just as guilty as WCC is of violating patient privacy since they showed the sonogram, both on television and online, in fact, one could argue that WCIA is even more guilty of violating patient privacy than WCC is, since I’m guessing that a local newscast on WCIA has a considerably larger audience than WCC’s Facebook page, even though WCIA is located in what I’d call a medium-small local TV market.
  • While WCIA didn’t explicitly refer to WCC as a “crisis pregnancy center”, they did mention that WCC regularly asks people to pray that their patients who are considering whether or not to have an abortion decide not to terminate a pregnancy and offer post-abortion counseling, which is a huge indicator to me that WCC is a crisis pregnancy center, regardless of whether or not they refer to themselves as such. Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that claim to be legitimate women’s health clinics, when, in reality, they’re actually organizations that are primarily set up to shame pregnant women by, among other tactics, doing everything possible to discourage pregnant women who want to have abortions from getting abortions and spreading false information about women’s reproductive health. While I don’t know if WCC is doing the latter, it’s obvious to me that they’re doing the former.
  • Regardless of whether or not the names of patients are disclosed, it’s still highly unethical and an invasion of medical privacy for a women’s health clinic of any kind to publicly post sonograms or other types of medical records for promotional purposes.

Every effort should be made to shut down these unethical, woman-shaming crisis pregnancy centers across the country and make legitimate women’s health clinics available in areas of this country where women would currently have to travel long distances in order to get to a legitimate women’s health clinic.