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A photograph of a
A sign at one of the many vigils honoring Dr. Tiller after he was murdered
(Priya Deonarain/Creative Commons)
Pop quiz, boys and girls.

What happens when a virulently anti-woman governor in a virulently anti-woman state appoints a likeminded virulent individual to the state board that oversees the licensing of medical providers?

A) It's all good because at the end of the day, those elected and appointed to serve ultimately care about the well-being of their fellow citizens;

B) Women's health care providers lose their licenses.

If you guessed A, please don this here dunce cap I have for you and go sit in the corner. If you guessed B, good for you—and bad for the women of Kansas:

A Kansas doctor remained unapologetic Friday after state regulators revoked her medical license over allegations that she performed inadequate mental health exams on young patients she then referred to Dr. George Tiller for late-term abortions.

Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus and other abortion-rights supporters described the action against her by the State Board of Healing Arts as part of ongoing efforts to limit access to abortion that also shadowed Tiller before his murder in 2009 by a man professing strong anti-abortion views. Neuhaus immediately said she would ask the state's courts to overturn the board's decision.

This is a story that has been ongoing for many years, but really, there are only a few facts you need to know to get the full picture of the atrocity that happened in Kansas:
The case stemmed from a 2006 complaint by Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue.
You remember who Cheryl Sullenger is, don't you? The ex-con who tried to blow up a women's health clinic and, when she came out of prison, was scooped up by Operation Rescue as just the sort of "pro-life" free-thinker they wanted to be their policy adviser. That's the same Cheryl Sullenger who was all buddy-buddy with Scott Roeder, the "pro-life" terrorist who assassinated Dr. George Tiller. She provided Roeder with the details of Dr. Tiller's whereabouts, and her phone number was—coincidentally, of course—found in Roeder's car after the assassination. You know, coincidentally.

The complaint was filed by Operation Rescue's senior policy adviser six years ago, but the State Board of Healing Arts only just now got around to revoking Dr. Neuhaus's license this week. Why? Well, here's critical fact number two:

[Gov. Sam] Brownback has tapped Rick Macias, a lawyer that has represented the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, to serve on the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. Operation Rescue is a national group that moved its offices to Kansas in 2007. The group moved in order to focus their opposition work on Dr. George Tiller, who provided late-term abortion services in his Wichita clinic until an anti-abortion extremist murdered him in his church in May 2009.
Gov. Brownback has a fetish for restricting women's health care in the name of "life." So it's not surprising that when a spot opened up on the state's medical licensing board, he wanted to fill it with a like-minded fetishist. Where better to find such an individual than among the ranks of Operation Rescue?

And, no surprise, Macias lived up to expectations:

"I'm more concerned about the standard of care, particularly the aftercare," said board member Richard Macias, a Wichita attorney and a Brownback appointee. "That's the issue that bothers me the most."
The "standard of care" requirement about which Macias and his fellow board members were oh-so-concerned isn't even on the books anymore, but so what? They were determined to punish Dr. Neuhaus for working with Dr. Tiller, laws be damned. Operation Rescue, and its elected enablers like Gov. Brownback, don't give a good goddamn about the law, nor about what kind of care women receive. If they did care, they wouldn't be so hell-bent on ensuring that receiving care is all but impossible. No, the only care they consider acceptable is no care at all.

The forced-birthers are, of course, thrilled about the suspension of Dr. Neuhaus's license. Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said, "It has taken a long, long time to get this piece of justice." Because making sure there's one less doctor to provide health care to women is, of course, "justice." (Dr. Neuhaus, by the way, hasn't even performed abortions since 2002. She merely provided the required second opinion for Dr. Tiller's patients who sought late-term abortions. But the anti-woman organizations are willing to wait a very long time for vengeance, and any involvement whatsoever in abortion care requires vengeance.)

It's a pretty incestuous conspiracy, isn't it? The governor handpicks someone from a terrorist organization to serve on the state board and carry out the organization's extremist agenda against women's health care providers. And the message to doctors—from Gov. Brownback, Operation Rescue, and their mutually favored appointee to the board—couldn't be clearer:

Stay away from women's health care. Because if you don't, you'll be targeted, harassed and investigated. For years. You may even lose your license. And if all of that fails, don't forget Dr. Tiller. You might just be gunned down in your own church. For "life."

If that's not terrorism, I don't know what is.

 



This week's good, bad and ugly below the fold.

  • President Obama, on the 40th anniversary of Title IX:
    Any parent knows there are few things more fulfilling than watching your child discover a passion for something. And as a parent, you’ll do anything to make sure he or she grows up believing she can take that ambition as far as she wants; that your child will embrace that quintessentially American idea that she can go as far as her talents will take her.

    But it wasn’t so long ago that something like pursuing varsity sports was an unlikely dream for young women in America. Their teams often made do with second-rate facilities, hand-me-down uniforms, and next to no funding.

    What changed? Well, 40 years ago, committed women from around the country, driven by everyone who said they couldn’t do something, worked with Congress to ban gender discrimination in our public schools. Title IX was the result of their efforts, and this week, we celebrated its 40th anniversary—40 years of ensuring equal education, in and out of the classroom, regardless of gender. [...]

    Let’s not forget, Title IX isn’t just about sports. From addressing inequality in math and science education to preventing sexual assault on campus to fairly funding athletic programs, Title IX ensures equality for our young people in every aspect of their education. It’s a springboard for success: it’s thanks in part to legislation like Title IX that more women graduate from college prepared to work in a much broader range of fields, including engineering and technology. I’ve said that women will shape the destiny of this country, and I mean it. The more confident, empowered women who enter our boardrooms and courtrooms, legislatures, and hospitals, the stronger we become as a country.

  • Meghan McCain is what's wrong with, well, pretty much everything:
    "I'm a proud pro-life woman," McCain said during on an appearance on MSNBC's "The Ed Show" on Tuesday. "But when you hear that the word 'vagina' isn't allowed to be said by a congresswoman while debating women's reproductive rights, you can't help but thinking we're regressing as a culture when it comes to women's issues." [...]

    "There's a difference between humiliating a woman and belittling her -- I dont believe there's any woman out there that's pro-abortion," McCain said. "It's an incredibly personal and complicated decision for any woman."

    Okay, first of all, if you're a "proud pro-life woman," that means you're proud to support the idea that women shouldn't be allowed to make their own reproductive decisions. And second, can someone explain the difference to me between "humiliating a woman and belittling her"? Is one better than the other? Laws that humiliate women are bad, but belittling women is A-okay? Or is the other way around? Meghan doesn't get to have it both ways. She can't, on the one hand, think it's, like, so not cool to punish women for saying "vagina" in the midst of a debate about an anti-abortion law, and at the same time think it's just swell to have anti-abortion laws. FAIL, Ms. McCain. Big, fat FAIL.
  • The Right is still defending Rush Limbaugh for his attack on Sandra Fluke.
  • And Sandra Fluke is still awesome:
    After testifying before House Democrats in February about the limited contraceptive coverage in Georgetown University’s insurance plan, Rush Limbaugh referred to you as a “slut” on his radio show. He said you were “having so much sex” that you couldn’t afford all the birth-control pills you needed. Do you suppose he doesn’t understand how the pill works?

    It does seem to make a case for comprehensive sex education, doesn’t it? Actually, what I’ve learned has less to do with Mr. Limbaugh specifically and more to do with a part of our population that has this view. Because frankly, you don’t go on national radio and talk for several days about something that no one wants to hear. There’s an audience for this type of sexist vitriol. There is real hate and sexism within our society that we have to do something about.

  • Not breaking:
    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's latest report on pregnancy statistics demonstrates that, despite recent political efforts to demean or discourage contraception use, both pregnancy and abortion rates among U.S. women have dropped as they delayed the decision to have children and used more effective birth control.
    Using birth control reduced unplanned pregnancies and abortions? Who knew?
  • Good news, sort of:
    New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch has vetoed a bill banning partial-birth abortions, saying it was unnecessary because such procedures are already prohibited under federal law.
    Yes, it's better that he veto a crappy science-fiction bill than sign it into law. It would be better still if we didn't have the crappy science-fiction bill on the federal books in the first place.
  • Good news, unconditionally:
    The U.S. Conference of Mayors, a non-partisan organization made up of representatives from about 1,200 cities across the country, voted on Saturday to pass a resolution in support of women's reproductive rights and funding for Planned Parenthood. [...]

    The resolution "affirms the importance of women’s reproductive rights" and "urges Congress and the states to pursue a positive agenda that reaffirms fundamental rights and improves women’s access to safe and comprehensive reproductive-health care."

  • "Joe" the "Plumber" is now a "feminist."
  • See if you can spot the pro-lifey part:
    A group of 41 Iowa Republican representatives has filed a petition requesting emergency rulemaking that would halt all state government-paid abortions in cases of rape and incest.

    The petition cites state law and argues that rules allowing Medicaid-paid abortions of fetuses that are physically or mentally deformed or are conceived through rape or incest are illegal and should be rescinded. [...]

    Abortion rights advocates called the petition irresponsible, saying it would jeopardize Iowa’s $1.8 billion in annual federal Medicaid allocations.

    Because, you see, it's pro-lifey to jeopardize the state's federal funding of health care for all low-income Iowans in the name of forcing women to carry their rapists' babies to term.
  • Dr. Jen Gunter explains why politicians shouldn't play doctor. Because otherwise, doctors have conversations like this:
    Look, I'm not the bad guy here. But unless you can tell me she's going to die in the next 30 minutes, we can't do anything. Legal was very explicit. The next step is for you to call the concerned politician who wrote the law, explain her medical condition, and then find out if she meets his criteria for life and death. Basically, you need his permission.
  • Would you like more proof that "pro-life" Republicans don't actually give a crap about life? Okay:
    A plan to compensate victims of forced sterilization in North Carolina stalled in the state Senate on Wednesday.

    The North Carolina House had set aside $10 million in the state budget, so as to give victims of its eugenics program $50,000 each, but Senate Republicans rejected the proposal, The Raleigh News & Observer reports. [...]

    An estimated 7,600 North Carolinians, both men and women, were sterilized under the authorization of the North Carolina Eugenics Board between 1929 and 1974, according to the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. Many of those people were minorities, poor, undereducated, institutionalized, sick or disabled. Between 1,500 and 2,000 victims of state sterilization are estimated to still be alive today.

    You see, if "pro-life" Republicans really believed that every sperm is sacred and all life is precious and worthy of protection, and the greatest thing a woman can possibly do in her life is to pop out babies, they would be outraged—outraged!—that thousands of men and women were deprived of their right, their duty, to have children. But no. Because the last thing these sanctity-of-lifers want is more black and brown babies. So in that case, all those men and women who were sterilized without their consent or even their knowledge should just stop whining and get over it already.
  • And finally, did you know that midwives are totally a thing now? Even though they've been around since pretty much the first time the first woman's water first broke, midwives are apparently the new black:
    OBGYNs are so three seasons ago. Midwives are the pregnant lady's "status symbol" of the moment — the birthing choice of models like Gisele Bündchen, Christy Turlington, and Karolina Kurkova. Who would've thought that midwifery would be so in vogue? When you hear "midwife" you don't think Birkin bag. You think Birkenstocks.

    Reading trend pieces can be difficult because of all the eye-rolling. It's irksome when people place so much emphasis on style over substance. The New York Times ran a piece in its "Fashion & Style" section about how midwives are the new "must have" for a certain set of pregnant ladies, likening the practice to "juice cleanses or Tom's shoes." [...]

    So maybe choosing a midwife is the "in" thing to do now. Whatever a woman's reasons, it's her choice to make. I just think it's great that there is finally a trend for vaginas that doesn't involve making them more attractive for men.

    For the record, your humble blogger's mother was into midwifery before it was cool and ushered both of her children into this world with the aid of midwives. This shall no doubt be the first and last time your humble blogger is ahead of the cool curve.

Now go forth, sluts, and raise hell.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion.

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