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.

The fundamental concern that I have is that we’re criminalizing a medical problem that these women suffer from, and that we don’t do that to any other segment of our society. I understand the concern about the unborn fetus, but the very best way to manage that situation and the very best outcome for the unborn fetus is to treat the mom and the baby as a unit, and to get the best care for the mom. That means she has to be comfortable and free to seek care without concern that she will be placed in jail.

Dr. Barbara Levy, of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains her concerns with the personhood movement and criminalizing pregnant women who suffer from drug addiction

You can learn more about the personhood movement and hear 3 different points of view on the issue on our page here.

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

Today’s program addresses personhood rights of fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses. There have been cases where pregnant women have been arrested and/or subjected to medical intervention (without consent) if law officials decide the fetus is endangered. The Personhood Movement supports the view that fetuses have the same constitutional rights as the mother. 

Our three guests are Lynn Paltrow, the Executive Director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Jennifer Mason, a leader for Personhood USA, and Dr. Barbara Levy, the Vice President of the American College of OB-GYNs.

Paltrow explains:

If [Personhood USA] succeeds and fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses are recognized as separate persons under the law … You could essentially have every pregnant woman subject to a person who is entitled to her medical records, who is entitled to require her to undergo whatever medical procedure is best for her, have her arrested if she doesn’t obey.

The question all of these cases pose — the question that the Personhood USA really raises – is: As a society, do we believe that there is a point in pregnancy where women lose their civil rights?