What an Ohio Dry Cleaner Has to do With Michigan Politicians

You might have missed this story if you don’t watch The Daily Show or read RH Reality Check, but a dry cleaner in Ohio has been putting “Choose Life” messaging on, of all things, wire coat hangers. This strikes me as a pretty brazen action, and not just because wire coat hangers are, to put it mildly, fairly loaded images when it comes to abortion. It’s also because this dry cleaner is, as best as I can tell, a private business whose day-to-day activities, not to mention income, have nothing to do with the abortion issue.

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Bad News for Virginia Abortion Clinics – and Women

Well, the reprieve for Virginia abortion clinics didn’t last long.

Earlier this summer, the state’s Board of Health voted to exempt existing clinics from satisfying new and expensive building requirements. Their decision was in response to a 2011 bill that required abortion clinics to be regulated as hospitals. According to pro-choice advocates, those requirements – which included such non-medical specifications as hallway width and drinking fountain installation – were so restrictive that up to 17 of the state’s 21 clinics could be forced out of business.

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In Memoriam: Dr. Jean Pakter

Image courtesy The New York Times

Earlier this week, women’s health advocate Jean Pakter passed away in New York at age 101. The Manhattan born-and-bred physician began working for the city in the 1950s, and was the head of the bureau of maternity services and family planning for the city’s health department from 1960 to 1982.

Jean Pakter’s research and advocacy work helped create a safer, healthier society – not just for women and children, but for families. [Read more...]

Pennsylvania Wants to Make Abortion Safer by … Closing Safe Clinics?

Apparently Pennsylvania has decided to follow in Virginia’s ill-advised footsteps, at least when it comes to regulating abortion clinics out of existence. The state House has approved a bill that would require clinics to adhere to new structural guidelines and staffing procedures that would likely be expensive and logistically difficult. If it is passed, the bill – which includes requirements like upgrading elevators and doubling the size of procedure rooms – could force “most, if not all” of the state’s 20 freestanding clinics to either move or stop offering abortion services entirely.

The bill’s supporters argue that this level of regulation is needed in the wake of allegations surrounding Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia-area doctor that was charged earlier this year in the death of seven infants and one woman. Republican Rep. Matt Baker, chairman of the House Health Committee, claims that the bill “is about patient safety and preventing future cases of murder and infanticide within abortion clinics.” What Baker and his colleagues seem to miss is that different building codes would not have made a difference in the Gosnell case;  larger exam rooms aren’t exactly going to deter someone from practicing the kind of bad medicine that Gosnell is accused of.  [Read more...]

Pro-Choice News Roundup

Mississippi Personhood Amendment Fails. Newsy

Women out in front in defeat of Initiative 26. Hattiesburg American.

Defeating Personhood: A Critical but Incomplete Victory for Reproductive Justice. RH Reality Check.

FemPop’s Guide to Sexism in Gaming Forums. FemPop.

Michigan Attorney General seeks closure of two abortion clinics. Detroit Free Press.

Mondays with Marlo: Gloria Steinem. Huffington Post.

Update: Virginia Board of Health Approves Abortion Clinic Regulations

Image courtesy of arthistoryarchive.com

Well, this is just crappy: today the Virginia Board of Health voted 12-1 to uphold new restrictions  on the the state’s abortion clinics. The decision followed a standing-room-only meeting to hear comments on the regulations, which will place hospital-level operating and building requirements on all 21 abortion clinics in the state.

Proponents of the regulations claim that they will make abortions safer for women, although the procedure is extremely safe already. Approximately 26,000 abortions are performed in Virginia hospitals and clinics every year; between 1999 and 2009, one woman died as a result of complications. Compare that to the eleven women that died in 2009 alone as a result of pregnancy and childbirth complications. Not to mention that clinics in Virginia only perform first-trimester abortions, which are widely regarded as the safest kind of abortion to perform.

I don’t know, I’m not really seeing how mandating covered entryways and high ceilings will ensure that an already-safe procedure will become even safer. But if these regulations are so necessary, then why aren’t other stand-alone clinics that provide invasive surgical services, like eye surgery or plastic surgery, being held to the same standards? [Read more...]

Obama Administration Taking a Tough Stance Against Clinic Protesters

The headlines of the past three years have been dominated by stories of anti-choice legislation, abortion protester shenanigans, and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. That being said, however, the National Abortion Federation says that clinic violence has actually decreased in the past year.

One explanation for the decrease in clinic violence is that protesters are starting to get a clue that their actions have consequences. The Obama administration has actually been taking a much tougher stance against abortion clinic protesters by enforcing the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (aka “FACE Act“).  NPR reports that the Justice Department has filed eight cases against abortion protesters under the FACE Act, which is a stark comparison to only one case being filed under the Bush administration. [Read more...]

Clinic Escorts Discuss Their Work

For over twenty years, volunteers with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force (WACDTF) have been providing a reassuring and peaceful pro-choice presence for patients and their companions at Washington, D.C.-area clinics. Below, three current volunteers – Bill, Colin, and Rachel – discuss their work. The opinions they express are their own and not those of WACDTF.

When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what influenced that decision?
About 1969, when the “second wave” of feminism was sweeping the U.S. A faculty colleague at the University of Minnesota – Duluth invited me to volunteer as support staff at a feminist conference and later to join a CR (consciousness-raising) group. I was a graduate student four years out of college and felt that I’d missed out on much of the civil rights movement of the early 1960s because I had been too focused on studies as an undergraduate; this was my chance to correct that error. Also, in 1964 I’d seen an older friend, a brilliant student who had graduated with honors from Bryn Mawr, forced to attend secretarial school to find a job because few careers were then open to women.

Rachel: I’ve probably been someone who always called herself a feminist. My freshman year I went to Evergreen State College, which was a real hippie school, and I loved the term riotgrrl without really thinking about it. But my earliest memory of being a consciously active feminist was reading coverage of the horrible Woodstock ’99. To me it’s the first definitive memory I have of realizing that the rules are different for girls. I have a framed copy of a 1999 issue of ROCKRGRL Magazine with the title “RapeStock” and the picture is a bare-breasted woman sitting on her boyfriend’s shoulders. A hand reaches from below and grabs her breast. It’s the image that made me want to fight back. [Read more...]