Mississippi has one of the worst records for maternal and infant health in the U.S., as well as some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and among some of the most restrictive policies on abortion…

“It is tremendously, tremendously frightening, this case…There’s real fear for young women whose babies are dying early who [lack the resources to] defend themselves and their actions.”

Rennie Gibbs’ daughter was stillborn with the cord wrapped around her neck, but when autopsy results turned up traces of a cocaine byproduct in her baby’s blood, Gibbs was indicted for “depraved heart murder,” with a maximum sentence of life in prison.

It should come as no surprise that Gibbs is a young, low-income black woman, a member of a demographic disproportionately targeted by the legal system in cases like this and others, and more vulnerable to stillbirths.

A committee for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists determined that “pregnant women who fear the legal system avoid or emotionally disengage from prenatal care - the very thing that might help assure they give birth to health babies. Drug enforcement policies that deter women from seeking prenatal care are contrary to the welfare of the mother and fetus.”

Until we stop pretending punishment and stigma is an effective deterrent, and work to address the underlying issues in maternal health, women will continue to be targeted for addiction, mental illness, and self-determination.

In Their Hands: In Support of Steven Wise is a very meaningful post I wrote yesterday in support of the legal work of Steven Wise on behalf of captive chimpanzees in NY. I would be very grateful if you might click through and take a look. If you are at all moved by the photos, please help circulate. Much obliged.

“It is through their hands that I try to know them–their emotion, power, strength, intelligence, desire, anger, curiosity and humour. It all flows from those muscular hands; life lines traversing palms, agile fingers with knuckles creased and cracked, dried cuticles edging smooth nails. So full of power and emotion; they reach, hold, throw and touch. Smooth and dark, with movements that are fine-tuned and precise. With those wonderful hands, they ask. They give. They receive. Sometimes gentle, sometimes urgent–always expressive. It is not that their hands are so much like mine that captivates me, it is that mine are so much like theirs.”

Wacktivist devil: Ban breastfeeding in public, because it promotes ‘gay pride’
August 19, 2014

A conservative activist in Ohio is attempting to ban female toplessness including breastfeeding, because it promotes “gay pride”.

Patrick Johnson, director of anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio, is urging for people to contact state lawmakers to call for a blanket ban on female nudity.

His church group, which frequently protests against strip clubs, was recently confronted with bad-ass counter-protesters in favor of the women’s right to choose what work they did.

He told ABC: “I think when we allow women to flaunt their sexuality to the public, flaunt their nudity to the public, it’s harmful to marriage.

“I am sick that women can legally bare their breasts to children and to married men against their will in Ohio.

“What they did was an offense to God, was an offense to the public morality, and the legislature should act to criminalize what they did.”

He added on Facebook: “The gay pride parade in Columbus is 500,000 strong – why? Because the women go topless. This is the only one where I’ve seen this level of nudity.

“[In] San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C, I have never seen the kind of public lewdness I have seen in Columbus, Ohio.”

“Please call or Email your state senator and state reps to urge them to ban public nudity.

The Aiken Area Progressive blog warns: “This is a no-exceptions ban that if enacted, will drop the number of states to 49 in which breastfeeding is legal, and, if enacted, this definitely will violate numerous Constitutional amendments.”


An exemplary example of evil, internalized patriarchy. He actually thinks women’s breastfeeding is about assaulting him and other ‘innocent married men’. 

Personhood Ohio contact

Colorado lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would ban all abortions and possibly emergency contraception, and slap doctors with a Class 3 felony if they provide their patients with either of these services. The measure, House Bill 14-1133, is the latest in a long line of failed attempts to pass a total abortion ban in the state.

HB 14-1133 defines a fetus as an “unborn human being” upon the moment of fertilization, and forbids doctors from prescribing any medication or performing any procedure that could result in the “termination of the life of an unborn human being.” The legislation specifies that it’s not intended to apply to birth control. But since abortion opponents tend to incorrectly assert that the morning after pill ends a pregnancy, reproductive rights groups in the state warn the measure could end up banning emergency contraception along with abortion, depending how it’s interpreted. Under HB 14-1133, doctors could face up to 12 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for violating the policy.

Thanks to the Democrats in the legislature, the measure isn’t expected to advance very far. Most political analysts see it as some type of “purity test” for the Republicans in the state, a purely symbolic gesture that allows them to prove their pro-life credentials.

Nonetheless, reproductive rights groups are mounting an offensive. NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains will hold a press conference to speak out against the bill on Tuesday afternoon, immediately before lawmakers began debating the measure. In an interview with the Colorado Independent, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s director, Karen Middleton, explained that it’s important to continue calling attention to these type of extreme attacks on reproductive rights even if they’re not likely to pass the current legislative body.

“Leadership in the Colorado House and Senate is always in the balance,” Middleton noted. “This is a bill that has been introduced in the past and will likely be introduced again. It could get through, maybe not this year, but next year… Voters have to take note.”

“Planned Parenthood will work with our coalition partners, the public, and our champions in both the State House and Senate to ensure that such out-of-touch and dangerous legislation isn’t passed,” Cathy Alderman, the vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, added in a statement.

Republicans in Colorado have been persistently introducing abortion bans for years. The state is the birthplace of the “personhood” movement — the radical push to define life as beginning at fertilization and endow zygotes with all the rights of U.S. citizens — and personhood ballot initiatives have come before voters several times. This fall, voters will consider the Brady Amendment, a measure to expand criminal penalties for pregnant women that could end up being used to restrict abortion.

But Colorado’s personhood initiatives have failed by extremely wide margins, and a bill nearly identical to HB 14-1133 died in the last session. Even outside of Colorado, the personhood movement hasn’t seen much success, since this extremely far-right policy often ends up dividing the anti-choice community. Nonetheless, Republicans simply won’t stop trying.

The GOP lawmakers who continue to sign onto these measures represent powerful players in Colorado. HB 14-1133 is being sponsored by the Republican leader in the House, Rep. Brian DelGrosso ®. Abortion issues, and particularly personhood measures, frequently factor into state-level elections. At least one local Republican who’s indicated his support for personhood is now running for a U.S. Senate seat.

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

Babies Learn to Recognize Words in the Womb

Be careful what you say around a pregnant woman. As a fetus grows inside a mother’s belly, it can hear sounds from the outside world—and can understand them well enough to retain memories of them after birth, according to new research.

It may seem implausible that fetuses can listen to speech within the womb, but the sound-processing parts of their brain become active in the last trimester of pregnancy, and sound carries fairly well through the mother’s abdomen. “If you put your hand over your mouth and speak, that’s very similar to the situation the fetus is in,” says cognitive neuroscientist Eino Partanen of the University of Helsinki. “You can hear the rhythm of speech, rhythm of music, and so on.”

the full article: