Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking away women’s rights one egg at a time!

Colorado Initiative #36. Remember that number. Remember that number as a catalyst for not only trying to take away women’s rights, but for restrictions on birth control, and the can of worms it will open in 2008. The initiative calls for changing the definition of ‘person’ in the Colorado Constitution to include any human being from the moment of fertilization; giving fertilized eggs specific rights. There are certainly a number of problems with the initiative itself, including its wording, intentions and repercussions. For the Colorado Supreme Court to allow this initiative to continue is a disaster waiting to happen.

The initiative states, “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term ‘person’ to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as ‘person’ is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?” It is a sad day when the Colorado Court cannot decipher that the initiative clearly has three separate subjects and that Colorado for Equal Rights co-founders Kristine Burton and Mark Meuser, who proposed the initiative, have violated the single subject requirement of the Colorado Constitution.

One certainly would not categorize inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law under the same Constitutional section; they are clearly very different rights. Burton and Meuser argue that because all three of these rights deal with “persons” the initiative does not violate the single subject requirement; ergo there should be one bill as opposed to three separate bills. If Burton and Meuser were so passionate about this cause of fertilized egg rights, they should take the time to defend the three rights separately. Rather, they choose to argue the rights as a whole because all three work together nicely in claiming abortion is illegal. Which they will undoubtly use later to further chip away at women’s rights.

Burton and Meuser have stated that their intent is to just establish a constitutional principle, and that any laws or legislation that come from it are hypothetical. Yet, Burton has made it clear that her mission in life is to make abortion illegal, specifically in the state of Colorado. Doesn’t anyone else think it’s a coincidence that she would be proposing a bill to give fertilized eggs rights? Claiming that this bill would have no effect on abortion rights is ridiculous. In fact, this initiative would have a direct correlation to many reproductive rights.

Kathryn Wittneben, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, said, “The impact of this initiative will extend far beyond the legality of abortion. If fertilized eggs have the legal right to access Colorado’s courts – which is one of the rights that would be granted by this initiative – what does this really mean for Coloradans?” She mentions that if this initiative moves forward, fertilized eggs can petition courts to make it illegal to use effective forms of birth control, and sue pregnant women if they miscarry.

Just imagine the circus of lawsuits waiting to happen in 2008! And who will be the defender of these eggs? Our guess is a right-wing fanatic who is committed to taking away women’s rights, one fertilized egg at a time.

Julie Burkhart
ProKanDo, CEO

Monday, November 12, 2007

A New Political Day Dawning in Kansas

It’s desperation time when the best the anti-choice, conservative legislators can do is whine before the media about Kansas’s judges refusing to bend to their righteous will. The legislators met at a lodge at Lake Afton to discuss their conservative agenda for the upcoming session including no doubt how to concoct more bills to restrict as much as possible a woman’s freedom to choose.

State Senator Peggy Palmer from Augusta who attended the meeting was quoted in a recent Wichita Eagle article that most “Kansans oppose partial birth, late-term abortions.” What she and her friends do not seem to understand is that most Kansans are far more offended by the anti-choice’s strong armed and “buttinski” tactics, than being offended by a woman’s right to seek medical attention for a difficult pregnancy. Kansans are realists and understand not every pregnancy can be carried to term.

A new day has dawned in Kansas and the conservatives seem unwillingly to acknowledge this important shift towards progressive politics among Kansans. Conservative legislators and anti-choice leaders appear astonished that the Kansas judicial system refuses to be manipulated by agenda driven ideologues. Someone should clue them in that Phill Kline is the poster boy for slimy politicians using their public office to push their anti-choice politics. The conservatives are dangerously out of touch with a growing number of voters in Kansas who are disgusted with this sort of nonsense.

By golly what’s a religious fanatic to do when bullying public officials, filing nuisance lawsuits, and claiming that a few thousand signatures on a petition is a mandate to take the state back to the Dark Ages with a grand inquisitor, and it’s just not getting any traction?

And speaking of nuisance lawsuits, Mark Gietzen is certainly not going to win a place in heaven for his disingenuous statement that he is bringing a lawsuit against Dr. Tiller to “protect other protesters.” This man’s nose must be growing longer than Pinocchio’s! Here’s a free legal tip Mr.Gietzen: jumping in front of someone’s car does not give you the right to seek damages from the driver.

As for the other protesters who routinely block the entrance to the Clinic, the situation has long been an accident waiting to happen. (If I were driving a car I would hit the accelerator instead of braking for the protesters who use that moment to pounce on the car or shove their pamphlets in the window.) Wichita has refused to acknowledge this potentially dangerous situation because city leaders have been an anti-choice conclave for decades. Protesters have been allowed to hold their wild partying, baby-stepping shenanigans in front of the Clinic with impunity and block the entrance (once the police leave) for years! So much for the city upholding the law known as the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act.

For readers who do not realize just what takes place in front of Dr.Tiller’s Clinic, allow me to explain. The best comparison to be made is with the Phelps family. Yes, the infamous Phelps family who protest at funerals of fallen soldiers. Just as the Phelps should be prevented from interfering and violating another family’s right to grieve privately for their child, anti-choice protesters should also be prevented from interfering and violating a woman’s privacy to enter a clinic. The city should move the protesters further away from the Clinic to avoid the harassment and screaming loonies that confront these women who have every right to seek medical services. They have the power under FACE to create a bubble zone around the Clinic to allow women the freedom to safely enter but of course, the city has failed to apply this protection to Dr. Tiller’s Clinic.

Protesting at funerals may be curbed due to a bill passed last session in the Kansas Legislature if it survives a fight in the courts. Of course, no lawsuit or bills in the Kansas Legislature will be forthcoming to ensure women the same dignity to attend to their own medical needs without facing ugly protesters.
In Wichita, the anti-choice protesters will once again occupy the narrow strip in front of Dr. Tiller’s clinic and do everything in their power to annoy, harass, bully and be visible with their crosses, graphic fetus signs, loud music and other tactics to make a mockery of a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. The difference is more and more Kansans are no longer sympathetic to these perverted protests and want the long war against women who seek abortion services to end.

Vickie Sandell Stangl

Monday, November 05, 2007

“Calling Dr. Unbiased, Calling Dr. Independent, your patient is waiting”

When it comes to Roe v. Wade, there is no end to the mischief legislators, anti-abortion groups, and judges will do to dilute and nullify the most basic and fundamental right a citizen has to the right to privacy.

Today we learned some of the arguments reached by Attorney General Morrison in supporting his 19 misdemeanor counts against Dr. Tiller and his Clinic. The transparency of those arguments can be reduced very easily to the follow:

1. State Legislators are purposively trying to make the process of obtaining an abortion a burden.

It is a sham to state that the numerous anti-abortion bills enacted by the Kansas Legislature has been for the “good of the women”. It is all about doing everything possible to resist Roe v. Wade while pretending the intent is for the medical safety of women and girls. Where were these noble sentiments when women were dying in back alley abortions? How was society protecting the welfare and health of women by forcing them to butcher themselves instead of seeking skilled physicians in excellent clinics operating in the light of day?

2.Morrison himself makes the above case by arguing that the “Kansas legislature through statute, expressed a strong interest in protecting potential life.”

Not only is this a rather pompous statement about Kansas’s legislators, but clearly denotes the intent is to discourage abortions. Every new law is intentionally inching up to the line of the right to privacy to place burdens not only on the young women seeking medical attention, but burdens upon the medical community. The “intent” of the law is to dry up any desire by the medical profession to “deal” with the moralizing, police state, in this line of work. The continuing harassment and legal battles brought against Dr. Tiller serve as a clear warning to all new doctors: working in a women’s health clinic means you too can be hounded to the edge of hell.

3. The most important question is whether or not the requirement for a second “unbiased opinion”(an interesting legal term a politician wouldn’t know if it bit him where the sun don’t shine) is constitutional, and not an undue restriction or burden on the woman.

The answer to that of course, is that without question, initiating the requirement of a second unbiased opinion is an open statement that we do not trust these kinds of doctors to follow the laws regarding abortions. These physicians are shifty, secretive and in an odious business therefore, we must hold them to multiple standards of oversight. Really? This might be news to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts who approves those who can practice in the state.

Who decides which doctor is unbiased in this scenario? Must we find a physician who is openly anti-abortion as the only one who can sign on with Dr. Tiller to approve a woman’s late term abortion? Is that the intent of the law? It’s a slippery slope.

4. Morrison also cites the recent Supreme Court decision regarding upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act as another indicator that restrictions on abortions in general are constitutional. Of course, what Morrison does not state is the obvious: President Bush packed the Supreme Court with men whose religious beliefs color their opinion about abortion. Due to that newly seated Court, we now have in place a group of five men who have no problem restricting a woman’s reproductive freedoms and this explains why the Court upheld the new law passed by Congress.
The more serious issue of why a government, a state, has the right to ever intervene when it comes to a woman’s health has never been adequately explored. It is a philosophical puzzle: does everyone have the right to be born even if it destroys a woman’s own life, her health and her own future as a separate individual?

Do we expect women to martyr themselves for a baby? Is that a double standard? Do fathers have to become martyrs for a new baby? Of course not, and yet we have no problem shifting the burden of life on women and then holding our noses in disgust when a woman does not want that burden or risk to her health. Clearly, the state should never intervene in abortion issues except for expecting medical standards to be ethical and safe as in any other medical facility. We have moved far beyond this simple and sensible formula.

Let me just state the obvious: a second unbiased opinion was not codified by the Kansas Legislature for medical reasons, but done so for highly biased and political reasons.

Vickie Sandell Stangl

Friday, November 02, 2007

Anti-Woman Bills from the Anti-Choice Brigade

Even before most legislative sessions have started, the anti-choice brigade continues to push for absurd legislation that takes away women’s rights. They are drafting bills and drawing up plans to push during the next legislative session. Will nothing stop these people from throwing women’s rights out the window? And just what exactly are they up to? Here are snippets from just a few states.


The Colorado Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision later this month that would give fertilized eggs the same constitutional rights as minors and adults. Their obvious intent is to prevent abortions because legal rights would be given from the moment of fertilization, according to NARAL Colorado.

The consequences of this bill would not only affect a woman’s right to choose, but would prohibit birth control, and restricts in-vitro fertilization. The 2008 ballot initiative is not for “equal rights of eggs,” but rather its purpose is to strip away women’s rights, and restrict them from making their own choices when it comes to their health care.


In Arizona anti-choice opponents are looking for tougher restrictions on abortion clinics. They hope to mirror Missouri laws that would have medical regulations similar to outpatient surgical facilities. Anti-choice lawmakers say the requirements, which include larger hallways, emergency resuscitation equipment and high ceilings, are for the protection of women, because the clinics would be up to standard health facility standards. Other requirements include changing the staffing and record-keeping procedures.

Bridget Daly, the spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Central Arizona, says that clinics already abide by State laws and always put patient safety first. So what’s with all the laws? Anti-choice opponents are only interested in pushing their own personal agenda, not really about the safety of women. This law is another installment of restrictions on women’s rights.


Governor Matt Blunt has put together a task force to examine how abortions affect women. The kicker? All the members, including Mr. Blunt himself, are anti-choice. Seems a little fishy to us. What’s worse is that they are using taxpayers’ money to fund this group. The Governor’s Task Force on the Impact of Abortion on Women is not a wide-open question to Blunt. He hopes to find information that will lower the number of abortions, and somehow benefit the anti-choice supporters. In other words, the task force is unlikely to conclude that having an abortion can be beneficial for a woman’s health.

The group’s main goal is to investigate the physical, social, emotional and economic effects of abortion. So how is the group going to report this “truthful, honest information?” We have a feeling the task force is going to turn the other cheek when they find that valid scientific studies have already documented that abortion is safe and does not affect a woman’s long-term psychological health. What the anti-choice zealots do not understand is that not having access to safe and legal abortions may cause worse effects on women’s health.


The Ohio anti-choice brigade is looking to pass laws that would force women to look at sonograms before choosing to have an abortion. Many clinics already have this option, including the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio, which says they are remaining neutral on the bill because it is “already telling clinics to do what they do already.” The anti-choice people hope this law will help women change their minds. Richard Land, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commissioner, who popularized the plan, said that “people would be much more reticent to abort babies because they would be forced to confront the evident humanity of the baby from very early gestation onward. Pregnant mothers who see their babies on sonograms are far more likely to carry their babies to term.”

This proposition assumes that most women have no idea what they are going to do when they go into an abortion clinic. Not only does it infantilize women, but it also makes women feel guilty when they are already in a tough situation. If the law makes it mandatory for women to have sonograms before their abortion, it makes it worse for those women. Just like abortion, viewing a sonogram should be a choice made by the woman and her physician, not the government.

It may be hard to believe, but anti-choice opponents are coming up with even more absurd laws to push back women’s rights. As the upcoming legislative sessions start across the county, we need to prepare to fight against these bills that could hinder our right to choose.