Monday, October 29, 2007

The Question

Andrew Sullivan, the conservative blogger for the Atlantic Monthly, and author of the book “The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It and How To Get It Back” apparently pondered an interesting question for the GOP presidential candidates that was mentioned by Bill Maher on his show, “Reel Time”. The question is worth repeating and thinking about.

The question Sullivan wanted to pose went something like this: “If you could go back in time and abort Osama bin Laden, would you do it?" What if the candidates answer, “no” all fetuses have the right to be born, even those who kill thousands and disrupt our world, as we know it; it’s still life and it is precious? Would you, the voter, agree that there could never be exceptions to complicated issues about life in general and pregnancies in particular?

Is it not reasonable or even logical to postulate further that perhaps it is erroneous to assume every pregnancy will in turn result in a wonderful gift to the world and enrich all our lives and the planet? Of course this is exactly the reality that Operation Knuckleheads ignore just as they ignore all the valid and important reasons why women should control their own reproductive decisions.

Perhaps some people’s God might teach the fetus of Osama Bin Laden is just as worthy as any other fetus, but others could logically argue that it is impossible to determine what a new life will bring to the world. It might be a Nobel Prize winner or a serial killer like BTK. No one can knows for sure and it is dishonest to act as if all pregnancies are created equal and wonderful.

When Operation Knuckleheads use their propaganda to state that “all life is precious” they are ignoring the reality that not every child born into this world is mentally whole or grows up to be productive, loved, and well schooled enough to be a good citizen of the world. If all life were precious, there would be no war and there would certainly be no toleration for abused and neglected children in society. Children would all have healthcare and wonderful schools without whining from the taxpayer about paying for public schools. We know in reality, only “some lives are precious.”

I’m not advocating that women abort their fetus because they might be growing something like Rosemary’s Baby inside their womb, but merely to explain Sullivan’s question. He raises the dilemma that if we assume every abortion is killing the next Einstein we must also consider its opposite: abortion might be killing the next Frankenstein. When the anti-abortion crew stands on their soapbox about the sanctity of life, Sullivan’s question should haunt their certainty.

It is pompous and arrogant to assume that all pregnancies are a joyful gift from heaven when you consider such circumstances as rape or incest. There is little joy carrying a fetus to term with severe abnormalities causing permanent health issues for either mother or child. Joy is not a word to describe what most girls and women feel in these cases. Operation Knuckleheads do not care about these realities but continue the mantra “all life is precious”.

As a society we have to ask ourselves what do we value more? The rationale decision to control our destiny’s as much as possible, or to hope lady luck is on our side as we give parenthood a whirl on the Wheel of Fortune?

Being pro-choice means you support women in all their choices; including the decision to carry a baby to term under all the circumstances listed above or the decision not to do so.

In a perfect world we would like all babies to be born brilliant, and pregnant women to be capable and healthy for motherhood, but conditions are not always in the cards to produce such outcomes.

Whose to say that the woman who has made the choice to end her pregnancy has just saved the world from a monster? If that sounds ridiculous, it is just as ridiculous to assume the pregnancy ended was the end of a potential Saint.

Vickie Sandell Stangl

Monday, October 22, 2007

Goodbye Mr. Kline

Once again boys and girls, Phill Kline is on the trail of the dastardly Overland Park clinic known as Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. What is this clinic doing that 107 charges have been drawn up against it by Kline? Doing exactly what it has a right to do: counseling pregnant women, providing contraceptive information and abortion services as allowed under the standards mandated by the law.

Kline and his pal Troy Newman, just can’t stomach these clinics to operate and thus conspire together to close them down for their buddy, God. The formula is simple: use taxpayer money to harrass clinics with grand jury investigations, file numerous criminal charges that carry heavy fines and prison terms, use intimidation tactics with nutty groups like Operation Rescue, and then hold press conferences on the taxpayers dime to pontificate about “doing one’s duty” until the clinics are bled dry with legal expenses and are forced to close their doors.

Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, is not about to let these two charlatans get away with their manipulation of the law and the system to deny women their right to privacy as afforded under the constitution. Closing these clinics is not an option and the people of Kansas are beyond tired of Kline’s efforts.

A stranger to Kansas would have to wonder why in the world this District Attorney of Johnson County, is not summarily tossed out on his glutius maximus for abusing his important public office. Courageous Kansans fighting to uphold a woman’s right to privacy know the answer to this conundrum: the Kansas electorate was fed up with Kline in 2006, and soundly voted him out of the State Attorney General office only to see the anti-abortion republican hacks snub the will of the people, and hand Kline his current job to continue his assault on women seeking important medical services

Kline is a man obsessed with forcing his religious beliefs on all Kansans. It might even be suggested he has a bit of a “Messiah” complex as he fights for his male, Christian, fundamentalist God who abhors abortions. Of course, Kline’s God doesn’t seem very angry about Iraqis being killed, but is livid that women have the right in America to decide their own reproductive choices. One would think God could take care of this Himself instead of sending the Phill Kline or Troy Newman to do the dirty work. (Frankly, I think God is hanging with the wrong crowd.)

It seems clear now that we need the Kansas State Legislature to pass a law prohibiting ideological/hate groups from harassing businesses and private citizens with their nuisance petitions to convene grand juries in Kansas. It is a gross manipulation of a democratic tool in the interest of one narrow group and mocks the entire system of justice.

One of the most fundamental right citizens have is to make medical decisions they deem best for their physical welfare. No person is truly free without this most basic right, and Kline knows this is true, but that is exactly the point; Kline doesn’t believe women should be “that” free. They must atone for Eve’s sin and forcing women to give birth is God’s command, right? God didn’t say, “Enjoy your apple, and control your pregnancies”. Kline won’t say this in so many words but it is what he believes. He is working for God to save babies because women are not to get off scott-free from having sex and for sinning first!

From a legal basis, Kline’s attempt to shred a citizen’s right to privacy is certainly in violation of Griswold v Connecticut, 1965 and Roe v.Wade,1973. His actions make the Supreme Court’s bland phrase regarding restrictions that should not cause “an undue burden” ring even more hollow for women who now face the undue burden of an out of control District Attorney in Johnson County.

Kline is not only violating the constitution with his actions, but in violation of the most important principles the founders bequeathed to future generations: a secular government allowing all people to freely worship their God, but also a government which bars religion from making laws based upon their doctrines. Kline flunked this most basic civic lesson.

Let me state this one more time: Upholding reproductive choice for women might offend someone’s religious beliefs, but the American government is not based upon writing laws that support a religious viewpoint. Good government must pass laws based upon the rights of the citizenry, and this may come as a shock to Kline and others, but women are citizens who have autonomy over their own bodies. To do anything less is to make a mockery of our own democratic republic, free of religious entanglements. The world is scarred and damaged enough by religious dogma dictating public policy without doing the same in America.

Kline should resign if he cannot curb his addiction to upholding the bible instead of the law. We all know the answer to that dilemma. Goodbye Mr. Kline.

Vickie Sandell Stangl

Friday, October 19, 2007

Snoop Dog Kline is at it again!

What’s the saying, “Old habits die hard?” Well that’s exactly what Phill Kline’s motto should be as District Attorney of Johnson County, Kansas. He can’t seem to stop harassing women and doctors, and snooping around for information regarding women’s medical records. He is clearly and unequivocally sticking his nose in a place where it does not belong. Some people across the state even question his authority as DA to file such a complaint in his home county.

Phill Kline’s charges against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri in Overland Park, Kansas are part of another attack on women’s rights. On Wednesday, October 17, Kline filed 23 felony and 84 misdemeanor counts. They range anywhere from accusations of providing false information to failure to maintain medical records to providing unlawful late-termination of pregnancy. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows about Kline’s previous track record as an anti-choice zealot.

Kline’s crusade to shut down abortion providers and harass women began back in October of 2003, when sealed subpoenas showed up at Women’s Health Care Services and at Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood. That was four long years ago. Due to the gag order on the subpoenas, the general public and the press did not learn about his fishing expedition until early winter of 2004. In those subpoenas, Kline asserted that the clinics were guilty of wrong doing, which lead to numerous years of litigation. Unfortunately, this is an extension of that case, only with Kline now as the District Attorney of Johnson County instead of as the Attorney General of the State of Kansas.

Initially, Kline spun his zealotry as protection of children from child rapists, even though the vast majority of the records that he sought were for adult women who had had abortion procedures. It did not take long for the media to see through this politically motivated ploy. However, the case raged on, with the real threat of women’s privacy being violated.

It became clear that the only way Kline was ever going to stop his trolling for women’s medical records was for him to lose his AG seat. Due to his blatant misuse of his governmental office and extravagant expenditures, he lost his position to Paul Morrison by a 16 point margin, which was remarkable given the Republican vs. Democratic registration in this state, and given early polling numbers in the race. These numbers showed just how fed up and tired Kansans are with his one-issue-ax-to-grind-agenda.

And now, less than a year later, Kline is at it again, prosecuting as Johnson County DA. Taxpayers should wonder if Kline’s charges hold any value, or if the attack is purely for political purposes. When in reality, most of Kline’s time is spent on his battle to shut down abortion clinics, and to take away your right to choose.

Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri told the Associated Press that the clinic did not perform any abortions past the 22nd week of pregnancy and that they always provide high-quality care for their patients. Clinics, including Dr. Tiller’s clinic in Wichita, have been under attack since 2002 when Kline was elected attorney general. Since Kline opposes abortion, he is abusing his position to keep women from having access to it. With these charges, Kline is attempting to shut down these clinics and limit women’s right to choose. He is further pushing women into becoming second-class citizens.

The first hearing is scheduled for November 16, but one has to wonder if Kline’s charges will even hold up in court. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Morrison said he had reviewed the current accusations, and found no crimes or misconducts, and questioned Kline’s political influence behind the charges.

With anti-choice zealots like Kline in office, we cannot let our focus or our efforts wane. We must be diligent when protecting women’s rights, as women are not truly free and equal in our society until we have the autonomous decision-making power regarding our reproductive lives. If there is no equity when it comes to reproduction, there is no equity in education, jobs or relationships.

As a state and as a country, politicians have undervalued women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, for too long. We cannot stand by and allow our elected officials to decide what is right and moral for the women of this nation.

By Julie Burkhart
CEO, ProKanDo

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nicaragua’s Abortion Ban

Nicaragua’s abortion ban, implemented a year ago, is hurting women a lot more than it is doing anything else. The ban calls for imprisonment of women, and the people who help them (including doctors) when they have an abortion, even in the case of saving the woman’s life. It is among Central America’s most restrictive abortion laws that limits women, and puts their lives in danger.

The ban, which has resulted around 80 deaths so far (according to the International Herald Tribune) has put women at a standstill. The law says that the country will prosecute anybody who has an abortion, but what about the women who are facing pregnancy complications that could lead to death? Are they supposed to pick between going to jail or dying? The high rate of deaths because of illegal abortions in that country is astonishing as well.

The recent release of the Human Rights Watch report on the blanket ban has shed some light into how it has evolved. Women do not want to go get public medical help during their pregnancies in case they have a miscarriage, and are sent to jail. Doctors are also worried about “assisting” in these miscarriages and some are even denying women of medical help.

The fact that the government refuses rights to these women is appalling, and are in affect sentencing these women to die, whether from pregnancy complications or botched abortions. How does the Nicaraguan government ignore these facts? Do they stick to their beliefs that they are only trying to save the fetuses lives when in fact, they are sentencing these women to death? How much longer will this law be butchering women?

The fight to get rid of the ban though, mainly because of the strong, religious background of the people, but the Nicaraguan Feminist Movement and several other groups have already filed petitions to declare the ban unconstitutional. Since the courts have yet to rule, the battle wages on as many human rights groups and activists continue to show the fallout of this horrible ban, especially in the U.S.

Nicaragua’s blanket ban on abortion, and its consequences, should be a reminder to all how imperative women’s reproductive rights are, especially when right-wing legislators are working to chip away these rights everyday. According to a recent New York Times article, a global study has shown that outlawing abortions still does not reduce the number of them happening. If anything, it increases the number of deaths among women who do choose to have an abortion.

The situation reaches all women, and as we work towards fighting for all women’s rights, we should remember the words of Lucy Stone, “Now all we need is to continue to speak the truth fearlessly, and we shall add to our number those who will turn the scale to the side of equal and full justice in all things.”

Julie Burkhart
CEO, ProKanDo

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bearing Flase Witness

Who is Paul McHugh and why would the anti-abortion camp invite him to give his "expert" opinion regarding late term abortions before Kansas Legislators?
First, he is not an expert in the study of late term abortions, but is the Chair of the Psychiatry Department at Johns Hopkins University. His bio is impressive and it is clear that he is highly regard by his former students. He is also admired by others for challenging established ideas or accepted practices in his field.

Among his peers he has raised a bit of a dust up over his scorn for doctors who perform sex-change surgeries on patients who feel trapped in a bodies that belie their real sexual identify. McHugh has called sex-change operations a form of a "frontal lobotomy." It is clear that this is a man who thinks God does not make mistakes. Any deviance can be cured with religion and right morals. Therefore, stem-cell is evil, sex change operations mess with God's handiwork, and abortions are of course, taking the lives God has created.

McHugh is entitled to his religious beliefs, but not to use his religious beliefs to bear false witness against women or Dr. Tiller. His credentials as an academician are solid, but it cannot hide the fact that he has an agenda, an ideology, a dogma called Catholicism that warps his testimony and yet it is exactly why he was called as a witness.

The professor has a history of coming to the witness table as a biased expert quite unencumbered by his personal feelings or beliefs. As Erica Goode explained in a New York Times article, McHugh served as a lay member on a panel assembled by the Roman Catholic Church investigating accusations of sexual abuse by priests against young boys. Victims protested McHugh's appointment due to the simple fact that he had frequently testified in court on behalf of molesters or accused molesters; McHugh disputed the repressed memories of those molested.

McHugh was also appointed to President Bush's Council on Bioethics, an 18 member group annoited to study such medical advancements as embryonic stem cell research and "assisted reproduction." Many of the appointees are directly tied to the religious magazine, "First Things" with the purpose of incorporating the teachings and dogma of religion into public policy decisions, especially issues regarding women's health and welfare. Thus, McHugh was naturally a perfect candidate to serve as a witness to defame and belittle women who seek late term abortions in Kansas.

As a practicing Catholic McHugh has the right to oppose abortions of course, but it is self-serving and a sham for the professor to bear witness and leave out these rather important elements to his impressive resume. Therefore, it was hardly surprising or a stretch for McHugh to testify that "there is no psychological condition for which abortion is the cure," when discussing late term abortions for women.

Such arrogance should not shock any of us today, but it is shocking to reread these lines and not be struck by the fact that this man might as well be on Mars when it comes to understanding the conditions that make late term abortions necessary. One can hear in this remark the belief that women are having late term abortions because they are having a bad day and believe aborting their fetus will make the world all perfect again.

If McHugh could suddenly become pregnant with a child that is terribly deformed or draining his life away, he might see late term abortions as a gift from God. That's right, a gift from God where men and women with compassion have harnessed their intellect and free will to save women and spare more suffering of the fetus.

Late term abortions are no small matter entered into lightly. Most Kansans and most Americans, understand this fact. Women who make this difficult choice do so for real medical problems that cannot be ignored or wished away. Women are forced for their own good health to make tough decisions the anti-abortion camp willy/nilly condemns as "murder" or "selfishness."

These slings and arrows surely do not help the mental health of women. McHugh does not appear too concerned by this obvious fact since he no doubt believes in his own religious righteousness.
In the eyes of the anti-abortion camp and their expert witness Paul McHugh, once a pregnant woman, always a pregnant woman, even if the cure is death for the woman.

Oh,,la,la,la,la ,la,la,

Vickie Sandell Stangl