Reclaiming The Rhetoric Of Abortion

With the election of Barack Obama as President, we truly do have a new day for abortion rights in this country. On Wednesday, President Obama reiterated his support of Roe V. Wade and today the new President fulfilled an expectation of abortion rights advocates by reversing the so-called "Mexico City policy."

President Barack Obama on Friday quietly ended the Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option. Liberal groups welcomed the decision, while abortion rights foes criticized the president.

Known as the "Mexico City policy," the ban has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. Democrat Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but Republican George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.

At the Planned Parenthood brunch I attended on Monday in Washington, DC, the mood was nothing short of elation as the reality of once again having an ally in the White House set in.

The aspect of the event that perhaps impressed me the most was the clear shift in rhetoric both at the brunch and at a blogger sit down with Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. Gone was the "safe legal and rare" mantra of Clinton and in its place came the new refrain:

It's not enough to be safe and legal but we must expand access to our services.

In the place of the centrist "rare" clarion call is the idea of expanded access. Gone is the defensive posture and in its place is the new language of an emboldened movement, boasting, rightly, that Planned Parenthood is a part of the "health care safety net," providing health care services to 1 in 4 women nationally. Even Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius praised Planned Parenthood for providing the services that they do. "They really do make a difference" she stated, without the slightest hint of red state defensiveness.

How sweet it was to hear such unabashed support from red state governors such as Sebelius and Brian Schweitzer of Montana (the fact that these two were the invited governors was, of course, no accident.) Schweitzer's language was slightly different on abortion at the brunch reflecting his own ascendant neo-libertarianism:

For eight years we've had a government that thinks it knows better, that it thinks it knows how individual healthcare decisions should be made. No longer will they be making our private healthcare decisions for us.

This rhetoric matches Obama's framing of Roe V. Wade, which, he said yesterday:

"stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters."

This reflects Obama's habit of appealing to conservatives using conservative frames (i.e. unobtrusive government) but is a welcome change from the defensive stance we're used to seeing Democrats taking when trying to speak about abortion to wide audiences.

The rhetoric on display on Monday clearly represents two different perspectives on how Democrats will win the abortion debate but in both instances there was a renewed confidence in the language of abortion that comes with having allies in the White House and in both houses of congress.

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Planned Parenthood supports Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State

"As first lady and as a U.S. senator, Hillary Clinton visited more than 80 nations, but for a majority of the world's population, her unique quality may be her gender. Senator Clinton understands that improving the status of women is not simply a moral imperative; it is necessary to building democracies around the globe. Improving the status of women is key to creating stable families, stable communities, and stable countries. Women's ability to control the size of their families, regardless of economics, nationality, or culture, has a direct impact on their economic well-being and that of their children... Senator Clinton understands that women's quality of life directly affects the major issues confronting the globe: national security, environmental sustainability, and global poverty."

Planned Parenthood, American Democrats, and democratically aligned world particiipants applaud the election of Barack Obama as President-elect, and Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cecile-ric hards/sen-clinton-champions-wom_b_147389 .html

After a tumultuous week on this site, no meta's, just the facts.  

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 186

This was the moment that John McCain sealed not just his fate, but the fate of the Republican Party this year. There will be no comeback in 2008:

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Progressive Democrat Newsletter Issue 184

This week I cover the view of Sarah Palin from the <span style="font-style:italic;">Iowa Independent</span>. Small town Iowa found Palin's fake folksiness pretty much insulting. Meanwhile, Troopergate continues to haunt Palin and continues to raise the specter of Republican Corruption that so disgusted voters in 2006...and is likely to continue to hurt the Republican Party as long as they embrace the likes of Ted Stevens, Don Young and Sarah Palin, all from the corrupt Alaska Republican Party. Finally, Planned Parenthood sent out an email SLAMMING Palin for her many polices that hurt women and further victimized rape victims.

I also include several ways you can personally help win this election for Obama, focusing on the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Nevada. Finally I cover a right wing terrorist attack against a mosque in Ohio, and I ask my readers to help us in a local fight in Brooklyn...and honor my son's fourth birthday. And, of course, I have my usual more local/state level focus for some 22 states. Not quite half the country, but I'm trying!

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ACTION: Planned Parenthood Petition / HHS Regulations


http://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/c ampaigns/240.htm

HELP STOP THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

His Attack On Women's Health Care

The Bush administration's proposed Health and Human Services regulation poses a serious threat to women's health care by limiting the rights of patients to receive complete and accurate health information and services.

On August 22, 2008, the Bush administration proposed a regulation to allow providers to withhold critical health care information.

On September 19, 2008, the New York Times published an op-ed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund president, Cecile Richards that blasted Bush's proposed rule.

The proposed regulation jeopardizes a patient's right to know her options. This rule would completely disrupt the nation's health care delivery system at a time when more and more families are uninsured and under economic assault. Here's why:

   * The HHS proposed regulation is intentionally vague. By leaving the term "abortion" undefined, the regulation creates a dangerous space for ideology and political views to be inserted into medical practices, emergency rooms, and clinics all across the country, and when that happens, women suffer.
    * The proposed regulation complicates the law instead of clarifying the law. The new regulation lets health care providers define abortion, which could threaten broader reproductive health care, including contraception.
    * The fact that HHS took out the definition of abortion that was included in an earlier draft is a red herring because this proposed regulation -- even more than the previous leaked version -- leaves health care services and information open to personal interpretation and political agendas.
    * This rule will allow anti-choice extremists to receive federal funds for so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" -- anti-choice facilities whose purpose is to deceive and dissuade women from accessing birth control and abortion information and services.

This is just one more example of how the Bush administration puts politics in the exam room. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund will not stand by and watch the Bush administration deny quality, affordable health care and accurate information to women, and you can help us take action.

Now that the new rule has been issued officially, we need you to speak out during the official 30-day comment period before the rule can go into effect.  Please submit a comment to the Department of Health and Human Services before the official comment period ends on September 25.

Link to the Submit Comments form / Petition at Planned Parenthood:

http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/frcp08_ adv1

OpEd by Hillary Clinton and Cecile Richards (President of Planned Parenthood) in today's NYTimes:


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/19/opinio n/19clinton.html?ref=todayspaper
Blocking Care for Women
Last month, the Bush administration launched the latest salvo in its eight-year campaign to undermine women's rights and women's health by placing ideology ahead of science: a proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services that would govern family planning. It would require that any health care entity that receives federal financing -- whether it's a physician in private practice, a hospital or a state government -- certify in writing that none of its employees are required to assist in any way with medical services they find objectionable.

Laws that have been on the books for some 30 years already allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions. The new rule would go further, ensuring that all employees and volunteers for health care entities can refuse to aid in providing any treatment they object to, which could include not only abortion and sterilization but also contraception.

Health and Human Services estimates that the rule, which would affect nearly 600,000 hospitals, clinics and other health care providers, would cost $44.5 million a year to administer. Astonishingly, the department does not even address the real cost to patients who might be refused access to these critical services. Women patients, who look to their health care providers as an unbiased source of medical information, might not even know they were being deprived of advice about their options or denied access to care.

The definition of abortion in the proposed rule is left open to interpretation. An earlier draft included a medically inaccurate definition that included commonly prescribed forms of contraception like birth control pills, IUD's and emergency contraception. That language has been removed, but because the current version includes no definition at all, individual health care providers could decide on their own that birth control is the same as abortion.

The rule would also allow providers to refuse to participate in unspecified "other medical procedures" that contradict their religious beliefs or moral convictions. This, too, could be interpreted as a free pass to deny access to contraception.

Many circumstances unrelated to reproductive health could also fall under the umbrella of "other medical procedures." Could physicians object to helping patients whose sexual orientation they find objectionable? Could a receptionist refuse to book an appointment for an H.I.V. test? What about an emergency room doctor who wishes to deny emergency contraception to a rape victim? Or a pharmacist who prefers not to refill a birth control prescription?

The Bush administration argues that the rule is designed to protect a provider's conscience. But where are the protections for patients?

The 30-day comment period on the proposed rule runs until Sept. 25. Everyone who believes that women should have full access to medical care should make their voices heard. Basic, quality care for millions of women is at stake.

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