Friday, December 19, 2008

Beyond Petitions

In response to the anti-choice HHS regulation that went into effect today, the Planned Parenthood Action Center is gathering signatures for a petition that urges the Obama administration to begin working immediately to reverse this dangerous measure that will limit reproductive autonomy for tens of thousands. A reversal will be a difficult and lengthy process, but Obama and his staff have promised big changes in this area.

In my years of grassroots organizing, I remember many conversations with people who are fed up with petition signing. "I've signed a thousand anti-war petitions," I recall one person saying, "and yet we're still at war." Conversations about attacks on reproductive rights have gone a similar way.

In this election year, I've seen a lot of grassroots activism fade into the background in the face of big ideas like "hope" and "change". The future Obama staff has promised big things, and while I will of course hope every day for the changes promised, I know there is no substitute for down and dirty grassroots organization.

I encourage everyone to sign Planned Parenthood's petition, to do everything they can to hold Obama accountable for his words. The HHS regulation needs to be reversed immediately, and it will take an effort unheard of in the realm of bipartisan politics to achieve. I take some comfort in the excitement the Obama campaign generated, the do-it-yourself political activities it has inspired, and the energy I feel amongst people in my generation to get things done, and get them done right.

But the fact of the matter is, great change comes from a collective idea that grows from the ground, and while much of Obama's popularity came from everyday folks, Obama will become president next month. He will have to answer not only to us, but to Congress, to both sides of "the aisle", and to our allies around the world. Sitting back and hoping for change is no more effective than sitting at home on election day and hoping Obama will be elected without your vote. All major change throughout American history has grown from big ideas from small people, not vice versa. Support grassroots efforts, those of us who are struggling day in and day out to scrape together enough change to print fliers for our next big event, those of us who stand out in the cold to gather contacts and build networks, those of us who have bigger dreams than the concessions our politicians offer. We are the ones we've been waiting for, and we have the power to change the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sad day for reproductive health.....

CPC Watch project coordinator Lauren Guy McAlpin's blog at Choice Words on the hard-hitting HHS regulations that will truly undermine reproductive health.

A Sad Day for Reproductive Health

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A war that needs to be fought... on multiple fronts

I received a new testimonial today from a woman in Oklahoma who visited a CPC in 2002. Like many women who visit CPCs, Terri was a young college student with little financial stability and no regular healthcare provider. Upon receiving news from a nurse at her college health center that she was pregnant, she went to a nearby place called Pregnancy Resource Center that regularly advertised in her college's weekly newspaper. (The place was also listed as a resource in a pamphlet given to her at the health center, but she told me in a discussion that followed her testimonial that it was removed from the resource list after a few more complaints came in.)

The way this particular CPC operated was like so: she took a pregnancy test and while awaiting the results was led into a room where a volunteer berated her with lectures about the immorality of sex before marriage and the mortal sin she would be committing if she had an abortion. A woman finally entered and told her she wasn't pregnant. After a month or so, Terri began gaining weight and continued to not have a period. A visit to a local ob/gyn informed her that she was, in fact, pregnant and that she was about 15 weeks along. She was able to obtain a safe abortion, but the procedure was far more costly and invasive due to the time wasted by the CPC's lies.

While this is one common method CPCs use to derail a woman's decision making, it's not the only one. In adding Terri's story to our website, I began re-reading the other stories. The third or forth read, it turns out, is no less gut-wrenching than the first, and it's always the same trend that emerges in each and every woman's account of what truly goes on inside a CPC. Agencies that claim to want to help women through a difficult time become the most imposing, most deceptive, and most dangerous threat to a woman's well-being.

And apparently we're the ones waging a "war" on them?? Well then I guess the war is on. It's certainly one that needs to be fought, a noble cause, except in this case I'm going to have to ask who fired the first shot...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recession brings more women to CPCs... and less funding for comprehensive clinics.

The thing is, we're in a generally bad economic time. That effects almost everyone... non-profits included. As a new organization, we launched right into an fundraising battle against the odds.

The other thing is, with more women uninsured and unemployed, more women will be unable to access reliable contraception, and therefore more women will be facing unplanned pregnancies. That will lead more women towards "free" services, such as those heavily advertised by well-funded CPCs and anti-choice agencies. More women are being forced to make decisions based on their finances. More women will be coerced by CPCs to choose adoption, where they might be elegable for prenatal assistance and delivery cost, or might be promised free baby supplies should they choose to parent.

On the other side, the past few years of political agendas set forth by the Bush administration have put comprehensive family planning agencies in a bind, magnified tenfold by the recession that has significantly lowered the amount of money brought in through corporate and private donations. Family planning clinics simply aren't able to sling around funds the way CPCs do. For one, clinics like Planned Parenthood have to pay for doctor's services, medication costs, medical equipment, cleaning supplies, lab fees, etc. CPCs, funded largely by wealthy evangelical churches as well as state and federal government grants, are run mostly by volunteers and have significantly fewer costs. The facility does not have to be up to code with sanitation the way medical clinics do, and any doctor or nurse a CPC brings in is usually a volunteer and does not actually perform any medical services. And so clinics are working hard just to maintain a medical facility while CPCs remain relatively unharmed by recession. In fact, according to CareNet, they're seeing more clients than ever!

Even under a more pro-choice president, combatting the anti-choice camp at large is a tall order in today's economy. Even if you can only spare a few bucks, consider a donation to CPC Watch, or a number of other choice advocacy organizations. If you have nothing monetary to contribute, consider volunteering for us. More minds on the job = more we can do together to ensure women are empowered to make educated choices about their reproductive destinies! Contact us at cpcwatch@gmail to discuss ways to help out, or donate today using the button below.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our Holiday Wishlist

It would be a wonderful world if grassroots organizations could operate, promote themselves, and have a web presence without spending a single dime. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. Therefore, we are constantly forced to do something very few of us are good at: ask for money!

We're in a never-ending fundraising campaign here at CPC Watch. And when we send out those annoying mass-emails to new newsletter subscribers, the question we're mostly faced with is, "I want to help, but what will my money go towards?"

Have no worries. All CPC Watch volunteers are just that: volunteers. We all hold paying jobs and support ourselves in our own ways... no donation will ever go towards paying our rent or that $15 phone bill we got for sending too many text messages last month. And thanks to the programming rockstars at Paypal, you can rest assured your donation will go through securely and without ever having to give your credit card information to some poor college student with text book bills out the wazoo.

But of course we don't want to leave you in the dark. Here is a list of current projects that need funding:

- Web hosting and bandwidth for the website, the project’s main proponent.
- Pamphlets and fliers to educate people about CPCs and respond to their misinformation, as well as reproductive health resources.
- Sign making materials for CPC demonstrations.
- Targeted ad campaigns on Google, Facebook, and other search sites. Targeted ad campaigns are the ads you see on the right side of the page when you do a Google search. We decided to take on this campaign when we realized typing "abortion information" into a search engine brought up ads from organizations with "information" about abortion, but are mostly CPC organizations. These campaigns run between $50-$200 a month, depending on the number of impressions we are able to purchase at the time, so be generous! We are currently running a campaign with Google Adwords, but not Yahoo anymore (they decided our website contained "unacceptable content").

New projects are being hammered out all the time. You can keep up to date with our goings on by reading this blog regularly and by signing up for our monthly newsletter.

Donate $25 or more and get a free bumper sticker of your choice! We also have a store at CafePress with a variety of pro-choice products that generates a small amount of funds and a lot of exposure (the web address is listed on almost all products).

So make our day this holiday season and help give the gift of reproductive autonomy to thousands of women!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Quickie

I came across this today:
Anti-abortion preacher petitions to get Tiller's shooter pardoned

Now I'm hardly convinced that Bush would pardon Shannon, unless of course he really doesn't care what sort of legacy he leaves behind (which wouldn't be too surprising all things considered) and would actually pardon a convicted murderer.

I'm more thinking of the consequences of a pardon. If Bush were to pardon Shannon today, it would open the doors for other clinic bombers/murderers to be pardoned over the next month. Plus, it would probably create more clinic violence under future anti-choice presidents.