Posts Tagged ‘womens rights’

VAWA and why 2013 is already a lot like 2012

January 7, 2013

In addition to stressing out less and purchasing a cat condo, another big New Year’s resolution is blogging regularly again. And why not? Politicians haven’t resolved to stop screwing over women, so there’s plenty to write about!

While everyone’s focused on falling off the fiscal cliff, I’m worried about the Violence Against Women’s Act non-passage. VAWA has been routinely passed without a hassle since its inception in 1994 (thanks, Joe Biden!), but this year Republicans and Democrats deadlocked on some of the additional provisions. SUBDUE YOUR SHOCK.

VAWA has been really, really, really helpful for survivors of domestic abuse — it helps them find housing in case their residence is compromised by stalking or abuse, provides legal assistance, provides funding for rape crisis centers and hotlines, and works to improve awareness about domestic violence.

So what’s there not to like about a program that educates citizens, law enforcement, and the judicial branch about domestic violence while also providing much needed resources to victims?

One of the criticisms — and pardon me if my brain actually implodes from typing this bullshit nonsense out — is that same-sex couples are not legally recognized by the federal government as couples, so LGBT peoples shouldn’t be covered. Ah, yep, I think my brain melted a little bit because that is just absolutely asinine and illogical — the “w” = women, thought that was pretty clear and inclusive.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) calls it a “side issue” that should be based on how the government decides to categorize same-sex couples. Heaven forbid reality — that same-sex couples can be in abusive relationships — dictate the law so people get help they actually need. 

Also, there’s the proposed law’s expanded jurisdiction to Native American tribes. Rapes among Native American women and the total lack of resources — both legally and socially, in the form of education throughout the community — leave sexual assault scarily as the rule rather than the exception.

Read this article about the topic. It’s troubling that both the DOJ and tribal governments don’t do much to make women feel safe in reporting sexual assault or justice in convicting those who do it.

So… why are we still selectively protecting women’s rights? Just when I’m all excited that birth control is free thanks to Obamacare and Planned Parenthood isn’t going to be erased from the planet by a new president, 2013 serves a swift kick in the ass — and a much-needed reality check that there’s still plenty to be done on the equality front.

But perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope from the last round of elections and all the failed candidates who felt obligated to talk about rape as if it was a blessing/deserved/not that big of a deal. Voters didn’t agree. Voters don’t like violence against women. Maybe it’s time to listen to the constituents?


A guide to state abortion legislation & some observations

April 4, 2011

The newest state legislative session has brought about a tidal wave of abortion legislation — mostly attempts to restriction abortion either directly or indirectly. Now while organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice and the Guttmacher Institute have excellent resources on state laws and legislation regarding abortions, I decided to venture out independently and gather information on abortion by state so it would all be on one, scrollable page.

So here is an objective, somewhat comprehensive (and constantly changing, I apologize if it isn’t up to date — let me know if you see something that’s been killed by the legislature or signed into law or something major that I’ve missed) collection of abortion legislation in the states. After the legislation descriptions, I have a few subjective observations.

(Note: Many of these states have bills pending regarding state health exchanges and abortion funding or parental consent for minors to get abortions; I typically didn’t list these pieces of legislation unless they were the only pieces of abortion-related legislation pending in the legislature.)


(objective descriptions)

Federal: The Pence amendment to H.R. 1 would ban Title X funding to Planned Parenthood, eliminating all federal funding for the family-planning nonprofit. H.R. 1 originally did pass the House but not the Senate. A revised version of H.R. 1 has been reintroduced and still contains the Pence amendment.

Alabama: Alabama already mandates that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound and offer a woman the opportunity to view the image before performing an abortion. Currently in the legislature is HB 18, which would ban late-term abortions (abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy).

Alaska: SB 14 would allow conscientious objection from doctors who don’t want to perform abortions. 

Arizona: Arizona already requires an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion after their first trimester and that providers offer women the opportunity to view the image. Two bills passed the House: HB 2416 would require abortion pill providers in rural communities to be set up like surgical facilities in order to distribute the pill, and would require an hour wait time between when an ultrasound is performed and when the abortion would be done; HB 2384 would prohibit public funding for organizations that do abortion referrals or provide abortion health-care coverage.

Arkansas: HB 1887 (the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act) would reinforce current law that prevents abortions after 20 weeks and would require abortion providers to tell women seeking abortions that a fetus at 20 weeks can feel pain as well as offer women other information regarding the procedure.

California: There is a budget bill that would restrict government funding for low-income health care to be used for abortions.

Colorado: HB 1256 would have make it illegal to kill an unborn baby in Colorado through reckless actions, but it is being withdrawn.

Connecticut: HB 5099 would require an ultrasound be performed before an abortion.

Delaware: There doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation, though there is talk of stronger regulation of abortion clinics because of Kermit Gosnell, a  Philadelphia abortion doctor who performed illegal, late-term abortions in a “house of horrors” abortion clinic (Gosnell has been charged with murdering seven infants using scissors). Legislators are also talking about instituting a parental consent law for abortion.

District of Columbia: Federal H.R. 1 would reinstate a ban on using federal and local tax dollars for abortions.

Florida: Florida already requires an ultrasound on each woman obtaining an abortion after her first trimester and that providers offer her the opportunity to view the image. Florida has introduced 18 bills regarding abortion so far in this legislative session.

Proposed bills include: (1) HJR 1179, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit using state money for funding abortions, even in cases of rape or incest; (2) HB 321, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which prohibits abortions after 20 weeks; (3) HB 415, the “Florida for Life Act,” which would ban abortions completely except to save the mother’s life and would ban abortion clinics; and (4) HB 1127, which would require ultrasounds on all women seeking abortions and require them to review the ultrasound (must sign form certifying they denied viewing ultrasound of their own free will if they don’t want to view it) — exceptions in the case of rape, incest, and medical emergency.

Georgia: HB 1 would make abortion illegal and would criminalize any “human involvement” in miscarriage; prenatal murder would be a felony and could carry a life sentence or death penalty.

Hawaii: SB 860 would prohibit partial-birth abortions, except in emergencies to save the life of the mother.

Idaho: SB 1165 would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Illinois: HB 3156 would regulate abortion clinics like surgical centers.

Indiana: HB 1210 would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks, and require doctors to tell women that abortions might lead to breast cancer, inform women seeking an abortion that the fetus might feel pain, and require women to view an ultrasound.

Iowa: An Iowa House panel has approved HF 5, a bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy; also in the General Assembly is a bill (HF 7) that would allow reasonable or deadly force to be used by a person or third party to protect themselves or someone else from harm; combined with HF 153, which would define “life” as starting from conception, some contend HF 7 is a “justifiable homicide” bill that could be interpreted to allow for the murder of abortion providers.

Kansas: There doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation.

Kentucky: A bill to require women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds died in the House.

Louisiana: Louisiana already requires that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound and offer a woman the opportunity to view the image before performing an abortion; there doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation.

Maine: LD 116 would require a 24-hour waiting period for abortions; LD 924 would require doctors to, 24 hours in advance, provide medical information and a brochure on alternatives to abortion.

Maryland: There doesn’t seem to be any current abortion-related legislation, but anti-abortion activists want stricter regulations on abortion clinics.

Massachusetts: H 2216 would prosecute harming a fetus the same as harming the mother, but it excludes abortion providers and medical intervention; H 0482 would require doctors to give women — before consenting to an abortion — information regarding abortion alternatives, probable age of the fetus, opportunity to listen to heartbeat, the “probable anatomical and physiological characteristics” of the fetus, and risks associated with abortion; H 1333 would prohibit partial-birth abortions except to save the mother.

Michigan: SB 0150/HB 4433 would require abortion providers to use the most advanced ultrasound technology; SB 0160/HB 4109 would prohibit partial-birth abortion.

Minnesota: HF 1042 would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy (currently restricted past 23 weeks).

Mississippi: Mississippi already requires that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound and offer a woman the opportunity to view the image before performing an abortion. There does not seem to be any other current abortion-related legislation.

Missouri: HB 213 would ban abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy, and would require two physicians to confirm that the proper exemption requirements are met to perform an abortion after 20 weeks (the only exemption is to save the life of the mother).

Montana: The House voted to cut nearly all funding for family-planning clinics; HB 280 would require an ultrasound before abortion but is listed on the legislative website as “probably dead”; HB 574 would prohibit state funding for abortion.

Nebraska: LB 232 would permit any third party to “defend” a fetus, leading many to call it a “justifiable homicide” bill that could be used to allow the murder of abortion providers; LB 461 would prevent hospitals from discriminating against workers with religious objections to abortions, except in the case of the mother’s life being in danger when the worker would be expected to prioritize the mother’s life.

Nevada: There seems to be no current abortion-related legislation.

New Hampshire: HB 329 would require minors to get parental consent for abortion; the parental notification required for a minor to get an abortion was repealed four years ago.

New Jersey: A 163/S 353 would require physicians to offer ultrasounds to women seeking an abortion at least 48 hours before the abortion is done, except in the case of a medical emergency.

New Mexico: There seems to be no current abortion-related legislation this session. (There is a fetal homicide bill, but it excludes abortion providers.)

New York: A 2244 would require a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion; require doctors to provide women with information regarding abortion alternatives, abortion risks, and details about the fetus’s current development; and mandate that all abortion providers have proper ultrasound equipment; S 4028 would require that minors need parental consent to get an abortion.

North Carolina: There seems to be no current abortion-related legislation this session. (There is a fetal homicide bill, but it excludes abortion providers.)

North Dakota: HB 1450 would change the definition of human being to life beginning at conception.

Ohio: HB 125 (also called the “heartbeat bill“) would ban abortions if heartbeat could be detected and requires medical providers to, at least 24 hours before the abortion, give  information to the woman about the baby’s survival chances if a heartbeat is detected — if found to have performed an abortion when the fetus’s heartbeat was detected, doctors would face a fifth-degree felony.

Oklahoma: Both HB 1888 (Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act) and HB 1402 (Women’s Health Defense Act) would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy; both SB 546 and HB 1571 define life as starting at conception; and SJR 43 would have the public vote on whether life starts at conception.

Oregon: HB 3512 would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy; SB 901 would require that abortion clinics be regulated like surgical centers.

Pennsylvania: SB 732/HB 574 would regulate abortion clinics like surgical centers.

Rhode Island: H 5505 would require that, at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, women must be informed of information regarding risks involved with abortion and carrying child to term, and pictures of what the fetus would look like (except in a medical emergency); H 5029 would define life as starting at conception; H 5691 would require that physicians be able to provide ultrasounds and show them to women, though women are not required to view them.

South Carolina: HB 3403/SB 164 (also called the “Born Alive” bill) would, according to proponents, require that fetuses that survive an abortion be saved and not treated as medical waste; HB 3408 (Freedom of Conscience Act) prohibits employers to discriminate against workers who don’t want to do certain tasks that conflict with their religious, moral, or ethical principles — the bill also allows health care facilities to refuse to admit patients seeking care they ethically object to providing.

South Dakota: The governor signed a law requiring a 72-hour waiting period between when a woman first comes to the clinic (only one abortion clinic in the state) for an abortion and when she can have the abortion, and it requires that the woman must get counseling from a pregnancy crisis center.

Tennessee: HB 956/SB 47 requires abortion clinics that perform five or more abortions per year be regulated as surgical facilities.

Texas: HB 15 would require that, at least between one and three days before an abortion, a doctor has to give a woman a sonogram, describe the fetus in the sonogram in “layperson” terms, provide information on abortion alternatives (it seems like the sonogram is mandatory but the woman can decline the information), and have the woman listen to the heartbeat (except in medical emergency); HB 325 requires an ultrasound but says the woman can “look away,” and also requires information similar to that mandated in HB 15 be provided at least an hour before an abortion; HB 2659 would outlaw abortion except in the case of rape or incest (these exceptions must be proven) or for the health of the mother.

Utah: HB 354 was signed by the governor and prevents private insurance companies from covering abortions; HB 171 was signed by the governor and requires first-trimester abortion clinics to be licensed by the state; HB 353 was signed by the governor and allows physicians to refuse to perform abortion on moral or religious grounds (even in cases of rape or incest) without repercussions from employers, and it allows health care facilities to refuse to admit a patient for an abortion on moral or religious grounds.

Vermont: It seems there is no current abortion-related legislation.

Virginia: HB 1428 would regulate abortion clinics as medical care facilities; Gov. Bob McDonnell recently added an amendment to HB 2434, which addresses the state creating its own health exchange in regard to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, that would prohibit any insurance on the exchange from covering the cost of an abortion.

Washington: HB 1366 requires pregnancy crisis centers to make certain disclosures — that they do not provide abortions or medical care to pregnant women — to people seeking their services and prohibits them from disclosing a patient’s medical information without permission.

West Virginia: HB 3020 would prohibit state-funded health plans from offering abortion coverage.

Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposes eliminating state funding for Planned Parenthood and other family-planning centers.

Wyoming: HB 118 would require that doctors, at least 24 hours before performing an abortion, inform the woman that she can view an ultrasound, listen for the fetus’s heartbeat, and the possibility of the fetus feeling pain if it’s past the 20th week of pregnancy, including a description of the procedure and when the fetus would feel pain and that anesthesia is available but offers little pain prevention to the fetus. HB 251 only relates to doctors offering women an ultrasound and chance to hear the fetal heartbeat.


Some observations
(not so objective)

How does this legislation affect abortion access?

Much of the legislation is self-explanatory in terms of how it affects abortion access. Bans on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy obviously mean that some women won’t be allowed to get abortions. But much of this legislation is also tricky. Forcing a woman to get an ultrasound or listen to a heartbeat is an attempt to influence a woman’s decision about getting an abortion. Allowing hospitals to refuse patients limits where they can go for an abortion, and can be potentially dangerous if a woman needs an emergency abortion but the only hospital within miles refuses to give abortions for religious or ethical reasons.

Requiring abortion clinics to be regulated differently can indirectly shut them down, because they’d be required to meet building specifications that would require costly renovations — leaving many women without access to abortion. In Arizona, women in rural communities would be forced to travel to cities to get the abortion pill, which might not be a feasible option when one considers travel costs and possibly needing to take time off work. South Dakota’s three-day waiting period is especially outrageous because there is only one abortion clinic in the state — asking women to drive there, wait three days, then drive back is a huge burden on those women, and it’s a burden not every woman can afford to deal with.

More dangerous are bills like the one in Georgia, which criminalizes miscarriages to an unbelievable degree. What if you did smoke or drink while pregnant, not knowing you were? How can you scientifically prove that didn’t cause your miscarriage? The consequences would be jail time or possibly life in prison or the death penalty. And bills like those in Iowa and Nebraska draw blurry lines between using force to defend a fetus — abortion providers could be justifiably murdered in the name of saving the fetus.

Viewing the ultrasound and listening to the heartbeat

These types of legislation seem to be geared toward new mothers who “don’t understand” what an abortion entails, that the fetus has a heartbeat, could feel pain, etc. But most women who get abortions aren’t new mothers who are unaware of fetal heartbeats and ultrasounds: 61 percent of abortions are performed on women who already have childrenthese women understand the process of pregnancy, childbirth, etc. and don’t need a tutorial. Their choice to get an abortion is based on experience and an understanding of what it takes to raise a child, and forcing them or any woman to listen to a heartbeat or view an ultrasound is cruel and doesn’t grasp that women don’t like getting abortions.

What is a pregnancy crisis center?

You’ll note that Washington has a proposed bill that would force pregnancy crisis centers to be upfront about their services. This is because pregnancy crisis centers are often anti-abortion pregnancy centers run by religious organizations or churches, advertising themselves as pro-choice with the underlying mission to prevent or dissuade women from getting abortions. They often misinform patients, either about their services or in the information they provide, and have been known to harass women who continue to say they want an abortion.

The South Dakota bill is also frightening for this reason — not only will women need to wait three days to get an abortion, but they’ll need to visit one of these pregnancy crisis centers before getting an abortion. This forces women to go to these centers — known for spreading false information, harassing women, and basing the level of service on whether the woman wants an abortion — against their will.

Unemployment rate versus abortion legislation

You might have noticed that Republicans — who pre-November-election were crying out for more focused attention on job creation and economic recovery — are now focusing their attention on abortion. Have the economic conditions suddenly brightened to allow this reversal?

There are 41 states and the District of Columbia with some kind of abortion-restrictive legislation on the table. There are 30 states plus the District of Columbia with an unemployment rate of 8 percent or higher, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the 41 states that have abortion-related legislation on the table, 25 have an employment rate of 8 percent or higher, 20 have a rate of 9 percent or higher, and eight have a rate of more than 10 percent. The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU) — a natural unemployment rate that sits comfortably between triggering deflation or inflation — is currently 7 percent.

In other words, 61 percent of the states with abortion-related legislation on the table have an unemployment rate of 8 percent or more; 49 percent have an unemployment rate of 9 percent or more; and 20 percent have an unemployment rate of 10 percent or more. Florida, which has an unemployment rate of 11.5 — the third highest in the country and lower only than Nevada and California, has introduced 18 abortion-related bills this session. States with such serious economic problems should be focusing on job creation, deficit reduction, and economic recovery — not abortion.

Female columnist promotes rape, slut-shaming, lies about PP

March 4, 2011

Victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and feminist-bashing are abhorrent coming from men, but they are exponentially worse coming from women. This column from The Daily Collegian, the college newspaper for the University of Massachusetts, was actually briefly taken offline because it was so offensive. (I’ll throw out a trigger warning right now.) The author is a young woman who believes that sometimes women deserve rape, contraception doesn’t affect abortion rates, and “feminist liberation” has turned everyone into nymphomaniacs. Shall we chronologically take a look at some of the claims?

1a. Planned Parenthood isn’t a charity

Author Yevgeniya Lomakina jumps right in, making blatantly wrong claims about Planned Parenthood and its services:

It is a business. It is not, however, a charitable organization, as it is portrayed by its many supporters. Their services are not free, although they may be cheaper than regular hospitals.

Actually, it is a charitable organization. A section 501(c)(3) organization that files tax forms in accordance with its tax-exempt, charitable status. I can see how this information would be difficult to find, considering it’s on the Planned Parenthood website, alongside the actual tax forms they file.

Also, did you know that “charitable organization” doesn’t mean that you just give stuff away for free? You see, it’s charitable because it offers low-cost services to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It’s actually really helpful, because low-income women can get cancer screenings, prenatal care, pap tests, and contraception at reduced prices. I’m pretty sure the condoms are free, though.

1b. Planned Parenthood posts misleading/false information on its website

After proving that Planned Parenthood is in fact a business because it doesn’t do everything for free, the author next points out a glaring error in the numbers on the Planned Parenthood website:

According to the American Life League, Planned Parenthood performed 289,750 abortions in 2006. The number rose to 324,008 in 2008. However, the organization’s website misleads in reporting that abortions constitute only 3 percent of its services. In reality, it performs about 23 percent of all abortions performed each year in the U.S.

Now the numbers here are right (see the 2006-2007 annual report and this 2008 fact sheet), but they aren’t misleading or contradicting each other. The difference is that the 23 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other abortion providers’ — the 3 percent is Planned Parenthood’s abortion services compared with other services within itself.

2. Sex is now shameless

The author writes:

Sex has become a service, like any other, but without fiscal exchange or shame.  It is no longer associated with love, marriage or a committed relationship.

Really? Because I’m pretty sure that sentence is 100 percent slut-shaming, as is the entire column.

3. If you wear a short skirt, you deserve to get raped

By far, this assertion makes my blood boil more than anything:

If a young woman wears a promiscuous outfit to a party, then proceeds to drink and flirt excessively, she should not blame men for her downfall. She made a decision to dress a certain way, to consume alcohol and should be prepared to deal with the consequences. Far from being a victim of rape, she is a victim of her own choices.

Pardon my French, but that is fucking ridiculous. There is NO scenario in which a woman deserves to be raped. There is no time when a man has the right to force a woman to have sex with him against her will. There is no skirt length, alcohol level, or flirtation level — nothing. And it’s this kind of bullshit that blames women for wearing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing or drinking the wrong amount instead of pointing the finger at the rapist.

But our author is not the cold-hearted person she seems, as she does think rape is bad:

This is not to say that rape is inexistent. Sexual crimes should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Rape exists, just not if you’re sexually active or flirtatious or wearing clothes that show too much skin. It’s only a crime when it happens to someone who has made good, moral choices, and then the rapist is a criminal. This makes me want to slam my head into my desk about 348 times.

4. Having sex with men is giving them the “upper hand”

The author writes:

With the easy accessibility of noncommittal sex, men have gained or recaptured the upper hand in relationships. Women, instead of acclaiming “sexual liberation” have received, at the least, a bad reputation.

Read my recent post about this idea of men having an “upper hand” because women will have casual sex with them. Also, let’s note the additional slut-shaming. You know, the “bad reputation” only comes because people associate women having casual sex as bad, and men having casual sex as good — they have the “upper hand” when they get it.

And why is women trading commitment for sex any better than women trading sex for sex? Why are people so attached to the notion that men won’t commit unless you withhold sex from them? Why is this entire article blaming women for wanting to have sex and giving men a pass for wanting to having sex?

5. Abortion and the morning-after pill are the same thing

An often-used political ploy is juxtaposing two things in hopes that the reader or listener begins to associate them with each other, without the speaker ever directly linking them:

Abortion is also viewed in a different way. For many, it is no longer a last resort for victims of rape or in other emergencies. It is simply regarded as “Plan B.” In a Planned Parenthood YouTube advertisement for the “morning after” pill, a woman states the scenarios in which the product may be useful.

Note the transition from abortion as a “Plan B” to the morning-after pill, commonly called “Plan B.” This is likely an attempt to lump together morning-after pills with abortion, but the morning-after pill is not the abortion pill. They are completely separate, and the morning-after pill doesn’t terminate pregnancies. The morning-after pill is over-the-counter; the abortion pill is not.

6. Birth control doesn’t prevent abortions

The author says it plain and simple:

More contraception does not translate to fewer abortions.

If you look in the aforementioned Planned Parenthood data (1b), there could be a correlation between less contraception and more abortions — in 2008, more abortions were performed but less contraception was given out at Planned Parenthood. Also, I can guarantee that less contraception will not translate to fewer abortions.

And actually, the abortion rate generally has been going down in recent years:

1980: 1,297,606
1985: 1,333,521
1990: 1,429,577
1995: 1,210,883
2000: 857,475
2005: 820,151
2006: 846,181
2007: 827,609

And considering contraceptive use has increased over this time frame, I’d say more contraception does translate to fewer abortions.


I’m glad the newspaper apologized for the article, and I’m also glad they put it back online. Even though their apology covered that it was reprehensible to suggest women are responsible for being raped and that other claims were inaccurate, I couldn’t help but expand on that further. Because despite the editors’ apology, it still somehow managed to get published, so we can’t gloss over the content that was originally deemed passable, and we have to look at it a little more critically.

Attacking abortion via family-planning funds is wrong

February 17, 2011

As part of their new spending proposal, Republicans want to completely eliminate all funding to a program called Title X, which provides federal funding for family planning and preventative health services and by law must prioritize low-income families. Without adequate federal funding, family-planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood would likely have to severely cut the services they could provide — and it’s specifically abortion services that anti-choice lawmakers are hoping to affect.

I despise when Planned Parenthood is marketed by anti-choicers as nothing but an abortion clinic. Cutting funding to family-planning clinics means also cutting funding for access to contraceptives, pap tests, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, vasectomies, breast exams, cancer screenings, and other important health services. Abortions only accounted for 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provided in 2007 — in contrast, contraception, STI testing, pap tests, pregnancy tests, and breast exams accounted for about 94 percent of all services provided in 2007.

Also, it’s most important to remember that Title X funds cannot, by law, be used for abortions, so lawmakers want to completely wipe out the funding to Title X just to indirectly make it more difficult for family-planning clinics to stay afloat. Sacrificing the health and well-being of low-income women and families in order to make abortion less accessible, even though most women already don’t have easy access to a clinic that provides abortion services (87 percent of U.S. counties don’t have an abortion provider), and most services performed at family-planning clinics aren’t abortion-related? Yeah, that’s pretty shady.

And despite targeting low-income women and families, these legislators will later complain about the burdens these women are putting on other Americans by needing government assistance to pay for health care (as they would lose vital access to cancer screenings, pap tests, and STI testing) or food and other necessities (because when you can’t afford contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and subsequently get pregnant and have babies, those babies are expensive).

But why waste time looking at the bigger picture when you can punish not only women who have sex other than for procreation, but also women who can’t afford contraception, pap tests, and other health services anywhere but family-planning clinics?

You can call 202-730-9001 to tell your representative to vote against any legislation that would eliminate Title X funding. Click here for more information.

To donate to Planned Parenthood, click here.

Discouraging condoms to discourage sex is unsafe, misguided

July 13, 2010

Some people think that eliminating condoms will eliminate sex. Abstinence-only sex education advocates think that teaching about condoms — or worse, providing condoms — is what inspires teens to have sex (not hormones or sex drives or curiosity or anything like that), so removing the condoms from the curriculum will remove the sex as well. It seems some cities are adopting this misguided philosophy when it comes to buckling down on prostitution, too.

In D.C., New York, and San Francisco, having condoms has “been used as evidence contributing to arrest and prosecution for intent to commit prostitution.” In D.C. specifically, carrying three or more condoms can be used as a factor in an arrest for intent to commit prostution, according to the Women’s Rights arm of (though Amanda Hess from Washington City Paper’s The Sexist couldn’t find evidence of a specific “three-condom” rule).

Again, in this instance, the mentality is that discouraging people from using condoms will somehow discourage them from having sex — an argument that is both flawed and dangerous. In fact, Hess references a report (executive summary here, although the website with the full report isn’t working) that found “plenty of evidence of police officers confiscating or destroying sex workers’ contraception,” with 8.6 percent of sex workers saying that police officers had taken “safe sex supplies” from them.

Eventually, people will have to realize that taking away condoms doesn’t take away sex — it does take away the protection from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Especially in a city like D.C., where at least 3 percent of the population has HIV or AIDS (which exceeds the 1 percent criterion for an epidemic and rivals the HIV rates of some West African countries), what purpose does discouraging condom use serve? It’s not a solution to anything — sex workers are still going to have sex, except it will be unprotected.

Also, it creates an unwarranted negative stigma around condoms — condoms are a good thing! They protect against sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy — associating having multiple condoms with commiting a crime discourages people not from having sex, but from having safe sex. You can take away someone’s seat belt or bike helmet, but most people will still take the risk and try to drive and bike anyway — it will just be exponentially less safe.  

In the end, the article says it best when it adds that criminalizing condom use or even sex work isn’t the right solution:

If you want to criminalize something, stick to pimping — after all, many of these women have been trafficked unwillingly and subjected to violence. If they weren’t so afraid of being arrested for stepping forward to condemn their pimps, we’d have a better chance of finding the true criminals in this situation.