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Trump Unveils ‘Vicious’ Women’s Health Restrictions During ‘Women’s Health Week’ May 21, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Revolution, Right Wing, Trump, Uncategorized, Women.
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Roger’s note:

It is going to be a very very very bad 4 or 8 years.  Very bad.  Whether Trump hangs in or is replaced by Pence, the policies of this Republican Panzer Brigade are going to create death and suffering, not only in the United States, but around the globe.  The most immediate pain is being felt by Latin American refugees (many of whom have been in the States for decades), who are being rounded up and deported back to bloody homelands.  Health care for women, the elderly and others most vulnerable is in grave danger.  Environmental protections and public education are going down the drain.   The Southern bigot Attorney General is giving the prison industrial complex a shot in the arm and revving up the so-called War on Drugs, which is actually a war on the poor, Blacks and other minorities.  Workers will earn less as the rich pay fewer taxes and enjoy the fruits of deregulation.  I could go on.

All this while the political classes and the mainstream media obsess on Trumps ties to Russia.

As we will see from the article below. the mean-spirited neo-Fascist Republican Party, in control of all three branches of government, is not satisfied with attacking women’s access to safe abortions in the United States, is casting its deathly net in the four corners of the world.

TrumpGlobalGag-NoAbortionBan-©-Lauryn-Gutierrez-2017.3.8_3539-740x525“President Trump’s expansion of the Global Gag Rule is a major assault on those who serve the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women,” CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement.
Lauryn Gutierrez / Rewire

“This policy does not protect life. It jeopardizes the lives of countless women by withholding critical information and access to the full range of reproductive health care,” said Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

May 18, 2017,  Christine Grimaldi, http://www.rewire.news

The newly released details of President Trump’s expanded “global gag rule” have lived up to advocates’ dire expectations.

Sec. Rex Tillerson’s U.S. Department of State on Monday approved the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” plan, which prohibits all global health assistance, not just family planning funding, from organizations that provide abortion care abroad with their own funds. Under the new framework, the State Department, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Defense are subject to the restrictions with narrow exceptions for their humanitarian assistance efforts.

The guidelines effectively hamstring $8.8 billion—“nearly 15 times as large as the George W. Bush-era Global Gag Rule,” according to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

“President Trump’s expansion of the Global Gag Rule is a major assault on those who serve the world’s poorest and most vulnerable women,” CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said in a statement.

“This policy does not protect life. It jeopardizes the lives of countless women by withholding critical information and access to the full range of reproductive health care.”

Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), warned in January that a Trump gag rule has no place in 2017.

“Our worst fears came to light on Monday,” Sippel said in a phone interview.

“This is not based in evidence, it’s not based in global health.”

Historically, the global gag rule is associated with an increase in abortions. Stanford University researchers in 2011 found that abortion rates spiked in 20 sub-Saharan African countries under the George W. Bush version.

Trump initially signed the executive order reinstating and expanding the global gag rule in a photo op that featured only white men. That the administration gave an exclusive on the guidelines to a conservative Christian news site during Women’s Health Week only widened the gulf between words and actions in an administration that pays lip service to so-called women’s rights while actively undermining them.

The timing did not go unnoticed on Capitol Hill.

“The Trump Administration’s new, expanded global gag rule will undermine global health efforts and the reproductive freedom and economic security of women worldwide—and it makes President Trump’s blatantly false statement about concern for women’s health, issued just one day ago, all the more insulting and ridiculous,” Sen. Patty Murray (WA), the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said in a statement.

The lead sponsors of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives called on Congress to pass the permanent repeal of the “vicious, anti-woman policy.”

“President Trump has shown he cannot be trusted to lead in the global fight for women’s human rights and dignity,” Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel, and Louise Slaughter—Democrats from New York—said in a statement with California Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee.

The full breadth of the consequences is still emerging.

Outlets have reported that the new rule could jeopardize funding for groups working to combat the Zika virus. Trump didn’t even spare George W. Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Bush’s global gag rule had exempted PEPFAR, Slate’s Michelle Goldberg reported, “because it was widely understood that the program couldn’t meet its prevention and treatment targets otherwise … although applying the global gag rule to PEPFAR’s programs ill affects millions of men as well.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, slammed “another reckless move by the Trump Administration designed to cynically please his extremist base without regard for consequences.”

“This egregious expansion puts millions more lives at risk, including those living with HIV and AIDS,” HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof said in a statement. “Withholding U.S. aid as a tool to limit anyone’s access to health is simply un-American and stands in direct opposition to our country’s role as a global leader for democracy and human rights.”

Sippel urged people to contact their lawmakers in support of the HER Act or comparable measures.

“We have data and evidence today that we did not have in 2001, the last time this came into place,” Sippel said. “I think we can get members of Congress to move on this if they’re presented with the evidence.”

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Anti-Choice Activists Flank Trump as He Delivers Final Blow to Family Planning Safeguards April 15, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Poverty, Race, Right Wing, Sexuality, Trump, Uncategorized, Women.
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Roger’s note: in addition to its radically increasing war making and killing abroad, and its dismantling of environmental protections, the Trump presidency is creating untold harm domestically, and, naturally, to those most vulnerable: immigrants, refugees, poor people, racial minorities, women, children, seniors, etc.  This is an unmitigated disaster.

Withdrawing the rule hinders the ability of four million Title X patients, including 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients, to access quality, affordable health care.

Apr 13, 2017, Christine Grimaldi, rewire.news

President Trump on Thursday signed off on congressional Republicans’ push to shred family planning safeguards enacted under the Obama administration.

With the stroke of his pen, Trump officially withdrew an Obama-era rule intended to stop state-level interference in federal funding for family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood affiliates—the real target of the GOP’s ire over the fact that the health-care organization provides abortion care with its own funds. Withdrawing the rule, however, hinders the ability of four million Title X patients, including 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients, to access quality, affordable health care.

Doing so disproportionately impacts people of color. Of the four million Title X patients in 2015, 30 percent self-identified as Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or American Indian or Alaska Native; 32 percent self-identified as Hispanic or Latino; and 13 percent had limited English proficiency.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate wielded an arcane procedural tool known as the Congressional Review Act to undo the Title X rule and other key regulations enacted in the last six months of Obama’s presidency. Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to send the resolution of disapproval (HJ Res. 43) targeting the rule to the president’s desk over the objections of Democrats in the chamber.

Trump signed the bill with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), the sponsor of the resolution of disapproval, by his side, according to a White House pool report and an Instagram post from Concerned Women for America President Penny Young Nance. Anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser was pictured in another photo with Black and Nance at the White House and also witnessed the signing, per the pool report. The press was not allowed to watch Trump sign the bill.

Rewire‘s Ally Boguhn reported this week on how White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s connections have given anti-choice groups “ready access” to Trump.

Eliminating Title X protections represents the GOP’s latest strike to women’s health-care services that transgender and gender nonconforming people rely on too.

Trump expanded the global gag rule prohibiting foreign nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, that receive U.S. family planning aid from providing abortion care or information about the medical procedure using their own funds. And Trump picked up on congressional Republicans’ failed quest to repeal Obamacare, preparing a regulatory war against women’s health-care benefits and a thousand cuts to benefits for vulnerable populations, specifically transgender people, pregnant people, and those with low incomes.

“We should build on the tremendous progress made in this country with expanded access to birth control, instead of enacting policies that take us backward,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “Too many women still face barriers to health care, especially young women, women of color, those who live in rural areas, and women with low incomes.”

Republican Diversity: they are wearing different colored ties March 24, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Trump, Uncategorized, Women.
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Roger’s note: the astute observer will discover an interesting omission from an important meeting.

Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to the Freedom Caucus, a group of far-right Congressmen, to stir up support for President Trump’s new health care bill on Thursday.

The new bill would involve quite a few concessions, such as some basic health care services, drug and mental health treatment, wellness checkups, ambulances and maternity and newborn care.

Social media users noticed something off about the photo of the men who met to discuss these massive changes that could take place, mostly effecting women.

C7n2dJAX0AEoeXX

There is something wrong with this picture.  If you look really hard, you might be able to detect it:

C7oKS3kVUAAzl0X

Momentum Builds for Reforming El Salvador’s Abortion Ban March 14, 2017

Posted by rogerhollander in El Salvador, Health, Hillary Clinton, Latin America, Uncategorized, Women.
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Roger’s note: El Salvador has what may be the most repressive abortion laws in the Western world.  There are cases of young women jailed for years because of a miscarriage.  It is barbaric.  And no one is more responsible for such barbarism than the Catholic Church.  When I read that abortion is a sin, that there are campaigns to totally eradicate abortion in the struggle for good over evil, it takes me back to the Dark Ages.  Such attitudes and laws reflect inhuman religious ideology in the service of patriarchy. It has been said jokingly, but I believe it literally, if men could have babies then abortion would be a sacrament.

The movement to decriminalize abortion in El Salvador described in the article below, if successful, would only eliminate the most Draconian elements of the anti-abortion legislation (abortion in the case of rape, for example); but there still would be a long way to go to reach the ideal of abortion being solely a matter between a woman and her physician.

Mar 10, 2017, Kathy Bougher, rewire news

“Is it the will of a compassionate God to mandate that young girls who have been raped carry to term resulting pregnancies?” asked theologian María Lopez Vigil at a talk organized by advocates. 

In 1997, the legislature in El Salvador was considering a vote to criminalize abortion under all circumstances. Morena Herrera, a feminist activist, “was facing the legislature, alone, trying to defend and justify why they should not change the law,” recalled Mariana Moisa, communications director at the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto.

“They were transmitting live, and they shut off her microphone,” Moisa recalled.

The Salvadoran Legislative Assembly went on to ban abortion in all circumstances. In addition to making abortion illegal no matter what, this unjust law has been misapplied in cases of obstetric emergencies or miscarriages—leading to the imprisonment of dozens of women in the country because of pregnancy complications.

Now, however, the legislature is considering a bill from Vice President of the Legislative Assembly Lorena Peña that would decriminalize abortion in cases of rape or human trafficking, fetal non-viability, or to preserve the pregnant person’s health or life. It would also legalize abortion when the pregnancy results from rape or statutory rape of a minor, with the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian. Although it would not necessarily shield women from prosecution when the law is misapplied, it effectively returns the law to its pre-1997 state.

On February 27, the legislature’s Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Points, where the bill is being heard, convened a first-ever public hearing on abortion in response to the unexpected number of requests they received to present testimony. Twelve out of the seventeen organizations and individuals who testified spoke in support of decriminalization, including nationally and internationally recognized professionals in public health and law, representatives from two progressive Protestant churches, and a variety of activists.

Marcela Zamora, a well-known Salvadoran filmmaker, shared her recently published essay, “I Aborted,” a rare public statement in El Salvador. She recounted how more than ten years earlier, while living in a country that allowed abortion, she experienced a pregnancy with complications that threatened her life. Although she was able to obtain an abortion, she questioned what would have happened to her if she had been in El Salvador at that time.

Moisa said she was struck by the contrast with the tenor of the hearing in 1997. “This time, in 2017, they invited us to the legislature, and our voices were heard. They made clear that the discussion would be based on scientific and legal information. Morena was there again, [this time] with a whole panorama of diverse voices who stood up alongside her to express their support for a possible reform,” she remembered.

This change didn’t come out of nowhere. Activists on the ground have been working for two decades to engage allies and elected officials on this issue—and in the last few months, that momentum has ramped up on a number of fronts.

Abortion as a Health Issue

Those speaking out in favor of the bill are, for the most part, concentrating on the exceptions to the ban it enshrines into law.

At a January forum organized by the Alliance for the Life and Health of Women—a coalition in which the Agrupación is a key player—members of the medical profession provided the medical and scientific justifications for the proposed change to the law.

Gynecologist Guillermo Ortiz, currently a senior adviser for Ipas and formerly chief of obstetrics at the Women’s Hospital in El Salvador, said that physicians who support the proposal for reform “are in favor of saving lives. But there are conditions that make [abortion] necessary, and we are talking about those situations so that exceptions can exist within the law.”

As part of that convening of medical experts, seven nationally and internationally recognized OB-GYNs signed off on a memo to the Committee on Legislation and Constitutional Points. The memo, viewed by Rewire, says the society must “generate legal instruments that guarantee protection for [patients’] lives,” in at least the four cases defined in the proposed reform.

The memo cited the Ethics Committee of the International Federation of Gynecologists and Obstetricians: “There exists a broad consensus … that abortion is ethically justifiable when it is carried out for medical reasons to protect the life and health” of the pregnant person.

“It is fundamental to remember that the global experience shows that the frequency of abortion does not depend on legislation and that the rates of abortion do not increase with more liberal legislation,” the memo continued. “To the contrary, they can diminish, if at the same time other measures are adopted,” such as information and free access to highly effective contraception.

As part of its scrutiny of the proposal, the legislature had requested an opinion from the El Salvador Health Ministry.

In a February 21 symposium on health and bioethics organized by the ministry, El Salvador Minister of Health Dr. Violeta Menjivar responded, “As the Ministry of Health, we consider it appropriate that the legislature and society together participate in a reflection and deliberation on the harm the absolute prohibition on abortion causes to the health of Salvadoran women.”

She supported the move to reform the law, noting that the United Nations had made a request in January 2015 that El Salvador repeal its broad criminalization of abortion under all circumstances.

At the February 27 hearing, Sofia Villalta, a nationally recognized gynecologist with more than 40 years of professional experience, testified on the causes of unwanted pregnancies and emphasized the underlying role of the “subordination of women to masculine power.” She cited a study within the Salvadoran society of gynecologists which showed that 80 percent of them want to return to the prior legislation allowing abortion.

The Consequences of Criminalization

At the February 21 forum organized by the Ministry of Health, Dr. Virginia Rodriguez of the National Committee on Bioethics in El Salvador posed the question, “If a woman has rights from conception, at what point does she lose her rights? When do the rights of the fetus in development take priority over her rights to life?”

Rodriguez was referencing a February 15 decision from the El Salvador Supreme Court, when it ruled on a 2007 case involving conflicting laws over when life begins and when the State must protect that life.

Although the Court agreed that the the El Salvador Constitution declares life as beginning at “conception,” it said “it is necessary to weigh each case.” It also stated that the idea of fetal rights does not “claim a duty of absolute and unconditional protection of life in gestation.”

Alberto Romero of the Agrupación Ciudadana and the Movement for Secular Culture wrote in a booklet published by the Salvadoran Foundation for the Study of the Application of Law, FESPAD, that the Court’s decision “permits a resolution of the vacuum that exists in the current legislation, which does not establish legal mechanisms to resolve the collision of rights that takes place between the [fetus] and the woman who is pregnant.”

On the day of the hearing, the nine-member National Committee on Bioethics in El Salvador—which also includes Morena Herrera and Margarita Rivas of the Agrupación—published a paid ad in La Prensa Gráfica, noting the ways in which existing law infringes on the rights of pregnant people and women in general.

The ad stated that the existing law promotes gender discrimination against women; prevents women with high-risk pregnancies or obstetric complications from accessing medical treatment in accordance with existing scientific knowledge; and has provoked cases of discrimination against women within the justice system based on economic conditions, effectively criminalizing poverty.

The law has also, the committee said, generated legal conflicts whereby physicians’ responsibilities to protect doctor-patient confidentiality conflict with their mandates under the anti-abortion laws. Overall, the ad said, the broad criminalization of abortion violates the rights of pregnant people by treating their constitutional rights as equal to or subordinate to those of the fetus.

Responding to Questions of Faith

The Alliance for the Life and Health of Women also organized a series of events from February 17 through 21 to address the realities and contradictions around religion in El Salvador.

“The Alliance knew it was important to address religious concerns in a society as deeply religious as El Salvador, where almost 99 percent of the population professes a belief in God and about 91 percent belong to a religion,” said Romero, who researches secularism and social issues in El Salvador.

“For many people, both legislators and citizens in general, it’s difficult to reconcile [many religions’] mandate against abortion with the rational arguments for permitting it. It’s important to present a variety of interpretations that do not condemn and criminalize abortion,” he said.

Advocates noted that different religions take varied stances on abortion. “The Anglican Church here in El Salvador talks about abortion not being a theological issue, but a pastoral one of accompaniment of women,” said Alejandra Burgos, a member of the Agrupación and a progressive feminist theologian.

Indeed, during the February 27 hearing, Martin Barahona of the Anglican Church in El Salvador explained that “in this case the Anglican bishops consider that the only people who have the right to decide are the women who are pregnant.”

“Even Pope Francis, who maintains that abortion is a sin, mandates priests to have compassion and accompany women,” Burgos pointed out.

“It’s necessary in this society to provide alternatives to people who are living with these contradictions; to show that a religious believer can also support the right [to] interrupt a pregnancy,” she concluded.

In one talk, María Lopez Vigil, a Cuban-Nicaraguan theologian, author, and editor of the progressive Nicaraguan magazine Envio, proposed looking at abortion in a broader perspective, considering the realities of the country.

“Consider the commandment ‘do not kill’ with situational ethics. There is nothing more abortive than poverty,” she said.

In arguing for a compassionate, merciful view of God, she asked the audience of more than 300—many of whom had not attended Alliance events in the past—if it was “the will of a compassionate God that women suffer and die for ‘not having enough faith’ when they experience obstetric emergencies? Is it the will of a compassionate God to mandate that young girls who have been raped carry to term resulting pregnancies?”

She challenged structural injustices and spoke of “abortive societies,” in which countries obligate pregnant girls and adolescents to give birth, but after the birth do nothing to help them support and raise their children. That, she said, is a “structural sin.”

What’s Next?

Responses to the campaign for decriminalization are diverse.

After the various hearings and forums, Legislative Representative Juan Valiente of the right-wing ARENA party spoke on a TV talk show supporting debate on the reform, going against his party’s stance.

In addition, he tweeted, “I’m against abortion, but I recognize that there is a collision of rights and it’s important to investigate and debate. I’m not afraid.” And to another constituent opposed to decriminalization, he posted, “I prefer to lose your vote than my conscience.”

Even with these sea changes in some public opinions and attitudes, there is still strong religious opposition.

A group of Catholic churches initiated “40 days of prayer” leading up to Easter Sunday with the goal of “ending abortion in the world and in the country” in a war “between good and bad.” Regarding the Ministry of Health position, prayer campaign leader Karla de Lacayo told La Prensa Gráfica, “it’s a lie” that women’s lives are at risk.

“With [medical] advances now, there is no way the woman is going to die. And, if it’s true, if the child dies in the process, then that’s what God wanted,” de Lacayo said.

In the legislature itself, there remains the fact that supporters of the reform must form coalitions in order to get the majority vote necessary to first pass the measure out of committee, and then win a majority of votes in the full body. Neither the right-wing ARENA party nor the left-leaning FMLN has a numerical majority in the committee or the full legislature.

Supporters hope for a positive resolution in the next few weeks, before the next election cycle gets underway. At that point, they say, chances of any substantive vote on any matter disappear.

As Sara Garcia, coordinator for the Agrupación, told Rewire, “This is a historic moment. International organizations such as the UN are speaking out. More and more social movements are making pronouncements. Professional medical organizations and the universities declare their support.”

“The government can’t keep ignoring the realities of women in this country,” she said.

Stop the covert attempt to criminalize abortion September 20, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Health, Women.
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I just signed on to this urgent campaign to defend women’s reproductive
rights in Canada. This is an important issue and I hope you’ll join me:

http://www.leadnow.ca/defend-our-reproductive-rights

In
just 48 hours, our MPs will debate a Conservative motion that the Canadian
Medical Association, representing 70,000 doctors, is calling a backdoor attempt
to criminalize abortion.

In 1988, the Supreme Court of
Canada ruled that the abortion provision of the Criminal Code was
unconstitutional.
But this week, Parliament will be debating a motion
that would threaten our reproductive rights – and the rights of our friends,
daughters, mothers, sisters, and partners.

Prime Minister Harper has
chosen to allow this motion to go forward to a free vote in Parliament, so every
MP must decide whether or not they will stand up for the rights that women and
our allies have been fighting to protect for decades.

We need a
huge public outcry to show our MPs that Canadians will not tolerate this attack
on women’s rights. Please click here to send an urgent message to your MP to
defeat Motion-312 now – then forward this to
everyone.

http://www.leadnow.ca/defend-our-reproductive-rights

Thank
you,

Roger Hollander

Sponsor A Uterus In Need, and Save An American Woman From Herself May 27, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Humor, Women.
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05.25.12 – 12:26 AMby Abby Zimet, www.commondreams.org
 

Because women today are faced with so many choices, it’s safe to assume most of the decisions they make will be wrong. Coming to their rescue is a new program to sponsor a uterus in need. Act now, and you’ll get a kit including the uterus’ photo, biography and information about “the woman who happens to surround it.” Brought to you by some funny people.

From comments on the program: “I’d like to sponsor a uterus but I’m easily distracted by other things…Can I arrange to have the uterus put down if I lose interest?”

 

 

 

Hungarian Dr. Agnes Gereb to go to jail for helping with home births March 27, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Health, Hungary, Women.
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ROGER’S NOTE: PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS ARTICLE.

Published On Mon Mar 26 2012, www.thestar.com

 

Hungarian physician and midwife Dr. Agnes Gereb in court during her malpractice trial in Budapest, Hungary. She begins serving a jail term in May.Hungarian physician and midwife Dr. Agnes Gereb in court during her malpractice trial in Budapest, Hungary. She begins serving a jail term in May.

Bela Szandelszky/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Image

By Catherine PorterColumnist
Dr. Agnes Gereb is a Hungarian physician and midwife. In May, she’s heading to jail for attending a home birth.

In Hungary, it is legal for women to give birth at home. But any medical professional who helps those women — such as midwives — can be criminally charged.

So women there have two state-sanctioned options: go to the hospital, where Caesarian section rates are frighteningly high, or give birth alone at home like a dog.

Until recently, Gereb offered a third option.

She was an obstetrician-gynecologist who around two decades ago started attending births at women’s homes. She got licensed as a midwife. She opened her own birthing centre. She became famous.

But like spurned family members, the state’s obstetrician-gynecologists hate her. Despite mounting international studies documenting the contrary, they stubbornly maintain that homebirths attended by trained midwives are not safe.

The ob-gyns make good tips from hospital births, Gereb’s supporters point out. Understandably, they aren’t keen to forfeit that.

Most of them, unlike Gereb and her midwife colleagues, are men.

So they, and the police, hounded Gereb.

“We had to hide Agi away when the ambulance came,” Donal Kerry told me over Skype from Hungary, recounting his wife Mirtill’s first homebirth. The baby arrived healthy, the placenta did not follow. It was Gereb who made the call. “The ambulance drivers often call the police on her.”

Last year, she was found guilty of “endangering life in the conduct of her professional work” and sentenced to two years of prison. The court suspended her medical and midwifery licenses for five years. This year, the court of appeal doubled that suspension.

The judge, though, would admit the expert testimony of Hungarian doctors only. So international midwifery experts like Californian Elizabeth Davis were turned away.

“This is exactly what happened in California in the 1980s,” says Davis, a founding member of the Midwives Alliance of North America who had asked to appear in the Hungarian court as an international midwifery expert. “Midwives were arrested. The cost of defending them and the time kept us from professionally developing or doing any public outreach for years. It was not accidental — it’s a harassment strategy repeated over and over in many countries of the world.”

At the centre of Gereb’s case were two babies who had died — one soon after birth, the other months later. Had she delivered them in hospital as an obstetrician-gynecologist, she might have had to answer to the local Hungarian college of physicians. But in Hungary, there is no overseeing college for midwives.

Instead, they appear before the criminal courts and are thrown to the hounds.

Giving birth is when we women are at our most vulnerable. Our bodies cleave in half; we are often frightened.

We deserve to give birth wherever we feel safe — in a hospital, if we want, or at home, with a trained midwife. It’s a fundamental human right.

Last year, after being pushed by the European Court of Human Rights, the Hungarian government agreed to let midwives attend home births, but only if they were close to a hospital and had a special licence. So far, no licences have been issued, Gereb’s supporters tell me.

Meanwhile, last week the Ontario government announced it will open two birthing centres staffed by midwives — giving women here another option.

We are so lucky.

The women of Hungary are not.

I just signed the petition asking Hungarian Prime Minister Pal Schmitt to pardon Gereb.

You should too: www.change.org/petitions/please-grant-full-clemency-to-dr-midwife-agnes-gereb.

Catherine Porter’s column usually appears on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. She can be reached at cporter@thestar.ca

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.
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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?

 

Hi Senator, Just A Quick Hello To Let You Know I’m Currently Ovulating March 20, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Health, Right Wing, Women.
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03.20.12 – 11:13 AM

by Abby Zimet

With Virginia Republican – and avid supporter of the state’s personhood and ultrasound bills – Ryan McDougle so psyched to get all up into the lady parts of his constituents, they generously obliged him by taking to his Facebook page with to offer detailed reports on their menstrual cycles, cramping and vaginal discharge. His office tried to delete them; too late.

“Senator McDougle, I am almost 49 and STILL menstruating with no sign of slowing down! Frankly, I’ve had enough of this inconvenience – the cost of pads and pain reliever and all the mess – well YOU know how it is. You’re an expert on this lady stuff.”

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

Posted by rogerhollander in Health, History, Religion, Right Wing, Women.
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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