Double Dose: Threats to Abortion Rights in Courtrooms and at Clinics, Hip Hop and Feminism, and Menopause -- Hold the Music

By Christine Cupaiuolo — April 28, 2007

Regrets Only: “So now you know. It really does matter who’s President and which party controls Congress,” begins Katha Pollitt in her most recent column on the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart.

The Other Threat to Abortion Rights: “From the United Kingdom to the United States, abortion protesters are effectively pressuring medical schools to drop abortion procedures from required curricula and slyly taking over closed abortion clinics,” writes Mary O’Regan at, citing this story in the Tuscon Weekly about Medical Students for Choice. Britain is also experiencing a shortage of physicians willing to undergo training.

O’Regan also notes another disturbing tactic and points to Josh Harkinson’s story in the March/April issue of Mother Jones about anti-abortion activists running their operations out of former abortion clinics. Here’s the chilling beginning:

When Troy Newman would answer the phone at Central Women’s Services in Wichita, Kansas, last summer, there was a lot he didn’t mention. The priests who’d been arrested for blocking the abortion clinic’s door. The “truth truck” parked nearby with its billboard of an aborted fetus. The pickets at employees’ homes. He didn’t talk about how all of this had caused the clinic to shut down, save for its still- functioning phone system. He would press the receiver to his ear and intone, “Women’s clinic!” And when a nervous voice at the other end of the line would inquire about abortion services, he would furrow his brow and ask, “Don’t you know that’s a baby?”

The best place to preach against an abortion clinic, Newman has found, is from within one.

And In Texas …: “A 27-year-old man has been arrested and taken into federal custody in connection with a makeshift bomb found this week at an Austin women’s clinic that performs abortions, authorities said Friday,” according to this AP story. “Paul Ross Evans was charged with use of weapons of mass destruction, manufacture of explosive material and violating freedom of access to clinic entrances, according to a statement issued by the Austin Police Department. Evans was arrested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, made up of state, local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. No detailed information on Evans, such as whether he has an affiliation with any organized group, was released by law officers.”

Amie Newman at RH Reality Check has more on the story and the lack of national media coverage as the news was unfolding:

Why are incidents like this treated as mere blips on the national news screen rather than certain stories of domestic terrorism at work? If a bomb had been discovered in the parking lot of the Washington Post or the New York Times would it warrant more extensive coverage? What if there was a history of explosive devices being planted in the vicinity of the buildings that housed large mainstream media outlets? Likely we would have a swarm of reporters with shrieking headlines of terrorism at work.

Somehow, when the bomb is planted in the parking lot of a women’s health center where abortions are performed the story slides by, relatively unnoticed. Except, of course, by those of us who work – or have worked – at abortion clinics. As a former abortion clinic staffer for almost seven years, I can tell you these kinds of scares are not treated mildly. We know exactly what this means.

The Real Hip-Hop: The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago hosted a screening and discussion Friday night with Byron Hurt, director of the outstanding documentary “Beyond Beats and Rhymes.” Today there’s a panel discussion open to the public — “Does Hip-Hop Hate Women?”

Both were scheduled before Imus made his infamous comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team that led to his firing. “It’s a little irritating when you hear pundits and talking heads say, ‘Well, why isn’t anyone saying anything about these issues in hip-hop?’ and they have been, but just because some of the mainstream folks didn’t notice doesn’t mean that these discussions haven’t been taking place,” said Natalie Moore, one of the panelists and author of “Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation.”

Indeed. The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture held an amazing three-day conference on feminism and hip-hop in 2005.

Liberian President to Address Spelman College: “Often referred to as ‘The Iron Lady’ by political supporters, Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first Black woman president of Liberia, will address the Spelman College Class of 2007 at 4 p.m., Sunday, May 20, at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Decatur, Ga.,” according to this university release. President Johnson-Sirleaf will also receive an honorary degree, along with Dr. Ruth J. Simmons, president of Brown University, and Elaine R. Jones, the first woman to lead the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund.

“The more than 500 graduates who have each made a choice to change the world by attending Spelman College will be inspired by the powerful sentiments of a woman who is only the second black female head of state in the world,” said President Beverly Daniel Tatum. “Her unwavering resolve — to heal war-ravaged Liberia, educate its women and girls, shore up its deflated economy, rehabilitate ex-rebels, reconcile with former combatants — is the substance that this year’s graduates hope to embody as they venture forward into their lives beyond the gates of Spelman College.”

Menopause Without the Music: “We benefit from a sense of community and support, and it seems that ‘Menopause the Musical’ was a start in this direction,” writes Dr. Patricia Allen at Women’s Voices for Change. “But the reality is we need to hear the truth. And for that perhaps we need more Shakespeare and less Streisand.”

A Prom Night First: Students at Turner County High School in Ashburn, Ga., recently attended their first racially integrated prom, but the parent-sponsored “white prom,” which black students did not attend, still went on as scheduled last week. “I guess they feel like they’re not welcome,” one student said. You think?

1-800-OOPS: “Seven Nassau Republican legislators, led by Minority Leader Peter Schmitt, had good intentions when they urged constituents to call a toll-free number to be notified when convicted sex offenders move into their neighborhoods,” writes Celeste Hadrick in Newsday. (OK, this story is from April 17, but it’s still worth it). Read on:

“Nassau County Legislator Peter J. Schmitt wants you to be protected from sexual predators,” said the headline on the postcard his office mailed in cooperation with Parents for Megan’s Law, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of sex abuse.

Unfortunately, the 1-800 number printed on the card prompts callers to another 800-number — a sex chat line.

“Hey there, sexy guy,” says the sultry recorded female voice that answers the phone. “Welcome to an exciting new way to go live, one on one, with hot horny girls waiting right now to talk to you.”

Republican spokesman Ed Ward acknowledged, “Apparently there was an error in the phone number.”

2 responses to “Double Dose: Threats to Abortion Rights in Courtrooms and at Clinics, Hip Hop and Feminism, and Menopause — Hold the Music”

  1. Regarding the prom story. What century are we in, anyway? Separate proms based on race are disgusting. How can human beings be so hateful?

  2. Reading the Mother Jones article “The Exorcists” about how pro-life supporters are turning old abortion clinics into pro-life headquarters was really disturbing. I found the fact that “pro-lifers have winnowed the number of abortion providers in America by nearly 25 percent since the early 1990s—Wichita now has just one” really sad. A powerful documentary to watch about the subject is Frontline and PBS’s “The Last Abortion Clinic”.

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