Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose…

There's a fascinating piece on Radio Free Europe this week about how the number of pregnancy- and childbirth-related deaths continues to climb worldwide. Kind of staggering, especially when you consider how easily preventable the vast majority of these deaths are. What's also staggering to contemplate is that the number of women who die in pregnancy or childbirth-around half a million women every year-hasn't changed in years. What's going on with the world's priorities? Are we really comfortable with that statistic? The Bush administration may be more than willing to take the credit for liberating women in Afghanistan, but who will take credit for the fact that today, 1 in 6 Afghani women is destined to die in childbirth (compared to 1 in 2,500 in the States, and one in 29,000 in Sweden)?

Quieting Her Roar

Last week, we wrote about Cecelia Fire Thunder’s courageous effort to open a reproductive health center on the Pine Ridge Reservation and the pending impeachment for her actions . For a variety of reasons -- but mainly for women who will be denied access to cancer screenings, affordable birth control, abortion, and other care -- we are extremely disapointed to report that Fire Thunder was “ousted” as president of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Council. A challenge is expected.

Lady Liberty Weeps Near Graceland

There is nothing quite like the Fourth of July Fireworks on the Mall in Washington, D.C. It is a place each year, where no matter your political persuasion, race, religion, gender, sexuality or any of the other many ways we niche ourselves, that one can recall what is truly great about our imperfect union. It is impossible not to, because we are all there, together, regardless of the history that brought us there.

The Political Made Personal: Non-Judgmental Resources on Abortion

Ideology aside, abortion is a fact of women's lives: every year, 46 million women have abortions, including 1.3 million women in the United States. Journalists, judges, politicians, clergymen, and activists spend a lot of time telling women how they should feel about the issue of abortion. But how much time do we spend talking about the complexity of abortion as it is lived and experienced by real people, for example, the one in three American women who have had or will have abortions, not to mention the countless men and women who our experiences will touch?


I'll start by speaking for myself, as I wish our elected officials would. I'm a 29-year-old heterosexual woman, and I've been sexually active for 10 years.

Zambian Couple Hopeful G8 Billions Will Trickle Down

As anyone living with HIV will tell you, there are days when it seems like you think of nothing else. Starting with just that "how do I feel today" thought when setting foot to floor first thing in the morning, not to mention bearing witness to the ways in which people choose to stigmatize others, cursing people to make themselves feel better or score political points.

Beyond Bitter Over Buffett

In a week where philanthropy was redefined and we bore witness to one of the greatest acts -- investments -- in the health and well being of people challenged by poverty and disease, comes this Reckless Rhetoric from Human Life International:

"Warren Buffett's money has gone to fund the deadly abortion-causing drug RU-486, the production and distribution of portable suction-abortion devices in the developing world, organizations that push abortion on developing countries, and many other radical organizations," Father Euteneuer said. He added that the Gates Foundation, to which Buffett will now make a record donation, has also "given millions of dollars to organizations pushing abortion around the world. Rather than lauding his philanthropy, Father Euteneuer decried Buffett's sense of priorities. "Warren Buffett's philanthropy," he said, "aims at killing preborn children, not curing childhood disease; eliminating the poor, not poverty; and destroying the developing world, not aiding development."

But this quote deserves a box all its own, so representative of the problem with ideological distortions of reality is it:

“Warren Buffett will be known as the Dr. Mengele of philanthropy unless he repents and ceases using tax deductible donations to promote a culture of death and desolation." Fr. Euteneuer.

I'm not sure you want to start a discussion of tax deducitble donations, Father.

It Wasn’t Just Hamlet Thinking “Get Thee to a Nunnery”

Gloria Feldt, longtime reproductive health advocate and former Planned Parenthood president, has an excellent piece on Women's eNews that's definitely worth a look.

She writes about how an "intrinsic and generalized hostility to women--is still getting passed over" by the media in their discussions about attacks on birth control and reproductive rights. Lost in the coverage is the reality faced by women who may have rights, but for whom access is being politically opposed and denied for "moral" reasons.

Stem Cell Research Detained No More: Hope for Science and the Rule of Law Returns

Two fairly remarkable bits of news ... The Decider in Chief got whacked by the most conservative Supreme Court in U.S. History on his efforts for military tribunals relating to Muslim detainees in Guantanamo Bay. While that case has nothing to do with the issues we cover on this site, it does get to a philosophy of governing that is increasingly being repudiated by voters (responding in polls, the proof comes in the November pudding) and now the court.

The second item yesterday, seemingly unrelated, is that the United States Senate, after two years of holds and blocks by social conservatives, will finally take up the issue of expanding research on stem cells. "Social conservatives liken the research to abortion because the process of extracting stem cells from a days-old embryo results in its death. Bush, who believes the practice is immoral, has threatened to veto the legislation," according to the New York Times. I'm going out on a limb here, a fairly thick one, by prediciting that in this even-numbered year, with his poll numbers, and narrow Congressional majorities on the line .... not to mention social conservatives in Congress caving on their "morals" on this issue, that this bill won't be vetoed.

Hear Her Roar

Cecelia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Sioux Nation, has started an uprising.  In an effort to build a clinic that would provide abortion to the women of South Dakota, Fire Thunder not only is taking on one nation, but two.  

I have never met her.  Still, she reminds me a lot of the women I met while working at a reproductive health care center. 

Strong.  Courageous.  Determined. 

Today, Fire Thunder faces impeachment -- as a result of her plans to provide reproductive health care to women.  While her plan all along, it was her public response to legislation banning abortion in the state that created the much publicized thundery-fire-storm.  Because Pine Ridge is under federal jurisdiction and not state, her plan could include abortion services. 

Are They For Real?

It's a move characterized by the Washington Post as a "potentially explosive issue among religious conservatives."  Just hours ago, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made a recommendation without dissent that young girls receive a newly approved cervical cancer vaccine as a preventive measure.

Seems like a no-brainer, but anti-birth control, anti-abortion, and anti-sex crusaders doth protest.