The Bishops’ “Dixi”-Land Ban

Lon Newman

Public policy on sex, sexuality and reproduction in a pluralistic society must be based on evidence, science, justice, reason and civil discourse. So when the Catholic Bishops or others throw a political tantrum, we must never reward them.

The belief by some religious traditions that contraception
is intrinsically evil, though sincere, does not make it true. The belief that
it is “written in everyone’s heart as “natural law
is no more persuasive. If true, it seems there would be no disagreement.

Catholic leaders know they
not persuaded one another, the public, or
their own
laity, to agree
that contraception is evil. So when it comes to public policy, rather than
engage in dialogue and debate, they seem to make a statement and end it with a
“Dixi” (Latin for “I have spoken”) as though that is
that should be necessary

For those who accept the
authority of the Catholic hierarchy, that is enough.  But in the democratic process of establishing public policies
that are respectful of Catholics and non-Catholics, it is unresponsive
and insufficient.

Nonetheless, reproductive
rights advocates have recently witnessed ultimatum upon ultimatum.

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Contraceptive benefits?               This
College will close!

Gay discrimination prohibited?    No more poverty programs!

Emergency contraception required?  Emergency rooms to close!

Pharmacists required to fill prescriptions? They’ll be forced to quit!

Health insurance reform with
abortion coverage?  
No health care reform!

This kind of tactic is often inaccurately
called “blackmail,” but a better description would be “tantrum.”  Infants and
toddlers who, frustrated in their efforts to control the environment or their
parents, sometimes act out emotionally, physically, and inappropriately.  Adults try to ignore this behavior and
toddlers outgrow it. advises us:do not reward your child
after a tantrum by giving in. This will only prove to your little one that the
tantrum was effective.” 

The message that we must ensure our elected officials
and policy makers learn is that good policy-making must be based on
evidence, science, justice and reason and that means a civil discussion with an
informed and engaged audience is key. We may not always be able to ignore
childish political tantrums, but we must never accommodate and encourage

For this reason, Young
Catholics for Choice (
yCFC) and
Family Planning Health Services (
FPHS) will collaborate
on and launch a Wisconsin-based advertising and media campaign to promote
information about
emergency contraception (EC). 

Misinformation and distortion about emergency contraception has confused the
public, policy makers, and especially
Catholic parishioners.  Most people have an incomplete and inaccurate
understanding of EC.  Until that changes, for women who need EC, neither the
health care principle of ‘
informed consent‘ nor the religious principle of ‘informed conscience’ will have real meaning. 

The purpose of the campaign is to replace misunderstanding with evidence
and knowledge so individuals, including people of every faith, can make
decisions about emergency contraception with a more fully informed conscience.

Each of the four cities where
the informational ads will run has a distinct example of the need for a more
informed public.

  • In Eau Claire, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
    reported to us that an area Catholic hospital is violating the intent of
    state law because it refuses
    to offer EC to rape victims unless the victim submits to time-consuming, expensive,
    and unnecessary testing.

  • In Milwaukee, the new archbishop has declared his opposition
    to Wisconsin’s “Compassionate Care for Rape Victims” law based on a medically-unsupported
    belief that the most common form of EC (Plan B ™) “causes abortions

  • In Green Bay, two television stations refused to run
    the ads we produced with Young Catholics for Choice earlier than 9:00 p.m.
    because they were “too controversial.”


  • In Wausau, local priests routinely pray the rosary in front of our family
    planning clinic (which does not provide abortions or medical referrals
    for abortion) with signs that say “Stop Chemical Abortion” and “Family Planners
    Promote Child Promiscuity.”


Our collaborative informational
advertising campaign about emergency contraception will begin this week and bring
together secular and sectarian voices to inform our citizens. There will
be radio and television ads throughout Wisconsin (and on the web) to encourage
women of reproductive age to go to
to learn more about EC and to have Plan B™ on hand before they need it.

Speaking about political
engagement and the Catholic Church, the new Archbishop of Milwaukee
stated: “If
we don’t challenge one another’s statements, then we’re relinquishing our
responsibility to the common good.” 
Our emergency contraception information campaign will meet that responsibility
with sectarian and secular voices.

News Abortion

Pennsylvania’s TRAP Law Could Be the Next to Go Down

Teddy Wilson

The Democrats' bill would repeal language from a measure that targets abortion clinics, forcing them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal a state law requiring abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF). The bill comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a similar provision in Texas’ anti-choice omnibus law known as HB 2.

A similar so-called targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law was passed in Pennsylvania in 2011 with bipartisan majorities in both the house and state senate, and was signed into law by former Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

SB 1350, sponsored by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) would repeal language from Act 122 that requires abortion clinics to meet ASF regulations. The text of the bill has not yet been posted on the state’s legislative website.

The bill is co-sponsored by state Sens. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia), Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), and Judy Schwank (D-Berks).

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Leach said in a statement that there has been a “nationwide attack on patients and their doctors,” but that the Supreme Court’s ruling upholds the constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.

“Abortion is a legal, Constitutionally-protected right that should be available to all women,” Leach said. “Every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly swore an oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States, so we must act swiftly to repeal this unconstitutional requirement.”

TRAP laws, which single out abortion clinics and providers and subject them to regulations that are more stringent than those applied to medical clinics, have been passed in several states in recent years.

However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that struck down two of the provisions in HB 2 has already had ramifications on similar laws passed in other states with GOP-held legislatures.

The Supreme Court blocked similar anti-choice laws in Wisconsin and Mississippi, and Alabama’s attorney general announced he would drop an appeal to a legal challenge of a similar law.

News Abortion

Reproductive Justice Groups Hit Back at RNC’s Anti-Choice Platform

Michelle D. Anderson

Reproductive rights and justice groups are greeting the Republican National Convention with billboards and media campaigns that challenge anti-choice policies.

Reproductive advocacy groups have moved to counter negative images that will be displayed this week during the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, while educating the public about anti-choice legislation that has eroded abortion care access nationwide.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, along with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), Trump’s choice for vice president, have supported a slew of anti-choice policies.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health is among the many groups bringing attention to the Republican Party’s anti-abortion platform. The New York City-based nonprofit organization this month erected six billboards near RNC headquarters and around downtown Cleveland hotels with the message, “If abortion is made illegal, how much time will a person serve?”

The institute’s campaign comes as Created Equal, an anti-abortion organization based in Columbus, Ohio, released its plans to use aerial advertising. The group’s plan was first reported by The Stream, a conservative Christian website.

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The site reported that the anti-choice banners would span 50 feet by 100 feet and seek to “pressure congressional Republicans into defunding Planned Parenthood.” Those plans were scrapped after the Federal Aviation Administration created a no-fly zone around both parties’ conventions.

Created Equal, which was banned from using similar messages on a large public monitor near the popular Alamo historic site in San Antonio, Texas, in 2014, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, said in an interview with Rewire that Created Equal’s stance and tactics on abortion show how “dramatically out of touch” its leaders compared to where most of the public stands on reproductive rights. Last year, a Gallup poll suggested half of Americans supported a person’s right to have an abortion, while 44 percent considered themselves “pro-life.”

About 56 percent of U.S. adults believe abortion care should be legal all or most of the time, according to the Pew Research Center’s FactTank.

“It’s important to raise awareness about what the RNC platform has historically endorsed and what they have continued to endorse,” Miller told Rewire.

Miller noted that more than a dozen women, like Purvi Patel of Indiana, have been arrested or convicted of alleged self-induced abortion since 2004. The billboards, she said, help convey what might happen if the Republican Party platform becomes law across the country.

Miller said the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s campaign had been in the works for several months before Created Equal announced its now-cancelled aerial advertising plans. Although the group was not aware of Created Equal’s plans, staff anticipated that intimidating messages seeking to shame and stigmatize people would be used during the GOP convention, Miller said.

The institute, in a statement about its billboard campaign, noted that many are unaware of “both the number of anti-choice laws that have passed and their real-life consequences.” The group unveiled an in-depth analysis looking at how the RNC platform “has consistently sought to make abortion both illegal and inaccessible” over the last 30 years.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio last week began an online newspaper campaign that placed messages in the Cleveland Plain Dealer via, the Columbus Dispatch, and the Dayton Daily News, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio spokesman Gabriel Mann told Rewire.

The ads address actions carried out by Created Equal by asking, “When Did The Right To Life Become The Right To Terrorize Ohio Abortion Providers?”

“We’re looking to expose how bad [Created Equal has] been in these specific media markets in Ohio. Created Equal has targeted doctors outside their homes,” Mann said. “It’s been a very aggressive campaign.”

The NARAL ads direct readers to, an educational website created by NARAL; Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio; the human rights and reproductive justice group, New Voices Cleveland; and Preterm, the only abortion provider located within Cleveland city limits.

The website provides visitors with a chronological look at anti-abortion restrictions that have been passed in Ohio since the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973.

In 2015, for example, Ohio’s Republican-held legislature passed a law requiring all abortion facilities to have a transfer agreement with a non-public hospital within 30 miles of their location. 

Like NARAL and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Preterm has erected a communications campaign against the RNC platform. In Cleveland, that includes a billboard bearing the message, “End The Silence. End the Shame,” along a major highway near the airport, Miller said.

New Voices has focused its advocacy on combatting anti-choice policies and violence against Black women, especially on social media sites like Twitter.

After the police killing of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy, New Voices collaborated with the Repeal Hyde Art Project to erect billboard signage showing that reproductive justice includes the right to raise children who are protected from police brutality.

Abortion is not the only issue that has become the subject of billboard advertising at the GOP convention.

Kansas-based environmental and LGBTQ rights group Planting Peace erected a billboard depicting Donald Trump kissing his former challenger Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) just minutes from the RNC site, according to the Plain Dealer.

The billboard, which features the message, “Love Trumps Hate. End Homophobia,” calls for an “immediate change in the Republican Party platform with regard to our LGBT family and LGBT rights,” according to news reports.

CORRECTION: A version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of Americans in favor of abortion rights.