Monday MONITOR

Monday, May 2, 2011                                                                                                      

Contact:  Michelle Trupiano – 573.424.8717

TWO WEEKS REMAIN: GOVERNMENT INTRUSION BILLS CONTINUE TO MOVE

       HB213 (Jones, R-89) and SB65 (Mayer, R-25) are in their opposite chambers awaiting floor debate.  SB65 must first pass out of House Rules Committee and HB213 is yet to be ’turned in’, but the likelihood is high that one or both versions of these bills will receive floor debate this week. With just two weeks remaining, the bills must be perfected, third read, and then sent to conference committee if there are differences, While SB65 was amended to remove some of the more onerous provisions, both bills continue to require physicians who perform rarely sought abortions later in the pregnancy—a total of 63 were performed in Missouri in 2009—to now report to the Missouri Board of Healing Arts. This is absolutely without precedent, and is an unnecessary and chilling extra step that the physicians will be required to perform.

       Women facing medically complex pregnancies with severe fetal indications often have no knowledge of the complications until 20+ weeks gestation. In rare and tragic circumstances, such as Twin-to-Twin Transfusion or loss of amniotic fluid, continuing a pregnancy may cause harm to one fetus (in the case of a multiple pregnancy) or pose other risks, but not meet the health endangerment description that remains in both SB 65 and HB 213.

       As a trusted provider of health information, Planned Parenthood knows that a woman needs to rely on the expertise of her physicians—not politicians—when making the difficult decision about pregnancy complications. If the Missouri legislature is truly concerned with the health of pregnant women, they should reject SB 65 and HB 213 and focus on proven policies that prevent unintended pregnancies and promote the health and well-being of Missouri women and families.

TRUST BLACK WOMEN

St. Louis American, Thursday, April 28, 2011 12:01 am | Jamala Rogers

       A couple of weeks ago, a billboard on Cass Avenue near Jefferson Avenue caught the eye of some conscious women. A precious little brown face with big almond eyes is looking out at you. Since we tend to read from left to right, the image grabs us first. Your eyes then move to the text – and the real point of the billboard. It reads: “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”

       The “Black Genocide” billboard campaign is the insidious work of a racist, right-wing coalition created and financed by the likes of the Radiance Foundation, Heroic Media and LifeAlways. They are also part of the same despicable forces who attack President Obama as being a Muslim and non-citizen. Yet they also have a billboard with an image of the president claiming, “Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted.”

       These people could care less about a black president, let alone black women and their children. These are the same folks who have given the living black folks hell by advocating the removal of safety nets for poor and working-class people. They are on record as opposing access to basic contraceptive services, not just abortions. Their ranks are often led by white men, but with the Genocide campaign they have managed to get a few black men to carry their water. They have generally criminalized black people of all ages and backgrounds for the purpose of advancing their racist social policies. This has been done with lies and distortions.

       Trust Black Women (TBW) has been organized to not just expose and denounce this offensive campaign, but to assert that women have the right to make personal and private decisions with whomever they choose about childbearing. TBW is led by black women, but includes all shades and genders because it’s crystal clear that the agenda is to take human and civil rights away from women and people of color. Remember the refrain, “We want our country back!” is a longing for the times when black people were slaves and white women had no rights.

       The last time I looked, the right to have an abortion was still law and protected by the Constitution. Lawless people are rabid about this issue and have resorted to intimidation and even murder of doctors who legitimately perform abortions. They have no respect for law or rights. Because conservatives often hijack language, most people believe that pro-choice means that you are pro-abortion. Not so. The Pro-Choice movement also includes those who are fundamentally opposed to abortion but who uphold the law and who recognize the rights of women to ultimately choose what’s in their best interests.

       The Genocide campaign is not about abortion; it is an attempt to criminalize black women and cause division and distraction in our communities. We won’t stand for it. Wherever the campaign has raised its ugly head, black women and their allies have organized to get the billboards down – one way or another. More importantly, it’s a teachable moment about the need to support reproductive justice and health services for women. It is also a time to talk about how to improve the conditions of those who are living – right now.   

OPEN LETTER TO MO RIGHT TO LIFE OPPOSING RACIST BILLBOARDS

       In response to the racist billboard placed in north St. Louis City by the Missouri Right to Life (see story above by Jamala Rogers), the entire, 13-member St. Louis City African American Aldermanic Caucus sent a sharply worded letter to the owner of the billboard condemning this campaign and demanding that the billboard be taken down.  While it is unclear whether the billboard owner has responded, the billboard has since been ‘redesigned’ with a different sign stating ‘the African American womb is safe and loving,’ yet MO-RTL continues to promote the original billboard and use it as an online fundraising tool.

       Another grassroots response has come from the Black Women's Reproductive Justice Network in the form of an online “Open Letter” to the Missouri Right To Life organization with the title “Stop Targeting Black Women -- Take Down Racist Billboard in St. Louis.”  The letter reads:

       “Greetings,

       “The recent billboard sponsored by your organization with the message, "The Most Dangerous Place for an African-American is in the Womb” is offensive and racist. I demand that you stop trying to fundraise and furthering your political agenda on the backs of Black women. Take down the racist billboard in St. Louis city.

       “Black women have less access to reproductive and sexual health education, including family planning, prevention and transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Putting messages like this in the African American community does nothing but use the bodies of Black women and the reproductive health disparities Black women face to further political agendas. That Missouri Right to Life is seeking to raise funds through this disgusting campaign only adds insult to injury. Real conversations need to happen about family planning that place Black women and their needs at the center of the discussion. Only Black women can take the lead in formulating a multi-prong strategy to address what it takes for Black women to be healthy, have healthy families, and live in healthy communities to achieve reproductive justice.

       “Issues like racism, violence, lack of access to education, high rates of unemployment, and lack of access to healthy foods—these are some of the real issues that must be addressed—not Black women making the decisions that they understand are in the best interest of their families.

       “I look forward to hearing from you after you have removed the racist billboard in St. Louis city and abandoned this dangerous campaign.”

            To sign the letter, go to: http://www.change.org/petitions/open-letter-to-missouri-right-to-life-2

BRACING FOR THE RETURN OF CONGRESS AND THE RETURN OF ATTACKS ON ABORTION

       After a two-week recess, and rather than focus on important issues like jobs and the economy, the US House will return this week to focus on HR3, a bill sponsored by anti-abortion leader Rep. Chris Smith (R, NJ). If this bill becomes law, women who need abortions due to severe health conditions will be forced to either risk their health or risk bankruptcy because Congressman Smith will not allow private insurance coverage for abortion—even when the abortion is necessary to prevent severe and permanent damage to the woman’s health.  In addition, the bill would raise taxes on small businesses as well as millions of women, men, and families across this country because their current, employer-provided private health insurance covers abortion—whether they use it or not. 

       Clearly, this bill doesn’t create one job or help fix the economy, which is what the leaders of Congress have promised to do.  And, in fact, a majority of voters (63 percent), including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, overwhelmingly oppose the Smith bill’s provision to increase taxes on small businesses and individuals.

THIS WEEK—TUESDAY, MAY 3RD

PRO-CHOICE COALITION LOBBY DAY IN JEFFERSON CITY

www.ppmissouri.org