Tomorrow, Congress will vote on Rep. Trent Franks’ bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy — and place additional burdens on survivors of rape or incest seeking abortion.
But Rep. Franks and his allies aren’t interested in the truth or the dire consequences if their ban becomes law. As always, their goal is to force their agenda on every woman in America — without any regard for her constitutional rights, her health, her family, or her unique and personal circumstances.
We have no time to lose: tell your representative to vote NO on the nationwide abortion ban.
Abortions later in pregnancy are extremely rare, with nearly 99 percent taking place before 21 weeks. But when they do happen it’s often in heartbreaking and unusual circumstances — and women and their doctors need to have every medical option available to them.
A woman with a planned and wanted pregnancy may discover that her pregnancy has gone tragically wrong. The Franks abortion ban would force her to carry this pregnancy, and deliver a baby that would not be able to survive. Women with blood clots, preeclampsia, or other dangerous conditions will be forced to risk their lives.
Those are the stakes — and that’s why we need you to speak out now to put a stop to the nationwide abortion ban.
It’s impossible to describe all the reasons why an abortion may be needed after 20 weeks — every woman’s situation is unique. And that’s exactly what is so heartless about this nationwide abortion ban — it takes the most personal of decisions away from women and their doctors. Congress has no business taking deeply personal, complex medical decisions out of women’s hands in order to pursue a blatantly unconstitutional agenda. Your representative needs to hear from you now — click here to take action.
Thank you for taking action to protect women’s health and rights at this critical time — I’m glad to know you’re standing with us.
Cecile Richards, President
Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Women’s mental health: The Facts
- Depressive disorders account for close to 41.9% of the disability from neuropsychiatric disorders among women compared to 29.3% among men.
- Leading mental health problems of the elderly are depression, organic brain syndromes and dementias. A majority are women.
- An estimated 80% of 50 million people affected by violent conflicts, civil wars, disasters, and displacement are women and children.
- Lifetime prevalence rate of violence against women ranges from 16% to 50%.
- At least one in five women suffer rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks at the 2012 Women in the World Summit in New York City, New York on March 10, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]
*If you can’t watch the whole video, the must-see part is from 18:24 till the end (please take a few minutes, it’s so worth it, I promise!)
Nick Offerman, Judd Nelson, and many other middle-aged men tell women what to do with their bodies.
By Laura Vozzella and Anita Kumar, Published: February 23
The measure, which would require women to get an ultrasound before having an abortion, was headed for the law books late last week. But over the course of nine days, it became clear that the legislation’s sponsors didn’t realize one key fact — that for an ultrasound to determine the age of a fetus, as mandated by the bill, it would usually require a vaginal probe.
That detail helped the issue catch fire on cable TV and inspired protests on Richmond’s stately Capitol grounds. By Wednesday, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell had withdrawn his support for the original legislation and left in question the fate of a substitute.
McDonnell, a potential Republican vice presidential candidate who a week ago was stumping for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in Michigan, found himself in an unflattering national spotlight. It was a spectacular and unexpected reversal for McDonnell and other Virginia Republicans, who in November’s elections grabbed hold of every lever of power in Richmond.
But for a governor with national political aspirations, the controversy exploded just as his efforts got underway to help deliver a swing state for his party in this fall’s presidential and U.S. Senate contests.
Asked about what specifically led to his reversal, McDonnell and his office declined to comment. But legislators and staff members, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter freely, said the governor began having doubts about the legislation last weekend.
The unraveling begins
The slow-motion unraveling of the original ultrasound bill began weeks ago, when one Democratic senator buttonholed another after the health committee voted to approve it. Sen. George L. Barker (D-Fairfax), who has a background in health care and opposed the measure, knew that in the earliest stages of pregnancy, only a vaginal ultrasound can detect the fetus.
Barker pulled aside Sen. Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk), a doctor who had served as technical adviser on the bill. Barker asked: Since 90 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester, wouldn’t the bill mostly require a more invasive ultrasound, than the ordinary “jelly-on-the-belly” variety. The bill didn’t say.
Northam said he didn’t know, and Barker suggested he check with medical experts.
“I said, ‘You didn’t say anything about this,’ ” Barker said of the committee meeting.
Northam consulted with medical experts, who confirmed that a vaginal probe would be needed in the early stages of pregnancy.
So when the measure came up for a vote in the Senate on Jan. 31, Barker and Northam raised the issue during the floor debate — but delicately. They used the words “transvaginal” and “internal.” But they didn’t use startling terms such as “vaginal penetration” and “state-sponsored rape,” which eventually came to dominate the debate.
Mindful of the teenage Senate pages sitting in the chamber, Barker said, they wanted to be sensitive with their language.
Barker was sure that the senators understood what he was saying. Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) certainly got the point. In an effort to highlight what she considered a gross personal intrusion, she proposed an amendment requiring that men get a rectal exam.
“Prior to prescribing medication for erectile dysfunction, a physician shall perform a digital rectal examination and a cardiac stress test,” declared the amendment, which the Senate clerk read aloud on the floor.
The amendment failed, and the ultrasound billed passed. McDonnell, in a break from his usual practice, announced that day that he would sign the legislation.
Media enter the picture
But seeds of the bill’s undoing were sprouting.
Howell’s floor amendment caught the attention of the national media, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who ran a segment soon afterward. But Maddow did not make it clear that the ultrasound was anything other than the external variety performed later in pregnancy.
On the Senate floor, Howell had not been explicit about the intrusive nature of the ultrasound. “I thought I was being brave by saying ‘digital rectal,’ ” she said.
But Howell came to understand that some of her Senate colleagues failed to grasp how much the type of ultrasound in question was like the probing she’d proposed for men.
“I don’t think they understood what kind of ultrasound they were talking about,” she said. “I think they thought it was a mini-massage and not something approaching rape. People are squeamish about using words like ‘vagina,’ but in this case, it was necessary for people to understand how invasive this bill is.”
Even people leading the fight against the ultrasound bill were in the dark. Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said she did not realize the ultrasound would have to be the vaginal variety until a colleague from out of state pointed that out to her in the first week of the session.
“It wasn’t my original talking point,’’ she said.
By Feb. 10, when a House committee took up the bill, Keen was passing out pictures of vaginal ultrasound probes and using blunt language. By the time the bill came to the House for a vote, a few days later, Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria) was using such terms as “vaginal probe.” Other Democrats compared the procedure to rape.
The measure passed the House anyway. But more commentators and comedians picked up on the invasiveness of the test.
Maddow returned to the topic with a segment that showed images of the probe emblazoned with slogans such as, “If you can read this, your government is too close.” In a jab at McDonnell, another probe was captioned, “I can see the White House from here.”
“Saturday Night Live” piled on last weekend with a sketch that played on the word “transvaginal.” (“It’s my favorite airline!” comedian Amy Poehler declared.)
McDonnell asks for advice
Earlier Saturday, McDonnell, a social and fiscal conservative who has governed as a moderate, began calling legislators to ask for advice. He also consulted other Republican governors, advocates and lobbyists. He met with staff members and legislators several times.
On Monday, more than 1,000 protesters demonstrated on Capitol Square, wearing T-shirts inscribed with messages that included “Virginia is for lovers, not probers.” On Tuesday night, the governor’s senior staff and House Republican leaders met in his office to write an amendment amid growing controversy.
If they flipped on the TV to relax later Tuesday night, they would have seen Jon Stewart add his withering two cents’ worth on “The Daily Show.”
Mincing no words about the invasive nature of the ultrasound, Stewart ran audio, video and newspaper clips of ultrasound bill supporters speaking out against other forms of what they perceived to be government intrusion. McDonnell was heard calling full-body pat-downs at airports “probably over the line with regard to people’s concerns about privacy and their civil liberties.”
On Wednesday morning, women’s rights advocates delivered petitions with more than 33,000 signatures protesting the ultrasound and the “personhood” bill, which has since died and would have defined a fertilized egg as a person.
By that afternoon, McDonnell had issued a statement asking lawmakers to change the bill so that it would require women to undergo an ultrasound but would not mandate the vaginal type.
“No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure,” he said.
Bob Holsworth, a commentator and former political science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, said similar laws in other states have not caused firestorms like the one in Virginia.
“Over time, the opponents of the bill learned how to oppose it,” he said.
Holsworth found himself saying things in a TV interview on the legislation that he never expected to say in public. “Never in my life,” he said, “could I imagine that I would be talking about transvaginal ultrasounds.”
Posted: 02/23/12 09:39 AM ET | Updated: 02/23/12 10:05 AM ET
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat down with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow in an interview that was aired Wednesday night. Maddow asked Pelosi about a range of topics including the Republican Party’s recent hearing on contraception and GOP candidate Rick Santorum.
Maddow replayed a clip of what she called Pelosi famously using the word, “duh,” in response to the Republican hearing on contraception including an all-male panel. “Imagine they’re having a panel on women’s health and they don’t have any women on the panel — duh,” Pelosi said.
Maddow asked, “Obviously there’s a political difference of opinion about what policy ought to be on this subject, but do you actually think there is a difference in understanding? What would you explain to them if they would listen?”
"First of all," Pelosi said, "the idea that they would be taking about contraception in this way is a real breakthrough for those of us — I’ve been in Congress…for 25 years I’ve been saying to people, ‘This isn’t about abortion. They like to say it is, but this is about contraception.’"
Pelosi added, “Contraception is something that is universally practiced. The size and timing of families is a family’s important decision to make together with their doctor, with their God. It’s not about some five men sitting around the table in Washington D.C…At last the country knows that all this talk about reproductive freedom really extends to something as personal as family planning and birth control, and depriving women of access to contraction.”
Maddow then asked Pelosi if she thought GOP candidate Rick Santorum, who has experienced a recent surge in the polls, could possibly become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. When GOP candidate Newt Gingrich surged in the polls and was the Republican Party’s frontrunner, Pelosi weighed in and said she knew that he would not be the Republican nominee for president.
As for Santorum, Pelosi did not offer such an opinion. “I’d like to leave the Republican selection of their nominee up to them. I just knew that Newt Gingirch was completely unacceptable,” she said.
After the interview, Maddow told viewers that she has noticed a trend in responses to that particular question about Santorum. “I’m not saying this what is motivating Speaker Pelosi in taking that position, but you kind of hear that a lot from Liberals across the country right now about Rick Santorum,” Maddow said. She added in a celebratory voice,”Shh, don’t interrupt the Republicans, don’t make a sound — they’re about to nominate Rick Santorum! Don’t move a muscle!”
WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday ripped House Republicans for holding a contentious hearing on birth control that included next to no female witnesses and even prevented one progressive woman from testifying, suggesting that she may need to step in and teach her male GOP colleagues a thing or two about the issue.
"I think it’s really curiouser and curiouser that as we get further into this debate, the Republican leadership of this Congress thinks it’s appropriate to have a hearing on the subject of women’s health and can purposely exclude women from the panel," Pelosi said during a press conference. "What else do you need to know about the subject?"
"If you need to know more, tune in, I may, I may at some point be moved to explain biology to my colleagues."
Pelosi’s remarks came shortly after three House Democrats walked out of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on religious liberty and birth control in protest of Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) refusal to allow a woman to testify in favor of the Obama administration’s contraception rule. The morning panel at the hearing consisted exclusively of men from conservative religious organizations.
A second panel included two women, but both were critics of Obama’s birth control mandate, which does not exempt religiously affiliated employers from having to include contraception in employees’ insurance coverage. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) told reporters in the hallway outside the hearing that she marched out because it was being conducted like an “autocratic regime.”
"Five men are testifying on women’s health," Pelosi said. "Where are the women? Imagine having a panel on women’s health and they don’t have any women on the panel."
She paused, and then added, “Duh!”
UPDATE: 1:35 p.m. — Issa spokeswoman Becca Glover Watkins later criticized Pelosi for ignoring the fact that two women were scheduled to testify at the hearing.
"Rep. Pelosi is either ill informed or arrogantly dismissive of women who don’t share her views. Today’s hearing does in fact include two women, Dr. Allison Garrett of Oklahoma Christian University and Dr. Laura Champion of Calvin College Health Services,” Watkins said.
Like, I really super hate the American culture war.
A religious person can choose not to partake of contraception. Nobody ever forces them to use it!
But you can’t take the choice away from people who would choose to use them!
Like, what is this war on religious freedom.
WHAT IS IT.
WHERE IS IT.
PLEASE SHOW ME.
I just can’t buy it. It’s just pandering to a certain element in the base. What do you actually want to change? Do you really only want abstinence-only education? DO YOU REALLY?!?!?!
"A lot of women on twitter believe that these four men live in the past"
- paraphrase of David Gergen
DAVID GERGEN I LOVE YOU
Susan G. Komen for the Cure is backing off of its decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood, announcing in a blog post that the organization will continue to be able to apply for future grants.
“We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue,” Komen’s founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, says in the statement. “We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics — anyone’s politics.”
The full text of the blog post:
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.
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. 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. 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.
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.
It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics — anyone’s politics.
Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.
We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.
It’s a dramatic about-face for the group. In a video posted on YouTube late Wednesday, Brinker said her group would “never bow down to political pressure.”
“The scurrilous accusations being hurled at this organization are profoundly hurtful to so many of us who put our heart, soul and lives into this organization,” she said. “But more importantly, they are a dangerous distraction from the work that still remains to be done in ridding the world of breast cancer.”
But the pressure on the group was powerful, with everyone from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell expressing disapproval. Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, reported a flood of new contributions — and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed to pave the way for even more by promising to match up to $250,000 in donations to the group.
Things that cannot screen for breast cancer and things that can.
And for those who are yelling about PP not doing mammograms, “screenings” are not just mammograms. ”Screenings” are also breast exams, which are the first line of defense. Those breast exams are done every time a woman has a pelvic exam, which she needs in order to get birth control or STI testing. Get it together. Semantics do not change the facts.