Roundup: Obama on Title X, Citizen Impaneled Grand Juries a New Anti-choice Strategy

Obama responds to anti-choicer on Title X family planning funding, Citizen impaneled grand jury being used against abortion provider in Kansas, Domestic violence and HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Citizen Impaneled Grand Jury Investigates Abortion Provider Kansas is one of only a few states in the US that allows citizens to force a grand jury investigation of an alleged crime if enough signatures are collected.  The New York Times reports that these citizen-forced investigations are rare but, in Kansas at least, they are being used in a new way: “a law once meant to check official
corruption is being twisted into a political weapon.”

“This is an abuse of the grand jury system,” said Senator John L. Vratil, a
Republican who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee in Topeka. “It’s being
used in a political way to further a political cause, and that was never the
purpose of the grand jury system in Kansas.”

The grand jury meeting here is at least the 10th ordered by petition in the
state in recent years: two investigated abortion providers, including Dr.
Tiller, and the rest investigated misdemeanor obscenity violations by stores
selling explicit videos, magazines and other items. Only one has led to a

Dr. Tiller has been the target of investigation for nearly a decade now and has yet to be charged with any wrong doing.

Obama on Title X Family Planning Funding Conservative blogger Mike Moehlenhof wrote Senator Obama a letter asking him to reconsider his support for federal funding of family planning services.  Obama’s response:

Dear Michael:

Thank you for advising me of your opposition to Title X
funding for Planned Parenthood Clinics. I appreciate knowing of your strong
feelings on this troubling matter.

However, it is extremely important to
not let isolated incidents eclipse the greater good which is at stake. Each
year, more than five million women receive health care services at roughly 4,500
planning clinics funded by Title X. Of these women, 65 percent have incomes at
or below the federal poverty level and are uninsured. It is estimated that
without the Title X program, the number of teenage pregnancies over the last two
decades would have been 20 percent higher.

All women, regardless of the
State in which they reside or ability to pay, deserve access to reproductive
services. In most cases, these clinics are the sole source of family planning
for the women they serve. We can and must do more to ensure that every woman in
our country has equal access to quality family planning services, and Title X is
a step in the right direction.

I know this is a controversial issue.
Please know that while we disagree on this issue, I respect your opinion and
understand your point of view.

Again, Michael, thank you for writing. Be
certain your priorities are on my mind, and please stay in touch in the days


Barack Obama
United States Senator

Fear of Violence Keeping Women for Proper HIV Treatment Afrik.com reports that women’s fear of domestic violence is keeping them from revealing their HIV status to their husbands.  The story told in the article is of a woman in Zambia who hides her ARV medications from her husband and therefor can only take them when he is not present, often interrupting the sensitive timing of treatment.

Currently Zambia does not have legislation criminalizing gender violence, but
the government is moving in that direction. In 2005 it amended the penal code to
prohibit indecent assault, sexual harassment and trafficking of women and
children. President Levy Mwanawasa notes that despite such efforts to strengthen
the law, “the scourge of gender violence has continued in our homes and