2009 PushSummit Day One: This is What Midwifery Looks Like!

Amie Newman

What's going on in Birmingham, Alabama this week? Midwives and activists from around the country are gathering to share stories, challenges and successes on legalizing and licensing midwifery in all states.

Thanks to Steff Hedenkamp of The Big Push for Midwives, we received this great report-back from the first day’s goings-on at the 2009 PushSummit, in Birmingham, Alabama this year.

Steff writes:

"Day One of PushSummit 2009 was excellent. Our state
activists made the tough decisions to leave their own frontlines and travel
enormous distances to come together to share their collective wisdom on how
best to educate policymakers, work with the media, and advance their respective
efforts to enact legislation to license and regulate Certified Professional

In our opening session, Pushers heard "State of the Push"
Reports from 14 states across the PushNation. We heard from states ranging from
those with long histories of having licensed and regulated Certified
Professional Midwives to those states who are "in the first trimester" of their
grassroots mobilization efforts.

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One of the highlights of Day One was a special screening of Bringin’
in Da Spirit
, a documentary film about midwives narrated by Phylicia Rashad and
directed by Rhonda L. Haynes. This was followed by the keynote presentation
by Nadiyah Seraaj of the International Center for Traditional Childbearing
(ICTC) in Portland, Oregon, which was created to support black women who
wish to become midwives. Seraaj urged all participants to join ICTC at www.blackmidwives.org.

From fundraising to bill language, to growing organizational
capacity and effective networking, Day One was a blockbuster event detailing
the various roles that grassroots advocates can play in the body politic. Stay
tuned for more from Birmingham, Alabama …"

But it’s not all Steff, all the time, of course! Here is some feedback from other attendees:

Lisa from Alabama said: "Awesome first day!  It’s just good to hear from states like
Idaho for example, where Certified Professional Midwives are now regulated and
licensed … as well as to hear from states that are looking at laws they already
have that could be stronger to better support increased access to
out-of-hospital maternity care … it feels like things are really coming together
nationwide for moms and babies."

Rachel from Missouri said: "This is the first conference
that I have ever attended that I didn’t want to leave the room at some point. I
just wanted to hear what everyone had to say."

Karen from Alabama said: "I wasn’t at the first PushSummit
in Chicago, but I have been really uplifted at this year’s. It was interesting
to hear the different reports from the states and to hear what everyone is

Russ Fawcett (from North Carolina) said: "What we heard today was a
chorus of resolve, many new brilliant ideas, and inspiring stories of success
from our state grassroots activists. These are real people with families who
have had life-changing experiences that have brought them to their advocacy
efforts, and we are so fortunate they choose to tirelessly give of their time,
talent and treasure to increase access to out-of-hospital birth.


Missouri delegation to the  2009 PushSummit: Rachel Williston, Dr. Elizabeth Allemann, Steff Hedenkamp, Mary UelandMissouri delegation to the 2009 PushSummit: Rachel Williston, Dr. Elizabeth Allemann, Steff Hedenkamp, Mary Ueland

Roundup: Last One to The Supreme Court Is a Rotten Egg

Robin Marty

It's a race to see who can get in front of the Supreme Court first. Plus, parallel realities in the mini roundup.

In case there were any doubts, the past few weeks seems to have settled it: anti-choice activists have one goal this year, and it’s to try and get in front of the Supreme Court.  Thanks to the legacy of President George W. Bush, the court is at perhaps its most conservative level ever, and the activists can’t wait to test it out.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in Nebraska, where anti-choice advocates are pushing hard to get what they know is a federally unconstitutional new law passed by the legislature.
[A]bortion opponents are looking for opportunities to push the court even further in restricting abortion.

think National Right to Life wants to see something go to the Supreme
Court that would provide more protection to the unborn child,” said
Mary Spaulding Balch, a lobbyist for the organization.

A new Nebraska legislative proposal could provide that opportunity.

Bill 1103 would ban abortions after 20 weeks unless the procedure would
save a woman’s life or “avert serious risk of substantial and
irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

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of the Legislature Mike Flood of Norfolk said he didn’t introduce the
bill with the goal of having it wind up before the Supreme Court.

Rather, he wants to stop Dr. LeRoy Carhart of Bellevue from becoming the region’s main provider of late-term abortions.

Opponents as well as supporters of abortion rights agree the proposal would go beyond what current high court rulings allow.

“This bill is unconstitutional as it’s drafted,” said Janet Crepps, of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

who supports the bill should be clear that this is just a vehicle for
them to go back to the Supreme Court and take rights away from women,”
she said.

But Nebraska may have to get in line, as Florida sees their overly restrictive unconstitutional potential law, and one ups it with an outright ban.
A legislator who has travelled the world as a Baptist minister wants
Florida to ban abortion — inviting a U.S. Supreme Court rematch over
law, morality and medicine.
Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, cites the state and federal
Constitutions, as well as the Declaration of Independence, in asserting
that all people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights, and that the first among these rights is the right to life."
Nearly one-third of his "Florida for Life Act" is devoted to
legislative "findings," including statements that life begins at
conception and that the high court’s 1973 and 1992 rulings legalizing
abortion were wrong.

Stephanie Kunkel, state director of Planned Parenthood, called the
bill "totally unconstitutional." She said polls and experience in other
states show the public to be pro-choice, although the Republican-run
Legislature leans the other way to varying degrees.

is the most rigid and inflexible ban on abortion in the United States,"
said Kunkel. "Not only does it ban abortion, it also has absolutely no
exceptions for rape or incest."

She said abortion
opponents tried a similar plan in South Dakota with a ballot initiative
that lost by 56-44 percent in 2006. Two years later, she said, another
abortion ban was voted down in that state.

"His ultimate
goal here is to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade, by
passing an unconstitutional bill," she said. "This fight would have to
end up in the U.S. Supreme Court."

The conservative Roberts Court might reverse the Roe ruling, she said. That’s about the only thing Kunkel and Van Zant agree on. 

Ohio is also taking a swing at federal abortion laws,  although in their case it is seen as largely symbolic, rather than a potential Supreme Court challenge.
The Republican-majority Ohio Senate approved a resolution Feb. 17
urging federal officials to refrain from allowing public funding of
abortions or establishing national laws that usurp states’ regulation
of the procedure.
The resolution, passed on a party-line vote
with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing, is a preemptive
strike against the national Freedom of Choice Act — legislation that
has not been introduced in Congress this session.

Sens. Tim
Grendell (R-Chesterland) and Steve Buehrer (R-Delta) said the federal
act would create the right to an abortion and prevent states from
regulating abortion procedures.

The Senate resolution urges President Barack Obama and members of Congress to oppose the act, should it be introduced.

Still not every state has made it their sole mission to either challenge Roe V. Wade or current abortion rights.  Hawaii, instead, is going in the opposite direction.

The House of Representatives yesterday paved the
way for Hawaii to become the first state in the nation to repeal its
abortion law.

The repeal bill passed by a 31-20 vote and is expected to breeze through the Senate on Tuesday.

Every member voted on the measure.

Barring major defects in the bill, Gov. John A. Burns is expected to let the bill become law without his signature.

It will automatically become law 10 days after he receives it.

The Governor has stated in the past that he supports repeal.

Although the measure is laced with amendments, it still retains its basic intent—to repeal Hawaii’s 101-year-old abortion law.

"I am glad that it is all over," Rep. George W.T. Loo said.

"I feel this is something we all can live by, and I hope it is not abused."

co-chairman of the joint conference committee that worked out the
compromise bill, originally brought the issue to legislative attention
several years ago.

The current law says a woman may get an abortion only when her life is in danger.

The bill would repeal this and make abortion a matter of conscience between a woman and her physician 

Mini Roundup:  On Friday, the mini roundup had a newspaper article about a doctor fighting the medical board to keep his license. Now, here’s the Lifenews version of the story. No wonder it often seems like anti-choice activists are working with different "facts" than the rest of the population.
February 22, 2010

for NC bishops as state abandons plan to compare
pro-life laws
Catholic Culture

‘accounting trick,’ taxpayers foot
abortion bills

clinics fear state budget cuts
Santa Rosa Press Democrat

for Katine men to take more interest in
family planning
The Guardian

theology professor advises student to work with Planned Parenthood


February 21, 2010

Pill and Breast Cancer
American Thinker

who assaulted a
pro-life protester cancels abortion and
thanks protester

Ultrasound Bill Should Be Passed
Wheeling Intelligencer

blurs ethical lines
News Star

Senate proposes opposition to ‘Freedom of Choice Act’
Stow Sentry

Abortion Law
Repeal Now Appears to be Certainty

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

laws may start in Nebraska
Omaha World-Herald

Parenthood Employee Resigns, Exposes Undesirable Aspect of Legal
Associated Content

demands on health care reform are wrong
The Hudson Reporter

posters to stay: candidate
ABC Online

doctors challenge proposed New Zealand
abortion guidelines
Catholic News Agency

family planning
services can save taxpayers millions

Spartanburg Herald Journal

groups that help families
The Coloradoan

27 family planning
projects given to NGOs
Daily Times


February 20, 2010

Abortion Law
York Times

decision not up to the government
Allentown Morning Call

drugs warning
Daily News

group rallies against clinic in East Knoxville

County couple deceived in
adoption scam

Harper, ‘maternal health’ isn’t very healthy without a choice
Globe and Mail

Look: Across the Aisle,
Pro-Life Bond Strong in Health Care Fight

Palin as Inspiration, More Conservative Women Making Voices Heard

take for granted reproductive rights

Ottawa Citizen

recruiting couples for study of natural
family planning
Georgia Bulletin

tells commission about opposition to Planned Parenthood
Sturgis Journal

monitors sex scenes on television


February 19, 2010

Tim Pawlenty Promotes
Pro-Life, Opposes Obama Health Care at CPAC

Women Leaders Address CPAC Conference: We’re Winning on Abortion

Advocates to Rally Next Week as Legislature Hears Abortion Bills

Judge Rules Comprehensive
Pro-Life Law on Abortion Unconstitutional

To Decide Constitutionality Of Oklahoma
Abortion Law
News On 6

morality matters, it’s Catholic v. Catholic on line
USA Today

Health Care Reconciliation Bill Expected Monday, Then Summit

Bill Filed in Legislature
The Jacksonville Observer

wants Florida to ban
Tallahassee Democrat

doctor accused of
abortion on 13-year-old
Washington Post

Abortion and
black children
Star-Ledger – NJ.com

Court Calls 2009
Abortion Restriction Law Unconstitutional
ABC News

Care Reform: How Democrats Might Deal With
Abortion Language

bill would make
abortion punishable by life in prison

Billboards: Strong Words Spark Debate in Atlanta’s Black Neighborhoods
ABC News

Practitioner Keeps License Despite Violating Court Order, Medical Board

Forced to Side with Same-Sex Couple in
Adoption Case

Bishops hold fast in rejecting fertility technology
Washington Post

DIGEST: Planned Parenthood flourishes

BP News

woman is more than a baby machine
Ottawa Citizen

to Provide Emergency
Contraception on US Bases

pregnancy rate up for 1st time in more than 10 years
American Medical News

Chronicle: Pregnancy drastically alters teen life

the Myths

version of sex education bill to get hearing
Salt Lake Tribune

What Is the Message From This Election? Ultraconservatives Are Emboldened

Margaret Conway

Only time will tell how this this week's election and phase of ultra-conservatism among Republicans will play out. What do you predict--and how should pro-choice, pro-reproductive justice advocates respond? Let us know.

It’s  often
useless to draw sweeping conclusions from any off-year or special
election.  Turnout can be a little
wacky (for example, it was much lower in VA than in 2008), and is often
dominated by older and high-frequency voters.  At this writing, all the data aren’t in, so it’s too early to
delve too deeply into whether or how to project voter sentiment onto the course of future

That said, I believe that for supporters of reproductive
rights and justice, there is one important take-away from yesterday’s elections: 
ultra-conservatives are emboldened
.  It has nothing to do with trends—it’s now a reality.

What will this mean?

First,  we will see more challenges in Republican primaries.  Despite losing the election in NY-23, conservatives
feel they took down a traitor, pro-choice Republican Dede Scozzafava.  She was even considered by some to be more liberal than the Democrat,
though both she and Owens were pro-choice. Already, right-wing activists and tea-baggers,
led by FreedomWorks’ chair and former GOP House majority leader Dick Armey, are
preparing to challenge Republican candidates in more than a dozen House and
Senate races in 2010." "What you’re going to see," said Armey,
"is moderates
and conservatives across the country in primaries."

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It’s not just those anti-tax, socialist-fearing
FreedomWorks folks, but anti-choice activists who feel buoyed by the election.  The Susan B. Anthony List, which
supports anti-choice women candidates, teamed up with the National Organization
for Marriage to mobilize votes for Conservative Party Candidate Doug
Hoffman.  They spent
$142,000 in the race,
including $11,000 in bundled contributions from organization members and sent nine
field staffers to the district.
Their reason for this
investment?  The road to a GOP
majority is not paved with taxpayer-funded abortion, same-sex marriage and
government-run healthcare

Neither FreedomWorks nor SBA care that a House seat that
has been in Republican hands for more than 100 years is now held by a
Democrat.  They would rather see a
Democrat than a moderate Republican hold the seat.  One scenario that could result is that these emboldened
ultra-conservatives and the moderates keep fighting amongst themselves,
nominating unelectable candidates in races across the country. 
Will what is left of moderate Republicans disappear?  Is that a good or a bad thing?

But this brings me to my other main concern about this
bolder, more visible ultra-conservative push.  How will elected Democrats react?   In the same breath that they were trumpeting their
so-called success, SBA used their election work to warn Congress about health
care:  “Such success should serve
as a cautionary tale to Congress and the White House, whose overreach on health
care could experience a similar demise.”  This of course is referring, in part at least, as “no
abortion coverage in health care.”

A problematic scenario that could result is that moderate Democrats,
too many of whom are already weak-in-the-spine on abortion rights,  will use this as an excuse to throw
reproductive health under the bus—on health care coverage and beyond.  This is avoidable if Democrats actually
look at real data.  Exit polls show that NJ and VA elections were dominated by bread-and-butter issues of
economy and jobs, health care, and taxes. 
There is no need to begin compromising on issues like reproductive
health in an attempt to placate voters.

It’s also avoidable if we can re-energize our base,
especially pro-choice and pro-health care women.   Noted, it’s hard to motivate a base through
compromise, or when our president is shying away from reproductive rights so
publicly.  But just as our
opponents are openly partnering with anti-gay marriage groups, we can form
partnerships with LGBT and other progressive partners to create a broader,
motivated core of advocates who can hold pro-choice officials accountable
before and after election day.

Only time will tell how this new phase of
ultra-conservatism among Republicans will play out over the next year.  What do you predict–and how
should pro-choice, pro-reproductive justice advocates prepare and respond to
increased pressure from the teabag wing of the Republican party?