BROOKLINE, MASS., DEC. 30 — A gunman dressed in black opened fire with a rifle at two abortion clinics here this morning, killing two female staff workers and wounding at least five other people.
This matter-of-fact sentence was the opening of a Washington Post story on December 31, 1994. Today marks the 20th anniversary of these shootings at the Planned Parenthood and Preterm Health Services clinics in Brookline, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.
Planned Parenthood buffer zone in Vermont. Photo: Adam Fagen
The Brookline shootings are generally considered the third in a series of assassinations by anti-abortion activists and followers, beginning with the murder of Dr. David Gunn in Pensacola, Florida, in March 1993. A history of acts of violence compiled by NARAL frames Dr. Gunn’s killing as a turning point, while recognizing that violent acts were happening all through the 20 years since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
I was living in Massachusetts in 1994; my life, however, was such that I did not have much time or energy for the news. I have a friend who lived in Brookline at the time; I asked for her memories of the shooting. She sent me this:
My 7-year-old daughter and I were coming home to our apartment in Brookline on the trolley to Cleveland Circle when we saw the police swarmed around the brownstone that the [Planned Parenthood] clinic was in. I had a friend who worked there part time, so I was very worried. I wanted to join the crowd of people behind the police line to find out what happened, but my daughter’s safety was first on my mind. Continue reading →
Russell Pearce, one of the worst Republican leaders in Arizona, engineered his own downfall by advocating for poor women to be forcibly sterilized. Isn’t it strange how these people actively fight against “government-sponsored” co-pay-free birth control and abortion one minute and then try to force it upon those they deem “undesirable” the next? (AZ Central)
Vice went undercover in several crisis pregnancy centers and further confirmed that they’re a lying bunch of sorry liars who thrive on cruelly tricking women in incredibly vulnerable situations. (Vice)
Add Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to the ever expanding list of lying, anti-choice liars on a never-ending mission to deceive us. This imbecile had the gall to accuse the federal government of “suing nuns to force them to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.” Um, what? No sir. The “nuns” in question, Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic nonprofit, are suing the government to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit. The government is not suing them. The case is over their refusal to provide insurance coverage for birth control to their employees. Birth control! Which does not “induce abortions”! (RH Reality Check)
A dilemma far too many women face: being too poor for a baby and too poor for an abortion. And before the anti-abortion crowd chimes in with “she shouldn’t be having sex then,” let’s shut down that BS with the fact that this woman in particular is married. I don’t think that would stop Russell Pearce from putting her on the forced-sterilization list, but I do think the anti-abortion “abstinence before marriage crowd” should face the fact that these situations don’t just happen with us unmarried sinful sex enthusiasts. (xoJane)
If you’re on Twitter and not following Dr. Leah Torres, ob/gyn and pro-choice superstar, you should rectify that. She drops knowledge! (Bustle)
Planned Parenthood has an app for your mobile phone now and obviously some people aren’t thrilled with that. (Seattle Times)
One woman’s cost for helping her pregnant daughter obtain “the abortion pill”? Forty-five dollars for the medication and 9 to 18 months in jail. (NY Times)
CVS effed up big time by illegally charging more than 11,000 women who should have been receiving co-pay-free birth control under the ACA for their contraception. (Salon)
I’ve spoken about my experiences as a clinic escort and the importance of buffer zones around abortion clinics many times on this blog. We at Planned Parenthood are staunch supporters of buffer zones and believe they’re crucial in protecting our patients from potential harm and harassment. So, imagine our collective dismay yesterday when the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision calling the 35-foot clinic buffer zone in Massachusetts “unconstitutional” on the basis that it violates the First Amendment of those who wish to “counsel” clinic patients. Pretty infuriating to say the least. (Mother Jones)
Will SCOTUS also throw women under the bus in the upcoming Hobby Lobby decision? (RH Reality Check)
Four years ago, Aaron Gouveia and his wife had to make the heartbreaking decision to abort their non-viable, very much wanted child. His story describes how the presence of anti-abortion protesters made the saddest day of their lives exponentially worse. (Time)
President Obama is the first Commander in Chief to help advance transgender rights! (Associated Press)
Women who volunteer in the Peace Corps are now able to receive insurance coverage for abortion (albeit in limited circumstances: rape, incest, or life endangerment). Better to have baby steps than no steps, I guess. (RH Reality Check)
Check out this fascinating piece on the history of sex-ed films shown in schools over the years. (Truth-out)
The headline might sound sensational, but it’s the truth — Abortion Clinics Are Closing Because Their Doors Aren’t Big Enough. (Vice)
The Vatican is aware their teachings on contraception aren’t followed or even highly regarded by most Catholics, but apparently, it’s easier to keep the doctrine stale and irrelevant than to evolve because they’re not likely to make any changes. (Toronto Star)
Because Planned Parenthood is so committed to women’s health and providing the best preventive care possible, we’ve just pledged to dedicate $3 million to launch an initiative to fight breast cancer with expanded screenings and education! Woo hoo! (MSNBC)
Dear Todd Akin, Your assertion that a woman’s body can “shut the whole thing down” to prevent herself from being impregnated by her rapist is the biggest crock of $&*% we’ve ever heard. Sincerely, Legitimate Ob/gyn Professionals (NYT)
You know who’s more extreme on abortion than Todd Akin? Mitt Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan! Boom. (The Daily Beast)
Please take a look at this fantabulous video extolling a myriad of benefits of contraception. It is so worth your time. (Guttmacher)
The tone deaf GOP is going all in on a plan to abolish abortion, and they could give a friggin’ crap if you were “legitimately raped” or molested. (Jezebel)
Remember that one time when Paul Ryan co-sponsored legislation with Todd Akin using the language “forcible rape” instead of just plain “rape” — as if there were different categories and classifications of rape? Well, he now insists “rape is rape” and pretends like this is just basic common sense that he’s always embraced! HA! It’s unfortunate that rape wasn’t “rape” when he insisted upon using the “forcible rape” phrase in the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. (RH Reality Check)
The Daily Beast has an epic slideshow detailing the history of abortion rights in America. (Daily Beast)
It’s time to panic: Gonorrhea is becoming resistant to the only medical treatment left. (The Grio)
Isn’t it interesting that anti-choicers have taken extreme interest in a black woman’s death following an abortion (which is extremely rare), rather than the much higher rate of mortality among black women after childbirth? (Double X)
The Catholic Church: a long legacy of protecting the pre-born from not being born, but not protecting post-born children — from rape. (Gawker)
In related religious news, the Christian right’s affinity for the notion of fetal personhood has absolutely no scriptural basis. Whatsoever. (Role Reboot)
The scary world that awaits us if the GOP wins their war on a woman’s right to choose. (Mother Jones)
Medical science has proved that circumcision has significant health benefits, including decreasing the risk of cancer and lowering HIV transmission rates. However, circumcision rates are plummeting, which is probably going to cost the United States billions in health care costs. (USA Today)
Sadly, a young pregnant leukemia patient has died due to the failure of the Dominican Republic to allow her timely access to chemotherapy — all because because abortion is illegal in the DR and life-saving chemotherapy treatments are likely to terminate a pregnancy. (CNN)
President Obama, ever the pacifist, is kowtowing to the demands of Catholic bishops who care more about their dogma than the health and livelihoods of women. (MSNBC)
Planned Parenthood is OK with the president making the concession though — whatever it takes to ensure women have access to birth control, we’re on board! (ABC News)
Speaking of birth control, you can credit the drop in teen pregnancy and abortions to it. (WebMD)
The Arizona Legislature (with the help of the Center for Arizona Policy) is coming out with guns blazing against choice this year. Again. (Tucson Citizen)
Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini notes the hypocrisy of our legislature’s seemingly immense care and concern for fetuses while lacking the same for actual born children. (AZ Central)
Planned Parenthood: Prioritizing the health and safety of black women. (HuffPo)
Rather than, say, creating jobs and passing legislation that will resuscitate the current economy, Congress seems to be solely focused on taking down reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood. (The Hill)
Just what we don’t need — the Old Boys’ Club dictating “wisdom” on contraceptive coverage. (RH Reality Check)
Students at a Pennsylvania college can now access emergency contraception via a vending machine! (CNN)
The truth is, you can be pro-choice and Catholic – and indeed, most Catholics are. Catholics can, in good conscience, support access to abortion and affirm that abortion can be a moral choice.
Join us for an interactive workshop with staff from Catholics for Choice to learn the truth about Catholics, Catholic teaching, and abortion. Pro-Choice Catholicism 101: Listening to Your Conscience will outline how it is possible to be both pro-choice and Catholic – and how the vast majority of Catholics support comprehensive reproductive healthcare services. Continue reading →
September 14 marks the birthday of Margaret Sanger, founder of the modern birth control movement. Born Margaret Higgins in 1879 in Corning, New York, Sanger would become a trailblazer and set the stage for women to control their reproductive destiny.
Margaret was the sixth of 11 children. She watched her mother struggle with the challenges of childcare and frequent pregnancies, and it made a permanent mark on Margaret’s mind. Feminist author Gloria Feldt tells us:
Margaret’s earliest childhood memories were of crying beside her mother’s bed after a nearly fatal childbirth. Anne Higgins, a devout, traditional Catholic, did die at age 50, worn out from frequent pregnancies and births.
Margaret’s father was a freethinker, a stonemason, a charmer who loved to drink and spin a tale but was less than a dependable provider. Margaret knew poverty; she identified with the struggles of women. Her experiences formed her sensibilities about the moral rightness of birth control. And she had that freethinker streak that allowed her to break boundaries.
Part of the Higgins family’s problems stemmed from the fact that Michael Higgins was very vocal in his opposition to the Catholic Church. Corning was a predominantly Catholic community, and Higgins’ opinions made it hard for him to secure commissions as a stonemason. It also made the Higgins children the subject of ridicule amongst their peers. This may have been a blessing in disguise, however, because it helped the Higgins children rely on each other for companionship. And when Margaret was ready to launch the birth control movement many years later, her sister would join the fray. Continue reading →