Pro-choice News Roundup

Occupying the Waiting Room: 40 Years of Healthcare Needs. On the Issues.

Arizona GOP Legislator Says Women Should Witness Abortions. Huffington Post.

Idaho Lawmaker Sparks Anger with Abortion Comments.

Anias Nin, Diary Writing, and Women’s History Month. Huffington Post.

5 Reasons the GOP’s Attack on Birth Control Screws Men. Alternet.




Arizonans, Beware

We can add Arizona to the growing list of states engaged in an anti-woman, anti-birth control rampage. Currently on the state roster is a bill that would allow employers to avoid offering women health insurance coverage for contraception if the company objects on moral or religious grounds. More specifically, women trying to get  reimbursed for birth control through their employer-provided health plan could be required to prove that they are taking it for a medical reason, rather than to prevent pregnancy.

Terrible, I know. But what’s worse is that a female state lawmaker – Debbie Lesko – introduced this heinous bill, which is dangerously near passing.

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Women’s History Month: Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes as a young palaeobotanist

Marie Stopes is the ultimate ideological yin and yang, a woman who was the perfect mix of the best and the worst of an activist. She started the first family planning clinic in the British Empire in 1921 and sent personal poems expressing her infatuation to Adolf Hitler. She campaigned for women’s right to make their own fertility choices while claiming that the poor and sickly should not be allowed to have children. She even disowned her own son and cut off all contact with him for marrying a myopic woman. Stopes realized that control of her fertility is key for a woman who wants to be able to make her own way in life, but felt a deep connection to a man who thought that an Aryan woman’s place is in the home and there should be no place at all for Roma, Polish or Jewish women.

In August 1939 the world was on the brink of World War II and Marie Stopes was busy with her clinics and  politics (campaigning for eugenics and family planning), but she still found a little time to send a letter to her hero:

“Dear Herr Hitler, Love is the greatest thing in the world: so will you accept from me these (poems) that you may allow the young people of your nation to have them?” (August 1939)

Classy, eh?

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Kicking Off Women’s History Month 2012

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

In my house, I traditionally mark the first of the month by giving the dog his flea treatment and heartworm pills. But March is different, and not just because it signals the first month that it might actually be warm enough for the dog to get fleas – but because it’s Women’s History Month!

The first two months of 2012 have brought an avalanche of stories related to women’s issues, from the Planned Parenthood-Komen debacle to the dangerously regressive politics of Rick Santorum to the never-ending debate about the role birth control plays in women’s lives. But as vital as it is to keep abreast of issues that affect women (and men, and families) on a real-time basis, it’s also important to take time to honor the women that have come before us, the activists and politicians and writers and artists and scientists whose contributions and innovations continue to influence our lives today.

This month we’ll be sharing women’s history content every day, and we welcome your input and ideas on which women we should profile. But before we launch into all the profiles and articles, I’d like to single out Feminists for Choice’s amazing founder, Serena Freewomyn, for her own work as a phenomenal online voice, kick-ass writer, and dedicated champion of abortion rights – Serena plays an integral role in running an abortion fund in Arizona. So on behalf of all the women you help, and all of us here at FFC, thank you, Serena, for all your incredible work.

Happy Women’s History Month!


Utah Joins the War on Contraception

Just weeks after California Representative Darrell Issa felt the need to call a special hearing to bemoan the oppression of the Catholic Church’s First Amendment rights–the freedom of religion–Utah Republicans are ready to legislate away another First Amendment right, their teachers’ right to free speech. The Utah House passed a bill, HB363, that would allow schools to ban sex ed and prohibits instruction in the use of contraception by a 45-28 vote. The bill now moves on to the state Senate.

But not to worry, the bill’s sponsor,  Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, “a dairyman“(!), has got the doublespeak down. Perhaps realizing that banning the discussion of contraception (under the guise of forbidding ”advocacy” of its use) might leave educators tongue-tied–and on the brink of a crime spree–if asked a direct question about contraception, he maintained that teachers could respond to students’ questions on the matter. How, exactly, he couldn’t say. The language of the bill states: “An instructor may respond to a spontaneous question as long as the response is consistent with the [bill's] provisions.”

Wright can be added to the ever-growing list of public officials who have gone on the record with their light-years-beyond-the-mainstream belief that birth control is a dodge, an “intellectually dishonest” way of “getting away with” sex. Boldly ignoring the biological truth that even married women aren’t able to get pregnant every day of their married life, he, along with Senator Santorum and the Catholic Church, have decided that sex is for procreation only and that the consequences of unprotected premarital sex aren’t grave enough already. (Apparently the threat of eternal damnation isn’t what it used to be.) Though Wright, like Santorum and the Church, professes to be protecting all of us from the consequences our mainstream “brainwashing” has left us unable to recognize without their intervention, everybody knows the wages of sexual sins are not distributed equally. To be sure, the Mormon influence in Utah may make it harder for an unmarried dad to shirk his parental responsibilities. Still, we all know who gets pregnant and who had to wear that scarlet letter.

There’s reason for hope though, even in this ultra-conservative state. Anyone who has visited Utah over the past thirty years can tell you how much influence the Mormon Church has lost over the state liquor laws. Where there once was no MTV, “16 and Pregnant” airs unmolested. And a Democratic lawmaker from Salt Lake City like Rep. Brian King can fight the self-appointed contraception police and go on the record saying that bills like HB363 make ”reasonable people think we have lost it up here on the Hill.”

Quick Hit: Day of Action for Birth Control

While President Obama stood strong for women last week by requiring all insurers to cover birth control, the onslaught against contraception is far from over. Several conservative members of Congress want to eliminate coverage for birth control entirely.  As Think Progress reports, anti-choice Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) is at the helm, introducing an extremist bill that would grant insurers the right to deny you coverage for ANY health service it deems immoral.

In response, NOW-NYC has called for a Day of Action for birth control on Valentine’s Day (February 14). Here’s what you can (and should!) do:

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Does the pill cause weight gain?

I recently had a concern about a new birth control pill I began using. Not only did I notice a difference in my normally clear complexion, I began to notice some pesky weight gain that seemed hard to explain. After much contemplation, I tied the start of each problem to the beginning of the use of Ortho Tri Cyclen. I decided the smart thing to do would be to head back to the Planned Parenthood clinic where I received the prescription and see if I could switch things up a bit.

When I called to make the appointment I told the operator why I wanted to come in. She said that both the complexion issues and weight gain could certainly be tied to my birth control and encouraged me to make an appointment.

Thinking that at least one barrier to a clear complexion and girlish figure was soon to be out of my way, I went to my appointment the following week.

I was about to be pretty disappointed.   [Read more...]

The Santorum Double Standard

With the way the Republican presidential campaign is going, it’s entirely possible that Rick Santorum will have dropped out of the race by the time this article runs. Yet before his third-place finish in the South Carolina primary, Santorum had been making a lot of news for his personal experience with terminating a pregnancy.

In 1996, the then-nineteen weeks pregnant Karen Santorum had undergone surgery to address a fetal kidney malfunction. Following the operation, she developed an infection, and the Santorums had to make the difficult choice of terminating the pregnancy, or risking Karen’s life. By all accounts they made the decision together, and Karen was given medication to induce labor.

Rick Santorum is stridently anti-choice. He has signed the Personhood Pledge; he opposes Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision that legalized birth control. Santorum considers late-term abortion procedures “medically unnecessary,” and opposes abortion in all circumstances, including rape; incest; if the fetus has no chance of surviving to full-term; and if a woman’s life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy.   [Read more...]

Obama Administration Overrules FDA, Won’t Ease Restrictions on Plan B

Earlier today, the Obama administration overruled a decision by the FDA to allow teenage girls to purchase Plan B without a prescription. Even though FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg said in a statement that the pill could be used safely by girls and women, Kathleen Sebelius and the Health and Human Services Department apparently felt otherwise. According to Hamburg:

“[T]his morning I received a memorandum from the Secretary of Health and Human Services invoking her authority under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to execute its provisions and stating that she does not agree with the Agency’s decision to allow the marketing of Plan B One-Step nonprescription for all females of child-bearing potential.”

For her part, Secretary Sebelius states that:

“The science has confirmed the drug to be safe and effective with appropriate use. However, the switch from prescription to over the counter for this product requires that we have enough evidence to show that those who use this medicine can understand the label and use the product appropriately. … The label comprehension and actual use studies did not contain data for all ages for which this product would be available for use.”

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New Website and PSAs Focus on Birth Control

Coming in first is usually a good thing – except when, well, it’s not. Case in point: the U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world. And older couples aren’t doing that much better: nearly half of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned.

The Ad Council and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy are teaming up to do something about that. They recently launched a three-year multimedia campaign that address the importance of birth control through a series of humorous PSAs and Bedsider, a new website that’s chock full of information and advice about birth control options.

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