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“I Don’t Believe Bush Misspoke”: The Phony, Unprincipled War On Planned Parenthood

With one careless comment, Jeb Bush revealed a fundamentally indifferent attitude toward half the U.S. electorate.

“I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” he said in a speech at the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

It was a throwaway aside in a longer blather about defunding Planned Parenthood, and one imagines that no sooner were the words out of his mouth than his cringing consultants were drafting a clarification.

The inevitable statement soon followed, admitting he “misspoke” and adding that “there are countless community health centers, rural clinics and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded.”

Too late. The game was on. Hillary Clinton blasted back, “When you attack women’s health, you attack America’s health.”

I don’t believe Bush misspoke. There’s something about abortion he wishes to ignore: Abortion is a women’s health issue. You cannot separate abortion from this context.

Oppose it or not — and I do — abortion is a medical procedure that ends an unwanted or health-threatening pregnancy. If we want to encourage the trend toward decreasing numbers of abortions in this country — and no one in their right mind wants to see more of them — we need to bolster women’s reproductive health services. That means ensuring wide access to sex education and contraceptives. (It also means honestly admitting that an overwhelming majority of Americans accept that abortion should be permitted when a pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, or when the health of the mother is threatened.)

If you oppose abortion and you’re not ready to promote the most effective ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies, you’re not serious. If you call for “defunding” Planned Parenthood — as virtually the entire Republican Party does — you are attacking a leading purveyor of contraceptives and information about how to use them for women of limited economic resources. You’re also threatening to shut down 700 clinics that provide crucial preventative health measures like pap smears and refer women for mammograms.

About 85 to 90 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is providing these basic health services, often to low-income women without access to health insurance. That’s according to analysis of the organization done by PolitiFact. Abortions add up to about 3 percent of the organization’s services, and they are not funded with federal money.

A recent vote in the U.S. Senate to defund Planned Parenthood, which failed, called for redirecting the monies to other women’s health facilities that did not provide abortions. The problem is that there are far too few such clinics to meet the need. Moreover, the effort misunderstands how Planned Parenthood receives $528 million annually: mostly through Medicaid reimbursements and competitive Title X family planning grants.

The plain truth is that the Republicans who wish to destroy Planned Parenthood — and Bush is far from the most vociferous — really don’t care that the bulk of its work has nothing to do with abortion. Nor do they care about standards of accuracy in the accusations they make against the organization.

They have worked hand in glove with the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group inspired by the ethically dubious video techniques of conservative activist James O’Keefe. This group set up a phony front company and then lured Planned Parenthood officials into secretly videotaped conversations about providing fetal tissue for research. The group then released videos selectively edited to suggest that Planned Parenthood was in the illegal business of selling fetal tissue.

The bogusness of this charge is patently obvious when one views the unedited tapes, but that matters little to GOP opportunists, who promise all sorts of congressional inquisitions.

Fine. Hold hearings. See what you find. My guess is that it will be zilch (See: Benghazi).

Meanwhile, the American public needs to know that these new anti-abortion activists are picking up the cudgels of the folks that brought us the so-called Summer of Mercy protests that required federal marshals to restore order in Wichita, Kansas, in the 1990s. Tactics used to include clinic bombings and harassing any woman who set foot near a clinic, regardless of what services she might be seeking.

That phase of the movement failed, although it never went away. In 2009, Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller was shot dead at his church.

Pro-life activists have figured out that it’s better to co-opt the Republican Party than to engage in terrorism. That’s progress. Unfortunately, disingenuous attacks on women’s health care purely to court votes do no favors to either women or unborn babies.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion Page Columnist, The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, August 12, 2015

August 13, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Planned Parenthood, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Yes, There Are Christian Terrorists”: Putting Religious Violence In Context

“There are still nine Christians here. We will capture them. We will kill them. When we finish here, we will go to the next village and kill the Christians there, too.”

If an ISIS leader made a statement like this publicly, Fox News would probably cut into their programming to bring you a special report about the Muslims’ “religious war” against Christians. Mainstream media outlets would most likely cover it as well.

But that statement was indeed uttered in 2014. Except there was one simple word difference: “Christian” was replaced with “Muslim”. That is exactly what a Christian terrorist said about his militia’s plan to exterminate the remaining nine Muslims in a village in Central Africa Republic (CAR). But, of course, stuff like that doesn’t really make news here in our country.

Or did you hear about the Christian militant who publicly beheaded a Muslim man in the streets of the CAR capital last year?  That was actually covered by the US media—in a short Associated Press paragraph buried papers like the New York Times. Anyone doubt that if a Muslim terrorist beheaded a Christian man in the public square it would’ve made the US news?

Any cable news channels cover in depth the Christian marauders in CAR that are – as we speak – ethnically cleansing tens of thousands of the minority Muslim population there?  These Christian militants  “stage brutal attacks…wielding machetes” and have “burned and looted…houses and mosques.” True, this is part of a civil war, but these violent acts are still carried out by militants who publicly self identify as Christian fighters.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of Christians committing acts of terrorism.

But, of course, when President Obama dared to mention at the National Prayer Breakfast last week that we have seen acts of violence perpetrated by Christians, including during the Crusades, some on the right went on the warpath. Rush Limbaugh called Obama’s words an “insult” to Christianity.

And numerous Fox News anchors were outraged, most notably Eric Bolling, who claimed that the number of people killed in the name of Christianity was “zero.”

To be honest, I do agree with the rightwing pundits on one issue. I do wish Obama didn’t bring up the Crusades to point out the violence committed in the name of Christianity.  The last Crusade took place over 700  years ago.

The attacks by the Christian militants taking place in CAR is a far better example of how all faiths have people who wage violence in the name of it. Obama could have also noted the horrifically violent actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a pseudo-Christian cult whose announced goal is to impose the Ten Commandants as the law of Uganda. To that end, the LRA slaughtered thousands of men, women and children, raped women, and forced people into being sex slaves over a 25 year period starting in 1986.

Or Obama could have simply focused on the violence perpetrated by Christian terrorists in America.  For starters, since 1977 there have been ”8 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 181 arsons, and thousands of incidences of other criminal activities” targeting reproductive health care facilities here at home. With few exceptions, there were perpetrated by Christians who opposed abortion for religious reasons.

Lets not forget that Eric Rudolph, who was tied to the white supremacist “Christian Identity” movement, had bombed abortion clinics, a gay nightclub and the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, which killed two people and wounded 110.  Rudolph’s stated motivation was to stop abortion, claiming our government had “legalized, sanctioned and legitimized” abortion, and thus, “they forfeited their legitimacy and moral authority to govern.”

And there was also the 2009 execution of Dr. George Tiller, who became nationally known for performing late term abortions. His killer, Scott Roeder, was a born again Christian who claimed that he the killing “was justified to save the lives of unborn children.”

Look, I fully understand that some don’t want to believe people of their faith have commited atrocities. I’m Muslim —and I can assure you that when I hear about acts of violence carried out by any Muslim, I’m outraged. Still, I can’t deny that there are Muslims who commit terrorism.

However, with both ISIS and these Christian terrorists, I know that their actions are not based on the tenets of their respective faiths but on their own political agenda. And that is why I won’t call the Christian terrorists followers of “radical Christianity.” There is no such thing, just as there is no such thing as “radical Islam.” But there are radical and violent followers of both religions who commit acts in the name of their respective faith.

Clearly President Obama and I have no intention of demonizing Christians. We’re just trying to put religious violence in context. In fact, like Obama, my mother is a Christian and my father Muslim and I was raised to have great respect for both religions.

But we can’t deny reality. There are people who commit acts of terrorism in the name of every faith, whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism or Islam, even if its just terrorist adherents of the latter that gets all the media attention.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, February 15, 2015

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Christians, Muslims, Terrorists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Choice Is Yours”: Demand That Those Who Ask For Your Vote Stand Up For Choice As Well

December 30, 1994 was the second day of infamy in this country.

That day, a radical anti-abortion activist named John Salvi murdered two employees–Shannon Lowney, 25, and Lee Ann Nichols, 38–at two Planned Parenthood facilities in Brookline, Massachusetts, and shot and wounded five others. He was later apprehended in Norfolk, Virginia after attacking another women’s health clinic.

This domestic terrorist was found guilty of murder in March 1996; he hanged himself in his prison cell just a few months later. (In 1997, his conviction was posthumously vacated on a technicality.)

Salvi was one of many depraved anti-abortion zealots who couldn’t stand the fact that women had the right to choose in this country. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted earlier this year:

Some of the people who were witnesses to [the Salvi] shooting were people who were there at the clinic working as clinic escorts because of the hostile and intimidating and occasionally violent intense protests that had been happening regularly outside of those clinics.

That day when John Salvi went into the two clinics in Brookline and opened fire and he shot all those people, there were antiabortion protesters right outside the clinic when he did it, as he did it. At the Brookline Planned Parenthood where he killed a 25-year-old receptionist that day, the protesters outside the clinic [attempted] to intimidate people [by] filming everybody as they arrived to work at the clinic, filming people as they arrived to volunteer, filming people who were working as escorts for patients coming into the clinic. And they filmed the patients, themselves, including taking great pains to be seen videotaping their license plates, trying to be very intimidating and very scary to people so they wouldn`t go into that clinic.

But that day when John Salvi got into that clinic and shot it up and he killed the receptionist and wounded other people, as they brought the bodies of the wounded and the killed out of that clinic that day, the antiabortion protesters in the parking lot, they kept filming. They filmed that, too.

I was seventeen years old when the Salvi shooting happened, and it rattled me to the core. Growing up in Massachusetts, I frankly took legal abortion for granted; in the Bay State, even the Republicans were pro-choice (and still are, as it turns out). I was stunned to learn that there were so many folks who were still angry over the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling…so angry that they would actually result to murder in order to effectively overturn the ruling.

As Maddow has noted over the years, the radical anti-abortion movement has seemingly grown stronger and stronger in the years since Salvi’s terrorist attack. Anti-abortion radicalism has also been legitimized in our media: remember Bill O’Reilly’s crusade against Kansas physician George Tiller, a crusade that only ended when Tiller was assassinated in 2009?

Every day that we allow access to legal abortion to be restricted anywhere in this country, we give aid and comfort to these radicals. Every day that we choose not to stand up in absolute defense of a woman’s right to choose, we give another victory to these deranged deviants. Every day that we turn a blind eye to the importance of defending Roe, we help the haters.

The Salvi shootings were a savage signal that a woman’s right to choose is literally under assault in this country. The radical anti-abortion terrorist network in the United States is far more dangerous than ISIS. These people want to murder democracy just as much as they want to murder doctors who provide reproductive services.

We need to defend women’s reproductive rights with renewed intensity in this country. We need to demand that every man and woman we elect pledge allegiance to the sacred right to choose. We need to insist that Roe v. Wade be accorded the same respect we accord to Brown v. Board of Education.

Twenty years ago, my heart broke for Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols, two bright, beautiful, bold young women who were mercilessly slaughtered by a right-wing fiend who decided to do with a bullet what he could not do with a ballot. Twenty years later, my heart breaks again, because I know I haven’t been as vigilant in defending a woman’s right to choose as I should have been. I know I let choice slip way down on my list of political priorities. I know I didn’t remember their heroism and their legacy.

Although they are gone, felled by a fanatic, I apologize to Shannon Lowney and Lee Ann Nichols for not being as vigilant as I should have been in defending a woman’s right to choose. I ask their families for forgiveness. I promise that I will stand up for choice, and I will demand that those who ask for my vote stand up for choice as well.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 27, 2014

December 28, 2014 Posted by | Reproductive Choice, Roe v Wade, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wanna Play The Blame Game?”: Conservatives May Be Biting Off More Than They Can Chew

If conservatives really want to play the blame game over the murder of New York police officers, they may be biting off more than they can chew, as Kevin Drum suggests:

I assume this means we can blame Bill O’Reilly for his 28 episodes of invective against “Tiller the Baby Killer” that eventually ended in the murder of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder. We can blame conservative talk radio for fueling the anti-government hysteria that led Timothy McVeigh to bomb a federal building in Oklahoma City. We can blame the relentless xenophobia of Fox News for the bombing of an Islamic Center in Joplin or the massacre of Sikh worshippers by a white supremacist in Wisconsin. We can blame the NRA for the mass shootings in Newtown and Aurora. We can blame Republicans for stoking the anti-IRS paranoia that prompted Andrew Joseph Stack to crash a private plane into an IRS building in Austin, killing two people. We can blame the Christian Right for the anti-gay paranoia that led the Westboro Baptist Church to picket the funeral of Matthew Snyder, a US Marine killed in Iraq, with signs that carried their signature “God Hates Fags” slogan. We can blame Sean Hannity for his repeated support of Cliven Bundy’s “range war” against the BLM, which eventually motivated Jerad and Amanda Miller to kill five people in Las Vegas after participating in the Bundy standoff and declaring, “If they’re going to come bring violence to us, well, if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.” And, of course, we can blame Rudy Giuliani and the entire conservative movement for their virtually unanimous indifference to the state-sanctioned police killings of black suspects over minor offenses in Ferguson and Staten Island, which apparently motivated the murder of the New York police officers on Saturday.

So no, conservatives shouldn’t “go there” in claiming that liberals who asked questions about the police killings in Missouri and New York and elsewhere were in some way responsible for this weekend’s tragedy. As Kevin concludes:

Maybe lots of people support lots of things, and we can’t twist that generalized support into blame for maniacs who decide to take up arms for their own demented reasons.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 22, 2014

December 24, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, NYPD, Police Brutality | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“There Is No Gosnell Coverup”: Blame Existing Policies And Public Indifference To Low-Income Communities

This week, the right wing has been working the refs, demanding to know why the press has been allegedly silent on the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia doctor who allegedly committed horrific acts against his patients with impunity for years. Fox News’ Kristen Powers kicked it off with an Op-Ed in USA Today, claiming, “The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.” Michelle Malkin has helped spearhead a Twitter campaign. Breitbart.com calls it “a full-blown, coordinated blackout throughout the entire national media.”

And mostly, the campaign is working, generating a series of sheepish responses (and a near-instant BuzzFeed listicle). In an Atlantic piece headlined, “Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s trial should be a front page story,” Conor Friedersdorf admits, “Until Thursday, I wasn’t aware of this story … Had I been asked at a trivia night about the identity of Kermit Gosnell, I would’ve been stumped and helplessly guessed a green Muppet.” Slate’s Dave Weigel congratulated the tweeters for getting his attention and then filed a piece sympathetic to the coverup claim, lecturing pro-choice people that “You really should read that grand jury report,” and concluding, “Social conservatives are largely right about the Gosnell story.”

No, they aren’t right about the Gosnell story. If you’ve never heard of the Gosnell story, it’s not because of a coverup by the liberal mainstream media. It’s probably because you failed to pay attention to the copious coverage among pro-choice and feminist journalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011. There would be something rich, if it weren’t so infuriating, about these (almost uniformly male, as it happens) reporters and commentators scrambling to break open this shocking untold story. You know, the one that was written about here, here and here, to name some disparate sources.

I can’t speak for big news organizations like CNN and the networks, but let’s think about this question another way: How often do such places devote their energies to covering the massive health disparities and poor outcomes that are wrought by our current system? How often are the travails of the women whose vulnerabilities Gosnell exploited — the poor, immigrants and otherwise marginalized people — given wall-to-wall, trial-level coverage? If you’re surprised that in the face of politicized stigma, lack of public funding or good information, and a morass of restrictive laws allegedly meant to protect women, the vacuum was filled by a monster — well, the most generous thing I can say is that you haven’t been paying attention.

But since you’re here, guys — welcome. Here are some important things to know about the tragedies committed in Gosnell’s clinic, based on the sources you missed. This week, as Virginia-based pro-choice activist Michelle Kinsey Bruns noted on Twitter, “Fitting that the right is trying to whip folks into a frenzy over #Gosnell the same day VA is trying to put safe abortion care out of reach.” She’s referring to so-called TRAP laws, which are regulations aimed at abortion clinics that have nothing to do with safety — say, the size of parking lots — to seek to drive them out of business, and which are expected to go forward in a vote today. According to Tara Murtha, a Philadelphia-based reporter who has been covering the Gosnell case from the start, in the aftermath of Pennsylvania’s own TRAP laws, the state went from 22 free-standing clinics to 13. As Murtha puts it, “The bottom line is that politicizing abortion led to Gosnell. Their answer? Politicize it more.”

After all, the question is not just why the state failed to respond to the complaints of women and advocates who visited the clinic, although that matters hugely. It’s why women kept going there anyway: because they felt they had no alternative. Read this account from Jeff Deeney, a social worker from Philadelphia, who points out that the lack of public funding for abortion is a big factor leading desperate women to Gosnell: “It’s worth noting for outsiders that Health Center #4 which serves the same neighborhood is the best in town, providing quality care for the uninsured poor. But Health Centers don’t do abortions, and Medicaid, where a TANF mom’s insurance coverage would come from, if she had any at all, doesn’t pay for them. And for these women the cost of paying for an abortion out of pocket breaks the budget, leaving mom scrambling to make next month’s rent or possibly wind up on the street.” Cost is also how women often get past the legal gestational limit, as they struggle to save up enough money — and Gosnell’s willingness to break the law was what made him their last chance. To everyone who thinks his case was a reason for more abortion restrictions: What he did was already illegal.

A new abortion clinic opened up recently in Kansas, a rare event that itself directly pointed to why there are ever-fewer legitimate abortion providers. It’s housed in a clinic that once housed the practice of Dr. George Tiller, murdered by an antiabortion extremist. As RH Reality Check reported, the clinic’s new providers are already being threatened, and in a jailhouse conversation with Tiller’s murderer, another extremist said of the opening, “It is a reckless act. It is not the act of someone who values their own safety. It is a gauntlet thrown down, by someone who wants a fight.” How much have you heard about that?

By all means, be up in arms about Kermit Gosnell. But blame existing policies and public indifference to low-income communities.

 

By: Irin Carmon, Salon, April 12, 2013

April 13, 2013 Posted by | Abortion, Women's Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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