Abortion Martin Luther King

Abortion Martin Luther King

Since we are celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King weekend….

A short while ago, Republican Congressman Trent Franks announced that he would soon introduce legislation that would, among other things, prohibit women from having an abortion if it was because of the child’s race.  The bill is called – take a deep breath – the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011.”  Not sure why he didn’t throw in the name of Francis Scott Key, but that’s between him and his maker.

Franks Abortion

Franks Abortion

Franks noted that abortion is the greatest cause of death of African Americans and he added that this “will be the civil rights struggle that will define our generation.”  What a guy!  Then, the ever-present “Concerned Women for America” chimed in saying “it is horrific that in America today babies are being killed based on their race…”  Finally,  and here’s the real kicker, Pat Mahoney, another anti-abortion leader, added “you can walk into a clinic and get an abortion if you find out your child is African American.”  Think about that statement for a second.

Anti Abortion, Kill the Mother Politics

Anti Abortion, Kill the Mother Politics

The facts:  according to the pro-choice Alan Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women and for Hispanics.  I don’t know why that is true, but it is.  And, of course, our goal is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies amongst all races.

But, the first problem with this legislation is that it makes a big assumption (something the anti-abortion advocates do a lot because they have never been inside a clinic).  It assumes that when women are counseled before the abortion, they are asked why they are having it.  That ain’t the case folks.  Unless the woman brings the issue up herself, the doctor does not know why the woman is aborting.  Yes, if a woman volunteers that she is aborting because the fetus is black, then the doctor will be prohibited from performing the abortion.  But, sorry Mr. Franks, but you ain’t gonna “save any babies” because the woman, now aware of the law, will simply go to a different clinic and just not share the reason why she is aborting.

Mr. Franks and others like to suggest that abortion clinics are “targeting” the black community and engaging in “black genocide.”

Puleeeze.

The people who own and run abortion facilities are trying to help women.  At the same time they are running – dare I say it – a business.  They incorporate, they pay taxes, they hire people, they buy equipment, they advertise, they do everything that the local burger place or dry cleaners does.   And, if they are smart they locate their facility in a spot that has enough population to allow them to pay the bills.  And some locate their facilities in predominantly black areas.

But it’s not what Mr. Franks thinks.  In 2008, 63 percent of abortion clinics — defined as providers of 400 or more abortions annually — were located in predominantly white neighborhoods while 12 percent were located in neighborhoods where one-half or more of the residents are Hispanic. Only 9 percent were located in predominantly black neighborhoods.  So much for the “campaign” to wipe out the black population.

Sanger Abortion

Sanger Abortion

And before anyone tells me how Margarget Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was out to wipe out the black race, don’t even go there.  She may have made some very unfortunate comments at a time when racism was still very rampant in this country, but don’t tell me that today when a Planned Parenthood staff person goes to work, they are quoting Margaret Sanger and looking for pregnant black women in the hopes of convincing them to abort.  How silly.  .

No, Congressman Franks is just playing the race card with the hopes of convincing African Americans that the Republican Party cares about them.

What a bunch of horse-hockey.

Mississippi

Mississippi.    

Is there a more pathetic state in the Union?   I mean, does anyone know of a state that is more regressive in terms of income, health, education, baseball teams?   Indeed, can you name a Third World country that is as bad as Mississippi?    

And, now, to push the state even further into the dark ages, their voters on Tuesday will probably pass a resolution that will totally outlaw abortion.  The specific question that the voters will be asked to approve says:  “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof?”   Now I can’t imagine anyone in that state who knows what the term “thereof” means, but the gist of this measure is there will be no more abortions and lots more kids to add to the misery that is life in Mississippi.  Indeed, the person who is spearheading this effort, a guy named Les Riley, is the founder of “Personhood Mississippi” and he is the father of TEN children.  I guess old Les is hoping that others in his neck of the woods will bear the same number of kids, if not more, so they can get the classroom sizes up to at least 50 kids per room which would push their rate of academic achievement below that of Somalia.  Quite a role model, that Les!

The interesting thing about this resolution is that many “mainstream” pro-life groups actually oppose it because they are smart enough to realize that it is too extreme.  But, it ain’t too extreme for the Bubbas in Mississippi.  Indeed, outlawing abortion ain’t enough for these folks.  An analysis of the resolution shows that certain forms of birth control would be outlawed (thus creating even more children living in poverty) and it would limit in vitro fertilization.  But, for now, let’s stick to the abortion side of the equation. 

This is Johnny, oh wait, Marie, oh wait "it" has no sex yet.

When the measure passes, the next day Planned Parenthood will challenge it in court and the lower courts will grant an injunction prohibiting the measure from going into effect.  Here’s the thing, however.  Let’s say Mitt Romney (or one of the other Republican nominees) becomes President in 2013.  Despite his previous support for the right to choose, he has now courageously “seen the light” and is all of a sudden pro-life.  What a guy, a true Profile in Courage.  As President, he would be beholden to the pro-life movement and

sooner or later some more Supreme Court judges are going to kick the bucket.  That means that Romney (or, conversely, Obama) might get to make 2 or 3 appointments.  If it’s Romney, you know damn well he is going to appoint judges who are pro-life and that could tip the scales. 

Yes, many lawyers suggest that the court could not uphold a measure like this because of “legal precedent.”  That’s garbage.  It might have been the case years ago when our judicial system, not to mention the executive and legislative branches, were more deferential to their body’s previous actions but not anymore.  I am convinced that when the Supreme Court gets this (or any other) case, the justices, with the possible exception of Justice Kennedy, make up their minds immediately, then instruct their clerks to construct their rationalization.  If you think they sit there objectively, listening intently to the arguments of the learned counsel then come to a decision, you’re in La La land.  I mean, think about it.  Do you really think Clarence Thomas and Anton Scalia would NOT find a way to uphold the Mississippi law?  

So, this case will ultimately make it to the Supreme Court in a few years.  And that makes the next Presidential election so extremely important when it comes to abortion rights.  I feel like we’ve been through this drill before, but this time it’s extremely serious. 

Abortion Clinic Bombed

I was talking to an old friend of mine yesterday, a doctor who used to perform abortions in the Midwest years ago.  He retired in 2004 and in the course of the conversation we started talking about, as he put it, the “wild west days” when the bullets were flying and the bombs exploding at abortion clinics all across the country.  He then expressed his concern that the younger activists do not remember or just simply did not know what was going on in this country at that time.

As a staff person for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, I was in the middle of it all.  Our office served as one of the “command posts” that sprung into action when the crap hit the fan.  The minute we got the news about a shooting or any other kind of violent act, we would send out an “Emergency Fax” to all of our clinics alerting them about the incident.  The main reason why we did this was to simply let them know that one of their colleagues had been involved in some heinous act and more often than not the other clinics would communicate their concerns and well wishes to their friends who had just joined the growing number of victims of anti-abortion violence.  In essence, we generated a nationwide group hug.

After talking to this doctor, I started to think about the particularly “bad” years and 1997-1998 was a period that really stuck out in my mind.  Yes, by that time several doctors had been murdered and other acts of violence had been committed, but this time period was a particularly bad one:

In January, 1997, a bomb exploded outside an office building in Atlanta that housed an abortion clinic.  Then, an hour later, while the police and rescue workers were still on the scene, another bomb exploded near a trash can. Seven people were injured;

In March, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the window of Family Planning Associates and an anti-abortion advocate drove his truck through the doors of another clinic in the area.  Two weeks later, four fires were set on the roof of the Mountain Country Women’s Clinic in Montana;

In May, an arsonist drove up to the Lovejoy Surgi-Center, ran a hose from a metal drum containing an unidentified flammable liquid into the clinic and ignited it.  A month later, an incendiary device was thrown through a hole cut into the air conditioning duct on the roof of the West Alabama Women’s Center;

A few months later, a bomb exploded at the New Woman All Women Health Care in Alabama killing an off duty policeman and critically injuring a nurse.  Five months later, in the space of one week there were eight butyric acid attacks on clinics in Florida.  In these cases, the assailant injected the acid into the clinic using a syringe and because of the horrific and noxious smell, the clinics had to be evacuated, washed down and closed for several days.  This incident started a spate of similar attacks over the next few months;

Towards the end of 1998, my good friend, Doctor Barnett Slepian, was murdered in upstate New York when anti-abortion activist James Kopp fired a shot through a window in his house.

This list is, of course, a small sampling of what was going on in those days.  And, as I read this list and recall the people involved, I honestly do get chills.  I can remember the fear, the loss, the insanity and the sense of helplessness that overwhelmed all of us.

Today, there is less violence when compared to those days but that is no consolation.  History can repeat itself and so every so often I intend to write about an incident or two in more detail in the hopes of reminding those coming up behind us of the sacrifices made by the doctors, the staff and others in defending the right to choose abortion.  I also look forward to seeing our friends in the pro-life movement condemning the violence.

Protesters Holding Images of Aborted Fetuses

The images are disgusting, frightening, gross and, once exposed to them, forever etched in your mind.  I am referring to the graphic pictures of aborted fetuses that you regularly see on display in front of your local abortion clinic.

Anyone who has ever entered an abortion facility (or just driven by one for that matter) knows exactly what I am talking about.  Heck, you don’t really have to be anywhere in the vicinity of an abortion clinic to see them.  Some anti-abortion activists put the pictures on the back of their pick-up trucks and just cruise around the neighborhood.  Or, trying to save gas in these harsh economic times, they’ll just park the same truck in as visible a spot as possible to catch folk’s attention as they are going to Home Depot or the Little League field.   Not to mention that the pictures are available all over the Internet.

There are probably hundreds of variations of these pictures floating around.  One thing I do know, however, is that the VAST majority are rather dated pictures.  I don’t know exactly where they came from, although many pro-choicers claim they are pictures of miscarriages that occurred in Canada.  But, I am confident that they are old pictures because the remains of an abortion are now considered “medical waste” and are disposed of accordingly, so it’s virtually impossible to photograph the results.  And, to be perfectly honest, no abortion provider in their right mind would ever dump a semi-intact fetus or fetus parts into a pail for the whole world to see.  Indeed, every abortion provider in the country knows that they are being watched very, very carefully by anti-abortion activists with way too much time on their hands, so why the hell would they give them more “ammunition” by tossing out a fetus or two into the outside garbage pail?

But let’s forget about how old the pictures are and where they came from.  The fact is that many of those pictures generally are an accurate representation of the results of a LATE TERM abortion.  And everyone needs to remember that the VAST majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester.  So, the pictures slant things a little but if I were anti-abortion, I’d be doing the same thing.

The bottom line is that, if there is no intervention, the fetus will continue to develop in utero and when the abortion takes place at some point the fetus will have developed to the point where there are identifable fetal parts.  Indeed, after a LATE TERM abortion the physician must insure that all the parts have been recovered to avoid any infections.  So, my point is that some of these pictures (discounting some that might be of a miscarriage at 31 weeks) do depict the results of an actual abortion.

Abortion Pictures

Abortion Pictures

Now, before the pro-choice movement starts making that noose for my public lynching…

On the other hand, the pro-choice movement has always had a similar sensationalistic opportunity to catch the eye of the public – they could show the hundreds of pictures of women lying on their bathroom floor in a pool of blood, dead from a self-induced abortion.  They could show the inside of the room of an unqualified illegal “abortionist.”  These pictures could be used to remind the public that, when abortion was illegal, women desperate to terminate their pregnancy often tried to do it on their own or resorted to back-alley abortions, often with disastrous consequences.  Law enforcement officials arriving on the scene often took photographs of the results of these attempted abortions.  I’ve seen the pictures and they are just as shocking as the “dead fetus” pictures, if not more so.

Indoctrination and Brain washing of children by Pro Lifers

Indoctrination and Brain washing of children by Pro Lifers

Years ago, leaders of the pro-choice movement had a serious internal debate about whether or not to use these graphic pictures in the same way the antis used the pictures of the aborted fetuses.  For the most part, the groups decided that they would not use them because they were so graphic.  Yes, some pictures of the dead women leaked out but for the most part the pro-choice organizations never resorted to that tactic.  Indeed, it’s a rare site these days when you see the old image of the coat hanger, one of the instruments used for a self-induced abortion.

Pictures do speak a thousand words.  The only difference is the anti-abortion movement has decided it doesn’t care if they shock little seven year old children who happen to be passing by.  The pro-choice movement, meanwhile, has taken the high road.

Planned Parenthood Rally

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in the last few days.  Actually, I’ve been stuck at Planned Parenthood’s national convention which was just a few miles from my stately mansion here in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

Of course, the buzz at the convention was how that nasty U.S. Congress was gonna halt all federal funding for PPFA.  Everywhere you went throughout the very large hotel, there were signs with big exclamation points, videos of speeches of some woman pounding her fist on a way-too-tall podium, buttons with clever slogans, pink tee shirts.  You couldn’t escape the hysteria.  Surely, it is the apocalypse!

All right now, let’s all calm down here for a second.  The bottom line is there ain’t no way in hell this is going to happen.

The Congress of the United States does not have the votes to stop this pernicious attack on abortion.  Oops, did I use the “a” word?   I’m sorry if I slipped because using that word is verboten because, as we know, most of the pro-choice groups cannot say the nasty “a” word because it’s way too sensitive.  Instead, we have to say these attacks are about women’s health, about their mammograms, their pap smears and all of those other socially acceptable tests that women must perform.

But I digress.

Nothing is going to happen because we’ve got Barack Obama sitting in the White House, ready to veto any legislation that denies PPFA any funding.  And that’s because he is a true champion of abortion….uh….I mean reproductive rights!  All hail Obama!

The pro-choice lobbyists in Washington, D.C. know that at the end of the day, PPFA will be fine.  They will continue to get their money.  Sure, those lobbyists have to be vigilant and earn their money but they know damn well PPFA will live to see another day.  But that doesn’t stop their fundraisers down the hall from cranking out the pleas for money.  I think once a week I get a letter or a postcard screaming at me to give money TODAY to stop the RIGHT WING CONGRESS from denying women their right to BASIC HEALTH CARE!

The problem is that, if you send ten dollars, the letter you get next week is not a simple thank you  – it’s another request for a contribution.  So, you send another ten dollars but, before you know it, you’re getting a phone from some twenty year old begging for more money.   Okay, okay, I’ll send you $20 but please stop asking me!   The next morning, as I’m sipping my coffee, there’s a knock on the door.  It’s a special fed ex package from the PRESIDENT of PPFA herself begging…..

Well, you get the picture.

Yes, the organizations need to raise money for fixed expenses but this “battle” is a sham and, honestly, I think some people really get into it.  It’s almost as if they enjoy being on the defensive.  But we’re gonna win this one, folks.  And I’m gonna miss my daily talks with those PPFA folks!

Law

Okay boys and girls, let’s talk about fetal homicide.

In April of 2004, President Bush signed into law the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act.”  That law made it a crime to harm an embryo or fetus at ANY stage of pregnancy during an assault on a pregnant woman.  At this moment, about 36 states had similar laws on their books.

The first thing I gotta say is kudos to the pro-lifer movement.  I mean, they come up with some great names for legislation, don’t they?

Second, I’m confused about this law.

So, if I understand it correctly:  if a woman is carrying something in her belly that she wants to carry and that something dies because of someone else, then that other person can be prosecuted for the death of that something?  But if that something is not wanted if that other person is an abortion doctor then that doctor can go in and terminate/kill/abort that same something and that would be perfectly legal?  In other words, the determinative factor here is whether or not that something was wanted or not?    One last time:  if a pregnant woman was driving to the abortion clinic to get rid of her pregnancy and someone hit her car and caused the death of the unborn child, then that other driver can be convicted of manslaughter?   And if there was no accident, minutes later the abortion doctor could do the same and suffer no consequences?

I can remember vividly when this legislation was introduced in the Congress.  The immediate, joint (and private) reaction of the pro-choice community was “Holy Shit, what do we do now?”   Were they ready to argue that if an 8 month old fetus died because of a third party, then the prosecutors should ignore that “baby?”   You can imagine the discussions about how they should argue against that one.

Ultimately, however, they got language put in the bill that made it clear that the doctors could not be prosecuted if they were performing an abortion.  That was pretty clever.  Of course, the other side had to accept that language because if the effect of the law was to outlaw abortion outright, then the law would have been ruled unconstitutional.

Still, the pro-choice groups cringed when the bill came up for a vote but they did not really push their allies on Capitol Hill on this one because they knew it was a very, very tough vote.  So, the bill passed by wide margins in the House and the Senate.

But there is one problem that still exists.  There is now a law on the books that says that the person who committed this new crime could be punished for intentionally killing “a human being.”   In other words, the U.S. Congress has now recognized that the fetus/baby in utero – no matter at what stage – is a “human being.”

In the grand scheme of things it might seem like a small thing.  But at some point in the future, some clever pro-life lawyer will be arguing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court and they will be able to say that the Congress has recognized that even a 5 week fetus is a “human being.”

The pro-choice groups did get language protecting abortion doctors, which was the short term victory.  But in the long run, they may second guess the fact that they let the Congress go out and personalize the fetus.  That might come around and bite them in the ass one day.  And the reason why they let it go is because the pro-choice movement can talk about “choice” all they want but they still cannot talk (without stuttering) about ABORTION.

Abortion

I first want to apologize for being incommunicado for the last five days.  My spouse and I slipped out of town to spend some “quality time” together.  We actually had a wonderful time not talking about the kids or about our mortgage payment.  Geez, I don’t even recall having one serious argument!

And now I’m back in the Washington, D.C. area and all anyone is talking about here is the upcoming election.  You just can’t avoid all of the debates, the talking heads on the cable shows, the campaign commercials and the political predictions.   Of course, the group that is probably getting the most attention is the now-famous “Tea Party.”   I’ve written about these folks before.  I’ve talked about how I really have no idea what they want and what they would do if they got elected.  All I can gather is that they are angry at everyone and they think it’s time to “clean house.”    Well, that sounds all well and good and it is a very simple phrase that appeals to a lot of folks in this country who are too lazy to think about the real issues that confront our nation.   Still, there are enough yahoos in the good ole USA that some of these Tea Party candidates actually have a chance of winning.

So, let’s take a minute to think about what would happen if a “Tea Partyer” is sent to Congress in January.

The first thing that he will be asked to do is to vote for the Speaker of the House (the position currently held by Nancy Pelosi).  There will be two people running for that position, one nominated by the Democratic Party and one by the Republican Party.  There will not be a nominee from the Tea Party, so from the very beginning this new person will have to cast their lot with one of the established parties.  And, of course, they’re going to vote with the Republican Party.

Abortion

Then they have to try to get on a committee that will be of great relevance to their district.  If the Republican Party takes over the House of Representatives, as is predicted, the chairman of every committee will be a Republican.  So, that young, brash Tea Party person, who may have spent some time during the election bashing both parties, will then have to make an appointment with the chairman of the committee they want to be on and perhaps have to explain to him why they spent the election season bashing his party.  Now, won’t that be interesting?

Then the Tea Partyer will start voting.  One of the most important matters they vote on first is the budget.  Generally speaking, Members of Congress get to vote on two versions of a budget – one offered by the Democrats and one by the Republicans.  So, the new Tea Party person will have only two options.   Oh, sure, he or she can put together their own budget on behalf of himself and the maybe 3 other Tea Partyers in the House.  That budget might have suggestions like cutting all federal support for public education, eliminating the Medicare program and reducing the minimum wage.  The final tally on that proposal would be in the neighborhood of 4 in favor and 431 against.  Now, that is really shaking up Washington!

So, what it will come down to ultimately is that these Tea Party folks will

Abortion

wind up voting with the Republican Party 95 percent of the time.  Oh, sure, they’ll go to the floor of the House and give a fiery speech about the “special interests” and the old ways of Washington that need to be changed.  They will then make thousands of copies of that speech and mail it to their constituents to show how they are “fighting” for the common man.  Their constituents won’t know that when they gave the speech there was no one else on the floor or in the galleries except for an intern or two.

They will accomplish nothing.  They will vote with the Republican Party.  But their constituents will have no idea.  They will just be thrilled that they sent a “fighter” to Washington, D.C. to shake things up!

Is this a great country or what?