Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • NOW thumbnailAfter abandoning earlier plans to push through a 20-week federal abortion ban because President Obama threatened to veto the hell out of it, Republicans in the House pushed through some bullhooey banning federal funding of abortion yesterday. (Reuters)
  • Unfortunately, many states already have laws in place banning abortion at 20 weeks, and more are sure to follow. (NPR)
  • Weird scenario … You find out you’re pregnant and give birth to a 10-lb. kid an hour later. Ahh! Talk about an American Horror Story! (USA Today)
  • A new health and wellness center specifically for members of the LGBTQ community has opened in Tucson. The very first of its kind in Arizona! (Tucson Weekly)
  • Are “hookup apps” the cause of rising STD rates among gay men? (HuffPo)
  • Hormonal birth control may be increasing women’s risk for a rare brain tumor. (Luckily that risk is small.) (Medical Daily)
  • Black women are making themselves heard on the topic of abortion access. (Think Progress)
  • And with black women being four times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, it’s high time our voices are elevated. (Think Progress)
  • With his birthday just passing, it’s important to remember that Martin Luther King Jr. was a champion of birth control. (HuffPo)
  • An Arizona abortion provider speaks about the changing political landscape and how it’s affected her practice and its patients. (WaPo)
  • Oh gawd. Someone decided to give men a platform (’cause they don’t have enough of those already) to speak out about their “abortion regrets.” In particular, not engaging aggressively enough in reproductive coercion to force the women they got pregnant to continue their unwanted pregnancies. I could seriously vomit reading this tripe. (RH Reality Check)
  • Good news and bad news. Let’s start with the good: If you’re a fetus in Alabama, you have a legal right to a state-paid attorney to “protect your rights”! Even though you can’t, like … communicate your wishes to the attorney, or think coherent thoughts even. It doesn’t matter! You get a lawyer on the state’s dime! Now the bad news: If you’ve had the misfortune of being born already, you don’t have the right to an attorney paid for by the state. Sorry. Your protection ends once you leave the womb, pal. (Jezebel)

2014: A Rundown Retrospective

2014 was a pretty not-so-stellar year in reproductive rights, if we’re being honest.

But hold your chin up. All did not suck!

While we’re never sure what new, exciting, or horrible fates await us at the dawn of a new year, rest assured that we’ll be here covering the news that matters most with regard to reproductive and sexual health, politics, gender issues, and reproductive justice well into 2015 and beyond.

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

Arizona has had quite an eventful few weeks, y’all. Here’s what’s been happening on the home front …

  • As you’ve probably heard, anti-gay SB1062, vetoed by Gov. Brewer last week, was hugely unpopular to begin with — even among Arizona Republicans. (AZ Capitol Times)
  • Right-wing machine Center for Arizona Policy, which has a storied history of being anti-choice and all-around terrible, wants to implement a modern-day gestapo to make unannounced inspections at the clinic of any abortion provider in the state. Just what you don’t need when you’re lying back with your legs in the stirrups while getting a Pap test at Planned Parenthood. ’Cause, ya know, we do way more of those than abortions. (AZ Central)
  • After two-and-a-half years, Planned Parenthood will again offer medication abortions in Flagstaff. (KNAU)
  • Aaaand medication abortions are in serious danger here as well. Can you guess who’s behind that? It rhymes with “Schmenter for Parizona Folicy.” (WaPo, Fronteras)
  • State Sen. Steve Gallardo, in the wake of the governor’s veto and inspired by the heated dialogue surrounding SB 1062, took the opportunity to come out of the closet. (Advocate)
  • Arizona’s attempts to strip Planned Parenthood of its Medicaid funding continue to be futile. (RH Reality Check)

In the rest of the world …

  • As a black woman, it’s nice to hear about lesser-known black women who’ve championed for reproductive rights throughout history. (Salon)
  • The FDA is increasing access to generic morning-after pills! (NPR)
  • Pro-choice advocates have been playing defense for three long years and it’s time for a change, dammit. (Bloomberg)
  • Abortion clinic protesters continue to be awful in their treatment of women. (Cosmopolitan)
  • Pregnancy and motherhood are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting endeavors. Sometimes it takes experiencing those things to understand how important it is to be pro-choice. (Feministe)
  • The concept of vegan condoms may strike you as strange, but so will the fact that they were created by a father and his daughter. (ABC News)
  • Birthing center and abortion clinic in one building! Pro-choice is pro-life, folks! (Jezebel)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

Staci Michelle Yandle, the first African-American lesbian federal judge

Staci Michelle Yandle, the first African-American lesbian federal judge

  • Dear Jan Brewer and all the other ridiculous Republicans in this state: Your attempts to thwart the reproductive rights of Arizona women WILL NOT STAND! You have no business trying to dictate when a fetus is viable. None of you are ob/gyns. Just give it up already. You have lost the battle and the war. #Booya (AZ Central)
  • OK, so, remember how the Repubs came up with the astronomically stupid idea to force women to see or have doctors describe the contents of their uterus via ultrasound before they could undergo an abortion? Well, the studies on the impact of this practice are in, and guess what? It turns out women already know what’s in their uteruses! A whopping 98.4 percent of those women went on to undergo their abortions anyway. What they saw wasn’t a shocking revelation! Those who thought women were too stupid to make an informed choice without seeing the embryo or fetus occupying their body were totally wrong. Shocker. (Slate)
  • President Obama is taking an unprecedented step in judicial history by nominating the first black lesbian federal judge, who will preside in the 7th Circuit, covering Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. (The Root)
  • There’s a pretty active debate on whether or not MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” has had a direct effect on the downturn in teenage pregnancy rates. Speaking from a personal standpoint, it sure helped cement my commitment to staying childfree! (Time)
  • In related news, it ain’t cheap to have a baby. And after that, guess what? You have to spend money on it for at least 19 to 20 years. Minimum! (NBC News)
  • Further evidence that the health and wishes of a pregnant woman are trumped by the “rights” of a fetus: Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old woman in Texas, suffered a tragic fall that resulted in her being on life support and clinically brain dead. Under Texas law, brain dead individuals are considered deceased. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped John Peter Hospital in Fort Worth from refusing to act in accordance with her personal end-of-life directive. Instead, they have forced her to remain on life support. Why? Because of the 19-week-old fetus still occupying her womb. Her family is suffering and understandably distressed. Her husband Erick is determined to fight this out in court. We’ll be watching and hoping. (RH Reality Check)
  • Just so you know, abortion is just like slavery! This message was brought to you by complete idiot Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas. Who should be ashamed for equating hundreds of years of brutal whippings, back-breaking and unrelenting labor, rape, lynching, and all of the other unspeakable acts of cruelty inflicted upon blacks in this country to a woman exercising her right not to be forced to give birth and choosing not to carry a non-viable, non human being in her body. (Politico)
  • Is it a coincidence that the anti-contraception movement wasn’t on the radar of evangelicals until 2011, after Obama took office? HELL NO. (Salon)

The Family Revolution and the Egalitarian Tradition in Black History

Sadie T. Alexander

In the interview with Stephanie Coontz featured earlier this month, we discussed the many changes in American households that have occurred in the 50 years since Betty Friedan published her landmark book, The Feminine Mystique. Friedan’s book was a literary catalyst that helped usher in a family revolution, in which the norm of one-earner households was replaced by the norm of the two-earner households we know today; a change that gave many women more equality in their marriages.


A strong egalitarian tradition has long been a part of black history.


What might surprise some readers is that we could have also discussed the many changes that had occurred already, even as Friedan was still writing her manuscript. Among black Americans, much of what Friedan wrote was not prescient, but dated. As Coontz wrote in A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, “Long before Betty Friedan insisted that meaningful work would not only fulfill women as individuals but also strengthen their marriages, many African-American women shared the views of Sadie T. Alexander, an influential political leader in Philadelphia, who argued in 1930 that working for wages gave women the ‘peace and happiness’ essential to a good home life.”

While sorting out the book’s legacy, Coontz wanted to explain what The Feminine Mystique had gotten right and wrong about American families and women’s domestic roles in the 1960s. A particular problem Coontz addressed was how The Feminine Mystique ignored the experiences of black and other minority women — an omission cited by many critics since the book’s publication. A book Coontz found invaluable in addressing that omission was Bart Landry’s Black Working Wives: Pioneers of the American Family Revolution (University of California Press, 2002). Landry did not write his book as a critique of The Feminine Mystique. Rather, it was while looking at historical statistics on wives’ employment that he decided to write in greater detail about an intriguing difference he noticed between black and white wives: “the employment rates of black wives were about ten years ahead of those of white wives.” Continue reading

A Conversation With Faye Wattleton: Part 4, Looking Back

Faye Wattleton was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992. She was generous enough to speak to me on January 7, 2013, and throughout the month of February we’ve shared her experiences and perspectives in observance of Black History Month. In this final installment, we look at her thoughts about her time at PPFA and her life after leaving Planned Parenthood.

In 1970, just a few years after receiving her master’s degree, Faye Wattleton left the Dayton Health Department and the Visiting Nurses Association to serve as executive director for Planned Parenthood of Miami Valley in Ohio. While she was there, the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, and when a local reporter asked for a comment, Ms. Wattleton realized that her affiliate had no prepared statement. As she wrote in her autobiography, “The national offices had communicated no strategy for addressing the implications of such a landmark decision.”


“The exercise of safe reproductive health services and choices for women around the world is vital to the planet.”


At the time, no one had known what to expect from the Supreme Court, and the ruling came as a shock to Wattleton and her colleagues. But the Roe v. Wade decision would eventually thrust Planned Parenthood into the highly politicized abortion debate, despite the fact that their mission was — and is — broader than that, focusing most of their energies on contraception, preventive care, and education.

When Ms. Wattleton became Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s president in 1978, the organization had become, according to a 1979 Time Magazine article, “as all-American as the Girl Scouts and debutante parties.” But Ms. Wattleton restructured the national office staff in preparation for increasing political challenges, while continuing to expand medical and education services. During her first year, more than 60 percent of the national managerial staff left the organization.

Reflecting on the restructuring, Ms. Wattleton says that had she known then what she knows now, she would have begun her tenure at PPFA differently. “I had been the executive director of a Planned Parenthood [affiliate] for seven years before I became president [of the national organization]. I felt like I really knew the organization, but what I learned [is that] anyone who has the privilege to ascend to national or international responsibilities can’t quite appreciate what it’s like, until you’re actually in the seat. Perhaps I really overestimated my perspective on some of the nuances of the importance of touching base with a number of the elements within the organization; like any other organization, Planned Parenthood has its factions.” Continue reading

A Conversation With Faye Wattleton: Part 3, Family Planning and Race

Faye Wattleton (left) with Maxine Waters and Jesse Jackson, 1992

Faye Wattleton was president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992. She was generous enough to speak to me on January 7, 2013, and throughout the month of February we’ll be sharing her experiences and perspectives in observance of Black History Month. This third installment covers questions of racism, especially as aimed at Planned Parenthood and its founder, Margaret Sanger.

Faye Wattleton is clear that women’s autonomy is at the core of the reproductive rights debate. Her philosophy regarding the struggle for reproductive rights, as she said during our interview, “gradually evolved to the conclusion that this is still really about the fundamental right and values that women are held to. That our reproduction is still a proxy for the larger question of our full status as human beings and as citizens.” The question is whether the government will seize the power to make decisions about women’s bodies.


“Racism has a very deep vein in this country and our culture.”


Ms. Wattleton, as the first African American president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was often asked how she could work for an organization founded by Margaret Sanger, a woman who allegedly saw birth control as a tool to eradicate the Negro race, to use the language of Sanger’s time. For example, when Ms. Wattleton debated Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, on the Phil Donahue Show in 1991, he accused her of being a traitor to her race by working for Planned Parenthood: “Margaret Sanger … wanted to eliminate the black community,” Terry said to Ms. Wattleton. “You have been bought.”

Ms. Wattleton responded, “I do not need you to tell me what my choices are about my life and my body because I am a black person. I can make that choice for myself, just as every black woman can make that choice for herself.” Reflecting further on Margaret Sanger during our conversation, Ms. Wattleton added, “I could never understand why Margaret Sanger was hauled out. Maybe she was racist. George Washington had slaves. What am I supposed to do? Give up my American citizenship for that?” Continue reading