We need volunteers for a project to bring pro-life groups on board in support of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act. If you would like to help, please email email@example.com. Thank you!
I wanted to share this awesome series of tweets from Gretchen Sisson (@gsisson), fighting back against efforts to prevent teen pregnancy using shame and fear tactics.
Teen pregnancy is so often portrayed as a life-ruiner, but in fact it’s the conditions that lead to high rates of teen pregnancy that really hurt teen mothers’ life chances. And those same conditions are at least as devastating for their peers who don’t get pregnant.
That doesn’t mean teens should be encouraged to get pregnant! If a teen, especially a younger teen, is in a position where pregnancy seems like her best option, that’s a good sign that she’s lacking adequate opportunity in her life and needs a lot of social support. But it does mean that we shouldn’t accept the narrative that says a girl’s life is over if she does get pregnant and have a baby.
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate, and Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Susan Davis (D-CA), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in the House, have re-introduced the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act in the new Congress. PWFA would require companies to provide pregnant employees with the same types of accommodations that are required for disabled workers under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to Casey’s office:
Currently, pregnant working women around the country are being denied simple adjustments – permission to use a stool while working a cash register, or to carry a bottle of water to stay hydrated, or temporary reassignment to lighter duty tasks – that would keep them working and supporting their families while maintaining healthy pregnancies. The legislation will close legal loopholes and ensure that pregnant women are treated fairly on the job.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act will accomplish this by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers and preventing employers from forcing women out on leave when another reasonable accommodation would allow them to continue working. The bill also bars employers from denying employment opportunities to women based on their need for reasonable accommodations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
In recent and startling examples, Amy Crosby, a hospital cleaner in Tallahassee, Florida, was forced into unpaid leave from her job when the hospital refused to accommodate her doctor’s request that she not lift more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy; Heather Wiseman, a retail worker in Salina, Kansas, was fired because she needed to carry a water bottle to stay hydrated and prevent bladder infections; and Victoria Serednyj, an activity director at a nursing home in Valparaiso, Indiana, was terminated because she required help with some physically strenuous aspects of her job to prevent having another miscarriage. For the well-being of pregnant workers, and for the sake of the economic stability of American families, our laws must be updated and clarified.
The National Women’s Law Center has more information in their PWFA factsheet.
Preventing pregnant mothers from having to choose between the jobs they need to provide for their families on one hand, and their own health and the health of their unborn children on the other, is pro-life. If you agree and you are in the U.S., please contact your Senators and Representatives to ask them to cosponsor the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
Doctors in El Salvador have petitioned the Supreme Court to allow them to perform an abortion that they argue is necessary to save their patient’s life. The penal code of El Salvador bans abortion under all circumstances, with no exception to save the life of the mother. (Such an exception was previously part of the code, but was removed in 1998.)
The patient in question, a 22-year-old woman named Beatriz, has lupus and kidney disease. Her doctors argue that these conditions are worsened by her pregnancy and that her life is in danger. Recent reports say that Beatriz has now entered early stage renal failure.
Obviously, if care is available that will preserve both her life and her child’s, it should be pursued. But that isn’t always possible. All Our Lives has always held that a woman has a right to the medical care she needs to preserve her life, even if that care will result in the death of the child she carries. Neither she nor her doctors should have to worry about facing jail as a result.
I do want to say that I’m troubled by the way the case has been framed in many media outlets. They’ve emphasized that Beatriz’s baby is anencephalic and has a low chance of survival outside the womb. The implication is that the child’s severe disability makes this a more clear-cut case. That the child is anencephalic makes it far less likely that both could be saved, so it’s relevant in that sense. But Beatriz is entitled to life-saving care regardless of the health status of her child. And while the child’s death may be unavoidable, it’s still a death, and no less so for having been likely to happen soon anyway.
If you want to send a message to the El Salvador Supreme Court, they have a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Ask them to remember Beatriz’s constitutional right to life, and to allow her to receive whatever care she might need to preserve it. Letting her die would not be pro-life.
The Colorado House is currently considering Senate Bill 13-227, “Protect Rape Victim From Contact With Father.” The new law would allow a women who bear children conceived as the result of sexual assault to petition to terminate the parental rights of the rapist and prevent any contact with him. This would put an end to the situation in which a convicted rapist can file for custody or visitation rights to the child conceived as the result of his crime.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is currently on its second reading in the Colorado House. The legislative session is over in just a few days, so this would be a good time for Colorado residents to contact their House members.
If you were anywhere near social media last week, you probably saw lots of people change their profile picture to this:
to show support for allowing same-sex couples to legally marry.
In response, the Manhattan Declaration’s Facebook page posted this graphic with the note, “So, you want to talk about equality…”
Now, some people shared the fetus graphic to express their support for both marriage equality and fetal humanity. That’s great! But anyone using it or thinking of using it should be aware of who the Manhattan Declaration is, and why they were circulating this graphic.
The Manhattan Declaration opposes civil marriage for same-sex couples. When they wrote, “So, you want to talk about equality…” they weren’t saying “let’s be even more inclusive!” They were saying “stop being for that form of equality and be for this form of equality instead.”
Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of people used it. I heard from people who are themselves in same-sex relationships, or changed their profile pictures to support friends and family who are. These are people who have been harmed or seen loved ones harmed by the exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage. And for their expression of that pain and support, for their celebration of love, they got a fetus graphic flung at them by their opponents. One guess as to whether it made them more or less inclined to feel a sense of kinship with the child in the graphic.
As a practical matter, tying abortion opposition to same-sex marriage opposition alienates an increasingly large segment of the population, especially younger people. It’s a loser. And as an ethical matter, responding to heartfelt stories of loving relationships and discriminatory policies with “Never mind you, what about my cause?” That’s just mean.
All Our Lives will not have a presence of its own at the 2013 March for Life, but we are co-sponsoring the “For Peace & ALL Life” meetup/march group. It will be a great opportunity to meet other consistent life/whole life proponents.
Co-sponsored by Life Matters Journal, Secular Pro-Life, Consistent Life, Students for a Fair Society and continuing to seek other partners in the meetup/marching event!The March for Life is often portrayed and publicized as an event to protest against the (legal) killing of the preborn human among us. But what if it meant something more? What if the rallying cry in our ranks was one that stood for peace and all life? What if we stood not only for the preborn, but for the criminal, the prisoners of war, innocent civilians everywhere, the aged and the disabled, the depressed and the bullied, people of every race, gender, faith, sexuality, size, level of dependency, location, nationality?
If you are a supporter of the Consistent Ethic of Life, or just want to see our world engaged in a conversation that does not exclude any human life from consideration, please join us for a meetup and march with us at the March for Life. We represent the fullness of the pro-life mission!
The plan is merely to have a space and a time to share in the community of our little movement that encompasses the anti-abortion cause, but to be strengthened in the knowledge that we are not alone. Network with others in the CL cause, learn about opportunities available, and help to spread the message for peace and all life!
I haven’t been reading a lot of articles about the Roe v. Wade anniversary today. What is anyone going to say that I haven’t read a thousand times before? But I follow Ezra Klein on Twitter, and I’m a sucker for Wonkblog’s “in charts” posts, so I did read “CHARTS: How Roe v. Wade changed abortion rights.” I want to call attention to this point:
5. Abortion has become increasingly concentrated among low-income, minority women. Over the past four decades, the demographics of abortion have shifted significantly. In 1973, white women accounted for over three-quarters of all abortions. Now, that number hovers just below 60 percent. The economic status of abortion patients has changed too, shifting more towards lower income women.
While it’s a little hard to say because methods of recording race and ethnicity on the census have changed over time, the fact that a greater percentage of abortion seekers are nonwhite women seems to roughly parallel the shift in the general population. The economic shift, though, can’t be explained that way.
Women in better economic conditions are more likely to be able to afford effective contraception and the doctor’s visits necessary to obtain it. They are more likely to have regular work schedules and reliable transportation so that they can get to those doctor’s visits and to the pharmacy for refills. They are more likely to have health insurance. They are more likely to have jobs that offer sick leave and maternal leave. They are more likely to be able to afford child care. They are less likely to suffer “disruptive life events” and have more options for leaving abusive partners. They have, in short, more tools and social support to prevent unintended pregnancy and to carry their children to term.
The abortion rate among poor women in the U.S. rose 18% between 2000 and 2008. The overall rate is falling, though, and the rate among women over 200% of the poverty line is dropping even faster. How can we replicate that success for poorer women? How can we ensure that they have the same tools, the same social support?
I’m 40. I certainly hope to be around for another 40 years. I don’t know what the legal status of abortion will be then, but I do know that legal or illegal, there can be many fewer abortions. We can empower women to choose whether and with whom they have sex. We can fight rape and intimate partner violence. We can ensure that all couples have access to affordable, effective family planning and the knowledge they need to use it. We can make quality health care and child care available to all. We can make adoption a better option for those who choose it. We can demand schools that are friendly to parents, and workplaces that acknowledge that employees aren’t just units of production but human beings with a life outside of work. We can argue that all human beings should be embraced as part of the human family, and that we are all better off in a society that rejects violence as a method of solving social problems. We have a lot of work to do, but women and our children are worth it.
At the conference held for the 25th anniversary of Consistent Life (of which All Our Lives is a member group), Mary spoke with Elizabeth Palmberg about her views on how abortion relates to issues of reproductive justice faced by women, as well as to other forms of lifetaking. This interview is reprinted, with permission, from the Fall 2012 newsletter of Consistent Life.
When I was small, I had a strong intuition that all lives are sacred. And I heard about women’s liberation; I heard the feminists burned bras, and this and that and the other thing, but there was something about it that, inside, made me cheer. I was always kind of a free spirit. What I learned in college, at Bryn Mawr, was that if you’re for women’s rights, you have to be pro-choice— something about that just didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t know many people who felt the same way who would talk about it. I came from a very conservative background, and I came out of college feeling that some of my earlier moral and political intuitions were validated by feminism and progressive politics. But this issue of abortion—I just could not get away from the feeling that this is violence and it arises from injustice against women.
I wanted to do something about violence, but I felt very discontent with the pro-life movement as such. I became a social worker and worked in pregnancy care services. When I became too disabled to work a “normal” job, I went to being a writer and editor; one of my specializations is recovering lost history.
I’ve written on black history, Polish-American history. And I’ve done work on early feminists—even though the situation is different today, obviously, they have a very keen analysis, that still holds, why women have unintended pregnancies and abortions.
Two years ago Jennifer Roth and I co-founded a group called All Our Lives; we very consciously take a reproductive justice approach. Reproductive justice is a movement that arose from women of color, people with disabilities, people with a working-class perspective. Reproductive justice involves having not only the right to have a child but the social power to exercise that right, to raise the children we have in safety, and it also includes the right not to have a child.
Many people who identify with reproductive justice take a pro-choice stand on abortion, but there are many of us who don’t. Loretta Ross, the head of SisterSong, a very influential reproductive justice organization, talks about “perfect choice.” If everyone had the means to do what they wanted to do reproductively and sexually, that would be the state of perfect choice. Some people believe that in that state there would still be abortions, and others of us think that it would be rare to nonexistent.
So that’s why we started All Our Lives, and we’ve had very interesting dialogues, mostly behind the scenes, with both pro-life and pro-choice people. One thing that we’re finding is a niche that nobody’s taken up is that a lot of scientific research now suggests that methods that were considered abortifacient really aren’t—there is so much resistance to hearing that perspective. We also have on our website a PowerPoint presentation called “Family Planning Freedom is Prolife.” It gives 10 reasons, many backed up with scientific studies. It addresses a lot of myths that both pro-life and pro-choice people have.
“As many as God sends us” is a family planning choice, and natural family planning is one, but the important thing is I don’t think “choice” is an empty word. Some people think it’s a cover for all abortion all the time, but I think it’s very real. You can’t just talk about choice in a vacuum; you have to talk about how it’s compromised by issues of race, gender, disability, class, sexual orientation. Environmental justice is one; a lot of women are losing their ability to conceive when they want to because of environmental toxins.
Believing that all life is sacred, that means women’s lives too, and that means we do have a right over our own bodies. Pro-lifers often interpret that as a selfish demand, but I [don’t.] I remember Muhammad Ali, when I was a little kid, boasting about how great he was; a lot of white people were saying, “God, this man has an ego!” But after living in a black community for a long time and having an interracial family, I realized that that’s not egotism—that’s saying, “I’m somebody, I have value.” That’s what women are saying when they say, “We have a right over our own bodies.”
Now with pregnancy, it’s a matter of two bodies, two lives. Our responsibility has two sides: one is responsibility for pregnant women and their children, and the other side is the responsibility to respect women’s right to prevent conception when they want to. That is a difficult thing to write in the pro-life movement. Some Catholics have objections; the other thing is the belief in something called the “contra- ceptive mentality,” that if your contraception fails, that you automatically have an abortion—that doesn’t explain millions of pregnancy outcomes. It certainly doesn’t explain why I had my daughter and why she had her son. I know lots of women who use contraception in the knowledge that it doesn’t always work as intended. But if it doesn’t work as intended, then you and your child have a right to everything that will help you both survive.
A lot of [the bridge-building we at All Our Lives have] done so far is behind the scenes. We find, in surprising places, opportunities to join with people who have a common concern. We have found pro-choice people who say, “I don’t agree with you on abortion, but I have respect for your perspective because it’s consistent, because you value women’s lives.” We found pro-lifers who say, “That’s exactly how I feel.” We share a lot of supporters with the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. One very interesting thing is that women of color, even those who identify as pro-choice, really can relate to this perspective. There’s probably a lot of opportunity for common ground there.
We have a small board; most of us have disabilities. We’re all female; one of our board members is a woman and an independent ordained Catholic priest. We’re not anti-religious; we’re open to people of all faiths. I’m someone with Catholic and Protestant ancestry, and I also practice Buddhism, and Jen Roth is an atheist. We really try to bring in multiple perspectives, which can be difficult sometimes, but so far it’s worked out really well.
I was involved in Feminists for Life, I think, from 1986 until I resigned in 2007. I don’t quarrel with what they do—what they do is good—but I left specifically in protest of their in- action on pre-conception issues. [They] said [they] couldn’t come to a consensus because people disagree. I feel like we’ve worked out another approach. I kind of understand; Catholics in the United States, including my white ethnic ancestors, Polish and Irish, were targeted for eugenics, and that collective memory is still there. That legacy is one reason it’s hard to talk about birth control in the pro-life movement. But I think it needs to come more out in the open, it needs to heal.
As a multiply disabled person who depends on expensive medical care, I am really concerned about the threat euthanasia poses, especially to people on public assistance. I think disability rights folks—who are often not included in the debates, but we have had some impact—have gotten people to think about the fact [euthanasia often] isn’t a free choice; it can easily slide into coercion. As for the death penalty, I really think that’s tied into racism, it’s tied into poverty. I know a family with a member who was eventually exonerated, but he was on death row for something like 14 years. He was a young man, and he lost those years of his life. So that issue has a very human face to me. All these issues do.
War is very tied in. I know people who have gone into the military for very noble reasons: they want to serve their country, they know that some things are worth dying for. It’s unfortunate that they’re dying for such horrible reasons.
I see a parallel between that and a lot of women I know who’ve had abortions. They are not evil people; they are people trying, like all of us, to make the best of very bad situations. I know women who’ve had abortions who go to either the pro-life or the pro-choice movements, and I see good people in both groups. A lot of women feel they have to have an abortion because it preserves a relationship with a man, or with their parents. They are concerned about the situation they bring the child into. I just think it’s unfair that women are placed in that position to begin with, that the whole karmic burden is thrown on that woman and that child. We always talk about most of these issues in terms of individual rights, but what about collective responsibility? I think that’s where Americans really, really have gone wrong.
The 112th Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, due in large part to House Republican resistance to new provisions expanding protections for LGBT persons, undocumented immigrants, and Native Americans. A bill containing these provisions passed 68-31 with bipartisan support in the Senate, but the version passed by the House stripped them out, and the leadership refused to bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote.
VAWA advocates aren’t giving up, though. The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence has issued a statement expressing anger at the 112th Congress for failing to act, and calling upon the 113th Congress to pass a comprehensive bill immediately. Senator Patty Murray plans to reintroduce the bill when the Senate returns from recess. In the meantime, VAWA continues in its 2005 version.