The TP/GOPers’ War on Women; Chapter II…

Still at it…!

Mat Bors hits a bullseye!


Still think this couldn’t happen here? Mat Bors again…


Another commentary…

Santorum is only the Tip of a Ginormous Iceberg…Vote Democratic 2012!

In the first post on this subject, I was mostly speculating on some of the possible attacks on the reproductive rights of women which were contemplated. Now in February of 2012, no less, their threatened possibilities have become realities.  Some  bills have already  been PASSED by the state legislature or on the way to becoming laws. I hope I don’t need a “Chapter III” on this subject.

There are some states that are setting impossible “standards” for Women’s abortion and health clinics. The so-called “standards” are arbitrary (such as the size of a janitor’s closet). They are completely unnecessary and are another way these states are trying to subvert women’s health care availability. These standards are almost impossible for most facilities to comply with, because of the expense, and the necessity for extensive remodeling. So they’re forced to comply or close. None of these are remotely connected to any legal or regulatory agency or requirements for these facilities.

The War on Women is still active, pervasive and despicable. These articles are a small sampling from the web. I am using them to show how widespread the objections to this debacle are. They are all over and from different sources. Women and men both are against these Draconian measures. The misogynistic onslaught continues as I type.

More frightening is the fact that so far, many of these measures have succeeded. The misogynistic, patriarchal zealots and bigots are trying their best to suppress  women’s rights to their own bodies! Whatever happened to the “Small Government” advocacy the TP/GOPers claim. I guess they meant small enough to fit in a women’s genitalia, literally, if you’ve heard about the legislated transvaginal ultrasound, see below. This is virtually legalized  rape.

                A medical diagram of transvaginal ultrasound procedure.


If this isn’t demeaning and misogynistic, I don’t know what is. Sometimes this procedure is medically necessary. However, this has been legislated as mandatory for the doctor and for any woman who wants an abortion. It isn’t medically necessary in this instance. Just another way to embarrass and confound a woman seeking a legal abortion. Some are even forcing the woman to look at the sonogram, so that “she’s aware of the whole situation” as if she’s too stupid or ignorant to know what’s best for herself.  More patriarchal  and religious bullpuckey. They also keep a copy of the sonogram in her medical records, as well. There’s even more obstacles put in the way of any woman seeking an abortion, even in the case of rape or incest!

Planned Parenthood debacle:

Susan G. Komen Apologizes for Cutting Off Planned Parenthood Funding


The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation apologized today for cutting off funding from Planned Parenthood and vowed to revise the policy that led to an intense backlash against the nation’s largest breast cancer organization.“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” president and founder Nancy Brinker said in a statement today. “We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

“Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation,” she added. “We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.”

Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, praised the move  and the “outpouring of support” her organization has received since the news caught fire. She also dubbed it as a watershed moment and a “learning opportunity.”

“Bullying and trying to make political women’s access to health care is a losing political strategy,” Richards said in a conference call with reporters today, adding that she looks forward to resuming a partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure cut off funding Tuesday for about 19 Planned Parenthood clinics that provide breast cancer screening and other preventative services.

Planned Parenthood affiliates have received about $680,000 per year from the foundation and provided about 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals through those funds, mainly to low-income and minority women.

The foundation said its decision was spurred by a recent policy change that prohibited it from funding organizations that are under investigation. A congressional committee, led by anti-abortion Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., is looking into Planned Parenthood affiliates to see whether they used taxpayer money to fund abortions.

But critics charged that the move was solely political and based on the pressure that the Komen foundation has been facing from anti-abortion groups over the years. Planned Parenthood was the only grantee among 2,000 other organizations whose funding was cut off under the new policy.

Critics also linked it to the foundation’s recent hiring of Karen Handel, a former Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate who is an outspoken opponent of Planned Parenthood. Brinker denied that Handel was involved in the decision.

A number of Komen foundation board members resigned in the wake of that decision.

Meanwhile, the move spurred a flood of support for Planned Parenthood. The group has received more than $3 million for its breast cancer program since Tuesday. Cyclist Lance Armstrong’s charity group, Livestrong — which has never before donated to the group — became the latest high-profile organization to give money, donating $100,000 to the Planned Parenthood’s cancer services fund. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he would keep his pledge announced Thursday to give $250,000 and $1 for every dollar Planned Parenthood raises up to $250,000.

“I think health care is at the top of the list [of things] we have to worry about. I don’t think politics should enter it,” Bloomberg said in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell today. “I’m glad they reversed it but the bottom line is Planned Parenthood is an organization that was providing a great service in terms of screening for cancer and they do a lot of other good things.”

Oil tycoon Lee Fikes and his wife also gave the group $250,000, and it raised more than $650,000 from across the country. Indie rock band The Decemberists today pulled its support from the  Komen foundation, saying it will now give all its funds to Planned Parenthood’s Breast Health Emergency Fund.

(Addenda: Of course the PP debacle is still active.  Many states are trying their best to destroy Planned Parenthood altogether! Although only a very small percentage of PP’s services are abortions, the right wingnuts falsely accuse them of being the largest abortion  mills in the US. Another ploy to stop any women’s health care. Without PP, many women wouldn’t be able to afford healthcare services elsewhere;  men too.)



Virginia’s Ultrasound law:

This is what they’re forcing women and their doctors to submit to…

Virginia’s Proposed Ultrasound Law Is an Abomination

Under the new legislation, women who want an abortion will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. Where’s the outrage?

By Dahlia Lithwick |SLATE

A Virginia law would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, whether medically necessary or not.

Image by Stockbyte.

This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

What’s more, a provision of the law that has received almost no media attention would ensure that a certification by the doctor that the patient either did or didn’t “avail herself of the opportunity” to view the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat will go into the woman’s medical record. Whether she wants it there or not. I guess they were all out of scarlet letters in Richmond.

So the problem is not just that the woman and her physician (the core relationship protected in Roe) no longer matter at all in deciding whether an abortion is proper. It is that the physician is being commandeered by the state to perform a medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman, despite clear ethical directives to the contrary. (There is no evidence at all that the ultrasound is a medical necessity, and nobody attempted to defend it on those grounds.) As an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot put it recently, “Under any other circumstances, forcing an unwilling person to submit to a vaginal probing would be a violation beyond imagining. Requiring a doctor to commit such an act, especially when medically unnecessary, and to submit to an arbitrary waiting period, is to demand an abrogation of medical ethics, if not common decency.”*

Evidently the right of conscience for doctors who oppose abortion are a matter of grave national concern. The ethical and professional obligations of physicians who would merely like to perform their jobs without physically violating their own patients are, however, immaterial. Don’t even bother asking whether this law would have passed had it involved physically penetrating a man instead of a womanwithout consent. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument about the obscene government overreach that is the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law. Yet physical intrusion by government into the vagina of a pregnant woman is so urgently needed that the woman herself should be forced to pay for the privilege.

The bill will undoubtedly be enacted into law by the governor, Bob McDonnell, who isgunning hard for a gig as vice president and has already indicated that he will sign the bill. “I think it gives full information,” he said this week on WTOP radio’s “Ask the Governor” program. “To be able to have that information before making what most people would say is a very important, serious, life-changing decision, I think is appropriate.”

That’s been the defense of this type of ultrasound law from the outset; it’s merely “more information” for the mother, and, really, what kind of anti-science Neanderthal opposesinformation? Pretending that this law is just a technological update on Virginia’s informed consent laws has another benefit: You can shame and violate women, while couching it in the language of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s gift that keeps on giving—his opinion inGonzales v. Carhart. That opinion upheld Congress’ partial-birth abortion ban on the grounds that (although there was no real evidence to support this assumption) some women who have abortions will suffer “severe depression” and “regrets” if they aren’t made to understand the implications of what they have done.*

Never mind that the evidence indicates that women forced to see ultrasound images opt to terminate anyhow. According to the American Independent, a new study by Tracy Weitz, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that “viewing an ultrasound is not an indication that a woman will cancel her scheduled procedure, regardless of what emotional response the sonogram elicits.” Weitz summarized her findings in 2010 when she said that “women do not have abortions because they believe the fetus is not a human or because they don’t know the truth.”

Of course, the bill is unconstitutional. The whole point of the new abortion bans is to force the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade. It’s unconstitutional to place an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, although it’s anyone’s guess what, precisely, that means. One would be inclined to suspect, however, that unwanted penetration with a medical device violates either the undue burden test or the right to bodily autonomy. But that’s the other catch in this bill. Proponents seem to be of the view that once a woman has allowed a man to penetrate her body once, her right to bodily autonomy has ended.

During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that “in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Del. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)*

That’s the same logic that animates the bill’s sponsor in the House of Delegates, Del. Kathy J. Byron, who insisted this week that, “if we want to talk about invasiveness, there’s nothing more invasive than the procedure that she is about to have.” Decoded, that means that if you are willing to submit to sex and/or an abortion, the state should be allowed to penetrate your body as well.

I asked Del. Englin what recourse there is for the ultrasound law, and he told me that the governor, while unlikely to veto the bill, still has the power to amend it to require the patient’s consent or say that physicians can opt not to do the vaginal probe. One might hope that even the benign act of giving women “more information” not be allowed to happen by forcing it between her legs. Or is that what we call it these days?

Whatever happens in the commonwealth, it’s fair to say it’s no accident that this week the Legislature also enacted a “personhood” law defining life as beginning at conception—a law that may someday criminalize contraception and some miscarriages as well as abortion. Today was not a good day in the War on Women. Abortion is still legal in America. Physically invading a woman’s body against her will still isn’t. Let’s not casually pass laws that upend both principles in the name of helping women make better choices. (more on “personhood” below)

 Corrections, Feb. 16, 2012: This article originally misidentified the Virginian-Pilot as the Virginia-Pilot. The article also mistakenly characterized Gonzales v. Carhart as striking down the partial-birth ban. It also misidentified Del. David Englin as a representative. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

(Update I: Seven other states including North Dakota and Texas, already have mandatory ultrasound laws in some form on the books. A federal district judge in Texas initially blocked a law there that requires doctors to describe an ultrasound in detail and play the fetal heartbeat to a woman seeking an abortion. But a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled that decision in January and allowed the law to go into effect.)

(Update  II Excerpted from Mc D0nnels statement:

“…Thus, having looked at the current proposal, I believe there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done. Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state. No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.

For this reason, I have recommended to the General Assembly a series of amendments to this bill. I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision.”[Addenda: The legislature did NOT pass the revised bill. They only want the original version. They said they’d rather have no bill than change ANYTHING in the original bill!])


“Personhood” Bills:

Mississippi Legislature Trying Again For A Personhood Amendment

From Jillian Rayfield-TCM

 Republicans in Mississippi are hoping that second time’s a charm for a “Personhood” amendment.

This week, a Republican lawmaker in Mississippi’s House of Representatives introduced a measure to get an initiative on the November ballot that would ask voters to amend the state’s Constitution “to provide that the right to life is a fundamental right and ‘person’ applies to all humans from conception.”

House Concurrent Resolution 61 would “provide that the right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; to provide that the world ‘person’ applies to all human beings from conception to natural death.”

Personhood bills effectively outlaw abortion, and, depending on the language, make illegal certain types of birth control and even in vitro fertilization.

Mississippi’s new measure seems written to address those concerns, with the language “certain activities that are not affected or prohibited by this section, including contraception or birth control not killing a person, in vitro fertilization or other methods of reproduction, medical treatment intended to preserve life, or miscarriage.”

HC 61, nicknamed “The Right to Life Amendment of 2012,” was co-authored by three Republicans and one Democrat, none of whom immediately returned TPM’s request for comment. It was referred to the House Constitution Committee.

In November of last year, voters in the state soundly rejected a similar Personhood measure, by a margin of 58%-42%.

In a Facebook posting, Les Riley, the head of Personhood Mississippi, called for supporters to act on behalf of the legislation in response to a Planned Parenthood press release in opposition to it. Riley wondered: “Do they have more enthusiasm to protect death than we do to protect life?”

The Oklahoma Senate passed a measure last week that also defines life as beginning at conception, as did the Virginia House.

 AbortionMississippiPersonhoodPersonhood MovementPersonhood USA


Jillian Rayfield is a Reporter/Blogger for TPM, and started as a News Intern in May 2009. She graduated from Cornell University in May 2008 with a degree in Film, and worked as a Research Assistant for a market research firm in London in between.



No co-pay birth control insurance and “religious Freedom”:

 Access to Birth Control Does Not Violate Religious Freedom — And It Is a Moral Imperative

Robert Creamer – Huffington Post


In many respects it is amazing that in 2012 there is a controversy over women’s access to birth control.

Let’s be clear, the current controversy over the Obama administration’s rules that require all employers who provide health insurance to provide birth control without a co-pay to its women employees, has nothing whatsoever to do with religious freedom.

It has everything to do with an attempt to take away women’s access to easy, affordable birth control, no matter where they work.

Birth control is not controversial. Surveys show that 99 percent of women and 98 percent of Catholic women have used birth control at some time in their lives.

No one is trying to require that anyone else use birth control if it violates their religious convictions. But the convictions of some religious leaders should not be allowed to trump the rights of women employees to have access to birth control.

The rule in question exempts 355,000 churches from this requirement since they presumably hire individuals who share the religious faith of the institutions in question. But it does not exempt universities and hospitals that may be owned by religious organizations, but serve — and employ — people of all faiths to engage in decidedly secular activities. These are not “religious institutions.” They are engaged in the normal flow of commerce, even though they are owned by religious organizations.

Some religious leaders argue that they should not be required to pay for birth control coverage for their employees if they have religious objections to birth control. This argument ignores the fact that health insurance coverage is not a voluntary gift to employees. It is a part of their compensation package. If someone opposed the minimum wage on religious grounds — say because they believed it “discouraged individual initiative” — that wouldn’t excuse them from having to pay the minimum wage.

If a Christian Science institution opposed invasive medical treatment on religious grounds, it would not be allowed to provide health care plans that fund only spiritual healing.

Many Americans opposed the Iraq War — some on religious grounds. That did not excuse them from paying taxes to the government.

The overwhelming majority of Americans oppose taking away the ability for women to have easy, affordable access to birth control. A Public Policy Polling survey released yesterday found that 56 percent of voters support the decision to require health plans to cover prescription birth control with no additional out-of-pocket fees, while only 37 percent opposed. Fifty-three percent of Catholic voters favor the benefit.

Fifty-seven percent of voters think that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.

No doubt these numbers would be vastly higher if the poll were limited to the employees of those hospitals and universities because eliminating the requirement of coverage would cost the average woman $600 to $1,200 per year in out-of-pocket costs.

But ironically, requiring birth control coverage generally costs nothing to the institution that provides it. That’s because by making birth control accessible, health plans cut down on the number of unwanted pregnancies that cost a great deal more. And of course they also cut down on the number of abortions.

That may help explain why many Catholic-owned universities already provide coverage for birth control. For instance, a Georgetown University spokesperson told ThinkProgress yesterday that employees “have access to health insurance plans offered and designed by national providers to a national pool. These plans include coverage for birth control.”

The University of San Francisco, the University of Scranton, DePaul University in Chicago, Boston College — all have health insurance plans that cover contraception.

And, finally, this is nothing new. Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception.

Of course the shocking thing about this entire controversy is that there is a worldwide consensus that the use of birth control is one of society’s most important moral priorities. Far from being something that should be discouraged, or is controversial, the use of birth control is critical to the survival and success of humanity.

In 1968, the world’s population reached 3.5 billion people. On October 31, 2011, the United Nations Population Division reported that the world population had reached seven billion. It haddoubled in 43 years.

It took 90,000 years of human development for the population to reach 1 billion. Over the last two centuries the population has grown by another six billion.

In fact, in the first 12 years of the 21st Century, we have already added a billion people to the planet.

It is simply not possible for this small planet to sustain that kind of exponential human population growth. If we do, the result will be poverty, war, the depletion of our natural resources and famine. Fundamentally, the Reverend Malthus was right — except that the result is not inevitable.

Population growth is not something that just happens to us. We can choose whether or not to reproduce and at what rates.

No force is required. The evidence shows that the population explosion stops where there is the availability of birth control and women have educational opportunity.

That’s why it is our moral imperative to act responsibly and encourage each other to use birth control. And it’s not a hard sell. Children are the greatest blessing you can have in life. But most people are eager to limit the number of children they have if they have access to contraception. We owe it to those children — to the next generation and the generation after that — to act responsibly and stabilize the size of the human population.

The moral thing to do is to make certain that every woman who wants it has access to birth control.





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