Honor Roe By Funding Abortions

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. We’ve been sharing the history of Roe, and we’ll continue to be talking about Roe throughout the month.  But I thought we could take a quick time out from the history lessons and talk about how we can all honor Roe right now – today – all year.

One of the biggest challenges for patient access to abortion is funding.  Economic access intersects race, class, age, gender, and sexual orientation lines.  While an abortion in the first trimester may only cost $350 – $500 (and I say this very loosely), that’s still a lot of money to obtain.  As patients struggle to raise that money, the cost increases the longer they wait – and so does the need for more financial help.

Arizona has some of the worst abortion laws in the US. We seem to like setting the example for other states to follow.  We had three anti-abortion bills pass in 2012, and the bill that has received the most national attention is the 20-week gestation ban.  The bill provides a crazy definition of when gestation starts, so the bill has an injunction while the courts debate when pregnancy actually occurs.  However, when the bill goes into effect, many patients will have to travel out of state to get an abortion – which will only increase the cost and difficulty of obtaining their health care.

The proof is in the pudding.  [Read more...]

When Holding Hands Becomes Punishment

In order to avoid suspension after fighting, two male students at a high school in Mesa, Arizona were forced to hold hands for approximately 15 minutes. Pictures of the boys holding hands, and covering their faces while numerous students surrounded the pair are now spreading quickly across the Internet.

It is troubling that the initial reaction to two boys fighting in class is to “humiliate” them with a gesture (holding hands) that is deemed non-violent and for the most part affectionate. What the school is doing is not really addressing the violent act, why the boys chose to use physical violence, or even reinforce that violence does not belong in school. Instead, they allow violence to take place while making non-violence the forced punishment for a violent act.  [Read more...]

Why Sherri Chessen’s Abortion Still Matters

Reading the recent coverage around the first apology in 50 years from the manufacturer of thalidomide to those affected by the drug, I was reminded of another half-century anniversary. Fifty years ago, Sherri Chessen – an Arizona wife, mother, and local host of the TV show Romper Room – sparked a national debate when she sought a therapeutic abortion.

In the summer of 1962, Chessen (then known as Sherri Finkbine) was pregnant with her fifth child. During this pregnancy, she learned that medication she had taken, which her husband brought back from a trip to England, contained thalidomide. The drug, which was introduced in the 1950s and primarily used in Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia, had initially been hailed as a wonder drug of sorts, and was considered safe for use in pregnant women to treat morning sickness and insomnia. But by the early 1960s, doctors and researchers had become aware that thalidomide could cause both miscarriage and horrible fetal deformities, including babies born without limbs. [Read more...]

Arizona Update

Abortion opponents in Arizona have found a judge to play doctor! No, he has no medical degree, and he’ll never be pregnant – I’d even venture a guess that he’s never actually talked to an actual woman who has actually had an unwanted pregnancy — but by golly he is a judge and he knows stuff.  U.S. District Judge James Teilborg ruled that Arizona’s ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional. Why? Because it’s just math, silly! Sure, the statute “may prompt a few pregnant women who are considering abortion to make the decision earlier.” But that has nothing to do with making it tough for women to terminate unwanted pregnancies — it’s just outlawing the practice of bad counting while female! And who isn’t against that?

This is the digital age, people. Everyone knows a fetus comes with its own serial number and glow-in-the-womb due date. (At 40 weeks it pops out, like on the turkey, so mumsy knows when to head to the hospital!)  Now that Judge Teilborg has cleared up all the nuanced arguments and complicated, often-conflicted feelings about abortion, we can all rest easy. I’m sure he will do it voluntarily. But if not, we can count on Governor Jan Brewer to draft a law requiring the judge to lend his abacus to the “few” pregnant women who get mixed up by big numbers.



I Have Seen the Cliff, and it is Arizona

If you’re a political junkie like me, you know the professional punditry is once again buzzing about the ”fiscal cliff.”  The definition, according to the NY Times’ cheat sheet: “the tax increases and spending cuts slated to take effect starting in January and totaling some $700 billion next year alone.” Stirring the pot today: Obama’s tiny wilting olive branch of an offer – extending the Bush tax cuts for another year for most and letting them expire for taxpayers earning more that $250,000 a year. I say before we head off into the “kicking the can down the road” portion of the economic meta-foreplay, we need to take a look at the cliff that is about to open up along the eastern edge of Arizona. ‘Cause there’s some major apocalyptic bullshit going on out there.

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Arizona’s SB 1070 Immigration Bill Deemed Mostly Unconstitutional Today by Supreme Court

Arizona’s immigration bill SB 1070 has been the subject of much media attention and we’ve reported on the bill here on FFC on several different occasions. The law was challenged and the Ninth Circuit granted an injunction against enforcement of four provisions in the bill. The Supreme Court granted certiorari on the case and the Court’s decision on Arizona SB 1070 was announced today.

The four provisions of the Arizona SB 1070 bill were challenged on the grounds of being preempted by the federal government authority and therefore unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled today that three of those four provisions are explicitly preempted by federal law, and the fourth must be construed narrowly in order to be constitutional.

The three provisions in Arizona SB 1070 deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court are: (1) state law crime of being in the country illegally, (2) ban on working in the state, and (3) warrantless arrest of individuals suspected to have committed a deportable crime. [Read more...]

Three Years Later

Abortion Gang and the Provider Project are honoring Dr. Tiller by collecting blog posts from around the internetSubmit yours.

Rep. Trent Franks recently made news for his crusade to ban abortion after 20 weeks in the District of Columbia. While Franks’ action is particularly brazen because the Arizona Congressman was not elected to represent the women of D.C., he was really just jumping on a growing anti-choice trend of restricting when women can legally terminate their pregnancies. Franks’ home state currently has the most draconian law in effect, decreeing that any abortion after 20 weeks gestation – which the state is defining as the 18th week of pregnancy – is illegal in Arizona.

When Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in his church three years ago, many people, both in the pro-choice movement and the country at large, feared for the safety of abortion providers. There was so much talk about how providers – and their families, and their patients, and their clinic staffs – deserve to be able to live their lives without concern that a violent extremist will decide that it somehow makes sense to kill in the name of the “pro-life” cause. There was also a lot of talk about the role of late-term providers in general: how vital their work is, and to what extent Dr. Tiller’s murder might prevent other doctors from providing this service. But I don’t think anyone was seriously talking about the possibility that late-term abortions themselves might just be legislated out of existence. That seemed too brazen an assault against Roe v. Wade to even consider, too direct a strike against women’s rights and privacy and autonomy.

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Anti-Choice News: The Good, the Bad, and the Ludicrous

Between a massive book deadline and an overseas trip, I feel like I’ve spent the past six weeks totally unaware of any and all current news. Which has been kind of nice, to be honest, but also means that it slipped my notice that the heinous Ohio “heartbeat bill” died a merciful death in the state senate. Turns out that while the state’s house was perfectly fine with allowing abortions to be outlawed as soon as a fetal heartbeat could be detected – which can be as early as six weeks – more rational heads prevailed in the senate, where the measure didn’t even come up for a vote. Interestingly, even a number of anti-choice politicians and activists were against the bill, contending (probably rightly) that it was too extreme to withstand the almost-inevitable court challenge that would follow its passage. While I would have rather seen the bill defeated on the grounds that it’s incredibly restrictive and blatantly places fetal rights above the rights of women, it’s still nice to see that women in Ohio will retain the right to make their own reproductive choices.

In other “hey, remember this crazy anti-choice idea?” news, Arizona Rep. Trent Franks is at it again. Earlier this year, the anti-choice politician decided that, despite not representing the District of Columbia, he was totally entitled to tell women in D.C. what to do with their bodies. Franks introduced the “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would ban abortions after 20 weeks in the District, and recently a House subcommittee held hearings on the bill. Franks did not allow Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who actually does represent D.C. residents, to testify at the hearing, although he did see fit to declare late-term abortions “the greatest human rights atrocity in the United States today.” [Read more...]

New Arizona Abortion Law = Bottom of the Barrel

Last week Arizona signed a new bill into law that prohibits abortion past the 20 week gestation mark. The impact of this bill is that hundreds of Arizona women will be forced to go out of state if they need a late-term abortion.

In addition to the gestation limit, the bill includes a ridiculous definition of the term “conception.” Comedy troupe Bottom of the Barrel pokes a little fun of that definition in one of their comedy skits.

I caught up with Bottom of the Barrel to ask them a little bit more about their take on Arizona’s new abortion law. [Read more...]

Arizona Now Most Extreme Anti-Abortion State

Remember when you were in middle or high school and had a friend your parents hated, the “bad influence” who set a “bad example”? Right, me too. Well, we aren’t adolescents anymore, but that doesn’t mean bad influences don’t still exist. Case in point: the state of Arizona.

As I wrote last month, Arizona is engaged in a full-blown assault on women, and the hits just keep coming. Last week, lawmakers passed a 20 week abortion ban, citing fetal pain as a main argument (even though the medical community’s general consensus is that an unborn fetus can’t feel pain at 20 weeks’ gestation…but who needs the medical community’s expertise when we have politicians, amirite?!). According to Reuters, the ban also requires women to undergo an ultrasound at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, up from the current 1-hour requirement, and requires doctors and the state’s health department to provide additional information about abortion’s risks. It also allows doctors to prescribe abortion pills only through the seventh week of pregnancy instead of through the ninth.

[Read more...]