Tag Archives: abortion

Defining Terrorism: Anti-Choicers to Al Qaeda?

Vigil for Dr. Tiller in Lawrence Kansas (image from the Lawrence Journal-World)

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.

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Dr. Tiller’s Death

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

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Feeling Thankful

First, please allow me to appologize for my silence here lately.  Now that the election is over and Obama is doing all the right things, well… some of the pressure is off.  However, I just saw HBO’s Iron Jawed Angels and… well, it might be the red wine, but I loved it.  Sure, it was a little corny and the soundtrack hardly matched the era but I’m a sucker for a powerful story.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about feminism (er, Feminism?) and what it means to me.  After all, almost nothing I’m doing right now would have been possible without incredible sacrifice by brave, powerful women who came before me.  I’m unmarried but living with a man I love, I am getting an MA at a Major East Coast University, I control my reproductive system, and voted in the last election.

So, stay with me, this may take a while.

In many ways I am not an expert on gender theory or politics—I tended to doze through my classes on feminist art criticism in college; I’ve resisted the term feminist longer than many of my peers; and it is hard for me to get angry about someone using the phrase “you guys” instead of “you all.”  Also, and this may not make me popular with the feminist blogosphere, I think that American women have it pretty good– not in every way, and not perfect, but pretty good.  Hillary Clinton, after all, could only put “18 million cracks in that last glass ceiling” years after many countries, even countries generally considered hostile to women’s rights embraced female leadership.

As the daughter of a quiet second-wave feminist, I grew up wearing T-shirts that said “little me” and reading books about powerful, historic women (Nellie Bly and Margaret Sanger continue to be an inspiration).  I had no doubt that America will see a female president in my lifetime; I supported Barack Obama from day one and never looked back.  Until, that is, I had the opportunity to meet a woman named Michele who worked as an underground abortion counselor in the late 1960s in Minnesota.  Continue reading

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Air Quotes Around Women’s Health? Seriously?!

I’d like to give major props to Obama for his incredible answer to “the abortion question” in last night’s debate.  Nobody is pro-abortion and it is time that someone with Obama’s stature stood up to say it.  In case it wasn’t hugely clear to everyone, it is answers like this that get you a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, etc.

So, now that I’ve been so full of enthusiasm, lets turn to McCain’s response.  Listen, I understand that reasonable people will never agree on this issue.  But I take issue with how he says “quote, women’s health” as if we’re now putting women’s health in the same category as… oh… I don’t know, “irony” or “God”?  Are we as a country actually ready to admit that we don’t think “women’s health” is a viable concern?  This is another clear example of the anti-choice movement trying to coopt the language of responsibility and choice. Continue reading

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Filed under 2008 Election, Discourse, Pro-Choice

It is Okay to Get Angry!

I had the chance to speak to a former underground abortion counselor while I was in SD this summer.  Sadly, but for reasons I understand, this wasn’t part of my job… I’m just so into learning about the history of the pro-choice/anti-choice movement that I kind of sniffed her out on my own (news hound/history nerd that I am)!

Anyway, I talked to her for over an hour one morning and left really re-insipred and depressed at the same time.  It gave me a lot more respect for the fights my mother’s generation won but also a little sad that America is still fighting about all this stuff… Suddenly, I wished I’d voted for Hillary Clinton!

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Jon Stewart as Pro-Choice Voice

I’m having a lot of trouble embedding the Comedy Central Player into WordPress… please, please watch the video I talk about below here.

I know that I’m a little late on the whole “Jon Stewart is the Most Powerful Man in America” thing, but I have been truly impressed with their coverage of the Republican National Convention and Bristol Palin’s pregnancy.

There’s been a lot of chatter in the feminist/pro-choice blogosphere and beyond about the statement the Palin family made when they announced their daughter’s pregnancy (though, to be honest, Bristol is clearly preggers.  One photograph and the world would’ve known so a formal announcement was unneeded).  Anyway, the Palin’s statement includes the word decision:

We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. (emphasis added)

Call me crazy, but isn’t a decision kind of like a choice?  Thanks Samantha Bee and “The Daily Show” for making this point with humour and without making the point any less salient.   For too long we’ve let abortion stay out of the main stream entertainment media (unless it is emphatically not chosen like in Knocked Up, Juno, or Waitress).  I’m glad that “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” and other outlets are really holding Palin’s feet to the fire about this.

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