South Dakota: What the Hell Are They Thinking?

Charlotte Taft

I remember from my own clinic years that when a woman came to our front desk crying and shaking I always knew she had been waylaid by the Fake Clinic directly across the hall.

Now that South Dakota has actually passed legislation requiring every woman seeking an abortion to be ‘counseled’ by a Fake Clinic, it’s obvious that, in all fairness, every pregnant woman who is considering having a baby has to be counseled at an abortion clinic. Of course that wouldn’t make any sense because, unlike the Fake Clinics, abortion clinics don’t have an agenda for the patient except that she make the best decision for herself!

What would happen if a woman who wanted a baby were counseled at an abortion clinic? The counselor or advocate would ask a few questions and then probably say something like “It sounds as though you know what you want. Congratulations. Can I help you find any community resources to help?”

What will happen when a woman who wants an abortion is counseled at a Fake Clinic? The monstrous deception that occurs in the Fake Clinics has been exposed in films such as the HBO Special 12th and Delaware. Because the Fakes have a well-hidden agenda, everything they do is designed to frighten and shame a woman who knows it is not the right time for her to have a baby. This fraudulence is clearly set out in the instructions given by the diabolical Robert Pearson, who came up with this brilliant and evil plan way back in 1967 when abortion was first legal in Hawaii. Pearson himself acknowledged and defended the deception in a 1994 speech: “obviously, we’re fighting Satan… A killer, who in this case is the girl who wants to kill her baby, has no right to information that will help her kill her baby. Therefore, when she calls and says, ‘Do you do abortions?’ we do not tell her, No, we don’t do abortions.” The volunteers in his centers and others like them don’t mind tricking women because they think they are following some ‘higher law’.  They don’t mind lying and misrepresenting things like the specious breast cancer-abortion link, the dangers of abortion, and most cruel of all, the help available to a woman who realizes that she honestly cannot support a child financially. The original Pearson manual includes: “[o]ur name of the game is to get the woman to come in as do the abortion chambers. Be put off by nothing… Let nothing stop you. The stakes are life or death.” In 12th and Delaware we witnessed a young woman who came to a Fake and was so terrified by what they told her about abortion that she went home and months later knew with great anguish that she was still in no position to have and support a child. But by then she had little choice.

I remember in my own clinic years that when a woman came to our front desk crying and shaking I always knew she had been waylaid by the Fake Clinic directly across the hall from us–the Fake Clinic that advertised Free Pregnancy Testing and Financial Assistance.  There was no financial assistance for abortion in Dallas, Texas.  We did everything we knew to alert women to its existence including telling everyone who called us that the Fake Clinic was next door. But women who were poor, didn’t speak English, and had the very fewest resources went to the Fake Clinic because they believed they would be able to get a free abortion. During one of the most stressful days of their lives, some of our patients still got confused and went in the wrong door. Sometimes the Fake Clinic would actually send their white-coated volunteers out into the parking lot to take our unwitting patients into their facility–like spiders luring flies to their doom.

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We always spent extra time with patients who had been to the Fake Clinic because we knew they hadn’t been told the truth. But I was shocked to really GET how powerful the lies were. I counseled with a patient who had been to the Fake. She said she didn’t feel like she could get up and leave even though she knew it wasn’t the right place, because the woman reminded her of her grandmother and she didn’t want to be rude. In counseling she seemed resolved about her choice, so we did all the usual paperwork and lab work. She was early in pregnancy so an abortion was many times safer than continuing a pregnancy. I went through her abortion with her.  After the five-minute procedure she burst into tears and said, “I can’t believe I lived”.

As a result of that experience, we sent a spy over to the Fake Clinic to steal one of their tapes so that we could see what our patients were seeing. We were more than appalled. After that our counseling with victims of the Fakes included extensive debriefing about what they had been told, what they had seen, and how it had affected them. I don’t care how extensive your counseling is, or how skilled, it is damned hard for any woman to feel safe when she been told she will probably die from an abortion.

There are millions of stories of women who have gone to Fakes Clinics. Here’s just one more.

“Then they asked us what we wanted to do and my daughter and I said we decided the best thing for her to do was have an abortion and how much would that cost? The two ladies said ‘please wait a minute’ and left us … They came back with a doll and … scissors … and said: ‘this is what your baby looks like now and we want you to start cutting her up because that’s what will happen if you get an abortion – so start cutting!’ I grabbed her and threw the doll at those ladies and got out of there fast! I later found out it wasn’t a real clinic…” (excerpt from Legal but Out of Reach published by the National Network of Abortion Funds)

With all this evidence, and the founder of this movement himself acknowledging that the purpose of these facilities is to deceive women, what are we to think about legislators who would intentionally subject even one woman to this travesty?

Can it be that they actually hate us because someone told them that Eve was to blame for all the problems in the world? If anyone had any doubts that the recent insane barrage of anti abortion legislation in state after state is based in total disrespect for women, this should make it clear. It truly is a War Against Women.

News Sexual Health

State with Nation’s Highest Chlamydia Rate Enacts New Restrictions on Sex Ed

Nicole Knight Shine

By requiring sexual education instructors to be certified teachers, the Alaska legislature is targeting Planned Parenthood, which is the largest nonprofit provider of such educational services in the state.

Alaska is imposing a new hurdle on comprehensive sexual health education with a law restricting schools to only hiring certificated school teachers to teach or supervise sex ed classes.

The broad and controversial education bill, HB 156, became law Thursday night without the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican who switched his party affiliation to Independent in 2014. HB 156 requires school boards to vet and approve sex ed materials and instructors, making sex ed the “most scrutinized subject in the state,” according to reproductive health advocates.

Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers of Alaska’s legislature.

Championing the restrictions was state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla), who called sexuality a “new concept” during a Senate Education Committee meeting in April. Dunleavy added the restrictions to HB 156 after the failure of an earlier measure that barred abortion providers—meaning Planned Parenthood—from teaching sex ed.

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Dunleavy has long targeted Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest nonprofit provider of sexual health education, calling its instruction “indoctrination.”

Meanwhile, advocates argue that evidence-based health education is sorely needed in a state that reported 787.5 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 people in 2014—the nation’s highest rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Surveillance Survey for that year.

Alaska’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than the national average.

The governor in a statement described his decision as a “very close call.”

“Given that this bill will have a broad and wide-ranging effect on education statewide, I have decided to allow HB 156 to become law without my signature,” Walker said.

Teachers, parents, and advocates had urged Walker to veto HB 156. Alaska’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Amy Jo Meiners, took to Twitter following Walker’s announcement, writing, as reported by Juneau Empire, “This will cause such a burden on teachers [and] our partners in health education, including parents [and] health [professionals].”

An Anchorage parent and grandparent described her opposition to the bill in an op-ed, writing, “There is no doubt that HB 156 is designed to make it harder to access real sexual health education …. Although our state faces its largest budget crisis in history, certain members of the Legislature spent a lot of time worrying that teenagers are receiving information about their own bodies.”

Jessica Cler, Alaska public affairs manager with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, called Walker’s decision a “crushing blow for comprehensive and medically accurate sexual health education” in a statement.

She added that Walker’s “lack of action today has put the education of thousands of teens in Alaska at risk. This is designed to do one thing: Block students from accessing the sex education they need on safe sex and healthy relationships.”

The law follows the 2016 Legislative Round-up released this week by advocacy group Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The report found that 63 percent of bills this year sought to improve sex ed, but more than a quarter undermined student rights or the quality of instruction by various means, including “promoting misinformation and an anti-abortion agenda.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

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“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.