Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blog For Choice 2009

For the past three years, pro-choice bloggers have come together on January 22 - the anniversary of Roe v. Wade - to write about our reproductive health and our pro-choice values in order to celebrate Roe and to keep choice in the national spotlight. This year, NARAL Pro Choice America is asking people to blog their answer to this question:

What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?

There is a lot to tackle after 8 years with an Anti-choice administration. It is hard to pick just one, so I have picked three. I want the repeal the “Right of Conscience” rule. I want the “Global Gag Rule” (aka Mexico City Policy) to be abolished. I want evidenced-based sex education to be taught to our teens.
Right Of Conscience Rule

Issued by George W. Bush on December 17, 2008, the ‘right of conscience’ rule is a regulation that ‘protects’ a broad range of healthcare workers - from doctors to janitors - who refuse to participate in providing services that they believe violate their personal, moral, or religious beliefs. Federal Health officials may cut off federal funding to any state or local government, hospital, clinic, health plan or doctor’s office who do not accommodate employees who exercise their “right of conscience”

It was the Bush administration’s intention to protect workers who object to abortion. The final rule was taken to the extreme (how surprising!) and affected much more than abortion providers. The rule was aimed at Doctors and Nurses, but could be construed to include anyone, even the housekeeping staff that might have to clean up after an ‘objectionable’ procedure. Workers who did not want to dispense birth control pills, Plan B pills and other forms of contraceptives are now protected under this rule. For extremists who consider most forms of contraceptives on par with abortion, this was an answer to their prayers.

Although it has not yet been tested, this rule could also ‘protect’ workers who have objections towards certain types of end of life care, providing care to unmarried couples or members of the LGBTQI community.
Global Gag Rule
This policy requires non-governmental organizations to "agree as a condition of their receipt of [U.S.] federal funds" that they will "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations". The policy has exceptions for abortions done in response to rape, incest, or life-threatening conditions.

This policy lead to serious loss in funding for organizations like International Planned Parenthood Federation, Family Guidance Association of Ethiopia and Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia when they refused to make changes required by the Mexico City Policy. Not only did these organizations lose much-needed funds, but also their ability to distribute birth control was hampered. It prevented their access to USAID supplied condoms and other forms of contraception. The ban promotes restrictions on Free Speech well as restrictions on accurate medical information, leading to increased number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and higher rates of STIs.

According to a 2005 press release by Population Action:

Bush's Global Gag Rule Only Making Matters Worse – New Reports, Redesigned Web Site Illustrate Effects on Women in Developing Countries April 20, 2005
Four years since the reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule by President George W. Bush on January 22, 2001, the policy continues to erode family planning and reproductive health services in developing countries, according to new case studies made available today on the Global Gag Rule Impact Project’s Web site.
Key Findings Include:
* In addition to severe financial losses, the gag rule has resulted in the loss of technical assistance and contraceptive donations to key nongovernmental organizations in Ethiopia, worsening the country’s supply shortage.
* By preventing regional partnerships, the gag rule is crippling efforts in Ghana to address reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in a coordinated and effective manner.

* Nongovernmental organizations in Tanzania are struggling to sustain current levels of service since refusing to accept the terms of the gag rule; meanwhile, demand for supplies and services are ever increasing.
Evidence-based Sex Education
Teaching kids evidenced-based sex education will not make them sexually active. Educating teens about preventing pregnancy, limiting or preventing their exposure to sexually transmitted infections and the emotional impact of sexual activity will help keep them safe if they choose to become sexually active. One only needs to peruse the newspaper to see that Abstinence-only sex ed and virginity pledges don't work.
Trends Shift, With Births on the Rise

Teen Birth Rates Up in 26 States

Many Teens Don't Keep Virginity Pledges

Schools Need Programs Proven To Delay Teen Sex And Make It Safer --- Abstinence-only Isn't One Of Them

I hope President Obama will hear the pleas of many and undo the damage done by 8 years with a President who actively worked to outlaw abortion, severely restrict access to birth control and deny our children comprehensive sex education.


  1. Great blog Misha - well reasoned list that will allow more women access information, birth control and abortions. I hope change comes quickly!

  2. I love you as much as I love my CHOSEN children~