Virginia Woman Facing 5 Years for Concealing Fetal Remains

women's rightsA 24-year-old woman, Katherine Dellis, in Virginia is facing up to five years in jail for unlawfully concealing human remains, a Class 6 felony.

Police found a stillborn fetus in a dumpster in Rocky Mount, Virginia after they were tipped off by a local hospital. Hospital officials became suspicious when Dellis arrived with severe vaginal bleeding, symptoms that suggest she may have given birth during her third trimester. Dellis denied that she had given birth.

Upon investigating Dellis’ home, and interviewing a family member who revealed that they had disposed of soiled bedsheets, police determined that Dellis had indeed given birth.

After the deceased fetus was found in a dumpster, a preliminary autopsy was performed. The results of the autopsy revealed that the fetus was a stillborn.

This case is very reminiscent of Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman who was sentenced to 41 years in prison for feticide upon having a miscarriage and throwing the stillborn fetus away.

As if having a miscarriage or stillbirth weren’t tough enough, women in America must be fearful of being prosecuted or punished if it happens to them. While Dellis isn’t being charged for having a miscarriage, rather for concealing the fetal remains, it speaks volumes that she didn’t feel comfortable admitting the truth to the hospital or police. Having a still birth is an extremely tragic, shocking thing for anyone to experience. Instead of punishment or finger wagging, the correct response would be compassion and medical care.

What do you think? Do you think the charges against Dellis are fair? Why or why not?


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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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In 2015, 46 of 50 states considered passing a total of 396 anti-abortion laws

photo-1433588616917-dcbcc63429f42015 was not a good year for abortion-rights and it doesn’t look like 2016 will be much better. Last year, 46 of 50 states considered passing a total of 396 anti-abortion laws. Of those 46 states, 17  actually passed 57 of those suggested. Of the restrictions passed, there are four main topics that lawmakers are targeting: counseling and mandatory delays, medication abortion, abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy, and targeted regulation of abortion providers.

Here are some of the anti-abortion laws that passed last year alone:

  1. Florida and Tennessee passed mandatory delay measures
  2. Arkansas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma lengthened mandatory delays
  3. Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, and Montana attempted to prevent women from obtaining abortion care via telemedicine
  4. Arizona and Arkansas adopted legislation that requires doctors to give women seeking abortion false information about the procedure.
  5. Kansas and Oklahoma enacted legislation that prevents women from obtaining a safe method of abortion after 14 weeks.
  6. West Virginia and Wisconsin passed legislation that bans abortion beyond 20 weeks.
  7. Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, and Oklahoma and Tennessee have enacted TRAP laws (Target Regulation Abortion Provider) which targets clinic closures and have nothing to do with protecting the health of women.

If are a woman who happens to live in Oregon or Maine, consider yourself lucky. In Oregon, women will now be able to obtain birth control pills without visiting a doctor first. And Maine plans on expanding the Medicaid coverage of family planning individuals who earn up to 209% of the federal poverty level.


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California and Oregon Leading the Way in Making Birth Control More Accessible

womens health

If you are a woman living in either California or Oregon, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Groundbreaking laws in these two states will soon make it legal for women to obtain birth control directly from their pharmacist, completely bypassing the need for a prescription from their doctor. This will not only make women’s reproductive healthcare more accessible and convenient but also less expensive.

Most states in the US are currently grappling with consistent high rates of unintended pregnancy. In fact, nearly half of pregnancies in the US are unintended. As it stands now however, all states require a doctor’s prescription before they can receive hormonal birth control including pills, patches, or rings.

Here is how it will work: After filling out a short health and medical history questionnaire, women will be able to obtain a contraceptive directly from their pharmacist. The cost of birth control will be covered by insurance, just as it is now under the Affordable Care Act.

Though reproductive health groups are pushing to make contraceptives available over the counter, we feel that this is a step in the right direction. Here is to hoping that other states follow in their footsteps.


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290.6 Million Women Living in Poverty Now Using Contraception

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A new study by a global family planning rights group revealed that 290.6 million women and girls living in poverty stricken nations are now using modern forms of contraception.

The program was launched in 2012 in 69 focus countries. It is estimated that the program’s efforts have prevented 80 million pregnancies, 28.6 million unsafe abortions, and 111,000 maternal deaths in just one year. Though these numbers seem impressive, the program didn’t reach its intended goal. The number of contraceptive users is 10 million fewer than what they had hoped for.

Here are some of the positive outcomes:

  1. In South Asia, the contraceptive usage went up 47 percent.
  2. In Eastern and Southern Africa, the usage went up 22 percent.
  3. Kenya showed some of the best progress. The contraceptive use amongst married women rose from 46 percent in 2009 to 58 percent in 2014.
  4. Zambia’s usage rose from 33 percent in 2012 to 45 percent.

Injectable contraceptives and an increase in budget contributes to a country’s family planning success. Family planning not only saves lives but it also contributes to healthier women, children, and communities.


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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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Repro Roundup: September 2015

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The Good

  • Over the counter birth control pills may be coming to a pharmacy near you (if you live in Oregon or California.) Read more here.


The Bad

  • Many states restrict abortion after a certain point in pregnancy. Want to know where your state stands? Read more here. 
  • Here is the chronology of Congress’ attempt to defund Planned Parenthood (even if it means shutting down the government)
    • Senate is pushing the  20-week abortion ban and the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Read more here. 
    • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not want to shut down the government. Read more here. 
    • As of Sept. 25 Congress still can’t defund Planned Parenthood. This is why your votes matter. If the next Congress is even more conservative, women’s health will suffer dreadfully. Read more here.
    • Planned Parenthood is key to women’s health for many, often poor and near-poor women. Read more here.
  • Texas is making a weak attempt to provide reproductive health care to women, because its (ridiculous and medically unnecessary) restrictions have forced most Planned Parenthood centers to shut down. The care at these new centers will only be available to women whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level – that is abject poverty. Women who are, let’s say, only 100% below the poverty level still can’t afford care. In addition, Texas did not expand Medicaid eligibility for the Affordable Care Act, making it even harder for poor people to get care. Explain to me again how that is considered “pro-life’? Read more here.


My Closing Thoughts

I find it absolutely unbelievable that so many in Congress are willing to shut down the government if the budget includes funding for Planned Parenthood!! How in the world did this happen? With the resignation of John Boehner (though not my favorite member of congress), things may very well get worse!

Help spread the word that — as discussed in by book A Woman’s Right To Know — the spiritual basis for ending abortions in this country is not consistent with the history of one of the major religious groups associated with the anti-abortion effort.

In June of 1971, before Roe v. Wade was decided legalizing abortion, the Southern Baptist Convention called upon “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” They did this to save the lives of women who were being harmed and killed by illegal abortions.That was a pro-health effort. The current right-wing in Congress bases their opposition to abortion (and reproductive health care for women) on their religious affiliation. This is unacceptable!


 

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Repro Roundup: August 2015

8293b916-41b3-489a-83c2-1416c5099e1aThe Good

  • Clinic in Ohio will train residents on proper abortion care. Ohio, which is usually the author of bad news, has announced that the sole abortion clinic in Toledo will partner with the University of Toledo Medical Center to train physicians on how to perform abortions and related care. Read more here
  • Oklahoma judge blocks medication abortion restriction. A judge in the very conservative state of Oklahoma has struck down restrictions on medication abortions as unconstitutional. Finally–a victory for common sense!Read more here. 


    The Bad

    • Ohio wants to ban abortions for Down Syndrome. A recent editorial in the NY Times discusses this and other cogent issues related to Ohio’s attempt at abortion bans. Most Ohioans do not agree with it, but due to redistricting, the legislature is far more conservative than the population. Redistricting, in fact, is a problem in Congress as well – it’s a big reason why we have a House of Representatives that does not reflect the population on issues such as abortion, and many others. Read more here. 
    • Texas is creating the template for abortion restriction nationally. Texas, like many other states, has imposed onerous and completely unnecessary standards for facilities that provide abortions, thus causing many of them to shut down for good. The standards are those which are typically applied to surgical suites in hospitals. Texas now only has 17 abortion clinics (down from 41 in 2012 before these restrictions went into effect.) If legislators were actually concerned about the safety of such facilities, they would impose the same restrictions on other procedures such as colonoscopies. Abortion is one of the safest procedures performed, and the patients are, by definition, young and mostly healthy. Colonoscopies (also a safe procedure) are generally performed on older patients, many of which have other health conditions. Why don’t they impose the same restrictions on colonoscopies performed outside a surgical suite? The real issue is not about the health and safety of women but of eliminating abortions altogether. This is misogyny in its purest form. Read more here.

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Repro Roundup: July 2015

Repro Roundup July

The Good

  • This month, a Federal Appeals court ruled that contraceptive coverage is not a burden on religious organizationsIf a nonprofit religious organization wants to opt out from providing contraceptive coverage to their employees, they may do so with ease. When the organization opts out, the government will then arrange contraceptive coverage for the employees instead. An order of nuns in Colorado objected to the government stepping in because they claimed it made them complicit in the delivery of contraceptives. Read more here. 
  • House lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would end the Hyde Agreement. This repeal would permit federally funded insurance plans to cover abortion service, including women covered with Medicaid. Though this repeal would be nice, it is unlikely to pass. Read more here. 

    The Bad

    • Wisconsin recently passed a 20-week limit for abortions. The bill, which makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, was passed by the Republican-led State Senate in June. It prohibits abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, when some abortion foes say an unborn child can experience pain. Twelve other states have similar bans, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks the issue. The United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth District ruled in May that an Idaho ban on abortions after 20 weeks was unconstitutional. Read more here. 
    • More efforts to discredit Planned Parenthood are being made with the use of nefarious and misleading tactics. Read more here. 
    • Lately there seems to be so much concern about embryos, but none, as far as I can see, about our shamefully high infant mortality rate. This supports the notion that many in the so-called “pro-life” camp, care only about pre-born life. Where is the effort to save these babies who have already been born – a disproportionately high percentage of whom are Black? Read more here.
    • Republican politicians are refining that way that they talk about pregnancy and abortion rights in hopes that they will sound less ‘anti-woman’.  Read more here. 
    • Senate fast tracks measures to defund Planned Parenthood. Read more here.

      The Good // The Bad

      • The Good: Supreme Court stays part of Texas’ extreme anti-abortion law // The Bad: “The Court’s stay of the Texas abortion restrictions law makes it all but certain that the Justices will take up abortion rights next term.” Read more here. 
      • The Good: Federal appeals courts are withholding Obama’s contraceptive policy, guaranteeing access to free birth control for women. // The Bad: The government could have problems finding third parties to pay for contraceptives when employers object. Read more here.

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