Category Archives: reproductive rights

Regrets Of An Anti-Abortion Activist

I’ve been thinking for a while that the Trump presidency will be the final death of Evangelical Christianity as we know it. I’ve said for years that politics corrupts religion, and Evangelicals’ gross distortion of Scripture to match its politics has resulted in some truly hilarious moments. Anyone remember Andy Schlafly’s “Conservative Bible Project”? Or Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips’ wish to disband the United Methodist Church, a denomination with some 12 million members?

Anyway, I stumbled across this fascinating interview with Evangelical minister Rob Schenck, “once a militant leader of the anti-abortion movement, blockading access to clinics to prevent doctors and patients from entering,” who now disavows his militancy and believes abortion should be a personal choice.

It’s a fascinating interview with lots of good insight. One of the most pointed reflections is how those involved in movements like this lose sight of the mission’s original goal:

This became more about us, about me, about our need to win, to win the argument, to win on legislation, to win in the courts.

And, I’d add, the need to “win” some relevancy in an increasingly secular culture.

Of course, the pro-choice movement has been saying this forever. If you really care about stopping abortion, then you know legally banning abortion doesn’t do that. Instead, you will embrace policies that support women and families. You will favor policies like universal healthcare, paid family leave, affordable day care, etc. Because the problem is that abortion is an economic issue, not a moral one. Anti-choicers have had this one wrong forever. They think it’s about sluts wanting to have sex without consequences.

Being so “pro-life” that you murder abortion providers is the gross, inevitable conclusion to this distorted view. Pastor Schenck says,

I will tell you that my acceptance of that responsibility had to come only after a long period of reflective prayer, of listening deeply to those who were gravely affected by those murders, in therapy with my own — I will be careful to say — Christian therapist, who helped me come to terms with what really happened and how I may have contributed to those acts of violence through my rhetoric, and eventually in a confrontation, a very loving one but nonetheless an encounter, a very strong, very powerful encounter, with the relative of one of the doctors shot and stabbed. … And it was … actually at a Passover Seder table when I was confronted very gently and very lovingly by a relative who happened to be a rabbi of that one abortion provider. In that moment, I realized my own culpability in those in those terrible, terrible events.

BTW, this is the second time I’ve written about Rob Schenck. The first time was when he was opposing Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court because, of course, Obama. I feel like we’ve come full circle.


Filed under abortion, religion, religious right, reproductive rights

“Pro-Lifers” Gave Us Kermit Gosnell

Republicans like Rep. Marsha Blackburn might want to be careful about invoking the name of notorious Pennsylvania butcher Dr. Kermit Gosnell as they push to restrict access to abortion.

Beside the fact that it defies logic — what Gosnell did was illegal, DUH, that’s why he was put on trial and is now in jail, dumbasses — a brief look at his practice shows his clientele was driven to him by the very anti-choice, anti-woman policies that the Marsha Blackburns of this country keep clamoring for.

I direct you to the BBC World Service, which today did an in-depth radio documentary on the Gosnell case, and which I recommend you hear, graphic details and all. I transcribed a few pertinent excerpts:

“It wasn’t the cleanest place … the rooms were small, it was dimly lit. It just didn’t seem like a kind of medical situation you would want to be in — unless you were desperate. Because the abortions weren’t expensive. He was cheap! So that brought people that couldn’t afford to go anywhere, but to him. And that’s why they would sit down in that lobby and that waiting area for hours at a time.”

A country which lacks a functioning healthcare system that serves the reproductive needs of poor women — women who are desperate — is asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city. That is reality.

Margaret Davidson, whose cousin died after Gosnell perforated her uterus during an abortion, says he had a reputation. “He was known in the community for doing abortions, it didn’t matter what the gestation was. That you could get it done quickly, you could get it done cheaply, no questions asked.

If you are going to make women jump through medically unnecessary hoops like transvaginal ultrasounds and radically restrict the gestational date at which abortion is permitted — some states have gone to ludicrous lengths — then you are asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city. That is reality.

He says Gosnell didn’t just treat women from West Philadelphia. “There was always a group of white women who came to the clinic for a lot of the same reasons. Some of them were poor and they needed an abortion and Dr. Gosnell was there. Others were suburban teenagers that got pregnant and their parents wanted them to get an abortion and Gosnell once again was there. So he developed a reputation, not just in Philadelphia but pretty much along the East Coast as the abortion doctor of last resort.

If you are going to restrict women’s access to affordable reproductive healthcare, including birth control and abortion services, then you are asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city. That is reality.

In 2009, Karnamaya Mongar traveled up the East Coast to see Gosnell. Her story reveals just how shambolic Gosnell’s clinic was. Her family’s lawyer is Bernard Smalley.

“She was a political refugee from a country called Bhutan. She came with her husband, her two children, and her grandchild here to Northern Virginia, and found herself once she got here pregnant, and made her own decision not to carry through with the pregnancy.”

(Neal Razzell): So, explain how it is that a woman who wants an abortion in Virginia ends up getting it in Philadelphia?

“What we know is, abortion is legal in the state of Virginia. She attempted to go to a facility in Virginia and then later in D.C., and was told that they could not assist her.

(Neal Razzell): And in Washington D.C. they say the same thing?

“We can’t help you. But why don’t you go to Dr. Kermit Gosnell, we believe he can help you.”

One more time: if you are going to prevent women from having legal, safe abortions, a large number of them are going to seek out an unsafe alternative. And yes, you are asking for a Kermit Gosnell in every city in America. That is reality.

I have no idea what Virginia and D.C. clinics Karnamaya Mongar went to, or why she was denied services and sent to Gosnell. I have to wonder if she’d mistakenly gone to one of those Christian “crisis pregnancy centers” which routinely lie to their clients.

Kermit Gosnell is the inevitable result of these anti-choice policies. It’s not like we don’t have history to prove this is true. Prior to 1973, the country was filled with Kermit Gosnells, preying on the desperate and poor who were denied a choice.

How utterly, completely, positively predictable that following decades of chipping away at abortion rights, Kermit Gosnell has reappeared. If this horrifies you, Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black? Look in a mirror. You’re the ones responsible.

I have no doubt there will be another Kermit Gosnell making the headlines in years to come, too. Just you wait. The more you restrict access to affordable, safe abortion care, the more you are asking for the alternative. And women’s lives will be lost.

Not that you so-called “pro lifers” care. Apparently “life” ends at birth with these clowns.


Filed under abortion, reproductive rights


[UPDATE]: Word in some corners is that the “some idiot” in question is named Erick Erickson.


Some GOP idiot started this Twitter hashtag today, to universal derision:

Sit Down

This, of course, referencing the heroic fillibuster of Texas state senator Wendy Davis. They just don’t get it, do they?

Republicans still think if they find female mouthpieces to spout their crap, they’ll endear themselves to women voters. And they have no idea how insulting that is.

Wendy Davis galvanized more women voters than any S.E. Cupp repeating Frank Luntz-written talking points ever will.


Filed under feminism, reproductive rights, Republican Party, women's rights

Because It’s Not About Birth Control

Okay, who didn’t see this one coming a mile off?

Bishops Reject Birth Control Compromise
Published: February 7, 2013

WASHINGTON — The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the latest White House proposal on health insurance coverage of contraceptives, saying it did not offer enough safeguards for religious hospitals, colleges and charities that objected to providing such coverage for their employees.

The administration said the proposal, issued last Friday, would guarantee free employee coverage of birth control “while respecting religious concerns” of organizations that objected to paying or providing for it.


Under the latest proposal, churches and nonprofit religious groups that object to providing birth control coverage on religious grounds would not have to pay for it. Women who work for such organizations could get free contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies. The institution objecting to the coverage would not pay for the contraceptives. Costs would be paid by an insurance company, with the possibility that it could recoup the costs through lower health care expenses resulting in part from fewer births.

How does this “not offer enough safeguards” to address religious groups’ objections? Simple: women can still get their hands on some birth control, that’s how! They want a law that gives employers control over women’s health choices. Hell, they’ve already done it.

Look, can we stop trying to appease people who will never, ever be appeased? This is not about birth control! Half the institutions fighting this were already offering their employees contraception coverage and only stopped when it became news.

This is about the failure of the church. This is about the church’s great shame at being completely impotent in the face of cultural change. This is, specifically, about the Catholic church preaching against contraception for years and years and years and nobody paying attention — hell, even Catholic priests and nuns have ignored that piece of church doctrine. The church hierarchy wants the U.S. government to do what they’ve been unable to do, which is to get people to stop using birth control by making it too expensive and too hard to obtain.

That ain’t happening.

Stop paying attention to these idiots. Catholics don’t even pay attention to them. And if the Catholic church wants to spend its money fighting a legal battle it lost long, long ago instead of using that money to care for the poor and marginalized, then that tells you everything you need to know about the Catholic church. They’re a bunch of phonies.


Filed under birth control, health insurance, healthcare, religion, reproductive rights

The Hits Keep On Coming

A New Hampshire Republican candidate for sheriff says he “wouldn’t reject” using “deadly force” to stop abortion.

Your modern pro-life Republican. Because zygotes, blastocysts and fetuses are more important than a fully-grown human being.

Here’s his justification:

“There is a difference between legal and lawful,” Szabo said.

Szabo explained the difference by referring to the issue of slavery, which he said used to be legal but was never lawful under the Constitution. He said that even though elective abortions are legal in New Hampshire, with some restrictions, he doesn’t consider them lawful.


This is the kind of wacky shit that gets sent out by anti-choice groups all the time. “Right To Life” organizations have been comparing abortion to slavery for years (because nothing says freedom like being forced to carry your rapist’s baby for nine months!) — it’s part of this crowd’s messaging, primarily because, as this article pointed out, slavery is the one issue on which everyone universally agrees: it’s wrong. It’s in the Bible, it’s in our history, but it’s wrong.

But it’s also a straw argument. Trying to get everyone to agree universally that this thing over here is wrong because a completely unrelated thing over there was once accepted and is now universally agreed upon to be wrong just won’t work. The two are not the same. Especially when that other thing over there involves making slaves out of women.

So just wake up and smell the extremism in our midst, people. Republicans want women to be slaves to their biology. They want you to think birth control is abortion but Viagra is a right. They don’t want women to control their own bodies and some of them think it’s acceptable to kill the full grown human person to protect the unformed, un-person. This is crazy shit but it’s what the Republican Party has come to.

And don’t think for a second that you can be a “pro-choice Republican.” No, you can’t, Scott Brown. Yours is the party of the crazy people wanting to arrest doctors and use deadly force to protect a blastocyst. There is no room in your party for anyone who thinks otherwise, they’ve made that abundantly clear.

Brown can mouth all the platitudes he wants about being “pro choice” as he panders to women voters but actions speak louder than words, and while he’s not a Rick Santorum, his votes have hurt poor women’s chances to get reproductive healthcare of all sorts. On top of which, did I mention that Brown belongs to the party of the crazy? Even his moderated views are drowned out by the full-court crazy fetus-worshippers of his party. That’s who is going to decide the next Supreme Court justice. Sorry Scottie, but you’re in the minority in your party. No one in your party listens to you on women’s issues. And I sure as hell don’t want Republicans picking the next Supreme Court Justice as abortion cases move up the pike.


Filed under abortion, reproductive rights, Republicans

Real Or Not Real?

RNC Chair Reince Priebus took to the airwaves to claim that the Republican War On Women is just all in our silly little heads. Really!

Republican opposition to renewing the Violence Against Women Act? Scott Walker repealing Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act? The attacks on women’s reproductive rights in every state — the ones making a legal requirement that women submit to shaming, dehumanizing, psychologically stressful and medically unnecessary procedures in order to obtain a legal, safe abortion? Or restricting women’s access to contraception? The shuttering of health clinics that serve poor women around the country?

The Blunt-Rubio Amendment? Personhood bills? Bills equating single parenthood with child abuse? House Republican efforts to redefine rape?

Ladies, these things should not be taken as attacks on your freedoms or rights or privacy (or even your intelligence, abilities or value). No, these are just logical, necessary pieces of legislation that the penis-Americans in charge deem absolutely vital to the nation’s interests. Any personal offense women may take at being legislated this way is simply unreasonable, maybe even hysterical. Now, run along and swap recipes at the Tupperware Party or however it is you spend your time while the penis-Americans do the heavy lifting of keeping shit running in the world.


But to hear Republicans talk there is a very real war going, and it’s the war on Christians. Yes, little known fact: in state legislatures all around the country, the faithful are being oppressed by anti-Christian politicians passing laws limiting their ability to practice their faith! And even the President of the United States has passed draconian legislation forcing Christians underground. Why, you can’t hardly find a church or a Bible study or even a prayer group anymore!

I have absolutely no evidence of this, of course, but that’s what right-wingers keep telling us. And by right-wingers I don’t just mean fringe crackpots over at ClownHall, I mean people like Rep. Marsha Blackburn who hosted a “rally for religious freedom” in Nashville last month (actually, it was just another highly-orchestrated rally against women’s healthcare but pay no attention to that! This war is real and that one is not!)

No, actually, there is a war on Christianity in this country. I know this because last month an Assemblies of God youth group in Pennsylvania was kidnapped and held at gunpoint. This really happened, however the folks who orchestrated this attack were the church’s pastor and some parents, trying to teach kids age 13-18 a lesson about religious persecution.

Y’know, Jesus did say “suffer the little children.” How ironic that this would come from the sadistic pricks leading the church.

There is a war on Christianity going on, but it’s coming from inside the church, not outside. For example, I just read that the Catholic Church has cut off funds to a group helping the poor because it’s a member of an immigrants’ rights coalition, and that coalition had worked with a GLBT rights group. Got that? The organization receiving the funds didn’t work with this GLBT organization, they were just members of the same coalition. Cooties! Apparently when it comes to fighting poverty or fighting gays, the poor lose out. Fighting gays is way more important. This kind of thinking and attitude will drive the church into cultural irrelevancy faster than any packet of birth control pills or condoms, but hey, don’t listen to me.

So, real or not real, ladies? Who are you gonna listen to: Reince Priebus or your lying eyes?


Filed under birth control, feminism, religious right, reproductive rights, Republican Party, women's rights

>Stupak Stupidity

>You know, I thought conservatives–Blue Dog Democrat and Republican alike–were against government interference in private enterprise.

Or a government bureaucrat coming between doctor and patient.

Yet it seems that is exactly what they are doing by jumping on board the Stupak bandwagon:

Sixty-four Democrats voted for Stupak’s amendment, without which the House healthcare bill would not have won final passage in a 220-215 vote.

Stupak’s language not only prohibits abortion coverage in the public insurance option included in the House bill. It would also prevent private plans from offering coverage for abortion services if they accept people who are receiving government subsidies.

Gosh, where’s the free hand of the market when you need it? I wonder if the Tea Partiers are concerned about this gross government intrusion into private enterprise? Aw, who am I kidding!

You know, I love it when my lady parts are turned into a political football. It makes me feel so very special. So much like … gosh, what is the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah: chattel. Frankly, I’m a little creeped out Congressman Stupak is even thinking about my lady parts in a bill that does so much more to overhaul health insurance. It’s a little pervy.

Yes, this royally pisses me off. But you know, a reality check, people. Being a woman has been a pre-existing condition since, you know, forever. As I pointed out when I wrote about this last month, gender rating is widespread in health insurance markets (that’s where women pay more than men for identical plans). So, you know, what’s a little inequality among friends? We’ve only been allowed to vote for, what, 90-something years? Surely you didn’t think you’d have equal access to health services by now, too?

Here’s the thing. Abortion is still legal. Try as they might, the anti’s have yet to outlaw it, and they probably never will. We won that battle.

All they’ve got left are rather empty gestures like the Stupak Amendment, which applies to insurance coverage of abortion–something which, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only paid for 13% of abortions (or thereabouts) in 2001. And Stupak also only applies to insurance plans on the exchange, which itself affects a small percentage of people.

So, this all looks like a lot of hoo-hah over an amendment that would affect a relatively small number of women. Unfortunately, those women are the poor, the ones who need reproductive choice the most. Yes, it sucks. But since when does Congress care about the poor, anyway? Is anyone really surprised?

Take heart. If Stupak becomes law, you can still buy an insurance plan that covers abortion services. You just can’t be poor, or receive government assistance. And those more well-off can always pay for their abortions themselves, without a health insurance plan.

I’m trying to see how much has changed. Abortion services available for the well off, but not the poor. How is this different from what we have now? From what we’ve ever had?

Make no mistake: they’ve done a really shitty thing to women, treating us like second class citizens who aren’t entitled to the same health insurance options as penis-Americans. Am I pissed off? Yes.

But abortion is still legal. We can still get low-income women the reproductive health services they need in other ways. Start by donating to NARAL or Planned Parenthood, if you are able.

Is the Stupak Amendment worth scuttling healthcare reform over? I don’t think so. But it has been a tremendous reality check. It has shown us who within the Democratic Party thinks it’s their business to decide what insurance plans should be available to women.

Got that? Good. Now use that information.

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Filed under abortion, health insurance, healthcare, reproductive rights

>Hey, Cristi Adkins!


This video is for you and the other “If I can’t have Hillary I’m voting Republican” party poopers out there. And you call yourself a nurse, too? I think you’re a moron.

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Filed under 2008 presidential election, Clintons4McCain, Cristi Adkins, John McCain, reproductive rights, women's rights

>Stock Up On Those Birth Control Pills

>Is this the latest troop move on the culture war front? From Sunday’s Tennessean:

Christian pharmacy professors wanted
Schools struggle to fill demand

Staff Writer

Pharmacists in Tennessee are already in high demand across the state, but the Christians among them might also be getting invitations to trade tablets for textbooks.

Three private, Christian universities in the state — Belmont, Lipscomb and Union — are hiring positions for new pharmacy colleges scheduled to open next fall. Although the process has been smooth, school administrators know they’re only beginning what could be a long ordeal.

“We have fewer people going into this segment of the profession, and we’re starting to see baby boomers retiring,” said Belmont’s School of Pharmacy Dean Phil Johnston.

Johnston has received plenty of applicants for all of the positions posted at his school but says that could change. At all three schools, faculty members must be Christians, including pharmacy faculty.

Oh goodie, more Christian pharmacists! That should mean more stories like this:


By Amanda Paulson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

CHICAGO –The culture wars have already seeped into hospices, movie theaters, and the Super Bowl. Now, even the corner drugstore has become a battleground.

From rural Texas to Chicago, more instances are cropping up of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for oral contraceptives and the morning-after pill. As a result, politicians around the country are stepping into the fray.

[ … ]

“Most observers seem to say it [refusing to give out contraceptives] is picking up, and there seems to be a more organized campaign to allow pharmacists to refuse,” says Adam Sonfeild, an analyst with the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which tracks reproductive health issues.

Come on, Southern Beale, you’re thinking; loosen the tin foil hat! Isn’t it possible that there’s a demand for pharmacists, and Christain schools are simply filling an enrollment demand, as any school would?

Sure, absolutely. And just because a school is “Christian” doesn’t mean it’s part of some right-wing fundamentalist conspiracy, either. But the fact is, a lot of religious colleges are getting into the pharmacy game, and this should be a warning sign to reproductive rights activists. We’ve seen this movie before. Just as the next generation of Judge Roy Moores is being churned out at places like Patrick Henry College and Regent University, don’t be surprised if we see a new generation of fundamentalist Christian pharmacists like Kevin Stormans setting up shop at a drugstore near you.

Of course, Belmont and Lipscomb are hardly the ideology factories that Regent and Patrick Henry are. But check out Palm Beach Atlantic University, whose Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy is home to the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International. The CPFI instructs its students to “refuse to dispense a prescription that goes against their moral conscience.”

So, what’s the point of all this, you may ask. Well, Christians who want to go into the pharmacy profession have every right to “practice their love with women,” as President Bush might say. But those who think women should have access to birth control and emergency contraception need to start planning for some massive state “Pharmacist Conscience Clause” battles. Because, folks, the fun’s just beginning.

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Filed under Christian pharmacy, culture wars, reproductive rights