If you have been following my recent posts, you know I am supporting the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride set to kick off on 23 July 2013 in New York City and San Francisco.  I discussed this summer’s action with a number of people I respect, and there is a divide in the abortion rights community on whether or not it is wise to embark on this action.  I did not reach the decision to support and join with the Riders without giving the decision due diligence; nor, did I neglect to consider the multiple outcomes of the action.

When facing a dichotomous debate among two sides of the community, two camps who should be working together toward common goals, I ask myself now as I did in the past, What Would Dad Do?  Would he shrink back into the shadows, rely solely on private action and influence, or would he advocate, and actually engage in, direct action and response to those who tormented, stalked, and eventually killed him?  Obviously, we know the answer:  he did not back down!  As I wrote a couple of posts ago, I also cannot and will not back down.

Upon the 20th year after my dad’s murder by a Christian terrorist, as we face continued threat of violence, and as state after state passes draconian anti abortion legislation, I reflect not only on what my dad would do but also consider the words of Yeats:

Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.

Knowing I will be appalled by remaining silent, I resolved the vacillation by opting to support what I believe is the right course of action.  To that end, I co-authored a piece on the merits and need of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride with one of its primary organizers Sunsara Taylor.  I want to share with you our recent missive so perhaps more of us will come together on the need for direct, vocal, and mass support our clinics, our doctors, and our rights

Abortion Rights Are At a Crossroads:
This is NOT a Time to Lay Low – It is Time for Massive Uncompromising Struggle!

By Sunsara Taylor and David Gunn, Jr.
July 12, 2013

Across the country, people are waking up to the state of emergency facing the right to abortion. As legislators in Texas push hard to close down 37 of 42 abortion clinics statewide, new laws in North Carolina would close four of their five remaining clinics. Meanwhile, Ohio’s recently passed budget could close as many as three abortion clinics. North Dakota, on August 1st, may become the first state to effectively ban abortion. Already Mississippi’s last abortion clinic is merely an appellate ruling away from closure. We could go on.

If we do not reverse this trajectory now, we will condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame. Women will be forced to have children they do not want, trapping them in abusive relationships, driving them into poverty, forcing them out of school, and extinguishing their dreams. Women will go to desperate and dangerous measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies, once again flooding emergency rooms and turning up dead women in cheap motels with blood caked between their legs.

We face two divergent roads: Either we seize control of the debate and reset the terms and whole trajectory of this fight; or we continue down the road of “established conventional wisdom,” only to awaken before long to an unrecognizable and untenable situation for women. What each of us does matters,and matters tremendously.

It is in this context that we initiated an Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Our echo of the Civil Rights Freedom Rides is intentional and fitting. Women who cannot decide for themselves if and when they have children are not free. On the contrary, they are mere child-bearing chattel whose purpose is to serve and not actively chose their destinies.

Volunteers on this Freedom Ride will caravan from both coasts to North Dakota, traverse through the middle of the country into Wichita, and head due south to Jackson, Mississippi. Our aim is threefold: one, we must move beyond localized fights andlauncha national counter-offensive; two, we must radically reset the political, moral, and ideological terms of this fight so that millions understand that this fight is about women’s liberation or women’s enslavement; lastly, and of paramount importance, we must call forth the mass independent political resistance that is necessary to defeat this war on women.

As the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride evolved from conception to genesis, many have responded by with enthusiastic and unequivocal support. Regular people from across the country as well as those who have been on the front lines of the abortion rights struggle are joining with us in demanding abortion rights without compromise and thanking us for daring to travel to where women’s rights face harshest threat.

However, some who share our passion for the cause have raised concerns and even opposition to this action. They fear the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be too confrontational, too vociferous for abortion, and may turn off avenues of support.
Some have argued that it is wrong for people to come into local areas from the outside. Others argue that mass political protest will endanger the chances of winning important court cases and that it is better to rely on official channels of politics.

Because the future of women is at stake, we feel it is critical to address these concerns head on. In fact, it is exactly the faulty logic at the root of these concerns that has contributed to all of us finding ourselves in such a dire situation.

First, while local ground conditions are different and unique in some ways, the fact that every clinic and every state is facing heightened assault is not unique nor is it local. We all face a national assault on abortion rights which requires a national counter-offensive. Not only is it utterly immoral for us to abandon the women living in the states most under direct duress, it is delusional to think that what happens in states like Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Kansas will not come soon to a theater near you. Our futures are bound together and we all share the responsibility to take this on and turn the tide where the attacks are the most severe.

Second, while it is true that a great many people – including many who support abortion rights – are defensive about abortion, they should not be ashamed and this defensiveness and shame is precisely something we must eradicate.

Among the reasons many are defensive about abortion are decades of propaganda by those who oppose women’s equality but posture as defenders of “babies”; meanwhile, supporters of abortion rights have too often been conciliatory, muted, and compromising. This must stop. This fight has never been about babies. It has always been about controlling women. This is why there is not a single major anti-abortion organization that supports birth control.

If we want to turn the tide, we have to tell the truth: there is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion. Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.

A great many people are hungry for this message. They are furious and searching for a meaningful vehicle to make their outrage felt. It is only by asserting the positive morality of abortion rights that we can call forth and mobilize the tens of thousands who already share our resolve. Only through direct action and a polemical shift can all of us stand together and change how millions of others are thinking. Shouldn’t this emergency situation awaken us to the need to change public opinion, not accommodate it?

History has proven that directly confronting oppressive social norms can be disruptive and scary; yet, it is a necessary and uplifting part of making any significant positive change. Many argued that it was wiser for LGBT people to stay closeted until society was more accepting; others counseled against the Civil Rights Freedom Rides out of fear that it would only rile up the opposition, but it was only when people took that risk and got “in your face” that broader public opinion and actions began to change.

We must create a situation where being anti-abortion is seen to be as socially unacceptable as it is to advocate lynchings, anti-LGBT violence, or rape (although, if you listen to some on the Right, rape advocacy is not necessarily off their table).When we reach that summit, we will be on our way to turning the tide.

Third, while court cases are important – even essential – it is only through truly massive independent political struggle that we stand a chance at defeating the truly unyielding and powerful foe we face. Every setback the anti-abortion movement experiences only makes them more determined and every victory only makes them more aggressive. They will not be appeased if we lie low. No court case or election or new law will stop them. Not only has the existing power structure proven unwilling or unable to do so, people who believe they are on a “mission from God” are not bound by human laws and do not yield to public opinion.

But they can be defeated. Forced motherhood is deeply opposed to the interests of humanity. If we get out there and tell the truth, if we resist, if we clarify the stakes of this battle, and if we mobilize wave upon wave of the masses to get off the sidelines and into the streets with us, we can win. There is a tremendous reservoir of people who can and must be called forth to join in this struggle. We have seen this vividly in Texas. Let us not underestimate the potential that exists in every state across this country.

We stand at a crossroads. For the future of women everywhere, let us refuse the worn pathways that have allowed us to lose so much ground. We must not lay low, hope these attacks will blow over, and allow women in some parts of the country to be forced into mandatory motherhood while hoping to preserve the rights of a shrinking few. We cannot continue to foster the attitude that abortion is the 21st Century’s Scarlet Letter while allowing abortion providers to be further stigmatized and demonized. We cannot recoil from the massive fight that urgently needs fighting at this moment in this time.

Now is the time for courage, for truth telling, for stepping out and launching an uncompromising counter-offensive. We have right on our side. We call on everyone who cares about the future of women to join with us in strengthening the national impact and influence of this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Join with us at our kick-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco in July 23. Caravan to meet us in North Dakota, Wichita, Kansas, and Jackson, Mississippi. Send a donation or a message of support. Reach out to individuals and religious communities that can provide safe passage to the courageous individuals who are giving up their summers and putting everything they have into winning a different and far better future for women. Most importantly, let us together take the rough road to victory. It may be less traveled, but only through struggle can we reap the benefits of love’s labor won.

To learn more about and get involved with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, go to: http://www.stoppatriarchy.org/

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution Newspaper (revcom.us) and is an initiator of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women (StopPatriarchy.org)

David Gunn, Jr. is the son of David Gunn, Sr., the first abortion doctor to be assassinated by an anti-abortion gunman, and blogs for Abortion.ws

Personhood Abortion

Personhood Demonstration

I am now totally convinced that the anti-abortion movement in this country has no idea how to stop abortion and, worse, some of their strategies might actually result in more abortions in this country.

There is now another anti-abortion group out there called “Personhood USA.”  They are led by a young activist by the name of Keith Mason who hails from Colorado.  Personhood USA’s announced goal is to pass amendments to several state constitutions that would recognize someone as a person “exactly at creation.”   As Mason explains, that would be at the moment of “fertilization…when the sperm meets the egg.”

Go ahead, Keith, make our day.

Okay, so I’m not gonna spend any time talking about how only about half of these fertilized eggs actually result in an ongoing pregnancy.  I guess to folks like Keith, it is irrelevant.   I suppose that when fertilization occurs, the parents will go out and get their new little “person” a Social Security but if it never appears, well, we’ll just toss his or her card out.  Despite some possible glitches, Keith is charging full steam ahead.  Indeed, this November voters in Mississippi might vote on a “personhood amendment” to their state Constitution, although it is being challenged by the ACLU.  And Keith has declared that his organization hopes to get proposals like these on the ballot in nearly half the states by 2012.

If Keith and his buddies want to spend all of that time on initiatives like these, I might even send him $5 to encourage him because it is an incredible waste of their time, money and energy.  If you have ever worked on a ballot initiative you know how much work it is and if Keith wants to try to mobilize the anti-abortion folks in that state on a proposal that – even if it passed – would never pass constitutional muster, then I say go for it.   Of course, he is ignoring the fact that a similar measure was defeated in Colorado in 2008 and 2010 but if his crowd wants to spend their time pushing something like this instead of working to defeat President Obama, I applaud their decision.

Kelth Mason Abortion

Keith Mason

Here’s the other kicker.   Let’s say that the measure actually does pass in Mississippi and it starts making its way through the court system.  Let’s say that in the meantime, President Obama has three more appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court and he gets into a pissing match with the pro-choice movement and, seeking revenge, he appoints three ardent, right wing conservatives.  Then this case gets to that Supreme Court and they uphold the law!

The result?

Sorry, Keith, but the result could actually be more (illegal at that point) abortions.

That’s because redefining “personhood” in this fashion will actually end up reclassifying many birth control methods as abortifacients or agents that induce abortions.

Hmmmm…. Less birth control available to women.

Now, I’m no rocket scientist but is it not possible that this scenario might result in more abortions?

Hello, Keith!   Are you out there?

Abortion.com Banned!

People who work in abortion clinics know what it’s like to be discriminated against.  Oh, I’m not talking about discrimination in the legal sense.  I’m just talking general “discrimination.”

For example, it is not unusual for a local business to refuse to serve the local abortion clinic.  It may be a cleaning service that does not want to clean the clinic at night.  It might take a long time for the director of the abortion clinic to find someone who would be willing to construct a website for them.  In some more extreme cases, the local police might not react as quickly as they normally do when called to control an unwieldy group of protestors.  It’s just all part of being in the abortion business.

Now, I am hearing of another form of possible “discrimination” against abortion providers – by Facebook.

Let me explain.

This blog is associated with the website, www.abortion.com.  That site is a directory of abortion clinics across the country.  The clinics pay a fee to be placed on the site, much like they pay the Yellow Pages to be listed in their books.  A while ago, the manager of the website decided to create a Facebook page.  As of two weeks ago, that Facebook page had over 100,000 “friends,” an incredible amount of people.

On a regular basis, the manager of the site (or one of the “friends”) would post a comment in an effort to generate a conversation.  For example, he might post something like “how do you feel about late term abortions?”   In response, dozens upon dozens of people would comment.  Many of them were anti-abortion, which was perfectly okay because it engendered some very lively debates.

Indeed, at times it would get downright hot and heavy.  Unfortunately, some people used foul language but if they did, they were immediately warned by the manager and removed if they ignored the warnings.   Then, a number of anti-abortion nut balls would flood the site with inane comments, repeating them over and over again.  I think the word is “trolling.”   The manager spent an inordinate amount of time deleting the troll’s comments.  In addition to all of this activity, the Facebook page was used to advertise for www.abortion.com in the hopes of directing women to reputable abortion clinics.

Then, suddenly, about a week ago the Facebook page disappeared.


Just like that.

The manager and his staff immediately tried contacting Facebook to find out why the site was taken down.  It was puzzling.  After all, there are a number of other abortion related Facebook pages out there.  Indeed, some of the anti-abortion pages are incredibly gross.  So, it was very hard to figure out why they were shut down without notice.

Compounding the problem is that it is virtually impossible to talk to anyone at Facebook because they are so insulated.  There may be some bullshit “contact us” button but you know that your message will wind up on the computer of some teenager in some Third World country who is getting paid $5 an hour.  Go ahead, try it yourself.  Try contacting Facebook.

So, where does that leave us?

I cannot imagine why Facebook took down this page.  But, no matter what the reason, it is incredibly arrogant to close down a page with that many fans without even notifying the manager.  Who are these anonymous people who make these decisions willy-nilly?   Or sure, I understand it’s their company but, c’mon folks, where are your manners?

I can only conclude that Facebook was getting somewhat uncomfortable with the page for some reason.  The cynic in me would say that the powers that be are anti-abortion and were concerned that an abortion rights page was getting so much visibility.  And, if I can prove that is the case, then I am ready to lead a pro-choice revolt against this company whose owner recently named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine.

My antennae is up – is it possible that, once again, abortion providers are being discriminated against?


Today is a day that we thank all of the veterans who served our country.  In that same vein, I would like to take a moment to thank all of the “veterans” in the abortion provider movement who put their lives on the line to serve millions and millions of women over the years.  Below is my not very comprehensive list.  Sorry if I left you out,but my memory is fading.  The folks I am listing have been public about their work so I am not revealing anything new.  But there are many others who have “served” who I am not naming because they understandably wish to remain anonymous.


Renee Chelian, Claire Keyes, Deb Walsh, Rusty Stengle, Jane Bovard, Kelly Martin, Marilyn Eldridge, Merle Hoffman, Amy Miller , Gail Frances, Herb Wiskind, Tammy Sobieski, Gerry Grossman, Diane Derzis, Ed Allred, Wayne Codding, Ted and Patricia Windle


Lee Carhart, Tyrone Malloy, David Gluck, Martin Haskell, Charlie Benjamin, Norman Fisk, Lloyd Benjamin,

Dr. George Tiller

Curtis Boyd, Gary Boyle, Richard Manning, Lorraine Cummings, Mildred Hanson, Sue Wicklund, Peter Bours, Elizabeth Newhall, Sylvester Braithwaite, Bill Fitzhugh, Robert Rho, Melanie Maclennan, William West, George Dainoff, Amy Cousins, Takey Crist, Randy Whitney , Mohammed Imran, Bruce Lucero, Warren Hern, Jerry Hulka, Damon Stutes


Lorraine Maguire, Elizabeth Barnes, Jennifer Vriens, Charlotte Taft, Allie Harper, Jen Boulanger, Jessica Wilson, Toni Hawkins, Kathy Olson, Carol Westfall, Beverly Whipple, Marcy Bloom, Lisa Thomas, Chrisse France, Kudra McCalleich, Marilyn Buckman, JoDell Nauert, Jane Cerilli, Debi Jackson, Pam O’Leary, Stephanie Guilbaud, Carol Belding, Celeina Houston, Pat Mitchell, Sally Burgess, Karen Kubby, Francine Thompson, Kim Collins, Dena Vogler, Shauna Heckert, K.B. Kohls, Iggy DeBlasi, Susan Derwin, LaDonna Prince, Candace Dye

Susan Hill


George Tiller, Susan Hill, Bill Knorr, David Gunn, Bart Slepian, Baird Britton, Myron Chrisman, Jerry Campagna, Michael Nauert,  Harold Tickten, Norma and Carl Stave, Curtis Stover, Robert Kisner ,

Buck Williams, Jim McMahon, Jim Barrett, Eugene Glick

Ken Cuccinelli Abortion

Ken Cuccinelli Abortion

A few days ago, Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli (“the Cooch”), said in a legal opinion that the state’s Board of Health could “regulate” abortion clinics.  In response, the local pro-choice folks claimed that such action could close 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics.

The first bit of info that is missing here is that abortion clinics are already subject to a number of regulations on the state, federal and local level.  I mean, after all, they are MEDICAL facilities, aren’t they?  Does the Cooch think that their doctors don’t have licenses, that there is fetus blood all over the floors, that they do not use sterilized instruments?   Has he never heard of OSHA, CLIA, HIPPA and the other acronyms that mean nothing to me but strike fear in the heart of any medical office?

The second thing is:  what makes him think that abortion clinics need more regulations?   Has there suddenly been a series of deaths in the abortion clinics?   Are hundreds of women calling to complain about unsanitary conditions at these facilities?  Of course not.  To the contrary – abortion remains one of the simplest, hence, safest medical procedures available in this country.

The third thing that hits me is:   Has the Cooch ever been in an abortion clinic?  Has he ever toured one of the four abortion clinics that are right around the corner from his office in Richmond?   Does he even know how abortion clinics operate?  Of course, the answer is no.

What the Cooch and his allies are attempting to do is to close down abortion clinics, pure and simple.  Years ago, in South Carolina the state passed a number of regulations that basically required that abortion clinics be regulated as hospitals.  They required the clinics to widen their hallways.  They said the thermostat had to be set at a certain temperature.  They even required the clinic to control the insect population on the lawn.  I kid you not.  It was absolutely absurd.  As a result, two clinics that could not afford to make those very expensive changes went out of business.

That’s what the Cooch is trying to do in ole Virginny.   He is anti-abortion and this is just a sneaky way of pushing his anti-abortion agenda.  It has nothing to do with enhancing the safety of abortion or protecting women’s health.  This message is very confusing to me – he wants to outlaw abortion but he “cares” about the women and wants to make sure that they are getting the best abortion treatment.  That’s totally screwy.

On the other hand….yes, there’s always another hand.

The pro-choice groups are apoplectic.  Oh my God, they’re gonna close all of these clinics!   Women will not be able to get abortions.  Please join us in fighting the Cooch and, by the way, please send us a million dollars today so we can save women’s reproductive rights.

Okay, my fellow pro-choicers, calm down.

The fact is that the Cooch’s legal opinion says that the Virginia Board of Health could impose additional restrictions.  It’s all up to them.  They can take the Cooch’s cue and say thanks very much, but I got better things to do.  Or they could try to determine if there are actually some constructive new regulations that might benefit women.   We just don’t know what they’ll do.  Indeed, some observers of the Board are suggesting that the majority of its members will do nothing because they were appointed by the former pro-choice Democratic governor.

We’ll have to watch things closely, of course, and we appreciate local pro-choice organizations like Virginia NARAL.  Meanwhile, however, if I ran a clinic in Virginia, I’d be writing a letter to the Board of Health inviting them to visit my clinic so they can see how great my facility is.   I would tell them that if they have any constructive suggestions then of course I’d consider them, but I will oppose anything that is mere harassment.  Here’s a chance for abortion clinics in the state to take the high road and to remind everyone that they are upstanding medical facilities and not “back alley” abortion clinics.



Yesterday, to escape this blasted heat, I went into Washington, D.C. to catch an exhibit of Norman Rockwell paintings that had been donated by Stephen Speilberg and George Lucas.  It was nice just taking my time walking around, examining every amazing detail in Rockwell’s works.

At one point I came across a piece entitled “Free Speech.”  The piece focuses on one man, standing in the middle of a crowd.  The caption next to the painting said this was a man who disagreed with the crowd on some issue, but his opponents were listening to him intently, respecting his right to say what was on his mind even though they ultimately would not support him.   I was almost brought to tears.

Today, of course, that person would have been shouted down, totally discounted as some nut ball by his opponents.  That’s just where we are as a society these days.  We just don’t listen anymore.  Worse, when someone tries to suggest something contrary to our beliefs, we try to silence him with harsh words, with guffaws, with rolling eyes, as if this person could never say anything that was remotely of some benefit.

Of course, we see this kind of behavior all the time in the abortion debate.  Indeed, the harsh back and forth is probably more pronounced when discussing the abortion issue than any other issue.  We are so locked into our beliefs, the battle lines are drawn oh-so-clearly and you cannot cross them lest you be accused of ceding some valuable territory to the opposition.  Just watch an abortion debate on television.  You know exactly what I mean.  It’s a constant screaming match.    “Abortion is murder!”   “A woman has the right to control her body!”   And on and on and on.

No one is communicating.  They’re just yelling over each other.  Actually, years ago I stopped watching these “debates.”

I’m pro-choice, I’ve worked for pro-choice organizations for years.  But, much to the chagrin of many of my colleagues, years ago I started reaching out to pro-life people in an attempt to try to get inside their head, to learn more about them and, hopefully, to allow them to learn more about me .  I actually started engaging the other side after I learned that a number of the abortion clinics that I represented engaged in the same discussions with their local anti-abortion activists.

At the same time, I challenged my pro-choice colleagues to address the tougher questions about abortion.  When I visited the clinics, I talked to the women and it became clear to me that they were not there to make a statement about their constitutional rights or to promote some feminist ideology.  They were there because they were in a difficult situation and they needed help.  They also had to deal with something that pro-choice organizations would rather not address – they were carrying a baby that they didn’t want.   I soon discovered that the bottom line was that abortion is all so complicated.

So, amidst the screaming and yelling, the women continue to seek abortion services.  I think that anti-abortion folks owe these women more respect and the pro-choice activists should not try to reduce this issue to a simple bumper sticker.  Both sides should listen more to the other side with the goal of having a civil debate about abortion – kinda like that group in the Normal Rockwell painting.

I met Paul Hill about a week after Doctor David Gunn was killed in Pensacola, Florida.  We were about to take the stage of The Donohue Show and we were munching vegetables in the “green room.”  I introduced myself, not knowing who he was, but we didn’t have time to talk.  Minutes later, he was telling a national television audience that it was “justifiable homicide” to kill a doctor who performed abortions.  Three other pro-choice spokespeople were on the stage with us and I sat next to Paul.

When he started talking, I thought the audience was going to lynch him.  No one had ever heard this kind of talk.  More interestingly, it was coming from a pleasant looking man with a sheepish grin, not your typical rabble-rousing, screaming zealot.  He seemed like an Iowa farm boy who had gotten lost in the Big Apple.  During the commercial breaks, I chatted with him a bit as I was always interested in knowing how “the other side” thinks.

Over the next few months, I would see Paul at various pro-life demonstrations.  As a staff person for the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, I would go to the events to lend support to the clinics that we represented.  If I saw Paul outside, I would simply walk through the hundreds of protestors and go up to him, shake his hand, ask how the kids were.  If we had time, we would sit and chat about his views.  He would ask me lots of questions about how abortions were performed and the women who sought them.

At one point, at a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama, I asked him if he thought it was okay to kill a doctor, then why hadn’t he done it himself?   “You know, Pat, that’s a good question and a lot of people ask me the same thing,” he said.  “But I feel I can do more as a leader of this movement than a doer.”   He then told me how many of his colleagues in the pro-life movement had been harassing him about his theory, almost calling his bluff.  Indeed, during the same rally, a leader of the anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, asked me if I would give him any “intelligence” on Hill because they were concerned that he might kill a doctor.  Talk about a bizarre situation.

In March, 1994, NCAP held an open air rally at the site of Doctor Gunn’s murder to commemorate the one year anniversary of that horrible event.  About 100 abortion doctors and staff attended the ceremony.  Paul Hill was the only protestor there.  There were a few security guards circulating around, but they really didn’t offer much protection to us.   Throughout the ceremony, Hill just walked around the edge of the group with a large sign, but he was very quiet.

Later that year, Paul Hill killed Doctor Britton in Pensacola.  I never thought he could pull the trigger, but I was wrong.  He was quickly convicted and sentenced to die.

A few months later, filled with some liquid courage, I called Paul at his jail.  It was just a spur of the moment thing.  The receptionist told me he couldn’t accept calls, so I left a message.   The next morning, I was at my desk in the office when the phone rang and our receptionist buzzed me.  “Pat, it’s Paul Hill.”  I almost lost my lunch.

“Hello, Paul.”

“Hello, Pat, how are you?”

“Well, I guess I’m better than you, Paul.”   I hesitated, then decided to just jump in.  “Paul, why the hell did you kill Doctor Britton?   What did you think you would accomplish?”

“Well, Pat, I thought it was time to send a signal to others to take up the cause.”  I felt like I was having an out of body experience, talking to a guy on death row.

“Okay, Paul, but here’s what I don’t understand.  When we had our open air event in Pensacola and you were walking around, there were about 100 abortion providers there with no protection, we were all sitting ducks.   Why didn’t you just wipe us all out at that point?”

“Well, Pat, don’t think I didn’t think about it but, honestly, I ultimately decided that I didn’t want to disrupt your event.  You always were respectful of my opinions, so….”

I didn’t hear the rest of what he said.  My mind just could not register his words.   Then, I ultimately heard him invite me to his execution.  My head started spinning again, but through my haze I told him that I didn’t support capital punishment so I had to decline his invitation.  A few months later, Paul Hill left this world, leaving his wife and two children behind.

A few days ago, a judge in Omaha, Nebraska gave permission to a 17 year old girl to have an abortion.  Not sure why it was a story, but…

For many years, the United States Supreme Court has said that states can require minors to get the permission of their parents or at least notify them before getting an abortion.    I have argued in previous blogs against these laws.  However, the Supreme Court also said that, if the state enacts these laws, then they also have to give the minor the option of getting permission from a judge.  And that’s what happened in this case.

The Supreme Court made it sound so very simple.  Well, little girl, if you really cannot talk to your parents, then all you have to do is go to a judge.

Let’s think about this for a second.

Take your average 14 year old girl.  She – unfortunately – gets pregnant.  I’m not going to get into chastising her, feeling sorry for her or whatever.  The fact is that she is pregnant and she does not want to have the child.  Sounds pretty responsible to me (yes, I know she was “irresponsible” to begin with, but…).    The problem is that her parents are pretty strict.  No, let’s say they are extremely religious and the girl knows that if she tells them she is pregnant, they’ll practically kill her.  She would ruin everything for her parents.  Now, if you are anti-abortion person please don’t give me that crap that the girl should go to her parents anyway and they’ll work it out.  In real life, unfortunately, every family is not perfect.

So, the girl has determined that she wants an abortion but cannot go to her parents.  But, wait, there’s an easy alternative!   You just have to go to a judge!

So, the young girl decides to pursue that option.  Well, how does a 14 year old girl find a judge?  In fact, as I think about that scenario, I frankly haven’t the foggiest idea how you would get that process started.  And I’m not a 14 year old girl or one of her friends.  Where do you find a judge?  Are there special judges for abortion cases?  What would be your Google search terms?

Ultimately, you might get lucky and discover that several pro-choice groups have lawyers that help women through this difficult process.  So, you talk to someone and they say they’ll help.

The girl then has to sit down with the pro-choice attorney and probably some other staff to discuss her situation.  She has to be prepared to talk about why she cannot go to her parents.  Think of how embarrassing this process is for her, even when she is in friendly territory.

Then, she finally has to go to court.  Have you ever been in court?  Did you not feel intimidated by the whole process?   Now, think about the 14 year old girl, going downtown to the big, marbled courthouse with hundreds of people running around in suits.  Think about walking into the cavernous courtroom, sitting there with the bailiff, the court reporter and possibly others waiting silently for the judge to come in.  The judge sits down and calls your case.  Think about the young girl walking up to the bench and having to talk about how she is mature enough to get the abortion.   That requirement always killed me:   the girl has to prove that she is mature enough to have the abortion but if the judge determines she is not mature enough, then the assumption is that she is “mature” enough to have the baby.

It’s always easy for some legislator in some state to get up and pontificate on what the law should be.  In this case, it’s easy to argue about this “judicial bypass” requirement as if it is such an easy thing for a young woman to do.

Get real, will ya?

Brownback’s Backdoor Abortion Bill?

Senator Sam Brownback is not well-known outside the state of Kansas. You’re likely scratching your head trying to figure out why you recognize his name. Think back to very early in the Republican race, when the debates were populated by 11 different candidates. The guy on the outer wings, the one who said that he didn’t believe in evolution and that he’d like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, the one with the curly hair and the Kansas drawl, that’s him.

Sen. Brownback is known for his extreme conservatism. It’s not just fiscal restraint and state’s rights with this guy. He has members of the far-right going, “wow, this guy is hard-core.” Not surprisingly, Sen. Brownback is thoroughly anti-choice. He does not believe that there are any circumstances under which a termination of pregnancy is acceptable, not even in cases of rape or incest. So it’s not a shock that he’s introduced another bill regarding abortion. The knee-jerk reaction is to assume that any bill coming from Sen. Brownback regarding this issue is inherently flawed and a thinly veiled effort to undermine women’s rights, which is why everyone who has read the bill or anything about it is finding themselves a little confused, because that’s not what this bill is.

Here’s what the bill does:

For women and families whose prenatal testing has indicated that the fetus has a genetic disorder, physicians will be required to provide “access to timely, scientific, and nondirective counseling about conditions being tested for and accuracy of such tests.”

Additionally, the bill would create a nation-wide list of families who are willing to adopt children with special needs and referral to support services, including a national clearinghouse of coping resources.

While he may be getting cheers from some, Sen. Brownback’s efforts smack of an inability to grasp the difficulty of the heartbreaking choices some families must make. A diagnoses of Down Syndrome does not always mean that a family will give birth to a living child with Down’s. What it can mean is that the disorder is such that their baby will die from Down’s. The same is true for many genetic and chromosomal disorders. There are degrees of severity and some of them simply are not compatible with life.

The spirit of this bill is laudable, anything that allows women and families to make the decision that is best for them is a step in the right direction. But one step doesn’t get you to a destination. If Sen. Brownback is serious about reducing abortion, then it’s time to focus on the causes and impact of unplanned pregnancy. In fact, knowing Brownback’s typical M.O., one has to wonder if this is an attempt to lull everyone into a false sense of security before tacking on a bunch of amendments that undermine a woman’s right to choose.

Sen. Brownback says that this bill is an effort to promote the “culture of life.” But the so-called “culture of life” has to be about more than preventing abortions, it must be about making it easier to access information, birth control and the resources parents need to raise children in today’s world.

The fact is that the “culture of life” is not being promoted in this country, period. Families are not guaranteed paid medical leave, not all women can access the preventative health care necessary to decrease and detect birth defects, students are not given honest and thorough sex education, and when given the chance to cover low-income children for healthcare, the Congress (Sen. Brownback included) said “no.”

What are we to make of a culture that focuses more on the pre-born than they do the pre-schooler? There must be a broad and sweeping overhaul in how this country deals with issues like poverty, health care and education before anything can be done to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions.