Bill Would Punish Harassment of Abortion Clinic Patients

Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Sen. Larry Farnese is pushing a bill that would punish harassment of women entering abortion clinics — and give prison sentences to anybody who injures or kills a woman entering a clinic.

Farnese, the Philly Democrat, introduced the bill earlier this month. He promoted it Wednesday with a “Twitter Town Hall” held online with pro-choice and other liberal Pennsylvania groups.

“I have escorted women through crowds of protesters and I have witnessed the verbal and physical harassment that has been angrily directed towards them,” Farnese said in introducing the bill. “The walk from the curb to the clinic door should never be the last one of their lives, so people need to know that if they hurt someone they can be punished with felony crimes and big fines.” Read more »

Here’s the Problem With That Popular Planned Parenthood Defense

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

When attacked, it’s a natural instinct to defend oneself as quickly and succinctly as possible, to shoot down bold lies with hard facts before they hang around and poison the air any longer.

And so when Republican lawmakers attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and presidential candidates paint the women’s health nonprofit as a sadistic baby-killing machine, I can understand why we whip out the numbers. They’re good numbers to have on hand when Jeb Bush says things like “they’re not actually doing women’s health issues” and that Planned Parenthood is “involved in something way different than that.” Or when Rep. Diane Black, sponsor of the House defunding bill, claims: “If there is reason to investigate, then there is reason to withhold taxpayer dollars during that period of time. The American taxpayer has been clear for a very long time that they do not want federal funds spent on abortion.”

Plenty of people have broken it down, but it’s worth repeating: Only 3 percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood last year were abortion-related. Out of the 10.6 million services provided, 42 percent treated or prevented STDs. Another 34 percent provided contraception. Cancer screening and prevention accounted for 9 percent. (The annual report is available here.) Read more »

The Problem With Charlie Dent’s Planned Parenthood Compromise

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On the surface, Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent has a great idea for ending the coming storm over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding: He wants to compromise.

Planned Parenthood,  you’ll recall, has been in hot water ever since tapes emerged that purport to show organization officials haggling with a “buyer” — in reality, undercover anti-abortion activists — to sell organs from aborted fetuses for research purposes. (Planned Parenthood says no illegal activity took place.) Since then, Republicans in Congress have been proclaiming their intention to pull federal funding from the entire organization, nationwide — and even made noises about shutting down the federal government over the matter.

Enter Dent’s compromise: Read more »

Stu Bykofsky Doesn’t Think I Should Have Had an Abortion

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

In an odious “story” in today’s Daily News, Stu Bykofsky, a man whom I have never met, makes the huge (and hugely male) presumption that he knows why I had an abortion 40 years ago, how I felt about it then, and how I feel about it now. “There are women more casual about their abortions than their hair color,” he writes, and recalls feminist rallies he attended back in the day at which women wore t-shirts that read, “I had an abortion!” “I had 2 abortions!” “I had 3 abortions!”

It’s possible, since Stu is so old, that his memory is faulty. I don’t remember any such jolly carnivals of fetus-killing. The women I know celebrate the fact that abortion is an option that is legally available to them and their daughters. They would never, ever celebrate having one. What a despicable assumption for Stu to make. Read more »

Thanks, But I Don’t Need the Pope to Forgive My Abortion

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By the time I graduated from college in 1978, almost every one of my women friends had had an abortion. The circumstances in each case were different, but the choice we made was the same. I’ve written before about telling my pro-life daughter about my choice years later. I did so because the climate in this country had become so profoundly anti-choice—because male legislators and activists were doing their damnedest to outlaw my decision, and were burning down clinics and murdering doctors who provided this health service—a health service, by the way, that the Supreme Court has deemed perfectly legal—to women like me.

Now here comes Pope Francis, declaring in a letter on Tuesday that the “tragedy of abortion” is “an existential and moral ordeal,” and pitying the “many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.” He even instructed priests to offer forgiveness to women who have had abortions.

To which I say, with the utmost respect: No thanks, Your Holiness. Read more »

Chaput Praises Pope’s Abortion Stance

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Archbishop Charles Chaput. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput on Tuesday praised Pope Francis‘ decision to allow priests to forgive abortion during the Catholic Church’s forthcoming “Jubilee Year of Mercy.”

“Pope Francis’ recent remarks on absolution for the sin of abortion demonstrate his commitment to all those in need of healing,” Chaput said in a statement released by the archdiocese. “With a special ‘Jubilee Year of Mercy’ set to begin in December, the timing is very welcome.”

Abortion is considered by the church to be a grave sin, and in much of the the world a senior church official is required to give permission for absolution. The policy has been different in Philadelphia, Chaput said. Read more »

Pope Francis Says Priests Can Forgive Abortion

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Well, this pope keeps defying expectations, doesn’t he?

The Vatican announced today that priests will be allowed to forgive abortions during the upcoming “Jubilee Year” starting December 8th. Normally, abortion is considered a grave sin that can be absolved only by senior church figures.  The announcement comes just weeks before Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia and an American church that is more divided over issues like gay rights and abortion than doctrine might suggest.

Pope Francis made clear in his order that the church remains committed to its anti-abortion stance, and said that forgiveness will be offered only to those women “who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.” Read more »

Report: Planned Parenthood Isn’t Harvesting Fetal Tissue in Pa.

Planned Parenthood's offices in Center City. (Google Streetview)

Planned Parenthood’s offices in Center City. (Google Streetview)

Planned Parenthood clinics in Pennsylvania do not participate in the controversial practice of fetal tissue donation, the state’s top health officer says.

“Although donation of fetal tissue is lawful under the Abortion Control Act and federal law, our review has found that Planned Parenthood facilities in Pennsylvania do not participate in this practice,” Secretary of Health Karen Murphy wrote in a letter reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Moreover, there is no evidence that any Planned Parenthood site in this commonwealth is involved in the buying or selling of fetal tissue.” Read more »

Planned Parenthood Targets Toomey

Planned Parenthood is running an ad attacking Sen. Pat Toomey, suggesting his vote to defund the organization could be the first step toward a costly government shutdown.

Toomey is one of four “vulnerable” senators in the 2016 election being targeted by the ads, The Hill reports.

“’First Pat Toomey voted to defund Planned Parenthood — risking healthcare for millions of women,’ the Pennsylvania ad says. ‘Now Republicans want to shut down the government — to block funding for Planned Parenthood. What would a shutdown mean for Pennsylvania?’

“The ad then shows a veteran wondering about getting benefits and a senior worrying about Social Security checks.”

Three things to know about this controversy: Read more »

Toomey, Casey on Opposite Sides of Planned Parenthood Debate

Pat Toomey, left; Bob Casey Jr., right.

Pat Toomey, left; Bob Casey Jr., right.

In recent weeks, a pro-life group has released several videotapes purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the price their organization will be paid for fetal tissue, from abortions, that it provides to researchers. The tapes have sparked a new battle over federal support for the organization, and Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey Jr. find themselves on opposite sides. Read more »

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