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May 31, 2009

Abortion Provider Dr. George Tiller Murdered

Dr. George Tiller has been gunned down while he was attending church. Tiller is well known for being one of only two doctors in the entire U. S. who performed late-term abortions. I'm sure that despite the public pronouncements by anti-choice groups condemning the murder of Dr. Tiller that those folk are cheering. They say it's not okay to kill babies, but it's perfectly fine to murder a man while he attends church services with his family. There's no logic in anti-choice zealotry. Only hate.

The anti-choice movement is not about saving babies. It's about keeping women under patriarchal control, and one way to effectively do that is to control their reproductive organs. I caught the snide disingenuousness behind Operation Rescue's public statement condemning the murder, yet referring to Dr. Tiller as "Mr. Tiller" (disrespectful). Operation Rescue also looked down its nose at Dr. Tiller's family, saying: "We pray for Mr. Tiller’s family that they will find comfort and healing that can only be found in Jesus Christ." So, if you don't abide by Operation Rescue's beliefs, you are doomed to burn in Hell. Fuck off, assholes.

Women who have late-term abortions aren't lazy bitches who just want to kill their babies, as anti-choice zealots claim. When a woman gets such an abortion, it is because either she has some serious mental health issues or there are serious health complications for either mother, the fetus, or both. Before I became a sex writer, I was a political writer who often wrote testimony regarding pending legislation. If you'd like to read one of my testimonials, please continue below the fold. I've included here my written testimony to the Massachusetts legislature in 2003, against a "partial-birth" abortion bill that never passed here, thankfully.

The murder of Dr. Tiller reminded me of my previous work, and I wanted to include an example of it now so that my readers may see what kind of work I used to do. I also include a link to an article I wrote for American Politics Journal about my experience in the State House that day. I published it with my real name, Trish Wilson. Here's the link:

Anti-Gay Meltdown In Massachusetts: Observations of the Massachusetts Legislative Hearings

Here is a brief excerpt from that article, describing the intimidating behavior of anti-choice and anti-gay people present at the State House that day:

A group of religious right folk sat behind me. Whenever anyone would get up to testify for gay marriage or civil unions or to testify against the abortion bills, these people would start praying. It was an obvious and public political display. One man decided to shove his way past me and the women from Massachusetts NOW with whom I sat rather than take the longer and easier way around. This man accidentally-on-purpose brushed his dirty shoes on my white coat. He leaned over with a smile I later realized was a sneer, brushed the dirt away with one hand, and said he didn't want to mess up my nice, clean coat. Being a polite and decent person, I thought he really had accidentally stepped on my coat. However, the woman sitting next to me gave him a look that spat daggers. It took me a few minutes to figure out what a hostile passive-aggressive stunt this man had pulled. It really creeped me out. I moved my coat to my side (it had been sitting on a wide ledge behind me), and tucked my briefcase and purse tightly under my legs. Once he sat down behind me, he began to pray the moment anyone stood up to testify in support of gay marriage, or to say that the abortion laws promoted by the religious right camp not only violated the constitution, they invaded women's privacy. There must have been some kind of signal the anti-choice/religious right folk gave each other, because they would pray and emote at the same time. It was like watching a flock of starlings dive-bomb the same tree, at the same time, without warning, but without all the noise.
And now onto my testimony that day about "partial-birth" abortion:

My name is Patricia Wilson. I am an editor and writer for Expository Magazine as well as editor-at-large and writer for Feminista! I am also an invited member of the National Network on Family Law Policy. I have provided resources, articles, and testimony related to issues affecting women in numerous states, Canada, Australia, and Europe. I would like to thank you in advance for reading my e-mail. I am providing for you my testimony against Senate Bill No. 1044/House Bill No. 570, which is scheduled to be heard on October 23, 2003. This bill violates the Constitution and interferes with a woman's right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

The bill's text reads as follows:

"Partially born," the delivery of a living unborn fetus' body, with the entire head attached, so that any of the following has occurred: (a) the living intact fetus's entire head, in the case of a cephalic presentation, of any portion of the living intact fetus's torso above the navel, in the case of a breech presentation, is delivered past the mother's vaginal opening; or (b) the living intact fetus's entire head, in the case of a cephalic presentation, or any portion of the living intact fetus's torso above the navel, in the case of a breech presentation, is delivered outside the mother's external abdominal wall.

"Partially born" and "partial birth abortion" are terms made up by anti-choice partisans. They are not medical terms. The rare medical procedure these terms misrepresent is "intact dilation and extraction." There are no recognizable medical terms in the bill at all. No reference to "viability," "late term," or "trimester." The description in the proposed bill is so vague that it could cover nearly all abortions -- something that would violate a woman's constitutionally protected right to govern her own reproductive health. Similarly vague language in proposed bills in other states have lead those states to rejected those bills.

The language of the bill is about "the delivery of a living unborn fetus' body with the entire head attached," "the living intact fetus's entire head," "any portion of the living intact fetus's torso above the navel," and "delivered outside the mother's external abdominal wall." The supporters of this bill claim that it is aimed at late-term abortions, but that is not possible. No reputable doctor would bring out the "fetus's entire head" until after the 16th week of pregnancy. At that point, the head is too large to be extracted without risking the mother's health and life. Instead, doctors compress the skull before the head goes outside the mother's body. The vague language makes it very clear that the intention of this bill is to ban pre-viability abortions. This bill, if passed, would ban many pre-viability dilations and evacuations -- a common abortion procedure. Such a ban would violate Federal law protecting a woman's right to govern her own reproductive health.

"Partial-birth" abortion bills have been overturned in many states, the key case being Stenberg v. Carhart (120 S.Ct.2597, 68 USLW 4702 (2000), No. 99-830) in Nebraska. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor made it very clear that laws banning D&E abortions such as this one proposed to the Massachusetts legislature are unconstitutional. O'Connor wrote in her concurring opinion in Stenberg the following:

"Nebraska's statute is unconstitutional on the alternative and independent ground that it imposes an undue burden on a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before viability. Nebraska's ban covers not just the dilation and extraction (D&X) procedure, but also the dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, "the most commonly used method for performing previability second trimester abortions." [...] By proscribing the most commonly used method for previability second trimester abortions, the statute creates a "substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion," and therefore imposes an undue burden on the woman's right to terminate her pregnancy prior to viability."

Women who choose an intact dilation and extraction do not do so lightly, as anti-choice activists claim. It is a difficult choice that they didn't want to make. The web log "Alas, A Blog," written by Barry Deutsch, included the stories of several women who made this choice, and their reasons were not frivolous. One woman described was Maureen Mary Britell, from Sandwich, Massachusetts.

MAUREEN MARY BRITELL from Sandwich, Massachusetts. Maureen and her husband Andrew, practicing Catholics, were expecting their second child in early 1994 when, at six months' gestation, a sonogram revealed that the fetus had anencephaly. No brain was developing, only a brain stem. Experts at the New England Medical Center in Boston confirmed that the fetus the Britells had named Dahlia would not survive. The Britells' parish priest supported their decision to induce labor and terminate the pregnancy. During the delivery, a complication arose and the placenta would not drop. The umbilical cord had to be cut, aborting the fetus while still in delivery in order to prevent serious health risks for Maureen. Dahlia had a Catholic funeral.

If this proposed bill had passed before Mrs. Britell needed medical services, she would not have been permitted to have the abortion. Mrs. Britell had testified against the "partial-birth" abortion ban that has recently passed in the Senate. That bill, should it become law, would likewise prevent other women in Mrs. Britell's position from getting much-needed medical services, especially when unforeseen complications occur as was the case in her own treatment. I would not be surprised if you hear from Mrs. Britell regarding the Massachusetts bill. If you would like to read Mrs. Britell's House testimony, it is available at this Internet link:

Massachusetts has long been supportive of women's reproductive health. This vague and harmful proposed legislation would not only negatively impact women, it would also greatly harm the men who must suffer with them when making painful medical decisions that involves children for whom they had so fervently wished. It would be in the legislature's best interests to continue to support women's reproductive health by not permitting misleading and false political propaganda from the anti-choice movement to influence its decisions when considering legislation that will affect the citizens of this state.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my letter. I shall keep track of the progress of this bill. I strongly encourage you to vote against H 570/S 1044. For your convenience, I have included my contact information at the end of this letter.

Posted on May 31, 2009 at 05:35 PM | Permalink


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Yep. What these so-called pro-lifers ignore is that women who get late-term abortions are often in grave medical danger. And the moral panic over late term abortions has influenced medical training: few medical students know how to do a D&X, even though those are actually necessary after miscarriages (otherwise, the the thing that surrounds the womb woman can suffer from serious infections). Oh, and the women who have had stillbirths but must carry their dead fetuses to term/be forced to birth them instead of having them removed. . . well, they're just bitches, so who cares, right?


Posted by: Sheelzebub at Jun 6, 2009 9:52:43 PM

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