Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Shocking-Poster Attack- still a trusty fallback for radical antiabortionists!

Submitted by UHPP Board Member Dyrleif Bjarnadottir

It's been a rough few weeks for Planned Parenthood supporters. A radical group of antiabortionists is on the offensive, releasing tapes from what they are calling an "undercover sting operation", supposedly showing Planned Parenthood employees callously talking about selling human body parts. One look at any one of the tapes quickly confirms that this is not actually what is happening. But the insinuation has been made and the climate created for discussing this as if it were a real possibility. So we must endure for a while answering questions about legitimate practices carried out according to the strictest government standards by highly trained professionals in certified state of the art clinics, as if unscrupulous individuals were engaged in shady unethical doings for profit. Endurance is the name of the game here - the bully is on the playground who cannot be reasoned with, we must stand patiently and endure the taunting and teasing and even the occasional injury, knowing that we have the high ground, that we are right, but the bully still gets the attention of the hour.

So what can we learn from the recent and ongoing "Undercover tape" events? No new and interesting facts about Planned Parenthood have come to light. We already knew that a few Planned Parenthood clinics in the country collect fetal tissue for research. We already knew that Planned Parenthood follows the strict rules set out by government agencies about human tissue samples, collecting, storing, and use. We know there is informed consent from the women who make the choice to donate their fetuses for scientific research and we know that the money that changes hands as a result of the collection of these samples is solely for the storing and proper shipping. (As a side note here: It is always useful to remember that informed consent is a big deal in modern medical research. Many people, scientists, doctors, clinicians, ethicists, philosophers, and policymakers, spend good portions of their careers making sure that we get both parts of the process right, the informed part and the consent part).

What we have been reminded of is that facts were not the issue in the first place. The people who spent 3 years gaining access to and secretly taping Planned Parenthood employees, the people who lied about who they were and presented fake identification, who collected hours upon hours of footage so they could edit it to make it say whatever they wanted, those people didn't care about the facts. Again, nothing new here. What is mildly interesting is how completely without shame this radical wing of the anti-abortion movement is. There is no accountability anywhere in this chain of events. Accountability, as in having a reference point in reality that guides your actions. Without the minimal integrity provided by a standard of honesty or accountability you can pretty much reach your goal by any means you can come up with. In this case the anti-abortionists took a leaf out of an old playbook, and in the absence of any facts to support their claim, they appealed directly to emotion. The edited snippets in the tapes shown to the public and the politicians they want to influence are a much more elaborate and high tech version of the gruesome posters of aborted fetuses we have seen paraded in front of health centers, designed to shock and evoke negative emotions. They have set out to create an emotional response of disgust amongst people who are already inclined to support their views. They do this to create an environment of confusion and emotional upheaval because, in such an environment, the levelheaded scrutiny that prevents their agenda from going forward, may temporarily take the backseat.

A prime example of how the 'shocking poster effect' works can be seen in some of the media coverage of the past several days. Take a look at George Stephanopoulos interviewing Cecile Richards on NBC a few days after the first tape hit the airways.  Mr. Stephanopoulos hones in on the "tone" of the PP employee in the video. Not on the facts diligently presented or on the points repeatedly made that exonerate Planned Parenthood of any of the accusations made. It is the tone of the woman on the tape that is incriminating. If we learn nothing else from this episode of attacks, let’s take note of this: The case against Planned Parenthood relies on gruesome posters and the many forms they take in our technologically advanced world. This time it took the form of the "wrong tone of voice". Thankfully our elected representatives still see the difference between shock tactics and facts. At least some of them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Facts about the Latest Video Smear Attack on Planned Parenthood

"On July 14, anti-abortion activists with a long record of deceiving the public released their latest campaign — the latest in a seven-year string of false bills of goods they seek to sell to the media and the public."

Click here to read:

Some additional points:

● I will not back down. I will not be silenced. I will continue to fight for what is right and stand with #PlannedParenthood— no matter what.

● Anti-abortion extremists trying to silence me will be sorely disappointed. I won't back down from speaking truth.

● This harassment is unacceptable. I refuse to be bullied. I refuse to be undone by triggering comments. I refuse to be silenced.

Remember, Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women’s health care provider in this country, and we have provided high-quality care for nearly 100 years. Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our patients.

This is just the latest political attack on women's health. The group behind this fraud has done 10 separate attack campaigns like this over the last eight years.

These tapes are heavily doctored, and the full tapes show that it is false and outrageous to suggest that Planned Parenthood profits from women’s decisions to donate fetal tissue. To be clear: There is nothing in these videos that suggest any violation of law.

In this new video, extremists badgered and hounded a longtime physician for hours, trying to get her to discuss unethical and criminal activity that she doesn’t engage in or know anything about.

The real agenda here is becoming clearer every day. These false claims are being used to advance a political agenda to ban abortion and to defund Planned Parenthood, which would cut 2.7 million people off of birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and other preventive health care services.

Also, check out PPFA president Cecile Richards' statement about the attacks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Save Title X!!!

From Planned Parenthood Action:
"They're back. Four years after we stopped Congress our opponents are at it again. They are attacking women and men's access to basic and essential care by pushing a bill that would eliminate federal funding for Title X, the grant program dedicated to funding family planning. That means cuts to federal funding for birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other essential care that Planned Parenthood health centers provide every day."
This is actually a huge deal. Title X was established by Richard Nixon in 1970 because he understood the importance of everyone, regardless of income or social status, having access to family planning services. These services include cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and other preventative care.*

Even the Wikipedia definition sounds important:
"Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services."
Why on earth would you get rid of that?!  But believe it or not, there are already states who refuse Title X funding for reasons that I cannot comprehend, and their people suffer for it by having to pay exorbitant fees for these fundamental services. If it was eliminated altogether it would be a disaster. Doesn't Congress understand that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? What do they think this will do to the national average of teen pregnancies and STI rates?  Please, lend your voice to cause and help stop this madness. Sign the petition, Tell your friends.  Let everyone know that Congress needs to leave Title X alone!

*Title X does not include funding for abortion services.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Happy Pride Month!

I adore Pride Month.  I live off of Lark street, and rainbow decorations adorn almost every shop or stoop.  The First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Willett and State streets decks out in rainbow bunting, and everything just seems a little more bright and cheery.  Maybe that's just me being happy by witnessing first-hand the effects of living in a progressive neighborhood.  Acceptance and love are far more pleasant than judgment and hate.  But let's not dwell on that point.  I don't want to spend time writing about people who don't deserve a moment's thought because they are rotten on the inside.  I'd rather talk about the fact that this Saturday, I get to march in the Pride parade!

Every year, UHPP marches under their banner in support of equality and gay rights, and it's one of my favorite events of the year.  There is nothing quite like rounding the corner from Lark and State, and having everyone cheer for you.  I imagine that's sort of the point of the day;  people showing their love and appreciation for those who may be beaten down by so many.  There is so much acceptance and happiness in the air, and it's one hell of a drug (and I'm not simply referring to the guys in spandex doing yoga on the float in front of us).

Here is the extra good news;  if you would like to march with us, you can!  You'll get a T-shirt so we all match, and you can bring a partner, friend, pet...whomever.  I always march with my dog and he seems equal parts excited and confused by the occasion, but he's a good boy.  I suppose the preceding sentence could also apply to my husband. I kid!  But if you really are interested in supporting equality and UHPP, join us by emailing our HR and Volunteer Associate Amy Wolff at amywolff@uhpp.org or 518-434-5678 x.144.  We'd love to have you.  Not convinced yet?  Then take a look at some photos from years past.

My dog, my blog...deal with it

The Troy Valley Cat!
I wasn't kidding about the yoga spandex bros. Poor Jack, bahaha
With Mayor Kathy Sheehan in the park post-march

Monday, April 6, 2015

"Sorry Babe, You're a Feminist!"

In the past, the term "feminism" has been so thoroughly dragged through the mud that it now has horribly negative connotations.  I grew up hearing the term "feminazi" used in my own home.  I was too young to know any better back then, and I thought that anything that came from the mouths of my parents was the gospel truth.  However, I now realize how much damage that this smear campaign has caused over the years.

The term "feminazi" alone is so jacked up that I can't even deal with it. To compare women fighting for equality to a group of people who exterminated millions of people is just wrong. The opposition was convinced that women were looking for special treatment somehow.  That we wanted more than what was afforded to men-- and what would that be, exactly? What the hell were they afraid of?!

Basically, yeah.
This was the temperature of the equality movement of the 70's and 80's when I was growing up.  It was such an effective technique of inflicting negative spin, that feminists are afraid to consider themselves feminists, even today.

So for that reason alone, I'm not really angry at the folks that don't want to use the word, despite good intentions.  It's not their fault that ignorant jerks throughout the years have ruined it for us.  But that simple fact does not change what we are.  We are activists, continuing to fight the good fight, and it's time to take it back.  Maybe you'll go so far as to attend a rally or speak with your legislators.  Maybe it's signing an online petition or putting a sticker on your car.  Whatever it is, own your stance and your passion.  Don't let the opposition bully you into fearing who you really are.

If you're with me, then I think you'll appreciate this hilarious little ditty from comedian Katie Goodman.  Check it out. Tell your friends. Spread the word, and remember; there is nothing wrong with being a feminist.  It's the people who are so terrified of women achieving equality that they need to equate us with war criminals who have a problem.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Join UHPP for an inspiring movie night.

VESSEL: A fearless sea captain sails a ship through loopholes in international law, providing abortions on the high seas, and leaving in her wake a network of emboldened activists who trust women to handle abortion on their own terms.

Thursday, April 30th at 6:30 pm at The Arts Center in Troy. Tickets: $20 per person ($10 for students). For more information visit our event page at Eventbrite.

Vessel begins with a young doctor who lived by the sea, and an unlikely idea. Rebecca Gomperts, horrified by the realities created by anti-abortion law around the world, felt compelled to challenge this. Her method: to provide abortions on a ship in offshore waters.

Her project, Women on Waves, begins as flawed spectacle, a media frenzy, faced with governmental, religious, and military blockades. But with each setback comes a more refined mission, until Rebecca has the revelation that she can use new technologies to bypass law – and train women to give themselves safe abortions using WHO-sanctioned protocols with pills.

We witness the creation of an underground network of emboldened, informed activists, working at the cutting edge of global reproductive rights, who trust women to handle abortion themselves. Vessel is Rebecca’s story: one of a woman who heard and answered a calling, and transformed a wildly improbable idea into a global movement.

Check out the trailer!