January 13, 2012
July 18, 2016
I am so tempted to talk about how this country is going to hell in a handbasket, but I need to be disciplined and write about the main topic of this world famous blog.
So, how about that Supreme Court decision? Huh? Huh?
I personally know the owner of the Whole Women’s Health centers, the clinics that brought the original case. Her name, as has been reported, is Amy Hagstrom Miller. She is an amazing young woman who brings an incredible amount of passion to her job. What is particularly exciting to me is that she has been expanding her services across the country. I have admitted in the past that there are some bad apples in the abortion clinic industry but Amy is the other side of the spectrum so it’s good to see her spreading her wings.
Amy is also a fighter, so I was not surprised that she was the one who brought the first case challenging those ridiculous laws in the state of Texas. You don’t mess with Amy and I’m thrilled that all of her hard work, time and money was spent in a winning proposition.
So, what does the decision mean? Well, it means some clinics that were going to close will now remain open. That’s always interesting in the world of abortion clinics because, like any other business, sometimes you don’t want to many competitors. Indeed, there are clinics in Texas that have been absolutely swamped with patients. Still, it means better access for women.
Politically, though, I’m actually kind of nervous. That’s because whenever you win, there is always a down side. In the early 1980’s, when I was the chief lobbyist for the National Abortion Rights Action League, we defeated a constitutional amendment that would have overturned Roe v Wade. We walloped them, crushed them. And the next day I attended an extremely depressing meeting with our direct mail fundraisers who told us that the millions and millions of dollars that had been flowing into our office was gonna stop right away. There would be staff layoffs, salary cuts, etc. We didn’t have much time to celebrate and their predictions came true.
This latest victory in the Supreme Court reminds me of that situation in that the anti-abortion movement now has a new rallying point. They can now go out there and say “Look at the direction the Court is going – abortion on demand – more babies being killed – blah, blah.” And they will remind voters that the next President will no doubt get a number of nominations (not to mention the one that is pending) and that the future of abortion rights can go in one direction of the other.
Meanwhile, your casual voter who is pro-choice might just sit back and think that the battle has been won and, while they probably still will vote for Hillary Clinton, they may not be as energized and may decide to not give money or stuff envelopes. And in a very close election, that work is extremely important. Victory brings complacency.
So, we can take time to rejoice but we cannot rest on our laurels. If the Donald becomes President and some of those justices start to keel over, he’s gonna nominate some right wing nuts because, well, because he can. Then the “new” Court will just sit back and wait for that next abortion case to make its way to their desks.
June 22, 2016
Every once in a while, to get some good chuckles, I check in with LifeNews.com. It’s a hoot.
In a recent edition, their feature story was about how a Planned Parenthood clinic supposedly called an ambulance and asked them to turn off their sirens and lights before they arrived. The article suggested that the clinic did not want anyone to know that they had “botched another abortion.”
For the record, abortion is actually one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. Having said that, it is surgery and some women can be injured, have a complication or even die.
The first thing that strikes me as funny about this article, however, is it suggests that the anti-abortion movement actually cares about the safety of abortion. Indeed, that is one of their latest arguments – that legal abortion is not safe (and illegal abortion was safer?). The fact is that the antis absolutely love it when a woman is injured – or even killed – at an abortion clinic because it gives them more ammunition – facts be damned.
But back to the sirens and lights.
Let’s assume that the clinic actually did ask the ambulance workers to turn off everything. Do you know why they probably asked? It’s because it would have alerted the anti-abortion activists outside the clinic and – we’ve seen it in the past – they would have started taking pictures of the patient being carted out on a gurney. They don’t care about the privacy of the patient. Indeed, in many cases those pictures wind up on some sick website. Of course, if they can identify the patient they probably get a gold star from their head poo-bah. They’ll do anything to try to prove their point.
So, if an abortion clinic asks the emergency personnel to try to be as private as possible, they are protecting the patient, not themselves. The situation is already a bad one, the patient needs emergency care and the clinic workers don’t want to exacerbate an already delicate situation by giving absolute strangers the opportunity to harass and/or reveal the woman who needs help.
Thanks LifeNews.com for the good material!
May 7, 2016
A few days ago, the Alabama House of Delegates sent a bill to Gov. Robert Bentley that would prohibit abortion clinics from operating near public schools. The legislation would ban abortion facilities from building within 2,000 feet of public elementary or middle schools and prohibit the state health department from issuing or renewing a health center license to current abortion clinics within the same distance of the schools. If passed, the legislation could close the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives Services in Huntsville or at least force it to move.
State Sen. Paul Sanford, who sponsored the bill, previously said the measure will protect young children from the “chaos” that sometimes occurs around abortion facilities between protesters and abortion clinic patients and staff. He added that “the abortion industry has a reputation of targeting young, vulnerable women and girls.”
Well, this is obviously just another way to close an abortion clinic. Guys like this Senator Sanford know that the American people do not want to make abortion illegal in this country but he and his cohorts continue to come up with clever ways to make it impossible to get an abortion.
When I heard this news, my first reaction was do children in elementary or middle school even know that building over there is an abortion clinic? Heck, do they even know what an abortion is? I think not.
Still, Senator Sanford would argue that the clinic workers are scouting around for kids to lure into their clinic for an abortion. They’re hiding behind the curtains with binoculars looking for an 9 year old who looks like she’s pregnant.
Another argument by Sanford is that this law would protect young women from the “chaos” that occurs outside a clinic. Interesting. Uh, who the hell is causing that chaos in the first place? Could it be the anti-abortion protestors who stand outside with their gross signs and megaphones? If those folks just stayed home or, better yet, volunteered instead at the homeless shelter, would not the “chaos” disappear?
The arguments are ludicrous, of course but I gotta hand it to the anti-abortion movement. Their national organizations have identified those states that have a majority of anti-abortion legislators and an anti-abortion Governor and they’re throwing everything at the blackboard to see what sticks (is that the right phrase?). They don’t give a crap, of course, that the inevitable court cases will cost the taxpayers in their state a lot of money. They just keep coming up with more and more creative ways to close or wear down abortion clinic owners.
March 21, 2016
A woman is having an abortion – and something goes wrong. Let’s say she goes into cardiac arrest. The bells start ringing and at some point the administrator or anyone for that matter calls 911. Shortly, an ambulance arrives. The doctor and maybe some staff follows the ambulance to the hospital. The hospital technicians take over and hopefully the woman’s life is saved.
Meanwhile, the abortion doctor did not have admitting privileges to that hospital. The woman is revived and leaves the hospital days later.
This is the way things usually happen when there is an emergency at an abortion clinic (or, for that matter, any other medical facility). Hospital emergency rooms are there to treat the emergency. They don’t care who the patient is, what country they come from, whether or not they have money. Their task is to treat the patient and ask questions later.
So, you gotta wonder why the anti-abortion movement has spent so much time advocating for the passage of state legislation that would require an abortion doctor to have admitting privileges at a local hospital? Actually, that’s a stupid question. Those of us who have spent time in the world of abortion – including the antis – know that such legislation is just another way to possibly close an abortion clinic.
This issue, in fact, is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. A few weeks ago, oral arguments were heard in the Whole Women’s Health case and a decision is expected in a few months on this (and other) question.
On its face, requiring admitting privileges to a hospital doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But dig a little deeper and you get a great sense of the brilliant minds in the anti-abortion movement that are crafting this kind of legislation. For they know that when you are an abortion doctor it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get admitting privileges. And the reasons have nothing to do with their skills as a doctor.
First of all, in many parts of the country the abortion doctor is a pariah in their community and the politics of the local hospital might be such that they just do not want to give the doctor admitting privileges. That’s especially true of religious affiliated hospitals and in the more backward and parochial rural areas of the country. The hospital board may be anti-abortion or they may just be concerned about local protestors showing up should they find out the abortion doctor can admit patients.
Second – and most ironic – is the fact that to get admitting privileges in most hospitals you have to commit a certain number of patients to that hospital to remain in “good standing.” But abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures performed in this country and the number of cases where a woman needs to be admitted is incredibly low. The doctors are being “punished” because they are being good doctors.
But the antis don’t care about these arguments. It’s like the proposals that require clinic hallways to be a certain width. The antis don’t give a crap about the woman’s health, although that is their argument. They are just looking (and discovering) ways to burden the clinic to the point where they simply cannot afford to stay open.
I have got to give credit where credit is due – the strategy is brilliant and were it not for some brave courts, many clinics in this country would have shut their doors by now because of these laws. Let’s just hope this current Supreme Court can see through this trickery and strike down these totally unnecessary laws.
February 19, 2016
For a long time, the abortion issue has been rather absent in the Presidential races. Actually, it has been quite refreshing. But things suddenly changed this week.
Supreme Court Justice John Scalia is found dead in a cabin. This one was really a shocker. There are so many other older justices and Clarence Thomas might as well be dead, but Scalia’s demise was a surprise and it has really turned things upside down.
We all know that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it very clear that he will not schedule a vote if President Obama nominates a replacement. Sure, they might hold a hearing but the nomination is dead in the water. Foul, cry the Democrats! You are circumventing the U.S. Constitution, they scream. The President deserves a vote!
Okay, let’s be honest. Of course, I would love to see the President nominate a staunchly pro-choice justice but if the Democrats were in control of the Senate and the President were a Republican, there ain’t no way the Dems would allow a vote on that nominee. Let’s call a spade a spade. I grow weary of the whiney babies in both parties who condemn such parliamentary maneuvers when we know damn well that if they were in the majority they would be pulling the same crap. So, the bottom line is we will not see a new justice until after the Presidential election.
Meanwhile, however, there is a case that is going to be reviewed by the Court that deals with abortion. It is a challenge to a Texas law that imposed ridiculously strict regulations on abortion clinics, regulations so strict that it would force most of them to close. A short while ago, the Court of Appeals for that district upheld the law. So, when this case gets to the current court there will be four solid votes to overturn that decision (Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayer, Breyer). Then there would be three solid votes to uphold the ruling (Roberts, Alito, Thomas). If Justice Kennedy votes with the anti-abortion group, it is a 4-4 decision which means the lower court opinion prevails. That means the clinics in Texas are screwed. Those clinics will be closed which means that women will have to travel a bit further to get their abortion. But who gives a crap, huh?
During the primary season, the abortion issue will not be high on anyone’s list since all the GOP are pro-life and the Dems are pro-choice (It is funny, however, how Donald Trump is getting a free ride on how he has “evolved” in his thinking over the years on abortion – what a crock). But once the nominees are selected (GO BERNIE), all hell is going to break loose. There will be intense debates not just on the future of Roe v Wade, but on the funding of Planned Parenthood and that fetal tissue video. (By the way, I’m glad to see that Carly Fiorina – the one who insisted there was a video that showed a baby squirming on a table about to be aborted – dropped out).
For the first time in many years, the abortion issue is going to be front and center during a presidential election. Can’t wait to see the commercials.
January 23, 2016
“We have to eliminate abortion on demand!”
I’ve been hearing that chant for years and I’m still not sure what it means. But apparently pro-choice House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi knows what it means because she recently said that she “doesn’t believe in abortion on demand.” Hardly skipping a beat, the National Abortion & Reproductive Rights League objected to Pelosi using the phrase. In a statement they said:
“The Leader should stop using twisted GOP talking points about abortion…we don’t know women who demand abortion.”
When I think about that, I guess it’s true. I’ve never seen a woman who was able to walk into an abortion clinic and demand that the doctor to perform an abortion. What happens in the real world is that a woman with an unwanted pregnancy calls a clinic, gets an appointment usually within a few days, then goes to the facility. Once there, she fills out paperwork, takes a few medical tests and gets some form of counseling where the counselor determines if she is ready for an abortion. If she gets the green light, she then goes into the surgery room. Oh, I forgot to add that in many states, after the woman has gone to the clinic, she then has to go back home and wait for a day or two before going back to the clinic for the abortion.
So, is that what the anti-abortion folks mean by “abortion on demand?” If it is, it seems like a stretch as the phrase “on demand” implies that she walked into a clinic unannounced and DEMANDED that they perform the abortion!
Having said all of that, however, I have to be totally honest once again and relate some things that I have seen in the past that might relate to this discussion.
In my years with NCAP, I visited lots of clinics and I observed some interesting. I have seen women get rather incensed when they were told they had to come back in 24 hours because the state thought they needed more time to think about their decision. I’ve seen some women get extremely upset when the counselor told her she did not think she was ready for an abortion. It could have been a minor who was being forced by her parents or a woman who wanted the baby but her boyfriend was pressuring her to abort. These women were on the verge of DEMANDING their abortion, although it would have been to no avail.
So I need some help from my anti-abortion friends who continue to say they’re going to put a halt to “abortion on demand.”
December 28, 2015
There is a lot of talk these days about guns. In response to the massacre of the day, the debate ensues: should we ban guns, regulate guns, eliminate the current restrictions, mandate that everyone own a gun? On and on the discussions go and there never is a conclusion.
Hey, Pat, why the hell are you talking about guns? This blog is about abortion stuff, isn’t it?
Well, yes, but I have a little story that blends the two issues and explains where I come out on the issue of guns.
As the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, one of my main tasks was to do media interviews. Whenever a doctor was killed or a clinic blown up, I’d get the call and I would somberly rail against the violence. I was on the Donohue Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, you name it. Never did the Steve Harvey show. I did those shows because our doctors were for the most part afraid to show their face, lest they become the next target.
Every time I did an interview, the calls to our office from pro-lifers would increase. Not very nice calls. Not direct threats but enough to make my stomach turn. After the murder of Doctor Bart Slepian and another round of interviews, the FBI decided it was time to make a visit. They were just looking for as much information as they could get about clinic violence, threats, stalking, etc. At the end of the interview, however, one of the agents said “considering your visibility, we recommend you carry a firearm.”
WTF? Are you kidding me?
I politely told them there was no way in hell I would carry a gun and while they could not order me to get one, they were pretty adamant that I should at least look into it. Ironically, right across the street from my office in Old Town, Alexandria, there was actually a small gun shop. A small place on the upper floor of a colonial townhouse, hardly anyone knew it was there. So, one day out of curiosity I walked over. I was greeted by a crusty bearded southern type guy.
“Hi, I’ve been told that I should be carrying a firearm. I’ve never touched a gun in my life so I have no idea what I should be looking at.”
He asked me to show him my hand and he started exploring his case of guns. “Obviously, we’re talking a handgun here, one that you can hide in your clothes.” He took a handgun out of the case and handed it to me. “Tell me how that feels.”
I held the gun, wrapped my hand around the handle and slipped my finger into the trigger. Thinking I was Clint Eastwood, I pointed the gun away from the clerk and aimed at the clock on the wall. Then I started to perspire, my hand started shaking violently and I became nauseous.
I put the gun down on the counter and told the owner that I had to think about this. I walked outside and was making my way to my lunch stop when I started envisioning walking up the street and having some anti-abortion terrorist come up behind me intent on doing me harm. But, before he could strike I calmly reached into my pocket, grabbed my gun, turned around and shot him in the head. Yeah, right.
Realizing I was not Clint Eastwood, I then had a more troubling thought.
I’m walking up the same street and a friend of mine notices me ahead of him. He runs up behind me and puts his hand on my shoulder, surprising the hell out of me. My adrenaline starts flowing, I don’t hear him call my name, I reach into my coat and turn around shooting.