Monday, September 10, 2012

Update on the Maryland Project


 
Progress in Maryland
 
 
Dear Volunteers,
Thank all of you who have taken an interest in the Maryland Project.
 
We have been providing information about John Clemens because he attacked the clinic workers at Dr. Carhart's office. I am pleased to say we can discontinue the project, at least for now.
 
Voice of Choice has a goal to lower hate and rhetoric. While we may disagree with the beliefs and opinions of those on the pro-life side, we respect their rights to have their opinions. We stand up for those who are being bullied and harassed by people who do not respect the rights of others who disagree with them.
 
In my interviews and blogs I continue to ask the same sarcastic question, "Don't you want the unsolicited opinions of strangers?" Of course no one does. That is what makes the phone calling campaigns effective. The people doing the harassing learn that what they are doing is uncomfortable and unchristian like. They also learn that they will not be able to bully people with impunity.
 
I had a very civil dialog with John Clemens yesterday. John is passionate about his beliefs, like many of us. However, until Voice of Choice started to contact him he did not fully understand that not everyone feels the same way he does. I think that when you are totally involved in a cause you find a peer group that shares your passion and agree with you. That is John's peer group and people he spends his free time socializing with.
 
The efforts of Voice of Choice have opened his eyes. He now understands how people outside his circle perceive his behavior and he may be able to communicate that to others close to him.
 
John has promised not to contact or bully any clinic workers. He has promised to stay within socially acceptable limits while fighting for his cause. I am prepared to take John at his word, at least for now.
 
Please stop calling John Clemens. We will keep track of John and everyone else who acts aggressively and ask for your participation in stopping unwanted behavior when it is warranted.
 
Please consider this a victory for Voice of Choice. We were able to stop the attacks and bring down the level of hate.
 
I look forward to your comments.
   
Thank you all again for your continued support. 
                          
 
Todd
 
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Maryland Project



Maryland Clinic Under Attack

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Dear Volunteers,

Our friends in Germantown, Maryland need some support from Voice of Choice. Some of you know that Germantown, Maryland is where Dr. Lee Carhart performs late term abortions. Dr. Carhart started working in Germantown after his partner, Dr. George Tiller, was murdered in church in Kansas.  Dr. Carhart is the target of the most aggressive pro-life groups in the country.

Recently, a man named John Clemens started calling Dr. Carhart's clinic. He demanded a conversation with Dr. Carhart. He refused to provide his real name or contact information. When the clinic staff refused to transfer his call he started to threaten and bully the clinic staff. He was never willing to provide his true name to the clinic staff.

The clinic staff discovered his identity once he started sending dozens of threatening faxes to the clinic. When they called him at home to ask him to stop his harassment he became even more abusive and vowed to continue his efforts until the clinic is shut down.

You may want to give John Clemens your opinion on bullying and intolerance. It is obvious he enjoys the unsolicited opinions of strangers, because he is very willing to give others his opinions. So feel free to tell him your feelings about how he treats people that don't agree with him. He also is very committed to his religion and frowns upon anyone who does not share his religious viewpoints. You may want to let him know that sort of attitude constitutes intolerance.  

I am not sure he expects people like you to support and stand up for the clinic. Based on a conversation I had with him, he is used to making these kinds of attacks without getting a response. After all, before Voice of Choice there was no organized response to these kinds of attacks.    

John Clemens lives at 528 Monet Drive Rockville, MD 20850. His phone numbers are 301-340-2933 and 301-537-7333. His email is john@energysavingchoice.com. If you want to poke him on Facebook his page is http://www.facebook.com/john.clemens.71.

As always, Voice of Choice works to tamper the rhetoric and the hate.  To meet that goal, please NEVER ARGUE with those you call, and be peaceful and calm in your demeanor.  Please do not leave any voice messages-if you do not reach them please keep trying, and once you reach them please do not call again.

As always, if you wish to make calls and need to get a virtual phone number to keep your identity private or make you calls for free, please respond to this email with that request. 
   
Thank you all again for your continued support. 
                          

Todd

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

The choice is hard but still ours to make


I am a social worker by profession but for the last four years, I have been a stay-at-home mom.

As a woman, a mother, a behavioral healthcare professional -- and very significantly to me, a daughter born to teenage parents -- age-appropriate sex education and reproductive rights such as access to contraception and the right to choose abortion are issues that have always been very important to me. 



Abortion is a tough subject.  Even those of us who are “for” it, are not for it.  No one wants an abortion.  The idea that women or couples who choose abortion do so blithely is counter to the reality of a heartbreaking experience. 



I respect and consider many anti-abortion points even as I disagree with the overall perspective.  In fact, I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who disagrees with a main argument of the anti-abortion movement -- that if a woman is truly unable to care for her child, she can give that child up for adoption.  But I remain pro-choice because I do not feel that adoption is the panacea to unintended pregnancy.  There are so many variables, including terminations of planned and wanted pregnancies due to devastating genetic issues.  As much as many of the reasons against abortion make sense to me, reasons for the right to abortion make even more.  



Most of the people I know who have changed their opinion regarding abortion are people who have been in the devastating position of having to respond to an unintended pregnancy of their own or who have witnessed someone close to them have to do so.  Although I am sure there are people who do regret having had an abortion, no one has ever expressed that to me. In both my personal and professional life, I have witnessed women grieve over the loss of what could have been and lament the circumstances that led to their decision to have an abortion.  But I have not heard regret over the decision to end those particular pregnancies.



I have witnessed, either directly or through their own reminiscence, women who had always been firmly anti-abortion choose abortion when faced with the realities of whatever their situation happened to be.  On the other hand, if they have the means to do so, many women who are pro-choice ultimately welcome and keep their own unintended pregnancies. 



Being pro-choice doesn’t mean loving abortions.  It has nothing to do with “baby-killing” and everything to do with sustaining women’s ability to care for themselves and their families.  It means respecting women’s rights.  It can be easy to forget that since Roe v. Wade, abortion is indeed a legal and constitutional right. 



I wish that the difficult subjects of the world had black-and-white answers.  It would be so much easier to know that whereas “X is always right, Y is always wrong.”  I think about this a lot because choice related to abortion is one of the subjects I have felt so passionately about since before I even fully understood what it could entail.   



I distinctly remember the circumstances that led to my awareness of what “abortion” is.  I was in elementary school and our church bulletin had a message from the priest asking everyone in our parish to boycott a particular company because they had donated money to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides “abortions.”  I had heard of Planned Parenthood from a Judy Blume book and from her depiction of the agency, it didn’t seem a bad place at all.  I didn’t think we should boycott anyone for helping them and neither did my mom, which probably means more to me than she will ever know.  I had to ask her what abortion was. Even though I can’t recall exactly how she worded her answer to me, I remember my reaction, which was that I felt that a woman must really have a good reason to do such a thing. 



This is the bedrock of my belief in the right to choose and the reason why I will always be pro-choice.



--Jaime Miller

Monday, June 11, 2012

Logic anyone?

by Valerie B.

When I think of my three wonderful children, which is almost every second, from conception to birth, to every milestone of their lives, I marvel at the mystery of life, the wonder of birth and the love of being a mother. People who oppose abortion may envision a sweet cuddly infant, soft, clean, healthy and loved, the picture most portrayed and most enjoyed by those leaving a hospital with a beloved newborn.

However, the reality is far different for many. Many are born to crack addicted women, prostitutes, abusers, addicts of all kinds or parents who have absolutely no desire or ability to care for another human. These children can end up abused, neglected and in foster care. The majority who endure the foster care system will end up incarcerated at some time. Those born to addicts may have exorbitant medical expenses and limited potential. It’s a sad, sad thing and a huge burden to society, all because abortion wasn’t readily available and free.

For the young girl living in poverty, a pregnancy allowed to take it’s course will likely  guarantee a life of poverty for the mother and child. This becomes a huge burden to society in terms of health care, baby formula, food stamps, welfare, and all the other government programs that make this mother a slave on the government plantation. Government should pay for birth control and abortions on demand just like they pay for every pregnancies, delivery, formula, etc... For society as a whole, it’s cost efficient compared to paying for the prenatal care, delivery and hospitalization, baby formula, food stamps, welfare, housing and health care.

In an ideal world there would be no abortions just the same as there would be no child abuse, no poverty and no unwanted pregnancies. But, all these things are forever part of the human condition. And, people are going to have sex. Abstinence? Really? Just because two people have sex and an egg is fertilized in the process is no reason to create an unwanted child.

To those who oppose abortion based on religious belief, my answer is this: God is pro choice. Most abortions are natural, spontaneous, miscarriages. God believes in abortions, causes them, just the same as God allows science to create pregnancies through in vitro and artificial insemination. God can tell a woman to seek abortion just as some believe God tells them to try in vitro or artificial insemination. One other point worth mentioning is that we live in a country that allows religious freedom. I do not impose my religious beliefs on you and you have no right to impose yours on me.

Why are some people so interested in what others do with their bodies? Do they really want more children born to crack addicted mothers, prostitute and addicts of all types? Do they really want more children raised in the foster care system? Do they really want more adults who end up incarcerated as do so many from the foster care system? Do they really believe that at three months, a three inch long fetus is a human?

No, I don’t see abortion as murder or the killing of a baby or a child. I’m sure it’s an unbelievably difficult decision for the majority of women who choose it. But, leave that to the woman and her God. The notion that I can choose for you or you can choose for me when best to procreate is absurd.

Above all, know this. Someone you know and love has had an abortion. You will never know it. It may be your mother, sister, wife or daughter. She did this in secret, for reasons that were terribly difficult for her. You would trust them to bring a person into this world. Trust them to know when it isn’t the right time to do so.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Its about being Pro-Woman

It’s About Being Pro-Woman

by Liz K

When you see people shouting epithets at women in crisis, something has gone haywire in our democratic society.

But that’s abortion in America in 2012. Clinics are firebombed. Providers and their families are harassed, threatened and even murdered. Women who need health care are bullied and shamed, even as their access to birth control and abortion services is beaten back nationwide.

The movement that promotes this hate and violence? They call themselves “pro-life,” and society lets them get away with it.

That’s a Big Lie, and it’s time we put a stop to it.

How did we get here? I’ve watched this language evolve for decades. As a young woman, I saw New York and then the nation recognize that our Constitutional rights include self-determination, bodily integrity and reproductive freedom. I’ve been part of the fortunate generation freed from the choice between the danger and shame of back-alley abortions or the sometimes ruinous results of carrying unwanted pregnancies to term.

I’ve also watched as the seeds of today’s War on Women were sown. Outraged by Roe v. Wade, the Religious Right set out to confront supporters of reproductive rights, at debates, demonstrations and, increasingly, outside clinics. I saw the media fumble for neutral ways to report these tense events. No one wanted to use the term “abortion” – they were uncomfortable with the word, and ambivalent about the procedure – and so the euphemisms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” came into use. Maybe it even seemed equitable at the time; everyone got to be described as “pro” something.

But in that moment, the anti-choice movement was allowed to mischaracterize its motives and hide behind a lie, conveniently framed to incriminate the other side. If you’re not pro-life…are you pro-death?

They stole the language of caring, and I want it back.

Why does it matter? Because language shapes perception, and perception alters behavior. This distortion has given undeserved legitimacy to a movement that is really about denial of women’s rights and basic freedoms. It has convinced some otherwise decent people to gather outside clinics and pressure vulnerable women, because they’ve been told it’s about “Life.” And it has probably pushed the self-righteous over the line to violence and hate, under the false pretense of defending “Life.”

We all know the truth. The media know it. Politicians know it. There is nothing life-giving or positive about antisocial acts like these:

  • Violence, including arson, anthrax threats, murder.
  • Harassment, including publication of patients’ and providers’ personal information
  • Restrictions on who can get an abortion, when, and with what unnecessary costs, delays and humiliation.
  • Attacks on access to contraception itself.
  • Disinformation campaigns designed to frighten women and skew perception of abortion. (In fact, abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer or depression or future infertility. Legal abortion has fewer complications than childbirth.)

The anti-choice movement is the very definition of anti-life. They threaten our health, our safety, even our society.

We know that the answer is not to fight violence with violence. But our culture seems blinded by the opposition’s sanctimonious claims. If we don’t challenge these perceptions and defend our rights, real women will die in the name of “Life.”

How do we start on the road back to sanity? How do we defuse the violence? How do we turn these clinic protesters away from bullying and harassment, and toward respect for the Constitutional rights we all share?

I say we begin by changing the way we talk about abortion rights – specifically, the labels attached to this issue decades ago.  Let’s call on the media, our elected officials and our society to change the language. Let’s insist on truth in labeling.

Because the truth is that the anti-choice movement isn’t “pro-life.” It’s pro-repression, pro-maternal morbidity, pro-poverty. It’s anti-woman.

The pro-choice movement is pro-health, pro-planned families, pro-safety. We are profoundly pro-woman. That is, in the end, the only proper frame for abortion care, which is all about women’s lives.

So here is a modest call to action: When you read or hear the term “pro-life” used to describe violence, bullying and restriction of health care, call the question. Literally. Call the station or newspaper. Email the magazine. Harassment, shaming, attacks on clinics and health care – these are not pro-woman. If it’s not pro-woman, it isn’t “pro-life.”

Let’s go back to the beginning and reshape this debate. Language is power. Let’s take back the language and take back the truth.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Freedom means War?


by Jaqlyn Reedy

Around this time 2 years ago, I became pro-choice. I’m not going to bore you with my story, but I will let you know, in those 2 short years, I have had more discussions and arguments with random people, people I love, and people I know well than I had in the 20 years of my life before then.

Being actively pro-choice is a lot harder than being passively anti-choice. When I was “pro-life,” I went to exactly two Marches for Life on Washington, DC and one Rally for Life at a Catholic University in New Jersey. I may have prayed for a few souls. I stopped talking to one of my best friends for almost a year after I found out that she had an abortion. That was about as extreme as I got.

For the past two years of my “pro-choice” existence, I have fought, weekly, almost daily, for people with uteri. I constantly post pro-choice links and information on my various online hangouts: Facebook and Tumblr, even Twitter and Pintrest. I have interned with Planned Parenthood, clinic escorted for a small clinic in Los Angeles, and gotten into fierce online discussions that sometimes pitted three people against me, all while standing my ground. I have been told, as soon as I walked into a family party, “No politics.”

I have been fighting almost non-stop for two years, and I am going to tell you the truth: I am tired. I am tired of constantly having to support my position, to cite my sources, to argue my case, and to have complete knowledge about every little fact. I am tired of having to repeat the stories of people who have found themselves pregnant and without hope. I am tired of having to explain that my compassion is what leads me to do this work, and that no, I’m not for killing babies. I am tired of being attacked.

Maybe it is just me, but in the past four years, from both sides of the issue, I have seen people become more rabid about their stance. Mostly, though, I have seen it start on the anti-choice side. I have watched as they have spread misinformation and lies, trying to twist Congressional legislation to their “side.” I have watched as pro-choice people have had to push back, as we fear our lives and livelihoods are being threatened.

There would be no rhetoric about the “War on Women” if there was not actually a war on women currently going on. There is a Christian jihad going on against women. It is not for “babies” or families. It is not for anything, really. Time has shown that it is against women. This language may be strong, but it is true.

I could try to get you angry. I could attempt to make you hate the other side. I could make it so that we play into their fears… I could lay out the facts for you. I could recite court cases, the number of new bills that have been introduced since a certain party has taken power in certain places, I could show you statistics about women, birth, children, and abortion. I could do all of this, but I’m not going to. I just want to lay out some questions and thoughts.

If this was only a war on abortion, why are people so up-in-arms about contraception? If the Supreme Court already granted the right to an abortion, under a right to privacy, why are people challenging it, and winning? Why isn’t the mainstream media covering the clinic attacks that have happened in the past two weeks? Why are we still letting people who want to take away our rights dictate the rhetoric around abortion?

This is not only about abortion. This is not only about birth control. This is not only about women. This is about the health care of the people within our country, and the future of our country.

The first and best thing we could do right now is take back the rhetoric. Talk, shout, scream if you have to. Let people know your views. Get into arguments on your social media of choice. Allow yourself to explore the issues. Learn how to cite your facts or how to read a scientific report accurately. Volunteer; it doesn’t have to be as a clinic escort if you fear for your safety, but you could also volunteer for your local women’s right group. Just do something.

We currently have Freedom; work so we can remain Free.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Contraception, abortion and reproductive rights, oh my!

I’m not sure why, but the concept of women controlling their own bodies seems to utterly terrify a lot of people, even in a good year. And in a bad year, we get a war on women’s rights that makes Vietnam look like a friendly playground engagement between two children.

I can’t read as much on this subject as I’d like, for two reasons: lack of time to track every single state-level attack on women’s bodily integrity and fear of my rising blood pressure getting out of hand and making my head explode.

Back in college, I used to do clinic defense (bear with me, I’m getting back to current events soon). On Saturday mornings we’d go out to a local clinic that provided abortions and keep an eye on protesters. Sometimes we’d even go downtown and get called names by Randall Terry himself (ick feh).

I didn’t do much other than that. I mean, I marched in the March for Women’s Lives, and I paid attention to which politicians I agreed with, but that was pretty much it. I kind of thought we were at a turning point, a point at which most people would eventually agree that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare (as the bumper sticker says).

I wasn’t sure when abortion would become less contentious, but I figured it would happen someday. I didn’t expect us to be moving backward. And I certainly didn’t expect that basic birth control would become controversial! That would never have occurred to me, probably because it’s moderately insane that it has.

Even if you agree that abortion is murder, even if you believe that life begins at conception, even if you agree that women who’ve been raped should be forced to carry the rapist’s child…contraception should be non-controversial.

Even if you’re picketing in front of clinics and voting to make abortion illegal, women’s ability to choose not to have children should be non-controversial.

And most of all, if you don’t like abortion, the best way to keep it from occurring is to provide women with accessible and affordable contraception! Astoundingly enough, women who use contraception are, y’know, less likely to get pregnant when they can’t afford to, don’t want to, or what-have-you. Thus…less likely to get an abortion.

But attacks on Planned Parenthood (which hands out a lot more condoms and conducts more health screenings than it does abortions) are multiplying daily. The Catholic church fought for the right to deny contraception to non-Catholic employees. And Congress came pretty darn close to allowing all employers to refuse to provide coverage for contraception for any reason. That’s not even getting into the Arizona bill that would have allowed employers to ask their employees intrusive questions about their sexual habits and marital status…

Back in 1992, when I was sitting in front of that clinic, I would never have believed this would be happening in 2012. But it is. Violence and harassment against abortion providers (and everyone even tangentially connected to them) is increasing. Women are losing the war to protect their reproductive rights and even their rights to basic health care!

This year is crazy and it’s just getting crazier. And high blood pressure or no, we all need to pay attention if we don’t want to slip further back into the bad old days.

About Mama Mara:

I'm a 40-year-old, work-at-home mother of two. I'm pro-vaccine, pro-medicine, pro-science, pro-choice, and an avid reader of information about all of the above, and I want to combine my love for my children with my love for science.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Terrible New Attack on Abortion Clinic Landlord Delightfully Backfires

By Cassie Murdoch

originally published 5.7.12

While we're all well aware of the fact that there are anti-choice protesters harassing people and doing terrible things every single day in our fine country, it's useful to occasionally be reminded, in order to sense the urgency of the situation, of the awfulness of some of their tactics. And we also need to be reminded of the power of taking action against — or flat-out ignoring — these extremist assholes.
For a fresh view of the depths to which the most vile anti-choicers will sink, all we need to do is talk to Todd Stave, who you might remember as the Maryland man who suffered endless harassment for being the landlord of one of the few abortion clinics where late-term abortions are performed. In response, Stave started Voice of Choice, the awesome organization that gives anti-abortion protesters a taste of their own medicine by harassing them back in the politest possible way (a calm phone call along the lines of "I know where you live"). But Stave says that the people who've been going after him had sunk to a new low, recently distributing a very disturbing flyer around the neighborhood in Baltimore where Stave's in-laws live. His in-laws, mind you, have absolutely nothing to do with the abortion clinic — their biggest "crime" is having a daughter who happens to be married to Todd.

The truly heinous flyer features a picture of Todd and of his wife. It asks — in not one but three alarming fonts! — "Where is [redacted wife's name]? What happened to your neighbor after she met and married… Todd Michael Stave?" And the flier helpfully provides the answer: "She profits from the killing of innocent pre-born babies." The flier includes, of course, the obligatory disturbing images of aborted fetuses, which the protesters are so fond of putting on every sign and poster they make. For good measure, they've added the inflammatory phrases, "Stave Family Abortion Cartel" and "What Will You Do to End THIS Holocaust?"
But the real kicker is that the flyer lists the names and contact info of Todd's in-laws and urges people to call or visit them and ask to speak to their daughter. This is obviously as scary as it is batshit insane. What are you going to do, call them and inform them of what they already know? Did you know your son-in-law is a landlord?!

You can see the flyer by clicking here, if only to understand the magnitude of what these assholes are doing, but be warned, it contains very graphic images.
I spoke with Todd about this latest incident, and he was remarkably calm, which seems to be his gift. He reported that when his mother-in-law discovered the flyer she was horrified, as one would expect, but felt better once a reporter showed up and she realized that, in fact, nearly everyone was sympathetic to their family. One person called her to see what was going on and make sure she was okay, but nobody has yet called or shown up to harass them.

Todd is confident he knows exactly who's behind these flyers. It's a man named William Simpson. He's affiliated with a group called Defend Life, which also organized the protests outside of the school where Stave's daughter goes. But Simpson seems to be acting largely on his own in launching the flyer offensive. This isn't the first time he's done something like this; he was previously in the news in 1997, when he lived in Texas, for filming license plates of cars parked outside strip clubs and mailing the evidence to those people's homes (which he located using DMV records). In other words, he is a quite the class act.
While Simpson is still bringing the fight literally to Stave's front yard, the other group who was first harassing him, the Maryland Coalition for Life, has been thoroughly thwarted by Stave's ingenious payback solution. Stave says they can no longer find people willing to call him at home because they know they'll be flooded with a deluge of calls from Voice of Choice. Sweet, sweet justice. But, of course, Stave is still in the thick of it thanks to Simpson's crazy flyers and continued harassment from Defend Life. In one of the most nonsensical anti-abortion protests imaginable the organization went so far as to have someone camp outside the dental office run by Stave's brother-in-law.

The good news: As awful as these flyers are, they're backfiring in a spectacularly big way. First off, they're not exactly convincing anyone to hate or harass Stave and his family—because how often have you picked up the printed work of a madman and thought, "Huh, this guy really has a point. I will definitely call this stranger and yell at them." But more importantly, these flyers and the protests organized by Defend Life have brought a ton of attention to Stave and Voice of Choice and their attempts to stop all of this madness.
So while you or I might see red were pictures of dead fetuses littered across our mother-in-law's lawn, Stave takes the long view. He's not angry or sad; he's hopeful that the more these people make themselves look nuts (which they're doing a bang up job of, so far), the more people will start to fight back against this fringe anti-abortion element. As he told me, "It brings people back into the center and starts a reasonable dialogue about what to do about it."

The momentum is definitely building behind Stave. He says that after his neighborhood was canvassed with flyers of him in a Nazi uniform (and don't forget the requisite bloody fetus photos!) so much attention was generated — including our coverage — that Voice of Choice has nearly doubled in size. He got a lot of donations and support that he otherwise would have never gotten. He says he even heard from people who are anti-choice but oppose the extreme tactics being used by this scary band of protesters. How's that for a reasonable dialogue?

So, big shout out to the William Simpson, the biggest creep in the land, for finding the line and repeatedly crossing it enough to turn people away. And a bigger shout-out to Stave for continuing to make delicious lemonade out of the heinous, incredibly bitter lemons being hurled at him.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Where is Front Line of the War on Women?

1848- The first women’s rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, NY

1893- Colorado becomes the first state to grant women the vote

1916- Margaret Sanger opens the first US birth-control clinic in Brooklyn, NY

1919- Congress passes the federal women’s suffrage amendment

1936- Birth control information is no longer classified as obscene

1960- The F.D.A. approves the first birth control pill

1963- Congress passes the Equal Pay Act

1965- The Supreme Court strikes down the last law preventing married couples from using contraception

1969- California becomes the first state to adopt a "no fault" divorce law

1972- Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment (it died in 1982 when the required 38 states failed to ratify)

1973- Roe v. Wade establishes a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion

1992- In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court reaffirms a woman’s right to abortion

1994- Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act

2009- President Obama signs the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act

Anyone looking at the above timeline should come away with a sense of just how long women have been struggling for equality. “Gender equity” and “women’s rights” are, historically speaking, not concepts with a long and universally accepted track record among men. It’s been a long and difficult struggle for women to get to where they are today. There are still inequities for women vis a vis men, but women today find themselves on a much more equal footing than their mothers enjoyed.

That’s why what’s happening in state legislatures nationwide these days is so disturbing. The severely Conservative legislatures installed by voters in many states in 2008 and 2010 have worked diligently to undermine a woman’s right to control her own body.

The anti-choice movement long ago recognized that a woman’s right to abortion couldn’t be defeated via a frontal assault. With Roe v. Wade the law of the land, those committed to destroying abortion rights have committed to waging a patient and incremental battle. While desiring above all else to see Roe v. Wade overturned, anti-choice zealots know that won’t happen. They understand a woman’s right to choose won’t be defeated by sledgehammer blows, so they’ve chosen to fight with rubber mallets. Patiently chipping away at abortion rights around the margins, the anti-choice zealots have adapted a long-term approach. They recognize that they may not be able to overturn Roe v. Wade, but they can work to eliminate the ancillary components that make abortion available and accessible. That’s exactly what they’re doing…and their efforts are bearing fruit.

TRAP laws, waiting periods, changing the legal definition of conception, and other dishonest but effective methods are showing results. Slowly but surely, access to abortion is being diminished, even as the right to abortion remains intact. Legislatures nationwide have not outlawed abortion directly, but they’ve kicked the supports out from under it. Anti-choice zealots may not be able to outlaw abortion, but by nibbling around the edges, they’re making it nearly impossible for a woman to obtain an abortion.

It used to be that the biggest threat to a woman’s right to choose came from protesters who camped out in front of clinics and screamed at women as they approached the entrance. That tactic is still alive and well, but it’s become secondary in importance and effectiveness to attempts to indirectly legislate abortion out of existence. There’s also the time-honored tradition of harassing providers, their families, their landlords, their vendors, and anyone else who can be targeted. Actual and implied threats are merely tools to be employed in the service of the larger goal of denying women the right to a safe and legal abortion.

The Far Right’s war on women has begun to expand beyond their desire to destroy abortion rights. It’s also spreading to the right to equal pay for equal work, and there are those in Congress opposed to renewing the Violence Against Women Act. An observer of current trends would have to ask if we’re not about to see a gradual rolling back of the rights women have worked so hard to achieve.  It would defy credibility to argue that women’s rights aren’t increasingly coming under attack.

The question is what women, and the men who care about them, will do?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Recent Exposure and Continued Growth of Voice of Choice

I want to welcome our new members and volunteers. Voice of Choice has grown nearly 100% in the past two weeks due to some very favorable exposure. The Washington Post published an article about Voice of Choice that had over 1 million hits.

The reporter, Petula Dvorak, called me on for a follow up interview on April 2. The feedback to the Post focused on two aspects how Voice of Choice approaches the problems of bullying and harassment. First we craft calm and measured responses. We want to send a message so that the people responsible for the anti-social behavior understand that they will be held accountable for their actions and at the same time lower the propensity for violence and hate.

Second, we respect everyone's first amendment rights and we respect everyone's opinions and beliefs. We do not agree with everyone's opinions and beliefs, but in America we respect everyone's rights to freedoms granted by our Constitution, but limited by laws and community standards. 

The exposure that Voice of Choice and our mission has received in the media and in the blogosphere has already had an impact.  Just shining a light on the threatening and offensive behavior or radical activists has diminished the activity.  Most people who know that their behavior is wrong do not want to be exposed or be held accountable, and the credible threat of unleashing an army of people bent on justice is enough to stop about 90% of people from bullying other people. That is consistent with classic bully behavior and it means that our mere existence is effective.

But we cannot break everyone’s resolve, and there is still much work for us to do.  We continue to receive requests from people for help with their harassment issues.  Now, with many more volunteers, we can more effectively come to their aid, and I am in the process of organizing our next campaigns.  Stay tuned!

The growth of Voice of Choice has been amazing, but we are now too big and have too many volunteers for me to work alone. I need at least a part time staff.  I am asking each of you for a donation of $36 for the year ($3 per month) so that we can hire someone. If you cannot afford it, please donate what you can.  And for those of you that can afford it, please help make up for those who cannot.

I believe in our mission,  and I know you do too.  I believe that our mere existence will give pause to people who might otherwise engage in anti-social behavior. Most important, I believe Voice of Choice is becoming a true force in preserving woman’s rights.   And I am grateful that you have chosen to join our effort. 

Todd Stave, Director
202-241-6277
Todd@vochoice.org


______________________________

Friday, March 30, 2012

Anti-abortion flier is 'over the top'

Voice of Choice founder Todd Stave was once again the target of anti-choice harassment:  a vile anti-Semitic flyer was left on his neighbors' doorsteps the night Todd was out of town.  Not so coincidentally, it was the night Todd was being honored with an award from NARAL for founding Voice of Choice.

Full story can be found in this Washington Jewish Week article.

To see the flyer, click here.  (WARNING:  GRAPHIC CONTENT)

___

Todd Stave Honored with Award by NARAL Pro-Choice America

Congratulations to Voice of Choice Director, Todd Stave, for being honored as the recipient of the Jan Yanehiro Speak Out for Choice Award at the 17th annual NARAL Pro-Choice America Power of Choice Awards.

Todd accepted this award in San Francisco on Wednesday, March 21 in San Francisco, CA.

A video of Todd's award and acceptance speech can be seen here: http://youtu.be/dsvPGplBRkc

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why should I have to explain

My husband and I took my teenaged daughter for an abortion at a Houston clinic. We drove past protestors who had a giant, almost billboard-sized sign showing what must have been a late-term abortion or some such horror. There were a handful of screaming protestors, ironically mostly males. They were not on the clinic's property but across the street, but were still in view of the clinic door and entire parking lot. My husband pulled as close to the door as he possibly could and I walked my daughter in with a jacket pulled over her head. He parked the car and had to walk across the lot to their
screaming at him.

This clinic did a pregnancy test and then an ultrasound and we were told that the fetus wasn't where it was supposed to be, that it appeared to be tubal and that they weren't equipped to handle that. They advised us to go to the Family Planning clinic.

I scheduled an appointment with Family Planning. My daughter and I walked from the parking lot with an attendant who helped keep the one protestor who was there that day away from us. Later on I came downstairs and sat outside (I used to smoke) and that protestor walked over to the fence and started calling to me. I tried to ignore her but she kept saying "I know you can hear me" and "You and your daughter have a choice" and "Don't kill this poor child" and that sort of thing. A Family Planning staffer came over  and asked if I needed  assistance, at which point I got up and just went back inside. I have to say that Family Planning really did a good job of looking out for its patients and their families.

Family Planning (at least in Houston) isn't equipped to deal with a tubal pregnancy either so we wound up at my OB/GYN's office. Chemotherapy drugs were administered to terminate the pregnancy.

The sad thing about the Family Planning experience in particular (even though she didn't have the gory billboard or anything) was that there WAS no choice at that point. We knew it wasn't a viable pregnancy and here was a rank stranger insisting that I listen to her and that there were alternatives. Why should I have to explain anything about my daughter's situation to a stranger?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Abortion Laws at Risk, State by State Chart

 
STATES ATTEMPT TO 
NEUTRALIZE ROE
By Sofia Logos
In the 2010 midterm elections, 89 freshmen Tea party Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives, giving the Republicans a majority caucus of 242. They were elected on promises of cutting budgets, reducing expenses, and creating jobs for a public desperately needing work.

State by state, Tea Party Governors and legislators were elected on the same promises.

Budget promises were soon forgotten as a record number of bills attacking Roe were introduced in State Legislatures. In 2011, of the eleven hundred bills introduced, 135 passed, each finding a way into a woman's bedroom, and between a woman and her doctor[1].

The following chart represents the state laws intended to take away your rights to choice. It is not comprehensive; new laws are being passed and challenged every day.

As you read this, it is important to remember that although these states have put obstacles in the way, ABORTION IS LEGAL in all 50 States.


1/1/2012
Abortion Counseling and Waiting Periods
Parental Involvement in Minors' Abortions
Public Funding of Abortion for Poor Women
Refusal Clauses for Abortion Services
State
Mandated counseling includes information designed to discourage abortion
State imposes waiting period between counseling and abortion
Woman must make two trips: one for abortion counseling and another for the procedure
Parent must be notified before an abortion
Parent must consent to an abortion
Parent must consent and be notified before an abortion
Public funding is available in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest
State pays for all or most medically necessary abortions
Medical professionals may refuse
Medical institutions may refuse
Alabama
Yes
24 hours


One

Only life, rape or incest.



Alaska
Yes


Yes



Yes
Yes
Private institutions
Arizona

24 hours
Yes

One


Yes
Yes
All institutions
Arkansas
Yes
Prior day


One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
California







Yes
Yes
Religious institutions
Colorado



One


Only life, rape or incest

Yes
All institutions
Connecticut







Yes
Yes
All institutions
Delaware



One


Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
District of Columbia








Yes
All institutions
Florida



One


Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Georgia
Yes
24 hours

One


Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Hawaii







Yes
Yes
All institutions
Idaho
Yes
24 hours


One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Illinois







Yes
Yes
Private institutions
Indiana
Yes
18 hours
Yes

One

Also for physical health threat.

Yes
Private institutions
Iowa



One


Also fetal abnormality.

Yes
Private institutions
Kansas
Yes
24 hours


Both

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Kentucky
Yes
24 hours


One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Louisiana
Yes
24 hours
Yes

One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Maine






Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Maryland



One



Yes
Yes
All institutions
Massachusetts




One


Yes
Yes
All institutions
Michigan
Yes
24 hours


One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Minnesota
Yes
24 hours

Both



Yes
Yes
Private institutions
Mississippi
Yes
24 hours
Yes

Both

Also fetal abnormality.

Yes
All institutions
Missouri
Yes
24 hours
Yes

One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Montana







Yes
Yes
Private institutions
Nebraska
Yes
24 hours


One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Nevada






Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
Private institutions
New Hampshire



One


Only life, rape or incest.



New Jersey







Yes
Yes
Private institutions
New Mexico







Yes
Yes
All institutions
New York







Yes
Yes
All institutions
North Carolina
Yes
24 hours


One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
North Dakota
Yes
24 hours


Both

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Ohio
Yes
24 hours
Yes

One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Oklahoma
Yes
24 hours



Yes
Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Oregon







Yes
Yes
Private institutions
Pennsylvania
Yes
24 hours


One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
Private institutions
Rhode Island




One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
South Carolina
Yes
24 hours


One

Yes

Yes
Private institutions
South Dakota
Yes
24 hours

One


Only life endangerment, in violation of federal standard.

Yes
All institutions
Tennessee




One

Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
All institutions
Texas
Yes
24 hours
Yes


Yes
Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
Private institutions
Utah
Yes
24 hours
Yes


Yes
Also for physical health threat.

Yes
Private institutions
Vermont







Yes


Virginia
Yes
24 hours


One

Yes

Yes
All institutions
Washington







Yes
Yes
All institutions
West Virginia
Yes
24 hours

One



Yes


Wisconsin
Yes
24 hours
Yes

One

Also for physical health threat.

Yes
All institutions
Wyoming





Yes
Only life, rape or incest.

Yes
Private institutions
Sources: <i>State Policies in Brief:</i> Parental Involvement in Minors' Abortions, <i>State Policies in Brief:</i> State Funding of Abortion Under Medicaid , <i>State Policies in Brief:</i> Refusing to Provide Health Services , <i>State Policies in Brief:</i>Mandatory Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion