Vigil for Dr. Tiller in Lawrence Kansas (image from the Lawrence Journal-World)
Many members of the pro-choice community have urged the Justice Department to treat Sunday’s events as an act of domestic terrorism. At first, I thought “of course!” As I’ve done more reading and heard the perspectives of some constitutional law scholars interviewed in the media I’ve become considerably more ambivalent about this. Make no mistake, I feel that Dr. Tiller’s death is deeply tragic, but I remain unsure about labeling this event as “terrorism.” I have two concerns about the expanding definition of terrorism, one is tied to civil liberties and ‘thought policing’ and the second is more political.
First my concerns about calling Dr. Tiller’s death terrorism: On Monday, Rachel Maddow interviewed George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. He suggested that under the Bush administration the definition of “terrorism” expanded to include many, many crimes. Turley also feels that murder or assination are not exactly the same thing as terrorism especially given that the Supreme Court has protected violent speech. Perhaps a better category would be to call Roeder’s crime a “hate crime” defined as:
Hate crimes… occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, or political affiliation.
A “hate crime” can take two forms: “hate crime” generally refers to criminal acts which are seen to have been motivated by hatred of one or more of the listed conditions. The second kind is hate speech, which is speech defined as crime. While hate crimes are rarely debated, the hate speech concept is controversial, as criminalizing speech can be seen as impugning freedom of speech. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters.
I’ve been thinking about re-starting this blog for some time, 6 months is longer than I thought I’d be gone. However, the tragic events of this past weekend motivated me to come back to this space. I’ve cross posted this at my crafty/personal blog, BashfullyDesigned.
You can watch the entire segement at the Rachel Maddow show website (I couldn’t get the MSNBC video player to embed).
The news of Dr. George Tiller’s death shocked me. After an incredible and peaceful Sunday with friends the news came up on my Twitter feed and my first thoughts were “no no no.” There is little commentary for me to add to the many moving and touching tributes paid to Dr. Tiller in the past two days. I will say only this– in the summer I spent working for Planned Parenthood I never met anyone motivated by anything other than a deep compassion for women and their families. So much hatred and invective gets spewed at brave men and women who have chosen to help women in desperate circumstances.
I am deeply upset that in 21st century America women need to be escorted into clincis for routine medical procedures (abortion only makes up about 2% of Planned Parenthood’s services), that compassion for women is now a political act, and that moral cowardice characterizes a group of people who claim to have God on their side. How dare they kill a man in his own church! How dare the anti-choicers claim that this is a justifiable act. Anyone who thinks that doctors “talk women into” aborting a fetus has never spent time with the doctors, nurses, and abortion counselors who work in American clinics. They listen to terrible stories of abuse, of cancer and fetal deformity, of families on the bring of bankruptcy and they hold these women’s hands, keep their stories, and support the choices of all women without judgement.
After the jump I’e posted some links to a variety of stories on Dr. Tiller, his death, and how the new generation of pro-choice activists need to confront this challenge. Please consider donating to Medical Students for Choice and/or Physicians for Reproductive Choice. As they say, “without providers there is no choice.” You can also ask President Obama to revive the National Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers. Continue reading
Oh good lord… via BoingBoing, a Boob Job piggy bank?! Sold at an online store specializing in girls’ room decor! I can’t even tell you how worked up this got me. Plus, after that long post a few days ago I’ll keep this one oh so short.
On one hand, I try to remember that sometimes things are funny and even if they’re a little bit sexist or mean… well, sometimes that is part of humor. So, while I might laugh at this if it was in an adult friend’s bathroom or on her desk I might also ask wonder just how tongue-in-cheek it really is. I’m not sure its actually funny to imply that dissatisfaction with your body is normal. Well, I mean… disatisfaction with your body is a normal part of growing up life but “fixing” it with plastic surgery is a fairly drastic step.
Could you even imagine a piggy bank for girls that said something like “ice cream,” “books,” or– God forbid– “birth control.” (Frankly, with the way things are looking in DC girls might need to save for the pill– unless a friend gets them a certificate to Planned Parenthood for Xmas).
Frankly, when I was a teen girl the last thing I needed was for my parents or friends to give me something that implied I needed a different body.
Just when I thought my private bits were safe from harm, I read this article in today’s New York Timest. Apparently, all the letters that H*yas for Choice collected were for nothing. Although he missed the May 1 and Nov 1. deadline, G.W. Bush is planning to push through the so-called provider conscience regulations.
I’ve said this before, I don’t think being pro-choice means you need to be 100% comfortable with abortion. This is a complex issue and reasonable, educated, intelligent people will probably disagree about it forever. But, and this is a huge thing for me, your own personal choices do not need to be the personal choices for everyone else.
My major problem with the legislation is that it allows doctors and nurses to refuse to reffer someone to another place where they can obtain birth control, condoms, an abortion, EC, etc. I think that it is one thing to personally opt out of these services, tell your patients long before they get into the exam room, and publicize this personal choice for your personal practice. It is not, however, in any way okay with me to deny women the information they need to make informed medical choices. A rape victim should never have to wonder if the doctor in the ER will proscribe EC. If an assault victim asks for EC she is making a choice for herself and that doctor, whose role in her life she had little control over, should carry out her wishes.
Please, please contact HHS or the White House using the Planned Parenthood online form. You can also submit your own letter using my text (after the jump) Continue reading
So, in case anyone was wondering if the comparisons between Obama and FDR were a little, oh… too soon, I bring you– the YouTube chat. Perhaps these are not yet as effective as the Fireside Chat FDR made famous, but I think that long term these could be a really good way for Obama to appera accessible, circumvent the pundits, and possibly remain as sympathetic a character as he was on the campaign trail. In fact, it looks like ChangeDotGov is going to keep its own YouTube channel operating. I hope they can continue to do this throughout the administration. However, given the importance of archiving and documentation I worry that these ephemeral forms of media will be too risky for the antiquated archiving system used by the Govt. Continue reading
Planned Parenthood is sponsoring an incredible and inspiring blog, I Am Emily X. The blog, which documents the responses of the many “Emily Xs” working as patient escorts, clinic aids, etc across the country, highlights their responses to protesters. I won’t try to summarize the blog here, but I will quote this post, “We Are a Family:”
They could accomplish so much with that much energy and commitment. I want to take them with me to the programs I work with that help survivors of domestic violence; or to places that shelter families that are homeless; or to the centers that provide early childhood education; or to recovery programs for ex-offenders. That is what it means to me to be “pro-life.” My message to the protesters: “Please, get out of the way of people simply exercising their legal right to medical care. Go out and do something that actually brings life to someone else.”
Sometimes, it is easy to forget that only 2% of Planned Parenthood’s services each year are abortions. Planned Parenthoods also offer adoption counseling, pre-natal care, and information for men and women facing frightening and uncomfortable decisions.
Of course, I am not Emily X. I am Ashley B. and I am Planned Parenthood too.
I didn’t actually shoot this video (big props to the ACLU-NCA’s intern Dylan for that) but I did just finish editing it. I didn’t know that Rev. Ragsdale would be at the ACLU’s “Keep Our Care” rally a few weeks ago! She is such an amazing voice in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice movement!
It is unclear, but we expect the hospital authority to make a decision sometime in mid/late Nov. I think they really do want to do the right thing– we’ve just got to keep the pressure up.