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First Amendment Solutions Sunday – Prochoice Activism

Posted in Editorials on February 6th, 2011

If you have been following the news lately, you may have noticed a series of attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Rather than post a letter to Congress I’m writing this week – which I still encourage you to do, I’m going to list some other First Amendment Solutions you can employ to fight these attempts to restrict access to health care.

-The Republicans in Congress are sponsoring HR 3 which would make it illegal for private insurance companies to cover abortions. The “forcible rape” language has been dropped, no doubt in part due to the activism of thousands of feminists on twitter who used the #DearJohn hash tag to spread awareness of the issue. This is a victory to be savored, considering that the Republicans had no reason to do it as they had enough votes for it to pass the House and they knew it would never pass the Senate. They did it because the American public was a lot more feminist than they had expected, and didn’t want to look bad. Obviously they are saving face – but the fact that the public is on our side is heartening. #DearJohn is still going strong because although it’s no longer redefining rape, the bill is still unacceptable. If you have a twitter account, join the conversation. You can also send an email to congress opposing the bill here.

-An anti-choice group has made a series of videos they say depicts Planned Parenthood breaking the law. The full story is here, but there’s no reason to believe this is any different from the dishonest tactics used against ACORN or Shirley Sherrod. For a thorough response to the first “unedited” video, I recommend this post by Katie73. Amanda Marcotte is brilliant as usual here and here in response to the second video. There are ten more to go and while I wish we could have a real conversation about women’s health and how to better prevent unplanned pregnancies instead, it seems we have more mean-spirited conservatives dressing up like pimps to sit through first. On first hearing of this scandal, I made a donation to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and I encourage everyone to do the same. You can also use their website to find you local Planned Parenthood clinic. If you have some free time, call and see what volunteer opportunities are available. I have been a clinic escort, and it was a very worthwhile and rewarding experience.

-I’ve saved the worst for last. While HR 3 would limit a woman’s ability to pay for an abortion through private insurance, HR 358, the “Protect Life Act” could kill her. The bill would free hospitals of their legal obligation to treat pregnant women in emergency situations if the fetus would be harmed or killed or to provide an emergency abortion if the woman’s life was in danger. If your congressperson supports this bill, then I think a phone call, email or letter is in order. However, more than that, we should build on the momentum and success from what happened last week with HR 3. It wasn’t just tweets to John Boehner that took the language our of the bill, it was public outrage. So tell your friends and family about HR 358. Some are using #DearJohn to tweet about it, or think up a new hash tag. Post it on facebook. Don’t let these people hide behind the moniker of “pro life.” Denying women life saving care is anything but.

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