Illegal Procedure: How a 1974 Stadium Bill Put Reproductive Rights in the Sidelines

StadiumFans of the University of Arizona football team will arrive by the thousands at Arizona Stadium on September 3, the start of the fall football season, as the UA Wildcats face off against the UTSA Roadrunners, a team they defeated 26 to 23 in San Antonio last September. For fans, the stadium is a place where legends and losses are remembered. For reproductive rights advocates, it represents a devil’s bargain that took place more than 40 years ago and continues to compromise health care to this day.


In 1974, abortion rights were sacrificed to expand Arizona Stadium.


Arizona has long had a unique role in the abortion battle. In 1962, Sherri Finkbine, a Phoenix-area woman, entered the national spotlight after she found out the thalidomide she was taking as a sleep aid could cause severe fetal abnormalities. The early mortality rate among infants who were exposed to the drug was about 40 percent, in large part due to internal defects that commonly affected the kidneys, heart, digestive tract, and reproductive system.

Fearing how thalidomide would affect the development of her own fetus, Finkbine wanted to terminate her pregnancy in a state — and nation — that put legal barriers in the way of abortion. Already known to many as the star of a locally produced children’s show, she became a topic of national debate when she shared her story with a reporter from the Arizona Republic. She spoke to the reporter in the hopes of warning other mothers about thalidomide. An unintended consequence was that the publicity made it harder to quietly seek an abortion; providers who might have otherwise taken a legal risk for her couldn’t escape the attention that followed her. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Carl Djerassi with his assistant, Arelina Gonzalez, 1951A man to whom we owe tremendous gratitude, Carl Djerassi, one of the creators of THE birth control pill, passed away last week. (NYT)
  • Missouri wants to pass legislation forcing women about to undergo an abortion to watch a video warning them of alleged “abortion risks,” “including, but not limited to, infection, hemorrhage, cervical tear or uterine perforation, harm to subsequent pregnancies or the ability to carry a subsequent child to term, and possible adverse psychological effects.” Hmm, know what else carries those same risks annnnnd a higher risk of death? Carrying a pregnancy to term and delivering a baby. I’m guessing the video won’t promote that science, though! (Think Progress)
  • With the majority of pregnancies in the state being unintended (58 percent), the second-highest poverty rate in the United States, and one of the highest STD rates in the country, Louisiana needs Planned Parenthood. However, anti-abortion zealots in the state are fighting the opening of a new Planned Parenthood health center instead of starting a grassroots campaign to cure the issues causing the need. #Logic (Cosmopolitan)
  • Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has come over from the Dark Side and is now pro-choice. So nice to have you — now please help effect change in your rabidly anti-abortion state, sir. (USA Today)
  • Michigan Rep. Brandon Dillon is on our side too now. Is there something in the water out there in the Midwest, and can we import it to Arizona, like, yesterday? (MLive)
  • Sugary drinks, obesity, and family distress are all cited as reasons for early puberty in young girls. (NYT)
  • The House (Republicans, of coooooourse) voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act again. ’Cause, ya know, the 56th time’s the charm. (NPR)
  • Grab your surgical and/or gas masks, fellow Arizonans. Hundreds of schools in our state are skirting the vaccination mandates at great peril to us all. (AZ Central)
  • Anti-abortion creeps and anti-vaccination creeps: birds of a stupid feather. (RH Reality Check)
  • AARP & Astroglide: The over-70 set is still actively sexing each other up! Good for them! (HuffPo)
  • From crisis pregnancy centers to clinic protesters, we’re quite used to abortion foes telling filthy lies to justify their agendas. Which is why it’s hard to be surprised that Texas got faux “experts” to lie and use discredited science to close half of the abortion clinics in the state. (Slate)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • pillVICTORY! The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with Planned Parenthood (and common sense) with regard to medication abortion. If you recall, back in 2012, our Republican-led legislature passed a law trying to restrict its usage to the seventh week (or less) of pregnancy — despite the fact that it’s been safely used into the ninth week for more than a decade. The court has rightfully decided this restriction causes an undue burden for women. (AZ Central)
  • The withdrawal method is more popular than many of us thought! (Guttmacher)
  • TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) have the power to completely eradicate women’s access to abortion. And without even overturning Roe. (Slate)
  • Four of Louisiana’s five abortion clinics could be shutting down thanks to Gov. Bobby Jindal signing a TRAP bill into law. (MSNBC)
  • Birth control pills are terrific for treating problematic acne. (Time)
  • You may have heard that evangelicals, Christian fundamentalists, the “religious right” — whatever you wanna call them — originally banded together to fight against abortion. Well, In actuality, it was segregation that united this self-righteous bunch of clowns. (Politico)
  • Anti-abortion zealots are trying to threaten hospitals over abortion access now. (Think Progress)
  • There’s a pretty big disconnect between women and their doctors when it comes to conversations about contraceptives. (NPR)
  • Can Melinda Gates be a genuine advocate/champion for women’s reproductive health while completely ignoring the subject of abortion? (RH Reality Check)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Planned Parenthood’s fearless leader, Cecile Richards, put the verbal smackdown on Todd Akin and the rest of the anti-choice clowns of the GOP at the Democratic National Convention last night. (HuffPo)
  • And then Sandra Fluke chimed in with her own takedown of Mitt Romney! (ABC News)
  • Remember how Arizona (specifically Jan Brewer) passed legislation stipulating that only licensed physicians can provide abortion care? Well, new research concludes nurses and midwives can perform abortions just as safely as doctors. The study echoes research last year that found care delivered by advanced practice nurses is just as safe and effective, if not more so, than care provided by physicians. (Fierce Healthcare)
  • Karen Handel, former exec at the Susan G. Komen foundation, has written a book called “Planned Bullyhood” (haha @ that asinine title) in which she whines incessantly about the fallout from Komen’s ill-fated decision to pull its annual grant for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood. Handel has the nerve to compare us to a “schoolyard thug.” Is that LOL-worthy or what?! She blatantly disregards the fact that it was Komen who decided to prioritize politics over women’s health. She fails to acknowledge it was Komen who was soooo eager to jump on the “Attack Planned Parenthood” bandwagon that they were just fine with ceasing funding for potentially life-saving breast exams to women simply for being patients at Planned Parenthood. Oh, and it was Komen who’d known for-freaking-ever that 3 percent of our services go toward abortion care, but only decided to pull the grant because of a highly charged political climate — without regard for the health of the women we both have a responsibility to serve. But we’re the bullies for fighting on behalf of the women who depend on us for their preventive care??? #YeahRight #NotGonnaFlyLady #TryAgain (The Daily Beast)
  • Fox News is making stuff up (shocking, I know) about the Affordable Care Act and pretending like there isn’t a GOP war on women. In other words, it’s business as usual at Fox News. (Newshound)
  • The prognosis for women in four southern states with high rates of maternal mortality — Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — could be getting even worse thanks to their Republican-led governments trying to decline federal aid to expand Medicaid. (Forbes)
  • The male birth control pill we’ve been waiting 50 years for might finally be on the horizon in the not-so-distant future. (Science 2.0)
  • A new animal study has found that an anti-HIV vaginal ring can prevent virus transmission. Yay science! (Science Daily)
  • Texas continues its fight against Planned Parenthood, and as per usual, it’s women who’ll have to deal with the negative consequences. (CBS News)