Reproductive Rights Round-Up Redux
So while I was away, I missed lots of anti-choice choice bits. Here's a quick summary:
From the back of the turnip truck, the latest from one of our favourite punching bags, the one, the only Conservative member for Saskatoon-Wanuskewin Maurice Vellacott. Turns out that the delight of the forced-birther brigade managed to dig up one credible source for his medically-dismissed claim that having an abortion gives a woman breast cancer.
Except that, when you trace the source back to its source, it all falls apart.
The relationship between induced and spontaneous abortion and breast cancer risk has been the subject of extensive research beginning in the late 1950s. Until the mid-1990s, the evidence was inconsistent. Findings from some studies suggested there was no increase in risk of breast cancer among women who had had an abortion, while findings from other studies suggested there was an increased risk. Most of these studies, however, were flawed in a number of ways that can lead to unreliable results. Only a small number of women were included in many of these studies, and for most, the data were collected only after breast cancer had been diagnosed, and women’s histories of miscarriage and abortion were based on their “self-report” rather than on their medical records. Since then, better-designed studies have been conducted. These newer studies examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found, and gathered medical history information from medical records rather than simply from self-reports, thereby generating more reliable findings. The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.
Now I would love to just have another laugh at Mr. Vellacott's expense but what really galls me is how quickly right-wingers, feigning concern over women's health, jump on the turnip truck to scare and score points against us. You'd think that, if they cared so much about women's lives, they'd ensure we have access to safe and legal abortion.
That's one reason why I agree with this statement, issued two weeks ago:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper must disavow Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott’s false and misleading statements about abortion, Liberal Status of Women Critic Anita Neville said today.
“Mr. Vellacott persists in spreading propaganda about abortion that is not based in any scientific fact – adding to his history of denigrating women and their rights and freedoms,” said Ms. Neville. “This misinformation is highly damaging to women – yet the prime minister continues to be silent on the matter.”
Silent but deadly.
That's because, as Emily deftly outlines in various posts, which you can find in her links here, Harper's government has repeatedly proposed legislation or enforced policies that have threatened not only women's abortion rights but all their rights. This post in particular is most revealing of the Cons ultra-conservative roots, and their attitudes towards women. Read this one too.
If these guys get a majority, we might turn into the Republic of Gilead.
(Today, NARAL Pro-Choice America released its annual report, complete with an interactive map showing each state's record and stance on aboerion.)
Looks like Florida has joined the joined the list of states that has declared Walking Incubator Units as subject to government oversight, giving new meaning to the term ''confinement.''
Last March, Florida resident Samantha Burton was in week 25 of her pregnancy when she paid a visit to her doctor. Burton was showing signs of potential miscarriage, so her physician ordered bed rest. Burton explained that, as a working mother of two toddlers, bed rest simply wasn't a viable option and then proceeded to ask for a second medical opinion. Seems reasonable, right?
Her doctor, however, was having none of that. Rather than refer Burton for the desired second opinion, he instead felt it necessary to contact state authorities, who then proceeded to force Burton to be admitted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital against her will and undergo any procedure the doctor felt like prescribing. When Burton had the audacity to request a change in the hospital in which she was being treated, the court denied her request. Three days into her forced hospitalization, Burton miscarried.
Never mind that there is actually no scientific research to support the claim that bed rest helps prevent preterm birth and that even the American College of of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not believe it should be routinely recommended. Never mind Burton's very real concern for the care of her two small children. Never mind the psychological, physical, and financial toll this takes on her family. The only thing that mattered to the doctor and the government was that they got their (ultimately ineffectual) way.
Oh, and did I mention this case gets worse? Burton (with help from her pro bono lawyer and the ACLU) sued the State of Florida claiming it -- duh -- violated her constitutional rights. The court ruled against her, claiming that that State was merely maintaining "status quo" in the situation.
Incidentally, the woman was a smoker, which compounded the problem.
The idea of “fetal rights”, a relatively recent weapon in the arsenal against abortion rights, is offensive on a few levels — primarily because — hello?? — *my* pregnancy is none of *your* business, and vice-versa. But it’s also an unworkable concept because it compromises the pregnant woman’s rights. If a fetus has the same rights as the woman carrying it — to the point where the state considers it a “child” they can intervene to protect — the pregnant woman has significantly less personal liberty than her non-pregnant sister, who can’t be ordered by the state to quit smoking and take to her sickbed.
Which is obviously -- or maybe not -- a joke.