Tampa Family Health Centers is a Title X health care facility in Florida that found itself in need of certified nurse-midwives. Up-and-comer Sara Hellwege graduated from nursing school in June, took her boards in July, and is all about certified nurse-midwifery, except for the part where she would have to provide health care because that would violate her religiously held but not scientifically supported beliefs that hormonal contraceptives “have the potential to act in a manner potentially threatening the lives of embryos after their conception/fertilization.” With that in mind, she applied for a nurse-midwife position at Tampa Family Health Centers, and when they declined to interview her for a job she had religious objections to performing, she decided to sue.
Following the Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which established that companies are free to enforce bullshit restrictions on women’s health care on their employees if said bullshit corresponds with their religious beliefs, another religious group has stepped forward to claim their religious exemption: the Satanic Temple.
Before we even get started: The universally accepted definition of “pregnancy” within medical science begins at implantation — at the moment a fertilized egg adheres to the wall of the uterus. That’s when pregnancy begins. Not at ovulation, not at ejaculation, not when the winning sperm meets the egg and wriggles its way in. Implantation. But what if you’re comfortable rejecting medical science out of hand and insisting that emergency birth control — the morning-after pill — is an abortifacient for preventing implantation? Well, you’re still wrong. But that particular mistake is a little easier to make.
They’re frequently identified as “Women’s Health and Safety” laws, but a growing number of laws regulating abortion providers are more accurately called TRAP laws — Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. Last week, we looked at hospital admitting privileges. Another favorite restriction is unreasonable requirements for the medical facility itself, holding it to standards that have little impact on keeping women safe and, ultimately, plenty of impact on keeping them pregnant.
I’ve been writing about it over at Cosmopolitan.com. Here’s the basic summary of the case. Here are 13 of the biggest misconceptions about the case (this one is especially helpful for Twitter / Facebook / family dinner table fights). And, finally, how the right-wing reaction to women with opinions on Hobby Lobby is a pretty good illustration of how this is all about misogyny and hostility toward female sexuality, not religious beliefs.
They argued they are not anti-abortion protesters but peaceful “sidewalk counsellors” who want the freedom to talk to women entering the clinic.
They want to counsel women who are entering Planned Parenthood clinics for Pap smears and pregnancy wellness checks against abortions they’re not planning to have, too.
They’re frequently identified as “Women’s Health and Safety” laws, but a growing number of laws regulating abortion providers are more accurately called TRAP laws — Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. They’re aimed at stopping abortion by making them logistically impossible — shutting down clinics — rather than flat-out illegal. One favorite tool of the TRAP law is a requirement that physicians performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Doctors say the requirement is unnecessary and frequently well-nigh impossible to satisfy.
North Alabama’s only abortion clinic will be voluntarily closing its doors Friday, in anticipation of the state shutting them down in a week, thanks to Alabama’s new and, as ever, ironically named Women’s Health and Safety Act.
I’m in Brazil right now with the wonderful International Reporting Project, and while here I spoke with a young woman who, like many women around the world, got pregnant when she didn’t want to be. Here in Brazil, abortion is generally illegal. After trying several different methods unsuccessfully and reaching out to a variety of slightly-shady people for help, she decided to go the safest route: To say she had been raped and get a safe, legal abortion in a Brazilian hospital. Her story is here. Women in this country are understandably very afraid to speak with anyone about abortion, and lots of women die or are injured from unsafe procedures. I’m particularly grateful to this young woman, who I’m calling Juliana, for her generosity, her honesty and her courage in sharing an extremely complicated story.
Guest Blogger: Thilde Knudsen, Head of Marie Stopes International’s Europe Office
Women’s sexual and reproductive rights at risk: Spain is about to criminalise abortion; politicians in the UK repeatedly attempt to reduce the 24-week limit and today (Apr 10) in Brussels, a Parliamentary hearing is discussing a European Citizens’ initiative that if successful would block European Commission (EC) development funding for maternal health.
Guest post by Marcella Kocolatos
“No one is pro-abortion.”
Guest Blogger: Molly Westerman
It’s interesting to me to hear how individuals’ gut feelings and beliefs about reproductive justice–and specifically about abortion and fetuses–are affected by personal experiences of pregnancy.