No You Can’t Refuse Service

Hey everybodyyyyyy!

I was jumping online to do a blog post about this convention that I’m attending this weekend, but it has to wait because I have to tell you about This Other Thing That Is Really Awesome!

H/T to Niki for pointing me in the direction of Michael Stone’s article Appeals Court Rules Pharmacies Cannot Cite Religion To Deny Medication

In Washington state it is no longer legal for pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception based on the justification that to do so would violate their deeply held religious belief that slutty women should literally bear the consequences of their sluttiness. Well, a clarification: These pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions… as long as they are on duty with a coworker who acknowledges that women are sentient life forms capable of making medical decisions about their own bodies, and who will fill the prescriptions.

This is huge! Not just for reproductive rights, but for putting a slight damper on the creep (tidal wave) of religion into public life and government.

Stone cites a statement by The Washington, D.C.-based Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty: “The government has no business punishing citizens solely because of their religious beliefs.”

No. If you refuse to provide professional assistance to someone because they don’t share your political beliefs, then you are the one who is doing the punishing.

And thanks to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this kind of petty-minded punishment is not going to be tolerated. Pharmacists no longer get to decide that they know better than the doctors who prescribe emergency contraception and the people who are choosing to take it. They no longer get to use their professional status as an opportunity to prostelytize and pass moral judgments that have very real consequences to their clients. They no longer get to be the gatekeepers of this type of medical care.

You know, at least in Washington state.

You’re f*ckin it up, Indiana

So I haven’t written about Purvi Patel yet. Or the spike in HIV cases. Or the RFRA. I think it’s party because I’ve been too numb and scared and bewildered and trying to grok what’s going on in Indiana. And across the country. Across my country. So let’s break up this overwhelming set of circumstances and take them in smaller bits. Today let’s talk about Purvi Patel.

For an explanation of who Purvi Patel is and the ordeal that she’s been put through, check out this article from The New York Times, Purvi Patel Could Be Just the Beginning.

Someone was just sentenced to 20 years in prison for aborting a fetus. This just happened in the United States of America, y’all. The first person in US history to be convicted of feticide for aborting her own pregnancy.

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Sadomasochism isn’t a dirty word.

Today Planned Parenthood supporters and opponents spoke out on Twitter with the hashtag #SexEd. The tweetfest was organized by the anti-abortion organization, Live Action, to denounce the Lurid! Disgusting! Immoral! Dangerous! advice given by Planned Parenthood counselers to a young woman who pretended to have honest questions for them about BDSM. She filmed the clinic workers – without their knowledge – answering the questions openly and honestly. Live Action calls this “undercover investigation.” I call bullshit. The film that Live Action is so very proud of can be seen on YouTube.

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Sex Ed – We’re Doin It Wrong

I was recently accepted as a volunteer for Planned Parenthood of Minnesota-North Dakota-South Dakota. One of the requirements for becoming a volunteer was attending four classes. The first two were introductions to the organization; the third and fourth were educational sessions focused on the basics of sexual transmitted infections (STIs), reproductive health and contraception. It makes a lot of sense to train volunteers in these topics, as the majority of what Planned Parenthood does is provide family planning and sexual health advice, education and health services.

After having attended these last two courses with a group of my peers, I say this: We need to do better at providing the people of this country standardized, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.

Remember: All of the attendees of these courses want to be there. All of us believe in reproductive planning, promoting sexual health, positive sexuality, and supporting a woman’s right to  have an abortion. We are all supposedly “the good guys”. But goddamn there were some ridiculous beliefs that were shared in that classroom! There were misunderstandings about how common forms of birth control work, what happens during puberty, how certain STIs are spread, how communication with partners can limit the spread of STIs, how to bring up the issue of STIs with a new partner. There were prejudices, preconceptions and privileged opinions about issues such as sex before marriage, how many partners people “should” have, relationship status (monogamous vs. polygamous vs. open marriages, etc.), gender identity, how young someone should be before they have sex, if parents should have a say in whether an underage girl is allowed to have an abortion.

In a country that allows parents to pull their children from classrooms during sex ed…

When sex “education” still seems to come primarily from friends or the internet or those first fumbling encounters…

When sex, birth control, reproduction and sexual autonomy remain taboo subjects that aren’t discussed in “polite” company…

When these things happen we find ourselves in a climate where people speak the right words and espouse the right positions, but we still don’t know what the hell we’re talking about. A lot of people in that room probably walked in thinking they knew all there was too know about the basics of reproduction, contraception and STIs.

Planned Parenthood seems to understand the reality of sex education in this country, and they have taken steps to extend their educational outreach to their volunteers as well as their clients. We can do better.

Minnesota 2011 Annual Abortion Report

Last Tuesday several news sources reported some version of this headline:

Minnesota abortions at 37-year low

That particular headline came from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Every year since Abortion reporting has been in place since 1973 when Roe v. Wade made the procedure legal in the United States. States have their own unique reporting laws for abortions performed in each state, and in 1998 the Minnesota Legislature  updated their requirements and the types of questions that are asked of doctors and patients. In Minnesota it is required that all physicians liscensed and practicing in Minnesota who perform abortions, and all MN facilities in which abortions are performed to complete and submit a report for each procedure to the Minnesota Department of Health. All of that information is compliled into an annual report called the “Report to the Legislature: Induced Abortions in Minnesota”. Two Fridays ago, the 2011 annual report was released by the MDH.

The report is a fascinating read – in a dry “I’m reading 28 pages of statistics” kind of way – especially if you have an interest in who is getting what type of abortions, who is performing them, and even reasons why people say they are seeking abortions. This is a list of some of the information collected:

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Giving God the Heisman

I’ve been really disgusted with the Kalley Yanta’s Minnesota Marriage Minute videos. Mostly because they make bigotry, fear and hate look so damn good, professional and reasonable. I’ve been meaning to post about them, but it’s been a chore to watch her maple syrup-sweet, disingenuous arguments. This morning I was going to do it. I even made it through the first three (of 10, now) videos and had started deconstructing the calmly-delivered fallacious vitriol (damn this woman brings to mind the saccharine evil of Delores Umbridge), but then YouTube helpfully directed me to this and my head exploded:

In this video Yanta’s professionalism slips a couple of notches from her MN Marriage Minute videos. Her sugar-coated sarcasm is the epitome of the tongue-in-cheek “Minnesota Nice”, which, for those who haven’t heard the term, is often used to describe passive-agressiveness. She also confirms that her social conservatism is based in religious ideology, which she doesn’t do in MN Marriage Minute.

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Why We Need Sex Ed NOW

I was sent this infographic by a new group called Public Health Resources. According to their website, the group’s purpose is to provide a source of information and resources for people who are interested in pursuing a degree in public health. The infographic is called Why We Need Sex Ed Now. Here’s what the creators have to say about the project:

Today it’s pretty clear that abstinence-only education doesn’t work — and scientific studies prove it. Not only does it not work though, it actually worsens the problems that it claims to solve. States where abstinence-only education reigns supreme have the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the United States. At the same time, states that favor comprehensive sexual education — the type that teaches students about birth control — have the lowest levels of teen pregnancy.

Teen pregnancy rates are often closely mirrored with a nation’s public health status because high rates of pregnancy suggest a lack of protection during sex. And of course, a lack of protection leads to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Every two minutes in the United States 3 teens get pregnant, and more than 80% of these pregnancies are unintended. We need sex ed now: not just as a matter of public health, but as a matter of sustaining the robust society that America has built over time. This graphic lays out all the facts and makes the case for protection.

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10 Things Amanda Marcotte Would Tell Anti-Choicers

This is a genius list. But first, recent abortion wars news:

Every day I read about absurd pieces of legislation that are specifically written to limit access to abortion or reproductive choice. Today’s Bill-O’-Fun-and-Oppression comes out of North Carolina.

Earlier this week the NC House managed to override the state governor’s veto on a bill that would require all women who seek an abortion to undergo a a 24-hour waiting period, an ultrasound, a detailed description of the fetus and state-mandated “counseling”. Today, the NC Senate  passed that bill 29-19.

This intrusive government-mandated health care now requires that every women have her ultrasound 24 hours in advance of the procedure, regardless of whether the woman is a victim of incest or rape or medical necessity, and regardless of whether she wishes to accept the state’s kind offer to waste her time with unsolicited, unnecessary medical procedures and lectures about “other options”. Book your hotel room now if you’ve traveled a distance to one of the eight cities in North Carolina that currently have abortion clinics – you’re going to be there for a few days. And so sorry if you can’t find the money for a hotel, or obtain transportation, or find childcare for several days, or take time off of work. Maybe you’d just better have that kid; in the short term it will be much easier than terminating your pregnancy. The pro-lifers in the North Carolina legislature can assure you of that.

And now on to Amanda Marcotte’s Awesome List of Awesome. Here are 10 very good points which people entrenched in the anti-choice movement ignore completely. But if you’re one of those people who have always identified as pro-life (then you’re probably not reading this blog, but just in case), but you’ve never really given the issue a lot of thought, check out Ms. Marcotte’s full article on AlterNet, in which she goes into detail about why each of the statements below is true. Or if you support reproductive rights, read her piece to brush up your knowledge on why abortion isn’t evil.

10 Things Amanda Marcotte Would Say to the Anti-Choice Fanatics Trying to End Access to Abortion

  1. Most abortions take place early in pregnancy.
  2. If not for anti-choicers, even more women would get abortions much earlier in their pregnancies.
  3. Doctors perform late term abortions because of medical indications, often on women who desperately wanted the baby.
  4. Women who get abortions aren’t afraid of being mothers.
  5. Abortion is physically safe.
  6. Abortion is mentally safe.
  7. Women who get abortions take responsibility for their decision.
  8. Abortion providers are responsible medical professionals who work to make sure their patients are healthy and avoid future unintended pregnancies.
  9. Women get abortions because they’re being responsible.
  10. Conservative policies cause the abortion rate to be higher than it needs to be.