Right Wing Videographers Indicted After Planned Parenthood Investigation

Planned Parenthood

A grand jury in Texas, who was in charge of investigating whether or not Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue, has done something rather shocking. After a months-long investigation, the jury chose to indict the people who initially filmed the videos, instead of Planned Parenthood.

The jury, summoned by Harris Country District Attorney Devon Anderson (a Rick Perry appointee), investigated all of the evidence alleging that Planned Parenthood participated in criminal conduct. The right wing videographers, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, were indicted for filming and then inappropriately editing a video that shows an executive of Planned Parenthood talking about the medical uses for fetal tissue.

After the videos were released, right wing lawmakers began accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally trafficking aborted baby parts. Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, was even required to testify before Congress.

Along with Texas, 11 other states have launched similar investigations despite being both expensive and time consuming. Not surprisingly, none of the investigations thus far have produced any evidence of misconduct. Eight states have come forth saying that there isn’t even enough evidence to justify an investigation in the first place.

The two videographers are facing up to twenty years in prison for a second degree felony; tampering with a governmental record. David Daleiden is also facing an additional year in prison for attempting to purchase and sell human organs. In the last eight years, Daleiden secretly recorded Planned Parenthood staff and patients, used fake aliases and government IDs, and even went as far as creating a fake tissue procurement company in order to gain access to private information and conversations.

It’s time we stop wasting taxpayer dollars to investigate an organization that aims to improve not only the health of women but also the health of families. Representative Carolyn Mahoney (D-NY) appropriately deemed the investigations against Planned Parenthood a “witch hunt.”


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Not One Mention of Women’s Health in Most Recent Dem Debate

photo-1432164245265-ab19a48c3d09Did anyone watch the last Democratic Debate. If you didn’t you can catch it here.

Though it shouldn’t surprise anyone, I was personally offended that there was no mention of the future of women’s healthcare during the entire debate.

Not. One. Mention.

Even Hillary Clinton, a candidate who has made women’s healthcare a major part of her platform and the only presidential primary candidate to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood, didn’t take this time to address specific subtopics such as repealing the Hyde Amendment, insurance coverage of abortion, and violence at women’s health clinics.

If women’s health can’t be considered a priority during the Democratic campaigns, then where is the appropriate place to shine light on this dire subject?

Women’s healthcare rights are currently under attack across the US (even more so if you happen to reside in Texas.) Though women make up half the population, our reproductive health and fundamental human rights continue to be ignored. Discussing women’s healthcare on the political stage is a great opportunity for candidates to convey the importance of this matter. We should be setting an example to the rest of the world that women’s health and reproductive rights are a serious matter, not just brushing it under the rug.


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My Letter to the Editor in NY Times: Another Year, Another Round of Abortion Debates

steamA letter I recently wrote to the NY Times editor was just published yesterday. The letter is in response to an article published on December 19, 2015 entitled The Reproductive Rights Rollback of 2015Read the entire letter here.

The year in review:

  • States have enacted 288 abortion restrictions since the beginning of 2011
  • In 2015 alone, state legislators passed 57 new constraints on a woman’s right to choose.
  • Lawmakers have been writing TRAP laws (or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) that disguise their true intent, to eradicate abortion altogether.
  • Going after the health clinics causes an increase in closures, which then increases the chance that a woman will attempt a self-induced abortion.
  • It is estimated that 100,000-240,000 TX women have attempted a self-induced abortion, likely due to having limited access to legal abortion clinics.
  • More than 24 states already require waiting periods for abortions and an additional five more states joined their ranks this year.

It seems that the assault on a woman’s right to choose isn’t going away any time soon. There is no doubt that 2016 will be filled with even more new constraints. Stay informed, stay alert.


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What We Know About the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado

Stand With PP

  • Three people were killed: Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, Iraq veteran and father of two, Jennifer Markovsky, 36, a friend who was accompanying her friend to the clinic, and Garrett Swasey, a police man who responded to the 911 call
  • Nine others were injured
  • The shooter was Robert Lewis Dear, a 57-year-old white male and North Carolina native who has a history of being preoccupied with right wing sentiment (including handing out anti-Obama flyers in his neighborhood)
  • Dear used an AK-47 style, high powered rifle. There was nothing in his background (such as a felony conviction or mental issue) preventing him from owning such a weapon.
  • However, Dear has been arrested for domestic violence against his then-wife as well as watching his neighbor through her window.
  • The Justice Department is currently building a “domestic terrorism” case against him
  • Dear’s motive remains unclear although he did mention “no more baby parts” and President Obama after being taken in for questioning.
  • Dear is currently being held without bond and will appear in court today, Monday November 30th.

This is not only a crime against Colorado Springs but also a crime against women seeking services at Planned Parenthood and similar clinics across the nation. Though Dear’s motive is till unclear, it’s obvious that the smear campaign created by right-wing extremists has contributed to the negative sentiments that Dear and other feel towards Planned Parenthood. We will continue to update this case as more information becomes available.

*image by Charlotte Cooper, Flickr


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Ben Carson Compares Women Who Have Abortions to Slave Owners

Ben CarsonOver the weekend Dr. Ben Carson, Republican presidential candidate and neurosurgeon, not only compared abortion to slavery but he also said he would “love” to see Roe V. Wade overturned.

Carson claims that during slavery, slave owners believed that hey had every right to do whatever they wanted to their slaves. In comparing abortion to slavery, Carson indirectly compares the women who have abortions to slave owners. For someone who said he would never be an advocate for illegal abortion in 1992, Carson suddenly has a staunch stance on the subject. He believes that abortion should be illegal even in cases of incest or rape. Carson says the only exception would be if the pregnancy endangered the health of the mother but that, he says, would have to be “an extraordinarily rare situation.”

Carson is no stranger to controversy. He believes being gay is a choice, that Obamacare was the worst thing that has happened in the US since slavery,  that a Muslim should not be elected president, and that the victims at a Community College in Oregon should have attacked the shooter instead of just standing there.

Carson and Trump are the two top contenders for the Republican nomination. We don’t want either of these controversial pot-stirring men leading the country, do you?

*image by Flickr


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6 Women’s Health Quotes From 2016 Presidential Candidates

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1. Hillary Clinton (D)

 “I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare. And I have spent many years now, as a private citizen, as first lady, and now as senator, trying to make it rare, trying to create the conditions where women had other choices.”

2. Donald Trump (R) 

“We have to take care of women. We have to absolutely take care of women. The abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood should not — absolutely should not — be funded.”

3. Bernie Sanders (D)

“The current attempt to discredit Planned Parenthood is part of a long-term smear campaign by people who want to deny women in this country the right to control their own bodies.”

4. Jeb Bush (R)

“I, for one, don’t think Planned Parenthood ought to get a penny, though. And that’s the difference, because they’re not actually doing women’s health issues. They are involved in something way different than that.”

5. Joe Biden (D)

“I accept my Church’s position on abortion as a de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception. I accept that position in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians, and Muslims and and Jews… I do not believe that we have a right to tell women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that.”

6. Ben Carson (R)

You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control.”


 

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Fewer Women Seek Preventative Reproductive Care When Clinic Closures Increase

photo-1439902315629-cd882022cea0According to a new study done by the Analysis Group in Boston, fewer women seek preventative reproductive health care when women’s health clinics are shut down in their communities. Though these lawmakers aim the funding cuts at abortion providers, there is an unintended (and unfortunate) consequence; less women receive necessary reproductive care, such as pap smears and cancer screenings.

The study reveals that when a women’s health clinic (such as Planned Parenthood) in a rural area is shut down, there is an annual decrease in women receiving breast exams, mammograms, and Pap test. When the distance to the next nearest clinic increases drastically (such as 100 miles or further), fewer women tend to seek out preventative care. Less educated women are affected the most, likely due to the fact that they are uninsured, underinsured, rely on charity care, have less flexible schedules, or lack the means of transportation.

The research conducted by the Analysis Group (and paid for by an undisclosed national network) will be published in an article titled “The Impact  of Women’s Health Clinic Closures on Preventative Care” and is the first to quantify the number of women receiving preventative care once a closure takes place. Texas and Wisconsin were the states primarily researched due to 2011 legislation that cut funding to women’s health clinics providing abortion services within these states.

Sure, cutting funding to women’s health clinics may successfully decrease the amount of legal and safe abortions that take place, but it also decreases the likelihood that women will seek preventative reproductive health care.


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Can Planned Parenthood Help Decrease the Infant Mortality Rate in the US?

plannedparenthood073015_getty

What if I told you funding Planned Parenthood was just one solution to decreasing the infant mortality rate? In my latest article for The Hill, I address how this would work.

Facts Don’t Lie

The US has an embarrassingly high infant mortality rate compared to other developing nations. Racial disparity, that persists throughout childhood, contributes to this high number. Black infants die at twice the rate of white infants.

How to Decrease the Mortality Rate of Infants in the US

  1. Make sure that every child, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, has access to health care (many politicians working to defund Planned Parenthood are also working to defund the Affordable Care Act.)
  2. Make sure that every woman, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, has access to reproductive health services and birth control. (Planned Parenthood is often the only place that impoverished women can go to receive contraceptive services. Closing these facilities means more women will have unplanned pregnancies –which will lead to a greater risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and neonatal death.)

Read the entire article here.


 

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June Repro Roundup: The Latest Women’s Health News

June Repro Roundup

The Good

  • The Supreme Court decisions handed down this month are simply wonderful! Its decisions on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will protect Americans’ health. Of particular relevance to this News Roundup – the ACA provides for preventive care for women, including Pap Smears, mammograms and contraception, without a co-pay. And, while not directly relevant to women’s health per se, the decision legalizing same sex marriage will improve the well-being of so many individuals and families!
  • Earlier this month, an Oregon House committee voted to advance legislation that would allow women to buy contraception without a prescription from a physician. Read more here.
  • While Americans are showing progress on their social beliefs (like growing acceptance of same gender marriage) they are also showing progress on their perceptions about abortionRead more here or here. 
  • SCOTUS rejects appeal for blocked North Carolina Ultrasound Law. The law would have required physicians to perform ultrasounds and describe the images to women seeking abortions. Read more here. 

    The Bad

    • Women seeking abortions in North Carolina will now have to wait three times as long with the 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill that recently passed. Read more here. 
    • Minors seeking abortion in Texas will now face even more restrictions. The Texas government just signed a bill that tightens judicial bypass restrictions. Read more here.
    • State laws restricting access to abortion are accumulating faster than ever and some states are trying to make the procedure impossible. Read more here. 
    • Nearly 5 million women, including 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients, are about to lose critical preventive health services. If Congress succeeds in eliminating all Title X funding, these women will be cut off from birth control, well-woman visits, cancer screenings, and family planning services. With Planned Parenthood as the only family planning provider in some states, and many of these women living below the poverty line, they will have nowhere to turn. A key Senate subcommittee just voted for these cuts on June 23. Read more here or here. 

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