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How Have Politics Around Reproductive Rights Changed Since Roe?

For all our coverage of the 29th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, click here.

Rewire Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson and Merle Hoffman joined Rose Aguilar on her KALW radio show to discuss the politics of and myriad legal challenges to a woman’s right to privacy and choice protected under law by the now 39 year-old Roe vs. Wade supreme court decision. 

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The World at Seven Billion: Individual Needs, Environmental Challenges and U.S. Policy

During October 2011, demographers have determined that the world’s population will reach 7 billion people.  This milestone comes at a time of renewed debates about demographic changes, individual human rights and women’s rights specifically, attacks on basic reproductive health care, and accelerated environmental disruption. This audio recording is from conference call hosted by Rewire, together with our colleagues at the Guttmacher Institute, Population Action International, and the YP Foundation of India.  Speakers on the call include Susan Cohen, Director of Government Affairs at Guttmacher Institute, Roger-Mark DeSouza, Vice President for Research and Director of the Climate Program at Population Action International, and Ishita Chaudhry, CEO of the YP Foundation of India.  The speakers address a range of issues on the challenges posed at the individual, national and global levels of a large and growing human population, and the evident solutions to many of the same.  We encourage you to listen to and share this recording.

This is part of a series commissioned by Rewire to examine the causes and consequences of population and environmental change from various perspectives and the policies and actions needed to both avoid and mitigate the inevitable impacts of these changes.

All of the articles in this seven billion people series can be found here.

Gov. Perry Cut Funds For Women’s Health In Texas

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NPR’s Wade Goodwyn reports on Texas’ decision to spend less money on family planning and women’s health clinics and more on crisis pregnancy centers and the state-backe perpetuation of the war on contraception:

For hundreds of thousands of Texas women and teens between the ages of 13 and 50, the 71 family planning clinics in the state serve as their gateway to health care, and for many of those women, visiting the clinics is the only time they see a nurse practitioner or a doctor.

This year, the Texas legislature and Gov. Perry cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds. Dr. Celia Neavel is director of adolescent health at the People’s Community Clinic in East Austin and says it is a devastating blow.

Continue reading at NPR…

Gov. Perry Cut Funds For Women’s Health In Texas

The All-Out War On Women

Download  Attacks on reproductive rights on multiple fronts, from attempts to cut off insurance coverage for abortion to attempts to stop contraception funding. Also, Kate Bornstein talks about transgendered rights.

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Rape-esque

Young Turks on HR3

GRITtv on HR3

Pence’s war on federal funding for contraception

Shocking (not): Lila Rose doctors footage

Lila Rose: epic slut-shamer

Some weeks I have to really look around for interesting stories about reproductive and sexual health.  But lately, there’s more stories than I can cram into a 25 minute podcast!  This week, I’ll be touching on the national assault on all varieties of funding of sexual and reproductive health care.  Also, Kate Bornstein will be on to talk about a variety of topics relating to being transgendered. 

The Daily Show took on one of the issues that will be covered in a segment in the podcast.  On this segment, Kristen Schaal took on the language in a major anti-choice bill that implied that the vast majority of rapes aren’t really rapes.

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It’s one of the better examples I’ve seen of dismantling rape culture through humor.  Well-played, Daily Show!

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Last week, I reported on HR3, a bill that is falsely named “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act”.  Falsely named, because the bill is actually an attempt to stop private funding of abortion services, by hiking taxes on anyone who pays for an insurance plan with abortion coverage in it.  Functionally, it will eliminate any insurance offering of abortion coverage.  The bill wasn’t getting a lot of press, mostly because it’s believed, perhaps falsely, that it won’t get past the Senate and the President.  And then, out of the blue, a reporter for Mother Jones realized the bill closed the traditional exception for rape to one for cases only of “forcible” rape.  This language was vague, but would eliminate about 70% of rapes in practice. 

That was the misogynist straw that broke the camel’s back.  An outcry expanded on Twitter, blogs, and endless online petitions, taking offense at this bill.  Some people were motivated by being sick of having most rapes not considered real rapes.  Some were more upset at the expansion of restrictions on abortion.  Most people felt both things at once.  Outrage was felt on the Young Turks.

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To be clear, this bill does even more than they’re saying.  It absolutely restricts federal funding and private funds in HSAs, but it’s also expansive enough that it would, if it became law, make sure that no private insurance either through the exchange or through an employer would cover insurance.

What’s interesting here is that after addressing the policy issues, they get right into the outrage over the attempted redefinition of rape.

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Indeed, the rape thing is what got the most attention, from players from the DCCC to MoveOn.  The rest of the bill was considered bad, but the rape thing was the catalyst for outrage.  I think in part it’s because the rest of the bill was assumed to be un-passable, but the rape redefinition, even if it doesn’t pass into law, could contribute to a culture where many to most rape victims already feel they’re being told that they don’t count. 

GRITtv had Sady Doyle and Eesha Pandit on to talk about the bill, and how the pressure campaign around it changed the language in it, but didn’t really do much at all to make it a less awful bill.

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I think the term “forcible rape” was magnetizing because it really drove home how misogynist this kind of legislation is.  But that you take a single word out of it doesn’t mean that it’s not horrible and misogynist.  Sady continued on to make this point.

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Highly recommend watching the whole thing, for its accuracy and intelligence.  And, just to make sure that we get it that anti-choicers are misogynist, one of the bills on the table has been rewritten so that doctors don’t have to do abortions even if women will die in the next few hours or even minutes without one. This battle over funding and access is only just beginning.

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Not only are there two bills percolating through Congress that are attempts to severely restrict women’s access to abortion care, but there’s also a third bill, introduced by Tea Party favorite Rep. Mike Pence, that would shut down federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  Pence has long had a desire to shut down the organization that is the largest single provider of reproductive health services in the country, especially for low income women.  Pence tried to defund Planned Parenthood in 2009.  He uses abortion as a scare term to shut down access to contraception, STD testing, and cancer screening.

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These facts are true, but the presentation of them contains a lie.  Pence is trying to associate the funding with abortion, when in fact 100% of the federal funding goes to health services that aren’t abortion.  In fact, if you don’t like abortion because you love fetuses, you should be a loud supporter of Title X funds, as much and probably most go to preventing abortion. Pence has also bellyached that it costs money to pay for other people’s contraception, but actually it saves money.  Every dollar spent on family planning services saves Medicaid alone $4, to a tune of $1.2 billion a year. Fiscal conservatism should, in a rational world, be pro-contraception.

But as we all know, this has never been about fetuses or money, but is and always will be about sex and punishing women for it.  In support of Pence’s war on contraception for young women and poor women, Fox News, Andrew Breitbart and Live Action, an anti-choice organization run by Lila Rose, have started to spread conspiracy theories claiming Planned Parenthood conspires to assist sex traffickers.  Yes, it’s silly, but they’re really pushing this hard. Unfortunately for them, before the videos came out, Planned Parenthood reported the alleged sex traffickers to the FBI and released a news report saying so.  Unsurprisingly, Rose doesn’t let the viewer know about this in the videos, and instead lies and suggests they heard about trafficking of minors and didn’t do anything about it.

The first video they released did show an employee skirting the rules.  That employee was fired immediately, but I want to highlight how the video demonstrates that Planned Parenthood obeys the law. 

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So that was bad and she was fired immediately, though it’s worth noting that New Jersey is one of the clinics that complained about a sex trafficking ring.  But note that she’s trying to coach them to lie, and why?  Because the rest of the staff can be counted on to do their jobs.

And that’s basically the theme of the rest of the videos.  Planned Parenthood staff doing their jobs.  There’s evidence that Rose doctored the videos, likely to inject the words “sex worker” where the people who came in didn’t say it, and Media Matters definitively caught them shifting audio around to make it seem like certain answers were to questions that weren’t asked.  They’re very careful to make sure you never see the people asking, a definite red flag for doctoring.  But even with all these deceptions in place, they still fail to catch anyone doing anything wrong. In the second video, a staffer is shown, gasp, explaining legal rights to people who ask.

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Fox News made a huge fuss over this, claiming that Planned Parenthood showed a minor how to bypass the law.  This is a lie. In fact, the Supreme Court established judicial bypass.  It is the law.  Informing someone who asks of his or her rights is part of providing responsible medical care.  In addition, Media Matters discovered that Lila Rose doctored this footage to make it seem the woman was more forthcoming with this information than she actually was.

In the third video, there is evidence that the footage was doctored to insert the words “sex worker”, and that was not what the employees were necessarily hearing. Either way, the employees stonewalled the actors and didn’t allow them past the front room.

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The text in the video makes note of this, how they want you to be shocked, just appalled, that low income young women could get subsidies to pay for contraception. They also catch Planned Parenthood, gasp, assuring patients that their HIPAA rights to confidentiality will be respected, that immigrants can get care, and that they’ll try to translate for non-English speakers.  But they make sure that no one who isn’t actually there for care gets an appointment and routinely say patients-only.

These videos are a dud.  All Lila Rose has done is given her easily titillated audience a boner thinking about fictional underage prostitutes.  She could do that without bringing Planned Parenthood into it, but then she wouldn’t have the pseudo-moral justification to excuse it. But don’t believe the hype. Anyone this dishonest, who routinely leaves out the fact that Planned Parenthood called the cops after this, is not a moral person who should be trusted.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, an oldie but a goodie edition.  Lila Rose, speaking at a Family Research Council event, said this about women who have abortions.

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Just in case you weren’t clear that she’s just longing for a world that’s half Iranian theocracy, half Puritan New England.  If she got her way on this, she’d next ask that everyone who has premarital sex does it for a crowd throwing vegetables.

The Motherhood Taboo And The Conservative Anti-Woman Priorities

Download  Conservatives ignore jobs and start working heavily against reproductive rights. Carlina White solves her own kidnapping, and Barbara Almond talks about mothers and their secret shame.

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Humor for liberation

House tries to ban abortion funding of any sort

Tea Party prioritizes anti-choice legislation

Rachel Maddow actually notices the trend on choice

Carlina White solves her own kidnapping

Kidnapper turns self in

Limbaugh implies reading turns you into a woman

On this episode of Reality Cast, Barbara Almond will talk about the big taboo, feelings of ambivalence over motherhood.  Also, abortion surges to become a number one issue, even as people pretend it’s not, and a baby kidnapping highlights this rare problem.

Liza Donnelly did a great TED Talk about humor and feminism.

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It’s worth watching, since the laughs are mostly from cartoons she drew for the Power Point.

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Thomas Frank famously suggested in his book “What’s The Matter With Kansas” that social conservatives are being hoodwinked by abortion, that they’re voting for bans on abortion and instead getting screwed economically.  I think his book had a lot of insights, but on this he was wrong.  His assumption was that populist conservatives aren’t interested in destroying the social safety net was wrong, and his assumption that conservative leadership isn’t out to dismantle reproductive rights was wrong.  I don’t think there’s a hoodwink going on here.  There’s a whole cloth “screw everyone” kind of conservatism, and we’d be remiss in not acknowledging these realities. 

And, as if to prove this, the newly elected Republican leadership in the House went straight after restricting abortion access.  It was, literally, the third item of business.

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Boehner is lying.  There are no taxpayer-funded abortions.  What they’re doing is trying to make it so that you can’t buy insurance from anyone who offers abortion insurance, or you’ll lose your tax credit.  As a law, it wouldn’t have much of an effect; the Stupak compromise already made it likely most insurance companies will just drop any insurance coverage for abortion altogether.  But this is about making sure that this has to happen, no matter what.  Basically, any opportunity to grand stand about abortion and imply that women who get abortions are dirty sluts who shouldn’t be allowed to even touch the same money as everyone else is an opportunity that conservatives are going to take. 

I suppose Frank would say this is just another example of the Republicans throwing a symbolic victory to their base.  This bill will stall out after it’s passed.  But it’s also setting a precedent of defining taxypayer-funding way out of any lines ever drawn before.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans start claiming that it’s taxpayer funding if a woman who has had an abortion gets a tax deduction on her mortgage or drives on federal highways.  The idea is setting up women who have abortions as a class who are officially too filthy to have even symbolic contact with others.

Even though the Tea Party has been claimed by the mainstream media to be all about taxes and spending and not social conservatism, in fact this was red meat thrown directly to them.  Tea Party leader Mike Pence was all over this bill, where he laid out clearly that controlling female sexuality was a priority over economic issues.

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Honestly, the fact of a bad economy may just be making anti-choice sentiment worse for some on the right.  They tend to react to anxiety by doubling down their hatred and resentment of others, and women who are perceived as getting away with having sex are on the top of that list. 

Unfortunately, the social conservatism of the Tea Party doesn’t fit the narrative that’s been laid down by most of the media, and so coverage of this astounding turn of events has been slim.  The one exception, of course, was Rachel Maddow.  Isn’t it always?

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So, it’s basically the opposite of Frank’s formulation from years ago.  People vote for jobs, and they get attacks on abortion rights.  Sure, it’s red meat being thrown to a misogynist base. But that doesn’t matter—we need to stop pretending people who campaign against women’s rights don’t take the job of rolling back women’s rights seriously.  They take it more seriously than pretty much anything else.

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It’s got to be one of the most depressing heart-warming tales that has been brought to the public attention in awhile.  It started off mostly as a heart-tugger of a missing child reunited with a family that hasn’t seen her since she was a baby.

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And it had a really interesting, cool component, which is that the kidnapped baby, now a 23-year-old woman, figured it all out on her own. 

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And for a number of days, this was basically how the story was put to the public.  It was all hugs and tears and happiness and completeness.  But there were lingering questions you’d have to be a fool to ignore.  The big one is, who raised this woman for all these years?  Was she the same person who did the kidnapping?  Why would she do it?  Why would Carlina White be so suspicious of the woman who raised her?  There are a lot of questions that are, unfortunately, going to make a lot of people really uneasy.  And the answers quickly came to light. 

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Baby kidnappings are relatively rare, at least stranger kidnappings like this.  They fit into a pretty standard profile, which Ann Pettway fits, at least to some degree.  It’s usually women of child-bearing age, and they’re usually in troubled relationships with men, relationships that feature husbands or boyfriend denigrating them for failing to produce a baby.  I don’t know if that’s true of Pettway, but what is true is that she had a number of miscarriages and she resorted to baby-snatching so that she could feel like she was a mother.

That this happens at all should give us pause, because as rare as it is, this is an example of how bad gender essentialism regarding women can get.  It’s more than the anti-choice movement that is motivated by this notion that being a mother is every woman’s destiny and highest honor, and that women who don’t do that are failures.  Infertility is made more painful because of this gender essentialism.  And sometimes women get so desperate to prove themselves worthy women they steal babies.  If we lived in a world where motherhood was not pushed as some all-consuming thing that defines a woman, but just one aspect of a complex identity, perhaps this sort of thing wouldn’t happen so much. 

That said, baby-snatching is incredibly rare.  The chance of it happening is actually less than that of having your baby struck by lightening.  People do not want your baby.  Unfortunately, the response to this story has been to do news stories that imply that there’s a real chance that your baby is going to disappear if you blink too fast.

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In this segment they do note that it’s rare, but they don’t talk about the unintended side effect of the heightened surveillance at hospitals, which is that baby-snatchers have changed strategies.  A few years ago, almost all baby-snatching was walk in the hospital and walk out sorts of things.  In the vast majority of those cases, the kidnapper is caught swiftly, and the harm is minimal.  But now that it’s harder to do that, what’s gone up is baby-snatchers are attacking new mothers and pregnant women to steal their babies.  So, the price that’s being paid is more murders, some where near-due pregnant women are killed and the babies cut out of them.  I’m unconvinced that this is a price worth paying to stop a crime that’s actually pretty rare.

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, reading makes your pee pee fall off edition.  Or, at least that seems to be the basic thrust, no pun intended, of Rush Limbaugh’s latest gambit.

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Much of his show recently has been about listing the various things that will totally turn red-blooded American men into women, which are obviously, in his opinion, the worst things you can be.  Education is up there, but he’s also been ranting about vegetables and how awful they are. He apparently wants his audience to be ignorant and unhealthy and to die young, but you know, feeling manly all the way.

(AUDIO) Former Wisconsin School Board President’s Answer to Sex Ed? Ignorance is Best

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. Mark Twain 

On one side of Wisconsin’s school sex education debate are parents and community decision-makers who are very serious about helping young people protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, from sexually transmitted infections, from undiagnosed cancer, and from sexual exploitation and abuse. We know that education is not enough, but that doesn’t excuse advocating ignorance.

On the other side are those who believe that education about sexual health will encourage irresponsible and risky sexual behaviors. They believe this despite all evidence. They repeat it with conviction.

At the Merrill Public Schools Human Growth and Development Advisory Committee meeting last week, former school board President, Joe Fink, advised the committee to cease all sexual health education for a year. Because the new law requires medically accurate age-appropriate sex education or none at all, Mr. Fink proposed that doing nothing would prevent the district “from screwing up.”

You can listen to Mr. Fink speak for himself here:

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A Merrill teacher, Brian Suchocki, explained the risk of doing nothing with a true story: “We had a student who learned about testicular cancer in health class.  He was able to have the proper procedure done so he could lead a healthy life.”

The gap between supporters of sexual health education and the opposing side could not be drawn more clearly. I’ve been working to prevent teen pregnancy for 30 years, and throughout that time, opponents of sex education have believed that sex education encourages teens to engage in promiscuous sex, no matter the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They will believe it forever. But it just ain’t so.

For more information also see our colleague organization’s site, Below The Waist.

(AUDIO) Experts Debunk Anti-Choice Conspiracy Theories About Abortion, Race and Genocide

Editor’s note: Read all of Rewire’s coverage of this racist anti-choice campaign.

In recent weeks, anti-choice advocates across the country have used high rates of abortion among African-American women to re-new old charges of genocide and racial discrimination by reproductive health providers.  These myths do far more harm than good, as they are used to deny women, particularly low-income women, access to essential reproductive health care and do not address the very real issues of racism, poverty, and ill-health faced by communities of color.

On Tuesday, March 9th, 2010, Rewire hosted an audio media conference with experts and advocates working to combat these myths and correct the record on reproductive and sexual health needs of all women.

Speakers included:

Dr. Loretta Ross, National Coordinator of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.  Dr. Ross was the founder and former Executive Director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE), a training and resource center for grassroots activists on using human rights education to address social injustices in the United States.

Dr. Melissa Gilliam, an expert in pediatric and adolescent gynecology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and an active researcher.  Dr. Gilliam recently ended her term as Chair of the Board of the Guttmacher Institute, where she continues to serve as a board member.

Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), where she is responsible for leadership and administration of the Medical Affairs Division. Dr. Cullins has extensive clinical and administrative experience in reproductive health. Prior to joining Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she served as vice president and medical director of EngenderHealth, where she provided oversight and direction of technical teams responsible for providing technical support for reproductive health service delivery in over 25 countries.

Listen to the media conference call here:

Links to recently published articles on this issue can be found here:

(AUDIO) Laurie Rubiner: Stupak Amendment a Hobson’s Choice

Laurie Rubiner, Vice President for Policy of Planned Parenthood Federation, spoke with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer about the Stupak-Pitts amendment on Monday morning. Laurie explained that the Stupak amendment would actually mean millions of women would lose insurance coverage for abortion, even when purchasing a private plan:

“Right now if a woman goes to buy health insurance in the private market the majority of health plans offer abortion coverage in those plans. Under the Stupak-Pitts amendment in the new house insurance exchange women would not be allowed to purchase insurance that includes abortion coverage. That means that the millions of women who purchase insurance through this new exchange, the good news is they will get health insurance, the bad news is that the abortion coverage available today would be taken away from them and we think that’s a real Hobson’s choice.”

The Tea Party crowd is incredibly adept at hypocrisy. After months of hyperbolic cries about “big government” putting an end to your liberty and freedom by interfering with health care choices we now get an amendment that singles out a legal health care procedure and removes that procedure as a choice for women. And what’s worse, they even found a Democratic co-sponsor and 64 anti-choice Democrats to vote with them on the floor of the house.

Rubiner says pro-choice activists must turn their attention to the Senate where she “expects we will be able to temper” the Stupak amendment.

Listen to the interview here:

Uprising Radio Asks Wendy Norris: Where’s the Meat of the Media Discussion on Shriver Report?

In case you missed Wendy Norris’ excellent analysis of The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, on Rewire, Media Ignores Women’s Health Disparities in Shriver Report, you can listen to an interview with Wendy on KPTK’s Uprising Radio archived from this morning (click below to play):

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For the first time in U.S. history, half of all American workers are women and the report is being heralded for its’ focus on how far women have come in this country. This should be applauded, of course. And yet, as Wendy Norris points out, there are still dramatic disparities and inequities in our system. While the media has proclaimed the "closure of gender gap", Sonali Kolhatkar, host of Uprising, says that "disturbing disparites on women’s well-being are being downplayed or completely ignored."

"The Battle of the sexes is over!" the media keeps prematurely declaring in conjunction with the roll-out of The Shriver Report, says Wendy Norris during the interview. But, Norris says, though strides have been made we still have a very long way to go.

"Who is feeding into that glossing over of very shocking disparities that still remain between the sexes, discussed in this report? Maria Shriver herself is a part of the NBC week long programming of this report. What has NBC’s programming been like and is she being fair to her own report?" Kolhatkar wants to know.

According to Norris, NBC has broadcast, thus far, 40 different segments on the report and only 2 have actually mentioned our countries’ distressing health care disparities along race/class/gender lines. One of the more egregious examples, says Norris, is a particularly appalling seven minute segment with Shriver on Hardball with Chris Matthews where a full minute was spent about a study cited in the report that found that there were higher rates of marital sex when men did more housework and childcare. 

"It was jaw-dropping that’s what he decided to focus on…" says Norris. And, she says, Shriver was clearly taken aback, during the interview, that this is what he decided to highlight from the 450 page report. To date, there has been no serious media discussion, resulting from this report, focused on the systemic problems that cause these sorts of dangerous health care disparities. 

Norris says it’s especially concerning right now when we hear of Senator Kyl complaining that he shouldn’t have to pay for maternity care services in his insurance policy because he won’t need them.

And as Kolhatkar notes, "It’s amazing when maternity care services are discussed only as a women’s issue and not necessarily a societal issue that concerns women and children and whole families."

Listen to the segment and get more outraged and energized…

 

Crisis Pregnancy Centers Media Conference Call

Rewire, the Feminist Majority and their partners examine the use of false and misleading information about abortion, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases by crisis pregnancy centers in a recent blog post and documentary video. Many CPCs receive federal tax dollars.  Congress will vote soon, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, on whether or not to continue public funding of CPCs.

Below is a recording of a media conference call held on Wednesday, July 8th, 2009.  This media conference profiled the special report based on investigations examining what happens in crisis pregnancy centers posing as medical facilities that counsel pregnant women against having an abortion. The report uncovers the use of inaccurate information, scare tactics, and proselytizing at these pregnancy centers, many of which are funded by taxpayer dollars.

Listen
to the audio media conference here (the first few minutes of the recording is a bit garbled, but it improves):

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Speakers on the conference call included:

Katherine Spillar is Executive Vice-President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. As a founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation, Spillar coordinates and helps oversee the FMF’s reproductive health and rights initiatives including the Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics and National Clinic Access Project. 

Jennifer Cox is a senior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma. In addition to participating in grassroots dialogue with anti-choice activists on campus, Cox is involved in the development and presentation of a peer education Sexual Assault Awareness curriculum with the OU Women’s Outreach Center.

Lauren Guy-McAlpin, fromCPC-Watch. CPC Watch is dedicated to exposing fake clinics (so-called "crisis pregnancy centers") and offers a range of resources for women facing unplanned pregnancies. CPC Watch was created in response to the ever-growing influence of anti-choice propaganda on reproductive rights debates today. We believe there is no choice without access, and we cannot claim women are "free to choose" their reproductive destinies when so many well-funded crisis pregnancy centers are pushing false or misleading information all over the country. 

William A. Smith is Vice President for Public Policy for SIECUS. Mr. Smith joined SIECUS in February 2000 and directs its public policy activities, government relations, and advocacy efforts. Mr. Smith advocates on important issues related to reproductive and sexual health including sexuality education, teen sexual health, HIV/AIDS, and sexual orientation on the federal, state, and local levels.

James Wagoner has been at the helm of Advocates for Youth, the leading national organization on adolescent reproductive and sexual health program and policy, since September 1997. A respected public policy expert, Mr. Wagoner is a frequent speaker on the issues of comprehensive sex education, HIV prevention, and teen pregnancy prevention, a frequent contributor to national blogs, and has appeared on television and radio, including CNN Headline News, the Today Show and MSNBC.