I Was A Pro-Life Teenager

Today’s guest post comes from Philippa Willitts, a British freelance writer who also blogs for The F-WordWhere’s the Benefit?, and her own personal blog. She can be found procrastinating on twitter both personally (@incurablehippie) and professionally (@philippawrites), and she enjoys good food, good friends, and nature. 

I grew up Roman Catholic. Nearly all my friends were Catholic, I went to Catholic state schools, and I went to Mass weekly. I took my faith very seriously, and although I was critical of some of the Church’s mandates, such as the ban on contraception, I fell for the anti-choice rhetoric hook, line, and sinker.

The thing is that when you are a rather sensitive teenager, and somebody tells you that people are killing babies, there is no way to understand that other than with horror. Killing babies? This must be stopped!

The thing is, I had no access to an alternative viewpoint. The internet was a mere twinkle in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye, and anyway, what possible arguments could there be FOR killing babies?

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Anti-Choicers Manipulate via Google

Technology: you can’t live with it, you can’t live without it. And now, you apparently can’t get information on abortion with it either, thanks to an anti-choice group based in Texas.

The group, Online for Life, has reportedly been purchasing Google ad space in an attempt to mislead people searching for abortion information. Their targeted ads direct people to sites for clinics that offer ultrasounds and anti-abortion counseling. I can only assume that these clinics are so-called Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which appear to be comprehensive health clinics that cater to pregnant women, but in reality are anti-choice centers that will do just about anything to keep women from obtaining legal abortions.

According to the Florida Independent, the group is “expanding into new markets” and “increasing their ad-buys to make it possible to save the next generation of unborn children from abortion.”

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Chilly Day to Table for Choice

I woke up to frozen pipes this morning. Believe it or not, it was only 19 degrees in Tucson today. What a chilly day to be headed out to table for choice on the U of A campus!

This week, the U of A has been the host to abortion protesters from a group called Justice for All. The group travels around the country visiting college campuses to speak out against abortion. Their mission is “to make abortion unthinkable.” They do this by putting up graphic photos of aborted fetuses. But they also do try to engage visitors in conversations about abortion.

I was tabling with the Community Action Team from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, as well as the U of A chapter of VOX. We gave out information about Planned Parenthood’s health services, and asked folks to sign our petition for no-cost birth control. Many people thanked us for being there, and a few promised to get involved on campus.

This was actually one of my more positive experiences with anti-choice protesters. When I’ve done clinic escorting, I’ve had to sit and listen to people yell horrible things at me and the patients going into the clinic. And I’ve also been told how stupid I am for supporting a woman’s right to choose. Today’s protesters were actually very polite. One of them came over to the Planned Parenthood table to engage us in a friendly debate. I was really impressed, even though we ended the conversation with the agreement to disagree.

I’m happy to be back home, despite the frozen pipes. As civilized as the debate was today, I’d rather curl up with a mug of cocoa and cuddle my dog than sit outside in the cold.  Thanks to all the pro-choice volunteers who signed up to table today, I was only outside for a few hours.   Now if I could just figure out how to thaw my pipes . . .

Crisis Pregnancy Centers? More Like Anti-Abortion Extremism Shelters

Thanks to Roxana Bennett for submitting another hard-hitting guest post, which was originally published on Roxanna’s site Choose Your Own Adventure.

The current issue of MS. Magazine, Fall 2010, features an article by journalist Kathryn Joyce titled “The Clinic Across the Street.” One of the most well-researched and insightful articles I have read in a long time, Joyce details links between ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centres’ and known anti-abortion extremists.

A ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centre’ is a delightful misnomer for an anti-abortion ‘clinic’, usually placed next door to, on the same floor as, or as geographically near to as possible, an actual abortion clinic. If a CPC is at ground level, chances are they will be fenced with ‘sidewalk counselors’, people who try their utmost to lure pregnant women away from the abortion clinic to the CPC. In her article, Joyce uncovered the alarming truth that many of these CPCs are used as shelters and storage for people who are known to be violent anti-abortion extremists. The kind of people who shoot doctors who perform abortions and blow up clinics. The kind of people who advocate ‘justifiable homicide‘ and regularly stage clinic blockades.

I had the privilege of speaking with Kathryn Joyce about her article and research. One of the points she makes in her article is that many CPCs falsely advertise their services; thankfully, many states are requiring these clinics to post signs in their offices advertising exactly what they do and do not provide, or face a daily monetary fine. [Read more...]

U.S. Anti-Choice Organizations Have Influence Overseas

Following the Dr. Tiller documentary, I was curious to know if other countries that have legalized abortion face the same kinds of protests and threats featured in the film. Luckily, I didn’t find too much of the same type extremism that we have here the U.S. However, I did find that U.S. anti-choice organizations are trying to broaden their impact to places beyond our borders.

The organization 40 Days for Life, which was written about on this site in September not only targeted over 200 clinics in the U.S., but they extended their reach to 14 foreign locations. The Independent in the UK featured an article about their activity entitled US-style anti-abortion protesters target clinics in Britain.

Abortion is legal in Mainland UK (England, Scotland and Wales) up to 24 weeks and no limit if there are health risks and/or abnormalities. In addition, abortion procedures are covered by the National Health Service (NHS) so they are almost always free.

To find out more about anti-choice activity in Britain I reached out to the organization Abortion Rights and discussed the issue with Darinka Aleksic, Campaign Coordinator. [Read more...]

Lets Chat: Margaret Sanger and Eugenics

margaret-sangerOn October 25th Feminists for Choice will host its first live “Choice Chat”, featuring Gloria Feldt. Feldt will discuss Margaret Sanger’s legacy and implications for the current reproductive rights movement.

I can predict that many of us will want to discuss what is possibly the definitive feminist history conundrum: the Birth Control Pioneer’s involvement with the early eugenics movement.

Feldt herself recognizes Sanger’s involvement with eugenics as “the most difficult stain” to remove from Sanger’s legacy. In a recent lecture, reviewed here, Feldt stated “Those opposed to women’s equality in any form will always use it against her and the movement she founded, even though she more than redeemed herself and was among the first U.S leaders to denounce Hitler.”
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New Oklahoma abortion law being challenged

pro_choice-794673As if women didn’t have enough threats to their right to choose in this country, Oklahoma is doing its part to make sure women slowly but surely are demonized and criminalized for their right to choose to have an abortion.

If you live in Oklahoma, I officially extend my condolences.

H.B 1595 is a new provision on Oklahoma abortion laws that now requires, among other restrictions and requirements, an official record and reporting system of all abortions occurring within the state. This report will be available for anyone in the world to view, as it will be made public on a website as of March 1st. The Dept of Health, who among others has supported these new provisions, has declared that since the name and “personal information” will not be reported, there is no cause for concern or protest in regards to privacy issues. However, in reviewing the actual text of the law, the first 8 questions that will be asked and reported could easily be used to identify any member of a smaller community. [Read more...]

Saturday News Roundup

weekendWe had some technical difficulties yesterday, and the click list didn’t run. So, here it is . . . the first Saturday click list (and hopefully the last). Have a great weekend!

First They Were Broke, Now Operation Rescue Says Everything’s A-OK – The Pitch
Health Insurance Companies Consider C-Sections a “Pre-Existing Condition” – Think Progress
Interview with Cecile Richards: “Women Shouldn’t Be Left Worse Off Under Health Care Reform Than They Are Now” – Jezebel
Randall Terry is Terrorizing Kids Now – Spare Candy
Anti-Abortion Group Targets 12 Democratic Seats in Next Election – RH Reality Check
Anti-Abortion Provocateur Takes Aim at Obama – Women’s e-News

ALL About Lobbying–and Tax Evasion

Check out the ALL Logo on this sign

Check out the ALL logo in the corner!

U.S. tax code limits the political activities of 501(3)c organizations–basically, non-profits can’t participate directly in political campaigns, nor are they allowed to use a large percentage of their funds for lobbying activities.

The American Life League (ALL) has been caught doing just that. Clearly visible in the corner of the anti-healthcare reform sign (above) is the ALL logo.

Of course, the technicalities of the IRS code and the specifics of the ALL case will likely be sorted out in court. They may not ever be found guilty of anything.
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Scott Roeder Has Friends in Low Places

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller, has friends in low places. Despite the public claims from Operation Rescue that Scott Roeder wasn’t associated with the group, Roeder has been receiving letters in jail from all kinds of right wing whack jobs. The FBI is reportedly investigating Roeder’s mail and the list of visitors he has been receiving to see if Roeder acted alone, or he was part of a larger anti-abortion conspiracy. [Read more...]