Yesterdays Supreme court ruling immediately closed two of the remaining three clinics in Arkansas and gives the anti choice minority a clear path to halting most abortions in the US.
As I have been writing about for over a year, the anti-choice plan to stop abortions is simple: prey on the powerless by driving up the cost of an abortion till the bottom 50% of America (in terms of wealth) can not afford it. Right now for the average woman I talk to in the south an abortion represents about 3 weeks salary, and most laws like the one passed in Arkansas are designed to drive this price up. Another tactic to drive up cost abortion costs come when women are tricked into going to fake abortion clinics. These fake clinics have a documented play book to stall pregnant moms by lying about how far along they are until the pregnancy goes past the first trimester. Second trimmest abortion generally are almost 3X as expensive.*
And yet there exists a safe alternative if you could only get your hands on it. What was just outlawed in Arkansas was what they call a Medical Abortion or what we call Plan C. It is a safe set of either two pills or in many cases one pill that can be used to have an abortion under 10 weeks (some evidence says 12 weeks – I make no judgment). In a clinic it can cost you $750, if you can get them on your own it would be under $100. But certainly no longer in Arkansas so now you have to cross state lines driving up price for who can least afford it again.
* PS With some great volunteers, we are working on a website to help people ID fake clinics and know how far along they are.
John Oliver devoted the main segment of his show to fake abortion clinics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NNpkv3Us1I
In the good ole U S of A. for every real clinic that performs abortions there are 2 fake clinics designed to fool women seeking abortions into not terminating an unwanted pregnancy. In the South it’s more like 8:1. Generally their main targets are poor women of color, and they even have a playbook on how to fool women. For example they often misdiagnose a pregnancy until it is either too late or too expensive to have an abortion (second trimester abortions are a lot harder to obtain and can cost $2,000). Sometime they offer financial assistance that rarely materializes. The sad truth is that many of these fake clinics are financed with tax-payer money and every year 100,000’s of women fall prey to their schemes.
California passed a law saying if these fake clinics do not perform abortions they have to place a sign saying they do not. The clinics filed suit saying they have a constitutional right to lie and deceive. Would think this is just common sense that a state can require that businesses do not have a right to lie but these days common sense seems in short supply and the case has made it to the supreme court. So two weeks ago Lizz Winstead, another of my heroes, sent out a call to come to DC and stand outside the Supreme court in the freezing rain to steel their spine on this simplest of cases. She is amazing. Let’s hope the Supreme Court has 1/10th the integrity she does.
Forget Hamlet, there is something definitely rotten in the state of Ohio. According my heroines at NARAL there is now a cynical calculated assault brewing by a group of Republicans in Ohio to overturn Roe vs Wade and criminalize abortion everywhere in the US of A. They actually want to prosecute victims of rape who have an abortion as murderers and give them life in prison. Under normal circumstances perhaps we would just laugh this off as absurd, but as we found out in November 2016 never under-estimate the assault on our rights.
Below is a direct quote from a piece on NPR. I think it says it all (https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/20/595211551/ohio-gop-introduces-bill-to-ban-abortion)
“Under a bill introduced Monday, HB 565, the state would prohibit abortions even in cases of rape, incest or danger to a woman’s life.
The proposal would allow criminal charges against both doctors and pregnant women seeking abortions and would characterize an “unborn human” as a person under Ohio’s criminal code regarding homicide. That means abortions could be punishable by life in prison or even the death penalty.
NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio criticized the proposal, calling it an obvious attempt to give the U.S. Supreme Court a chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision providing the right to have an abortion.”
Depending on which beard you follow (Moses or Jesus) this weekend marks either Passover or Easter. As both are joyous occasions figured I would start out with some good news. The misguided state legislature of Mississippi decided, without any evidence, to ban any abortion after 15 weeks. However within days the only clinic left in the state, the heroic Jackson Women’s, had not only challenged the ruling but gotten a ruling stopping the ban in federal court. Will take a win wherever we can get it!!
So I will leave you with another thought. This blog is named after the Eber’s papyrus, a 3500 document which contains the first known reference to abortion: http://www.ancientegyptianfacts.com/ancient-egypt-abortion.html. Certainly at the time it was written the oral traditions that became the bible were being circulated in exactly the same part of the world, and yet – THERE IS NOT ONE PLACE IN THE BIBLE WHICH PROHIBITS AN ABORTION. Another comforting thought for the weekend.
Through a combination of trap laws* and crazy regulations such as forcing full burials of aborted fetus’ – many clinics in the south either had to raise prices or close. The situation is now so dire that in my travels of the Deep South through West Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, and even into Texas: there are on average 1 women’s reproductive rights clinic for every 1.2 million women. On the “bright” side for the anti-choice folks, thanks in many cases to state funding, there are 6-8 fake clinics for every real clinic. Most clinics call themselves Crisis Pregnancy Centers or CPCs, and they exist to try and trick women into not having abortions by falsely promising on-going financial support or guilting them into not having an abortion by falsely implying that the fetus looks like a real baby at 10 weeks.
One of the places I traveled was Baton Rouge to see the Louisianan legislature, with a democratic governor no less, take up bill after bill weakening protections for women seeking legal abortions. I would probably guess that the legislators making the decisions were probably 80% white males. So I got to thinking what would it be like if women could make decisions about what white men could do with their bodies.
What do you think would go first? Outlawing the comb-over for aesthetic reasons, or peeing standing up for sanitary reasons (they always miss). Perhaps they would ban sitting on couches with cases of beer during sporting events on TV for health reasons? If that happened it would be fun to see how fast the plea goes out – my body my decision.
* Insisting that a clinic be tied to a hospital even though it is one of the safest procedures in the history of mankind) and then making sure no hospital will accept the clinic’s doctor
I have been working on new mobile friendly website to expose fake clinics and hence have not written for a while, but while doing some research I came across three facts from the Guttmacher Institute, that made me want to shout again. The Guttmacher institute is probably the most reliable well-researched keeper of data in the reproductive rights movement and a friend to us all.
Stat One: According to Guttmacher only 13 states require that sex education be medically or scientifically accurate*. So essentially you can say that abortion causes breast cancer, which Mississippi actually does, without any basis in fact and that is ok. You can tell people that condoms are not effective, which they do in parts of Alabama and Louisiana, and then close clinics for the unplanned pregnancies that this nonsense causes.
Stat Two: Only two of our 50 states prohibit telephone harassment of Abortion clinic workers*. Yup workers can be forced to walk past screaming protesters during the day and get called at night to be berated in 48 states including California and NY.
Stat Three: Three states require the LGBT community to be portrayed in a negative light. Yes you read that right – People teaching sex ed are required to portray homosexuality in a negative light*. In Alabama, Arizona, and South Carolina you will be taught that LGBT community is made up of deviants. This is taken from the law in Alabama: “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public” https://www.glsen.org/learn/policy/issues/nopromohomo
For those who do not know – throughout most of the first 100 years of the US’s history, until the 1880’s, abortions were legal – inexpensive and performed by women (mid wives). Then men (full disclosure I am one) decided that for largely economic reasons they should be performed only by male doctors. Since women did not have the right to vote for another 40 years – laws were passed taking a woman’s right to choose out of her hands to become a man’s decision to make.
Also in 1880’s the vending machine was invented. Why bring that up now? Well for the first time you can buy Plan B, other wise known as the morning after pill, from a slightly more modern version of the 1883 vending machine on Stanford campus*. The heart of silicon valley has come up with a 134 year old technological solution to another of our problems. Imagine if we could advance that just one more letter and make Plan C, which allows women to safely self-abort up to, at least 10 weeks, available at every 7-11 in the US? Get a slurpee and make a choice that is your legal right. Think of the stigma that would remove.
Having read the Bible and the New Testament cover to cover a few times it is hard for me to think of a book with more rules on sex. Nor one more misogynist. Women are stoned for the smallest sex related offenses and the only man killed was condemned for using the withdrawal method. Every aspect of when a woman can or cannot have sex and with whom is prescribed, and yet one thing is conspicuously absent: Abortion. Nowhere is it condemned. It is not even mentioned. And yet we know from the Egyptians that abortion was a common practice long before the Bible and certainly the New Testament were being written and codified.
So my simple question of the day is: If you are against abortion in the name of the lord – doesn’t that mean you are putting words into the Lord’s mouth and therefore violating the 4th commandment not to take the Lord’s name in vain?
The solution to the abortion crisis may lie in a 134 year old technology. Back in 1883, Abortions were, by and large, still legal in the US. For those who do not know, throughout most of the first one hundred years of the US’s history abortions were legal. They were also inexpensive and performed by women, midwives to be specific. Then men – full disclosure, I am one – decided, for largely economic reasons, that they should be performed only by male doctors. Since women did not have the right to vote for another almost 40 years, laws were passed taking a woman’s right to choose out of her hands and giving it to men.
Also in 1883, the vending machine was invented. Why bring this up now? Well, you can now buy Plan B, otherwise known as the morning-after pill, from a vending machine on Stanford University campus.* The heart of Silicon Valley has come up with a 134 year old technological solution to another of our problems. Imagine if we could advance that by just one more letter and make Plan C available at every 7-11. This would allow safe termination of an un-wanted pregnancy before anything is viable, up to ten weeks. Think of the stigma that would remove.
The first thing I learned about Sex Ed was from my friend Amanda Garabaldi. Amanda told me that: “boys can only make boy babies while girls can make boy or girl babies”. That fact stayed with me from age 5 to at least age 9 or 10. And yes I can hear it now – if only she had only been right, there would be none of the humiliating degrading restrictions currently being placed on women now.
But that is not the point of today’s post. Really it goes back, as it often does, to a Willie Parker quote. To paraphrase a bit: No one ever wakes up and says this is a great day for an abortion”. By definition no wants an “un-wanted” pregnancy. This is the one thing both pro and anti choice sides can agree on. Incomplete Sexual Education is probably the top cause of unwanted pregnancies in the US. The power to stop 10’s if not 100’s of thousands of abortions over the years is right in front of you: real sex education.
Someone sold the right wing a bill of goods when they told them that teaching true sex ed means you are giving a green light to sex at any age. As I said when I waded into a church full of abortion protesters in Kentucky: what is the lesser of two evils – encouraging abortions by teaching falsehoods or preventing a few people from having sex in HS because they understood the truth? I have nothing against saying abstinence is the safest course but I do think it is crazy when your sex ed course ignores the use condoms or leaves out any mention of a woman understanding her body or a boy understanding the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.
When I was in college there was a book that swept the campuses – it was called Our Bodies Ourselves. Unfortunately we have regressed as a society to the point where the book is virtually unknown in the campuses in the South I visited. Now we get our information in two minutes or less on You Tube shared by social media. Can’t someone make some videos that are both humorous and teach? Can’t someone please put the fun into Sex and take some of the danger out of it. 10’s of thousands of un-wanted pregnancies hang in the balance.