Take that, Sebelius!

A judge ruled today that Plan B can once again be purchased OTC for women of all ages (well, in 30 days it will be)! For now, they’re still behind the counter and only women 17 and over can buy them without a prescription.

My new favorite judge, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman, had a great quote in his ruling:

The invocation of the adverse effect of Plan B on 11- year-olds is an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.

And to think, Judge Korman was appointed by Reagan!

In response to the ruling, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said,

“Today science has finally prevailed over politics.”

Planned Parenthood said the ruling was,

“good policy, good science and good sense”

It warms my heart to see social justice advocates invoke science in their victory speeches.

It was only a little over a year ago, Dec. 2011, that Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health & Human Services, made the unprecedented decision to nix the strong FDA recommendation to make Plan B available to all, because of “cognitive and behavioral” differences in girls of the youngest reproductive age.

The case: Tummino v. von Eschenbach, 05-cv-366, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn)


Catholic hospital’s malpractice defense: fetuses aren’t people

Hypocrisy at its finest.

In 2006, a 31-year old woman 7 mo. pregnant with twins came to the hospital with a “clogged” pulmonary artery, which led to a heart attack. The OB/GYN on call (coincidentally her obstetrician) never answered his page. She died within an hour and her twins died, too. Her husband sued for wrongful-death of the twins. Catholic Health Initiatives, which runs that hospital, plus ~170 other health facilities in 17 states and has assets of $15 billion, has won in the District Court and the CO Court of Appeals by arguing that legally ‘person’ only encompasses those born alive, so the death of twin fetuses cannot be part of a wrongful death claim. The state Supreme Court will decide in the next few weeks whether to take the case or not.

I’m strongly pro-choice, so I understand why many people might be nervous about a ruling in favor of the plaintiff. Classifying this woman’s twin fetuses as “persons” only opens the door for further restrictions on abortion. Perhaps a good standard for determining where to draw the line in cases of fetal death would be based in large part on the pregnant woman’s intentions. This is still a far from perfect standard and it wouldn’t be much help if a woman’s intentions aren’t clear or if she hasn’t made up her mind. However, it does seem to be a way of respecting the fact causing the death of a woman’s fetus is more harmful to her if she wants to continue with her pregnancy than if she does not.

In this case, I buy the plaintiff’s (her husband) argument that a decision in favor of the defendant could set precedent that would relieve “doctors of responsibility to patients whose viable fetuses are at risk.” I also understand that the defendant, Catholic Health Initiatives, is making the strongest case it can based on existing law. That said, it seems disingenuous for an organization whose care is “rooted in a commitment to respect the sacredness of every human life from the moment of conception to death” to use this defense–especially when it also claims moral leadership, and names “moral wholeness, soundness, fidelity, trust, truthfulness in all we do” as core values.

Catholic health organizations provide a tremendous amount of care around the country and around the world, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for Bishops, instead of medical doctors, to set standards of healthcare. I hope that it doesn’t take another senseless death like that of Savita Halappanavar to ensure that all emergency departments in the U.S.* provide the full range of  healthcare to their patients. The Catholic Church’s willingness to claim that fetuses are “unborn children” when a woman wants to have an abortion but that they aren’t “persons” when defending themselves in a law suit only highlights the fact that the Church’s stances on birth control and abortion are really just about controlling women and their reproduction.


*I understand that a case like Savita Halappanavar’s would be less likely to happen here than in Ireland, where abortion is illegal, because in the U.S., she could be transported to another hospital. However, such a transport takes up valuable time that could be the difference between life and death.

A date which will live in infamy…

ACA rules going into effect today mean that women can now get access to birth control with no copay. Though it won’t do much to help women without health insurance and won’t affect existing plans until they are renewed, it will save money and lives in the long run. This is a major milestone on the road to true reproductive freedom. Unfortunately, some Republicans think that today is a milestone of a different sort. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) had this to say about it:

“I want you to remember August 1, 2012 — the attack on our religious freedom. That is a date that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

Those dates he’s referring to are 12/7 (1941) and 9/11. The day after Pearl Harbor, we declared war on Japan. The “War on Terror” began shortly after 9/11. Yes, you read that right, he is literally equating free birth control to acts of violence that claimed thousands of lives. Should we expect the Republican party to declare war on women tomorrow? After all, they did strike first, just like the our enemies on 12/7 & 9/11, by demanding equal rights and reproductive freedom.

When politicians espouse insane ideas like this, why are they not met with pitchforks and torches to run them out of office? I’m not entirely sure, but politicians should never get away with pandering to their rabidly sexist base. The only way to stop this is to hold them accountable. Those who live in Rep. Kelly’s district should move to have him impeached. Americans in general need to take a stand against the current practice in our public sphere of accepting any and all viewpoints as legitimate, no matter how crazy or harmful to society, as long as they are couched in the language of religious freedom. Religious freedom means that you are free to do whatever you want in your house of worship. It does not mean that you have the freedom to force the federal government to impose your personal beliefs on the entire country.