Roundup: Abortion Provider’s Widow Speaks Out

Amy Dempsey

Abortion Provider's Widow Speaks Out; Spanish Bishops Get Involved in Abortion Fight; Democrats and Republicans Disagree About Sotomayor

Abortion Provider’s Widow Speaks Out
Lynne Slepian, the widow
of a physician who provided abortions who was killed in 1998, appeared
in Albany, NY, Thursday to support a proposed New York state bill that
would stiffen punishments for acts of violence against abortion
providers and clinics by elevating violence that resulted in physical
harm from misdemeanors to felonies, according to Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who proposed the bill, said, "New York state would be the first in the nation to recognize the
serious nature of these crimes by passing a law that creates enhanced

course, anti-choice advocates like Operation Rescue oppose the bill and
called it "’unconstitutional in America’ to afford special privileges
to certain groups of people."

The article also said that Slepian family attorney Glenn Murray said the proposed bill is
something Dr. Bart Slepian sought before he was shot "sniper style" in his home. According to Murray, the
enhanced penalties would not impact peaceful protests, only acts of

Spanish Bishops Get Involved in Abortion Fight
The Associated Press
reported that Catholic bishops in Madrid are urging Catholic lawmakers
to vote against a bill that would ease Spain’s restrictive abortion

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At the Spanish Bishops Conference, members described the
bill, which would allow abortions without restrictions up until the
14th week of a pregnancy, as "a poisoned source of immorality and
injustice." However, the Socialist government argues that abortion is a
right that should be protected by the state, according to the article.

Despite the bishops’ opposition, the bill is expected to be passed next week.

Democrats and Republicans Disagree About Sotomayor

A recent Daily Women’s Health Policy Report
reports that Senate Democrats circulated talking points that
demonstrated Sotomayor’s "mainstream record of judicial modesty,"
according to the AP/Miami Herald.


A quote from Sotomayor also suggested that the nominee makes decisions
based on the Constitution rather than on politics. According to the AP/Miami Herald
article, members from both political parties are trying to define
Sotomayor before the upcoming hearing, scheduled for July 13.
Conservatives called her an "activist" when they described her work
with Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Educational Fund and support for
abortion rights. 


June 18: EGP News: Latino Teens Say Parents Affect Decisions About Sex

June 18: LifeSiteNews: Pro-Faith, Pro-Life Broadway Play, Irena’s Vow, Receives Critical Acclaim

June 18: Citizen Link: Pro-Life Provisions Remain in Key Legislation

June 18: Wilmington News Journal: Family Planning Clinic to close

June 18: Examiner:How is killing a doctor saving a life?

June 18: Pregnancy "options" counselors:Give birth!

June 18: HuffPo: Note to O’Reilly: Women Deserve Protections — Not Fetuses

June 18: Boston Globe: Catholic bishops urge immigration reform

June 19: Orlando Sentinel: We asked you: Should Florida offer a "pro-choice" license plate?

June 18: Women’s Media Center:Let PBS Know You Support Maria Hinojosa’s Report

June 18: Our Bodies Ourselves: The Role of Medical Education in Preserving Abortion Access

June 19: AP: Republican: Will Sotomayor represent ‘all of us’?

June 18: gives ‘bubble zone’ protection to B.C. abortion seekers, providers

June 18: WGRZ: Widow of Slain Abortion Doctor Pushes for Tougher Laws

June 18: NARAL Pro-Choice MD Blog: Mississippi Funds Abstinence Summit

June 18: Pro-Choice Oklahoma: Prevention ad from Planned Parenthood…

June 18: Christian Science Monitor: Bristol Palin and other teen moms: New trendsetters?

June 18: LifeSiteNews:Pro-Abortion Contributions Revealed Among Boston Catholic Hospital Board Members

June 18: Business Management Daily: Tell bosses: Keep family planning and pregnancy talk out of the workplace

June 18: Winnipeg Sun: SCOC nixes abortion clinic security-zone challenge

June 17: Jezebel: Some People Underestimate The Economic Impact Of Abortion

June 18: National Catholic Reporter:New pro-life Mass wins overwhelming vote by bishops

June 18: HuffPo: Human Rights Council Declares Maternal Death, Illness a Rights Violation

June 18: LifeSiteNews: Campaign Life Coalition’s Pro-Life Petition Campaign a Great Success – 30,500 Signatures, So Far

June 18: HuffPo:A Radical Notion: Women’s Health Care as Mainstream

June 18: WaPo: Why Are Teen Births Rising?

June 18: HuffPo: Regulating Abortion May Be OK But Not To Avoid Sex-Selection

June 17: Pelican Project Pro-Life:In the matter of choice, what is being chosen?

June 18: MetroCatholic: Pro-life Leader Slams Proposed State-Sponsored Sexualization of Latin American Children

June 18: Florida Sun-Sentinel: Ready for sex? Don’t count on condoms here

June 18: WORLDmag: Online forum seeks "common ground"

June 18: Examiner: Common myths about the IUD debunked

June 18: Medical News Today: Lack Of Access To Contraception Persists In Nigeria, Study Finds

June 18: AP:Spanish bishops wade into abortion fight 

June 18: IPS News: Family Planning Not Only For Women

June 18: Catholic News Agency:Planned Parenthood seeks to secure state funding amid California budget woes

June 18: HuffPo: VA High Schooler Suspended Two Weeks For Birth Control 

June 18: Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Students, artists break the mold 

June 18: PRWeb: LifeCare® and Adoption Institute Announce Partnership To Enhance Corporate Services and Best Practices

June 18: Catholic Exchange:Health Care and the Abortion Issue

June 18: East Central Indiana Star-Press:Is Planned Parenthood getting bad rap on abortion?

June 17: Salt Lake Tribune:Planned Parenthood goes green in Orem

June 18: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram: Doyle wrong on contraceptives  

News Health Systems

Complaint: Citing Catholic Rules, Doctor Turns Away Bleeding Woman With Dislodged IUD

Amy Littlefield

“It felt heartbreaking,” said Melanie Jones. “It felt like they were telling me that I had done something wrong, that I had made a mistake and therefore they were not going to help me; that they stigmatized me, saying that I was doing something wrong, when I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m doing something that’s well within my legal rights.”

Melanie Jones arrived for her doctor’s appointment bleeding and in pain. Jones, 28, who lives in the Chicago area, had slipped in her bathroom, and suspected the fall had dislodged her copper intrauterine device (IUD).

Her doctor confirmed the IUD was dislodged and had to be removed. But the doctor said she would be unable to remove the IUD, citing Catholic restrictions followed by Mercy Hospital and Medical Center and providers within its system.

“I think my first feeling was shock,” Jones told Rewire in an interview. “I thought that eventually they were going to recognize that my health was the top priority.”

The doctor left Jones to confer with colleagues, before returning to confirm that her “hands [were] tied,” according to two complaints filed by the ACLU of Illinois. Not only could she not help her, the doctor said, but no one in Jones’ health insurance network could remove the IUD, because all of them followed similar restrictions. Mercy, like many Catholic providers, follows directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that restrict access to an array of services, including abortion care, tubal ligations, and contraception.

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Some Catholic providers may get around the rules by purporting to prescribe hormonal contraception for acne or heavy periods, rather than for birth control, but in the case of copper IUDs, there is no such pretext available.

“She told Ms. Jones that that process [of switching networks] would take her a month, and that she should feel fortunate because sometimes switching networks takes up to six months or even a year,” the ACLU of Illinois wrote in a pair of complaints filed in late June.

Jones hadn’t even realized her health-care network was Catholic.

Mercy has about nine off-site locations in the Chicago area, including the Dearborn Station office Jones visited, said Eric Rhodes, senior vice president of administrative and professional services. It is part of Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic health systems in the country.

The ACLU and ACLU of Michigan sued Trinity last year for its “repeated and systematic failure to provide women suffering pregnancy complications with appropriate emergency abortions as required by federal law.” The lawsuit was dismissed but the ACLU has asked for reconsideration.

In a written statement to Rewire, Mercy said, “Generally, our protocol in caring for a woman with a dislodged or troublesome IUD is to offer to remove it.”

Rhodes said Mercy was reviewing its education process on Catholic directives for physicians and residents.

“That act [of removing an IUD] in itself does not violate the directives,” Marty Folan, Mercy’s director of mission integration, told Rewire.

The number of acute care hospitals that are Catholic owned or affiliated has grown by 22 percent over the past 15 years, according to MergerWatch, with one in every six acute care hospital beds now in a Catholic owned or affiliated facility. Women in such hospitals have been turned away while miscarrying and denied tubal ligations.

“We think that people should be aware that they may face limitations on the kind of care they can receive when they go to the doctor based on religious restrictions,” said Lorie Chaiten, director of the women’s and reproductive rights project of the ACLU of Illinois, in a phone interview with Rewire. “It’s really important that the public understand that this is going on and it is going on in a widespread fashion so that people can take whatever steps they need to do to protect themselves.”

Jones left her doctor’s office, still in pain and bleeding. Her options were limited. She couldn’t afford a $1,000 trip to the emergency room, and an urgent care facility was out of the question since her Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois insurance policy would only cover treatment within her network—and she had just been told that her entire network followed Catholic restrictions.

Jones, on the advice of a friend, contacted the ACLU of Illinois. Attorneys there advised Jones to call her insurance company and demand they expedite her network change. After five hours of phone calls, Jones was able to see a doctor who removed her IUD, five days after her initial appointment and almost two weeks after she fell in the bathroom.

Before the IUD was removed, Jones suffered from cramps she compared to those she felt after the IUD was first placed, severe enough that she medicated herself to cope with the pain.

She experienced another feeling after being turned away: stigma.

“It felt heartbreaking,” Jones told Rewire. “It felt like they were telling me that I had done something wrong, that I had made a mistake and therefore they were not going to help me; that they stigmatized me, saying that I was doing something wrong, when I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m doing something that’s well within my legal rights.”

The ACLU of Illinois has filed two complaints in Jones’ case: one before the Illinois Department of Human Rights and another with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights under the anti-discrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act. Chaiten said it’s clear Jones was discriminated against because of her gender.

“We don’t know what Mercy’s policies are, but I would find it hard to believe that if there were a man who was suffering complications from a vasectomy and came to the emergency room, that they would turn him away,” Chaiten said. “This the equivalent of that, right, this is a woman who had an IUD, and because they couldn’t pretend the purpose of the IUD was something other than pregnancy prevention, they told her, ‘We can’t help you.’”

Commentary Sexuality

Black Trans Liberation Tuesday Must Become an Annual Observance

Raquel Willis

As long as trans people—many of them Black trans women—continue to be murdered, there will be a need to commemorate their lives, work to prevent more deaths, and uplift Black trans activism.

This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

This week marks one year since Black transgender activists in the United States organized Black Trans Liberation Tuesday. Held on Tuesday, August 25, the national day of action publicized Black trans experiences and memorialized 18 trans women, predominantly trans women of color, who had been murdered by this time last year.

In conjunction with the Black Lives Matter network, the effort built upon an earlier Trans Liberation Tuesday observance created by Bay Area organizations TGI Justice Project and Taja’s Coalition to recognize the fatal stabbing of 36-year-old trans Latina woman Taja DeJesus in February 2015.

Black Trans Liberation Tuesday should become an annual observance because transphobic violence and discrimination aren’t going to dissipate with one-off occurrences. I propose that Black Trans Liberation Tuesday fall on the fourth Tuesday of August to coincide with the first observance and also the August 24 birthday of the late Black trans activist Marsha P. Johnson.

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There is a continuing need to pay specific attention to Black transgender issues, and the larger Black community must be pushed to stand in solidarity with us. Last year, Black trans activists, the Black Lives Matter network, and GetEQUAL collaborated on a blueprint of what collective support looks like, discussions that led to Black Trans Liberation Tuesday.

“Patrisse Cullors [a co-founder of Black Lives Matter] had been in talks on ways to support Black trans women who had been organizing around various murders,” said Black Lives Matter Organizing Coordinator Elle Hearns of Washington, D.C. “At that time, Black trans folks had been experiencing erasure from the movement and a lack of support from cis people that we’d been in solidarity with who hadn’t reciprocated that support.”

This erasure speaks to a long history of Black LGBTQ activism going underrecognized in both the civil rights and early LGBTQ liberation movements. Many civil rights leaders bought into the idea that influential Black gay activist Bayard Rustin was unfit to be a leader simply because he had relationships with men, though he organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Johnson, who is often credited with kicking off the 1969 Stonewall riots with other trans and gender-nonconforming people of color, fought tirelessly for LGBTQ rights. She and other trans activists of color lived in poverty and danger (Johnson was found dead under suspicious circumstances in July 1992), while the white mainstream gay elite were able to demand acceptance from society. Just last year, Stonewall, a movie chronicling the riots, was released with a whitewashed retelling that centered a white, cisgender gay male protagonist.

The Black Lives Matter network has made an intentional effort to avoid the pitfalls of those earlier movements.

“Our movement has been intersectional in ways that help all people gain liberation whether they see it or not. It became a major element of the network vision and how it was seeing itself in the Black liberation movement,” Hearns said. “There was no way to discuss police brutality without discussing structural violence affecting Black lives, in general”—and that includes Black trans lives.

Despite a greater mainstream visibility for LGBTQ issues in general, Black LGBTQ issues have not taken the forefront in Black freedom struggles. When a Black cisgender heterosexual man is killed, his name trends on social media feeds and is in the headlines, but Black trans women don’t see the same importance placed on their lives.

According to a 2015 report by the Anti-Violence Project, a group dedicated to ending anti-LGBTQ and HIV-affected community violence, trans women of color account for 54 percent of all anti-LGBTQ homicides. Despite increased awareness, with at least 20 transgender people murdered since the beginning of this year, it seems things haven’t really changed at all since Black Trans Liberation Tuesday.

“There are many issues at hand when talking about Black trans issues, particularly in the South. There’s a lack of infrastructure and support in the nonprofit sector, but also within health care and other systems. Staffs at LGBTQ organizations are underfunded when it comes to explicitly reaching the trans community,” said Micky Bradford, the Atlanta-based regional organizer for TLC@SONG. “The space between towns can harbor isolation from each other, making it more difficult to build up community organizing, coalitions, and culture.”

The marginalization that Black trans people face comes from both the broader society and the Black community. Fighting white supremacy is a full-time job, and some activists within the Black Lives Matter movement see homophobia and transphobia as muddying the fight for Black liberation.

“I think we have a very special relationship with gender and gender violence to all Black people,” said Aaryn Lang, a New York City-based Black trans activist. “There’s a special type of trauma that Black people inflict on Black trans people because of how strict the box of gender and space of gender expression has been to move in for Black people. In the future of the movement, I see more people trusting that trans folks have a vision that’s as diverse as blackness is.”

But even within that diversity, Black trans people are often overlooked in movement spaces due to anti-Blackness in mainstream LGBTQ circles and transphobia in Black circles. Further, many Black trans people aren’t in the position to put energy into movement work because they are simply trying to survive and find basic resources. This can create a disconnect between various sections of the Black trans community.

Janetta Johnson, executive director of TGI Justice Project in San Francisco, thinks the solution is twofold: increased Black trans involvement and leadership in activism spaces, and more facilitated conversations between Black cis and trans people.

“I think a certain part of the transgender community kind of blocks all of this stuff out. We are saying we need you to come through this process and see how we can create strength in numbers. We need to bring in other trans people not involved in the movement,” she said. “We need to create a space where we can share views and strategies and experiences.”

Those conversations must be an ongoing process until the killings of Black trans women like Rae’Lynn Thomas, Dee Whigham, and Skye Mockabee stop.

“As we commemorate this year, we remember who and why we organized Black Trans Liberation Tuesday last year. It’s important we realize that Black trans lives are still being affected in ways that everyday people don’t realize,” Hearns said. “We must understand why movements exist and why people take extreme action to continuously interrupt the system that will gladly forget them.”


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