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Capitalism & Economics
Stephen R. Shalom
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
Eleanor J. Bader
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O nce upon a time, physicians- in-training learned to do abortions as a routine part of their schooling. As a result, the roster of experienced practitioners grew. What’s more, a network of freestanding clinics developed and the number of abortions began to increase. By 1980—seven years after the Supreme Court issued the Roe v. Wade decision—29.3 of every 1,000 pregnancies were surgically terminated.
Flash forward to 2003. According to a recent study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), the surgical abortion rate is now 21.3 per 1,000, a 3 percent decline since 1996 and a 27 percent decline since l980. Not surprisingly, the anti- abortion movement is ecstatic and its leaders are patting themselves on the back for a job well done. Some of their jubilation is well-founded. The anti-abortion movement has clearly succeeded in getting states to promulgate onerous restrictions on access; the percentage of teenagers having sexual intercourse has fallen; and encounters with vitriolic picketers in front of clinics have made many women think twice about ending a pregnancy.
Nonetheless, it is a mistake to give the antis full credit for the reduced number of procedures. Indeed, AGI estimates that increased access to birth control, including “morning after” emergency contraception, has contributed to the abortion drop-off. According to AGI calculations, 51,000 abortions were prevented by emergency contraception in 2000 alone.Lawrence B. Finer, Assistant Director of Research at AGI, also believes that mifepristone (formerly called RU-486) has played a small but significant role in abortion provision: 6 percent of all abortions—130,000 procedures—were done with mifepristone during the first 6 months of 2001 and Finer believes that this percentage will escalate as both providers and patients become more familiar with the drug.
Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends. The AGI study, released on the 30th anniversary of the Roe decision, reveals a huge decrease in the number of clinics, hospitals, and private physicians who perform abortions, from 2,908 in 1982 to 1,819 today. This decrease has had a significant pragmatic impact: 1 in 4 women now have to travel at least 50 miles to obtain reproductive healthcare. Worse, 8 percent have to travel 100 miles or more. Overall, the picture is stark: 86 of the country’s 276 metropolitan areas—cities like Canton, Ohio; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Provo, Utah; and Scranton, Pennsylvania—are without a single abortion facility and only 3 percent of rural counties have providers.
Part of the blame for this limited access rests on the fact that 57 percent of the doctors who perform abortions are aged 50 and older. Couple this with a bewildering and costly array of state-imposed restrictions on how, when, and where a provider can operate, and you can practically see the number of clinicians dwindle before your eyes.
The restrictions, called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) laws, allow states to place specific licensing or management obligations on abortion facilities, restrictions that are not imposed on other types of ambulatory health centers. Says the National Abortion Federation (NAF), “TRAP laws are designed to discourage doctors from providing abortion services.” Such laws are presently in effect in 17 states and Puerto Rico.
A relatively new way to restrict access, they are already having a disastrous impact.
Take South Carolina as a case in point. In 1995 providers there received a 30-page document from the Department of Health and Environmental Control dictating a bevy of licensing requirements for anyone performing 5 or more abortions a month in either a private office or clinic. Among the requirements: 6 air changes per hour in the recovery and operating rooms; temperature maintenance between 72 to 76 degrees at all times; removal of grass and weeds from land surrounding the office; and the installation of particular alarms in all restrooms. The regulations also gave state health inspectors the right to peruse patient records whenever they choose, confidentiality be damned. Although a lower court found the law to be unconstitutional, in September 2002 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit overturned the decision. “The rationality of distinguishing between abortion and other medical services when regulating physicians or women’s health care providers has long been acknowledged,” the judges wrote. “Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures.”
This judicial go-ahead emboldened the antis and 10 states are presently considering a variety of TRAP laws. “The bills come in two flavors,” says Janet Crepps, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. “Some put all the details—air current restrictions; staffing requirements; regulations about temperature and door width—into the legislation. Other bills are very broad and give state licensing departments the right to draft regulations for abortion clinics. These restrictions leave providers vulnerable to constant changes. A shift in the legislature can lead to a shift in licensing staff so every two years there can be new rules. When this happens abortion stops being medical care and becomes a political football.”
In South Carolina there has been a 29 percent drop in the number of providers since the state’s TRAP law took effect in 2001; 10 remaining clinics are concentrated in three cities: Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville. Add to the mix the fact that the state does not fund Medicaid abortions and requires young women to get the consent of a parent or guardian before having the procedure, and the reasons South Carolina’s abortion rate has declined become exceedingly clear.
Still, at this juncture, one-third of all women in the U.S. will have an abortion at some point between ages 15 and 45. This number may be smaller than it used to be, but it is nevertheless significant.
The National Coalition of Abortion Providers (NCAP) is urging reproductive health activists to not only fight burdensome TRAP laws, but to reframe the debate by reclaiming the ethical ground that reproductive choice represents. “While more than one million women a year have abortions in the United states, abortion is a highly stigmatized procedure,” NCAP’s website admits. “Most people are uncomfortable talking about the issue and if they do it is often in judgmental or uninformed terms. The stigma associated with abortion can have unfortunate consequences. It can cause unnecessary guilt or remorse and it can lead to a feeling of alienation or isolation...supporters of legal abortion need to challenge the notion that abortion is immoral. It is time to lift the veil of secrecy and candidly address the core of the abortion experience: the relief, the conflict, the confusion, the sadness and the empowerment.”
Eleanor J. Bader is the co-author of Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism and a frequent contributor to In These Times, Library Journal, the NY Law Journal, and the Progressive
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.