40 Days of Life Protests Start Tomorrow

pro-choice escortsThe wing nuts are gearing up for 40 days of ass-hattery and, oh yeah . . . prayer. Anti-choicers will be gathering outside of family planning clinics to provide “sidewalk counseling” (in the form of telling lies about abortion through a megaphone) and generally be making life harder than it already is for clinic staff, volunteers, and the patients seeking family planning services.

Stand up for choice! To find out if your local family planning clinic is in need of volunteers, check out the Facebook groups Stand Up For Choice and 40 Days For Choice. Here is a short list of clinics that we know of who have asked for help.

Planned Parenthood of Alabama and Mississippi Action Network
Planned Parenthood of Arizona – 7th Avenue Clinic in Phoenix
DC Area Clinic Defense
Planned Parenthood of Delaware
EMW Women’s Surgical Center – Louisville, Kentucky
Planned Parenthood of Napa – Napa Health Center
Dr. Emily’s Women’s Health Center – New York
Red River Women’s Clinic – Fargo, North Dakota [Read more...]

Gloria Feldt: lessons from Margaret Sanger

Gloria Feldt at Sacker Center

Gloria Feldt at Sackler Center

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body. No woman can call herself free who cannot choose for herself whether and when she will become a mother.” –Margaret Sanger

Last Sunday afternoon I had the wonderful privilege of of hearing Gloria Feldt speak at an event to observe the birthday of Margaret Sanger. In a lecture titled “Convictions to Action: Margaret Sanger’s Legacy and Leadership Lessons,” Feldt articulated several of the lessons she has learned and used in her own life through her study of the women’s rights pioneer.

The lecture took place at a location that many feminists consider holy ground, the Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. One thing that qualifies the Center as sacred is that it is the permanent home of Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party”, the most influential and significant piece of art to emerge from the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s.

Margaret Sanger: The Dinner Party

Margaret Sanger: The Dinner Party

Sanger is one of 39 women memorialized in decorative place settings in “The Dinner Party.” As Feldt pointed out, Sanger is represented as a “flaming red vulva.” Such imagery is appropriate for a fiery Irishwoman who once stated that learning about birth control made her feel she was “in the position of one who has discovered that a house is on fire and it was up to me to shout out the warning“ [Read more...]

Wednesday News Roundup

mouse2Abortion and Health Care: Is There Common Ground? – Feministe
Do We Want to Have Another Child? Factors That Can Influence the Decision – Queercents
How Do I Talk to My Kid About Safe Sex? – Mombian
Breastfeeding Can Prevent Breast Cancer – Feministing
Will Hillary Follow Through on Promise of Feminist Foreign Policy? – American Prospect
New Poll Shows Pro-Choice = Majority – Feminist Campus
Quebec Laws Could Force Abortion Clinics to Close – Vancouver Sun

After the jump, I’ve got a clip of Stewie Griffen singing show tunes, and a sexy party as a bonus! [Read more...]

Tuesday News Roundup

mouse2Women’s Insurance Coverage Has Been Adversely Effected By the Recession – Feminist Majority Foundation
New HIV-blocking Gel Available For Women – EurekAlert
Are You the Master of Your Domain? Test Your Masturbation Knowledge – Teen Talk
When Will Society Support Women Who Choose NOT to Have Kids? – New York Post
The Deadly Toll of Abortion By Amateurs – New York Times
Why Did Dr. Carhart Lose Federal Protection? – Salon.com

Emma Goldman: Warrior for Choice

emma goldman 2“I demand the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases. I demand freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood.” –Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman is one of my favorite historical figures and remains an inspiration in my life as I strive to be a bold, brave, feminist. Her radical political activities, including her passionate belief in anarchism have caused her contributions to the birth control movement to be overlooked by many. However, Goldman was among the earliest advocates of sex education and birth control, one of Margaret Sanger’s early high profile supporters, a midwife, and a champion of living “the personal is political” decades before the women’s movement adopted the ideology in the 1970s.

Goldman is a deliciously controversial figure. Critics accuse her of overly advocating violence and irresponsible behaviors. Her open lesbian relationships caused her to be ignored by many during her time. In 1916 she was deported back to Russia along with hundreds of other seemingly dangerous radicals. Like many radicals of her time, she was imprisoned on many occassions. Along with Sanger and others, Goldman was labeled “rebel woman” for being outspoken in a time when Victorian standards remained mainstream. [Read more...]

The War on Choice: Exporting Extremism

400000000000000076829_s4This is part three of my review of Gloria Feldt’s The War on Choice. Yesterday I talked about her analysis of sex education legislation. And on Tuesday I looked at “The State of the Uterus.”

In “Exporting Extremism,” Feldt documents the way right wing ideology permeated American foreign policy during the Bush era. The chapter describes the effects of the Global Gag Order (aka “Mexico City Policy”), which prohibits the distribution of funds to nongovernmental organizations that provide information about abortion, referrals to abortion providers, or perform abortions themselves. Feldt shows that the impact goes far beyond abortion – that the Global Gag Order also cripples organizations’ abilities to provide contraceptives and condoms, since funding to family planning groups has been gutted as a result. Fortunately, the Obama administration rescinded the policy, but the world is still feeling the effects of eight years of restricted funding.

The Bush administration didn’t stop at the Global Gag Order and just call it a day. They went further than any US administration had gone before. The Mexico City Policy was originally adopted in 1984 under the Reagan administration, even though federal law already prohibited funding for abortion services under the 1973 Hyde Amendment. Bush took it a few steps further by preventing money from going to organizations that even talked about abortion. Foreign aid is usually distributed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), but Bush also prohibited State Department funds, which usually go to refugee services, from being used for reproductive services.

“Exporting Extremism” is probably the most problematic chapter in Feldt’s book. I agree with most of what she says – US foreign policies have had a devastating impact on family planning services providers around the world. However, the way that women are positioned in the chapter is very problematic. Feldt says that family planning funds are necessary because women in other countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, need our help. Abstinence-only programs are useless for women who aren’t in a position to say no to sex. While I can agree with that statement in theory, it becomes troubling when the statement is used to position African women as being perpetually helpless. It puts them in the role of victim, and the US in the role of savior. [Read more...]

Senate Pushes Forward a Permanent Ban on the Global Gag Rule

Seems like common sense to me. Then again, the Bush Administration global gag picdidn’t have a whole lot of common sense, particularly when it came to women’s reproductive health. With that being said, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to the foreign aid appropriations bill two days ago, seeking to ban the Global Gag Rule, permanently.

As many of you know, the Global Gag was an extremely restrictive policy that prevented international non government organizations from receiving federal funding if they provided abortion services for women. It was an incredibly destructive policy as it not only eliminated our ability to help women access reproductive health services, but it also prevented funding for any sex-education measures that were designed to decrease the rate of abortions to begin with. Fortunately enough, President Obama rescinded this policy in January as one of his very first executive orders.

Although Obama’s decision was certainly a victory for women worldwide, the Senate had to consider the possibility that the next administration to step into the white house, 4 or 8 years from now, may have a different set of ethical values when it comes to women’s rights, internationally. It took very little time and effort for the Bush Administration to sign away women’s access to reproductive health care, and it was absolutely necessary that the Senate protect their rights from being eliminated in the future. [Read more...]

19 Democrats Pushing For Reproductive Services to be Excluded from Health Care Reform

uscapitol1Yesterday the big hubbub on Twitter and in the e-mail alerts I received is that nineteen Democrats have come out against the inclusion of reproductive services in the health care reform bill that is currently being debated in Congress. According to US News & World Report, the Democrats have been lauded by anti-choice groups. The list of representatives includes:

Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK); Bart Stupak (D-MI); Colin Peterson (D-MN); Tim Holden (D-PA); Travis Childers (D-MS); Lincoln Davis (D-TN); Heath Shuler (D-NC) Solomon Ortiz (D-TX); Mike McIntyre (D-NC); Jerry Costello (D-IL); Gene Taylor (D-MS); James Oberstar (D-MN); Bobby Bright (D-AL); Steve Driehaus (D-OH); Marcy Kaptur (D-OH); Charlie Melancon (D-LA); John Murtha (D-PA); Paul Kanjorski (D-PA); and Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-PA)

AJ posted last week about the numerous ways that women are already denied health care in the status quo. How is it health care “reform” if we’re maintaining the status quo? There is already a prohibition against federal funds being used for abortion – it’s called the Hyde Amendment. Subsidies for birth control fell drastically during the Bush administration. So I guess the only reform these Democrats would be supporting is a complete elimination of federal funds for contraception.

Take action by contacting Congress and urging them to support the inclusion of reproductive health services in the health care reform package.

Planned Parenthood Closes El Paso Clinic

19872882_240X135Patients in El Paso were greeted with somber news when they arrived at Planned Parenthood today. All 6 of the Planned Parenthood clinics in the city have closed due to financial problems. According to the El Paso Times:

The organization’s interim executive director, Analinda Moreno, announced the shutdown Friday.
“Advising the staff about the closing today was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” she said. “Our patients have always been our first priority, and we are still doing everything we can to provide transfer services. We made this decision with them in mind and in their best interest, and we hope they understand that.”
Moreno, who held back tears at times, said financial pressures necessitated the closing.

“There were many factors that came into the decision,” she said. “We knew eight days ago that there was just absolutely no other way other than to close. Now our concern is negotiating a smooth transfer for all our patients with their consent, but it has been a challenge trying to contact all of them.”

That’s going to be a large task. The clinic served more than 11,000 women, most of them low-income. The Planned Parenthood clinic had served El Paso for 72 years. This is such a disappointment. [Read more...]

Take Action to Protect Choice in New Jersey

Planned Parenthood in New Jersey needs your help. As the state struggles with an unprecedented economic down turn, we must continue to adequately support New Jersey’s family planning services. These programs provide basic health care services to so many New Jersey women and men, many of whom have recently lost their jobs and/or their health insurance.

  • New Jersey’s family planning agencies provide reproductive and other health care services to over 131,000 women and men. The Guttmacher Institute found that more than six in 10 women who obtained care at a family planning center in 2006 considered the center their usual source of medical care.
  • There is a health care crisis in this country. Over one million New Jersey residents are uninsured and over one million New Jersey women are in need of subsidized family planning services. There is not enough funding to meet the existing need and any cut to the program will mean that agencies will not be able serve some women currently receiving services.

If you’re a New Jersey resident, click over to the Planned Parenthood Action Center and sign their online petition to protect funding for reproductive health services.