Apr. 29, 2013
United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, came out with his yearly report on torture last month. This year’s report “focuses on certain forms of abuses in health-care settings that may cross a threshold of mistreatment that is tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Among other things, Méndez specifically cites lack of access to abortion.
Méndez, a long-time human rights worker and visiting professor of Law at American University, details in his report global human rights abuses and offers recommendations on how to correct these issues. Included in the report is also discussion of “compulsory detention for drug users.”
In the report, Mendez writes:
Persons who use, or are suspected of using, drugs and who do not voluntarily opt for drug treatment and rehabilitation are confined [and are then] compelled to undergo diverse interventions.
Such interventions, Méndez notes, are often tantamount to torture. Citing numerous other studies, the UN report states that detainees are often subject to, “painful withdrawal from drug dependence without medical assistance, administration of unknown or experimental medications, State-sanctioned beatings, caning or whipping, forced labor, sexual abuse and intentional humiliation.”
Last year, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Reproductive Rights, Anand Grover, broke major ground by demanding the removal, without delay, of all barriers with regard to reproductive access globally, as well as granted access to contraception. In his report, Grover declared denial of access to abortion as discriminatory. Coupled with the new report from the Special Rapporteur on Torture, women’s rights activists worldwide are cheering.
In his report, Méndez, too, holds that denial of reproductive justice is discrimination on the basis of gender and denial of that right can cause “tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering” to women. According to the Special Rapporteur’s report, such violations include:
Abusive treatment and humiliation in institutional settings; involuntary sterilization; denial of legally available health services such as abortion and post-abortion care; forced abortions and sterilizations; female genital mutilation; violations of medical secrecy and confidentiality in health-care settings, such as denunciations of women by medical personnel when evidence of illegal abortion is found; and the practice of attempting to obtain confessions as a condition of potentially life-saving medical treatment after abortion.
The importance of the report cannot be understated. In the past, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have called upon the United Nations Committee against Torture to intervene in countries such as Nicaragua where a total ban on abortion and criminalization of doctors who provide the procedure and women and girls who obtain them has been instated. Nicaragua’s penal code goes so far as to penalize women who undergo miscarriages as it is often hard to discern between a miscarriage (or spontaneous abortion) and a selective abortion. Indeed, Amnesty reports that doctors and nurses are hesitant to treat extremely ill patients for fear that they may in turn harm the fetus and find themselves facing jail time. This new UN report, specifically referring to denial by the state of the right to safely terminate an unwanted pregnancy as torture or ill treatment, is promising for moving women’s rights forward globally and in hopefully reversing such dangerous bans as in Nicaragua.
Moreover, the report highlights the importance of eliminating government bureaucracy in women’s health care – particularly with regards to rape survivors seeking abortion care. Throwing in boulders in the way of women’s access to health care serves no legitimate purpose but to humiliate and hinder the rights of women to obtain a basic right. Even allowing abortion only in the case of rape or incest puts the burden on a woman to prove that she was a victim of such a trauma. Doing such only strains government resources, and more importantly, severely inconveniences women seeking care by forcing them to jump through hoops in pursuit of a simple medical procedure.
The special rapporteur demands for legal abortion worldwide, as well as ensuring safe and available access to abortion. This is an important point because without ready access to abortion there is no such thing as reproductive choice.
The full report by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture can be read here.
Apr. 5, 2013
The right wing is going to lose it.
Mar. 15, 2013
“so we are clear, North Dakota just banned abortion less than 2 weeks after a missed period. In a state with 1 clinic. w/24hr wait” - @robinmarty
I think the only appropriate response to this is HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
For more information, click here.
Feb. 25, 2013
What if gun rights were regulated like abortion rights? Here’s a list of just some of the hoops you’d have to jump through before you could own a gun:
- Only one store in the entire state would sell guns. (See: Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming for states with only one abortion provider.)
- You’d have to fill out an enormous personal background check including intrusive personal information that has nothing to do with your ability to own or use a gun. Then you’d have to wait at least 72 hours and come back to the store. (Remember, it’s the only one in the state. You better hope you don’t live on the other side of Wyoming.)
- Upon your return, you’d have to sit through intensive mandatory counseling. Your counselor, regardless of his personal beliefs, would have to tell you that gun ownership is actually a bad idea, and that it would negatively effect your mental health to own a gun. (This, despite there being no scientific evidence to support the claim.)
- Next, you’d sit through a gruesome movie showing the actual aftermath of domestic gun crimes. You’d see people with half a head. You’d see dead children in their beds. You’d see the bloody aftermath of a school shooting. You’d be shown statistic after statistic warning you that you’d be contributing to this morally degenerate sanctioning of murder.
- If you lived in Virginia, you’d have to come back (again) for an invasive and uncomfortable fMRI (which costs around $300 out of your pocket) to ensure your honesty in answering all the background check information and your intentions to use your gun responsibly. (This was as close as I could get to the invasive transvaginal procedure included in the recently passed Virginia bill.)
- Oh… and if you were married, your spouse might have to sign off on your gun ownership.
Feb. 22, 2013
You are a sorceress, and if your husband consents to your use of contraception, he is a sorcerer! One cannot practice sorcery and genuinely believe in Christ.
A comment on the most amazing advice column ever written. It’s all about the evils of contraception and birth control.
Here’s a gem from the article itself:
Let’s begin by making a few things clear. Contraception artificially blocks the life-creating potential of the sexual act between a man and woman. There are many ways contraception can do this. Acondom blocks fertility by keeping the man’s sperm from entering the woman’s body. The pillchemically blocks fertility by keeping the woman’s body from ovulating. There are many forms ofchemicals (spermicides, implants such as the IUD) that either kill sperm or impede a woman’s natural fertility cycle. There is also vasectomy that unnaturally blocks tubes that are designed to carry sperm out of a man’s body.
Happy weekend to you all!
Feb. 14, 2013
If you’re a vegan and you aren’t pro-life I can’t help but think you’re a complete hypocrite
It’s actually quite easy to respect the bodily autonomy of animals and humans simultaneously.
Fetuses are not sentient or autonomous. Animals are both.
Why would vegans, people who are against the use and exploitation of unwilling animals for our own benefit, in any way support forcing unwilling pregnant people to remain pregnant?
We respect the right to control your own body - human or animal. I will not expect an animal to live caged and die to provide me with food, nor will I expect a pregnant person to remain pregnant against their will to please me.
Veganism and pro-choice go hand in hand.
Feb. 11, 2013
I’ve written multiple times in this space about my love of abortion funds, which are organizations around the country that help people pay for abortions who otherwise can’t afford them.
Abortion funds are amazing non-judgmental, caring spaces. The work they do saves people’s lives. Most people who call are already parents, they have taken drastic actions to raise money (like beg friends and family, work extra hours, pawn TVs, sometimes forego utilities), and they just need someone’s help.
Abortion funds give people access to the reproductive health care they otherwise wouldn’t have any access to. And choice without access is no choice at all.
The thing about this is that the $$ you donate to an abortion fund goes directly to these people who need it. And while $5 may seem trivial to you, to someone who is literally scraping together whatever money they can find, it can be a lifesaver.
The link above takes you to my fundraising page for the annual bowl-a-thon that the National Network of Abortion Funds puts on. The money I raise will go towards my local abortion, The Lilith Fund, which serves central/south Texas.
If you want to donate to an effort closer to home, you can check this page for funds that are participating.
My goal this year is $3000 because, let’s face it, poor people in Texas need all the help they can get, especially when it comes to reproductive health.
Really, just $5 can make a difference.
Feb. 11, 2013
In order to arrest, incarcerate, and institutionalize pregnant women for legal acts like “noncompliance” with a doctor’s orders, prosecutors distort state homicide, child abuse, and “feticide” laws—the latter meant to protect pregnant women from violence. As a result, many women have endured gross violations of their privacy, religious liberty, and suffered from infection, wrongful conviction, and even death. As mentioned, a disproportionate majority in the study’s cases were African-American women. African-American women in the study were more likely to be reported to the police by health care providers, arrested, and subject to felony charges. The study’s findings are consistent with reports of the racially biased application of the drug laws from disproportionate testing to well-documented targeting of pregnant African-American women in particular. The War on Drugs is manifesting quite systematically in the misapplication of child abuse and homicide law for the purpose of controlling women’s bodies, a disproportionate number of them Black, Paltrow and I believe, not coincidentally. I often hear the question from African-American women, “What do they [the right] want? We either have too many kids or too many abortions. Which is it?” The truth is, to them, it’s both.
(Source: grrrl-riot, via theoppressedlittlefetus)
Feb. 9, 2013
People think that abortions didn’t begin until Roe.
(Source: punkmermaid, via brazilianveganfeminist)
Feb. 5, 2013
These Alabama “pro-life” protestors retraumatized a mother whose baby died in utero: Pro-choice marchers recalled a particularly painful event last month when a woman whose baby had died en utero was coming to the clinic to have it removed. In an awful coincidence, that was the day, Watters said, when the pro-life demonstrators collected a children’s choir on the sidewalk to sing “Happy Birthday Dead Baby” to anyone driving in. “Will had to physically restrain the father,” Watters said, nodding to one of the men marching in a pro-choice jacket. “And by the time she walked through them, she was an emotional wreck.
Feb. 4, 2013
Lori Stodghill was 31-one years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year’s Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. Stodghill’s obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician on call for emergencies that night, never answered a page. His patient died at the hospital less than an hour after she arrived and her twins died in her womb.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins.
But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.
Say whaaaaaaat Catholic hospital?