27-jan-17

Should we journalists use the word “lie” to describe President Trump’s most manifest falsehoods?

That debate has roiled the news world. The Times this week used the word “lie” in a front-page headline, and I agreed with that decision, but there’s a counterargument that lying requires an intention to deceive — and that Trump may actually believe his absurd falsehoods.

So in 2017 we reach a mortifying moment for a great democracy: We must decide whether our 45th president is a liar or a crackpot.

Yet the costliest presidential falsehoods and delusions are not the ones that people are talking about, such as those concerning the inauguration crowd or electoral fraud. The most horrific chicanery involves Trump’s new actions on women’s health that will cause deaths around the globe.

It followed the weekend’s stunning women’s marches: At least 3.2 million people apparently participated in all 50 states, amounting to 1 percent of the U.S. population. In a slap at all who marched, Trump this week signed an order that will cut off access to contraception to vast numbers of women, particularly in Africa.

It will also curb access to cancer screenings and maybe even undermine vaccination campaigns and efforts against H.I.V. and the Zika virus. The upshot: Thousands of impoverished, vulnerable women will die.

Americans have focused on the executive actions about building a wall, or expediting oil pipelines, but nothing is more devastating than the edict on women’s health (signed in front of a group composed almost entirely of smiling men in suits).

In fairness, Trump probably thought he was doing a good thing; that’s a measure of his delusion. He reinstated what’s called the Mexico City policy, which stipulates that family planning funds cannot go to foreign aid groups that ever discuss abortion. (Federal funds already don’t go for abortions.)

Presumably Trump thought this policy would reduce abortions, and was thus “pro-life.” In fact, this is a “pro-death” approach that actually increases abortions, as well as deaths among women.

How can that be? Many groups, like Marie Stopes International and Planned Parenthood International, lose funding in poor countries from this policy. In 2001, when President George W. Bush imposed a more limited version, 16 developing countries lost shipments of contraceptives from the U.S.

Stanford University researchers found that the Bush version of the policy reduced contraceptive use in Africa — and increased abortion rates.

This all sounds wonkish and antiseptic, but in poor countries, the most dangerous thing a woman can do is become pregnant. I’ve seen too many women dying or suffering in filth on stained cots in remote villages because of childbirth.

I wish Trump could see them: a mother of three in Cameroon dying after her birth attendant sat on her stomach to hasten delivery; a woman in Niger collapsing from a common complication called eclampsia; a 15-year-old girl in Chad whose family dealt with her labor complications by taking her to a healer who diagnosed sorcery and burned her arm as she lay in a coma.

With this new order, Trump will inadvertently cause more of these horrific scenes. Maybe “war on women” sounds hyperbolic, but not if gasping, dying women are seared in your memory.

Worse, Trump expanded this “global gag rule” — as critics call it, because it bars groups from mentioning abortion — so that it apparently will cover all kinds of health services, including efforts to tackle polio or Zika or H.I.V., even programs to help women who have been trafficked into brothels. (The White House didn’t respond to my inquiries.)

I hope all of the marchers call the White House, 202-456-1111, or their members of Congress, 202-224-3121, to protest.

Marie Stopes alone estimated that if it cannot find replacement funding, the new policy will result in 6.5 million unintentional pregnancies, 2.2 million abortions and 21,700 women dying in pregnancy or childbirth.

The victims invariably are among the most voiceless, powerless people in the world. When Bush imposed his version of the policy, it meant that no contraceptives reached a village in northern Ghana. As a result, a young woman named Kolgu Inusah became pregnant.

She tried to abort the pregnancy herself using herbs, but something went wrong and she suffered terrible abdominal pains. She was rushed to a clinic, but doctors couldn’t save her. Her two children now have no mom.

President Trump, you may think you are “pro-life” and preventing abortions, but that’s a lie or a delusion. In fact, you are increasing the number of abortions and of dying women.

And to those women and men who marched last weekend, remember that this isn’t about symbols, speeches or pussy hats. It’s about the lives of women and girls.

Please, please, keep on marching, keep on calling.

Source: NY Times

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/opinion/president-trumps-war-on-women-begins.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&referer=http://m.facebook.com/

1-dec

Lawsuits in Alaska, Missouri and North Carolina include one against 20-week ban on abortions, a challenge that could have national repercussions

Reproductive rights advocates announced a significant slate of challenges to anti-abortion laws on Wednesday, taking aim at major restrictions in three states which advocates say are unconstitutional.

Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy group which argued a landmark abortion case earlier this year, filed three lawsuits in Alaska, Missouri and North Carolina. In Missouri, the groups will challenge a pair of abortion restrictions that have reduced the number of abortion providers to just one. They are taking aim at a similar clinic restriction in Alaska. In North Carolina, they will mount a challenge to a 20-week ban on abortion that has some of the nation’s strictest exceptions.

The two Missouri restrictions are highly similar to laws in Texas that the US supreme court struck down in June. They require abortions to be performed in expensive, hospital-like facilities and require abortion providers to have certain professional relationships with a local hospital.

The supreme court ruled that such restrictions served no medical purpose and were unconstitutional. But similar restrictions remain on the books in several states. In Missouri, where 1.2 million women of reproductive age live, the laws have forced two Planned Parenthood clinics, in Columbia and Kansas City, to stop providing abortions in recent years. The only remaining clinic is located in St Louis, forcing many Missouri women seeking an abortion to travel long distances.

“Because of laws like the ones we are challenging today, for too many women across our country the constitutional right to have an abortion is more theoretical than real,” said Jennifer Dalven, the director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

But it is the North Carolina challenge that may have the bigger impact on abortion rights nationwide. This is only the second time reproductive rights advocates have challenged a 20-week ban on abortion in federal court – potentially setting the table for these restrictions to go before the supreme court.

North Carolina’s law bans abortions after 20 weeks except in a medical emergency where a woman’s condition is so grave that she requires an abortion immediately. That is stricter than other 20-week bans, which have health exceptions but don’t require there to be a medical emergency.

The bill defines medical emergency as a condition which “so complicates the medical condition of the pregnant woman as to necessitate the immediate abortion of her pregnancy to avert her death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function” not including mental health.

In their lawsuit, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights argue that the language essentially forces women having an abortion for health reasons to wait until she becomes gravely ill.

Laws banning abortion several weeks before a fetus is viable outside the womb are increasingly common. Across the country, more than a dozen states ban abortion two weeks before viability on the medically dubious grounds that the fetus can feel pain.

But despite the fact that Roe v Wade prohibits states from banning abortion before the point of viability, most of those laws have not faced a legal challenge. Only Arizona’s 20-week ban, passed in 2012 and struck down permanently over the next two years, was ever the subject of a legal battle in federal court.

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The challenge is especially significant now that Donald Trump has been elected president. Trump, in a wholesale embrace of the anti-abortion movement’s top priorities, has promised to sign into law a nationwide ban on abortion at 20 weeks.

One reason is that very few abortion providers have standing for such a challenge. “To challenge these laws, you would have to be actually doing abortions after 20 weeks,” said Priscilla Smith, an abortion rights advocate and a senior fellow at Yale law school. “And there are just so few states where you can obtain abortions at that stage of pregnancy. Despite the anti-abortion world’s focus on post-20-week abortions, they’re very rare.”

But another reason may be that reproductive rights advocates have been hesitant to launch a lawsuit that could reach the supreme court. In the past several decades, many such legal challenges have resulted in the supreme court chipping away at abortion rights.

That changed this summer, when the court ruled 5-to-3 to strike down a set of harsh Texas abortion restrictions. The ruling prohibited states from enacting abortion restrictions based on medically questionable arguments about protecting women’s health. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often skeptical of abortion rights, joined the majority.

With Trump potentially empowered to shift the balance of the court rightward, Smith said, reproductive rights advocates are probably facing the friendliest bench possible under the new president.

Courts have struck down early bans on abortion before, including an Arkansas law banning abortion at 12 weeks and a North Dakota law banning abortion at six weeks – before many women realize they are pregnant. In defense of 20-week bans, abortion foes commonly argue that fetuses at that stage of development will feel pain during the procedure. But the evidence is slim. While select studies have found evidence for this, the most recent systematic review of studies on this topic concluded that the fetal nervous system is not developed enough to feel pain until the third trimester.

Still, bans on abortion at 20 weeks occupy fraught emotional territory. Public support for abortion restrictions grows with gestational age, and a substantial portion of Americans are ambivalent or opposed to abortion rights in the second trimester.

Anti-abortion activists place an emphasis on these cases, even though they account for only 1% to 2% of all abortions in the US. Abortion rights advocates argue that many women obtaining later abortions are doing so for health reasons or after discovering a severe or fatal fetal anomaly – although the evidence suggests these are not the majority of cases.

On Wednesday, representatives for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights said the three lawsuits were the beginning of a spate of legal challenges the groups would mount jointly.

“We are going to fight back state by state and law by law until every person has the right to pursue the life they want,” said Dr Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Planned Parenthood’s chief medical officer.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/01/planned-parenthood-aclu-challenge-abortion-ban

Source: The Guardian

4-nov

The Zika outbreak has led to calls for Latin American countries to loosen their strict abortion laws and make contraceptives more readily available.

The Zika virus outbreak and its probable association with microcephaly in newborns are prompting calls to loosen Latin America’s strict abortion laws and make birth control more readily available.

Abortion is fully criminalized in six countries in the region. In El Salvador, for instance, women who have abortions can face prison. In many other countries, including Brazil and Colombia, abortion is permitted only in cases of rape, incest or fetal impairment.

As Zika raises anxieties about babies born with significant medical problems, some physicians and reproductive health advocates think the virus should create another legal exception for abortion.

Even though abortion is outlawed in much of Latin America, women still seek it out at legal and physical risk. In fact, 13 percent of maternal deaths (the fourth highest cause) in the region can be attributed to unsafe abortions.

Concern about Zika could lead to real change for reproductive health for millions of women in the region. But this can happen only if the expansion of abortion and contraception is based on human rights and reproductive health equity, not driven primarily by fears of defective babies.

Abortion is restricted in most of Latin America

Abortion is fully criminalized, with no exceptions, in El Salvador, Chile, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua and Suriname. In El Salvador, 30 to 40 women are serving prison sentences for seeking abortions.

In many other countries, including Argentina, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia, abortion is permitted under certain circumstances.

In Brazil, for instance, abortion has been allowed since 1940 in instances of rape or endangerment to the woman. Women who seek abortions outside these exceptions and the physicians who perform the procedure can be imprisoned.

In 2012, Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld anencephaly (the absence of parts of the brain and skull in the fetus) as a justifiable condition for the termination of a pregnancy, creating a new exception.

Health officials in Brazil have suggested that women avoid pregnancy until the Zika crisis is over. While Brazilian women are using contraception at a slowly increasing rate, up to 81 percent in 2006 from 78 percent in 1996, there are significant class and regional divides when it comes to access.

A member of ‘Miles,’ an NGO supporting sexual and reproductive rights, shows pins that read ‘I support the abortion decision’ at their headquarters in Santiago.

In 2006, Colombia’s Constitutional Court issued Decision C-355, guaranteeing three health exceptions for abortion: when the woman’s health is endangered, when serious malformations make the fetus unviable or when the pregnancy has resulted from criminal acts such as rape or incest. The decision was based, in part, on action from two groups called Women’s Link Worldwide and La Mesa.

Now that Zika is spreading in Colombia, affecting as many as 6,300 pregnant women, some physicians and women’s health advocates are eyeing the possibility of another exception.

While that possibility is debated, officials are urging women of childbearing age to avoid pregnancy, a suggestion as problematic as it is unrealistic. Colombia has high levels of unplanned pregnancy, and birth control is expensive.

El Salvador, Ecuador and Jamaica have made similar calls for women to delay pregnancy.

Why is access to birth control and abortion so restricted?

Up to one-half of sexually active women in Latin America have an unmet need for contraceptionUp to 58 percent of pregnancies in Latin America are unintended (compared to 45 percent in the United States).

Many factors explain why birth control is out of reach for so many Latin American women. Cost can be a significant barrier to access, but it’s not the only one.

The Catholic Church and evangelical religions are stalwart opponents to abortion and contraception. Even when there is growing public support of birth control and abortion, legislatures have been exceedingly slow to enact change.

 Why are mothers in El Salvador being charged with homicide or manslaughter after losing a child? Dateline investigates the country’s extreme anti-abortion laws and finds local women fighting to have their cases heard.

For instance, in the mid-2000s, then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sought to expand abortion in Brazil, casting it as an important public health issue. Despite rising public support, he could not obtain enough support from his own left-wing Worker’s Party (PT) to change existing law.

Judicial interpretation frequently invokes moral law about protecting the right to life from conception. For example, both Argentina’s Civil Code and Brazil’s Penal Code and Constitution uphold that life commences at conception. This has been invoked in a range of abortion cases.

Finally, mainstream media coverage of abortion tends to be negative and reflects patriarchal values around motherhood and reproduction.

These obstacles are why women’s rights groups and reproductive health advocates, like those who argued for exceptions in Colombia, have strategically used harm reduction and exception rationales to open wedges in ironclad abortion policies.

Where is abortion legal in Latin America?

Abortion is legal and accessible in just a few places in Latin America.

In 1979, Cuba fully legalized abortion and made it available as part of overall health services.

In 1995, Guyana allowed women to obtain abortions on request in the first eight weeks of pregnancy. After that, abortion is available under certain circumstances.

In 2007, following campaigns that involved women’s groups, supportive legislators and NGOs, Mexico City bucked national policy and decriminalized abortion in the first trimester. The decision was based on human rights, reproductive health and even sympathetic theological arguments.

Uruguayan senators vote 17 to 14 in favor of a bill to legalize abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in Montevideo.

In 2012, Uruguay made abortion available upon request in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, following a five-day period of reflection for the woman considering termination. Later-term abortions are permitted in instances of rape and when a women’s health is endangered.

The seeds for this change were planted in the mid-2000s with the implementation of a “harm reduction model,” which allowed women to induce abortions using drugs like Mifeprex. Although this law depended on the logic of health exception, it was passed amid increasing emphasis on health equity. Since its passage, maternal deaths due to abortion have decreased markedly in the country. Uruguay now has the third lowest maternal death rate in the Americas after Canada and the United States.

Not surprisingly, contraception also is more accessible and accepted in countries where abortion laws are less restrictive. For example, a 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that only five percent of people in Uruguay believe contraception is morally wrong, compared to 45 percent in El Salvador.

Underground abortions are a major public health problem

Zika is a public emergency in Latin America, forcing nations to devote resources to halting its continued spread. But unsafe abortion is another public health crisis the region faces.

Latin America has the highest incidence of unsafe abortion in the world, resulting in approximately 1,100 maternal deaths per year. According to the Guttmacher Institute, of the 4.4 million abortions performed in all of Latin America in 2008, 95 percent were unsafe. About 760,000 women are hospitalized for complications from these substandard procedures each year.

Many of the women harmed by lack of access to abortion are indigenous, low-income or live in rural areas. They may not have money nor the legal resources to obtain abortions in private clinics or to make a case for an exception based on rape or incest.

Indeed, 1.6 million women are raped each year in Latin America, making access to emergency contraception and abortion all the more critical.

The Zika outbreak has the potential to promote change in abortion and birth control policies across Latin America. Yet these reproductive health options should not be framed simply as solutions to the latest health crisis or the specter of babies with deformities. Women need contraception and access to safe, legal abortion whether they are living in an area where Zika is active, or not.

Following the lead of Uruguay and Mexico City, framing abortion and contraception in terms of human rights and reproductive health equity could help expand access to these critical services for millions of women.
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/article/2016/11/04/zika-and-abortion-will-virus-prompt-latin-america-rethink-abortion-and-birth

Source: SBS

Thank You!

Today is “Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.”

It is a day where supporters of abortion rights acknowledge, in some way, the contributions of their local abortion providers (doctors, staff and/or owners).  When I was at the National Coalition of Abortion Providers years ago, it was encouraging to see pro-choicers across the country sending flowers, making calls of support or finding other ways to acknowledge the contributions of abortion providers.   Until then, there always seemed to be a chasm between those who were “pro-choice” and those who were part of the actual abortion process.

This day – March 10 – was selected as “Abortion Provider Appreciation Day” because in 1993 on this date, Doctor David Gunn became the first abortion doctor to be killed by a pro-life activist.  Doctor Gunn was approaching the back door of the Pensacola Medical Services, one of the many clinics down south where he worked, when a man named Michael Griffin walked up to him and shot him several times at point blank range.  Doctor Gunn died instantly.  Ironically, there was a gun for protection in David’s glove compartment.

I got the call about two hours later.  In many ways, I wasn’t shocked.  Those of us in the abortion provider community had seen the harassment, the threats, the stalking, the butyric acid attacks and, yes, the bombings, escalate over the years.  We knew it was just a matter of time before someone went all the way and killed one of our doctors.  When it finally happened, it was national news, the front story in all the newspapers and the network news.

A year later, someone came up with the idea of using March 10 for something positive, versus wallowing in despair over David’s murder.  Instead, it was suggested that one way to honor him was to honor those who followed in his footsteps.  So, groups like the Fund for the Feminist Majority and the National Organization for Women got their troops to inundate the clinics with thank you calls and notes.  Some actually held vigils outside the clinics with signs thanking those inside.  It was all very gratifying and I know that our doctors and clinic staff really appreciated the efforts.

So, today I just want to use my moment to once again thank those doctors who walk into the clinic every day knowing that someone could walk up behind them with a gun.  As we saw in the case of the late George Tiller, these doctors can find no sanctuary from the violence.  Just imagine for a second the feeling of going to your office knowing you could be gone in an instant.  Think about the security guard at the Birmingham All Women’s clinic who walked up the pathway to open up the facility, only to be blown up by an explosive device planted by Eric Rudolph.  Or Baird Britton, driving up to The Ladies Center in Pensacola in 1994, seeing Mr. Paul Hill, a regular presence at the clinic, walk up to him with a shotgun, blasting away.  I could go on and on.

And these doctors and staff are putting themselves into these life-threatening situations because a handful of women made an appointment at the clinic a few days earlier after making the difficult decision to terminate their pregnancy.  No one forced those women to make that call, they did it on their own volition.  And, as history has shown us, if these doctors were not there for these women, many of those women would have resorted to other, unsafe measures.

Kudos to the doctors, the staff, the owners and their families for being there.

Roe V. Wade 38th Anniversary

Well, today is the 38th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision!

So, now what do I say?

I guess when you have an anniversary you usually assess where you are, right?   So, let’ see where we are.

Of course, all the pro-choicers (who are fed by the pro-choice organizations) are going bonkers because the Republicans have taken over the U.S. House of Representatives.  All of the scary, red-lettered fundraising letters have gone out warning folks that ABORTION RIGHTS ARE IN DANGER!  I’ve written about this before and I’ll say what I said earlier – relax folks.  Just keep in mind that WHEN the House and IF the Senate passes some terrible piece of anti-abortion legislation, ain’t nothing gonna happen because ole Barack will be there to save the day with his veto pen.  But, of course, national organizations need to raise money to stay in business and they need to scare you to make you write a check.  So, keep everything in perspective folks (but it does not hurt to send the money in anyway).

When I think about what life was like over 38 years ago – before abortion was legal in this country – I can’t help to think about this nut ball doctor up in Philadelphia who a few days ago was indicted on several counts of MURDER for basically performing “illegal” abortions.  Now, I have not had the time to look closely at the indictment and, frankly, I’ve never heard of this guy but the only thing I thought of when I heard the news was that what he was doing was just how it worked in the old days.  We had all these sleazy illegal abortionists with unqualified staff, using unsterilized instruments and offering no counseling.  As a result, women throughout the country were being harmed physically and, worse, dying.  This guy up in Philadelphia is just an old “abortionist.”   Unfortunately, it’s someone like that who makes the headline and that, of course, gives the legitimate doctors a bad rap by association.

In the grand scheme of things, I can see how certain anti-abortion folks are so totally fixated on “saving” that fetus.  It’s just their thing and I am not qualified to psychoanalyze their thinking (I’ll leave that up to CG).  But while these folks are seemingly mesmerized by the quest to “save babies” do they not see what might happen if abortion were made illegal again in this country?  Do they not see what happened up in Philadelphia recently?  Do they have absolutely no compassion for the real, live, breathing woman?   I mean, they’re not all totally myopic, are they?

I think I know the answer that the pro-lifers will give me, I’ve certainly heard enough of the rhetoric over the years.  But, at least at this time, 38 years later, I can breathe a sigh of relief that in 1973 the Supreme Court in 1973 was brave and smart enough to realize what they were doing.  They struck a blow for woman’s health and that’s what I choose to celebrate today.

When I was at the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, one thing I did on a regular basis was have conversations with leaders of national anti-abortion organizations.  I did so in the hopes that they would get a better understanding of the abortion process, the abortion doctors and the women who desired abortions.  If I had any kind of agenda, it was the hope that if these leaders understood more about the reality of abortion, they might be more inclined to tone down their rhetoric a little (and thus be less likely to incite some would-be assassin).   Also, to be honest, it was a good way for me to test my debating skills.

One person I spoke to on a regular basis was Father Frank Pavone, the Director of “Priests for Life.”  We

Father Frank Pavone

met maybe twice a year formally and occasionally ran into each other at protests and other events.  I know that Frank was always grateful for my candor.  I have to admit it was often a one way conversation in that I was trying to educate him on why clinics did what they did.  Still, he always said that he got a lot out of our conversations, but who knows?

One day, during one of our meetings, he asked if I might be interested in meeting with a bunch of “his folks.”  Not being shy, I said I’d meet with anyone.  So, he invited me to come up to Staten Island to his “national headquarters” to meet with a group of his priests and staff.   I jumped at the opportunity.

When I arrived at his office I was warmly greeted by the receptionist and other staff.  I have no doubt they were alerted to the fact that I was coming.  I wasn’t nervous at all.  Indeed, I felt like some of them were more nervous than me.  I have to say I was excited about being in the “lion’s den.”  Frank eventually came out, got me a cup of coffee and we talked for a bit in his private office.  He then walked me down the hall to a large conference room.

Seated around a conference table were about 20 priests.  I sat at the head of the table.  It was a very strange feeling (as a former Catholic) to be surrounded by them but I was not nervous at all. I was totally ready for any of their questions.

I kidded around about being a “former Catholic” then went into a 20 minute monologue.  I talked about who our doctors were and what motivated them, I admitted that there were bad doctors that we wished we could close down, I confessed that our clinics are not perfect, that some women do ultimately regret their abortions, that abortion is a form of killing, that late term abortions, although rare, were “gross,” that I totally defended their right to protest at a clinic, that women know they are aborting some kind of “life”, that our clinics tried desperately to make sure the woman never came back, that some doctors do make a nice living but that a lot of them gave away their services, that the number of abortions fortunately was going down and that a number of clinic staff also talk to their local antis.

When I was done, I apologized for going on so long and said I’d be happy to answer any questions.

You could hear a pin drop.  Cue the crickets.

Indeed, it got very awkward so I chimed in and said “C’mon folks, hit me with everything you got!”  They chuckled and Frank looked around and said “any questions?”

Ultimately, one young priest shyly raised his hand and said “Do you know Doctor Tiller?

I said I did.  Waiting for some zinger about third trimester abortions, I braced myself for the follow-up.

“Well, what is he really like?”

This is it?   This was their tough question?

I answered the question but while I was talking, I realized what I had just done.  I had thought of practically every charge or accusation that they could come up with and answered all of them as honestly and candidly as possible.  I laid it all on the table.  Geez, I had told the priests that abortion was “killing” and, after that, they didn’t know what to say in response.

Ultimately, at one point some older priest with an edge to him asked me about the “partial birth abortion” procedure.  I first surprised him when I said that the procedure, as described by the anti-abortion movement, was basically accurate.  That surprised them because they were used to hearing the pro-choice groups say that there was no such thing as a “partial birth abortion.”  I said I don’t care what you call it but there is such a procedure.  I then I added that I felt that in some ways the PBA was a more “humane” form of abortion because the fetus was left intact and it gave the mother the opportunity to see it and say “goodbye.”

Again, crickets….

You could have cut it with a knife.

All in all, it was an exhilarating experience for me.  Frank later told me that it was “fascinating.”  Whether or not it made any difference is beyond me.  But what it did teach me is that advocates of abortion rights just need to be brutally honest about abortion, not try to sugarcoat things and just trust women to make the right decision.

Abortion.com Banned!

People who work in abortion clinics know what it’s like to be discriminated against.  Oh, I’m not talking about discrimination in the legal sense.  I’m just talking general “discrimination.”

For example, it is not unusual for a local business to refuse to serve the local abortion clinic.  It may be a cleaning service that does not want to clean the clinic at night.  It might take a long time for the director of the abortion clinic to find someone who would be willing to construct a website for them.  In some more extreme cases, the local police might not react as quickly as they normally do when called to control an unwieldy group of protestors.  It’s just all part of being in the abortion business.

Now, I am hearing of another form of possible “discrimination” against abortion providers – by Facebook.

Let me explain.

This blog is associated with the website, www.abortion.com.  That site is a directory of abortion clinics across the country.  The clinics pay a fee to be placed on the site, much like they pay the Yellow Pages to be listed in their books.  A while ago, the manager of the website decided to create a Facebook page.  As of two weeks ago, that Facebook page had over 100,000 “friends,” an incredible amount of people.

On a regular basis, the manager of the site (or one of the “friends”) would post a comment in an effort to generate a conversation.  For example, he might post something like “how do you feel about late term abortions?”   In response, dozens upon dozens of people would comment.  Many of them were anti-abortion, which was perfectly okay because it engendered some very lively debates.

Indeed, at times it would get downright hot and heavy.  Unfortunately, some people used foul language but if they did, they were immediately warned by the manager and removed if they ignored the warnings.   Then, a number of anti-abortion nut balls would flood the site with inane comments, repeating them over and over again.  I think the word is “trolling.”   The manager spent an inordinate amount of time deleting the troll’s comments.  In addition to all of this activity, the Facebook page was used to advertise for www.abortion.com in the hopes of directing women to reputable abortion clinics.

Then, suddenly, about a week ago the Facebook page disappeared.

Gone.

Just like that.

The manager and his staff immediately tried contacting Facebook to find out why the site was taken down.  It was puzzling.  After all, there are a number of other abortion related Facebook pages out there.  Indeed, some of the anti-abortion pages are incredibly gross.  So, it was very hard to figure out why they were shut down without notice.

Compounding the problem is that it is virtually impossible to talk to anyone at Facebook because they are so insulated.  There may be some bullshit “contact us” button but you know that your message will wind up on the computer of some teenager in some Third World country who is getting paid $5 an hour.  Go ahead, try it yourself.  Try contacting Facebook.

So, where does that leave us?

I cannot imagine why Facebook took down this page.  But, no matter what the reason, it is incredibly arrogant to close down a page with that many fans without even notifying the manager.  Who are these anonymous people who make these decisions willy-nilly?   Or sure, I understand it’s their company but, c’mon folks, where are your manners?

I can only conclude that Facebook was getting somewhat uncomfortable with the page for some reason.  The cynic in me would say that the powers that be are anti-abortion and were concerned that an abortion rights page was getting so much visibility.  And, if I can prove that is the case, then I am ready to lead a pro-choice revolt against this company whose owner recently named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine.

My antennae is up – is it possible that, once again, abortion providers are being discriminated against?