A farewell of sorts

As you may have noticed, recently I’ve been involved with an exciting new project. I’ve teamed up with Marysia of the Nonviolent Choice Directory to start All Our Lives. This project has been a long time coming. It started back in 2008, when Marysia and I shared our frustration that there was no longer any organization that advocated for contraception, sex education, and other vital needs without advocating for abortion as well.

Others, like LAMom and Cecilia Brown of PLAGAL gave their support, and we launched in March of this year.

We call ourselves a “reproductive peace” organization, which combines principles of the reproductive justice movement and the consistent life ethic. We reject the violence of abortion, and instead work for all women to have the power to make all nonviolent choices about their sexual and reproductive lives.

If that sounds interesting, please visit our web site and get involved. In particular, we’d love to have help getting the Nonviolent Choice Directory ported over to the new site.

This blog will stay up indefinitely — I have the server space, and it’s easy enough to maintain — but I have no plans to add to it. Thank you to everyone who has read and commented over the years; it’s meant a lot to me to know that there are other people out there who share some of my beliefs and frustrations. :) I hope to see you on the new site!

Donate for prenatal care in Nebraska

Last week, I posted about women in Nebraska who have lost public funding for their prenatal care due to immigration politics.  Fear and uncertainty are driving some of these women to consider abortion because they're not sure how they'll be able to bear and raise their children.  Now there is a way that you can help. All Our Lives has created a charity badge for donations to One World Community Health Centers, Inc., aka Indian-Chicano Health Center, Inc., of Omaha, Nebraska.

If you wish, you may designate your gift specifically for prenatal care when you make your donation. Please donate if you can; if you can't, please help by spreading the word!

(Crossposted to All Our Lives)

Secular, pro-life, sex ed

Secular Prolife has a new project under way: a secular, pro-life sex ed program. For more information or to participate, probably the best thing to do is to join their Facebook group.

I keep meaning to post about Secular Prolife. It’s an organization open to nonbelievers, as well as to religious believers who see the value in arguing against abortion from a secular point of view. It’s explicitly pro-sex-ed (obviously) and pro-contraception. The group doesn’t take an official stance on LGBT rights, but its founder, Kelsey Hazzard, is strongly in favor and it’s certainly an LGBT-friendly environment. It’s come a long way in a short time and has a lot more in store.

Consistent Life Action Alert

From Consistent Life (in a roundabout way: I’m the one working on this project for them):

The Center for Reproductive Rights is beginning a campaign to end the Hyde Amendment and bring back Federal funding of abortion. One of their tactics is a series of videos in which supporters question why tax dollars can’t be spent on abortion but can be spent on things they disagree with, such as war.

This would be a great chance for Consistent Life to counter with a video pointing out all the different ways in which the destruction of life is promoted by our tax dollars, and emphasizing that we can and should oppose all of them.

To contribute, record a video of no more than 30 seconds in which you discuss what life-destroying programs you don’t want your tax dollars spent on, and/or what life-affirming programs you would like them spent on instead. Preferred format is .mov, although .avi is also acceptable. Then, contact video@consistent-life.org for uploading instructions.

Consistent Life Action Alert

From Consistent Life:

We try to have a presence each year at the annual March for Life held in Washington, DC on or near the anniversary of Roe v Wade’s passage. The main organizer is not sympathetic, and has threatened several of our member groups with arrest in the past, but we definitely receive much more positive than negative vibes from fellow marchers. We need to show the pro-life community and the watching world that many who are pro-life on abortion have a different perspective than the organizer.

Join us on Friday, January 22, 2010 between 11:30 AM and Noon in front of the Sculpture Garden, on Constitution Ave. NW near 7th St. The location is across from the National Archives and about 2 blocks from the Archives Metro station. We will proceed together with our banner from there to the rally and march.

RSVP not required but it is helpful to know who plans to come. You can contact our President Bill Samuel at president@consistent-life.org to say you’re coming or with any questions. Bill can be reached by cell phone at xxx-xxx-xxxx during the March if you’re having trouble connecting with the CL contingent [number not posted here — please email Bill if you need his number -jr]

Consistent Life member group Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) is having a breakfast that morning, 9-11 AM, at the Holiday Inn Capitol, 550 C Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20024. (One block from the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station.) $30 paid at the door; proceeds benefit DFLA.

Links on the Tiller murder

I am working 14-hour days, so in lieu of writing, I link.

What do we do next?

I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing this post. On the one hand, I know what I want to suggest. I want to say, we should protest against the murder cheerleaders. We should show them that they are alone, that they are beyond the pale, that they do not have our support, not even in our most private thoughts.

The trouble is, I can’t figure out whether it would help or not.

In my experience, genuinely peaceful pro-lifers can and do issue condemnations all day long and it doesn’t make a bit of difference to the pro-violence wing. They hate us and consider us traitors. They don’t care what we say about them, and they sure as hell won’t listen. In fact, being denounced by other abortion opponents just serves to highlight to them how much purer they are than everyone else. As janinedm puts it, “for a certain type of person, the rhetoric gets to the point that the nonviolent approach is also a form of treason and the violence is as much about spiritual purging as it is about the achievement of certain ends.”

So, I’m at a loss. How do you stop people over whom you have no authority and with whom you have no credibility? Nonetheless, we need to try. I’ve seen pro-lifers object to the notion that we have a special responsibility to stop this kind of violence, because it’s not the fault of people who speak and act peacefully. I say that something doesn’t have to be your fault to be your problem.

I’ve been thinking of writing to the leaders of the pro-life organizations I belong to and asking them to institute a policy stating that anyone who condones anti-abortion violence is not welcome as a member or a donor. I don’t imagine too many advocates of violence are interested in belonging to PLAGAL or Consistent Life anyway, but it would set an example.

I’m still going to do this, but I’m not sure how much of an effect it will have.

Several commenters in the previous thread had suggestions for action:
* Catherine brought up the possibility of donating to Tiller’s church.
* Marysia suggested donating to organizations working against handgun violence.
* Gwendolyn thought that pro-lifers should hold anti-violence vigils.

What are your thoughts?

Signal boost: Send a Safe Birthing Kit for $8

via Nonviolent Choice:

If you have access to the Internet, chances are that even with the global economic downturn, you are still, wherever you may live, prosperous compared to the average person and family in the Two-Thirds World.

Are you still able to spare $8? UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, will send on your behalf a birthing kit to help protect and save the lives of one mother and one baby in a materially poor country.

(Note: UMCOR’s relief work is something that I suspect people of all faiths and none could support–not all Christians use relief work as a pretense for prostelytizing by a long shot–but please check this out for yourself.)

Maternal and child mortality are interconnected global scourges. They are directly caused by the inhumane failure to make widely available even low-tech, inexpensive solutions like birthing kits or oral rehydration therapy to those who most desperately need them.

As UNFPA insists, “No Woman Should Die Giving Birth.” Please visit this UNFPA site if you want to learn more about this unnecessary, preventable global injustice–and please be the solution for one mother and one baby through UMCOR.

Large institutional changes in health care are necessary to solve the problem on a massive scale, but individuals and families in the present cry out for direct and immediate help, too.

Surely this is an area where prolife and prochoice can and should cooperate.

“Abstain, or else no one will believe you if you’re raped”

Via Feministing, an abstinence education horror story.

A group called “Abstinence ‘Till Marriage Education” is receiving $600,000 to provide abstinence-only “education” in Ohio. Now, I’m used to hearing stories about abstinence-only programs calling young people (especially young female people) who have sex impure and possessed of low moral character, or comparing them to chewed gum or used duct tape. ATM’s “Abstain, or else no one will believe you if you’re raped” approach may be a new low, though.

You can see the whole sordid mess at their website, Miss the Mess.com – Party Rooms. (ETA: not anymore — see below)

To summarize briefly: the site tells the story of four teenagers who were at a party. Two of them leave, and then one (Rochelle) accuses the other (Jason) of having raped her. The four tell their accounts of what happened.

According to Jason’s ex-girlfriend, Jason “expected sex to be part of any relationship he was in” while “Rochelle was considered a slut.” The viewer is asked whose story is considered the least credible. I assume you won’t be surprised when the answer is “Rochelle.” She’s had sex, you see — or at least, rumor has it that she’s had sex, and having rumors going around about you is risky behavior! (You’re wondering why having had actual, non-rumored sex doesn’t destroy Jason’s credibility, aren’t you? What are you, some kind of feminist?) She also made “questionable decisions” — like driving her drunk friend home from a party when there was a boy who offered to drive him instead.

Interestingly, I’m looking through the page several hours after I first viewed it, and it appears that ATM have made some quick changes to the public face of their program. The quiz no longer answers the question of who is considered least credible. There’s also now a giant disclaimer at the beginning stating that “any crime occurring as a result of risky decision [sic] is still a crime and ATM Education strongly encourages teens to seek a trusted adult or notify the proper authorities in such cases.”

Good luck getting anyone to believe you though, slut.

(You can contact the White House to ask President Obama to remove funding for programs like this when he submits his proposed budget to Congress.)

Catholic University bars PLAGAL from Students for Life conference

Ever since Nellie Gray gave up having PLAGAL arrested at the March for Life, I’d hoped we were past this sort of thing:

On Saturday, January 24, 2009, hundreds of students will come to Catholic University in Washington DC to participate in a conference by Students for Life of America. Booths by sponsoring organization will be lined up to provide information to these students. But missing this year will be the booth staffed by the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL).

In the past PLAGAL has participated in the Students for Life conference at Catholic University with an overwhelmingly positive response from the students. It has been an opportunity to see and hear the pro-life message presented in a unique fashion and conference attendees have been eager to engage PLAGAL members in discussion about issues they may have never considered before.

This year, however, students will not have that opportunity. Officials at Catholic University are denying PLAGAL the opportunity to sponsor a booth. They maintain that they have a right to accept or deny sponsorship to any group coming onto their campus that is not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Students for Life is considering finding a new venue for its conference in the future, for this and other reasons. I urge you to contact them to support that decision, and suggest alternatives if you know of any.

PLAGAL is trying to find out who to contact at Catholic University; I will post that information when they get it.

Troy Davis to be executed tomorrow

Tomorrow, the state of Georgia is scheduled to execute Troy Anthony Davis, despite significant reason to doubt his guilt. Several witnesses against him have recanted their testimony. Dave at the Mindful Mission has more on the case and what we can do.

The office of the Board of Pardons and Paroles is open from 8:15 am to 4:30 pm Eastern time. The office of the Attorney General is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Please call as early as you can.

ETA: If calling makes you nervous, you can fax the Georgia Attorney General’s office at (404) 657-8733.

Action alerts

  • Two from Consistent Life:
    • “The September issue of The Progressive magazine has on page 42 an advertisement from Consistent Life on our book, Consistently Opposing Killing: From Abortion to Assisted Suicide, the Death Penalty, and War. If past experience is repeated, there may be some letters to the editor responding to the ad, and some can be quite assertive in a negative way. We ask those who subscribe to this magazine or have a friend who does or who have access to it at a library to pay attention to the letters to the editor in the October issue, and consider if any of these inspire you to write letters of your own into the magazine.”
    • “The research arm of Consistent Life has an on-line survey ready. It’s to help answer these questions: To what extent does the consistent life ethic strengthen the case against issues of violence by being more persuasive? To which kind of people is it more persuasive, and which are more unimpressed? Does the idea of killing as trauma have any impact on people’s understanding of issues involving killing?
      (more).”

    In particular, they are in need of more survey answers from people who identify as pro-choice on abortion, and who favor the death penalty and/or the Iraq war, in order to have more balance as to how many are in each group. This isn’t meant to be a random sample, but they do need participation from lots of different people in order to make meaningful comparisons.

  • Via Nonviolent Choice Blog: the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood is asking for signatures on a letter asking world leaders to make health care for mothers a priority. They are trying to gather 500,000 signatures to represent the 500,000 women who die during pregnancy or childbirth each year. Online petitions don’t do much in themselves, but while you’re there, please read more about the organization and consider joining and taking further action.
  • Depending on the result of Troy Davis’s clemency hearing, there may be another one later today.

Cue whining: “But it was just a JOKE!”

So, apparently Damon Wayans is working with handpicked young artists to “develop innovative television shows for the internet.” And apparently their idea of innovation is making fun of violence against women and children. (Warning: the video is potentially triggery, as is the rest of this post.) For those of you who would rather not watch the video and possibly generate ad revenue for its creators, here’s the rundown: a woman calls her boyfriend to tell him she’s pregnant. He pretends to be happy about the news; she’s thrilled that he wants the baby, and starts making plans for their new family life. When he gets off the phone, he calls for help, and “Abortion Man” answers the call. Abortion Man accosts the young woman as she’s walking down the street and beats and kicks her. Miscarriage hilarity ensues.

I really hesitated to post this, because I know that giving the creeps who made this video more publicity is exactly what they want, and will let them claim they’re “edgy”. But we need to speak up and let them know that they’re not edgy or funny or clever; they’re just misogynistic bullies.

This isn’t funny:

At 1:15 in the morning a pregnant woman is beaten in her apartment on Hickory Street. Police say the suspect, who’s apparently the baby’s father, repeatedly punched the woman in her body, face and head. He reportedly told her he was going to “make her lose that baby.”
[…]
According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 324,000 pregnant women are hurt every year by an intimate partner or former partner. And a study a few years ago that found homicide was a leading cause of death among pregnant women.

This isn’t edgy:

Excited by the ultrasound Jan. 7, [Ashley] Lyons made plans to show the fetal pictures to her ex-boyfriend, Roger McBeath Jr., 22. She left her family’s home, telling her mother she would be back for dinner. But when her father and brother found her, she was sitting in her parked car — with the car engine running and the headlights on.

She had been shot twice in the head and once in the neck. In her lap was her handbag — half opened — with the ultrasound picture inside, her father said.

“He knew that if she had that baby that she would be in his life forever, and he didn’t want that,” said prosecutor Shawna Jewell.

On a cold Kentucky afternoon four days later, Lyons was buried with her tiny baby tucked into her arms.

And this is the work of monsters, not superheroes:

[Roxanne] Fernando was pressured to terminate her pregnancy and initially agreed. She later had a “change of heart” and that set in motion a chilling chain of events, he said.

“It would be the fetus that would drive the planned and deliberate killing of Ms. Fernando,” Davidson said.
[…]
Fernando was hit with a wrench up to 20 times, bound with tape and wrapped in a blanket before being stuffed in the trunk of the car.

It was thought she was dead. But as the car began driving away, sounds could be heard coming from the rear.

“There was a realization Roxanne Fernando was still alive. They could hear moaning,” Davidson said. […]

Fernando was taken to a remote area near Mollard Road and Ritchie Street in northwest Winnipeg and repeatedly beaten with a broken hockey stick until she was obviously dead.

I’ll update this post with contact information for Damon Wayans or wayouttv.com as soon as I find some — it’s surprisingly difficult to come by. I left a comment on their web site, but you have to create an account to do that. (On the bright side, you can use Mailinator to create a throwaway email address for your account.) If anyone finds a better way to contact them, please let me know.

(ht: feministing)

Pro Every Life, Pro Woman, Pro Reproductive Justice for All

Marysia has the manifesto online and ready for signing!

Pro Every Life, Pro Woman, Pro Reproductive Justice for All: A Manifesto

Sponsored by: Turn the Clock Forward & the Nonviolent Choice Directory

We, the undersigned, affirm that:

We are pro every life, before, during, and ever after birth.

Therefore we vigorously, straightforwardly advocate women’s right to nonviolent sexual and reproductive choice.

What is nonviolent choice? (more…)