Seven years ago, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in his church. His “crime,” according to his “pro-life” assassin, Scott Roeder, was continuing to be one of the few doctors in the entire country who provided late-term abortion care to women: despite the constant harassment from “pro-life” protesters outside his clinic, his home, and his church; despite the bombing of his clinic in 1986; despite the earlier attempt on his life in 1993, when he was shot in both arms by “pro-life” activist Shelley Shannon; despite the years-long investigation and harassment by the state’s then-Attorney General Phill Kline, whose gross ethical violations in pursuit of Dr. Tiller ultimately cost him his law license.
Despite all of it, George Tiller insisted on providing health care to women. “Trust women,” he was fond of saying. And he paid for his dedication and trust with his life.
Harassment and even violence against abortion care providers and their patients is nothing new. Even as anti-choice activists insist their goal is not to punish women, they continue to find new ways to do exactly that. Terrorizing women’s doctors is a punishment. If you dare to seek care, or dare to provide you, you are at risk of their harassment, their intimidation, their violence. And now anti-choicers have come up with a new and horrifying way to punish women who seek medical care: harassing women on their phones with anti-choice propaganda, using technology developed by John Flynn, CEO of Copley Advertising, for anti-choice activists and crisis pregnancy centers:
He sends advertisements for his clients to women’s smartphones while they are sitting in Planned Parenthood clinics, using a technology known as “mobile geo-fencing.” He also planned to ping women at methadone clinics and other abortion facilities. His program for Bethany [Christian Services, an evangelical adoption agency] covered five cities: Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; St. Louis, Missouri; and New York City. […]
“Marketing for pregnancy help centers has always been a needle in a haystack approach—cast a wide net and hope for the best,” said Bethany Regional Marketing Manager Jennie VanHorn, according to the report. “With geo fencing, we can reach women who we know are looking for or in need of someone to talk to.”
So imagine what this means. You’re sitting in the waiting room of a health care center, which may or may not even offer abortion services, since these anti-choice groups target all women’s health care providers, regardless of the services they perform. All of a sudden, you get an unsolicited alert on your phone telling you that you shouldn’t be there, that there are better, safer, cheaper options for you. Go to your nearest crisis pregnancy center to get the “real” care you need. Never mind that CPCs often don’t even employ medically trained staff and do not provide health care. Maybe you’re there for an abortion; maybe you’re there for your annual pap smear; maybe you’re there for a refill of your birth control. But that alert on your phone is telling you to go somewhere else for your lady needs — somewhere that will not be able to provide any of those services to you.
If being spammed and shamed and lied to on your own phone, in your doctor’s office, with the explicit purpose of trying to dissuade you from receiving care isn’t punishment, what the hell is?
When Donald Trump said earlier this year that he believed women who receive abortions should be punished, anti-choicers feigned horror at his words. Not because they disagree with what he said — they don’t — but because they like to pretend punishing women isn’t part of their agenda. But that’s a lie. The anti-choicers’ answer to those seeking care is to punish them, in ever more devious and invasive ways. And for those like Dr. Tiller, who refused to be intimidated and continued to trust women, there is the ultimate threat that remains even today: they are even willing to murder our doctors to punish them for trusting us and to punish us for needing them. And there is nothing pro-life about that.
Here’s this week’s good, bad, and hideously ugly:
- How many thousands of words is this picture worth?It’s not a huge mystery why teen birth rates have fallen so dramatically since 2006. As Brookings notes:
This is a real cause for celebration, as the cost of unplanned births is extremely high. Increased awareness of highly effective methods of contraception, like Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs), has certainly helped with this decline. More use of LARCs will help still further.
It’s almost as if real sex education — instead of that nonsense abstinence-only garbage pushed so aggressively by the Bush administration and anti-sex conservatives — and increased access to affordable contraception, in no small part because of the Affordable Care Act, really does work to reduce teen pregnancy rates. Thanks, Obama!
- This could not have happened to a more deserving chauvinist bag-of-gas creep:
[T]here are signs that all is not well in the [Rush] Limbaugh radio empire. Because even as his influence is sky high and his dominance at the top of talk radio remains unchallenged, as a business proposition, Limbaugh’s show is on shaky ground. In recent years, Limbaugh has been dropped by several of his long-time affiliates, including some very powerful ones: He’s gone from WABC in New York, WRKO in Boston and KFI in Los Angeles, for example, and has in many cases been moved onto smaller stations with much weaker signals that cover smaller areas.
And why, you might wonder, is Limbaugh’s once-great empire crumbling around him?
Because four years after Limbaugh called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” on air, spurring a major boycott movement, reams of advertisers still won’t touch him. He suffers from what talk radio consultant Holland Cooke calls a “scarlet letter among national brand advertisers.”
It’s nice to know there’s a price to pay for brandishing a woman a “slut” because she has the uppity audacity to speak with authority about the need for access to health care.
- It’s so weird that a guy who looooooooooooves women, and promises to be so good for women, you don’t even know, it’s gonna make your head spin, doesn’t seem to want to have very many of them around helping to run his presidential campaign:
There are only 18 women working on the Trump trail, compared to 52 men, according to his May financial disclosure report. Meanwhile, leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff includes 51% women and 731 total staffers, with fairly equitable pay for male and female employees with similar roles — especially when compared to every other 2016 presidential campaign.
In case you’re assuming the few (and the so very brave!) women on Trump’s team at least are paid fairly, cut that out right now because come on, you really should know better:
While communications director Hope Hicks and national spokeswoman Katrina Pierson were only paid $7,700 and $10,486 respectively, Trump’s campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, chief policy adviser and social media director all earned between $12,500 and $20,000 in April and May. It should be no surprise each of those roles are held by men.
Definitely no surprise there. But since we all know there’s no pay gap (even though we all know there is TOO a pay gap), obviously those women on Trump’s campaign staff simply prefer to be paid less. Yeah, that’s got to be it.
- Men really, REALLY love the sound of their own voices. Yes, all men, even the Supreme Court justice kind:
Research going back to the 1970s shows definitively what women have long understood intuitively: Men have a hard time letting women talk without interrupting them—frequently. Apparently, not even holding one of the most powerful posts in America spares women from this irritating phenomenon. […]
A new analysis by Adam Feldman, author of the legal blog Empirical SCOTUS, attempted to quantify this phenomenon by examining this term’s oral arguments to determine which justices get interrupted the most by their colleagues, and which of those justices were also doing the most interrupting. The results were sadly predictable.
- At least someone in North Carolina is good at math. Good enough to know that enforcing the state’s heinous HB 2 law — you know, the one that discriminates against transgender men and women for the oh-so-serious crime of occasionally needing to use the bathroom — doesn’t add up. After the Department of Justice informed the University of North Carolina that its decision to comply with HB 2 could jeopardize the federal funding it receives, the university’s powers that be have had second thoughts on that:
The University of North Carolina system told a federal court Friday that it won’t enforce a law requiring transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates. […]
University system President Margaret Spellings wrote in an affidavit that, pending the outcome of the North Carolina case: “I have no intent to exercise my authority to promulgate any guidelines or regulations that require transgender students to use the restrooms consistent with their biological sex.”
Now if only the rest of the state would see the error of its ways.
- Supporting the troops should mean supporting all the troops, including women in the military who are sexually assaulted by their fellow service members. But instead, these women are kicked out — sorry, “honorably discharged” — when they dare to speak out about it. Check out this horrific example:
Despite passing a meticulous mental health screening when enlisting in a top-secret military intelligence position, [Liz] Luras was discharged after multiple rapes for having a “personality disorder,” or PD. Now, more than 15 years after her discharge, she continues to be denied jobs, health benefits, and general respect for having papers marked with “PD” — a condition that many mental health professionals, including ones within the VA, have told her she doesn’t have. […]
After Luras was raped by another member of the military, she faced constant abuse — including two more rapes — from fellow soldiers and supervisors who wanted her to keep quiet. She refused, and told her father about the abuse who then alerted his state Representative. When the Representative called the barracks to talk with her, Luras was forced by her superior to tell him that everything was fine. Then, the abuse only intensified. When she asked to be reassigned to another location, her drill sergeant gave Luras her discharge papers.
Luras is hardly the only servicewoman punished by the military for being the victim of assault. A report from Human Rights Watch details thousands — yes, thousands — of women who have suffered a similar fate. So at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it sure would be nice if the conservatives who are worrying their pretty little heads about the non-existent “threat” of women being assaulted in bathrooms by their trans sisters would cut that crap out and act like they give half a damn about the very real threat against women who want to serve their country. Because that’s a real problem that really does need to be fixed.
Join us next Wednesday for another round of reporting. Unless we’ve won the war by then.