Vanessa Cullins, MD, is vice president for external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood
As a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist and medical administrator for more than 2 decades, I have seen or provided oversight for thousands of patients during my career, providing them with quality, safe, compassionate reproductive healthcare. I have dedicated my life to taking care of women and ensuring they have medically accurate information, support, and counseling to make personal medical decisions that are best for their health and well-being.
This dedication to patient health and safety is why I find the new junk science measure signed into law this week in Arkansas so deeply disturbing. The new law mandates that physicians inform patients seeking an abortion about medically untested and unproven claims that medication abortions can somehow be “reversed” — despite widespread opposition from medical experts across the country and a complete lack of medical evidence to back this up.
As a physician with an MD and an MPH from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as well as an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania, it continues to amaze me that politicians — most of whom are not even doctors — believe they are qualified to make medical decisions for patients and decide what qualified medical professionals can and can’t tell their patients…
This session alone the Arkansas legislature has passed six new abortion restrictions in just 1 month on top of the numerous restrictions the state already has on the books. Arkansas is tied for last place in women’s health indicators, and there are only three health centers in Arkansas that provide safe, legal abortion. These new laws — layering restriction upon restriction upon restriction — can make it nearly impossible for some women to obtain a safe, legal abortion.
The national groups behind this measure are the same people who make false claims that rape can’t lead to pregnancy — and whose real agenda is to ban abortion outright. Data routinely show that abortion has a 99% safety record and it is largely safe because it is legal. Access to abortion makes women safer. In places where abortion is highly restricted, women will choose desperate, dangerous, and potentially life-threatening means to end an unwanted pregnancy.
This legislation is reckless, dangerous, and presents medically inaccurate information that could harm women. True patient safety is making sure women have safe, compassionate, respectful care as well as accurate information, support, and counseling.
Reactionaries who write and pass laws like this latest crap round in Arkansas really get my anger on the boil. They not only rely on superstition, paternalism, denial of individual rights to women – they drag in anti-science silliness to justify what is 14th Century ideology.
Usually, I focus on their failure to comprehend anything about scientific methods and standards. As if I was addressing an audience that concerns itself with logic and progress. But, these creeps care nothing for such values – and their anti-science, while contemptible, is not their most important characteristic. They are liars. Lying isn’t just a means to en end – it is their only answer to facts.
They don’t care whether or not a zygote goes through a dozens stages or none. They don’t care about the economics of women with no access to birth control or an education in family planning. They only care that the rules they believe immutable are obeyed. And if lies are useful to that political process – that’s OK.
As conservative lawmakers pass a record number of anti-abortion laws, it is staggering to consider how many require doctors to tell patients information that has no basis in science. Five states now require abortion providers to inform women about a bogus link between abortion and breast cancer. Several states mandate that doctors say ending a pregnancy can lead to mental health conditions like clinical depression—another falsehood, in the eyes of most mainstream medical groups.
Now there’s a new crop of legislation to add this list: laws forcing doctors to tell women planning to take abortion-inducing drugs that they may be able to change their minds mid-treatment.
On Monday, Arkansas became the second state to pass such a law, just over a week after Arizona’s Republican governor signed a similar measure…
Critics have slammed these bills as propagating a lie based on “junk science.” According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “Claims of medication abortion reversal are not supported by the body of scientific evidence.”
While this blog and our readers often contemplate whether American voters are stupid or ignorant or both – there is little question over an appropriate definition for today’s version of the Republican Party. It is populated with and led by some of the most corrupt liars ever to hold political office.
A pregnant woman is just a “host” for a fetus, according to Virginia state Sen. Steve Martin.
The Republican legislator representing Virginia’s 11th district made the comment in response to a Valentine’s Day card from a reproductive rights group calling on him to protect reproductive health options in the state.
“I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,” Martin wrote on Facebook. “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.”
Martin’s claim that he does not “expect to be in the room” or “do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive” is, of course, entirely disingenuous. He is a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid expansion, which would ensure affordable access to healthcare and contraception for people across Virginia.
It should probably go without saying, too, that Martin does not support abortion rights.
The creep has edited his post since everything blew up and he realized that average folks aren’t as willing to join the Republican war on Women as are his acolytes in the anti-abortion movement. Fortunately, plenty of folks on the Left have screengrabs and are using them to reference what he originally said.
The Supreme Court declined Monday to revive an Arizona law that prohibited most abortions after a pregnancy had reached 20 weeks.
The court, as is its custom, gave no reason for declining to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that the law was unconstitutional because it violated standards established by the justices 40 years ago in Roe v. Wade.
About a dozen other states have passed laws similar to Arizona’s, hoping they would provide a way to challenge the court’s ruling that abortion must be generally available to women before a fetus reaches viability, which is generally considered to be around 24 weeks. Pregnancies last about 40 weeks.
It is the third time this term that the court has decided not to review a lower court decision that struck down a restrictive state abortion law. The other two came from Oklahoma, where new rules would have practically eliminated drug-induced abortions and required what opponents said would be unnecessary ultrasound tests…
About the only critter dumber than a fundamentalist politician committed to the War on Women – is the equally committed voter who doesn’t mind wasting taxpayer dollars on defending patently unconstitutional laws restricting women’s reproductive rights. Guess they’d rather spend money on 18th Century bible beliefs instead of education for their kids.
Come to think of it – the last thing they want is educated children.
“The Supreme Court soundly declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s sound decision that Arizona’s abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing precedent,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. “. . . But women should not be forced to run to court, year after year, in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights and access to critical health care…”
Not all of the state laws imposing the 20-week limit have been challenged, because the procedure is so uncommon, she said. But laws in Georgia and Idaho have been blocked.
Earlier this week, voters in Albuquerque voted down a city-wide measure that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks, by a ten-point margin. According to voter data analyzed by ProgressNowNM, the pro-choice side has women to thank for it.
“Eleven thousand more women–almost three times more women than men, in terms of additional turnout–came out in the municipal abortion election than did in the general six weeks earlier,” said Patrick Davis, the group’s executive director…
The result also showed that Latino voters, including Latina women, weren’t swayed by the anti-abortion arguments. They make up nearly half of the city’s population, and ban supporters had pinned their hopes on Catholic and evangelical Latinos. Opponents of the ban have pointed out that their coalition included two groups led by Latinas, Young Women United and Strong Families New Mexico.
Although not all public polling shows a gender gap on abortion, the team behind Virginia governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has said the issue helped account for a 9-point gender gap in his favor earlier this month. He won 59% of voters who said abortion was their top issue.
The anti-abortiion rights crowd is still working hard trying to snatch victory from their defeat. Democracy can be a tough solution for losers who think God is on their side and that’s all they need. Perish the thought that voters pay attention to science, constitutional law and civil liberties in an election.
Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry on Wednesday launched another battle to pass sweeping abortion restrictions after a marathon speech by a Democrat lawmaker briefly halted a bill critics say could shut most abortion clinics in one of the nation’s biggest states.
Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, once a teenage mother who went on to earn a Harvard Law degree, was propelled on to the national political stage when she spoke for more than 10 hours to block a measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
It proved a short-lived victory for women’s groups and abortion rights advocates fighting to stop abortion restrictions across several states. Perry called for another special legislative session to reconsider the proposal on July 1…
I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Texas Republican. They respect the truth even less than they care for women’s rights.
Davis’ filibuster of the Republican supermajority in the Texas legislature was streamed live on some national media websites.
Republicans managed to stop her about two hours before the midnight end to the special legislative session, citing parliamentary procedures, but they were unable to complete voting on the abortion bill before the deadline…
If the measure ultimately passes, Texas would become the 13th state to impose a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and by far the most populous. In addition, the legislation would set strict [phony] health standards for abortion clinics and restrict the use of drugs to end pregnancy.
Republican backers said blah, blah, blah…
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, but conservative states have enacted laws in recent years that seek to place restrictions on the procedure, especially on abortions performed late in pregnancy.
The debate rages across the nation. Twelve states have passed 20-week bans, including two states where the bans take effect later this year, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. Courts have alreaady blocked the bans in three of the 12 states – Arizona, Georgia and Idaho.
Folks outside the United States have to understand that the rule of law only means obedience to 19th Century ideology for what passes for Republicans, nowadays. Science, honesty, dialogue, consensus, democracy and respect for all citizens – are meaningless words leftover from some time warp when traditional American conservatism valued those standards.
Somebody hand me a snake!
The focus of a fierce suburban congressional battle turned from the economy to abortion literally overnight following Republican Rep. Joe Walsh’s controversial declaration that there’s no medical necessity to use the procedure to save a woman’s life.
“With modern technology and science, you can’t find one instance,” Walsh declared in comments to reporters after a televised debate Thursday night against Democrat Tammy Duckworth in the northwest suburban 8th District race…
The man’s an ignoranus. He cares nothing for a woman’s life.
…The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said 600 women die annually in the U.S. from pregnancy and childbirth-related causes. Comments like those from Walsh, the group said in a statement, were ample reason why politicians need to “get out of our exam rooms.”
“Walsh’s comments have no grounding in science and are completely inaccurate,” said Dr. Cassing Hammond, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine…
Dr. David Grimes took issue with anti-abortion politicians who view “women as some kind of Tupperware container that holds the fetus for nine months.”
The unfolding controversy stepped on Walsh’s key political message about slashing government. It also spurred critics to compare him with Republican Rep. Todd Akin, another staunch abortion foe who famously damaged his once front-running Missouri U.S. Senate campaign by proclaiming that a rape victim’s body would not allow her to become pregnant.
Duckworth, who supports abortion rights, also took aim at Walsh. “I am flabbergasted that he is that out of touch with science,” she said.
Duckworth is being polite. Like most of his peers, Walsh is as anti-science as he is anti-women. He doesn’t care in the least for informed analysis and opinions. His brain is stuck into 19th Century ideology.
No one really expects the Kool Aid Party to give up on a good thing. They’re raking in money and power that might challenge the take that right-wing fundamentalist sects suck from their followers. And it’s an opportunity for bottom feeders who never would have achieved power and position in, say, the Republican Party of Eisenhower or Bob Dole – or George Romney.
On your knees, sinners!
The news that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the nation’s most prominent Catholic prelate, will deliver the closing blessing to the Republican National Convention in Florida next week was seen as a huge coup for Mitt Romney, the party’s presumptive nominee. But the move has also prompted a sharp debate within the church over the increasingly close ties between leading bishops and the GOP.
“The cozy relationship between a sizable portion of U.S. bishops and the Republican Party should be cause for concern, and not just among progressive Catholics,” Michael O’Loughlin wrote in a post on the website of America magazine, a leading Catholic weekly published by the Jesuits.
“Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Tampa will damage the church’s ability to be a moral and legitimate voice for voiceless, as those who view the Catholic Church as being a shill for the GOP have just a bit more evidence to prove their case,” O’Loughlin concluded…
Similarly, David Cruz-Uribe, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a professor of mathematics at Trinity College, wrote on the Vox Nova blog that Dolan’s decision “will only drag the Church further into a partisan divide and fuel the perception (true or not) that the Catholic Church wants to replace the Episcopalians as the Republican party on its knees…”
Cripes. I haven’t read that phrase in years. Reminds me of no end of salacious jokes.
By tradition, the local bishop often delivers a prayer at the party convention meeting in his city, but it is highly unusual for another bishop — and the leader of the hierarchy — to fly in to deliver a benediction, as Dolan will do on Aug. 30, right after Romney is formally nominated…
Examine the range of issues – and positions on those issues – today’s Republican Party and the most reactionary elements of the Catholic Church hold in common. They share a war on Women – denying reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, IVF – even the papal edict against a woman choosing to abort to save her own life.
They oppose civil rights for the LGBT community. They demand that religious dogma and doctrine take precedence over civil law. All that may be missing from the podium that night is an appearance by one of those uppity nuns – gagged and in chains.
You want us to honor reproductive rights for who? — Flores, Ryan, Akin
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Even as the Republican establishment continued to call for Representative Todd Akin of Missouri to drop out of his Senate race because of his comments on rape and abortion, Republicans approved platform language on Tuesday calling for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with no explicit exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The anti-abortion plank, approved by the Republican platform committee…was similar to the planks Republicans have included in their recent party platforms, which also called for a constitutional ban on abortions…
“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert Blah, blah, blah…“We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
The timing of the approval of the Republican anti-abortion plank was awkward for Mitt Romney, who has denounced Mr. Akin’s comments about rape and abortion and who has said that he supports exceptions to allow abortions in cases of rape. And it comes as his selection of his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, was already drawing scrutiny for his support for a more absolute ban on abortions, even in cases of rape or incest…
The Republican platform committee waded into the abortion debate again later on Tuesday when it approved language opposing drugs like RU-486, which can terminate pregnancies. “We oppose approval of these drugs and similar drugs that terminate innocent human life after conception,” said Mary Summa, a delegate form North Carolina, who introduced a plank calling on the Food and Drug Administration not to approve such drugs…
The party also approved a plank supporting abstinence-only education, as it has in the past…“We renew our call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with increased funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior.”
I’m not certain if the Republican Party would prefer to drag this nation back into the 19th Century – removing the voting franchise from women and non-whites – or take society all the way back to the 14th Century and simply get rid of all that stuff about voting and democracy altogether. Rule by kings and papal edict seemed to work well enough for the moneyed classes of the time and, after all, that is the only imperative for political rule in today’s Republican Party.
Leticia Parra, a mother of five scraping by on income from her husband’s sporadic construction jobs, relied on the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Carlos, an impoverished town in South Texas, for breast cancer screenings, free birth control pills and pap smears for cervical cancer. But the clinic closed in October, along with more than a dozen others in the state, after financing for women’s health was slashed by two-thirds by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The cuts, which left many low-income women with inconvenient or costly options, grew out of the effort to eliminate state support for Planned Parenthood. Although the cuts also forced clinics that were not affiliated with the agency to close — and none of them, even the ones run by Planned Parenthood, performed abortions — supporters of the cutbacks said they were motivated by the fight against abortion.
Which proves one of two things – or both:  anti-abortion crusaders are fanatics who don’t care who they crush in the course of their religious blitzkrieg;  anti-abortion crusaders really consider all questions of women’s health to be unimportant — matching their attitude about women in general.