Friday, January 29, 2010

Roeder charged with first-degree murder

The following is a Choice USA cross-post.

Scott Roeder has been found guilty of the first-degree murder of Dr. George Tiller, the later-term abortion provider from Wichita, KS who was shot and killed in the foyer of his church last May. Roeder faces a life imprisonment sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years, MSNBC reports.

Roeder's defense had hoped to push for a voluntary manslaughter charge, which would have resulted in significantly less prison time, because Roeder felt he was acting "in defense of the unborn." Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert ruled that the jury could not consider such a charge.

The trial of Scott Roeder is significant in the abortion debate for obvious reasons, among them the rejection of a "necessity defense" in harming a doctor providing a legal medical procedure. However, regardless of Roeder's conviction, anti-choice forces are highly organized and emboldened by a continuing trend of violence against clinics and providers. Even though the murder of a provider or the bombing of a clinic are relatively rare occurrences, clinics all over the country continue to experience escalating threats, increased sidewalk bullying, and more legislative and financial barriers to providing such a service almost daily.

Anti-abortion groups can denounce Roeder's actions all they want, but their inflammatory hate speech and activities that push the limits of clinic protection laws are at the core of extremists like Roeder's actions. Roeder testified that he received most of his information regarding Dr. Tiller from Operation Rescue's "Tiller Watch" website, which listed the doctor's home address, his place of worship, the fact that he wore a bullet proof vest, and the fact that he drove an armored car. In light of these facts, we must ask key questions about the complicity of the anti-abortion movement at large in the death of Dr. Tiller and other providers who have been murdered or harmed, clinics that have been bombed or vandalized. Roeder may have acted alone in the actual shooting, but he was emboldened by the work of anti-abortion groups that are largely seen as law-abiding organizations simply exercising their First Amendment rights.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Abortion is about my life

I hate that I missed Blog For Choice Day! Things have been crazy around the house, as my oldest child has had a really bad head cold. Thankfully not the flu (whew!), but bad enough to keep me on my toes.

Anyway I've been meaning to jot this down for a while. I mentioned when I contacted CPC Watch that I also wanted to share my illegal abortion story, and I think I'm ready to do that now.

Shortly before the Roe v. Wade anniversary, Lauren sent out a link to a video featuring Dr. George Tiller, the abortion provider from Kansas who was killed this past year in his church.

The part that got me was towards the end when he said, "Abortion is not about babies and it's not about families. Abortion is about women's hopes, dreams, potentials and the rest of their lives. Abortion is a matter of survival for women."

This, to me, is the crux of choice. To be pro-choice is to believe fully in the rights of all women to control their own lives. Feminism, you could call it. I just call it being a compassionate human being. Whether you're a man, a woman, a Christian, a Democrat, or a Republican, you really cannot claim to believe in the idea of women's freedom without supporting her right to abortion. This was the most difficult thing for me to come to grips with when I was an anti-abortion crusader. I always believed that women could do anything as well as men, and when faced with the question of abortion rights, I responded with one of the many scripted answers that the anti-choicers use: "What about the rights of unborn women?"

What about them? This "woman" doesn't exist yet, at least not on the level of fully developed, breathing human beings. I remember very well the night I forced my own miscarriage. I was in such despair at the hospital. Being a woman who fully believed abortion was murder, and yet to commit it in my own life out of my need to not have another child, I was a wreck.

The nurse, however, was angelic. I was sobbing in recovery. They'd gotten the bleeding under control, and I was to stay overnight to make sure everything else was okay (it wasn't, but that's another story). After inducing a miscarriage, I had to undergo a D&C to make sure there was no "products of conception" left over. This is not easy in Kentucky, as we have some very restrictive laws on where this procedure can be performed. I've heard of women who need a D&C following a miscarriage having to go to the EMW Surgical Center, the only abortion clinic in Kentucky, just to make sure the "products of conception" don't cause infection. But since they suspected a perforated uterus (which they found), and the hospital happened to have a licensed D&C provider on staff, I got the procedure. "Would you like to see what we extracted from the procedure?" the nurse asked. "Sometimes it helps."

Now I was just under 11 weeks along at the time. The pictures and videos I'd seen and shown at the CPC brought horrible images to my mind. An 11 week fetus? The poor thing had fingers, eyes, a mouth and jaw hinge, oh no I told the nurse I couldn't handle it. My husband said he wanted to see, and I told him that was fine.

When he came back he was in tears. He, too, had seen all the anti-abortion materials I used at the CPC. When he knelt at my bed and took my hand. "Rosa," he said, "you really should have a look."

I was shown the fetus, and I was shocked. I couldn't believe I'd been so afraid to be rid of something no larger than a lima bean! It did indeed help, and in fact was the breaking point for me to decide to end my relationship with the CPC and all the anti-choicers I'd worked with.

Now I do have to add I still believe very much that I ended a life that day. While I saw no jaw hinge or fingernails, I did see a shape. The shape of a forming human being, a potential life. Not human life, not a full-fledged human being, but a forming one nonetheless. If I had to do it over again I'd still have ended the pregnancy, but with a legal abortion, because it just wasn't that little potential's time. And that's just the way things are. And it should always be a woman's choice. Because the decision is not just about potential life, it's about your life.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog for Choice Day: My Choice to Carry

When I found out I was pregnant with my son several years ago, a million thoughts ran through my head. Can I finish school? What about money? Can I do this? Should I end it?

My online search for pregnancy options took me to OptionLine, a web and phone resource that links women to CPCs and only CPCs. I called. The woman who answered was really evasive and, while I told her straight up I just wanted to talk over the phone, she only seemed interested in connecting me to a nearby "clinic" (her words) that could tell me everything I needed to know.

I went to a nearby CPC that was dressed to look like a clinic. The waiting room had fetal development posters, pictures of white ladies with big beautiful bellies, and framed Anne Geddes photos. After confirming my pregnancy with a store-bought pregnancy test, they asked if I would like an ultrasound. For free. Well, sure! She then informed me that the "next available" they had was in three days. Well, okay. Also, they won't discuss options information with me until I get the ultrasound. Um, alright.

Not about to wait three days to figure out what I was going to do, I pretty much decided on my own that I was going to have an abortion. Thinking that was all my local Planned Parenthood did, I phoned them for an appointment. They could get me in the next day.

After once again confirming my pregnancy (yes, I get it, I'm pregnant), they sent me into a room to talk with a counselor. "You don't need to do an ultrasound first?" "Our tests are very accurate. If you'd like to see an ultrasound image, we can set that up. But let's talk."

The woman was very open. We talked for maybe a half hour, and every time I had a question or concern, whether about the abortion or becoming a mom, she handed me a very detailed pamphlet and went over the information with me. It was all very easy.

Well in the end you can guess what happened! I decided to go for it. My mom (who went with me to Planned Parenthood) was very supportive, and I could never have done it without her. Single motherhood has been hard, but I think I made the right choice, and I think the woman at Planned Parenthood made it really easy for me.

Today I am concerned with the amount of access all women have to this information. Not every community has a Planned Parenthood or clinic that offers so much detailed information about each option, but most have a CPC. I now know the CPC was trying to delay me to keep me from maybe obtaining a legal abortion or make me second-guess myself. The information they had was very one-sided and didn't help me think straight at all. I felt like my decisions were being made for me.

I love my son and have loved parenting, but I understand why a lot of women wouldn't make the same choice to parent (not to mention going through pregnancy and birth!!!), and I will always fight for the same open and honest information for every woman regardless of what she wants.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Update on FOTF Super Bowl ad

It now appears CBS has agreed to air the anti-choice ad from Focus on the Family, a clear reversal of their previous ban on political ads. In recent years, the network has refused to run "ads of a political nature." In 2004, attempted to run an anti-Bush ad during the Super Bowl, but was rejected. Later that year, the network rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ for its (obviously offensive) message: "Jesus Didn't Turn People Away. Neither Do We."

You may send your comments and criticisms to

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia begins CPC regulation campaign, publishes investigation

We need this in each and every state in the country! From

NARAL Va. Investigates Pro-Life Pregancy Centers

January 21, 2010 - By Jonathan Wilson

Virginia could soon impose stricter regulations on pro-life pregnancy centers requiring them to give clients more information about the services they do, and do not provide.

The abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia is pushing for the new rules.

The group conducted an investigation into pro-life, Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Virginia, and alleges that more than two-thirds of the centers offered inaccurate medical information to undercover investigators.

Tarina Keene, the group's executive director, says though Baltimore recently passed stricter rules for the centers -- no state has done the same.

"We would be the first state to actually take on this issue and be successful at it," says Keene.

Kristine Hansen with Care Net, which represents many of the centers,says there's a reason similar bills have failed at the state level in other parts of the country.

"Whether these legislators are pro-life or pro-choice, they say, 'These pregnancy centers are doing good work. This is unnecessary and it's not warranted,'" says Hansen.

NARAL says it wants stricter regulation partly because many centers are eligible for state-regulated funding, through the Virginia's new "Choose Life" license plate program.

You may connect with NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia at

You can download and read the executive summary of Virginia-based CPCs here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Testimonials

Below are the new testimonials we've added to our Women's Stories page. If you have visited a CPC and want to share your story, email You may use an alias if you wish to protect your confidentiality.

Greensboro, NC

The Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center in Greensboro, NC routinely schedules clients five to seven days after they first call, claiming that's their "first available" appointment. This week in delay could be the difference between an easy, relatively inexpensive abortion procedure and a more expensive, more invasive one. One of our volunteers called the CPC for a visit to learn more about the "morning after pill" or emergency contraception, a backup method of birth control that is effective if taken 1-3 days after unprotected intercourse. The CPC staff told her they had no available appointments for another four days, conveniently delaying her past the time frame where it would be effective. The staffer never said they did not carry the medication.

Louisville, KY

I used to counsel women in an abortion clinic that was located near a CPC. I saw more than a handful of women who had visited the CPC purely by accident. Many others visited the CPC for the free ultrasound (which was not a medical ultrasound, meaning our clinic could not legally accept it to fill the pre-abortion ultrasound requirement). At the CPC, women had told the "counselors" that they were getting the free ultrasound for their procedures at the clinic. These women were terrified of going through with the abortion due to the things they learned at the CPC. Women asked me all sorts of questions: What if I bleed to death? What if I can never have children? Is there really a risk of breast cancer? Depression? The thing was, they still were getting the abortion despite what they'd been told. But they were terrified of what would happen to them. In essence I think the CPC did its job: even though the women went ahead with the abortion, they were made to feel awful about their decision and went through Hell just to access their legal right to an abortion.

Anti-choice commercial during the Super Bowl?

The following was originally posted at ChoiceUSA.

I remember being incensed when CBS refused to air an anti-Bush PSA during the Super Bowl in 2004, though I understood why the network would choose not to air something so obviously political in nature. (Granted I knew well that the corporate overseers at CBS wouldn't be, let's say, "supportive" of such an ad, even if the ad's creators did raise the dough to pay the outlandish advertising costs.)

Which is precisely why I'll be watching this closely: Football Player to Feature in Anti-choice Super Bowl Ad

Yes, according to the Huffington Post, Focus on the Family has produced an ad for the Super Bowl that uses Pam Tebow (mother of Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow) as the crux of an anti-abortion message. Tebow's mother was diagnosed with a serious illness in her 5th month of pregnancy and was encouraged to terminate. She didn't, and that's why we have Tim. Similar to last year's effort (which asked, "What if Obama's mom had aborted him?"), Focus on the Family is looking to send their anti-choice message to thousands upon thousands of wing-eating, beer-drinking football fans (and those of us who just love the commercials).

A 30 second slot costs advertisers between $2.5 and 2.8 million, which Focus on the Family raised from their network of "very generous and committed friends." Will CBS veto this obviously political ad the same way they did six years ago, or do "personal stories" with obvious political messages somehow "transcend" political nature like those apparently "non-political" Choose Life license plates? I hate to say it, but CBS: the ball is in your court.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Calling All NC Choice Advocates!!

Aloha from your friendly project coordinator!

As a reproductive justice activist and birth doula, I am absolutely in love with The Doula Project, an NYC-based organization that "provides free compassionate care and emotional, physical, and informational support to people across the spectrum of pregnancy."

In other words, TDP provides emotional and physical support the same way a birth doula might for a laboring woman, but in a wider range of pregnancy options including abortion, adoption, stillbirth, and miscarriage. They have a volunteer birth doula facet as well, providing lower-income women with continuous care during labor and birth.

Does this not seem completely necessary? After all, why would a woman pay for doula care if she's going to give her child up for adoption? Or birthing a stillborn child? Or having an abortion? And yet the women who undergo these events often feel alone, alienated, and completely uninformed with what is going on in their bodies. Add these feelings to the emotional toll any of these experiences can take, and well... you get it.

That's where doulas with TDP come in. Abortion and miscarriage doulas accompany women into their procedures and work with them to keep them informed about the procedure as well as helping her to remain relaxed and comfortable throughout. Adoption doulas allow women to feel good about the birth even though they will likely not receive much of the "reward" that comes with the birth of a newborn. All TDP doulas give women the option of contacting them after their procedures and births for continued emotional support, and can make appropriate referrals if necessary.

TDP operates in New York and has one affiliate organization in Atlanta. However, they are helping to start other Projects in many parts of the country. I spoke with one of their directors this morning and am beginning work to spearhead one here in the NC Triad area. But I need doulas... abortion doulas do not have to be birth doulas, and birth doulas do not have to be abortion doulas. Everyone is of course welcome to be both, but I do think birth doulas should be professionally trained by either a certifying organization, a hospital, the YWCA, or another accredited doula training organization. TDP will send someone down for a 1-2 day training once we get an interest group and connect with clinics and hospitals.

My question to you now becomes: who's in? I know more than a handful of women who have had abortions and, while they remain pro-choice and confident they made the right decision, felt completely alienated by the whole experience. After all, our clinics in NC are understaffed and serve many women. Providers are dwindling, and often abortions are performed in what feels like an assembly line just to be able to serve the number of women who need abortions.

Please send me an email at if you are local to the Triad area and would like to become involved. Once again, if you wish to be an abortion doula you do not have to be a trained birth doula or ever doula for a live birth. And vice versa. What we need is women committed to providing emotional support for women in whatever pregnancy option they choose.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Roeder trial to begin Monday

The trial of Scott Roeder, the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller last May, is set to begin tomorrow.

On May 31, 2009, an armed man fitting Roeder's description entered Reformation Lutheran Church, where Dr. Tiller was performing usher duties, and administered one deadly shot to the head. Scott Roeder was detained driving on I-35 several hours later.

Sedgwick County District Judge Warren Wilbert will allow Roeder's defense to argue that he acted "upon an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force," meaning he could be charged with voluntary manslaughter instead of first-degree murder. Wilbert previously denied Roeder a "necessity defense" plea.

Although the court does not want to open the flood gates for a trial on abortion specifically, there's no doubt the procedure, especially later-term abortions, will be a core topic of debate amongst media coverage of the trial.

Pro-choice factions should be prepared to be outspoken in our defense of Dr. Tiller and his life's work. While mainstream anti-choice groups condemn Roeder's actions, most continue to focus on Tiller's occupation instead of asking key questions about how their own methods could have provoked this act of violent extremism. Operation Rescue, for example, had a webpage titled "Tiller Watch" that published details regarding the whereabouts of the doctor, his staff members, and family.

Reframing the discussion on later-term abortion will be key to ensuring reproductive justice and justice for Dr. George Tiller and his surviving family. Though the procedures Tiller performed are decidedly more controversial and emotion-laden than a basic early-term abortion, we must stick to our convictions about the right for women and their families to choose what they believe to be the best decisions in their reproductive lives. Indeed, the liberation of all women depends on it.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Life Escorts: The CPCs of Clinic Entrances

The following is a ChoiceUSA cross-post.

Our allies at Every Saturday Morning and Feministing have revealed a disturbing new tactic used by anti-choice demonstrators at the heavily-protested EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, the only abortion clinic in Kentucky: donning orange escort vests similar to those worn by the clinic escorts that assist women in obtaining safe passage from their cars to the clinic doors.

The vests that the antis wear have the words "Life Escort" printed on them, the only real difference between their vests and the ones the real clinic escorts wear to mark themselves apart from the protesters. However, given that many abortion patients at EMW arrive before sunrise, the fact that the words "Life Escort" are printed on the vest's back, and the overall turmoil of the situation outside the clinic every Saturday, it's not too far fetched to believe these "life escorts" mean to purposefully trick women into believing they are there to help them get to the clinic doors, similar to the way the CPC across the street named itself "A Woman's Choice."

Every Saturday Morning is the blog of a clinic escort who deals with some of the most relentless protesters out there. The clinic itself is positioned such that patients and their support persons have to walk through a large crowd of screaming demonstrators who, as many of the blogger's video clips show, try to scare women out of abortion as they enter the clinic. Kentucky has no buffer zone laws, meaning protesters can legally get as close to the clinic as they wish, so long as they do not block the doors.

A recent news report from WHAS11 in Louisville looked in-depth at the battle that rages in front of this clinic every Saturday and interviewed a director with A Woman's Choice, the CPC located across the street. The director, Monica Henderson, even admits her center is guilty of misleading women: "Technically are we being obstructionists? I guess you could view it that way."

I've never had any problem with folks who, due to personal conviction or religious belief, oppose abortion in their own lives. But it's hard to excuse the types who actively lie, trick, and deceive women who are already in a very vulnerable situation, often in the name of Jesus Christ. And if the loud praying at clinic patients isn't enough to invoke severe feelings of guilt and shame about choosing abortion, the more violent protesters (who the escorts call "chasers") most certainly are. No doubt, these people make up one of the most anti-woman, merciless factions of the anti-choice movement today.