Pro-Choice News Round-Up

There seems to be a fairly hefty amount of reproductive rights news today, and not wanting to leave anything out, a round-up seems to be the best option.

Christie Vilsak, the former First Lady of Iowa, is launching a state initiative to battle unplanned pregnancy. The initiative will focus on women between 18 and 30, apparently the years during which Iowa women are most likely to experience unplanned pregnancy. Though the initiative will not offer contraceptive services itself, it will partner with other groups who do, advocate for funding for contraception and other reproductive health services, speak out against abstinence-only education and run yet to be announced social-marketing campaigns. Keep your eyes peeled on this one — it’s going to be really interesting to see what the group can accomplish, in addition to learning from which tactics work and which ones fail.

After so much shitty anti-choice news coming out of Indiana, some good news is apparently due. An new bill regarding abstinence-only education has been introduced, and the State Senator who did so is probably going to end up being the one elected official that I can stand this week. What does the bill say? That any school providing abstinence-only education would be required to send out a notice to all parents explaining what exactly “abstinence-only education” is, and what exactly their children are missing out on. The letter itself is spelled out in the bill, and it’s just so fucking awesome that I can’t restrain myself for printing it in full below the jump.

“Your child is receiving abstinence-only human sexuality education.

Abstinence-only education does not teach students how to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases other than by remaining abstinent.

Your child is not receiving the following:

(A) Information on methods, other than abstinence, for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

(B) Medically accurate instruction on the risks and benefits, including safety and efficacy, of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved methods for:
(i) reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS; and
(ii) preventing pregnancy.

(C) Medically accurate instruction regarding the correct use of FDA approved methods for:
(i) reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS; and
(ii) preventing pregnancy.

(D) Instruction that provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students with the necessary skills for making and implementing responsible decisions about relationships and sexuality, including the use of all effective methods to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

(E) Instruction that provides sexually active students with the necessary skills for making and implementing responsible decisions about relationships and sexuality, including the use of all effective methods to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

You have the right to review the abstinence-only curriculum in its entirety. Written and audiovisual educational materials used in abstinence-only education are available for inspection.
You have the right to excuse your child from all or parts of abstinence-only instruction. You have the right to be involved in your child’s education.”

HAHA. I was unable to find any articles on the subject, except for this one blog post (with a link to the full text of the bill), but I do have to assume that it would have a difficult time passing through the legislature I was describing last week. But still: isn’t that a great letter?

Next up, a story that I’m completely torn on: Anti-choice demonstrators have been following Rudy Giuliani to all of his campaign stops in Flordia, heckling and disrupting his speeches. How the hell are we to feel about that? On the one hand, I hate Rudy Giuliani’s stupid, smug, fascist guts. On the other hand, his place as a front-runner is dwindling pretty quickly. I’d like to see him taken down in a harsh in definitive way, but stirring up anti-abortion sentiment is not how I want to see it happen. It’s also great to see the GOP infighting more than the Dems for a change, but I don’t exactly want that infighting to result in more support for either Crazy-Ass Huckabee or Best Shot at Winning Nationally McCain. And if Giuliani’s views and scrupulous opportunism count as “pro-choice” today, we’re in a lot of fucking trouble. So, how’s a a Republican-hating reproductive rights advocate to feel?

This is a great, concise opinion piece out of Alaska about why reproductive rights activists need to embrace a reproductive justice framework.

And lastly, I came across this article about the presidential candidates’ views on abortion, and learned a few disturbing things about Hillary Clinton. I always knew that her views on reproductive rights were more moderate than I care for, but her record is clean, and most of everything I’ve personally heard her say is more or less defensible. But some of her earlier rhetoric is kind of scary. The good news, of which I was personally unaware, is that her 1993 national health care plan included access to abortion services. The bad news is that she has called abortion “a sad, even tragic choice” (with no indication that the words “sometimes” or “often” were used), has supported parental notification laws at least as late as 2005 and has also supported “informed consent” laws. In 2005, she said “I, for one, respect those who believe with all their hearts and conscience that there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available.” She also apparently supports late-term abortion bans with health exceptions. As most of you probably know, health exceptions are bullshit because 1. in order to enforce them, the government still has to decide what does and does not qualify as a “health risk” and therefore places women’s health in jeopardy, and 2. if it’s left up to doctors, there might as well not be a regulation at all.

Now, let me just say that I’m really over the Hillary-bashing and that’s not what I’m trying to engage in here at all. My point is that I’m conflicted. Have I been living under a rock? Are these positions well-known? Also, despite her rhetoric, her voting record seems to be extremely positive, and her campaign website does not even hint at the above-mentioned views. So, is that it? Do we just drop it? Or does the fact that these remarks and positions go far above the annoying “safe, legal and rare” rhetoric give us a reason to be concerned? Honestly, I’m not sure, which is why I’m throwing these questions out there.

That’s all for now. Anyone out there know of a story I’ve missed?

UPDATE: Indeed, I did miss a story. Kentucky is working to join the ranks of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi in passing legislation that would require doctors to perform ultrasounds before abortions. There is no requirement forcing the woman to look at the ultrasound, but the doctor would have to offer to show it to her, or face a $100,000 fine for a first time “offense.” Going above and beyond other nonsensical ultrasound requirements, though, is a provision stating that a doctor must review the ultrasound with the woman prior to an abortion, even if she does not want to look at the images.

Says the ass who introduced the legislation “I think this has a real good chance . . . I don’t see how anybody would be opposed to allowing a woman to have as much information about what’s going on in her body as possible.” Uh, I don’t know — maybe because doctors already make sure that their patients know what “pregnancy” means and offer to perform ultrasounds, and therefore this is emotionally manipulative, political and paternalistically chauvinist bullshit? Just a guess there, buddy.

Also, check out Jessica’s post about a visit that Mike Huckabee made a crisis pregnancy center.  And, if you dare, read that crisis pregnancy center’s top ten reasons why it’s wrong to have an abortion no matter what.  It is genuinely some of the most horrible, blatantly false and mercilessly cruel stuff I’ve ever read.  And after reading it, I quite honestly feel like crying.

0 thoughts on “Pro-Choice News Round-Up

  1. Jenee

    That Indiana thing looks great! I can’t imagine that a parent could receive a letter like that in the mail, see all the things their children could be learning to help protect themselves -but aren’t- and not demand that the school take action to ensure that the kids receive the most complete education they can.

  2. sbsanon

    My only concern with that Indiana letter is that a parent could all too easily be skimming and miss the word “not” – and then think their child is actually receiving all that information! Writing is not my expertise, though, so I’m not sure I have a better idea, except maybe to put “not” in all caps. Anyway, it’s a great idea!


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