You know who just doesn’t have enough rights in this country? You guessed it, rapists. Thank goodness House Republicans are here to look after these put-upon American citizens.

As much of the nation focuses on the Steubenville gang rape story, your failed Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) was busy protecting rapists’ rights. Buried deep in the latest Fetus Rights Bill (aka, Sanctity of Human Life Act , H.R. 23: To provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization), wherein feti are given more rights than the women carrying them, is a section that will allow a rapist to sue his victim in order to stop her from getting an abortion, specifically if she were trying to get an abortion in a state that allows them while she lives in a state that does not.

Section 2(2) states, “The Congress affirms that the Congress, each State, the District of Columbia, and all United States territories have the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.”

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones summed up the impact of this intentionally vague subsection, “In fact, if this bill were passed and the Supreme Court upheld it, I’ll bet that a rapist could go to court and sue to prevent his victim from getting an abortion. He’d argue that the fetus was legally a human being, and the court has no power to discriminate between one human being and another. He’d probably win, too.”

Yes, the rapist can sue to stop the abortion caused by the rape he perpetrated upon an unwilling female. Laura Beck at Jezebel points out, “Her rapist could theoretically sue to stop the abortion from happening, and probably win.”

This explains why Ryan was so busy listening to his iPod during the fiscal cliff negotiations. He has only introduced two bills that have passed over his entire 13 year career, one dealing with an excise tax for arrows and the other renaming a post office. His only other purpose in Congress is to keep reintroducing the Fetus Rights bill in order to avoid doing the math on his budget. Ryan started off the 113th congress with a bang by introducing his bill yet again.

It’s great that rapists have a voice in D.C., because what they crave the most is more power and control over their victims – and what better way to achieve that than to reward a rapist with the power to force his victim to carry his fetus to term. Representative Ryan has managed to incentivize rape.

Republicans haven’t addressed this hopefully unintentional consequence, but taken in context with their refusal to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, it is beginning to look as if Republicans are actively seeking to give criminals more access to women. But still, they deny that there is a Republican war on women. See, there wouldn’t be a war if you ladies would just be willing to turn over all of your rights to men, even if they are rapists (in Republicanese, we are to call the victim the “accuser” so as to suggest that most women lie about being raped… and then, if it was a legitimate rape, you would have shut that sh*t down, so this is all your fault).

Republican men in Congress may not know anything about the female body, including OB/GYN Rep. Gingrey who also co-sponsored this bill, but they still make better decisions about your body than you do, ladies. Think you’re going across state lines to exercise your rights? Not if the Republicans can stop you.

Luckily, this bill has as much chance of becoming law as House Republicans’ 34 attempts to overturn ObamaCare. But what else would you expect from Republicans’ Big Policy Wonk?

 

http://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2013/04/protection-of-life-during-pregnancy-bill-plp-30-04-13-10-30.pdf

 

Summary and comment, Marge Berer, Reproductive Health Matters

 

This bill manages to allow abortion if a woman’s life is at risk while at the same time protecting the life of the fetus, as required in the Irish Constitution, and at the same time, meeting the conditions laid down by the European Court to legislate clearly on matters arising from previous court cases.

 

The bill allows abortiononly if there is a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother”, for example arising from a physical illness. It says that it is “not necessary for medical practitioners to be of the opinion that the risk to the woman’s life is inevitable or immediate, as this approach insufficiently vindicates the pregnant woman’s right to life”. However, it repeats often that there must be a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.

 

It also says: “In circumstances where the unborn may be potentially viable outside the womb, doctors must make all efforts to sustain its life after delivery. However, that requirement does not go so far as to oblige a medical practitioner to disregard a real and substantial risk to the life of the woman on the basis that it will result in the death of the unborn.”

 

This appears to take particular account of what happened to Savita Halappanavar, as does the name of the bill.

 

It creates separate conditions for what to do if the woman is threatening suicide, including requiring at least three medical opinions as to whether to allow an abortion on this ground.

 

It makes it clear that legal abortion will be very rare. It allows a woman to appeal a decision against her but makes it extremely difficult to do so.

 

It allows for conscientious objection by individuals but NOT by institutions, which is important, and requires anyone objecting to find another medical professional to refer the woman to.

 

The bureacracy for medical professional control of the decision to allow an abortion is prodigious and possibly even unworkable in practice if a woman’s life is at risk. It potentially requires many medical professionals to be involved to agree an abortion is legal, far more than in any other country. The numbers required to agree to an abortion in case of a threat of suicide appear to say it is hard to believe any woman would actually commit suicide and so she must be examined by many to prove it. It requires any abortion to take place in an obstetric hospital unless it is a medical emergency, which also has specific conditions attached.

 

It makes it very clear that there is no restriction on travelling to another country for an abortion where it is legal. It almost invites women to continue doing so rather than go through this process.

 

Last, and not least, it says that anyone found providing or having an illegal abortion will be subject to punishment of up to 14 years in prison. This is very serious. In my opinion, it is perhaps the worst aspect of this bill from Irish women’s point of view.

 

I believe this bill is extremely successful at doing exactly what the European Court required, to clarify the law when a pregnant woman’s life is at risk, and not a step further. For all the easy criticism we can make of every word of it, it is a gift to the politicians who must have felt (no matter what their personal views) that their political lives were not worth having this fight. They can now say “We did exactly what we were told to do by the European Court” and no more. It will be impossible to oppose it – in those terms – from any point of view. The person/people who drafted it deserve a gold star for compliance with the political necessity involved.

REQUEST FOR SOLIDARITY

 

El Salvador: woman denied life saving medical intervention

 

From: Amnesty International, 15 April 2013

 

http://www.refworld.org/docid/5177d9574.html

 

Beatriz is a 22-year-old woman with a high risk pregnancy who is being denied access to

life saving medical treatment that she urgently needs in El Salvador. Her life is at risk and

she is suffering cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

 

Beatriz suffers from health problems that put her life at risk while she is pregnant. She has a history of lupus, a

autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the person’s own tissue. She also has other

medical conditions, including kidney disease related to the lupus, and she suffered serious complications during

her previous pregnancy. Beatriz has been diagnosed as being at high risk of pregnancy-related death if she

continues with the pregnancy. Three scans have confirmed that the foetus is anencephalic (lacking a large part of

the brain and skull). Almost all babies with anencephaly die before birth or within a few hours or days after birth.

 

Beatriz has been requesting the recommended medical intervention for over a month. Beatriz wants to live and has

requested an abortion. She is now 4 and a half months pregnant. The medical professionals have not acted in

accordance with her wishes as yet because they feel unable to terminate her pregnancy without the express

assurance from the Salvadoran government that they will not be prosecuted for administering the life saving

treatment she needs. Abortion is criminalised in all circumstances in El Salvador. Under Article No. 133 of the

Penal Code, anyone who provides, or tries to access, abortion services can face lengthy prison sentences.

 

The health professionals responsible for Beatriz’s care have requested permission from the authorities to proceed

with the treatment. As yet no response has been given. Anxiety and suffering increase for Beatriz and her family

every day as concerns for her survival grow. Beatriz has a one year old son. The physical and mental anguish she

is experiencing is contributing to her health condition.

 

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

·           Calling on the authorities to prevent any further denial of treatment and ill-treatment and order the immediate

unfettered access by Beatriz to the life saving treatment she needs, in accordance with her wishes and the

recommendations of medical staff;

·           Urging them to immediately ensure that the health professionals are enabled to provide the treatment necessary

to save Beatriz’s life without the threat, risk or fear of criminal prosecution for doing so in accordance with Beatriz’s

wishes.

·           Urging them to decriminalise abortion in all circumstances and ensure safe and legal access by women and

girls to abortion services necessary to preserve their life or health, or if they are pregnant as a result of rape.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 27 MAY 2013 TO:

Minister of Health

Dra. María Isabel Rodríguez

Ministerio de Salud

Dirección postal: Calle Arce No.827,

San Salvador, El Salvador

Fax: +503 2221 0991

Email: mrodriguez@salud.gob.sv

Salutation: Dear Minister/Estimada

Ministra

 

President

Mauricio Funes

Presidente de la República de El

Salvador

Dirección postal: Alameda Dr. Manuel

Enrique Araujo, No. 5500,

San Salvador, El Salvador

Fax +503 2243 6860

Salutation: Dear Mr/ Estimado Sr

 

And copies to:

The Citizens Group for the

Decriminalisation of Therapeutic,

Ethical and Eugenic Abortion

Fax: +503 2226 0356 (say “tono de fax”)

Email: agrupacionporladespenalizacion@gmail.com

 

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

The website www.doctorsforchoiceireland.com has just gone live.

Doctors for Choice is an alliance of independent medical professionals and students advocating for comprehensive reproductive health services in Ireland, including the provision of safe and legal abortion for women who chose it.

We believe that women should be supported to make their own decision regarding their sexual and reproductive health and to manage their own fertility, with doctors and nurses providing expert advice and care without judgment, recourse to the law or fear of criminal sanction.

We welcome your support. If you are a doctor or a medical student we will gladly welcome you into membership. You can contact us at doctorsforchoice@gmail.com

Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

 

e: doctorsforchoice@gmail.com

t:  @doctors4choice

f:   Doctors For Choice Ireland

w:  www.doctorsforchoiceireland.com

 

   

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/france-free-abortion-law_n_2998962.html  

   

Abortions in France are now effectively free , as a law that requires the nation to reimburse the full cost of the procedure took effect April 1, France 24 reports.

The French law greatly expands access to abortions and also offers free and anonymous birth control to teenagers ages 15 to 18. France’s National Assembly passed the expansive abortion bill in October, and the legislation was approved by the Senate shortly thereafter.

 

The new law seeks to make abortion more easily attainable and offer free contraceptives to cut down on unwanted pregnancies. According to the French Directorate for Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics, 225,000 abortions were performed in France in 2010.

 

As Radio France Internationale notes, free access to birth control includes first and second generation contraceptive pills, along with contraceptive implants and sterilization. However, the law will not include other contraceptives, such as condoms.  

 

President Francois Hollande first promised to pass the free abortion measure during his 2012 campaign. At the the time, the presidential candidate also proposed adding specialized centers for the procedure to all hospitals, according to Le Monde.

 

Before the law was passed, France only offered to cover up to 80 percent of [the cost of] procedures to terminate pregnancies. Contraception costs were also partially refunded with reimbursements set at 65 percent. France provides remunerations for abortions and contraceptives through its social security funds.

 

Abortion was first legalized in France in 1975.

http://www.nwci.ie/news/2013/03/22/suicide-in-pregnancy-is-much-rarer-now-thanks-to/

Suicide in Pregnancy is much rarer now ‘thanks to legal abortion’

22 Mar 2013

PeadarOGradyfBDr Peadar O’Grady, Doctors for Choice speaking at seminar “Abortion – The Lives and Health of Women”

Article by Dr Peadar O’Grady, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist and member of Doctors for Choice

It is important in discussing the relevance of suicide in the current abortion debate that good medical practice does not come second place to legal arrangements for certification. Maternal mental health matters because of the effects on the mother of mental distress, self-harm and the catastrophe of a completed suicide, but also because of the devastating effects any and all of these can have on any children involved. It is often observed that during pregnancy the incidence of mental health problems and suicidal ideas is high but the risk of completed suicide is lower than usual for comparable women. Even so, because the total of maternal deaths in pregnancy is low, suicide is still one of the top 4 causes of maternal deaths in developed countries.

Groups at higher risk of suicide are those with an unwanted pregnancy, particularly teenage mothers and those on low incomes. In its 2009 report on Maternal Mental Health, the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted the increased risk of mental health problems in, “unintended pregnancy especially among adolescent women”. The WHO emphasises the further risk from factors such as poverty and lack of support, “in contexts in which there are strong, gendered role restrictions on women including lack of reproductive rights”. ‘Reproductive rights’ for women means the right to decide whether or not they want to have children and, if so, how many and when.  To be vindicated this right requires access to abortion services but also access to good quality obstetric, contraceptive and STD services as well as sex education and information. In his 2011 journal article ‘Suicidal Mothers’, Salvatore Gentile agreed that maternal suicide attempts during pregnancy were increased where there was: “teen age, unplanned pregnancy, unmarried status or recent divorce, unemployment, and difficult access to safe abortion service(s).”

It has also been observed that suicide in pregnancy (and the year after delivery, known as the ‘puerperium’) has become much less common with access to legal abortion services. Professor Robert Kendell summarised this conclusion in the title of his 1991 review in the British Medical Journal: ‘Suicide in pregnancy and the puerperium, much rarer now: thanks to contraception, legal abortion and less punitive attitudes’. It is therefore clear from the WHO and peer-reviewed research that restricting access to abortion, that is, denying women ‘the right to choose’, raises the risk of suicide in pregnancy.

Despite this the opposing notion that choosing an abortion increases the risk of mental health problems, and even suicide, persists. This false conclusion is a misreading (often deliberate and repeated) of the fact that there is often a higher incidence of mental health problems found in people who have had abortions than among those giving birth. However ‘correlation is not causation’. When previous mental health and unwanted pregnancy are taken into account there is no higher rate after an abortion. This makes abortion a ‘risk indicator’ rather than a ‘risk mediator’. As we have seen the likely mediators are unwanted pregnancy and previous mental health problems. It is also well known that, following abortion, mental health problems are more common where the woman has had a negative attitude to abortion before and a negative reaction after, especially when she has been under pressure to have an abortion. The ‘right to choose’ must be without pressure to choose a certain way. Good counselling and practical support before and after this decision is the key to supporting women with unwanted pregnancies.

A similar example of prejudice clouding judgement is the observation that LGBT individuals are at higher risk of mental health problems. One conclusion (by many of the same fundamentalist Christians who populate the anti-choice lobby) is that homosexual or transgendered people should be ‘cured’ from this presumed ‘disease’. The modern psychiatric approach, based on evidence, has been to reject the notion of homosexuality or transgender as diseases by identifying the high incidence of bullying and discrimination as causative factors, or ‘risk mediators’, for mental health problems in this group.

When the allegation, that abortion leads to mental health problems or suicide, is systematically investigated, it is found to be false. In the US the American Psychological Association in 2008 found there was no credible evidence that choosing to have an abortion raised the risk of mental health problems. In the UK the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health’s review in 2011 reached the same conclusion. Where there the choice of legal abortion services is available there is no increase in suicide (or mental health problems) caused by choosing an abortion with informed consent.

Anti-choice proponents have emphasised that ‘Abortion is not a treatment for suicide’ and ignored the fact that there is no such narrowly-defined thing as a ‘treatment’ for suicide. However, abortion, for those who choose it with proper supports, can be as much a ‘treatment’ for the risk of suicide as blood pressure tablets are a ‘treatment’ for the risk of a heart attack. Both can be preventive, lowering the impact of a relevant risk factor; that is, the distress of an unwanted pregnancy and high blood pressure respectively. The ‘treatment’ for unwanted pregnancy is ‘non-directive counselling’ and the ‘treatment’ for suicidal risk in unwanted pregnancy is ‘risk-reduction’, which includes facilitating the choice of accessing abortion services.

In Ireland, abortion, and even access to information on abortion, is heavily restricted with a criminal sanction, confirming the ‘punitive attitude’ Prof Kendell referred to over 20 years ago. Women are forced to travel, usually alone or with a very restricted support network because of the costs of travel. As a result, in this Irish context, the restriction of access to abortion services is mediated by restrictions on travel. The following groups, whose ability to travel is compromised, are therefore at an increased risk of restricted access to abortion and hence at an increased risk of suicide:

  • Women too sick to travel
  • Adolescents and young women
  • Women with young children
  • Migrant women
  • Women with Disabilities
  • Women with no or low incomes
  • Women whose pregnancy, involves a fatal foetal malformation
  • Women pregnant as the result of rape or child sexual abuse.

The obvious solution to these risk factors is to end the unnecessary, dangerous, and, for the most part, ineffective legal restrictions on abortion services. This is the very successful approach taken in Canada for the last 25 years. Abortion there is subject to healthcare guidelines and not criminal law; just like every other medical service. It is an ongoing absurdity that pregnant women are in some way considered to be exceptions to the usual rules of capacity to make a decision.

It seems likely however that, instead of the Canadian model, emergency legislation in Ireland will deal only with the risk to just some of those whose ability to travel is restricted. The ‘need’ to distinguish between, and medically certify, a risk to the life, as opposed to the health, of pregnant women has put an emphasis on suicide that shows little concern for either crisis pregnancy or suicide.

In summary, in terms of mental health concerns, it is important to stress that unwanted pregnancy and previous trauma or mental health problems are the most relevant risk factors for mental health in pregnancy and that women on low incomes and child and adolescent mothers are at particular risk; the focus should be on care and support. Restriction of access to abortion increases suicide risk and supported choice reduces suicide risk. While there is no medical need for aspecial legal framework for abortion, doctors are perfectly capable of certifying the need to support a woman’s choice of abortion services to reduce her risk of mental health problems and suicide.

Doctors for Choice is an organisation of doctors who wish to promote choice in reproductive healthcare. This means advocating for informed consent as the basis for decision making within the doctor-patient relationship. The NWCI and Doctors for Choice recently organised a Seminar on “Abortion – The Lives and Health of Women”, see presentations from the seminar.

 

 

3 March 2013

 

Ipas News

 

Inter-American Human Rights Commission to hold

landmark hearing on abortion rights

 

On Friday, March 15th, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will hold a landmark hearing on the negative impactof criminal abortion laws. It is the first time the IACHR will hear testimony on theharmful effects these laws have on the lives of young girls and women and their families in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru.

 

Ipas and Ipas Bolivia, in collaboration with Women’s Link Worldwide, ISER/Brazil, Promsex/Peru, Argentina, the Special Rapporteurship on the Right to Sexual and Reproductive Rights/Dhesca Brazilian Platform and Asociación por los Derechos Civiles/Argentina, will present findings from legal research on the impact of abortion criminalization on women’s lives, health and criminal justice systems. These findings indicate that states are systematically violating women’s rights to health, equality and non-discrimination, privacy and due process of law. The organizations will present recommendations to the IACHR on measures to be taken by states to respect and protect women’s human rights.

 

Legal indications for abortion are extremely limited throughout Latin America, and several countries-Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Chile-have outlawed abortion entirely, even when necessary to save a woman’s life. Previous regional human rights decisions have called on states to ensure access to abortion in narrow circumstances-such as when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s health or if she’s been raped. This hearing will address the broader social and legal impact of criminal laws.

 

The hearing will be take place 11:30 a.m. at the IACHR’s Rubén Darío Room (8th floor), 1889 F Street, NW, Washington, DC. It will also be webcast live on IACHR’s web site. It will be conducted in Spanish, with translation available.

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