Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hump Day Headlines!

It’s Wednesday, otherwise known as hump day! Here is your appropriately-reproductive-health-themed news roundup:

  • According to Newsweek, more than $1million has been donated to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s name. Who knew an anti-choice candidate could do so much good for women’s health?

  • A clinic in Iowa is holding a birth control party! Called “Smart and Sexy,” it’s apparently just like the traditional Tupperware parties of the ‘50s, only this time they’ll be talking about how best to prevent pregnancy instead of how best to store leftovers.

  • File under gulp: Syphilis is on the rise in Knox County, TN! So in case you were planning any late-October romantic jaunts to the deep south, you know, be careful. As a bonus, public health officials are helpfully warning that either paying for or trading something for sex may put you at a higher risk.

  • According to a new survey by the Office for National Statistics, UK women aged 16 to 49 prefer the pill to condoms when it comes to contraception. Insert requisite joke about the Brits’ oral fixation here..

  • Laura McGann over at the Washington Independent has a nice roundup of Sarah Palin’s coded anti-choice views.

  • A federal appeals court heard arguments yesterday on whether a Virginia law punishing doctors for performing a late-term abortion procedure called dilation and extraction should be upheld. Although the court is expected to take several weeks to make its decision, if the law is overturned it would make only ten, not eleven, states that have laws banning the procedure.

  • Amanda Marcotte over at RH Reality check has a great piece up reminding us to not only call for the removal of abstinence-only education, but the implementation of comprehensive Sex Ed. Because the only thing worse than simply telling our kids not to have sex is telling them nothing at all…

Samantha Bee Derides McCain's Derisive Air Quotes

Via Broadsheet: Although the Daily Show is a little late on this one, Samantha Bee reports: “John McCain has finally put the concerns of women where they belong; in derisive air quotes.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

News! Daily News!

Your Tuesday in reproductive health:

  • A hospital in Tarzana, CA, just outside of Santa Monica, has banned all elective birth control procedures. This includes not just pregnancy termination, but measures such as tubal ligations for vasectomies; a procedure that, until this decision, the hospital performed about an average of seven times a month. According to KTLA news in Los Angeles, Providence Health System bought the hospital in September and has now implemented a policy that adheres to Catholic teachings prohibiting abortions and surgical methods of birth control on hospital property.

  • Although perhaps they should have listened to Frank K. Flinn, Ph.D., adjunct professor of religious studies in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, and author of the Encyclopdia of Catholicism (2007). He argues that the Catholic Church has not, in fact, always been opposed to abortion, but rather that its position has been an evolving one. He also points to Joe Biden as proof that there are many ways of interpreting Catholic theology when it comes to reproductive health(via).

  • And finally, we can add yet another option to the multi-faceted birth control fray: Barr Pharmaceuticals has announced FDA approval for its newest pill, low-hormone Seasonique (or LoSeasonique). The pill boasts its period reduction qualities, claiming women who take it will only have 4 periods a year. For an interesting take on why pharmaceutical companies market birth control with language on period reduction and not, say, contraceptive effectiveness, please see Sarah Haskins.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

"Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?"

With those 46 words, radical, far-right, fringe members of the social conservative wing of the Republican Party in Colorado are attempting to outlaw all abortions and many forms of contraception.

In a electoral season marked by many punitive and callous attempts to enact retrograde legislation impacting women's health and rights, none is quite as preposterous as Colorado's proposed Amendment 48.

As The New York Times pointed out in it's recent Editorial, the proposed amendment would "r
edefine the term “person” in the state’s Constitution to include fertilized human eggs — in effect bestowing on fertilized eggs, prior to implantation in the womb and pregnancy, the same legal rights and protections that apply to people once they are born.

"The amendment, which has split anti-abortion groups, carries broad implications, ranging from harmful to downright ridiculous. Potentially, it could ban widely used forms of contraception, curtail medical research involving embryos, criminalize necessary medical care and shutter fertility clinics. A damaged fertilized egg might be eligible for monetary damages.

"Noting the “legal nightmare” the amendment would create, and its potential to endanger the health of women, Gov. Bill Ritter, a self-described “pro-life” Democrat, has joined the opposition to Amendment 48."

Wendy Norris of The Colorado Independent wrote recently that the
backers of the "personhood" law have ties to militant anti-abortion groups. "A strange netherworld of extremes exists in today’s anti-abortion movement. Nowhere is that more evident than its latest political salvo coming to a voting booth near you in November — Colorado’s proposed Amendment 48, the so-called Human Life Amendment..." It's an interesting, and sadly not surprising, read.

The Denver Post has called Amendment 48 "absurd."

Let's hope voters feel the same.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Birth Control & The Next President

A lot of non-profit organizations are currently engaged in helping their Board and their donors understand how the organization's key issues will be impacted by a McCain or an Obama presidency.

In the arena of reproductive health and freedom I know this is a current priority.

So I wanted to bring to your attention a great post that
Amanda Marcotte put up on RH Reality Check this past Wednesday.

Amanda gives a rundown of five basic questions people ask of themselves when looking to access contraception, and answers Senators McCain and Obama have given through votes and campaign platforms.

Thanks Amanda!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Citizen Ruth

In my opinion, there has been no film (or book, or article for that matter) which has so thoroughly exposed how polarized the "debate" over abortion is in this country as Citizen Ruth.

Why am I bringing this up now, 12 years after the film made it's debut?

Well, mainly because A.O. Scott, the film critic for The New York Times, takes a look back at the film in a short video review that's up on the Times web site today. Scott says he thinks it's one of the best films ever made about "culture wars."

It's well-worth seeing. And so is the film itself.

Watching this film reminds me of how easily we can fall prey to being part of the problem if we don't resolutely continue making more cogent arguments to the general public.

Our strongest message in 2008 is that "Women have abortions for many different reasons. Some of those decisions may not seem right to some people, but even if we disagree, it is better if each woman is able to make her own decision."

Ambivalence is the defining term about where this country is on the issue of abortion. Our collective goal in 2008 is to affirm that and to help the country move beyond attempts to criminalize abortion or ban it outright.

One of the reasons that this presidential election is of such great importance is that the Supreme Court is in play - the future direction of the Court and of this country is at stake - which means so are our personal freedoms.

Citizen Ruth is one of those rare films that makes you think - in this case of where we've been and where we're headed - and of what's at stake.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Preaching the Politics of Hate from the Pulpit

Largely lost in the escalating war of mud-slinging which is masquerading as our quadrennial campaign for President, is the full-court press that some churches are making to persuade their congregants to vote against pro-choice candidates.

And no church seems as hell-bent on making abortion the single issue as much as the Catholic Church.

Despite Americans overwhelming concern for the deepening financial crisis, the rapidly deteriorating health care system, and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Catholic Church wants you to focus on abortion - specifically they want you to focus on punishing any and all candidates who have the courage to support a woman's decision about whether or not to become a parent.

And they want you to be as harsh as possible.

In Scranton, Pa., childhood home of Sen. Joe Biden, every Catholic attending Mass this weekend heard a sermon about the election. Bishop Joseph Martino ordered every priest in the diocese to read a letter warning that voting for a supporter of abortion rights amounts to endorsing “homicide.”

As The New York Times
reports, Martino went on to say, “Being ‘right’ on taxes, education, health care, immigration and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life,” the bishop wrote. “It is a tragic irony that ‘pro-choice’ candidates have come to support homicide — the gravest injustice a society can tolerate — in the name of ‘social justice.’ ”

And how about Archbishop
Raymond L. Burke of Boston saying Democrats were becoming “the party of death."

Guess he doesn't have a problem with Republican support for the death penalty.

Last week, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the head of the
A.F.L.-C.I.O. in Missouri had stormed out of a Mass because his priest had invoked Hitler's s name in condemning Democratic support for abortion rights. (The New York Times)

This is nothing more, nor nothing less, than preaching the politics of hate from the pulpit.

In a presidential campaign that will surely go down as one of the country's dirtiest ever waged by the GOP, it's nauseating to see one of the mainstays of Christian religion in this country resort to a "slash & burn" partisan political policy.

Would it not be more welcome if the Church's concern was about the health and welfare of women in this country. Would it not be more in keeping with spiritual belief to be accepting of attempts to help women prevent unintended pregnancies?

Apparently not.

That's why Planned Parenthood does more to prevent unintended pregnancies in one day than the Catholic Church has in 2000 years.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Great Debate

Are you ready for The Great Debate? It's happening live from St.Louis, Mizzou tomorrow night!

Will it be an hour of stirring conversation on the issues most important to Americans today? Will it be an hour of embarrassing gaffes, evasive answers, and regurgitated talking points? Or will it put us all to sleep?

Join the Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund and find out. Watch The Great Debate among
friends and colleagues and find out if this debate begins to match it's build-up and hype. And while you're at it have a few drinks to soften the reality.

The Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund invites you to our

2008 VP Debate Watch Party!!

Come meet other pro-choice activists as we cheer and jeer the hottest debate of the year!!


Thursday, October 2nd - 8pm

Slainte Bar & Lounge

304 Bowery (between Bleecker & Houston), N.Y.C.

Bring Friends! RSVP Today!!