jump to navigation

The Politics of Abortion in Latin America July 20, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Latin America, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

 

Cora Fernandez Anderson

by Cora Fernandez Anderson, Five College Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Comparative Reproductive Politics

July 17, 2013 – 2:01 pm, http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/07/17/the-politics-of-abortion-in-latin-america/

 

Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk.Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk. (Apartments in Nicaragua via Shutterstock)

In light of the recent case of Beatriz, a 22-year-old Salvadoran woman and mother of a toddler, who, while suffering from lupus and kidney failure and carrying an anencephalic fetus, was denied the right to an abortion, it is relevant to discuss the restrictive abortion laws in Latin America and some of the reasons behind them.

Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region. Legal abortion upon request during the first trimester is only available in Cuba (as of 1965), Mexico City (as of 2007), and Uruguay (as of 2012). In the rest of the continent, abortion is criminalized in most circumstances, with few exceptions, the most common of which are when the life or health of the woman is at risk, rape, incest and/or fetus malformations. However, even in these cases the legal and practical hurdles a woman has to face to have an abortion are such that many times these exceptions are not available, or by the time they are authorized it is too late. The consequences of such criminalization are well known: high maternal mortality and morbidity rates due to unsafe back alley abortions that affect poor and young women disproportionately.

The current laws ruling abortion in the region have been inherited from colonial powers. They are a legacy of the Spanish and Portuguese empires. While European women have already gotten rid of these laws many decades ago, Latin American women still have to deal with them. Why is this so?

As both scholars and activists know by now, women’s rights, like other human rights, are only respected if a movement organizes around them and puts pressure on the state to change unfair laws and policies. While feminist movements swept Europe and North America during the 1960s and 70s, Latin American countries were busy fighting dictatorships and civil wars. It is not that women did not organize, but rather they did so to oppose the brutal regimes and to address the needs of poor populations hit by the recurrent economic crises. Reproductive rights just had to wait. When democracy finally arrived in the region—in the 1980s in South American and the 1990s in Central America—feminist movements gradually began to push for reproductive rights. For example, the September 28th Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion was launched in 1990 in the context of the Fifth Latin American and Caribbean Feminist meeting held in San Bernardo, Argentina. Since then, most countries in the region have seen mobilizations and protests around this date. However, by the time the movements began to focus on reproductive rights, the global context had changed and the conservative right had also set up a strong opposition to any change to the status quo.

The strongholds of the opposition to decriminalization lie in two places: first, the Catholic Church, and second, the ascendance of the religious right in the United States. The Catholic Church has historically been a strong political actor in Latin America, ever since its large role in the conquest and colonization of the continent by the Spanish and Portuguese crowns in the 16th and 17th centuries. The church’s influence among both political and economic elites is still a reality in the whole region with only a variation of degree among the different countries. However, the church’s strong opposition to abortion has not been constant. While the church has always condemned abortion, it used to be considered a misdemeanor and not a murder of an innocent human life, as in the current discourse. In addition, it was not until the late 1800s that the church considered that life started at conception. Until 1869, a fetus was thought to receive its soul from 40 to 80 days after conception, abortion being a sin only after the ensoulment had taken place.

Even in the beginning of the 20th century, when many Latin American countries passed their current legislation that allowed legal abortion under certain circumstances, the Catholic Church did not pose a strong opposition to these reforms. As Mala Htun explains in her research on South American abortion laws, at the time abortion reforms were passed by a nucleus of male politicians, doctors, and jurists. In addition, these reforms legalized abortion only in very limited circumstances and required the authorization of a doctor and/or a judge, and therefore represented no real threat to the dominant discourse of abortion being morally wrong. The church only began organizing against abortion decriminalization when feminist movements came together to claim the autonomy of women’s bodies threatening this consensus.

When John Paul II became Pope in 1978, moral issues such as abortion were given a priority in the church’s mission as never before. Having lived through the Soviet conquest of his home country, Poland, and experienced the repression of Catholicism and the legalization of abortion there, the Pope felt very strongly about these issues. Once many of the European Catholic countries achieved the legalization of abortion in the 1970s and 80s, Latin America, being the largest Catholic region in the world, became the battleground in which abortion policy would be fought and decided.

Together with this shift within the Catholic Church, a second stronghold of the opposition has come from the United States. Long past the days of Roe v. Wade, since the 1980s the increasing influence of the religious right within the Republican Party has implied that U.S. reproductive rights policies have been increasingly anti-abortion when this party was in office. How has this affected Latin America? Both directly, by banning federal funding for international NGOs involved with providing, advising, or even advocating for abortion decriminalization (known as the Mexico City Policy or the Global Gag Rule), and also indirectly, through the legitimacy and strength given to anti-abortion discourses, particularly during the George W. Bush administration.

Latin American politicians have not been indifferent to these trends and have thus sought the support of the Catholic Church and/or U.S. Republicans and anti-abortion groups to strengthen their chances of winning office. Unfortunately, in this context the future of Beatriz and many other poor and young women in the region remains politically uncertain.

GOP Wants To Be Sure Women/Idiot Children Understand What Rape Is and Get Permission Slips For Pretty Much Everything March 25, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Right Wing, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

by Abby Zimet, www.commondreams.org

The surreally awful news in the war on lady parts just keeps coming. An Idaho legislator wants women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and “counselling;” if she was raped, her doctor should make sure she was really raped and not just a participant in “normal relations in a marriage.” Alaska’s State Rep. Alan Dick (really) wants women seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound and a written permission slip from the guy who, you know. Arizona wants to make it nigh on impossible to get an abortion, but if you make it through all the legislative hurdles you should have to watch an abortion. Then again, the author of the Arizona bill requiring women to prove to their bosses they are using birth control pills for non-slutty reasons, or get fired, is rewriting the bill because apparently, bewilderingly, some people got upset. Funny: Why don’t we feel better?

 

The deep roots of the war on contraception February 15, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, History, Religion, Right Wing, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

The uproar over Obama’s decision stems from tensions between Democrats and Catholics that date back to FDR and LBJ

By Ellen Chesler, New Deal 2.0
fdr_lbj

    (Credit: Library of Congress/The White House)

This piece originally appeared on New Deal 2.0.

Republicans for Planned Parenthood last week issued a call for nominations for the 2012 Barry Goldwater award, an annual prize awarded to a Republican legislator who has acted to protect women’s health and rights. Past recipients include Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, who this week endorsed President Obama’s solution for insuring full coverage of the cost of contraception without exceptions, even for employees of religiously affiliated institutions. And that may tell us all we need to know about why President Obama has the upper hand in a debate over insurance that congressional Tea Partiers have now widened to include anyone who seeks an exemption.

It’s a long time ago, but it is worth remembering that conservative avatar Goldwater was in his day an outspoken supporter of women’s reproductive freedom — a freethinker who voted his conscience over the protests of Catholic bishops and all others who tried to claim these matters as questions of conscientious liberty and not sensible social policy. With Goldwater on his side, Obama sees a clear opening for skeptics wary of the extremism that has captured Republican hopefuls in thrall to the fundamentalist base that controls the GOP presidential primary today. Holding firm on family planning — even if it means taking on the Catholic hierarchy and other naysayers by offering a technical fix that would have insurers cover costs instead of the churches themselves — is a calculated political strategy by the Obama campaign, not a blunder as it has been characterized by many high powered pundits, including progressives like Mark Shields of PBS and E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post.

Recent public opinion polling on the subject is worth reconsidering. For years, it has been perfectly clear that a substantial majority of Americans see the value of expanding access to contraception and reliable sex education as essential tools to prevent unwanted pregnancy and abortion and to help women balance the competing demands of work and family. But unlike a zealous minority on the other side, these moderates have not necessarily privileged these social concerns over important questions of economics or national security that mattered more to them at election time.

That’s what seems to be changing. With his now-famous “nope, zero” response last spring, President Obama simply shut down Republicans in Congress who wanted to defund family planning as part of a deal to reduce the federal deficit. The action elicited a sudden surge in his popularity, especially in the highly contested demographic of women voters between the ages of 30 and 49 who voted for him in 2008 but wound up frustrated by failed promises and disappointing economic policies. Campaign polling has since uncovered a big opening for Obama with this group because they are furious over Republican social extremism. An astonishing 80 percent of them disapproved of congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood last spring. Polling among Catholics in response to last week’s controversy shows identical patterns, with 57 percent overall supporting the Obama “compromise” to ensure full coverage of contraception, according to reporting by Joe Conason in The National Memo, and cross-tabs demonstrating much higher margins of support from Catholic women, Latinos, and independent Catholic voters — all prime Obama election targets.

If the numbers are so persuasive, why then have Republican conservatives strayed so far from the greater tolerance of the Goldwater age? Why have they allowed the family planning issue to tie their candidates up in knots in 2012? The answer is in just how outsized the influence of a minority viewpoint can be on a political party, so long as it represents the base of that party’s support.

A bit of history going all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal is instructive. Back then, birth control was still illegal in this country, still defined as obscene under federal statutes that remained as a legacy of the Victorian era, even though many states had reformed local laws and were allowing physicians to prescribe contraception to married women with broadly defined “medical” reasons to plan and space their childbearing.

The movement’s pioneer, Margaret Sanger, went to Washington during the Great Depression, anticipating that Franklin Roosevelt, whose wife Eleanor was her friend and neighbor in New York, would address the problem and incorporate a public subsidy of contraception for poor women into the safety net the New Deal was constructing. What Sanger failed to anticipate, however, was the force of the opposition this idea would continue to generate from the coalition of religious conservatives, including urban Catholics and rural fundamentalist Protestants who held Roosevelt Democrats captive, much as they have today captured the GOP. It was Catholic priests, and not the still slightly scandalous friend of the First Lady, who wound up having tea at the Roosevelt White House.

The U.S. government would not overcome moral and religious objections until the Supreme Court protected contraceptive use under the privacy doctrine created in 1965 under Griswold v. Connecticut. That freed President Lyndon Johnson to incorporate family planning programs into the country’s international development programs and into anti-poverty efforts at home. As a Democrat still especially dependent on Catholic votes, however, Johnson only agreed to act once he had the strong bipartisan support of his arch rival Barry Goldwater’s endorsement and also the intense loyalty and deft maneuvering of Republican moderates like Robert Packwood of Oregon in the Senate. Packwood, in turn, worked alongside Ohio’s Robert Taft, Jr. in the House and a newcomer from Texas by the name of George H. W. Bush. Bush would remain a staunch advocate of reproductive freedom for women until political considerations during the 1980 presidential elections, when he was on the ticket with Ronald Reagan, accounted for one of the most dramatic and cynical public policy reversals in modern American politics.

Reagan had supported California’s liberal policies on contraception and abortion as governor, and Bush as Richard Nixon’s Ambassador to the United Nations had helped shape the UN’s population programs. But Republican operatives in 1980 saw a potential fissure in the traditional New Deal coalition among Catholics uncomfortable with the new legitimacy given to abortion after Roe v. Wade and white southern Christians being lured away from the Democrats around the issue of affirmative action and other racial preferences. Opposition to abortion instantly became a GOP litmus test, and both presidential hopefuls officially changed stripes.

Fast forward to 1992 and the election of Bill Clinton as America’s first pro-choice president, coupled with the Supreme Court’s crafting of a compromise decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that put some limits on access to abortion but essentially preserved the core privacy doctrine of Roe v. Wade. The perceived double threat of these political and judicial developments unleashed a new and even more powerful conservative backlash that took aim not only at abortion, but at contraception and sex education as well.

Exploiting inevitable tensions in the wake of profound social and economic changes occurring across the country as the result of altered gender roles and expectations — changes symbolized and made all the more palpable by Hillary Clinton’s activist role as First Lady — conservatives, with the support of powerful right-wing foundations and think tanks, poured millions of dollars into research and propaganda promoting family values and demonizing reproductive freedom, including emotional television ads that ran for years on major media outlets. A relentless stigmatizing of abortion, along with campaigns of intimidation and outright violence against Planned Parenthood and other providers, had a chilling effect on politicians generally shy of social controversy. And Bill Clinton’s vulnerability to charges of sexual misconduct left his administration and his party all the more defensive.

Since the welfare reform legislation of 1996, aptly labeled a “Personal Responsibility Act,” not only has access to abortion been curtailed, but funds for family planning programs at home and abroad have been capped. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allocated to the teaching of sexual abstinence, rather than more comprehensive approaches to sex education. Just as tragically, U.S. programs addressing the crisis of HIV/AIDS — admirably expanded during the presidency of George W. Bush — were nonetheless made to counsel abstinence and oppose the use of condoms and other safe sex strategies, leaving women and young people all the more vulnerable to the ravages of the epidemic.

Empirically grounded studies over and over again undermined the efficacy of these approaches, which also flew in the face of mainstream American viewpoints and basic common sense. With Barack Obama’s election they have largely been revoked, enflaming the conservative base that put them in place and has lived off the salaries supported by government funding for faith-based social policy.

Even more disheartening to conservative true believers is the promise that the Affordable Care Act will vastly expand access to contraception by providing insurance coverage for oral contraceptives. This guarantee, endorsed by all mainstream health advocates, also includes emergency contraception, popularly known as the morning-after pill, that holds the promise of further reducing unwanted pregnancy and abortion and was meant to offer common ground in an abortion debate long defined by a clash of absolutes. The strong dose of ordinary hormones in emergency contraception act primarily by preventing fertilization, just like daily contraceptive pills, but in rare instances may also disable a fertilized egg from implanting by weakening the uterine lining that it needs for sustenance, causing opponents to vilify it as an abortifacient.

Supporting the Obama policy changes, on the other hand, is a new generation of progressive activists in reproductive health and rights organizations, energized by the intensity of the assaults against them, and now well-armed to educate and activate their own supporters by using traditional grassroots strategies and more sophisticated social networking. No institution has been more important in this effort than Planned Parenthood, with its vast networks of affiliates and supporters in every state, millions more supporters online, and a powerful national political and advocacy operation based in Washington D.C. that has been put to use to great effect in recent months.

The strength of the Planned Parenthood brand, coupled with the organization’s demonstrated ability to rally hundreds of thousands of supporters when it is attacked, has helped overcome traditional political reticence on reproductive justice issues. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is already out with a strong new appeal warning politicians that women are watching. “Enough is enough. Back off on birth control,” is the new advocacy mantra.

Mindful of the numbers — and with the added ballast of what now amounts to a daily drumbeat of progressive television talk and comedy that delights in pillorying Republican prudery — Democrats are intensifying their resolve to take on this fight. Two things we can be sure of: Whoever emerges from the bloodbath of the GOP contest will try and backtrack from the birth control extremism of the primary. And Obama supporters, backed up by the advocacy community, will in turn stand ready to pounce on this inevitable flip-flopping.

Both sides may well summon the spirit and words of Barry Goldwater, who cautioned against allowing faith-based extremism to gain control of the Republican Party. “Politics and governing demand compromise,” he told John Dean, who reports on the conversation in his 2006 book, “Conservatives Without Conscience.”But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know. I’ve tried to deal with them.”

Ellen Chesler is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and author of “Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America.”   More Ellen Chesler

Obama/Catholic Contraception Controversy Boils Down to Workers’ Rights February 12, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Labor, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far
Roger’s note: One more movement in the direction of establishing the American theocracy.
Published on Saturday, February 11, 2012 by In These Times

by  Roger Bybee

The great new religious battle over the proposed new federal rule requiring contraception coverage for women actually boils down to the basic precept that worker rights apply across all of society, including within religious institutions. But it also reveals the political machinations of the right, the suspect motives of the Catholic bishops and another crucial weakness in the much heralded Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act passed by the Democrats and signed by President Obama two years ago.

First, it is striking how America’s all-male Catholic hierarchy has seemingly colluded with Republicans in miraculously conceiving this issue as a potential “wedge” issue to mobilize blue-collar Catholics against President Obama and the Democrats.

Second, it is almost amusing to see bishops, now pretending to launch a last-ditch effort to prevent a sudden and unique incursion by the Obama administration against the freedom to practice their religion. The Catholic hierarchy has decisively “lost the war at home “ already, as Gail Collins notes, but is choosing to pick a political fight. The majority of Catholic women use birth control. Federal rules required contraception’s inclusion for more than a decade, as Daily Kos reports:

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today.

With more than half the states also requiring insurers to include contraception in women’s health care packages, Catholic universities, schools and hospitals are obligated to provide birth-control services to their employees. (Most states have an exemption for churches.)

Further, Catholic doctrine is trumped by the Constitutional principle that members of all faiths must obey the law. Noted attorney David Boise explains that freedom of religion as outlined in the Constitution is quite different from the bishops’ version:

Everybody is free to exercise the religion that they choose. [But] there isn`t anything in the Constitution that says an employer, regardless of whether you are a church employer or not, isn`t subject to the same rules as any other employer.

The fundamental point is underscored in this exchange between Boise and his MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell:

O`DONNELL: So, this is just simple labor law. …Labor [law] requires certain conditions in the work place and so forth. This is one of those.

BOIES: And tax law and workman’s comp law. I mean, there are all sorts of laws that apply to every employer in this country, and you don`t exempt religious employers just because their religion. You are not asking anybody in the Catholic Church or any other church to do anything other than simply comply with a normal law that every employer has to comply with.

Employers who provide health insurance are currently required in 28 states to provide contraceptive services and other reproductive care as part of a strategy of preventive care, which coincides with the conclusions reached by the medical experts consulted in writing the Affordable Care Act.

But the contrived issue of contraception is being perceived by the Republicans as a chance to split working-class Catholics voters from Barack Obama.

It appears to be a textbook case of the Right developing what Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas?, diagnosed astutely as an “election-season” issue. The Republicans have been immensely creative in inflating issues like gay marriage and gun rights to immense proportions to attract the votes of working-class and low-income voters, facilitated by the frequent Democratic failure to tenaciously push economic justice with the same level of conviction shown by the Right.

For the Republicans and the Right, the notion of including contraception as a standard part of women’s health insurance offers yet another chance to demonize Obama for “overt hostility to faith,” according to Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum. Pulling out all the stops, Santorum even raised the specter of Obama unleashing savage anti-religious forces that would literally re-introduce the “guillotine” of the French Revolution for the faithful and patriotic.

For the Catholic bishops, this conflict re-ignites their hope of rolling back contraceptive rights, established in a 1965 Supreme Court decision, and also trying to further shrink abortion rights. While the strongly-held sentiment of Americans for contraceptive rights is obvious, the Catholic leaders are trying to regain lost ground by lining up with a retrograde movement. As journalist Barbara Miner observed five years ago:

The movement against birth control has moved beyond the fringe. Across the country, many pharmacists won’t fill birth control prescriptions, some hospital emergency rooms refuse to dispense emergency contraception and some state legislatures are cutting funds for family planning.

The Catholic bishops hope somehow to add fuel to this movement and thus turn the clock back a century or two, with this anti-contraception push being wrapped up with anti-abortion rules in the name of protecting “religious freedom.” Feminists like Barbara Miner and Katha Pollitt are appalled by this campaign. As Miner told In These Times,

The medical community accepts that contraception is an integral part of medical care for women. If the Catholic Church and its institutions are serious about promoting healthcare, they should follow the best practices and give their employees the best quality care, and that includes contraception.

For the Republicans, it also provides another chance to castigate Obama’s healthcare plan, which they previously stigmatized with preposterous lies about creating “death panels” and staging “a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy.”

But we must recognize that the Republicans would have had no opportunity to raise the issue if America had a single-payer healthcasre system instead of the current employer-based structure.

Workers would thereby have a standard package of benefits that would not be tied to their employers’ beliefs and they could choose their own doctors and hospitals.

Instead, the Affordable Care Act retains citizens’ dependence on their employers choices, opening the door for the Catholic bishops to seek to dictate women’s options. The ACA also enshrines and subsidizes the insurance corporations that maximize profits by minimizing care, as well as still leaving out 30 million Americans from health coverage, as O’Donnell drove home emphatically.

Reflecting on the ACA’s flaw that allows the Right and the Catholic bishops to attack women’s right to contraceptive care, Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) points out

We`d be better off if we had a single-payer health care system where you didn`t have employers involved.

A more recent struggle offers hope of the public rallying behind women’s reproductive rights, “I think we can learn from the way that people rallied behind Planned Parenthood when the Susan G. Komen Foundation tried to cut off their funding,” Miner says.

© 2012 In These Times

<!–

–>

Roger Bybee

Roger Bybee is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and progressive publicity consultant whose work has appeared in numerous national publications and websites, including Z magazine, Common Dreams, Dollars & Sense, Yes!, The Progressive, Multinational Monitor, The American Prospect and Foreign Policy in Focus.

 

 

 

 

19 Comments so far

Hide All

Posted by NC-Tom
Feb 11 2012 – 9:54am

So we have an organization that has sheltered child abusing priests, and actually moved them around from parish to parish thus enabling the activity.  Add to that their silence over the war mongering activity of the US.  For example, how many late term unborn babies have been killed by the US military?  Where is their outrage over that?

Now they become holier than thou over birth control.  WTF?!

Like George Carlin said: “When it comes to BULLSHIT…BIG-TIME, MAJOR LEAGUE BULLSHIT… you have to stand IN AWE, IN AWE of the all time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion.

Posted by damnliberal
Feb 11 2012 – 10:01am

There is a difference between the parties that have a chance to win the White House. Living in Michigan I can vote for the nutty Ron Paul because he understands how crazy our foreign policy is, and is against the war on drugs. Michigan hates Romney because he was against saving the American auto industry.

Posted by Trylon
Feb 11 2012 – 10:22am

There are two kinds of people in this world: 1) those who believe there are two kinds of people in this world, 2) those who don’t.

This comes to mind when I read a sentence like =contraception coverage for women actually boils down to the basic precept that worker rights apply across all of society, including within religious institutions=.

The issue under contention has more facets than a dodecahedron constructed of mirrors. Each facet boils down to some intensely held belief.

Mine is that this issue should not exist in the first place. Human social contract should provide health care from the aggregate population covered, covering the universe of members, and paid for by the aggregate or gross national product. The insurance industry should be kept at bay from health care by sharpened bayonets, or canisters of tear gas – whatever the hell it takes to make them keep their capitalist peckers in their underpants.

I’m sick and tired of hearing the phrase: “I’m not going to pay for someone’s this or that which is against my morality.”  History shows moralists are equally obnoxious, even murderous, when no financial burden upon them is involved. “You will live in my theocracy and obey my God without complaint or rebellion, or I’ll effing kill you.”

Don’t ever say that to me. Don’t ever say that to me. Trylon

Posted by gardenernorcal
Feb 11 2012 – 10:41am

I agree.  If we had nationalized health care.  The same services would be provided to everyone for the same contribution.  It would be a personal choice if you chose to partake of something that was contrary to your personal religion.  It wouldn’t be a church telling everyone else what they would or wouldn’t be willing to pay for. Or our government exempting some and not exempting others based on a “religious test”.

Posted by Rainborowe
Feb 11 2012 – 2:29pm

If we ever get an administration courageous enough to attempt to pass a national health service law, I’m sure the RC bishops would be right onto that, too.  But what really bugs me about this latest escapade is that those bishops objecting to ObamaCare had no problem demanding that RC women be excluded from participating in that part of it–whether they wanted to or not.  It’s as though Eliot Ness had taken to raiding the churches and smashing their bottles of communion wine.  Imagine the howl if that had happened.

Posted by Thalidomide
Feb 11 2012 – 10:57am

The fact that the corrupt pro-pedophile leadership of this vatican cult still has political power in the United States is absurd. They have proven themselves to be totally immoral and their hatred of women is legendary. 98 percent of catholic women don’t care what they think so I assume their support is coming from older men who can’t gey pregnant so the hell with them.

Posted by ThomasMarx
Feb 11 2012 – 11:10am

Well, it sure comes as a surprise to me that workers have rights in the greatest democracy and freest country that ever existed in the history of the universe.

Do they really have rights?  That is good news to me. TM

Posted by dkshaw
Feb 11 2012 – 11:31am

What a tempest in a teapot. Bibi and Barky are champing at the bit to begin World War 3, and the media gives us condoms and birth control pills versus religious freedom.

Besides…

Hey! Ratzinger! There are 7 billion people on the planet now. How many more do you want? Would another 7 billion do it for you? Another 14 billion? 21 billion? Please. Give us a number that will satisfy you so that your “flock” may then be allowed to use birth control.

Posted by pjd412
Feb 11 2012 – 1:16pm

Actually, the insurance coverage is only for prescription or physician-installed contraceptives.  Non prescription contraceptives (condoms) were never covered.

You can calm down a bit about the contraceptive issue.  Catholics worldwide ignore the hoary old “contraceptives are sinful” .  The countries with some of the lowest fertility rates and population declines – Spain, Southern Germany, Italy, probably even Ireland, are Catholic countries.  In the US, the largest family sizes are in the Protestant-dominant south, and the smallest, in the Catholic dominated north.  The countries with the highest fertility rates are Muslim countries.  Muslims have no objection to birth control.

Fertility rates and population growth have nothing to do with availability of contraception, becasue contraception is already available everywhere, nor religion.  They have to do with standard of living.  Having a large family is a perfectly rational social and economic decision for a poor family in an peasant (or even not-so peasant) agrarian culture, and this agrarian tradition, tends to persist, disfunctionally, for a few generations after the rural poor move to the cities.  But it always does die out, and replacement level or lower birth rates are achieved once living standard is improved.  This (along with China’s one child law) is why population is stabilizing on its own and nobody knowledgeable about the issues considers population to be a problem.   The problem is the distribution of wealth, and disproportionate planetary environmental impacts among the population, not the population.  Throw you old yellowed copies of Ehrlich away.

Posted by Rainborowe
Feb 11 2012 – 2:37pm

I think you misunderstand the source of people’s anger.  It isn’t that Roman Catholic women are being denied birth control; it’s that the president of the USA rolled over and did what the RC bishops demanded in denying RC women the same coverage under his health plan that all other women got.  I’m sure many people object to various provisions of the plan, but they don’t get to call the shots on other people’s coverages.

Posted by WoodGas
Feb 11 2012 – 11:59am

Maybe I’m missing something here. Is anyone being required, as a condition of employment, to USE birth control? While there are situations where I think contraception should be mandatory, (methamthetamine use for one) there doesn’t seem to be any personal use requirement involved here, where does infringement of rights come into this?  “Just say no”

Posted by Stone
Feb 11 2012 – 12:53pm

It is not a workers right to destroy life.  Life is the superior value.

Posted by shadre
Feb 11 2012 – 2:18pm

Sorry, but to me, your statement is a bit disingenuous, considering that ALL life is “the superior value (sacred, if you belief in a Creator), and humankind has lived to destroy life from the time we came to be on this planet.

Posted by conscience
Feb 11 2012 – 2:36pm

And male supremacists get to decide that a woman’s life is less superior to sperm or a fertilized egg — ?

Those same male supremacists who have oppressed women and children for 2,000 years?

You can embrace democracy and equality for all, or you can follow male-supremacists.   Democracy is superior to male-supremacy. Equality for all is superior to male supremacy.  It’s your choice.

Posted by pjd412
Feb 11 2012 – 12:55pm

My understanding of this agreement is that the Catholic institution will not have to list contraception on their employee insurance benefit booklets, but prescription contraception will still be covered “on the sly”.  So, theoretically, the Catholic employer group plan rates will be a bit lower, but the premium payers in general will pay a bit more to cover the Catholic cleric’s or administrator’s religious freedom.  But the amount is probably tiny and completely buried by other cost increases in the dysfunctional US health care system,  So I really can’t get too indignant about it.  Give them their religious freedom and get back to more important issues like health care for all regardless of condition of employment.

Posted by Rainborowe
Feb 11 2012 – 2:47pm

It is not the women who are demanding to have this benefit denied them, it it?    And any women who reject birth control are free to avoid using it.  So where’s the “religious freedom” in allowing a bunch of male priests to exclude women of their faith from getting a benefit open to all other women?

Posted by Samalabear
Feb 11 2012 – 1:21pm

Lawrence O’Donnell expands the next night on this mess:

http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the-last-word/46321122#null

Nice little rant here.

And then here’s a story that was on Marketplace that talks about the impact of the Catholic Church when it comes to contraception in countries that are vulnerable to the man-made rules of the Catholic Church:

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/food-9-billion/philippines-too-many-mouths

Posted by shadre
Feb 11 2012 – 2:28pm

I think it’s high time these few churches who’re trying to control the whole government, and people not even of their faiths, should have to start paying taxes.

Oh, that’s right – the largest of them doing the most to take control has never even been a citizen of this country.  We could at least tax their churches that are here though.

Posted by David McConnell
Feb 11 2012 – 2:34pm

What I see here is a classic example of we want our rights, but you can’t have yours.  You can’t stand the concept of not working for an employer who’s beliefs don’t mirror your own.  You think you have the right to walk into any place of employment and force your beliefs upon your employer.  Deal with it.  No church should be forced to hire employees who’s beliefs contradict their’s.  Why would you even want to work in that environment, unless it was to cause problems?  I detest organized religion, but this country was founded on some basic rights and you want to take that away.

Abortion-Rights Leader Urges Others to ‘Be Bold, Brave’ October 13, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment
Published on Thursday, October 13, 2011 by San Mateo Mercury News
  by Carina Woudenberg

 

For some women, the decision to have an abortion is agonizing, a source of lingering regret.

Longtime women’s rights champion Harriet Hills Stinson revealed that she had an illegal abortion in her 20s. (Photo: Sarah Rice / Special to The Chronicle)

For Harriet Stinson, it was a simple choice, one that she has never second-guessed. She had three children already when she became pregnant for a fourth time, and she didn’t think she could handle the stress of another.

Stinson, a longtime leader of the Bay Area abortion-rights movement, shared her story for the first time publicly Wednesday in front of 600 people at a luncheon in Palo Alto put on by NARAL Pro-Choice California.

Now 85, the San Mateo resident said she disclosed this deeply personal chapter from her past to encourage other women to speak out about their experiences. She hopes to combat the stigma attached to abortion and reinforce the importance of sex education and contraception for young people.

“We’ve got to be bold and brave and do something drastic, and this is drastic,” Stinson told the crowd at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel.

Stinson becomes the second prominent Peninsula woman this year to relate the experience of having an abortion. During an emotional fight over funding for Planned Parenthood in February in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jackie Speier announced that she had to terminate a pregnancy nearly 20 years ago due to a medical complication when she was 17 weeks pregnant.

Stinson’s history of leadership in the local abortion-rights arena includes founding a Planned Parenthood branch in San Mateo and starting the first U.S. jail family-planning program. She also established the now-defunct political group California Republicans for Choice, an organization that educated and backed Republican candidates who supported abortion rights.

Stinson was in her late 20s when she underwent her abortion.

She had been using birth control, but it failed. The lack of sleep from raising three young children was causing her such stress that she had the urge to act out violently toward them whenever her sleep was disrupted. Her late husband, an obstetrician, performed the procedure himself.

Today, Stinson has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

She said she adores her family and doesn’t think it would have turned out the same if she hadn’t made the choice to have an abortion nearly 60 years ago.

Three-fourths of women who undergo abortions say having the baby would interfere with their professional lives or their ability to care for dependents, according to research compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reproductive health. Abortions have been in a general decline since the late 1970s, according to the institute. The number of abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 fell from 29.1 in 1981 to 19.6 in 2008.

Despite the drop in the rate of procedures, Stinson said abortion rights remain under attack. She said she’ll be happy if her words Wednesday encourage others to step up and fight for those rights.

Liz Figueroa, of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in San Jose, said Stinson serves as a good role model.

“Fearless is the word that comes to mind,” she said. “These stories are not easy to tell. When you have leaders like that, it makes it so much easier to follow.”

© 2011 San Mateo Mercury News

Idaho Abortion Lawsuit: Jennie Linn McCormack Challenges State Fetal Pain Law September 1, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Health, Idaho, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

// <![CDATA[

var inst_def = Badges.getUniqName();

window[inst_def.obj_name] = new Badges({
unique_id: inst_def.unique_id,
holder_id: "badges_v2_1",
panel_layout: 8,
complete_callback_func_name: "",
share_details_callback: false,
additional_panel_classes: "",
entry_params: {
"id" : 944351,
"title" : "Idaho Abortion Lawsuit: Jennie Linn McCormack Challenges State Fetal Pain Law",
"created_on": 1314844320,
"vertical_name": "Politics",
"tweet_comm_hash" : "",
"tweet_comm_text" : "",
"force_fb_like" : 1
},

global_name: "window." + inst_def.obj_name
});

// =====================================================
// Now goes logic for every layout

window[inst_def.obj_name].setPanelBorderStyle("glamorous_4");

var slices = {
1: "facebook_glamorous",
2: "retweet_glamorous",
3: "email_glamorous",
4: "google_plusone_glamorous"
};

// checking for ie7 safari 3 and ff 3.5 browsers because +1 badge not work
if ((jQuery.browser.mozilla && (jQuery.browser.version <= '1.9.2'))
|| (jQuery.browser.msie && (jQuery.browser.version <= '7.0'))
|| (jQuery.browser.safari && (jQuery.browser.version Roger’s note: aren’t you touched by the compassion of the Fundamentalist Christian Right (Wrong) and their concern for foetal pain (although it’s all right to bomb into smithereens Muslim civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan)? And their passion for preventing the government from impinging on individual freedom (like the freedom to pollute the planet into oblivion) but somehow doesn’t include a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions).

 By REBECCA BOONE 08/31/11 08:41 PM ET AP

Jennie Linn McCormack filed suit in federal court against Bannock County’s prosecuting attorney, contending Idaho’s new law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy violates the Constitution.

Idaho is one of six states that have enacted such bans in the two years. The bans are based on the premise that a fetus may feel pain at 20 weeks.

McCormack, who was briefly charged with having an illegal abortion, is seeking class-action status in her lawsuit against prosecutor Mark Hiedeman. The suit also challenges other parts of Idaho abortion law.

McCormack was charged with a felony in June after police said she took pills to terminate her pregnancy last December. Police found the fetus in a box at McCormack’s Pocatello home Jan. 9, and an autopsy determined it was between five and six months gestation. Police said McCormack told them she didn’t have enough money to go to a licensed medical professional, so her sister helped her access abortion-inducing drugs online.

A judge later dismissed the criminal case without prejudice for lack of evidence. That means the prosecutor may refile charges if he chooses, unless the federal courts stop him from doing so.

In the lawsuit, McCormack challenges the lack of access to abortions for women in her region, as well as the ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

She notes there are no elective-abortion providers in southeastern Idaho, forcing women seeking the procedure to travel elsewhere.

McCormack was unmarried and unemployed at the time of her pregnancy – with an income of $200 to $250 a month – and already had three children. She couldn’t afford the time or money it would take to travel to Salt Lake City to get an abortion, the lawsuit says.

If McCormack prevails, it will be a win for women across the region, said her attorney, Richard Hearn of Pocatello.

“If we’re successful, they’ll be able to access legal and safe abortions in southeastern Idaho,” whether performed with medicine or surgically in a clinic, Hearn said Wednesday.

Hiedeman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Idaho law bars women from getting abortions from anyone but licensed Idaho physicians, and requires that second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital. Women who purposely cause their own abortions, or who get abortions from unlicensed physicians, face up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

McCormack is asking a judge to find that those criminal sanctions are unconstitutional, in part because they wrongly burden women in regions like southeastern Idaho that lack abortion providers.

Another Idaho law, passed during the 2011 Legislature, bans abortions once a fetus has reached 20 weeks on the belief that fetuses begin to feel pain at that stage. Idaho was one of five states – along with Kansas, Alabama, Indiana and Oklahoma – that enacted bans modeled after a fetal pain bill passed in Nebraska in 2010.

McCormack says the new law violates the Constitution because it doesn’t contain an exception allowing for abortions if necessary to preserve the mother’s health, and because it prohibits some abortions even before a fetus has reached viability. Roe v. Wade barred states from prohibiting abortions done before the age of viability, and other legal rulings have since determined viability occurs at 22 to 23 weeks gestation.

That contention echoes an opinion written by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office, which advised state lawmakers that the fetal pain bill could be found unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

It’s not the first time Idaho lawmakers have passed abortion laws that they were warned likely would be found unconstitutional. In the past decade, Idaho has spent more than $730,000 to defend restrictive abortion laws that ended up being struck down by courts. Those costly rulings prompted legislative leaders in recent years to require that abortion-related legislation be reviewed by the Idaho attorney general’s office.

Republican state Sen. Chuck Winder, who sponsored Idaho’s fetal pain legislation, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The National Right to Life Committee said Wednesday it believes the law will be upheld.

“Unborn children recoil from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase when they are subjected to any painful stimuli, and they require anesthesia for fetal surgery,” the group’s legislative director, Mary Spaulding Balch, said in a statement. “We are confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately agree and will recognize the right of the state to protect these children from the excruciatingly painful death of abortion.”

Janet Crepps, director of the U.S. legal program for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said laws like fetal pain bills are both unconstitutional and bad policy. They also are “demeaning to women and their doctors” because they don’t take into account how each woman’s situation is different, she said.

“When you think about all the regulations that are piled onto abortion, it just clearly becomes impossible for doctors to provide them and women to receive them in a situation like McCormack’s,” Crepps said. “It’s a really sad situation.”

___

Associated Press writers John Miller in Boise; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala.; Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Ala.; Jennifer O’Malley in Indianapolis; Scott McFetridge in Omaha, Neb.; and Chris Clark in Kansas City, Kansas, contributed to this report.

Beyond suffrage: How far have women come since? August 30, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Democracy, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Op-Ed, LA Times, August 26, 2011

American women won the right to vote in 1920. But how far have we come since
on other issues important to women?

 

Today we celebrate the anniversary of female suffrage, a
victory that took more than 70 years of political struggle to achieve. After
women won the right to vote in 1920, socialist feminist Crystal Eastman observed
that suffrage was an important first step but that what women really wanted was
freedom. In an essay titled “Now We Can Begin,” she laid out a plan toward this
goal that is still relevant today.Eastman outlined a four-point program:
economic independence for women (including freedom to choose an occupation and
equal pay), gender equality at home (raising “feminist sons” to share the
responsibilities of family life), “voluntary motherhood” (reproductive freedom)
and “motherhood endowment,” or financial support for child-rearing and
homemaking.Since the 1920s, women have won many rights and opportunities
in areas as diverse as higher education, professional sports and, in six states,
same-sex marriage. But on the core priorities that Eastman identified, how far
have we come?

Eastman optimistically called equality in the workplace
“the easiest part of our program,” noting that “the ground is already broken” on
women’s participation in various professions, trades and unions. One of the
chief barriers was “inequality in pay,” a problem that has proved remarkably
enduring.

Women on average still make only 77 cents for every dollar paid
to their male counterparts, according to the National Women’s Law Center. This
pay disparity is worst for women of color, who earn only 61 cents if they are
African American and 52 cents if they are Latina. This pattern has been
remarkably constant.

Women’s lower earnings are related to gender segmentation in the workplace that relegates women to the lower rungs of the
economic ladder. At Wal-Mart, for example — the nation’s biggest employer — women make up about 70% of hourly
workers but only about 30% of managers. The Supreme Court recently ruled that
the retailer’s female employees could not join together in a class-action
lawsuit, making it nearly impossible for them to challenge patterns of
discrimination.

Although women now outnumber men on college campuses, the
upper echelons of most professions and political bodies remain male-dominated.
Just look at Congress: Only 17% of its members are women. Between 1923 and 2011,
only 28 women have chaired congressional committees, and only 45 women of color
have ever served in Congress — just one in the Senate. The new congressional
“super-committee” of 12 legislators charged with reducing the federal deficit
has one white woman and not a single woman of color.

On the home front, gender norms have changed significantly since 1920, but women still do the
lion’s share of child care, elder care and household planning. And child-rearing
is still regarded as a private matter rather than a contribution to society.
Although a recent Time magazine cover story suggested an end to “chore wars,”
its own data showed that married women with children still do more work at home
than their husbands, and full-time employed moms with children under age 6 spend
more hours on household chores than any other group.

Given women’s disproportionate responsibility for child-rearing amid lesser economic
opportunities, the ability to plan whether and when to have children is
critically important. As Eastman said: “Freedom of any kind is hardly worth
considering unless it is assumed that [women] will know how to control the size
of their families.”

This was a tall order in 1920, when it was a crime
simply to disseminate information about contraception. Fertility control is now
legal, but women’s reproductive freedom is under intense attack. The 2011
legislative session saw a record number of anti-choice bills introduced — and
passed into law. In just six months, state legislatures passed 80 laws to
restrict access to abortion.

State legislatures also have made deep cuts to family planning budgets, which has the
perverse result of increasing unintended pregnancies. The Hyde Amendment bans
federal Medicaid coverage of abortion, and only 15 states pay for abortion care
with their own revenue. This means that low-income women in most of the country
can have an abortion only if they can afford to pay for it out of pocket, making
the right to abortion an empty promise for millions of women.

When it comes to support for child-rearing, the United States is the only major
industrialized nation without a national policy guaranteeing paid parental
leave. While a few states and cities have taken the initiative to implement
their own policies, the vast majority of mothers (and fathers) have no right to
paid time off to care for a newborn baby. Many workers do not even have a right
to take unpaid leave, because the federal Family and Medical Leave Act applies
only to relatively long-term workers in workplaces with 50 or more employees,
leaving out small businesses, new employees and workers who have put in fewer
than 1,250 hours at that job.

With no paid leave, and discrimination against pregnant
women on the rise, women are a long way from Eastman’s vision of having
child-rearing “recognized by the world as work, requiring a definite economic
reward and not merely entitling the performer to be dependent on some
man.”

In all four areas that Eastman discussed, female suffrage has not
ushered in the wide-ranging changes that its opponents feared and its advocates
championed.

Eastman understood that work and home are inextricably bound,
that women’s freedom depends on resolving what we now call “work/family”
conflict. As long as women face a “motherhood penalty” while men benefit from a
“fatherhood bonus,” gender equality will remain out of reach. Racial
discrimination has made the path to equality that much harder for women of
color.

The real question now is, in Eastman’s words, “how to arrange the
world” so that women have “a chance to exercise their infinitely varied gifts in
infinitely varied ways, instead of being destined by the accident of their sex”
to lesser economic opportunities and heavier domestic burdens.

To do this, our institutions must become more responsive. The workplace has to change
to allow people with families to hold good jobs, and policies must change to
allow women to plan their families and to ensure that no one is left behind. In
the 90 years since winning the right to vote, women have achieved gains by
organizing in the streets and the workplace, by lobbying legislatures and
bringing lawsuits. Arranging a more just world will require a new wave of
political action at all levels, from local to national, home to
workplace.

On Aug. 26, 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of
women’s suffrage. Let’s make this the decade we create the conditions that bring
true equality.

Eve Weinbaum is director of the Labor Center and an
associate professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Rachel Roth is director of communications and foundation support at the National
Network of Abortion Funds and the author of a book on women’s
rights.


No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG -
http://www.avg.com
Version: 9.0.901 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/3859 – Release Date:
08/26/11 00:34:00

How Abortion Caused the Debt Crisis August 1, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Economic Crisis, Racism, Right Wing, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment
Roger’s note: we shouldn’t, of course, take the title of this article literally.  However, it does give us a fairly clear picture of how the manipulation of misogynist and racist hatred by the lunatic Right has advanced the objectives of the military-industrial complex (which the article does not mention  by name).  The only reservation I have about the article is that it sort of lets the Democratic Party’s complicity off the hook.
Published on Monday, August 1, 2011 by RH Reality Check

Last night, right before the fatal deadline, the U.S. Congress finally came to a deal that allows us to raise the debt ceiling, without which the federal government would basically shut down completely and start to default on its loans, creating a cascade of economic disasters.  Congress came to a deal before we had to learn those Depression-era money-saving skills (sadly, we don’t have flour sacks to make clothes from any longer).  Now it’s time to reflect on how our country has gone so far off track that we can’t even handle the basic responsibility of keeping the country from plunging into a manufactured crisis that nearly led to economic collapse.  There are multiple causes, but one that hasn’t been discussed much is abortion.

Tea Party

Yes, abortion. Or, more specifically, the sustained sex panic that has been going on in this country since the sixties and seventies, when the sexual revolution occurred and women secured their reproductive rights.  If it seems a little strange to argue that sex panic helped bring us to the verge of economic collapse, well, that’s the nature of the circuitous, ever-evolving world of politics.  But it’s sex panic that helped create the modern right-wing populist, and it’s the modern right-wing populist that created the current crisis.

Despite the recent coinage of the term “Tea Party,” what we call the Tea Party has been around under different names forever.  It’s basically right-wing populism, and has been the thorn in the side of democracies for at least the past century.  The modern form of it in the United States really formed in the sixties, in response to two major social changes: desegregation and the sexual revolution/feminism. (Yes, I realize feminism and the sexual revolution are separate things, but for the right-wing, they may as well be one thing, since it’s women’s sexual liberation that really gets them going.)  You had this huge group of socially conservative people who were wound up about these social changes, but not a lot of direction for their anger and hate.  Outside of glowering at Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King Jr., what are you supposed to do to stop widespread social change? They needed direction.

The genius of conservative leadership was that they were able to take all this anger about sexual freedom and desegregation and put the blame on two enemies: Democrats and the federal government.  Democrats were blamed for society getting “out of control” and the federal government’s role in enforcing women’s rights and desegregation made them an easy target.  Once these villains were established, all this right-wing populist anger could be pointed towards generic goals of big business Republicans.  If you hate the federal government for enforcing the Civil Rights Act, it’s easy enough to start hating them for levying taxes, especially if you can be convinced those taxes are going to welfare to pay for what you believe is immoral behavior, such as single motherhood.  If you hate the Supreme Court for Roe v. Wade, it’s easy to get you to support putting more conservative justices up there who will routinely vote for business interests.

The theory is that the Republican Party basically exploited right-wing populist anger and used it towards their economic, corporatist ends.  This is a non-controversial statement, and is the thesis behind Thomas Frank’s famous book What’s the Matter with Kansas?, in which he wrote:

“Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically-correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.”

A lot of people, including myself, have been critical of Frank’s cynicism in this formulation, arguing that the leadership actually delivers more on right-wing populist demands than Frank gives them credit for doing.

But what we didn’t argue with was the basic premise that there’s two kinds of conservatives: right-wing populists and country club Republicans, and while liberals may not much like the latter, we at least had the reassurance that they’re not crazy.  Country club Republicans may want less regulation and lower taxes, but they don’t actually believe that federal power is illegitimate, or that liberals are motivated by Satanic forces and therefore can be treated as always wrong.  For the past few decades, the leadership of the Republican Party was able to work with Democrats on commonsense governance such as raising the debt ceiling, precisely because they didn’t believe the wild-eyed rantings from right wing talk radio about how Democrats and the federal government are pure evil.  (And the legality of abortion is example #1 in the right wing pantheon of reasons to believe the federal government is evil.)

What I think Frank and those of us who were mildly critical of him failed to grasp is the right-wing populist beast may not be within the control of the Republican Party forever, and that the populists may become a large enough group of people that they could take over the party and make their obsessions—the evils of sexual liberation, the end of the federal government as we know it—the actual priorities of the Republican Party. They very nearly brought a real end to our country as we know it, defying what what Wall Street wanted, and a major reason is that the populist caucus in the party is more interested in ideological purity than doing simply following the lead of Wall Street.

I suppose it should have been easy enough to see coming: for decades, a constant stream of propaganda about the evils of federal power, abortion rights, affirmative action, social spending, multi-culturalism, gay rights and other right wing bogeymen has energized the base to keep voting and giving money and running for office.  At a certain point, the populists would have enough power to change the rules of the game.  This crisis was averted, but we should not forget the important lesson learned here.  The constant feeding of the paranoid, sexually and racially panicked right wing extremist imagination does not come without consequences.  In the past, the mainstream media could downplay this because the major victims didn’t have a lot of privilege or power. But increasingly, it looks like the victims could be all of us.

<!–

–>

Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte blogs every day at Pandagon.net, and contributes a weekly podcast to RH Reality Check. She lives in Austin, TX with her two cats, boyfriend, and environmentally correct commuter bicycle.

One Year Later: Honoring Dr. George Tiller May 25, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment
Published on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 by Huffington Postby Nancy Keenan

We are days away from marking the one-year anniversary of the Sunday morning Scott Roeder walked into Dr. George Tiller’s church in Kansas and shot him at close range.

After his murder, many women and men came to our blog to express their appreciation for what Dr. Tiller had done for their sisters, wives, relatives, and friends. Many of these women had found themselves in desperate and heart-breaking circumstances and turned to Dr. Tiller in their time of need.

Karen from Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania gives us one example of what Dr. Tiller meant to women:

Dr. Tiller, you saved my niece Jeanette’s life, you helped our family through one of the darkest, most desperate and unthinkable moments we ever experienced. When we thought there was no where to turn, there you were. I called you the ‘Wizard,’ because of the incredible journey we had taken to find you, in Kansas. You are, and will always be my Hero.

It makes me angry when I think about how Roeder sat through his trial without showing any remorse for his actions. He reached new lows of callousness and disrespect for the Tiller family and for families like Karen’s. It’s equally infuriating that the same people who spent years harassing Dr. Tiller and his patients outside his health center showed no remorse. They rejected the notion that their pattern of inflammatory rhetoric could lead to violence by the more extreme elements of their own anti-choice movement.

We didn’t have to wait long for the intimidation to resume. Less than four months after Dr. Tiller’s murder, the members of the notorious Operation Rescue picked up their signs and bullhorns and moved 328 miles north to Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Tiller’s murder didn’t change their tactics; they just changed their mailing address — and their target.

They took aim at Dr. LeRoy Carhart, who is one of the few abortion providers to whom women in heart-breaking circumstances can turn. Many of these women have wanted and cherished pregnancies but something goes wrong, such as a fetal anomaly or a condition that threatens their life or health. These circumstances are of no interest to Operation Rescue. Their goal is to close his clinic, too.

I am proud to report that pro-choice Americans in the heartland sent a strong message to Operation Rescue. On the day of Operation Rescue’s protest, pro-choice activists outnumbered their protesters two to one.

Unfortunately, our numbers weren’t as strong when it came to the Nebraska Legislature, where anti-choice lawmakers hold an overwhelming advantage. What Operation Rescue couldn’t achieve through violence and harassment, anti-choice politicians in Nebraska made possible through legislation. Just this spring, the state enacted a divisive and invasive anti-choice law aimed directly at threatening Dr. Carhart and the women he serves.

In a further sign of disrespect for women, the National Right to Life Committee’s Mary Spaulding Balch told Politico how her group capitalized on tragedy for political gain:

When George Tiller was killed, LeRoy Carhart had national attention…That alerted Speaker Mike Flood to the problem in Nebraska and he worked to address that.

An anti-choice operative’s callous words that reduce women in tragic situations to pawns in a political game are outrageous — and we cannot let them go unchecked.

As we mark the one-year anniversary of Dr. Tiller’s murder, those of us in America’s pro-choice majority must be vigilant about telling our friends and family that what happened in Kansas was not an isolated incident. It is a part of an ongoing campaign of threats — in legislative chambers and outside abortion providers’ offices and homes — to make it more difficult and dangerous for women to access abortion care.

Frankly, we cannot control anti-choice lawmakers or Operation Rescue, but we can call out their outrageous statements and aggressive tactics.

We can take inspiration from the pro-choice activists who stared down anti-choice demonstrators in Omaha. Not all of us can go to Nebraska, but we can join others in sending messages of support to Dr. Carhart. We can share our reasons for being pro-choice and standing up for women with friends and family. We can pledge to only vote for pro-choice candidates at all levels of government, so that groups like the National Right to Life Committee can’t coerce their followers into attacking women through the legislative process.

We can — and will, I have no doubt — pay tribute to Dr. Tiller, his family, and the women he served by speaking openly and honestly about our pro-choice values.

As we speak out, let’s always remember to use the two powerful words that guided Dr. Tiller’s work: Trust Women.

© 2010 Huffington Post

Nancy Keenan began her tenure as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America in December 2004. Committed to working on behalf of America’s pro-choice majority, Nancy took the reigns of the organization pledging to protect and defend the American values of freedom, privacy and personal responsibility.

Abortion Foes Capitalize on Health Care Law May 16, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Women.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment
(Roger’s note: thank you, again, President Obama, for your progressive health care legislation.)
Published on Sunday, May 16, 2010 by The Associated Pressby Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

Abortion opponents fought passage of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul to the bitter end, and now that it’s the law, they’re using it to limit coverage by private insurers.

[ Gerald Herbert / AP  FILE - In this March 21, 2010, file photo President Barack Obama speaks to the nation following the final vote in the House of Representatives for comprehensive health care legislation in the East Room of the White House. Obama and Democratic House leaders resolved a dispute over abortion earlier that Sunday, securing crucial support from a handful of lawmakers.]
Gerald Herbert / APFILE – In this March 21, 2010, file photo President Barack Obama speaks to the nation following the final vote in the House of Representatives for comprehensive health care legislation in the East Room of the White House. Obama and Democratic House leaders resolved a dispute over abortion earlier that Sunday, securing crucial support from a handful of lawmakers.

An obscure part of the law allows states to restrict abortion coverage by private plans operating in new insurance markets. Capitalizing on that language, abortion foes have succeeded in passing bans that, in some cases, go beyond federal statutes. 

“We don’t consider elective abortion to be health care, so we don’t think it’s a bad thing for fewer private insurance companies to cover it,” said Mary Harned, attorney for Americans United for Life, a national organization that wrote a model law for the states.

Abortion rights supporters are dismayed.

“Implementation of this reform should be about increasing access to health care and increasing choices, not taking them away,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate leadership. “Health care reform is not an excuse to take rights away from women.”

Since Obama signed the legislation law March 23, Arizona and Tennessee have enacted laws restricting abortion coverage by health plans in new insurance markets, called exchanges. About 30 million people will get their coverage through exchanges, which open in 2014 to serve individuals and small businesses.

In Florida, Mississippi and Missouri, lawmakers have passed bans and sent them to their governors. Most of the states allow exceptions in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. Insurers still could offer separate policies to specifically cover abortion.

Three other states may act this year – Louisiana, Ohio and Oklahoma. Overall, there are 29 states where lawmakers or public policy groups expressed serious interest, Harned said.

“You are going to see more actions like this,” said Tom McClusky, a lobbyist for the socially conservative Family Research Council. “This is not something we are just going to let fall by the wayside.”

Before the overhaul became law, five states had limits on private insurance coverage of abortion – Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Abortion rights supporters are concerned that the list is growing as a result of the new federal law.

Murray had joined in voting down a federal abortion coverage ban when the Senate debated health care last year. Now she and other abortion rights supporters worry the same sorts of restrictions could spread from state to state.

“It’s really going to be a patchwork of state laws by the time these exchanges are set up,” said Jessica Arons, director of women’s health at the Center for American Progress, a liberal public policy institute.

Most private health insurance plans cover abortion as a legal medical procedure, but research indicates many women opt to pay directly.

The federal law allows private insurance plans in the exchanges to cover abortion as long as they collect a separate premium. That money must remain apart from public subsidies available to help pay insurance premiums for most customers in the exchanges.

That compromise split abortion foes in Congress and around the country. Anti-abortion organizations including National Right to Life and the U.S. Catholic bishops called it a fig leaf, and continued to oppose the legislation. But Catholic hospitals and many religious orders of nuns supported it.

Abortion rights supporters were cool to the compromise, but it broke a political deadlock threatening the bill.

Anti-abortion Democrats in the House cast critical votes for the legislation after Obama also agreed to an executive order affirming long-standing federal policy against the use of taxpayer funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother – known as the Hyde amendment.

Tennessee already has enacted a far stricter ban, with no exceptions. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who allowed it to become law without his signature, said in a statement it “creates a prohibition much broader than that found in current law and could unintentionally negatively impact the quality of health care options for Tennesseans.”

All eyes are now on Florida, where Gov. Charlie Crist will decide soon whether to sign a bill that restricts abortion coverage in that state’s insurance exchange. Florida is a politically diverse state, not known as a bedrock of social conservatism. Crist is running for the U.S. Senate as an independent, after it became clear that he would lose the Republican primary to former state Rep. Marco Rubio.

Crist, who opposes abortion, has indicated he has problems with a part of the bill that would require a woman seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of the embryo.

“Florida has always been pretty much of a middle-of-the road state,” said Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in the state. “If Florida passes it, it really open up more moderate states to passing these bans.”

Conservatives say they won’t forgive a Crist veto. “You can count him as done if he vetoes this bill before him now,” said McClusky of the Family Research Council.

© 2010 The Associated Press

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 215 other followers