Missouri tracks Planned Parenthood patients’ periods


Michael Thomas/Getty

❝ Missouri’s top health official testified at a state hearing that his department used a spreadsheet to track the periods of women who visited Planned Parenthood.

Missouri state health director Dr. Randall Williams testified Tuesday at a hearing that will help decide whether the state’s lone Planned Parenthood clinic can continue to perform abortions. Williams said that his office created the spreadsheet to identify women who underwent failed abortions…The Kansas City Star reported…

❝ The head of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood, Yamelsie Rodriguez, told The Star that Williams’ testimony was “deeply disturbing.”

“This is government overreach at its worst,” she said. “This is outrageous and disgusting.”

Someone mail me a penny postcard when Missouri decides to join the 21st Century. Even the 20th would be an improvement.

Abortion Bans Based on So-Called “Science” Are Fraudulent

❝ We are scientists, and we believe that evidence, not ideology, should inform health care decisions. The wave of anti-abortion laws across the U.S. is the latest in a long string of attempts to falsely use the language and authority of science to justify denying people their basic human rights and inflict lasting harm. Although abortion is still legal in every state, recent legislation in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio threatens the future of abortion rights in the country. Scientists should, first and foremost, value evidence, and the evidence is clear: abortion bans cause harm. They make abortions less safe and especially harm historically marginalized communities…

❝ So-called heartbeat bills, which ban abortion as early as after six weeks of pregnancy, are not based on science. In fact, no heart yet exists in an embryo at six weeks. Yet six states and counting enacted such bills in 2019, in addition to Alabama’s near-total ban. Equally unscientific “abortion reversal” laws are also gaining traction. These laws, now on the books in eight states, require doctors to tell patients receiving a medication abortion, a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy, that it can be reversed halfway through to save their pregnancy.

Not only is this law bad science, it is actively dangerous. The idea of abortion reversal is based on a single study of six participants that was (poorly) conducted without an ethics review board. The so-called abortion reversal procedure is experimental and has neither been clinically tested nor approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

❝ Both heartbeat bills and abortion reversal laws have been opposed by leading medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Real doctors, real scientists, don’t rely on ancient myths and legends to advance the health and welfare of our species. A primary reason they have success rate scores enormously higher than superstitious mumbo-jumbo.

Georgia politicians shut down abortion rights. Netflix will answer by shutting down production.


Click to enlargeJoeff Davis

❝ Netflix has become the first major Hollywood company to take a stand against Georgia’s recent passage of a strict abortion law, with chief content officer Ted Sarandos saying Tuesday that the streaming giant would “rethink our entire investment in Georgia” if legislation known as the “heartbeat bill” became state law…

“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said in a statement. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there — while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia…”

❝ The bill’s passage earlier this month comes as Georgia has become a vital production hub for the film and TV industries. The region known “Y’allywood” is responsible for more than 92,100 jobs and nearly $4.6 billion in total wages in the state, according to the MPAA. State officials said that for the fiscal year ending June 30 film and TV production generated $2.7 billion in direct spending.

Boycotts are a time-honored tool against racism in the Confederacy and across the United States. The tactic is overdue IMHO against bible-thumping bigots who would impede women’s rights. They deserve the same opportunity to feel the hurt where they care the most. In their wallets.

Religious nutballs – including the fake president – expand 19th Century “morality” attack on American women

❝ The Trump administration moved Friday to place new restrictions on access to abortion, as the Health and Human Services Department prepared new regulations that would effectively bar organizations that receive federal family planning money from providing abortions or counseling women about how to get the procedure.

The much-anticipated proposal — which has not yet been officially issued as a rule — would greatly expand limits on what activities organizations such as Planned Parenthood can provide.

And it almost certainly will set off a new legal battle over abortion services.

❝ According to the White House, the proposal would require recipients of Title X family planning funds to establish a “bright line of physical as well as financial separation” between federally-funded family planning services and any programs where abortion services are performed or discussed…

❝ “This ‘gag rule’ is not only unconscionable, but it undermines medical ethics by forcing healthcare professionals to withhold accurate and timely medical information from patients,” said Dr. Jenn Conti, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health.

“As a provider of comprehensive reproductive health care, it is my number one priority to keep my patients safe and honor the trust they give me. If I can’t mention the word ‘abortion,’ then I am not providing my pregnant patients who want to know all of their options with complete, accurate, unbiased medical information.”

As far as this voter is concerned, this is a litmus test for political candidates who want my vote. A right to know, the right to full family planning access I fought for over decades. A freedom women and men of conscience fought to achieve as a constitutional right for decades before I was born and sadly must continue to defend against hypocrites and reactionaries.

Senate Committee Votes Against Republican Anti-Abortion Gag Rule

❝ In a vote that marks a rejection of the Trump administration’s foreign aid budget and approach to family planning policy abroad, the Senate Appropriations Committee moved Thursday to reinstate funding for the United Nations Population Fund and overturn the global gag rule, a longstanding Republican policy that forbids U.S. support for international health organizations that offer or discuss abortion services.

❝ The Mexico City Policy, the formal name of the global gag rule, was put into effect during the Reagan administration, has existed under every Republican administration since. Under President Donald Trump, it is more sweeping, denying funding for family planning, nutrition, child health, and certain illnesses to aid organizations that refuse to comply.

Previous Republican administrations only denied organizations family planning funds.

❝ Separately, in April, the State Department announced plans to end support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), to which the United States is the second largest donor. The State Department cited allegations that the family planning arm of the U.N. participated in forced sterilization in China, something the international body called “erroneous.”

A polite way to acknowledge lies from the US government.

❝ Both of these policy moves came under fire as the appropriations committee was deliberating the Foreign Operations Funding Bill. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) proposed an amendment that would overturn the president’s version of the Mexico City Policy, and limit any future president’s power to reinstate it, while also restoring U.S. contributions to UNFPA. The amendment narrowly passed 16-15 with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) voting against it, while Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) voted for it.

Collins and Murkowski have both vocally opposed Trump’s decision to reinstate the Mexico City Policy since the president signed the executive order shortly after entering office.

Nice to see – and not entirely unexpected from Republican women – conservatives get up on their hind legs and separate themselves from 19th Century ideology.

Also not surprising to witness Manchin embracing one more backwards policy.

Use of contraception did more to reduce abortions than restrictive laws – of course

❝ US women are having abortions at the lowest rate on record since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion, according to a new report. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, the abortion rate has been steadily declining for decades.

❝ The new report comes from a massive census of US abortion providers taken every three years by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research organization that supports legal abortion. It’s surprisingly difficult to get accurate data on abortion in the US…but Guttmacher’s census is the most comprehensive available on the subject…

❝ The abortion ratio — the proportion of abortions to live births — is also down to historic lows. In 1995, the abortion ratio was about 26 abortions for every 100 live births; in 2014, it was 18.8…

The abortion rate mostly fell because more women used birth control, and used more reliable methods…

But abortion rates in the US have been falling even faster than usual since 2008 — 3 or 4 percent per year instead of about 2. And while Guttmacher researchers Rachel Jones and Jenna Jerman caution that more research is needed to fully understand the link between abortion access and abortion rates, better contraception appears to be the main reason.

RTFA for a reasoned discussion about conclusions drawn by pro-choice scientists relying on data vs anti-abortion rights ideologues whose belief systems ignore credible data.

Sound familiar?

Women are calling Indiana’s Republican governor to talk about their periods


You will obey or go to jail!

For the past week, women have been calling and emailing the office of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to tell him about their periods. In detail.

“My flow seems abnormally heavy”

“My name is Sue Magina.”

The epic trolling effort comes from members of the Facebook group Periods for Pence, launched after Pence recently signed a new anti-abortion bill into law.

Some of the calls are gross-out moves that mock the overall idea of legislators meddling with women’s health care. Pence thinks he knows better than my gynecologist, the joke goes, so maybe I should start coming to him with my reproductive health issues!…

But there’s also a very specific critique of Indiana’s new law going on here.

The bill signed by Pence (and written by state Rep. Casey Cox, who is now also getting calls) has some pretty shocking provisions. One of them basically forces women to seek funerary services for a fetus — no matter if she has had an abortion or a miscarriage, and no matter how far along the pregnancy was. All fetal tissue has to be cremated or buried, which has never been required in any state law before…

So by telling Pence about their periods, women are simply being good citizens who are being extra careful not to run afoul of the new law. It sounds absolutely absurd, and it is. But it’s also what happens when you take a law as bizarre and medically incoherent as Indiana’s to its logical conclusion…

Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) just filed a lawsuit on behalf of Planned Parenthood to block the new law before it takes effect July 1. The ACLU says the law unconstitutionally invades a woman’s privacy and interferes with her protected decision to have an abortion.

Not that Republicans give a damn about anyone’s privacy, not that the Party of NO thinks any woman has the right to make decisions about her own reproductive system. Paternalist, patriarchal, backwards as any superstitious git’s fear of science – or democracy – today’s Republican Party has devolved into the worst possible example of fear and prejudice masquerading as a political party.

Colorado Planned Parenthood reopens after terrorist rampage

A Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic reopened on Monday, seeing patients nearly three months after a deadly shooting rampage at the facility left three people dead and nine wounded.

“Today, we opened our doors in Colorado Springs. We didn’t back down. We didn’t disappear. We returned, stronger and with more conviction than ever,” the clinic said in a statement.

The clinic was closed on Nov. 27 following a bloody five-hour siege that police said began when a gunman opened fire with a rifle outside the building and then stormed inside. He was taken into custody by law enforcement at the scene…

The facility was resuming its work providing a range of healthcare services, including abortion, to the community of Colorado Springs, Cowart said…

The gunman accused of carrying out the attack, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, faces 179 felony counts, including charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault.

In a court appearance in December, he declared himself guilty and a “warrior for the babies.” He has also told a judge he distrusts his lawyers and wants to represent himself.

Like a tiny segment of Christians, Dear apparently feels he is doing the work of the God he believes in – by murdering people. Following the semantic logic of some Republican presidential candidates, that would make him a Christian terrorist.

Yes, anti-abortion nutballs want to stop contraception, too

A rapid increase in the number of U.S. women turning to intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy has prompted escalating attacks on the birth control method from groups that oppose abortion.

The next battle will be at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to consider a new religious challenge to contraceptives coverage under President Obama’s healthcare law. Although the case deals broadly with whether religiously affiliated groups should be exempt from providing birth control coverage to their employees, some parties in the case have focused specifically on IUDs…

Here’s the religious rationale:

“IUDs are a life-ending device,” said Mailee Smith, staff counsel for the Americans United for Life, which filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge before the high court. “The focus of these cases is that requiring any life-ending drug is in violation of the Religious Freedom Act.”

IUD use among U.S. women using contraceptives grew to 10.3 percent in 2012 from 2 percent in 2002, according to the Guttmacher Institute, making them the fastest growing birth-control method. Their popularity has grown as women recognized that newer versions of the device don’t carry the same safety risks as a 1970s-era IUD known as the Dalkon Shield.

Now more than 10 percent of U.S. women using contraceptives use IUDs. Other forms of birth control, such as daily pills, are on the decline…

Planned Parenthood, long a target from religious groups for providing access to abortions, has also become a significant source of the devices, with IUD use by its patients up 57 percent between 2009 and 2013.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration created an exemption for houses of worship and some related organizations that object to funding birth control for employees, but now other types of religiously affiliated groups want similar waivers.

The consequences of Obama’s wavering over separation of church and state:

In 2014, the Supreme Court accepted the position of Hobby Lobby, a chain of craft stores owned by religious Christians, ruling that private companies that are closely-controlled could opt out of contraception coverage based on the owners’ beliefs.

Hobby Lobby, among other things, objected to birth control that could prevent “an embryo from implanting in the womb,” including two types of IUDs…

The current high court case consolidates seven lawsuits filed by nonprofit groups with religious affiliations, such as colleges and retirement homes run by nuns. The ruling could be applied to more than 100 similar lawsuits, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of women, according to lawyers on both sides of the issue. Little Sisters of the Poor, one of the plaintiffs, has for example more than 2,000 employees.

We’re talking about unintended consequences. Obama included a perfectly reasonable opt-out for True Believers. But, the dog-in-the-manger politics of folks like Hobby Lobby extends to keeping employees from having any rights at all. Unless we have an executive branch that fights for separation of church and state, a Supreme Court steered by reactionaries can behave just as consistently backwards as Congress.

Having only two classes of politicians – conservatives and cowards – doesn’t help along progress for ordinary working families.

Planned Parenthood under attack, again

Planned Parenthood is under attack — again. This time, a campaign of misinformation about the retrieval of fetal tissue used in research and therapy is the excuse. When women have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, Planned Parenthood allows them the opportunity to have the fetal tissue that would otherwise be discarded be used by qualified researchers to help answer important medical questions. The organization does so carefully, following all applicable laws and ethical guidelines.

In a Perspective article now published in the Journal, Charo presents compelling arguments defending these uses of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood, its physicians, and the researchers who do this work should be praised, not damned. The research is not easy to do, but as Charo explains, it has benefited millions of people worldwide. If the antichoice forces were allowed to rule the day, these advances would never have been made.

We strongly support Planned Parenthood not only for its efforts to channel fetal tissue into important medical research but also for its other work as one of the country’s largest providers of health care for women, especially poor women. In 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, Planned Parenthood provided services to 2.7 million women, men, and young people during 4.6 million health center visits. At least 60% of these patients benefited from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family-planning program (Title X) and Medicaid. At least 78% of these patients lived with incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. Planned Parenthood’s services included nearly 400,000 Pap tests, nearly 500,000 breast examinations, nearly 4.5 million tests for sexually transmitted illnesses (including HIV), and treatments. The contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions.

It is shameful that a radical antichoice group whose goal is the destruction of Planned Parenthood continues to twist the facts to achieve its ends. We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health. We are outraged by those who debase these women, this work, and Planned Parenthood by distorting the facts for political ends.

I second that emotion. My contempt for the sophistry, the deceitful liars who planned and executed this latest attack on Planned Parenthood can scarcely be voiced in a civil manner.

I don’t care in the least if you wish to run your life, your family’s life by some rulebook written in the 14th Century. But, to have the gall, the smugness of a True Believer to justify egregious politics reactionary enough to impose your belief system on the rest of what is supposed to be a free and democratic nation is unconscionable.