Roundup: Last Chance to Speak Out, Contraception for Gloucester Students?

Brady Swenson

Last chance to fight hypocritical and deceptive HHS rule; Powerful personal story about one woman's experience with abortion; Will Gloucester High provide contraception?; Texas judge orders woman to stop having children; LA Times against parental notification in California; and more.

Last Chance to Fight Hypocritical and Deceptive HHS Rule

We’ve been covering this story since it first broke on July 15.  We have now arrived at the final day of public commenting on the proposed HHS rule that many fear could significantly limit women’s access to reproductive health care services, including prescriptions for birth control.  Today Jessica Arons has a great final word on the proposed regulation at Huffington Post:

Keep in mind, most of the rule’s supporters — like the Family Research Council, the Christian Medical Association, and Concerned Women for America — also strongly support "informed consent,"
at least if it concerns information on fetal development and theories
about fetal pain. That’s why you see the same groups lined up in favor
of bills that would make women seeking abortions first view a sonogram, be offered anesthesia for the fetus, and listen to state-mandated scripts telling them an abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

Yet if a woman sought unbiased, nondirective counseling about her
options to continue or terminate a pregnancy, an objecting physician
would not have to provide any information under this rule. And if a
rape victim wanted emergency contraception, an objecting pharmacist
would not have to refer her to a pharmacy that would give it to her.
How exactly is a woman supposed to be able to make informed decisions
and act on them when medical professionals can withhold information
from her at will?

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And where is the concern for the conscience of the nurse who is
required to provide his patients with state materials that he thinks
are biased and inaccurate? And what of the doctor who cannot perform
the safest procedure for her patient because the federal government has
banned it?

Apparently only one set of morals is entitled to protection in HHS’ view.

Please add your voice today, it’s your last chance!

 

I Had an Abortion

The Boston Phoenix has an anonymous personal reflection from a woman who had a non-surgical abortion in 2002 when she was 19 years old.  Her story runs alongside an article hailing Jennifer Baumgardner’s new book, Abortion & Life, a collection of 15 women’s
first-person abortion stories.
Anonymous’ story is frank about her fear and forthright about the physical pain she experienced after taking the RU-486 pill.  And she is thankful for her right to make her own choice:

When pundits and politicians debate abortion,
they often bring up the most unfortunate cases: rape or incest victims,
or women with medical problems. The fact that these women risk losing
the right to govern their own bodies is outrageous. So we end up
fighting for those worst-case scenarios, which somehow makes what we
might call the “normal” cases seem more cavalier. As if some cases are
less essential, and therefore less justifiable, than others. Let’s be
clear — it’s the circumstances that vary, not the validity of our
decisions, nor our need for access to safe, legal abortions.

Years later, my experience still causes me to
feel guilty that I lived in a state where no one, other than those who
were directly involved, questioned my decision. It makes me somehow
embarrassed to admit that all I had to do was cross a street, while
others have to bridge state lines, family boundaries (I still haven’t
told my parents), and financial constraints (my boyfriend put the
procedure on his credit card; I paid him back for half as soon as I had
the money). Essentially, I’m sorry that I was more privileged than
other women who are in similar circumstances.

 

Mayor and School Committee Chairman Call for Contraception Access at Gloucester High

Three months after 18 girls became pregnant at a high school in little Gloucester, Massachusetts the mayor of the town and the school committee chairman are calling for contraception to be made available to students from the school’s health clinic:

"I think the eyes are on Gloucester to see what we do, because a lot of
communities are wrestling with it," said Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who along
with other School Committee members will debate over the next two weeks
whether to allow contraception at the school.

"I think it’s become obvious that there’s an issue that there’s
sexual activity with teenagers," Verga said. "It seems like a
preventative measure that would help us in our mission."

The list
of options was compiled during the summer after several experts on
teenage pregnancy were consulted, including Dr. Lauren Smith, medical
director of the Department of Public Health, and Patricia Quinn,
executive director of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.
Both Smith and Quinn recommended that the school allow the distribution
of contraception.

For a contraception option to pass, it needs
four out of seven school board votes, and only Kirk and Verga have
indicated how they will vote.

Perhaps the Gloucester school committee should check out our Reality Check video on contraception in schools.

 

Texas Judge Orders Woman to Stop Procreating

The Wall Street Journal reports today on Texas judge Charlie Baird’s order to Felicia Salazar, the 20-year-old Texas woman who admitted to failing to provide protection and medical care
to her then-19-month-old daughter, who suffered broken bones and other
injuries when she was beaten by her father, to stop having children (the father was sentenced to 10 years in prison).  The article claims that the order "is difficult to enforce and possibly unconstitutional":

Laurence Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School who represented Mr.
Oakley in the Wisconsin case, says Judge Baird’s order is "tantamount
to sterilization" and abridges Ms. Salazar’s reproductive freedom as
guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision affirming
abortion rights.

The ruling recalls a dark time in U.S. legal history when the Supreme Court upheld a forced sterilization law in Virginia:

In a dark corner of U.S. history, a number of states ran
forced-sterilization projects, in which women deemed unfit for
motherhood were surgically prevented from having a child. The country’s
most esteemed legal minds blessed the programs. In 1927, the U.S.
Supreme Court upheld a Virginia law that authorized sterilization for a
woman who, along with her mother and child, was "feeble-minded." In
upholding the statute, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes concluded: "Three
generations of imbeciles are enough." By 1935, nearly 20,000 forced
eugenic sterilizations had been performed in the U.S.

Feministing has more on this story and a similar story about a state legislator in Louisiana, John LaBruzzo, who wants to pay low-income women $1,000 apiece to get sterilized.

 

No on California’s Proposition 4

The LA Times is running an editorial today opposing California’s Proposition 4, the parental consent for abortion law, that is currently polling at 48% in favor and 40% opposed with 12% undecided after similar propositions were rejected in 2005 and 2006:

The
story behind "Sarah’s Law" says a lot about it. "Sarah" was, according
to Proposition 4 supporters, a 15-year-old girl who died from an
abortion gone wrong 14 years ago, a death that might have been
prevented had her parents been notified beforehand. Much of that is
false. The girl’s name wasn’t Sarah; she lived in Texas, not
California; and though she was 15, she already had a child and was in a
common-law marriage, which means she wouldn’t have been covered by the
law Californians are being asked to consider.

That’s how far the
Proposition 4 campaign reached to come up with a poster girl. The
initiative purports to protect California girls from dangers associated
with abortions by requiring that their parents be notified. But
Proposition 4 attempts to solve something that isn’t much of a problem.
There’s no evidence that California’s teenage girls are harmed by
abortions with any frequency, whether or not their parents have been
notified. The most recent known case of serious injury that might have
been prevented by Proposition 4 occurred in the 1980s.

In fact, under the guise of protecting underage
girls, this proposal really is just the latest attempt to impose any
obstacle in the exercise of reproductive freedom. This represents the
third try in recent years to pass such a measure. California should
reject it again.

 

Slate Debunks Palin Rape Kit Rumor?

Rachel Larimore of Slate.com’s women’s blog, The XX Factor, writes today that the claim that Wasila, Alaska charged rape victims to collect evidence for a criminal investigation while Sara Palin was mayor has been debunked because the Wasilla police chief, Charlie Fannon, is on record as having tried to bill victims’ insurance companies, not the victims themselves, for the rape kits.  Well, not to be a nit, but I don’t see much of a difference between charging a victim’s insurance company and charging the victim themselves as insurance companies merely represent the victim and claims made on medical insurance can often affect the insured’s premiums.  In any case, as Amie pointed out in the best take I’ve read on this story, it should not be simply about charging victims, or their insurance companies, for a rape kit, this should be about the broader issues of "rape, sexual
assault and how we deal with violence against women in this country."

 

We Must ‘Double Our Efforts’ to Defeat the Spread of HIV/AIDS

Alvaro Bermejo, executive director of the UK’s International HIV/AIDS Alliance, has made a strong call for the need to "double our efforts over the next seven years" in order to achieve goal 6 of the Millennium Development Goals: to halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV;
to provide access to treatment for all who need it by 2010; and to halt and
begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other diseases such as
tuberculosis.  Bremejo points to isolated success that can be expanded and replicated with access to more resources:

A number of recent successes (Botswana, Brazil, Thailand, parts of
India) demonstrate that rapid progress is possible when sound national
programmes are matched with adequate financing and technical support.
Existing international commitments – if fully implemented – can extend
these success stories and are sufficient to achieve the goals.

But
despite tremendous achievements, the epidemic continues to outpace the
response. There were 2.7 million new HIV infections and 2 million
Aids-related deaths last year. In sub-Saharan Africa, around 12 million
children are orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV. Less than one in three
people needing antiretroviral treatment has access to it.

 

News Politics

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Resigns as Chair of DNC, Will Not Gavel in Convention

Ally Boguhn

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

On the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) resigned her position as chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), effective after the convention, amid controversy over leaked internal party emails and months of criticism over her handling of the Democratic primary races.

Wasserman Schultz told the Sun Sentinel on Monday that she would not gavel in this week’s convention, according to Politico.

“I know that electing Hillary Clinton as our next president is critical for America’s future,” Wasserman Schultz said in a Sunday statement announcing her decision. “Going forward, the best way for me to accomplish those goals is to step down as Party Chair at the end of this convention.”

“We have planned a great and unified Convention this week and I hope and expect that the DNC team that has worked so hard to get us to this point will have the strong support of all Democrats in making sure this is the best convention we have ever had,” Wasserman Schultz continued.

Just prior to news that Wasserman Schultz would step down, it was announced that Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) would chair the DNC convention.

Donna Brazile, vice chair of the DNC, will step in as interim replacement for Wasserman Schultz as committee chair.

Wasserman Schultz’s resignation comes after WikiLeaks released more than 19,000 internal emails from the DNC, breathing new life into arguments that the Democratic Party—and Wasserman Schultz in particular—had “rigged” the primary in favor of nominating Hillary Clinton. As Vox‘s Timothy B. Lee pointed out, there seems to be “no bombshells” in the released emails, though one email does show that Brad Marshall, chief financial officer of the DNC, emailed asking whether an unnamed person could be questioned about “his” religious beliefs. Many believe the email was referencing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT).

Another email from Wasserman Schultz revealed the DNC chair had referred to Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, as a “damn liar.”

As previously reported by Rewire before the emails’ release, “Wasserman Schultz has been at the center of a string of heated criticisms directed at her handling of the DNC as well as allegations that she initially limited the number of the party’s primary debates, steadfastly refusing to add more until she came under pressure.” She also sparked controversy in January after suggesting that young women aren’t supporting Clinton because there is “a complacency among the generation” who were born after Roe v. Wade was decided.

“Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party,” said Sanders in a Sunday statement. “While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”

Sanders had previously demanded Wasserman Schultz’s resignation in light of the leaked emails during an appearance earlier that day on ABC’s This Week.

Clinton nevertheless stood by Wasserman Schultz in a Sunday statement responding to news of the resignation. “I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership,” said Clinton. “There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie—which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states.”

Clinton added that she still looks “forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid.” Wasserman Schultz faces a primary challenger, Tim Canova, for her congressional seat in Florida’s 23rd district for the first time this year.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a typo that misidentified Sen. Tim Kaine as a Republican. We regret this error.