Carole Joffe is a professor at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco. NOTE: The views and opinions of the participant expressed here on this site do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Regents of the University of California, UCSF, UCSF Medical Center.
Unlike nearly all the actions of other anti-abortion terrorists, the violence at the Colorado Springs clinic for which Dear was arrested did not appear to specifically target abortion providers. Rather, the institution of Planned Parenthood itself, along with anyone who happened to be on the premises, appeared to be the intended victim.
We are clearly living in a time in which lying by political leaders has become commonplace. But the nature of Fiorina’s particular untruths, and the public’s reactions to them, will offer a fascinating case study of just how many blatant falsehoods voters are willing to overlook.
Imagine if the next debate among the Republican presidential candidates started with the moderator asking all the participants who are parents to raise their hands if their children received the polio vaccine as infants.
This month brings two anniversaries of note to those of us who are interested in the role that doctors can play in the struggle for social justice: May 21, when pro-slavery "ruffians" invaded Lawrence, Kansas in 1856, and May 31, when George Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion terrorist in 2009.
In the 1990s, abortion opponents coined the term "partial-birth abortion" to convince lawmakers to ban an uncommon method. Now, they're trying the same strategy—this time, on a procedure used in almost every second-trimester abortion.
As a longtime advocate for quality child care, I was heartened to hear President Obama's forceful words on the matter during his State of the Union address. It occurred to me that it had been more than 40 years since a U.S. president had so visibly addressed the issue—and on that occasion, the message had been very different.
The contraceptive wars started with the notorious campaign in the late 19th century of the Postmaster General Anthony Comstock, who successfully banned the spread of information about contraception under an obscenity statute.
The road ahead for abortion providers and their allies to not only preserve George Tiller’s specialized service, but simply to stay open, is hardly an easy one. But many of those who knew Dr. Tiller as a colleague and friend are no doubt fortified by remembering one of his favorite sayings: “Attitude is everything.”
Terry Beresford, who died last week in Virginia, made monumental contributions to abortion care in the United States. Her death offers the occasion to both celebrate her work, and also to appraise the current status of the field she helped create.
A recent column by Phyllis Schlafly—arguably nation’s, if not the world’s, most famous hater of the feminist movement—shows just how woefully out of touch she and the conservative spokeswomen who have followed her are today.
By now, many have heard about the horrific vandalism that recently took place at Susan Cahill's clinic in Montana. But what some people may not know is that Cahill was one of the pioneers in bringing advanced practice clinicians (APCs) into abortion care, thus expanding abortion access in underserved areas.
Unlike their counterparts in other industrialized countries, abortion providers in the United States don’t simply perform abortions. Because of all the ramifications of the abortion wars in this country, U.S. providers have become de facto social workers, fundraisers, and travel agents, to name just a few of their ancillary roles.
During her speech accepting the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Family Planning in Seattle, Carole Joffe explained that although in many ways reproductive rights are under assault from state legislatures, "some things in the world of abortion provision are different—even arguably better" than they were in years past.
I asked several lawyer colleagues if they knew of other instances in which a whole occupational category was banned by law from volunteering in schools. They did not. Indeed, as far as I can tell, only sex offenders as a class are de facto banned from school grounds.
I fear that a possible consequence of these Live Action videos may be a chilling effect on the free and open conversation between clinic staff and patients that is such an important part of abortion care.
The “new day” that David Bennett dreamed of on January 22, 1973 can only happen if there is a forceful stand by this majority in support of these doctors and against both the violence and legislative persecution that has characterized abortion care in the United States.
Both the current anti-choice movement and a potential gun control movement share the feature of wanting to limit something that is legal but contested. As Robin Marty put it in a recent post, how do we make guns as difficult to get as an abortion?
Hopefully, the tragedy of Savita will, at least, finally spur the Irish government to issue clearer guidelines that the life of the pregnant woman must be privileged over that of her fetus. But if the thousands demonstrating reflect changes already underway in Irish society—including a growing dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church’s influence—perhaps some day Savita Halappanavar will be remembered as the woman whose death was a turning point in the long struggle for the legalization of abortion in Ireland.
Paul Ryan’s relatively small family and Mitt Romney’s quite large one reveal the reproductive minefields for Republican candidates who presumably are expected to show obedience, in their personal lives, to the party’s extremist platform.
"40 Days of Prayer," an effort by the pro-choice religious organization, Faith Aloud, has become the target of a vitriolic campaign by the Christian right. But Faith Aloud is determined to turn the hatred into love, through ongoing support of women in need of abortion care.
I suggest that that these doctors’ statements point to a paradox of the abortion conflict in the United States; whether abortion provider or supporter, engagement with this issue introduces these clinicians to a diverse group of allies, with a shared sense of mission, that is rare elsewhere in medicine.
An unprecedented number of abortion restrictions have been introduced and eventually passed in state legislatures over the past two years, during a time when one might assume politicians’ focus would be on the economy. But there are real people behind the numbers and they are bearing the enormous toll of these laws.
Before marrying Rick Santorum, Karen Santorum lived with a pro-choice Ob-Gyn 40 years her senior. Today, Santorum the candidate believes the government should be able to ban contraception and abortion, and criminalize extra-marital sex and gay sex among other things. The Senator’s fervent desire to deny the rest of us the sexual and reproductive choices that his own wife once enjoyed is breathtakingly hypocritical and cruel.
A critique of reproductive politics written in the 1970s about events in the ‘20s and ‘30s is remarkably relevant to today’s leading reproductive controversy: the Obama Administration’s overruling of the FDA decision to allow over-the-counter status of Plan B emergency contraception for young women under the age of seventeen.
There is another 99 percent group in our country, distinct from but inextricably entwined with the now more familiar #99Percent. I refer to the 99 percent of American women who have ever had sexual intercourse and have used a birth control method at least some of the time.
Todd Stave, the landlord of the clinic where Dr. Carhart practices in Maryland, found that the best way to stop anti-choice harrasment was to use their own tactics against them. Carole Joffe interviews Stave for Rewire.
Rick Perry had a vasectomy. But in his relentless attacks on contraception, and of course, abortion and comprehensive sex education, Perry is doing all he can to reassure his base that many of his fellow Texans will not have the same opportunity to control their childbearing as the Perry family had.
Dr. Tiller’s murder and the closing of his clinic brought renewed national attention to the problems facing women who need abortions late in pregnancy. While he was viciously attacked by anti-choicers, one of whom eventually killed him, he was beloved by his staff and his patients for compassionate care in extraordinary circumstances.
What’s at stake in the HHS decision around the IOM recommendations on contraception? First, the health and rights of women who will benefit from easier access to contraception. And second, the IOM’s action draws attention to the extent to which contraception has become yet another front in the nation’s unending culture war.
Betty Ford’s tenure as First Lady was the last time in American politics someone in that role could inspire bi-partisan admiration—even while expressing her own political views. Her passing reminds us of what has been lost in our political culture.
Norway, where abortion is not politicized, has a better record than the United States with respect to teenage pregnancies and births, but also has a lower abortion rate—a reflection, among other things, of Norwegians’ better access to contraception, its comprehensive sex education policies, and its generally more mature attitude toward human sexuality.
How did Planned Parenthood come to be so demonized? This after all, is an organization once so mainstream that former presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower agreed to be co-chairs of an honorary advisory board in 1965.
The death of Robin Rothrock, who ran an abortion clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana for many years, is a huge loss, not only, obviously, to her family and close friends, but also to the close-knit community of abortion providers who cherished her.
A bill passed this spring in Nebraska, the Orwellian-named “Women’s Health Protection Act,” does nothing to protect women's health, but instead flouts medical practice and standards of care to achieve an anti-choice end.
One year after Dr. Tiller's murder, a network has been created to expand availability of later abortions, and disseminate accurate information on this topic to both clinicians and prospective patients.
Staff at a clinic in Charlotte, N.C., under attack from anti-choice "terrorists" work in conditions most would find unendurable. Why? They say: "We believe in what we do. And some of us came to work here after being patients here ourselves."
A federal employee--barred by the Hyde Amendment from insurance coverage for abortion--incurs costs of $9000.00 to end a pregnancy in which the fetus is missing major portions of its brain, skull, and scalp.
Dr. George Tiller was asked repeatedly by friends how he could continue his work in the face of the unending violence and legal harassment that he endured in the years leading up to his murder. His answer was always the same: "Where else can these women go?"
All that has been accomplished by a Yale senior's art project on pregnancy and abortion is a highly visible trivialization of the issue of abortion and a phenomenal insensitivity to women who suffer repeat miscarriages.
Those who provide abortions, either as clinicians or administrators, can be relentlessly pursued in their communities by their opponents. But there are millions of supportive "civilians" aiding the community of abortion providers in this war.
"Yes, I think he'd make a great vice-president," Senator Mel Martinez of Florida told one of the MSNBC talking heads, speaking of Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has done extremely well thus far, especially in the South-as of this writing, he is ahead of both McCain and Romney in Georgia, the winner in the W. Virginia and has done well enough in other states to cost Romney victories the latter would have otherwise had. All this has led to increasing speculation, by politicians and non-politicians alike, that McCain owes Huckabee bigtime, and will make him his vice-presidential candidate. For progressives, in the reproductive justice movement and elsewhere, this is a terrifying prospect.
Huckabee of course would help McCain where he is weakest--among Republicans who identify as evangelicals, about one third of the Republican electorate. Unlike McCain and Romney, who have changed their positions to one degree or another on abortion, Huckabee has been consistently and fervently anti-abortion. He has also a long record of opposition to gay marriage. Most pertinently, he will not avoid speaking about these issues that still have considerable power to mobilize an important bloc of voters.
But recall that the vice-presidential candidate doesn't usually play a very high profile role in national elections. There will be likely only one vice-presidential debate, i.e. only one time where Huckabee would have to spin for voters his disbelief in evolution and various of his other controversial statements. Bottom line, McCain would probably gain more than he would lose by such a choice. And if the Republicans are victorious, we would have a 71 year old president and a vice-president--the proverbial one heart beat away from the presidency--who might well make Bush's policies on reproductive and sexual health look reasonable.
In some ways the Democratic primary in this hyperpolitical city feels like an Introduction to Women and Gender Studies classroom (fittingly enough for a city whose University helped pioneer this field in the 1970s and which continues to have a lively department). Namely, how does one balance/prioritize issues of gender, race and class, especially when these issues compete in a literal sense--embodied by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and while he was in the race, John Edwards?
The problem--and there are, to be sure, worse problems in politics--is that Berkeley is full of people who have passionate lifelong commitments to all three of the social movements represented by the candidates. Though the contest might now be constructed, at the simplest level, as between the feminist movement and the civil rights movement, John Edwards' support of the labor movement resonated deeply in this community. So though on one level, many are ecstatic at the history-making nature of this race--whoever is ultimately the Democratic nominee will be precedent-making, and a tribute to the staying power of the social movements of the 1970s--many are also agonizing over for whom to vote.
Endless discussions, similar to those already reported on Rewire, are held among friends and acquaintances. "She's more experienced and ‘ready' ." "Yes, but he's more electable. He'll bring in the youth vote." "Yeah, but you can't count on the youth vote. She can better take the dirt the Right will throw at whoever is nominated," and so on.
The reality is that there are very slight differences between these candidates on matters of domestic policy. They are very close on most issues Californians hold dear--environmentalism, reproductive rights, support for labor, and education. Perhaps the one non-trivial difference is their respective health care plans (hers calls for a mandate for all who can to purchase coverage, his doesn't).
The main difference of course is their historic position on Iraq. And this seems to be pushing many Berkeleyites to Obama's corner. Obama signs outnumber Clinton signs in all the neighborhoods I've walked in the last week. If Obama indeed carries the city on the basis of foreign policy, it will hardly be surprising. Berkeley is a city noted for the intense involvement of its city government in national and even international issues, periodically voting, for example, against nuclear weapons. Most recently the City Council voted 8-1 to declare Marine recruiters were "unwelcome" in Berkeley (a move some Council members are now rethinking).
In such a thoroughly Democratic environment as Berkeley, and the surrounding Bay Area, one presumes that whoever wins the nomination will ultimately get the support of most voters. But some have concerns that Obama supporters have been more deeply critical of Clinton than vice versa. For example, Robert Scheer, a long time progressive journalist in California, in an article promoting Obama on the basis of his anti-Iraq stance, was devastating on Clinton's record, and finished his article by reluctantly admitting that "Hillary would probably be better than the Republicans." "Probably"?! No difference between her and McCain who wants to stay in Iraq indefinitely? Not to mention their differences on tax cuts and reproductive rights? This statement is frighteningly reminiscent of the Ralph Nader pronouncement that Gore and Bush were essentially the same. One hopes that political purity among some on the Left will not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory again.
Bush's legacy on sexual and reproductive policies is so egregious that there is a real opening to expose the extent to which the Republican party is out of step with mainstream values of the American electorate.
The negotiations that physicians have to undertake with hospital administrators, insurance executives, and other doctors give us window into the chaotic and Kafkaesque world that is contemporary abortion provision, even as Roe remains technically legal.