Category Archives: Abortion Issues
Government-Funded Abortion Clinics Outnumber Real Clinics in Texas
Crisis pregnancy centers argue that they merely offer an alternative to abortion. Yet time and again, investigations reveal that these clinics promote religious material, give women false information, and even threaten women to coerce them to give birth.
Yet Texas lawmakers continue to fund these facilities, which offer no real medical care. The Texas Alternatives to Abortion program has distributed more than $21.6 million in funding to anti-abortion organizations since 2014. Lawmakers continue to slash funding to family planning services, while diverting millions to clinics that can provide no evidence that any service they provide confers any benefit on women.
In some cases, lawmakers have taken funding from programs for needy children to fund crisis pregnancy centers.
How Fake Clinics Hurt Women
Crisis pregnancy centers take a heavy-handed approach to advertising. They target abortion-related keywords in Google searches, and in many cases end up outranking actual clinics. The influx of government funding helps them outspend clinics providing real medical services.
Numerous investigations have shown that these clinics harm women. Even when the clinics are effective at convincing women to give birth, they offer no maternity care and no real support.
Women who opt to have abortions may face threats and stalking. Because crisis pregnancy centers aren’t medical providers, they’re not bound by medical ethics or medical privacy laws. Yet women often reveal private medical information because they think they’re receiving medical services. This enables the clinics to sell women’s information to third parties, and even tell anti-abortion activists about women who intend to seek abortions. In at least one case, a crisis pregnancy center used confidential health information to continually intimidate a 17-year-old and her family.
Fake clinics argue that they have a free speech right to lie to women and pretend to be medical providers. In NIFLA v. Bacerra, a case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, California crisis pregnancy centers argue that a law requiring them to disclose that they do not offer medical services is unconstitutional.
Having an abortion does not increase the risk of depression, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. The study is one of the largest on the topic to date, and included nearly 400,000 women. Numerous previous studies have also found no link to abortion and mental health diagnoses.
Are Women Who Have Abortions More Likely to Need Antidepressants?
The study specifically looked at the link between abortion and subsequent use of antidepressants. Researchers followed a cohort of 396,397 women born in Denmark between 1980-1994. During the study, 30,384 (7.6%) had a first-trimester abortion, and 85,592 gave birth to their first child.
Women who had abortions were more likely to take antidepressants during the study period. However, after controlling for differences between the women, this difference disappeared. Researchers found that women at risk for depression were more likely to have abortions—not that abortion increased the risk of depression.
The team also looked at antidepressant use in the year following abortion. This is a more direct way to assess whether abortion affects a woman’s emotional well-being. They found that the rate of antidepressant use among women who had abortions did not change in the year before and the year following an abortion.
The Research is Clear: Abortion Does Not Cause Mental Illness
Numerous states require doctors to give women false information about the link between abortion and depression. North Carolina abortion clinics, for example, are required to tell women false information about the physical and mental health risks of abortion. Women must also wait 72 hours to have an abortion after receiving this information.
The latest study is just one among many finding no link between abortion and mental illness. Other studies have directly investigated the link between abortion and depression, not just abortion and antidepressant use. Some highlights include:
- A study that found no link between abortion and substance abuse.
- Research showing that military policies which refuse to cover abortion care harm the mental and physical health of women soldiers.
- The ongoing Turnaway Study, which follows women denied abortions and compares them to women who have abortions. That study consistently shows that abortion does not harm mental health, but being denied an abortion does. The study also concludes that women do not regret their abortions.
Other research has found that anti-abortion regulations may endanger women’s health, and that anti-abortion stigma puts women’s mental health at risk.
The American Psychological Association (APA) says there is no such thing as post-abortion syndrome, and that abortion does not harm women’s mental health.
The Maternal Health Crisis: The Real Risk to Women’s Health
Anti-choice lawmakers insist that they only care about making women safe. Yet they’ve done little to address a maternal mortality crisis that is the words in the industrialized world. Perhaps that’s because poor women and women of color are disproportionately affected.
If the risk of depression is a reason to ban a procedure, perhaps Republicans should look into banning pregnancy. Conservative estimates suggest that 10-20% of women experience postpartum depression. Research has directly linked far-right policies to this mental health epidemic. Paid family leave, for example, lowers the rate of postpartum depression. Republicans almost universally oppose it.
It has never been about safety, about women, or about families. Anti-choice policies will always be about punishing women.
Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon, a convicted anti-abortion terrorist, was released from prison Tuesday. Shannon was convicted of firebombing abortion clinics in Oregon and two other states—a crime for which she was given 20 years in prison. Shannon was also convicted of shooting Dr. George Tiller, one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country. Dr. Tiller was later murdered by another anti-abortion terrorist in 2009.
Rachelle Shannon and Anti-Abortion Terrorism
Shelley has been released to a halfway house in Oregon. Her sentence will be completed on November 7, when she may go free. Her release has sparked fears at abortion clinics across the country. “This is someone who not only committed multiple acts of violence herself, but also encouraged others to murder abortion providers,” said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, in a statement. “She has shown zero remorse.”
Shannon has repeatedly asserted that anti-abortion activists are called by God to kill. Of Michael Griffin, the first terrorist to kill an abortion doctor, she said, “I’m not convinced that God didn’t require it of Michael to do this…I’m praying God will push more of us ‘off the deep end.'”
Shannon reportedly inspired Paul Hill, who met with her in prison, to kill two abortion providers. The evening before the trial of Scott Roeder, the convicted killer of Dr. Tiller, Shannon sent an email to another anti-abortion activist asserting that Dr. Tiller “needed to be killed for the sake of justice.”
According to the National Abortion Federation, Shannon inspired other anti-abortion activists to commit acts of violence during her time in prison. Shannon is a member of the Army of God, a Christian terrorist organization that advocates and commits acts of violence against abortion providers. Army of God members have killed several abortion doctors. The organization also claimed responsibility for Eric Robert Rudolph’s 1997 bombing of an Atlanta abortion clinic and lesbian bar.
How Common is Anti-Abortion Terrorism?
Between 1993 when Shannon committed her attack and 2016, anti-abortion extremists killed 11 people. Bombings at abortion clinics are more common than any other type of bombing, with 42 clinic bombings and 185 arson attacks since 1977. The rate of violent extremism has greatly accelerated since 2015, when the Center for Medical Progress released now-discredited videos smearing Planned Parenthood.
These attacks intimidate women seeking abortion, and put clinic providers in danger. In an attempt to protect women seeking health services, some states have enacted “buffer zone” legislation to prevent potential terrorists from getting too close to clinics. Similar to rules about parking at airport entrances, these laws allow protesters to voice their concerns outside of clinics, but without getting too close or blocking entrances. In 2009, the Supreme Court struck down buffer zone legislation as unconstitutional.
Warren M. Hern, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. Director, Boulder Abortion Clinic Recipient, 2018 Faith and Freedom Award
Presented at the Faith and Freedom Awards Ceremony Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights.
Temple Emanuel, Denver, May 3, 2018
Read Dr. Warren Hern Acceptance Speech for 2018 Faith and Freedom Award – HERE or below.
RELIGION, POWER AND REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM:
A Checkered History of Conflict
Thank you for inviting me to be here this evening and receive this award. It is a great honor, and it is a privilege to be here. It is also a privilege to do the work we do to help women and their families. It is my definition of practicing medicine.
It is ironic from my point of view that you are bestowing this honor on an apostate Methodist who gave up on Christianity nearly 60 years ago after reading Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy, Why I Am Not A Christian, and Unpopular Essays, Erich Fromm’s Escape From Freedom, R.H. Tawney’s Religion and The Rise Of Capitalism, Charles Guignebert’s Jesus with Greek footnotes that I learned to read, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, A Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides, In Praise of Folly by Erasmus, the works of Baruch Spinoza, Plato’s Απολογία concerning the persecution of Socrates, Aristophanes’ satire of sophistry in The Clouds, Lessa and Vogt’s Reader in Comparative Religion, Man and His Gods by Homer Smith, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis, the works of Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr, and several times through The King James Version of The Bible.
I read some of these on my lunch time while sitting under my water truck on a construction job and while camped out in the mountains during another construction job. I had the heart of a believer and the mind of a skeptic. The skeptic won. I enjoyed the Unitarians at Dick Henry’s church on 14th & Lafayette, and the ritual was comfortable, but I found it disconcerting to go from “Our Father, Who Art In Heaven” to “To Whom It May Concern.” I had sung enthusiastically and joyfully in The Messiah every Christmas in excellent choirs from junior high through medical school, and I loved the music. I still do. But skiing and hiking in the mountains – my real cathedral – got to be more important than going to any church. I was baptized when I was very young, but it obviously didn’t have much effect.
In my work as a physician helping women by performing abortions, I have been confronted with the conflict among religions about this issue and, further, the checkered history of religion in matters of truth and power. While religious traditions may offer important insights into our relationship with the cosmos and our ethical relationships with fellow humans, I could not help noticing that religion has been sometimes on the side of truth and freedom, but at other times, it has been on the side of brutal power and repression. Socrates was prosecuted for doubting the gods of theocratic Athens and thereby corrupting the youth. The message was: “Believe this or die.” Two thousand years later, the medieval Catholic church carried out the Inquisition, whose victims included Galileo and Giordano Bruno, whose crimes were independent thought. Martin Luther, although cruelly anti-semitic, challenged the dogmatism and authoritarianism of the Catholic Church. Hitler described Christianity as the foundation of German values, which embraced anti-semitism for many, but not all, German Christians. Christianity was used to defend apartheid in South Africa and slavery in the United States, torture in the Inquisition, and the slaughter of Native Americans by both the Conquistadores and our own fellow citizens.
Then we have the awakening of the Christian community in the struggle for civil rights in the 1960’s in this country. The moral leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King and his associates is an historic beacon for all time.
In the 1960’s, tens of thousands of women throughout the country were given critical help in finding safe abortions by the Clergy Counseling Service. Those religious leaders held that having an abortion was a moral choice, and they gave women the support they needed to effect that choice.
Now, we have the radical religious right in the United States, which has joined with the radical political right in its effort to fight and destroy the reproductive rights of women and to make women servants of the fascist state. In 1986, TV evangelist and Republican candidate for President, Pat Robertson, said in Denver during a National Right To Life meeting that we must oppose abortion so that “we will have enough soldiers to fight the wars and people to pay the taxes.” Joseph Scheidler, a defrocked Catholic monk, went around the country urging violence against abortion clinics and doctors, and he came to my office several times in 1985 and 1986. One of his followers threw a stone through the front window of my office a few days after I had seen the flame scars on the Jewish Community Center and synagogue left from the 1938 Kristallnacht in East Berlin.
In March, 1988, five shots were fired through the front windows of my waiting room, narrowly missing a member of my staff. I had just walked through the room. It was one of several attempts on my life. Randall Terry, surrounded by his followers, stood in the street in front of my office in 1991 and prayed for my execution. In March, 1993, Dr. David Gunn was assassinated in Pensacola, Florida by Michael Griffin, who was defended by Joe Scarborough, for whom this was a springboard to political stardom in the Republican Party, a seat in Congress, and a lucrative morning TV show. Later in 1993, Rev. David Trosch, a Catholic priest in Alabama, declared that killing doctors who perform abortions is “justifiable homicide.” A few days after his announcement, Randall Terry went on National Christian Radio Network, and, naming me and quoting scripture, invited his listers to assassinate me. The next day, Shelly Shannon tried to assassinate Dr. George Tiller in Wichita. Reverend Trosch formed the “American Coalition of Life [sic] Activists” and advocated the assassination of abortion doctors. Paul Hill, a member of the group, then assassinated Dr. John Britton along with Dr. Britton’s bodyguard, also in Pensacola. The “American Coalition of Life Activists” had a national press conference on January 22, 1995 and announced the hit list of the first 13 abortion doctors they wanted eliminated. I was on the list, and so was Dr. Tiller. Dr. Barnett Slepian was assassinated in 1998, and Dr. George Tiller, a close friend of mine, was assassinated in his Lutheran Church in 2009.
The Mafia has the decency to keep its hit lists private.
The last time I was privileged to visit this temple was in June, 2009, a few days after Dr. Tiller’s assassination, when I was invited by Rabbi Stephen Foster and Betty Serotta to speak here about my friend. During that month, an anti-abortion fanatic threatened the lives of my family. I received a letter from Shelly Shannon from her cell in Kansas state prison telling me that I’m next.
Quoting now from something about this subject that I wrote earlier:
“The murder of Dr. David Gunn [the first of the abortion doctors to be assassinated] was not the isolated act of a deranged loner. It was the inevitable consequence of 20 years of violent and inflammatory rhetoric from the radical Christian right that paints abortion as a “Holocaust” and doctors who perform abortions as “baby killers,” “murderers,” “Nazi doctors,” and other hateful epithets.
Dr. Gunn’s assassination culminated 20 years of violent terrorist acts that included stalking and harassment of patients and staff members and the bombing of clinics. The idea that a six-week embryo is equal to or more important than the life of a cantankerous adult doctor is no longer a sick private delusion. It is a collective psychosis masquerading as religion that has become a political force threatening democratic society.”
I wrote those words in an editorial published in The Denver Post in 1993.
Guess who’s running the country now?
It is difficult for me to be neutral and objective about Christianity’s contribution to this frightening fanaticism. There is much more to this story.
As personified by Pat Robertson and others such as Jesse Helms and Jerry Falwell, the Republican party has been taken over by Christian anti-abortion fanatics. The policy of the Republican Party is that women are for pleasure and having babies, and they should have as many as possible. The philosophy is clearly that individuals are here to serve the state and not the other way around. Individual freedom is subject to cancellation because it does not serve the needs of the State.
That is the current Republican philosophy, and it is a fascist philosophy. The underpinnings are both Protestant Evangelical and Catholic theology, and its advocates are in complete control of all three branches of the federal government of the United States at this time. Fanatic opposition to abortion has helped to elect Republicans across the country. It was critical to the success of Robert Dole, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush,, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush, and Donald J. Trump, who had the overwhelming political support of Christian evangelicals. For forty years, for the Republicans, abortion has been the hammer and tongs to power.
What is the response of religious leadership in this crisis of not only reproductive freedom but democracy itself? Where is the high ground of moral leadership for Christians who support the rights of women to be healthy and to be free from the tyranny of their own biology? The Jewish community has been outspoken in support of reproductive rights in harmony with rabbinic law, which values the life of the woman over the life or potential life of the fetus. Since I am an admirer of Talmudic teachings but am not a Talmudic scholar, I refer you to Rabbi Foster and others who are experts on this. But I sympathize with pro-choice Christians whose faith is being given a bad name by the totalitarians who oppose us.
Whose morality? Whose “family values?” Whose virtues? It is not only a religious question. It is a matter of power. Who has the power to make the decision to transmit life to a new generation: the individual, or the State? You and I know that no government has the capacity, nor should it have the right, to make that decision for any woman, and that any woman is more competent to make that decision than any government. You and I know that safe abortion is a fundamental component of health care for women in the 21st century, and that affirming that during the past 50 years has been one of the great public health successes of all time. But those who lust for power and who are willing to walk on the bodies of women to get it are determined to eliminate that great step forward for humanity.
This, then, at this moment, is completely about power: Who has it, and who doesn’t? Which way are the guns pointed? That’s a matter we decide at the polls in a democracy. But we are now faced with an ignorant, cruel, corrupt, autocratic, racist, misogynist, authoritarian criminal regime in Washington, D.C. that hates individual freedom, the rule of law, civil rights, voting rights, any part of the natural world not being exploited for profit, democracy, the free press, facts, and thought itself. We have an existential threat to democracy in America. Unless we secure it by our voices and votes, and with the help of this religious community, women will not have reproductive freedom, and if women are not free, none of us are free.
Bibliography of published commentary on reproductive choice by
Warren M. Hern, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
For bibliographies of clinical and scientific publications in professional journals:
www.drhern.com > News and Publications
Seventeen children died in yet another school shooting this week. The Republican Party that cares only about children before they are born has done nothing to stop more kids from dying. Instead, their focus on forcing women to birth babies they do not want or cannot care for remains steadfast. Here are five new ways anti-choice zealots are working to control women as they ignore the needs of living, breathing children.
Mississippi abortion clinics might soon be prohibited from providing abortions past 15 weeks gestation. The state already bans abortions past 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. This week, the majority-Republican house voted to ban all abortions beyond 15 weeks. The measure garnered some support from Democrats, apparently ever willing to throw women under the bus.
Women who seek abortion clinics or a pregnancy test on Google maps may be diverted to crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) instead. CPCs offer little or no medical care, but do tell women lies about the physical and psychological perils of abortion. Some even lie to women about the services they offer, in an attempt to stall a woman’s abortion. In so doing, they may cause a woman to wait until her second trimester, when abortions become more expensive and more legally restricted.
Georgetown University students recently tested what happens to women who call CPCs seeking help. They found that these centers are often dishonest about their intentions. Rather than using overtly anti-choice language, they use covert tactics to stall women seeking abortions, and to instill fear about the procedure. Yet they offer few or no resources or support for women undertaking the Herculean task of raising a child born from an unplanned pregnancy.
Arizona Wants Women to Justify Their Abortions
In Arizona, the Health and Human Services committee approved Senate Bill 1394 along party lines. The bill would require abortion providers to review a checklist of possible reasons for abortions, allowing the state to gather data on why women seek abortions. While the law does not ban abortions for specific reasons, the process could make women seeking abortions feel threatened—or even create the illusion that a woman can only seek an abortion if the government thinks her reason is good enough.
Tennessee Votes to Force Women to Look at Pre-Abortion Ultrasounds
Abortion: Republican Legislators in the Tennessee House recently approved legislation requiring women to undergo ultrasounds prior to seeking an abortion. The original version of the bill would have banned abortion after a heartbeat can be detected—usually around 6 weeks gestation. In a new version of the law, abortion providers would be required to perform an ultrasound, then share the results with women seeking abortions. Democratic Representative Sherry Jones, in a floor debate, called the measure “emotional abuse.”
Trump Administration Budget Endangers Women
The Trump Administration recently unveiled FY2019 budget could slash programs for women and children. It creates significant additional requirements for low-income people seeking support services, reduces Medicaid funding, and blocks access to preventative care at Planned Parenthood and similar clinics.
May Rupert, Senior Director of Policy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement:
“President Trump’s proposed budget harms women, families, immigrants, low-income people and all others who deserve a government that protects and respects their rights, health and well-being.
“Instead of using this opportunity to propose meaningful investments that would improve the health and well-being of women and families, the Trump administration has created a budget that erects barriers to critical healthcare coverage and services for women.
“This budget does not represent a meaningful starting point for negotiation. Congress must flat-out reject this effort to make it more difficult for women to access abortion and essential services.”
Late Abortion Specialist
Our purpose is to provide the safest possible early and late abortion care and termination of pregnancies for fetal anomalies or other medical indications. Abortion care is always provided in a confidential, comfortable, and dignified outpatient setting for women world-wide.
Boulder Abortion Clinic offers:
- First Trimester Abortion up to 13 Weeks
- Second Trimester Abortion up to 26 Weeks
- Third Trimester Abortion (commonly known as late term abortion) over 26 Weeks
- Fetal Anomaly Patients are seen at anytime during pregnancy, but management will depend on length of gestation, medical indications, etc.By its name and continued existence, Boulder Abortion Clinic makes a statement that women are free to make their own choices about their own lives, bodies, and family needs. Our website offers extensive information about abortion information and family planning information.“I have been personally involved from the beginning of my medical career in the advocacy of reproductive freedom, and I continue in this commitment.” Dr. Warren Hern, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. — leading late abortions specialist.
We have survived anti-abortion harassment and violence and have demonstrated our own level of resolve and determination to provide these services to women in spite of everything. As a result, our patients are protected by the highest standards of safety and security as well as provided with understanding and compassion when they come into our offices.We provide every patient personal consultation time allowing the patient to ask any questions they may have and for Dr. Warren Hern and Staff to understand all the special circumstances surrounding each individual’s case.Call us to discuss your confidential situation. Proper discretion is always the order of the day at Boulder Abortion Clinic.
How can you help Dr. Hern? — If you can, please donate here: CrowdRise
Boulder Abortion Clinic, P.C.
Warren M. Hern, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
Quality Care for Women Since 1973
1130 Alpine Avenue
Boulder, Colorado 80304 USA
To learn more about Dr. Hern, read this article:
Abortion Doctor Writes Powerful Response to Anti-Abortion Witch Hunt by Contress
The abortion pill makes up about a quarter of all abortions. When scientific evidence highlighted the safety of the pill in 2016, the FDA relaxed guidelines. So the popularity of the abortion pill will likely continue to increase. This pill is a favorite talking point for right wing anti-choice activists. That’s likely because it makes abortion a more convenient option, and gives the woman substantial control over when and under what circumstances to terminate her pregnancy. Misconceptions about the abortion pill are common. That’s in spite of the fact that, for many women, it’s an affordable and relatively easy option. Here are five abortion pill facts you should know.
Abortion pills sold online are not typically fake, and are as safe as those women receive with a valid medical prescription, according to a study published in the journal Contraception. Some women who cannot afford to go to the doctor, who cannot access abortion, or who are afraid to tell anyone they are pregnant turn to online pills. It’s a fact that points to the desperation of women seeking abortion. Yet this study suggests desperate women may have one less thing to fear.
Online Abortion Pill Safety: Abortion Pills Purchased Online May Be Safe, Effective
For the study, researchers purchased abortion pills from 20 different websites. None of the sites required a prescription. The abortion pill is only legally available with a valid medical prescription. The team then had the pills tested by an independent laboratory. All of the mifepristone pills were within 8% of the advertised level. There was more variation in the misoprostol pills, but the pills were still potent enough to cause an abortion.
Because the pills were advertised, they were likely to be reasonably safe–at least for women who are eligible to use abortion pills. These pills are only FDA-approved for abortions up to 10 weeks. Women may need medical assistance following a medication abortion, however, and not all women can safely use a medication for abortion.
Abortion Without Instruction or Support
Though the pills were as advertised, none of them came with instructions for proper use. This leaves women seeking abortions to look for instructions elsewhere. Online abortion instructions aren’t always reliable. Some searches for abortion assistance may redirect to anti-choice websites filled with inaccurate information and scare tactics. The wrong dose of an otherwise safe pill can be dangerous. Likewise, women with certain medical conditions or very advanced pregnancies cannot safely use an abortion pill. Women who are desperate enough to illegally seek online abortion pills may be desperate enough to use those pills without researching their use. In some cases, women who know their pregnancy has progressed too far may opt for a medication abortion out of desperation.
While instructions on the proper use of the pill won’t prevent all improper uses, they can act as a barrier to dangerous use.
Telemedicine: A Potentially Viable Alternative
The fact that women are turning to illegal online abortions speaks to a larger problem. Abortion remains inaccessible or too expensive for many women. State regulations, scare tactics, and the fear of clinic protesters can all cause women to choose less safe options. The good news is that there may be a safe alternative to illegal medication abortions.
One recent study found that telemedicine abortions–which involve a medication abortion with the option of assistance from a medical provider–are safe. That didn’t stop anti-choicers from telling women otherwise. It’s just one more way of limiting women’s reproductive freedom–which is a strategy that’s repeatedly proven to endanger the lives of women and their children.
Data released last month by the Guttmacher Institute shows that the abortion rate dropped under President Obama. This is the first time in more than two decades that the abortion rate has decreased among every demographic group. The data also shows that abortion is a common experience for women, with about 1 in 4 women having at least one abortion before the age of 45. Read the rest of this entry »
The right specializes in false science that tells women abortion causes breast cancer, leads to irreversible trauma, and shatters lives. Study after study has debunked this notion. In a world where women are made to feel ashamed and fearful of abortion, however, it’s easy for stigmatizing fake data to stick. Since the Supreme Court affirmed abortion as a Constitutional right, a few things have remained certain. Abortion saves lives. Abortion is safe. Abortion gives women more control over their lives. The right doesn’t want people to read real abortion research because that abortion research universally confirms the benefits of abortion. Here are five pieces of abortion research anti-choicers don’t want you to know.