Tagged: reproductive rights

The “hard questions” of the antichoice movement

Another group has entered the abortion coliseum to throw down over their right to impose their personal morality on everyone with a uterus, and their motto is

Just Think – Hard Questions

It sounds fair enough: abortion’s a complex, polarising issue, after all.  So I figured hey, maybe I could help them with the hard questions about abortion.

What about a situation where scans show that the baby will have a serious disability?

This is indeed a hard question, and raises a lot of concerns about how our society treats people with disabilities, and the value or lack of value we place on the lives of people with disabilities.  But at the end of the day, the pregnant person involved should be allowed to make a decision which is best for them and their family, and sometimes that’s going to be abortion, because they don’t feel capable of raising that child nor of giving that child up for adoption.

Without easy access to medical abortion, won’t some women want to seek the same result by other methods?

Yes.  And a lot of them will die.  Far more than will die due to abortion, which has a zero fatality rate in New Zealand and is many, many times less likely to kill you than pregnancy.

How about situations where a [person’s] health might be threatened by pregnancy?

They get to choose whether to continue the pregnancy.

What if a woman has no stable income and can’t drop out of uni or work to raise a child – isn’t pregnancy unfair for child and mother?

That’s a decision the pregnant person has to make.

Should a child be brought into the world if there is an abusive situation in her home?

That’s a decision the pregnant person has to make.

What about a situation where pregnancy results from sexual assault – isn’t abortion the best solution?

That’s a decision the pregnant person has to make.

Gosh.  I guess most of those questions weren’t so hard after all.

The real point is this:  Pro Life New Zealand want to use over-simplified, judgemental arguments to shame pregnant people into not having abortions.  Note the question about sexual assault, and “isn’t abortion the best solution” – as though prochoice activists are out there insisting that every pregnancy resulting from assault be aborted.  Note the first question is about disability – as though these religious extremists give a fuck about challenging society’s ableism once you’re out of the womb.

We’re PRO.  CHOICE.  If a person simply cannot cope with their pregnancy, we support their choice to have an abortion, safely and legally.  If a person feels they can cope with their pregnancy, we support their choice to continue the pregnancy and their right to be supported by society, especially if they or their child have special medical needs or if they’re raising a child alone.

Antichoicers do not support your choice, unless it is the choice they agree with.

When you think you have the answers, I steal your questions

The whippersnappers* of Young Labour have done a very good job canvassing Cunliffe, Jones and Robertson’s feelings on a number of topics … so I’m just shamelessly springboarding off their hard work to provide my own take (and also transcribe the answers for those who can’t read the images).

Of course, they were always going to start with the dread ManBan.

Do you support a 50% quota for women in Parliament?

Robertson:  I am totally committed to ensuring the Labour caucus is 50/50 men and women.

Nice and straightforward, doesn’t actually address the question.

Jones:  I don’t support a quota system, I will reward merit and take innovative steps to attract quality candidates regardless of gender, ethnicity or creed.

Surprise surprise, Shane Jones believes in a meritocracy and doesn’t think he should take this golden opportunity to address the fact that people think he’s a fucking misogynist troll.

Cunliffe:  I’d like to see Parliament made up of 50% women, but it’s not something we can legislate for.  The place for deciding on quotas is in political parties.  I am committed to 50% of Labour’s caucus being women no later than 2017 and earlier if practicable.  That means a real effort to change our culture.

Well, you can actually legislate for that kind of thing, David … but points for actually addressing the question and stating clearly that this is something requiring a culture change.

Do you support legalising marijuana?  Did you inhale?

Cunliffe:  I am comfortable with personal possession of marijuana being a minor infringement.  I do not believe that it makes sense to waste significant police resources on this issue.  Did I ever smoke marijuana?  I was a student in the early 80s but I swear I did not inhale while writing poetry.

A nice balanced answer, though not one that’s going to convert any ALCP members.  And I like Cunliffe’s ability to make a joke of himself, which neatly takes the sting out of bullshit hacks’ jabs at him.

Jones:  I am not a smoker and will not put any priority on legalising marijuana.

Straightforward.

Robertson:  Like any drug we need tight regulation, but I favour a partial decriminalisation approach.  I have to say though that this issue is not a major priority for me.  As for inhaling, yes, not for many years, and I did not particularly enjoy it.

Another balanced answer, but it’s always super-telling when a politician uses the phrase “I have to say though”.  It’s an ass-covering manoeuvre, a sop to the people who will freak out over the statement preceding it.

Do you believe that abortion should be decriminalised?

*QoT rolls up her sleeves and readies the chairleg of truth*

Robertson:  All women should have the right to control and determine their own reproductive health.  That is an absolute non negotiable.  In my mind, our current abortion laws fall outside this principle and need to be reformed.

… well that was unexpected.  It wasn’t Holly Walker levels of awesome, but given the last Labour leader to be asked the question decided to put his male privilege on full display by declaring he “hadn’t given it much thought”, I’m impressed, Grant.

Jones:  Abortion, for me will always be a matter for an MP’s conscience.

Surprise surprise, Shane Jones hides behind the conscience issue – but won’t actually let us know what his conscience (I assume here that he has one) would tell him to do.  And that’s a big fucking deal for a party leader.

Cunliffe:  I want to see a woman’s right to choose protected.  The current law hasn’t been reviewed for many years and I think that is now urgent.  The Law Commission would be best placed to undertake this review as it is a conscience issue which splits across parties.

David does well here, but … yeah, a definite second place.  Saying the law “hasn’t been reviewed for many years” is a massive understatement which is barely balanced by “that is now urgent”.  And I just hate the conscience issue thing.  Sure, abortion is widely seen as a “moral” issue, but we don’t have fucking Parliamentary conscience votes on whether Viagra can be advertised on television during the cricket, and Viagra isn’t a necessary medical procedure the lack of which might kill people.

Of course, Robertson and Cunliffe both make abortion purely a woman’s issue.  They’re neither of them strident feminists, and if Grant thought about it he probably didn’t want to hand the religious extremists another “look at the gay man who is gay!!!!” attack of opportunity.

What I’m most torn on is Jones’ answers.  Because I think he’s below pondscum, I read his brief, politic responses as either the kind you give when you don’t really respect the person asking your questions, or the kind you give when you lack the political instinct to figure out how to turn it best to your advantage.  Cunliffe and Robertson have both made efforts to either cement their progressiveness or reinforce their moderateness and they’re definitely aiming at the Young Labour audience.  Jones doesn’t seem to give a fuck.

On the other hand, there’s probably plenty of people out there who will see that as a good thing: straight-talking, no waffle.  No real principles either, but that probably doesn’t matter to Jones supporters.

~

*Oh god I feel old.

Why do antichoicers have to lie about parental notification?

[Trigger warning:  youth suicide]

In another of his copy-paste jobs (because he just won’t learn) Bob McCoskrie quotes the following:

Much to the dismay of ardent feminists, many states already have on the books so-called parental involvement laws, decrees which require a girl to notify a parent, guardian, or other approved adult or family member before she can obtain an abortion.

A new study by Joseph Sabia and Daniel Rees, researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Colorado, Denver, gives further evidence in support of such laws. States that have parental notification laws, they find, also see a drop in the suicide rate of girls ages 15 through 17.

What’s wrong with this “analysis”?

If your first guess was “anyone who uses the phrase “ardent feminist” isn’t exactly unbiased”, you get a foetus-shaped cookie covered in blood-sprinkles.

Now, here’s a link to the actual article, because Bob’s penis doesn’t deserve pageviews.  What jumps out at you from that?  Is it this bit at the end?

This article has been republished with permission from The Family in America, a publication of The Howard Center. The Howard Center is a MercatorNet partner site.

Have another foetus-shaped cookie with a red-licorice umbilical.

But who is “The Howard Center”?  If the URL of “profam.org” doesn’t give enough of a hint, here’s what they say about themselves:

Introducing The World Congress of Families

We affirm that the natural human family is established by the Creator and essential to good society.

The “Natural” Family and Society

The natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature, and centered on the voluntary union of a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage. The natural family is defined by marriage, procreation and, in some cultures, adoption. Free, secure and stable families that welcome children are necessary for healthy society. The society that abandons the natural family as the norm is destined for chaos and suffering.

Oh!  They’re extremist Christians!  Who would have thought?

And the actual study they’re citing?  Why, that’s here.  It’s okay, Bob, we already knew that the concept of linking to primary sources so people can make up their own minds is alien to you.

I am no stats nerd, and I welcome any who are to provide their own commentary on the math.  But here’s the thing:

Poisson estimates indicate that the adoption of a parental involvement law is associated with an 11%–21% decrease in the number of 15- through 17-year-old females who commit suicide. … we conclude that these estimates likely reflect a causal relationship, but note that its magnitude appears to be modest: for an average-sized state, an 11% decrease in the number of 15- through 17-year-old females who commit suicide translates into 0.79 fewer suicides per year, while a 21% decrease translates into 1.50 fewer suicides per year; ordinary least squares estimates confirm that only a small portion of the within-state variation in suicides among U.S. minors can be attributed to parental involvement laws.

Sure, the fundies have a good point when they say that every teen suicide prevented is a good thing (presuming it’s prevented because the teen in question chooses not to, and not because they’re locked in a basement by controlling parents).  But we’re still talking about one less suicide a year.  Not exactly a slam-dunk of a finding, that.

And without wanting to disparage the entire science of statistics, it still bugs me to see these kind of numbers with no context.  We just don’t know why there’s a causal connection – though the study has a suggestion:

This pattern of results suggests that the adoption of a parental involvement law results in an immediate reduction in suicides, but that after the first year its impact wanes. This may be because the enactment of the laws typically comes amidst press coverage alerting minors and their parents to the new law, but dissipates as public attention to the law diminishes

Right, so for a blip in time, teenagers are more leery of sex, or feel more able to insist on contraception, because the idea of having to tell their parents they’re knocked up is front of mind.  After that … yeah, nah.  Doesn’t seem like much of a compelling case for the religious lobby’s assertion that

it seems reasonable to suggest that if parental notification laws do indeed act as a deterrent upon risky sexual behaviors, such laws save many more girls from severe psychological distress, even if that distress does not end ultimately in the ending of life.

Um, just a thought:  maybe wait until you’ve got an actual study linking parental notification laws with “risky” sexual behaviours before you start jumping to conclusions.

And finally:

Levine … found that the adoption of a parental involvement law was associated with a 15%–20% reduction in the abortion rate of 15- through 17-year-olds, and a 4%–9% reduction in their pregnancy rate.

Which means that one seemingly incontrovertible effect of parental notification laws is more teenagers having babies.  Choice.

So there we go.  Bob McCoskrie is still stealing other people’s content with paltry attribution and no value-add commentary, and can’t even be honest enough to present the real findings of the study or acknowledge his sources are religiously biased.

~

Bonus fail, from the article McCoskrie thieved:

“Under the law,” reports the Chicago Tribune, “a parent or a guardian would have to be notified at least 48 hours before an abortion was performed on a minor except in cases of a medical emergency, sexual abuse, neglect or physical abuse.”

Um, Chicago Tribune?  If a minor’s pregnant, it’s a case of sexual abuse.  That’s the point of having a legal definition of “minor”, douchebags.

~

In the interests of even-handedness, here’s a disclaimer:  I’m prochoice as all fuck.  You might have gathered.

How do anti-abortion groups get more grotesque?

… by co-opting the language of anti-trafficking groups, of course!

Family Life International – the group which runs John Paul II Centres in Auckland, Wellington and soon Dunedin – has announced it will be bringing Abby Johnson to NZ as part of their “40 Days of Life” campaign.  (Yes, 40 days as in Lent.  Because the antichoice movement is overwhelmingly an extremist religious movement.)

Abby Johnson is now a professional antichoice activist.  She previously directed a Planned Parenthood clinic, despite apparently not understanding what an abortion is, because according to her, she was asked to assist in one after eight years working there and seeing it happen on the ultrasound made her realise how terrible it all was.

Pity no one can find any record of that abortion ever taking place.

So Abby Johnson wrote a book and founded an organisation called “And Then There Were None”.  Don’t worry, despite the fairly obvious assumption you may make, it’s not actually a group openly advocating for the murder of healthcare workers.

Instead, ATTWN treats healthcare workers who perform abortions like they’re victims of sex-trafficking – right down to not giving a fuck about what they actually want or choose.  The language is actually pretty … gross.

Our goal is to provide financial, emotional, spiritual and legal support to anyone wishing to leave the abortion industry.

Because obviously The Abortion Industry is a terrifying labyrinthine creature, and no one can just, you know, hand in their resignation and get a job somewhere else. 

Sidewalk counselors will be trained then periodically stationed at abortion clinics to reach out to clinic workers in a calm and inviting manner in order to establish direct personal lines of communication.

Because the antichoice movement’s “sidewalk counselors” are always so calm and inviting when they’re badgering pregnant people, waving gory faked propaganda in their faces, and killing doctors.

Any person seeking help from ATTWN will be assured, without reservation, that no personal information will be disclosed.

And I’m sure that if the antichoice movement has already disclosed all your personal information in order to intimidate you, they will offer a full apology.

Elsewhere, Johnson states:

NO ONE GROWS UP WANTING TO HAVE AN ABORTION.

Yeah, and no one grows up wanting to have open heart surgery, Abby.  Therefore we should ban open heart surgery.

NO ONE GROWS UP WANTING TO WORK AT AN ABORTION CLINIC.

Suffice it to say I know a few counterfactuals to this, self included.

~

And while we’re on the topic of FLI’s “40 Days of Life” and antichoice bullying, here’s some suggested reading from the UK:

“We are very supportive of people’s right to protest, but what we saw in Bedford Square was beyond the pale,” says Clare Murphy of BPAS. “They hang around by the door and encircle women.” And 40 Days for Life’s use of cameras is particularly disturbing. According to the organisation’s leader Robert Colquhoun, photographic equipment is only used to protect the protesters, who he says have been threatened previously. But BPAS reports that the cameras have been turned on patients, in a tactic that amounts to harassment. Yesterday, 40 Days for Life tweeted to celebrate its first “turnaround”, but it’s hard to imagine that any woman who has been repulsed by such intrusive actions is making a positive choice to be a mother.

Let’s not buy the bullshit.  The antichoice movement has one goal: stopping abortions.  And they will do and say whatever it takes to achieve this.  And if healthcare workers and pregnant people die in the process, they do not care.

You’ve just been erased

Remember back when I reviewed Alison McCulloch’s excellent Fighting to Choose (which incidentally you must buy, and read, and encourage others to buy, and read, because it’s really really good) and I said:

Abortion has a long and dramatic history in NZ, but it’s not a history we talk about, or remember.

Here’s another example of that, from the ALRANZ blog.  Three great contributors to the NZ abortion rights movement, whose efforts and beliefs and actions, which benefited so many people*, are just erased from history once they’re gone.

It’s almost like we can’t acknowledge their work because then we’d be politicising things, and as we saw in the backlash against the response of many people to the death of Margaret Thatcher, politicising a dead person is just about the worst thing you can do, even if their entire existence in the public consciousness is political.  Even when their politics – or belief that an abortion is just a medical procedure which people should be able to undergo – is something they themselves were not shy about expressing.

On the other hand, it’s like we don’t want to talk about those past struggles.  Because then we’d have to address those issues as they exist, today, for pregnant people in New Zealand.

Then we’d have to actually talk about people like this young woman who’s been left in the lurch by our healthcare system and urgently needs help to get to Australia for an abortion.  (If you want to donate to help her there is a Paypal option as well.)  We’d have to actually ask ourselves why someone needs to fly to another country to get a safe, straightforward medical procedure.

Don’t let the mainstream media deny us our history, and the reality we live in.

~

*Attention antichoicers: yes, this is a trap.

Conscience exceptions are for people with a conscience

The ability of doctors to refuse to provide proper healthcare if God says it’s bad is again in the spotlight, with a Blenheim GP refusing to prescribe the Pill to a patient because he decided she needed to have babies, and her views on the matter didn’t mean shit.

Oh wait, sorry, I mean his ~Catholic conscience~ wouldn’t ~allow~ him to ~interfere~ with ~God’s plan~.  And her views on the matter don’t mean shit.  Which, because patriarchy, is something we protect under law.

Sorry, Dr Joseph Lee, but as far as I’m concerned, you don’t have a fucking conscience.

People who think that they get a controlling vote in the reproductive choices of others don’t have a conscience.  People who think that their personal religious beliefs should be enforced on others – especially other who don’t share those beliefs – don’t have a conscience.

Medical professionals who advise teenagers to use the incredibly faulty “rhythm method” because it’s their “destiny” to get pregnant at 16 seriously do not have a conscience.  Medical professionals who also refuse to prescribe condoms, because their religious extremism means they’d rather their patients get sexually transmitted infections which, super-irony-alert, might harm their fertility?  Yeah, no conscience there either.

Medical professionals who say

The only circumstances in which he would prescribe the contraceptive pill would be if a woman wanted space between pregnancies, or had at least four children.

“I think they’ve already done their reproductive job”.

have no fucking conscience either.  It’s not your fucking job to assess whether or not a patient has ticked enough of God’s boxes to access healthcare, you fucking shithead.  You’re meant to be a fucking doctor.  Fucking act like one or get the fuck out.

Oh, and “lead GP” Dr Scott Cameron, who thinks it’s okay to just have a “pamphlet” advising that “some” of your staff won’t provide contraception, and thinks getting reception to “screen” patients is good enough to protect them from being bullied by your religious fanatic employees?  You don’t have a fucking conscience either, mate.  You’ve enabled a religious bully.  I hope you’re happy with yourself.

There is no conscience involved when a brave 23-year-old has to step forward and expose the underhanded, bullying shit going on at Wairau Community Clinic – except for hers.

Here’s the thing about “conscientious objection”:

Medical Council guidelines say personal beliefs should not affect the advice or treatment offered, and should not be expressed in a way that exploits a patient’s vulnerability or is likely to cause them distress.

You don’t think letting a doctor lecture a 16-year-old about how she must have babies because God says so is bullying?  You don’t think that the setting of a community clinic, which, when opened, was heralded as “[making] it easier for those people who struggle to access health care” means the people there are vulnerable?

A truly conscientious doctor would look at the patient in front of him and say, “I’m sorry, I personally don’t agree with contraception.  Here is the number of a doctor who can help you.”  A truly conscientious doctor would have a sign on the door saying “I am not available to prescribe contraception or refer for abortion services.  You can contact [number of a doctor who will].”

But this is never about real matters of conscience.  This is about bullying people, especially women, into making the choices which are approved by patriarchal religious bullshit, choices which will permanently affect their lives, choices which will – because we do not support teen parents well, we do not support unemployed parents well, we do not support working parents well – limit their options and constrain their potential.

Dr Joseph Lee wants to control women.  And Dr Scott Cameron, and everyone at the Wairau Community Clinic who supports him, are letting it happen.

That’s not fucking conscientious.  And it deserves no protection under NZ law.

~

More:

Perfect antichoice hypocrisy

We baby-hating prochoicers often make the argument that people who are anti-abortion seem to care so much about a foetus, and so little for a baby.

Turns out, they don’t actually care about a foetus either.  Not if its mother needs prenatal care funded by the state.  Just as long as they can force her to stay pregnant.

You couldn’t wish for a better illustration of their real motives.  Just look at Rep. Jodie Laubenberg insisting that she is the most “pro-life” person in the Texas State Senate, literally as she denies necessary healthcare to pregnant people.

We don’t get to be surprised

Twitter was aflame over the weekend due to this article, detailing how pregnant, incarcerated, predominantly women of colour in California were coerced into being sterilised – for their own good, of course.  To save them producing any more little brown burdens on the welfare system.  Because they couldn’t be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions.

But amongst the completely understandable outrage, there was another reaction, from the women of colour who I follow:  annoyance that white people got to once again clutch their pearls and decry how terrible racism is.

This is racist, of course, and for far deeper, scary, institutional reasons than just the basic facts – because of poverty, because of a judicial system geared against people of colour.  That’s not the issue.

The issue is why white people like me get away with continually being surprised by this.

Let’s be fucking angry at this abuse.  Let’s be frustrated at how long it’s taken to come to light.  Let’s be utterly contemptuous of medical “professionals” who act like it’s no big thing to coerce vulnerable patients into making socially-acceptable medical decisions.  Let’s be motivated into action.

But let’s not do that whole “OMG! How can this happen in this day and age?” thing.

Because that’s our privilege talking.  Our existence as women-who-will-not-face-this-kind-of-pressure (yes, we’ll face plenty of other pressures, but if you’re a white, middle class, educated cis woman like me it’ll probably go in the complete opposite direction), women who do not deal with this kind of oppression as a fact of our daily lives.

We don’t really have the right to say “how can this happen in the 21st century?” because it’s never stopped for the people who experience it.

The few stories which make it into our awareness aren’t exceptions, except in the fact that they made it into our awareness at all.

Your semi-regular giggle/grimace at Right to Life

I know, I know.  Another day, another dollar, another No Rights to Your Own Uterus media release which waxes lyrical about how the sovereign duty of [women] is to churn out babies for Jesus.

But on the one hand, we need to keep an eye on the crap they’re spewing.  And on the other, their language is so desperately tryhard it brings a smile to my baby-hating face:

The Family Planning Association continues to seduce our youth and wage war against women, by its promotion of contraception ,sterilisation and abortion. In God’s plan for procreation women’s fertility is a cause of celebration, not a call for sterilisation. Pregnancy is not a disease and unborn children are not invaders and the enemy to be destroyed.

I need a badge which says “Death Peddler”.  Who’s with me?

The Catholic extremists are coming: lock up your brains

Family Life International are opening a “John Paul II Centre for Life” in Dunedin.

This raises the number of antichoice centres they run, which prey on vulnerable pregnant people, to three.

You may be fooled into thinking that they’re open-minded and compassionate towards pregnant people in difficult situations, but you’d be wrong.  They’re very good at hiding it, of course; they even mention abortion on their website, pregnantandworried.co.nz (because it’s so unusual for a pregnant person to feel worried).

Of course, they don’t refer you for abortion services – a fact which is no longer apparently on their website, despite showing up on Google:

antichoice bs

So if you are actually pregnant, worried, and wanting to get an abortion, they’re just another obstacle in the way, another set of people to have to deal with, and that’s all assuming that they aren’t a lying, judgemental bunch of religious asshats.

Overseas experience would not favour this idea.

There is a common misconception, happily promoted by Western media, that anti-choicers and pro-choicers are opposite ends of the spectrum.  They oppose abortion, ergo we must love abortion.  This misconception allows setups like pregnancy “crisis” centres to flourish, because they’re seen as providing some kind of balance to the Family Planning and Planned Parenthood organisations out there.  You’ve got your pro-choice centres, they say, so we’re just putting forward our point of view.

Which is all fine and dandy until you remember that the pro-choice point of view is PRO CHOICE.  We want pregnant people to have all available options.  We want people to be able to access contraception and education and be empowered by society to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Anti-choicers are driven by one thing:  stopping pregnant people getting abortions.

They will say they want to support families.  They will say they want to support stressed-out pregnant people.  But at the end of the day, they want to support families not to have abortions and they want to support stressed-out pregnant people as long as they don’t have abortions.  They want to play on the completely normal anxiety pregnant people feel – especially pregnant people in difficult circumstances – get them in the door, and love-bomb them into CHOOSING LIFE.  At which point they can just fuck off.

That is their goal.  Any benefit they bring to the community they operate it is completely incidental to it.

~

And while we’re on the topic, let’s revisit the idea that the Catholic Church is all about life.  Right up until it’s down to you vs preserving their precious paternalistic control over [assumed] female fertility.