Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fighting Crazy with Crazy

Remember a while back when I made this post about Minnesota's Pro Choice Lobby Day and the (then) latest round of anti-choice legistlation in the country? The "whole 'lotta ugly comin' at us from a neverending parade of stupid," if you will (Any Hairspray fans out there?).

One of the bills in question, HB 1, from the twisted mind of Rep. Bobby Franklin of Georgia, called for the creation of a "Uterus Police" to investigate the possible criminality of any woman's miscarriage (link in original post link above). This evening, tooling around on Feministe, my new favorite website for all kinds of feministy choice-y fun, I discovered the coolest anti-choice backlash I have yet to see.

Drawing Rep. Franklin's bill out to its [il]logical conclusion, a woman named Devery Doleman wrote him a little letter welcoming his investigation into the "potential murders going on in her pants." If, as his bill implies, "life begins at conception, and a fertilized egg is a human being with all the rights of any other citizen of the great state of Georgia, [he needs] to make sure that all egg-deaths are properly accounted for, and that all zygote-Americans receive a proper burial and an investigation into whether their deaths were caused by foul play," then every month she possibly commits a crime.

Her response to the Uterus Police? Voluntarily sending 'crime scene photos' to Rep. Franklin's office; an innocent person has nothing to hide. (Details after the jump)

Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

BREAKING NEWS(?): Anti-choice legislation, strike that, LAW insults women's intelligence....

I apologize for my hiatus. I am right in the thick of midterms, juggling 18 credits.

The anti-choice train has obviously been chugging along in spite of this fact.

Many many thanks to Linnea House for her update on the unfair committee practices, naturally I was incensed.

It is no secret that anti-choice language, legislation, laws, rhetoric, anything, insults a woman's intellect by suggesting that she lacks the capacity of individual thought. Had she more time, more legally mandanted time to wait, she would surely see the light and reconsider her decision to have an abortion and proceed with the pregnancy.

...Because the decision to terminate a pregnancy isn't made without sacrifice or serious consideraiton or anything...

...And it's not like the cost of abortion procedures increase the farther along a woman's pregnancy is....

SHAME on South Dakota

"Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a law [today] requiring women to wait three days after meeting with a doctor to have an abortion, the longest waiting period in the nation."

This isn't a step in the wrong direction, this is a commercial flight from New York to California at mach 5 in the wrong direction.

This law assumes that any woman seeking an abortion takes the situation lightly. Well, Gov. Daugaard, you know what happens when people assume, right?

I think what makes me the most livid is the flippant use and abuse of language surrounding this issue, and the entire issue of Choice in general. There are very clear, medically defined distinctions between what constitutes an embryo, a fetus and a baby. I don't know what is worse, the law South Dakota passed in 2005 that mandates "women be told that an abortion will end the life of a human being," or the assumption that women are ignorant of this fact in the first place?

I am so unbelievably happy not to live in South Dakota, but Minnesota isn't doing much better.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breaking News: Legislators can make better health decisions than you can!

Linnea House, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota
Two hearings on abortion this week in the Minnesota House remove all doubt that there is a full-on war against a woman’s right to choose in Minnesota.
Hearing One
On Tuesday night, March, 15, HF 201, an abortion funding ban for low income women in Minnesota, had its first hearing in Rep. Gottwalt’s Health and Human Service Reform Committee. Despite the fact that the bill is unconstitutional, exclusively targets women struggling to make ends meet, and makes one type of health care virtually inaccessible for some women, it was hailed as a “protection of the wishes of the taxpayers.” (Rep. Peggy Scott, chief author of the bill, 3/15/11 testimony)
Rep. Scott claims that her bill does NOT address the right to abortion (the bill that does that, disguised under the cloak of fetal pain, HF 936, was heard the next day) but rather seeks to protect three groups of people: women from the pain of abortion, unborn babies from gratuitous and free abortion, and, finally, the taxpayers.
This singular statement by Rep. Scott sums up two of the largest myths perpetuated by the anti-choice movement. The first myth is that women either regret their abortions or are physically scarred by the procedure. In fact, the majority of women who choose abortion have a variety of emotional reactions but the overwhelming majority of women describe relief. In addition, an elective first trimester abortion is one the safest medical procedures a person can receive, and is far safer than carrying a pregnancy to term and delivering.
But the second myth, and the far more frustrating myth, is the idea of “gratuitous” abortions. It is insulting to all women who have experienced an unintended pregnancy, or needed to end a pregnancy due to medical reasons, to paint women in such a callous and unfeeling manner. To imply that any woman does not understand the magnitude of her decision is patronizing at best, and betrays their true feelings about women- that women cannot make decision on their own.
Despite thoughtful and eloquent testimony by Karen Law of Pro-Choice Resources and Rev. Doug Donley, the night belonged to the anti-choice legislators (primarily freshman), falling over themselves to make their statements, and thanking the MCCL for bringing this bill forward.
Their testimony ranged from Rep. Kathy Lohmer reminding us that Jesus was unintended pregnancy, Rep. Duane Quam wondering why there wasn’t there a fetus testifying tonight (clearly ignorant of the fact that it would physically impossible), Rep. Bob Barrett asking us all to thank our mothers for being pro-life (our public discourse has resorted to bumper sticker slogans? AND my Mom is pro-choice. Thanks Mom!), and the evening ended with Rep. Tara Mack claiming that this wasn’t an attack on a certain segment of the population, but rather a need to set a tone for Minnesota. I’m sure, Rep. Mack, that the women will thank you for voting to support her right to set a “tone” while stripping you of your right to control your own reproductive destiny.
Despite all of this outlandish rhetoric, the award for most out of touch of the evening goes to GOP freshman Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen. “Economically, a nation that kills its unborn children, is a nation that kills its own economic future.” While I thank Rep. Gruenhagen for reminding us that the legislature should be focusing on creating jobs and improving the economy, I think he is missing the point : there are no jobs NOW. Instead of spending the legislature’s precious time on this issue, the TAXPAYERS of Minnesota grow weary waiting for their elected officials to concentrate on fixing the economy.
But I digress. Rep. Gruenhagen called the Doe v. Gomez Minnesota Supreme Court case an activist decision, and therefore unconstitutional. He then called for the impeachment and stripping of benefits for those judges who ruled in favor of the case. Rep. Gruenhagen also blamed abortion rights for the reason why some men abuse women. Finally, Rep. Gruenhagen, at his most condescending moment of the evening, addressed those speaking out against the bill: “So, I would ask you, ladies, from the bottom of my heart, join us on the pro-life side. Help us dismantle these government programs and this culture that sends the message to men to use as many women as possible sexually, and whether you impregnated them or not, you can walk away from them without any consequences.”
That last statement is so outrageous, I don’t even know where to begin. But shortly thereafter, the bill passed out of the committee, on a vote of 13 to 4.
Watch the hearing here: Go to 2:13:30 to catch only Rep. Gruenhagen.
Hearing Two- Second verse, similar to the first.
On Wednesday afternoon, March 16, we were back in Rep. Gottwalt’s hearing room, this time hearing HF 936, authored by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg. Instead of attacking poor women, this bill is an outright abortion ban on procedures after 20 weeks, less than 2% of all abortions. Even the bill’s authors admitted that there were fewer than 8 procedures of this type performed in Minnesota in 2009, and most were for fatal fetal anomalies.
Despite its deceptive name and nature- this is an abortion ban cloaked as protecting fetuses from feeling pain; it is an outright attack which will prevent women from receiving often life or fertility saving procedures. Not very pro-life, is it?
But no matter, their argument is all about the state knowing what is best, with nary a thought to the women or doctors who should be the ONLY ones making medical decisions.
Even Rep. Holberg, in her introduction of the bill, admitted that without the claims of so-called fetal pain, the bill just makes no sense. No argument here.
As in the hearing the night before, the anti-choice legislators took their opportunity to make outrageous statements supporting the bill, despite not really knowing what they were talking about.
The worst offender of the day goes to Rep. Bob Barrett. In response to a woman’s heartbreaking story of ending her pregnancy due to trisomy 18, a chromosome disorder that is fatal and incompatible with life, Rep. Barrett responds in the worst possible way. He first admits that he cannot even pronounce the fetal anomaly her fetus was afflicted with, and admits that it is an area that a lot of us don’t even know about, but then continues to shame her for her decision.
He says, “I went to an event last year at an organization called Pre-Natal Partners for Life. And they are a large organization that helps women and children in this condition. I had the good fortune to hear from Senator Rick Santorum talk about his personal story of a child that he had with that exact or similar condition. And he did open my eyes to the fact that a lot of these children are born and do live a life past infancy and they are happy kids and they provide joy and love and support, and they are a part of a family. And you obviously made the choice you did. I would like to inform everyone who isn’t aware of this, who isn’t aware of this organization, to check out Pre-Natal Partners for Life, because they have a wonderful organization that helps families in your situation understand this issue that a lot of people don’t understand. These babies are viable, they are important, they are God’s child. Thank you very much.”
Either Rep. Barrett wasn’t listening, or didn’t care, but this woman’s pregnancy was not going to end with a live birth. There was not going to be any life past infancy, there would be no love, joy, and support. What she found instead, was a man, who knows absolutely NOTHING about her or her health, armed with misinformation and half truths, chastising her for her decisions.
Shame on you, Rep. Barrett.
The bill passed out of committee with a majority voice vote.
Shame on Minnesota.

Monday, March 14, 2011

GOP finds common ground on the Floor

Not all Republicans are anti-choice.

Not all Democrats are pro-choice, either.

Reproductive rights are at once both everyone's issue and no one's but the individual. Abortion should be legal, safe, rare and nobody's business but the woman and whoever (if anyone) she chooses to involve.

It is NOT TOO LATE to contact your representatives and let them know you choose choice and feel they should choose to protect it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Open Letter to Senator Limmer

Dear Senator Limmer,
I know that we Minnesotans are proud of our agricultural heritage, but I must remind you that 2 percent is how we talk about milk, not women.
Of course, I’m responding to your quote in the Star Tribune about a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks, regardless of the woman’s situation, or approximately 2 percent of abortions. You said, “If it's only 2 percent then the other side of the argument really shouldn't have a whole lot to worry about."
As a woman and as a mother, I do worry. A lot. It’s what we do. And when I read about women, and their lives, dismissed in such a way, I worry that you don’t understand what is at stake.
I worry about the young rape victim, too ashamed to admit she’s pregnant until it’s too late. I worry about the incest victim, desperately trying to raise the money for her abortion care so her family doesn’t find out. I worry about the couple with a wanted pregnancy that learns something has gone terribly wrong and that an abortion is the best option to ensure they can have children in the future. I worry about each and every woman of reproductive health age, because of politicians who want to take away their very own profoundly personal decision between that woman and her provider.
So, Senator Limmer, please remember, when you make references to 2 percent of women, you’re talking about our sisters, our nieces, our friends, and our neighbors. You could even be talking about ME.
Linnea House

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Welcome to the neighborhood.

Hello, Blog for Choice readers! There's a new Voice for Choice in town. I suppose you may be wondering if this blog has been hijacked given its new, first-person narration. I think an introduction is in order, especially because my first two posts were written considerably BEFORE their internet debut, which makes them seem considerably AFTER the fact, no? It's a steep learning curve, I'm discovering...for as soon as I pick my jaw off the floor, make sense of my anger and try to compose a productive, coherent post about the latest anti-choice news, something newer and more incredulous surfaces. Be that as it may....

My name is Kira. I'm a senior in college working towards a double Bachelor's degree in English and Political Science. I know those are pathetically broad terms, so I'll explain my emphases. I am a writer. I'm curious and passionate, two traits which lend themselves extremely well to observing, perceiving, documenting and trying to define and change the world around me, a world that is ever-changing and resistant to definition, which is both wonderful and maddending.

Speaking of wonderful and maddening, first of all, I find all things under the feminist/humanist umbrella wonderful: human rights, women's rights, ecomomic equality, reproductive rights, pro-choice activism, environmental activism, education, informed decision-making, equal and affordable access to healthcare. Essentially, each person taking charge of their lives, taking responsiblity for themselves and having their privacy and autonomy protected by their elected officials.

What's maddening is that recently, the security of pretty much everything I just mentioned appears to be in jeopardy. So, without an overly gratuitous, self-aggrandizing autobiography about how I came to blog about Choice in Minnesota--because trust me, my personal story will make itself known all in good time--I just wanted to say that yes, I have hijacked this blog, so to speak. But with the best intentions, I assure you! I'm here to communicate the as up-to-date-as-possible (and my full-time course load allows) current events regarding Choice in our wonderful state of Minnesota, complete with my personal flair for social commentary.

We'll be in touch!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

As Dorothy Parker would say, “Trapped like a trap in a trap.”

It’s so-and-so from the office’s birthday and here comes the card. Everybody is signing it. There are loopy scrawls all over this thing. The night-janitorial staff signed it. Even the scrawny kid job-shadowing for a school project left his mark on the back corner. Do you know so-and-so personally? No. Do you sincerely hope they have a happy birthday? Not especially. Does their having spent one more year on this Earth have any bearing on your life whatsoever? Nope. What business is it of yours, really?

Up for debate during Minnesota’s 87th Legislative Session are not one, but five cards that everybody wants to get their names on. Beginning in late January and as recently as last Monday the 7th, there have been five bills—SF103, HF201, SF264, SF265, HF391—introduced by a collective 71 authors (7 DFL, 64 GOP) that are not only similar in nature, they are verbatim copies of one another.

Are you sure about that? Yes, I am positive, but read one, any or all of them if you don’t believe me. They are identical.

These bills call for a constitutional ban that would prohibit “funding for state-sponsored health programs [to be] used for funding abortions.” In this context meanings “the use of any means to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with knowledge that the termination with those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the fetus and "fetus" means any individual human organism from fertilization until birth” as defined by Minnesota Statute 144.343, subdivision 3.

Because the 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling on Doe v. Gomez established that a woman’s access to and ability to afford an abortion is a fundamental right and that “any proposed legislation that includes cuts to, or complete bans on, state funding for abortion
services is blatantly unconstitutional,” these proposed legislations appear to be the groundwork for a lawsuit; a decision Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL) would prefer not be left up to the Supreme Court. “[Republicans] know that Tim Pawlenty appointed a majority to the Supreme Court that could overturn [Doe v. Gomez].”

Indeed the motivation behind these bills is dubious and unclear. If Republicans were chosen (read: voted) into majority on the premises of an agenda aimed to reboot our economy with “jobs, jobs, jobs,” then why the attack on a woman’s reproductive health, her personal business, as defined by Minnesota law? Most harshly victimized by this antichoice legislation are the low-income families who rely on state-sponsored health programs like MinnesotaCare.

Similarly, on tap for the fiscal year of 2011, on the national level, there is talk to de-fund Title X (aka the-thing-Nixon-did-right) which would virtually end Planned Parenthood as we know it. Not only do Planned Parenthood provide women with safe affordable access to abortion services, they also work tirelessly for access to preventative services as well. Services like comprehensive sex education, affordable contraception, STI/HIV screenings, all things that if de-funded would certainly cause a spike in unintended pregnancies and thus the need for abortions.

These five bills are a trap. A distraction from the larger issues facing our state. A no-win situation if you are a woman who doesn’t want to get pregnant, but can’t afford birth control or if you are a woman who is pregnant and can’t afford to be, but can’t afford not to be either.