Abortion Pill


texasBy now, any person who reads this blog is aware that the State of Texas has ruled that their very unnecessary anti-abortion law, designed to make it impossible for current abortion providers to comply, can be immediately enforced.  The Facebook page of Abortion.com just posted the link to an essay by Damon Linker in The Week (10-3-14) that raises critical questions that all pro-choice voters must hold their anti-choice elected officials accountable to answering:

If you believe abortion is murder, what specific punishment should be meted out against women who seek abortions, those who assist in the procurement and practice of abortion, and those who provide abortions?

In your view, Ms./Mr. Elected Official, since you think abortion is murder, will you be sponsoring legislation asking for the death penalty if your state has laws restricting abortion?

Damon Linker wrote: “If abortion really is murder, then everyone involved deserves to be punished, and punished severely…If, on the other hand, such punishment sounds wildly, almost absurdly disproportionate, then maybe it’s a sign that abortion really isn’t murder after all.” His point is excellent and one that has been raised here as well as the Abortion.com Facebook page. Politicians have never really been forced to reveal the actual penalties they believe should be imposed on those who participate in an abortion, should it become illegal or severely restricted and prompt women to resort to whatever is feasible and providers to resort to underground practices. At the moment, it is arguable that Texas ought to start expanding their correctional facilities. We know that women have already been obtaining drugs from Mexico and international mail for medical abortions or to cause a miscarriage. Yep, Texas better get their death row lodging in good order, not to mention make sure that all lethal injection protocol training is thorough and an ample inventory of execution drugs.Lethal injection

This ruling will undoubtedly energize the most whacko, zealous of the anti-abortion groups to pattern the Texas laws into initiatives in other states. Therefore, it is sensible and important for pro-choice voters to get their pols to answer the questions raised here.

The organizations that have fervently advocated reproductive rights over the years, specifically Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and National Organization for Women, opposed grassroots efforts to propose legislation to support reproductive justice in states like Arkansas in 1989. Their reasoning was that it was somehow better to work with legislatures to oppose restrictive laws, which, at the time, were focused primarily on parental notification or consent. Creating law is easier than trying to undo law. I sure hope those organizations – that raised a lot of money on the issue – kept the contact information on the many that supported the pro-choice legislation efforts. They will need it now for more than donations.

The one silver lining in this outrageous ruling in Texas is that it may well motivate voters to show up in the upcoming mid-term elections. Texas indeed does things big – that does not mean any other state is interested in Texas sharing any of their “big.” There is not one excuse for a pro-choice person to not vote this November.

Dr. David Gunn

Dr. David Gunn

I met David Gunn, Jr. about ten days after his father was assassinated by an anti-abortion terrorist.

Doctor David Gunn performed abortions at several clinics throughout the Southeast.  He was what they called a “circuit rider,” driving every day through Georgia, Florida and Alabama to provide abortion services to women in need.  On March 10, 1993 his destination was the Pensacola Women’s Medical Services clinic.   After parking his worn out car, he climbed out and headed for the back entrance to the clinic to avoid the protestors out front.  But standing right there was Michael Griffin, a relatively new anti-abortion protestor, and as Gunn passed him Griffin took out a pistol and fired into Doctor Gunn’s back, killing him instantly.

The murder made instant national news because it was the first time that a doctor who performed abortions had been murdered because he was “killing babies.”

Abortion

Abortion

Of course, the news services put out a wide net to find anyone who was close to the players involved in this terrible tragedy.  And without hesitation, one of those people came forward:  David Gunn, Jr.  His message was very simple:  there was an anti-abortion conspiracy to kill abortion doctors and the Clinton Administration needed to do more to prevent this from happening again.

David was an instant “media star.”   His waist-length hair immediately caught your eye.  When he spoke to the camera, his soulful eyes enraptured the audience.  He was soft spoken, not a rabble-rouser and his pronounced stutter made him even more compelling when he spoke.  Over the next few weeks, he was a constant presence on all of the news shows.

Anti Choice Christian Terrorist

Anti Choice Christian Terrorist

I met David the day before we were scheduled to appear on “The Donohue Show.”  We had a nice dinner the night before and he struggled to talk about his Dad.  It was clear that by that time he was already exhausted from all of the media appearances, but he was willing to push on “for the cause.”   The next day we sat on the stage together, accompanied by Mr. Paul Hill, an anti-abortion activist who actually told David and the national audience that his father’s murder was “justified” because Michael Griffin was “protecting the babies from being murdered.”

Over the next few years, David Gunn, Jr. became a national spokesman for the pro-choice movement.  Indeed, pro choice organizations practically fought over him as they encouraged him to “endorse” their group.  He basically put his life on hold and he travelled the country warning the nation that there were more murders to follow.  And he was right.

David’s story is a story of relentless courage and persistence.  And I’ve always thought that his experiences needed to be shared with the public.   And that is why I am absolutely thrilled to announce that David Gunn, Jr. has agreed to become a “guest blogger” once a month on this page.  He recently told me that he always wanted to write about him and his father but, like so many other young people he got preoccupied with raising a family, getting a job, etc.   But now David will start writing that story in the form of a monthly blog.

We are honored to have David join us!

Abortion

Abortion

Susan Hill and I were having lunch at the Mayflower Hotel years ago when she informed me that she was opening up another abortion clinic, this time in Jackson, Mississippi.  I looked at her incredulously and asked her why?    “Because the women down there need a good facility” she answered.

I had known Susan for many years by that time.  She was a vivacious, articulate woman who could sweet talk anyone to get what she wanted.  She’d also rip your lungs out if you crossed her.  At that time, she ran seven abortion clinics in cities like Jacksonville, Raleigh and Fort Wayne.  She also owned what had to be the most famous abortion clinic in the country, the Fargo Women’s Health Organization – the only clinic in the state.  Because it was all by itself in that conservative part of the country, it was the target of incredibly intents anti-abortion activity.  Protests with thousands of people, fire bombings, constant death threats.  Their doctors had bodyguards and were smuggled into Fargo in the back seats of cars.  The clinic was featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine.

Abortion

Abortion

And Susan loved all of the attention it got.  It was her political statement against those who sought to make North Dakota an “abortion free state.”

At that time in Mississippi, there were two other abortion clinics that left much to be desired.  “The women deserve better and I’m gonna build the Taj Majal right there in Jackson,” Susan told me.  She was anxious to go into the belly of the beast and build a state of the art abortion facility in that backward state.   Over the next year or two, she spent a lot of time flying back and forth to Jackson.  I can still visualize her walking the streets in her skin tight dresses, usually a black ensemble that offset her outrageously blond hair.  When she walked into a room at the Ritz in Manhattan, she attracted attention.  I could only imagine the ruckus she caused in redneck country.

Susan ultimately built her clinic, which I was fortunate enough to visit on two occasions.  It was a jewel, albeit an eyesore to the anti-abortion zealots who now had a new target.  And they camped out front for years thereafter.   But the clinic survived and served thousands and thousands of women.

A few years ago, Susan Hill died of breast cancer.  I think of her often.  And I could not help thinking about her again just a few days ago when I read that the Jackson Women’s Health Organization was on the verge of closing.  It seems that the Health Department has announced that it would revoke the clinic’s operating license after an inspection found that it is has not complied with a state law that requires that all abortion doctors to maintain local hospital privileges.  Closure of the clinic may take up to six weeks until a hearing can be held and a formal revocation can take place.

But I also heard that the clinic staff was fighting hard to keep the only clinic in Mississippi open.  They are apparently grasping onto any straw and fighting at every turn to assure that women in that state have access to good reproductive health services.

They may or may not ultimately prevail.  But their courageous efforts deserve much applause.  I know Susan is rooting them on right now.

Romney Abortion

Romney Abortion

Okay, now I am totally confused about Mitt Romney’s ever-moving position on the abortion issue.  You don’t think he is trying to cater to as many people as possible, do you?

In the past, I’ve written about how when Romney was Governor of Massachusetts he was pro-choice straight down the line.  And not only was he pro-choice in terms of legislation, he actually met regularly with staff people from the Massachusetts branch of the National Abortion Rights Action League to strategize.  They were buddies.

Romney Abortion

Romney Abortion

Then, when Mitt decided to run for President, his position on this very basic issue started to “evolve.”

Now, I can see how over a period of years someone might change their views on certain economic models or on the pros and cons of rehabilitating prisoners.  There are a lot of fuzzy areas in those issues so one could become more educated over time.  But abortion?   Gimme a break!  What is more fundamental than whether or not to allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy?  I mean, there’s something living inside the woman’s body and, if she gets an abortion, that once-living thing is no longer living, pure and simple.  How does an adult “evolve” on that basic issue?  Did Romney suddenly learn how pregnancies work?

Romney Abortion

Romney Abortion

Of course, the answer is he had to be pro-life to get the Republican nomination.  That’s because the nominating process in that party is totally dominated by right wing nut balls and you gotta pander to them if you hope to have any chance of securing the nomination.  And Romney did pander.  Oh, no, I’m sorry.   He “evolved.”

So now that he has the nomination, he’s had to shift gears again to cater to the independent voters. And to do that you have to move to the political middle.  So, the other day Mitt Romney actually declared that ““There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my legislative agenda.”

What the hell?

Is Romney telling us that when the new Congress comes to town and pro-life Congressman James McNabb from Podunk, Illinois introduces legislation banning third trimester abortions or requiring women to get the consent of their husbands, he will have absolutely nothing to say about those bills? If the Republican House of Representatives decides to pursue one of those “personhood” measures on a national level, is Mitt Romney actually going to resist the incredible amount of pressure from the pro-life lobbyists and not take a position on that issue?

Poppycock.  He just continues to pander to anyone who will listen.

I will give him some credit, however, in that he is actually being candid when it comes to Planned Parenthood.  He has said unequivocally that he will “cut off funding for Planned Parenthood”  and that is certainly an extreme position that might not go over well with independent voters.  The irony, of course, is that Planned Parenthood clinics probably prevent thousands of abortions each year but then Romney probably still has not “evolved” on the issue of birth control.  Give him 20 more years to catch up.

Hopefully, the American public, and especially those who for some unfathomable reason are still undecided, will not buy into this “it’s not on my agenda” bull crap.  Indeed, if Obama is not in another coma during the next debate, this is an issue that he should jump all over.

Abortion

Abortion

Abortion Doctors.

Few weeks ago, I pledged to remind people of the anti-abortion violence that has occurred over the years by giving personal insights into the crime and the people involved.  I talked about Doctor David Gunn, the first victim who was killed on March 10, 1993.

Just a few months later, on August 19, an anti-abortion activist named Shelley Shannon leaped onto the car of Doctor George Tiller as he was leaving his clinic and started firing her semiautomatic pistol. She hit both of his arms but Tiller still was “so pissed off,” as he later told me, that he jumped out of the car and chased Shannon down the block until his damaged body caught up with him.  Shannon was captured immediately and remains in jail today.  The day after the incident, I called George and he jokingly said “I hope this incident gives the pro-choice movement a shot in the arm.”

After these two incidents, the office of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers was flooded with calls from doctors looking to protect themselves.  I really thought that some of them figured the first murder was just an isolated incident.  After George became a target, they knew it was serious.  Indeed, we actually had meetings with security companies where we investigated the possibility of a group purchasing deal on bullet-proof vests.

Abortion

Abortion

One doctor who bought a vest was Doctor Bayard Britton.  He travelled from clinic to clinic in the South and actually filled in for David Gunn until they found a replacement.  I had heard of Doctor Britton but had never met or talked to him.  At the same time, an anti-abortion protestor named Paul Hill was making a national name for himself because he publicly declared that it was “justifiable homicide” to kill an abortion doctor.   These two were on a collision course.

In February, 1994, we were shocked to see an article in GQ entitled “The Abortionist” which painted a not very pretty portrait of Doctor Britton.  It also talked about Paul Hill, who had been a constant figure outside The Ladies Center where Britton worked, just a short distance from the clinic where David Gunn had been killed.  The article was horrifying in that it practically predicted what would happen just a few months later.

On the morning of July 29, I was in my dentist’s chair when a dental assistant came in and said I had an emergency call from the office.  That morning, Hill was at his perch in front of the clinic as usual when Doctor Britton drove into the parking lot in a pick-up truck.  He was accompanied in the passenger seat by his volunteer bodyguard, James Barrett and Barrett’s wife, June, was in the back jumper seat.   Before they could get out of the car, Hill walked up wielding a 12 gauge shotgun and started shooting.  Hill later admitted that he aimed for the doctor’s head because he knew he wore a vest.  Doctor Britton and James Barrett died immediately in the hail of gunfire.  Mrs. Barrett was injured but survived.

Hill, probably relieved that he had finally put his own words into action, calmly laid the shotgun down and started walking away but he was immediately apprehended.  Years later, he was put to death by lethal injection in Florida.

Abortion

Abortion

I am so sick and tired of feigned outrage.

We see it every day.  Some movie producer does a movie depicting some Italians in a bad light and the Italian Defamation League gets “outraged” at the (probably accurate) portrayal of the Italians in the Mafia or Cosa Nostra.  They issue a press release condemning the movie, which only increases ticket sales, and they might even hold a protest or two which, again, brings attention to the film that they don’t want people to see.

And now even the pro-life movement has joined the crowd.

As we all know, since 1993 a number of doctors, clinic staff and security guards associated with abortion clinics have been killed by acknowledged pro-life activists.  And, for very good reasons, the pro-choice movement expressed its outrage at these horrific crimes because these were bona fide acts of violence conducted by protectors of the fetus against those who stood ready to abort that same fetus.  And, yes, the cynics (myself included) will note that the pro-choice groups raised money on the murders.

Now, just a few days ago, it seems that a security guard at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the pro-life Family Research Council was shot and the assailant was apprehended immediately.    According to some reports, the assailant posed as an intern and shot the guard in the arm.  The first response by FRC President Tony Perkins was that “The police are investigating this incident. Our first concern is with our colleague who was shot today. Our concern is for him and his family.”

Abortion

Abortion

So far, so good.  A terrible, uncalled for incident and a well-intended statement of concern.

But, then, of course, it was time to make some political hay.  I mean, after all, those “pro aborts” got so much attention years ago, didn’t they?  Why shouldn’t we?  So, shortly after the incident my buddies at LifeNews.com announced that “the White House is coming under criticism from pro-life advocates for not issuing a condemnation of the shooting of a security guard at the offices of the Family Research Council, a pro-life group.”  They went on to say, however, that “it took them (the White House) almost five hours to issue a statement,” which of course contradicts the previous statement.  Indeed, the headline of the release saying pro-life groups were condemning the White House for their silence was entitled “White House Takes Five Hours to Comment on FRC Shooting.”   Get your act together folks.

Then, later, Mr. Perkins tried to link the shooter to the pro-choice movement (of course).  He stated that the assailant “…was given a license to do that by a group such as the Southern Poverty Law Center who labeled us a hate group because we defend the family and stand for traditional orthodox Christianity.”  How’s that for some hard evidence of a conspiracy?

Then, a pro-life blogger suggested that the media outlets were either ignoring or downplaying the shooting because, of course, the entire media (I guess including Fox News) is pro-choice.  I guess they felt the media was over blowing things when an actual abortion doctor was murdered in front of an abortion clinic.

The funniest thing I read was how the pro-life groups were pooh poohing Obama’s statement condemning this act of violence.  On the other side of the coin, pro-life Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had this to say:  “I am appalled by the shooting today at the offices of the Family Research Council in our nation’s capital. There is no place for such violence in our society. My prayers go out to the wounded security guard and his family, as well as all the people at the Family Research Council whose sense of security has been shattered by today’s horrific events.”

So Romney used three sentences to say what Obama said in one.  Big deal.  And yes, he did issue it a little before Obama.  What a guy.  He must really care more.

This shooting is terrible.  The hope the security officer has a speedy recovery.  But gimme a break, folks.   This is absolutely nothing like the actions of Paul Hill, Michael Griffin and John Salvi.

But nice try.

And now it seems that you can get an abortion over the Internet.

Abortion Pill

Abortion Pill

Years ago, I was in the middle of the effort to get “the abortion pill,” otherwise known as RU-486, approved for usage in the United States.  On several occasions, I was at the table with the investors who had put up a lot of money to get the product approved by the FDA, the pro-choice groups that desperately lobbied for it and the company that would ultimately distribute it.  The company was especially conscious about security, to the point where they had an office in Manhattan but no signs anywhere announcing its presence.  Ultimately, after years of struggle, we prevailed.

From the beginning, advocates of the pill championed it as another option for women who did not necessarily want to have surgery. They also, however, got a bit hyperbolic about its impact when they predicted that the pill would “revolutionize” women’s reproductive health.  Their thought was that additional physicians would come out of the woodwork and start prescribing this pill and that it would allow women to have abortions in the privacy of their own home.  The abortion providers, on the other hand, voiced concern that the product was being built up too much and warned that a doctor who had never been involved in the delivery of abortion services before would not suddenly start prescribing the abortion pill.  Today, the pill is being used by about 20% of women having abortions and we have not seen those doctors coming out of the woodwork, although some current abortion providers – particularly Planned Parenthood – have set up small offices where they only disperse the pill.

Abortion Pill

Abortion Pill

The bottom line is that the pill is a good option, but it is not for everyone.

And now, the pill is available on the Internet.  Yep, the other day I ran across a website named http://www.abortionpillonline.com  and, honestly, my first reaction was rather negative.  First of all, the website itself looks very cheesy, very amateurish.  Unlike the website of your average abortion provider, there was no hard information, like where they were located, what doctors were involved, etc.  I didn’t

Abortion Pill

Abortion Pill

see any phone numbers.   Heck, I didn’t even know what country this business was in until I emailed them and they told me that the product was made in India and distributed from India.

Now, I don’t know all the legalities here and I certainly am not accusing this group of being less than reputable.  But this just sounds too easy for me.  When it comes to any kind of medical care, everyone needs to be careful.  Let’s face it, no matter what the medical specialty, there’s always someone out there who is eager to cut corners and make the quick buck.  In the case of the abortion pill (which is actually two pills), there’s a lot more to it that just swallowing a pill.  For example, this website just distributes the pill, it does not offer any counseling which, for some women, is very important.  And it’s hard to predict how a woman will react once she starts the regimen, physically or emotionally.  What if there’s an issue in the middle of the night?  Who will she call?  There are so many potential issues that might require the advice of a real, accessible doctor or at least a nurse.

I’m glad that women have more access to abortion services via the pill.  Going to the Internet and just ordering a bunch of pills and swallowing them belies the seriousness of the abortion process.  It makes me nervous.

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