Thursday, December 6, 2007

Teen birth rate has INCREASED the first time in 14 years!

Yesterday the CDC announced that the U.S. teen birth rate has increased for the first time for 14 years, especially among 15-19 year olds. The statistics are featured in a new report, "Births: Preliminary Data for 2006," prepared by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, and are based on data from over 99 percent of all births for the United States in 2006.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Remembering Keith...

It's been a year since the death of Planned Parenthood's lobbyist, Keith Smith. His sudden death was a shock to us and a major loss to the community. At PPCO, we miss him bouncing in and out of the office like Tigger. He had so much energy and played an intregal part of protecting a woman's right to choose in Oklahoma.

One of my favorite pictures, which is still a part of my office decor, is the picture of Keith that was in the Oklahoma Gazette last spring. In the picture, Keith is doing what he loved best, standing face to face with an anti-choice him the "what for"...

We miss you Keith, thanks for all you did for reproductive rights in Oklahoma.

Submitted by Keri Parks

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The National Advocates for Pregnant Women did an outstanding job organizing yesterday's forum on Women, Pregnancy and Drug Use: Medical Facts, Practical Responses and the Well-Being of Children and Families.

Check out the Oklahomans article on yesterday's forum.

Research from Dr. Barry Lester, Ph.D., who directs the Brown University Center for Study of Children at Risk, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and Professor of Pediatrics, shows that there is no increase in physical damage in meth exposed infants. Dr. Lester also talked about the implications of women who do not get treatment while pregnant and the cost to society.

Other speakers included Carol Mason, Ph.D., OSU; Martha Kendall Holmes, MSW, LCSW; William Yarborough, M.D., FACP; Mary Barr, Executive Director of Conexions; and our friends Dana Stone, OB/GYN, M.D. and Eli Reshef, OB/GYN, M.D.

Nancy Goldstein, Tiloma Jayasinghe, Lynn Paltrow; Joann Horn, Kathleen Wallace, and Jim Rowan deserve a big round of applause for their efforts in helping Teresa Hernandez. We've got our fingers crossed that she will have her sentence reduced on December 21st.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trust Oklahoma Women

We received this email from the son of a former employee today and wanted to post it for others to read.

"I want to share a story with you from this past Saturday.

My mother worked for Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma as a health educator when I was in grade school. She used to take me along to events, but I was too young to understand the broader issues she and her colleagues represented. She was very proud when I told her that I had begun volunteering as an escort for Planned Parenthood in Houston. That Christmas, she sent me a set of Planned Parenthood thank-you cards along with a glass which had the Planned Parenthood logo and the words “Trust Oklahoma Women” etched onto the surface. I placed the glass on my shelf along with a few other trinkets and never gave it much thought.

This Saturday, during the height of Houston Coalition for Life’s presence, a young couple arrived. I and another escort greeted them at the car and began walking them towards the clinic. It was clear to us that this couple was there for an abortion - the woman was nervous and seemed emotionally frail. As they approached the east gate, Christine began her standard speech. The girl burst into tears and three other escorts ran to her aid as we walked through the gate. We began comforting her in an effort to drown out Christine's words. I don't remember all that was said, but they were words of love and support. By the time we approached the clinic, she was smiling through her tears even laughing a bit, having never heard the rest of the crowd's tirade.

In two years of escorting for Planned Parenthood, no instance has upset me like this one. I thought about it for the rest of the weekend and it wasn't until I talked it out to a friend over coffee that I finally understood why it was so upsetting. Abortion is not a pleasant idea - I hope never to meet the person who disagrees. That l like less telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body does not make me pro-abortion, it makes me pro-choice. We have all seen the emotional bond a woman experiences once she learns she is pregnant and we all know of the controversy surrounding the choice afforded to women should they choose not to continue a pregnancy. This in mind, I doubt any woman coming to Planned Parenthood for an abortion has not considered and even agonized over what must be a terrifically difficult decision. But it is her decision, it is a legal decision and it is to be respected.

This in mind, I would have no problem with protestors who approached clients to say "may I tell you about other options" or "may I help ensure you know all the details of what you are about to do" provided they backed off in response to a negative response. Given the principles at hand, I could appreciate someone saying "I believe life begins at conception and although this is certain only by biological definitions which apply to every cell in my body, my belief system tells me that conception yields a soul." Although I disagree with the conclusion from which these statements spring, they would at least show a level of respect to the client. Instead, what I hear are emotionally driven sound bites. Telling a woman that she has "a beautiful baby boy or girl" or that "[her] baby already has a beating heart" is not an effort of reason but one of emotion. It is equivalent to saying "I don't trust your judgment, so I am going to get to you using your emotions." In short - it shows a complete lack of trust.

Women who approach our clinic having decided to terminate their pregnancies have come to that decision through whatever thought process they deemed appropriate. To assume that thought process is flawed simply because it doesn't match up with yours represents the height of condescent. I was never prouder to be a Planned Parenthood escort than I was that day. "Trust Oklahoma Women" - today I finally understand what my mother meant."

We appreciate your efforts too...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Anti-Birth Control Hardliner to Head Family Planning Post

Yet another anti-birth control, anti-sex education hardliner, Susan Orr, was named to run the nation’s largest family planning and birth control program, Title X. President Bush recently appointed Orr to this position, which administers Title X, the nation's family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to more than five million low-income individuals annually, helping prevent more than one million unintended pregnancies each year.

Orr was formerly a senior director for marriage and family care at the Family Research Council, a political organization that opposes family planning. While in this role, Orr cheered the Bush administration’s proposed elimination of the contraceptive coverage requirement from federal employees’ health insurance. Said Orr of the proposal, “We're quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”

Nov. 14th Forum to Discuss Women, Pregnancy and Drug Use

"Women, Pregnancy and Drug Use: Medical Facts, Practical Responses and the Well-Being of Children and Families" will be held on November 14, 2007 from 4-6 pm at the Presbyterian Health Foundation Conference Center (655 Research Parkway, Suite 100 – just southeast of the intersection of Northeast 8th Street and Lincoln Boulevard).

Recently, in State v. Hernandez, the state prosecuted an Oklahoma City woman for murder after suffering a stillbirth and testing positive for methamphetamine — despite a lack of medical evidence connecting the two events and the disapproval of local and national medical and public health associations and individuals. Hear renowned local and national experts in the fields of medicine and social work separate myth from fact regarding drug use and pregnancy, discuss the implications of the case for the health and well-being of Oklahoma’s women and babies, and map out strategies for effective and appropriate responses to addiction and pregnancy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Women Lose Bid for Contraceptive Equity

Female employees of AT&T in Kansas City lost a class action lawsuit to gain insurance coverage of their birth control pills. According to the Kansas City Star, the judge threw out the charges because of a ruling earlier this year regarding the coverage of birth control for females employees at Union Pacific Railroad.

" 'In that case, the 8th Circuit reversed a lower court ruling finding that Union Pacific Railroadhad violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 by not providing coverage of prescription contraception to its female employees.

A three-judge panel of the appellate court ruled that contraception was not "related to" pregnancy for purposes of the law "because, like fertility treatments, contraception is a treatment that is only indicated prior to pregnancy. Contraception is not a medical treatment that occurs when or if a woman becomes pregnant; instead contraception prevents pregnancy from even occurring."

Union Pacific had argued that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act relates only to discrimination against a woman for medical conditions that occur after she becomes pregnant, while the use of contraceptives relates only to human fertility before pregnancy.' "

Does your insurance company cover your pills?

Learn more at or watch for updates on Oklahoma's attempt to gain Contraceptive Equity in 2008.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Oklahoma Ranked 12 in the Nation for Repeat Teen Births

According to a recently released Child Trends Research Brief, Oklahoma ranks 12th in the nation for repeat teen births. The report sites that "nearly one-fifth of teen births that year were repeat births - births to teens who were already mothers."

The report states that in 2004, 21% of teen births in Oklahoma were to teens who were already mothers. As alarming as this number is, it is still down from the 1999 study which 23% were already mothers.

It is very important when a teen gives birth that she is immediately given information on contraceptives so that she's more likely to stay in school.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reproductive Rights UPDATE!!!

There is so much going on these days concerning reproductive rights in America.

1. Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri are facing criminal charges as a consequence of providing abortion care. This has been three years in the making lead by then Attorney General, Phil Kline, who was defeated and replaced by pro-choice attorney, Paul Morrison last year.

“We cannot allow anti-choice politicians to harass and intimidate women or doctors in Kansas. Planned Parenthood operates in accord with state and Federal law and will continue to fight to protect access to safe, professional medical care, free from political or government intrusion,” Brownlie said.

“This attack on women’s rights must end,” concluded Brownlie. “Planned Parenthood will meet this attack head-on and we are certain we will be fully exonerated yet again. This matter is in the hands of the court, and Planned Parenthood has immense confidence in the integrity of an independent judiciary in Johnson County and the good judgment of the Kansas citizens. Meanwhile, we will continue to provide confidential health care and education to women and families across Kansas and Missouri.”

When the going gets tough, the tough get going...

2. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) filed two attacks on Planned Parenthood this week. Sen. Vitter offered one amendment to restrict Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds and a second amendment to prohibit federal funding for all federal health programs that perform abortion services. Thankfully the amendment was voted down 54-41.

3. President Bush recently announced the appointment of anti-family planning, anti-sex education hardliner Susan Orr to the position of acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs (DASPA). Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), along with Congresswomen Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO), joined Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards and Mary Jane Gallagher from the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) to denounce the appointment.

They called on President Bush to replace Orr with someone qualified and committed to family planning. The DASPA oversees Title X, the nation's family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to more than five million low-income individuals annually, helping prevent more than one million unintended pregnancies each year.

4. Another attack on reproductive health in America may be introduced today in the form of several anti-choice amendments from Senators Brownback and DeMint. Possibly four amendments would eliminate teens' ability to access any form of contraception (including condoms and oral contraceptives) at school based health centers. The Brownback-DeMint amendment prohibits schools that receive federal education funds from distributing any form of contraception to students under the age of 16, even with parental involvement.

Please contact Senator Inhofe (R) at 1-202-224-4721 or 405-608-4381/918-748-5111 and Senator Coburn (R) at 202-224-5754 or 405-231-4941/918-581-7651 and encourage them to vote NO on these horrific amendments.

5. One good amendment we want Oklahoma Senators to vote YES is the Lautenberg-Snowe Medical Accuracy Amendment. The Lautenberg-Snowe amendment demands medical accuracy for abstinence-only programs. A vote in support of this amendment would protect teens’ health by ensuring that sex ed programs provide medically accurate information that will help teens make healthy choice s and prevent unintended pregnancies.

6. Catherine Roraback, the attorney who successfully argued Griswold v. Connecticut, the landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1965 that legalized birth control for married couples in the United States, passed away this week. Below you'll find an excerpt from her obituary listed in the New York Times:

"Catherine Roraback, a lawyer who pressed the Connecticut case that eventually led the United States Supreme Court to rule that laws banning the use of contraceptives were unconstitutional, a precursor to its Roe v. Wade decision on abortions, died on Wednesday in Salisbury, Conn. She was 87.

In the early 1960s, Ms. Roraback represented Estelle Griswold, then the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut, and Dr. Charles Buxton, the chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University's School of Medicine, as their case rose through the state courts.
For years, Ms. Griswold and Dr. Buxton had fought to overturn an 1849 Connecticut law that prohibited the use and prescription of contraceptives.

In 1965, a noted First Amendment scholar, Thomas I. Emerson, argued the case of Griswold v. Connecticut before the Supreme Court. In a 7-to-2 decision, the court found that the ''statute forbidding use of contraceptives violates the right of marital privacy, which is within the penumbra of specific guarantees of the Bill of Rights.''

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oklahoma Receives F on Women's Health Report Card

The National Women's Law Center and Oregan Health and Science University released their National Report Card on Women's Health today.

Oklahoma ranks 48th and received an F grade, check out States failing in area of women's health.


Today the House failed to override the veto of the SCHIP legislation. I just don't understand.

Maine School Board Approves Birth Control Option for Middle School

This is a great effort to prevent unwanted pregnancy among teens in Maine. As shocking as it may be, if teens are talking about protecting themselves from unwanted or unintended pregnancy, parents should be proud that they're taking responsibility for their health and future.

Oklahoma is currently ranked eighth highest in the nation for birth rates in females age 15-19 and females 15-17. We must do better educating our children about reproductive health and sexuality.

Check out Birth Control For Maine Middleschoolers.

Parents, need help talking to your kids about sex? Planned Parenthood can help.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Deficit Reduction Act Placing Damper on Pill Prices

Huh? How the heck does the Deficit Reduction Act effect your pill prices? Well, lets see.

In the Deficit Reduction Act, which went into effect in January, Congress inadvertently changed a rule and made it harder for universities and some safety net family planning providers to provide their patients with affordable birth control.

Birth control is essential to helping women and couples plan healthy families. Access to affordable birth control depends on three factors — like a three-legged stool. The first leg consists of providers like Planned Parenthood that offer a safety net for high-quality, affordable family planning. The second leg consists of the responsible drug companies that provide cost-effective birth control to safety net providers. And the third and equally vital leg is Congress, when it prioritizes pro-family planning laws and policies and makes women’s reproductive health a public health priority.

Congress wants to change the drug-pricing laws that enable the nation's most needy women and couples to access birth control services from safety net providers like Planned Parenthood. Congress needs to hold up its leg of the stool by fixing the Deficit Reduction Act.

U.S. News and World Report recently published an interesting article on how the DRA is effecting pill prices on campus.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Emily X blogging about working for Planned Parenthood

All Planned Parenthood affiliates get some type of harrassment and our Oklahoma affiliates are no different. Could spend time blogging about the anti-choice phone calls and weird letters but we won't go there today.

Check out this new blog called I AM EMILY X. Emily X gives insight to what it's like to work at a Planned Parenthood affiliate under fire...

Thanks Emily X, we appreciate your perspective.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Exposing the Chiuahua in the House

I've just returned from a truly wonderful conference today in Oklahoma City titled, "Stop the Hate in the Hallways." This bullying prevention conference was sponsored by the Cimarron Alliance Foundation along with a long list of community partners, including Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma. Nearly 300 people were in attendance.

The keynote speaker for the conference was Kevin Jennings, the founder and executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Jennings spoke with insight and passion about the need for adults to ensure safe environments for all young people. He cited several studies that showed how inclusive school policies, programming and practices successfully create these safe environments and increase academic performance.

I found it particularly meaningful when Jennings shared with us survey findings that the vast majority of parents of school-age children -- 83 percent of them -- supported anti-harassment and nondiscrimination school policies that included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. A very small number, only 12 percent of the parents surveyed, opposed inclusive policies.

Then why don't all schools have inclusive policies?

Jennings told an insightful story about his mother's pet chihuahua that I will remember for the rest of my life. He said, "When someone knocks on my mom's front door, the chihuahua goes nuts--barking loud and non-stop--which gives people on the other side of the door the impression that there's a big and powerful, even vicious dog waiting for a chance to pounce. But if the door is opened, nothing but a tiny, scared pup is revealed."

In other words, that 12 percent minority is so vocal and intense that school boards and school officials mistakenly believe they are the majority. Why risk doing the right thing when you think you'll be pounced upon by a pit-bull in retaliation?

Well, turns out it's not a pit bull; it's a chihuahua.

Wow, could I ever relate to that. The same thing can be said about the minority of parents who oppose reality-based school sex education as well as the minority of Oklahomans who believe abortion should be criminalized. Even though the far-right and anti-choice groups are the minority, they bark so loud and for so long that they intimidate policymakers into thinking they are the majority.

Our challenge is to convince policymakers that, in fact, these anti's are far from the controlling majority. For me, the take-home message of today's conference was this: We MUST find our voices. The progressive majority MUST learn to be comfortable in speaking up and speaking out. Although we had a number of disappointments in the 2007 legislative session, we did learn that speaking up makes a difference in public policy. As the Planned Parenthood slogan goes, "There's power in your voice. Use it!"

We can't, and we won't give up. We WILL have an impact, and we WILL expose the chihuahua in the house.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Common Ground

Will there ever be common ground on the issue of abortion? A think tank called Third Way started in 2005 is trying to find some common ground to hot button issues like abortion, gay marriage and gay and lesbian rights. The group combines evangelists and progressives to discuss and research ways to come together.

Check out The Search for Common Ground.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Congratulations to Planned Parenthood in Aurora for opening their new clinic!


The State Children's Health Insurance Plan was vetoed by President Bush and sent back to congress for a veto over ride attempt on October 18th. The Senate has a veto proof margin but the House lacks two dozen votes to over ride the veto. Only one Oklahoma legislator voted in favor of SCHIP.

This would benefit Soonercare in our state, covering children whose families don't qualify for medicaid but can't afford quality health insurance. There is little time to change the minds of our U.S. Representatives, but it is important that we let them know we support legislation that helps the children of Oklahoma.

For more information go to:

U.S. Representatives from Oklahoma are:

John Sullivan (R)
Dan Boren (D)
Frank Lucas (R)
Tom Cole (R)
Mary Fallin (R)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Update on Teresa Hernandez

Teresa Hernandez accepted a plea bargain of second degree murder last month. She was charged for suffering a stillbirth at 32 weeks of pregnancy based on the highly questionable medical claim that the pregnancy loss can be attributed to Ms. Hernandezs drug use during pregnancy.

As Dr. Dana Stone, the Oklahoma state chair for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and one of the experts signing an amicus brief on behalf of Hernandez, explained: "Stillbirths and miscarriages are unfortunately a risk of pregnancy for all women. Prosecuting women for pregnancy loss based on what they allegedly did or didn't do will only deter women from seeking prenatal care and drug treatment, and that's ultimately bad for babies."

In the brief, Hernandez's supporters argue that prosecuting her would discourage drug-dependent women from seeking health care during pregnancy and thus negatively affect both their health and that of their unborn child.

"We don't want to set this precedent," said Stone who signed the amicus brief, said medical issues involving drug use during pregnancy should be addressed by medical experts and not through the use of the legal system.

She said using methamphetamine while pregnant "can't be a beneficial thing at all for your baby," but that no studies definitively prove using the drug would lead to a child being stillborn."

"What is dangerous is prosecuting her legally for a medical outcome that can occur with or without a drug issue," Stone said.

Dove's NEW Commercial on Self Esteem

Very interesting, what are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


A new website was created by the Cimarron Alliance in Oklahoma City about bullying prevention. Check out!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rape Victims being counter sued by Rapists

It takes a lot for a victim of rape to come forward to prosecute the rapist. These two stories are really upsetting:

An OSU wrestler accused of rape is suing his accuser...

Cassandra Hernandez was gang raped by three Air Force officers and now she is being charged with engaging in indecent acts...

Stay strong ladies....

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stop Something

Celebrate the one year anniversary of EC going over the counter!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Study Finds Seniors Still Frisky!

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study about sex and senior citizens and found that older people are surprisingly frisky!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The Deficit Reduction Act (DRA), passed by Congress and signed into law on February 8, 2006, includes a provision that adversely affects the ability of university health centers and safety net family planning providers, including many Planned Parenthood health centers, to purchase contraceptives at a discounted or nominal price. The provision went into effect on January 1, 2007, and is having a devastating fiscal impact on college students and low-income women around the country.

For a college student who has to think twice about paying more than $5 for a meal, or a low-income mother who has to choose between buying groceries and buying gas, the difficulties of living on a limited budget are painfully real.

Check out this article from Time Magazine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Got this story from the Norman Transcipt on the grand opening of the new crisis pregnancy center in Norman, Oklahoma. The last part really sparked a fire...

Coburn Tours Pregnancy Center
By M. Scott CarterTranscript Staff Writer

Surrounded by more than 100 members of Norman’s anti-abortion movement, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said Oklahomans must “change hearts” regarding the country’s abortion policy though compassion and love.Coburn, speaking at the opening of Care Net’s new Robinson Street location, said the facility represents “people caring about people.”

“This is really about caring about people,” he said. “It’s not about judgment, no matter what decision they make. It’s about offering care for people who think that, ‘I’m in the pit and I don’t know how to get out.’”Coburn, a Muskogee physician, spoke Tuesday.“Nobody wins on an abortion,” he said. “Regardless of the choice they made. The important thing is to help women.”Speaking to the media prior to the center’s opening, Coburn said his real intent for being in Norman was “because this is for women, no matter what they choose.”

“The important thing is to help women,” he said. “You’re helping them when they are in a time of need; here are the options, we’re gonna help you emotionally, physically and spiritually.”The center, which has been in Norman since 1996, recently signed a five-year lease for office space at the Robinson Medical Plaza. The office was constructed with funds from a $92,000 grant from the Butterfield Memorial Foundation.Care Net officials said the new location is “expected to triple” their capacity to serve woman and provide them with a large classroom center for parenting classes, pregnancy and wellness programs, and volunteer training.Care Net’s interim executive director, Crystal Drwenski, said the facility also is launching additional services and will unveil a new brand name and marketing campaign by the end of the year.

“Having a pregnancy resource center that can provide such needed services as ultrasound screening and STD testing is one of the most effective ways for the right-to-life movement to help women through compassionate truth and professional care,” she said.Coburn agreed.“There are not many women who have seen their baby who then go on to abort,” he said, adding that many of the state’s unplanned pregnancies are the “consequences for early sexual behavior.”

“You’re seeing the tail end of moral judgements that we, as a society have made,” he said. “When we said we don’t have any problem with multiple partners.” The problem is so big that “45 percent of the women in this state are carrying the human Papillomavirus,” he said. “Which is the virus that causes cancer, how’d they get that? They got that through multiple sexual partners; maybe not that, but their partners.”

The whole idea behind the center, he said, is regardless of the choices that are made, we’re gonna care for ya’, we’re gonna nurture you and we’re gonna help ya’ through it — no matter what decision they make.”

M. Scott

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

HIV/AIDS rising among Older Americans...

My mother thought I was crazy giving her condoms when she started dating again. She was quite shocked as I rolled the condom down my arm to show her how to use it...and she took every last one I gave her.

Check out this story

Monday, August 13, 2007

Anti-Choice Judge Picked for Dr. Tiller Trial

August 11, 2007
Former anti-abortion legislator is judge in Tiller case
BYLINE: By JOHN HANNA, Associated Press Writer

A judge who once called abortion "the slaughter of the innocents" was picked Friday to handle a criminal case against one of the nation's highest-profile abortion providers.

Sedgwick County District Judge Anthony Powell previously served in the Kansas House and was among the Legislature's most vocal abortion opponents. He voted for and, some say, helped write a 1998 law restricting late-term abortions. Shortly after its enactment, he accused Dr. George Tiller of breaking it.

Tiller was charged with 19 misdemeanors in June. Attorney General Paul Morrison alleges the doctor failed to get a second opinion on some late-term abortions from an independent physician, which the late-term law requires. Tiller maintains his innocence, and his attorneys are challenging the law.

Powell had an hourlong hearing Friday on the law's constitutionality but doesn't plan to rule until at least next month. If Powell upholds the statute, Morrison's office can move toward a trial. If Powell strikes it down, a trial will be delayed until appeals of such a ruling are resolved.
The case was assigned to Powell by Judge Gregory Waller, the county's chief criminal judge. Waller said he didn't know about Powell's past legislative activities and picked him because he was "the most available" for a hearing.

Tiller is among a few U.S. doctors performing late-term abortions, and national groups are watching his case. The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue has questioned whether Waller and another judge previously involved in Tiller's case could be impartial because they received contributions in past campaigns from attorneys linked to Tiller.

Also, abortion opponents don't trust Morrison because he is an abortion rights Democrat. They contend he's focusing on potential technical violations of the law, rather than more serious problems. They're hoping to force the county to convene a grand jury for a fresh investigation.
"It's about time things start leaning toward the side of life," said Troy Newman, Operation Rescue's president.

Powell wouldn't comment about the case after the hearing. But before the hearing began, from the bench, he mentioned his past as a legislator.

He noted that he'd served with legislators who signed "friend of the court" arguments submitted in the case. He said two of them may have contributed to his first campaign for judge in 2002, though campaign finance records later showed they didn't.

He said his judgment wouldn't be affected. He then asked the state's and Tiller's attorneys whether they objected to him presiding in Tiller's case.

Lee Thompson, an attorney representing the doctor, replied: "We trust the court's judgment in that regard."

After the hearing, Tiller's attorneys declined to comment about Powell's assignment.
Peter Brownlie, chief executive for a Planned Parenthood chapter that operates an Overland Park abortion clinic, said most people expect judges to be impartial and, "Somebody who was a sponsor or major backer of a law being challenged shouldn't be hearing the challenge."
Waller said he didn't take the case because he had scheduling conflicts. He said judges are always free to remove themselves from cases and said because attorneys in Tiller's case didn't object to Powell remaining, they seem satisfied that he can be impartial.

Newman said, "The opportunity was presented to them to request Judge Powell's recusal, and they declined to do so."

During the hearing, Tiller's attorneys said the law is unconstitutional because it's too vague to give doctors guidance on what conduct is prohibited and too much of a burden for a woman seeking an abortion. The attorney general's office argued the two-doctor requirement is a reasonable restriction, especially because the state has an interest in protecting late-term fetuses.

Powell said he'll give interested groups until Aug. 31 to file "friend of the court" arguments and that he'll probably have another hearing before ruling on the law's constitutionality. "This court can, frankly, use all the help it can get," he said from the bench.

As a legislator, Powell's views on abortion were clear. He voted regularly for new restrictions. He served in the House in 1995-2002, a Republican representing a Wichita-area district.
In a 1997 committee debate on banning a procedure critics call "partial-birth" abortion, Powell said, "Many of us regard abortion as the slaughter of the innocents."

The next year, when the late-term law passed, The Wichita Eagle reported that Powell "helped craft the bill." He led anti-abortion House members in explaining their yes votes as "an affirmation, in the name of the people of Kansas, elderly and young, frail and healthy, born and unborn, of the value of life."

Three months later, anti-abortion legislators accused Tiller of performing prohibited late-term abortions, something he said wasn't true. Powell participated in a news conference outside Tiller's clinic and said the doctor was "defying legal and moral authority."

"We regard it as central to our oath of office that we rise up against this law breaking," Powell said then.

The state board that regulates doctors looked into the allegations but found no wrongdoing. The same board investigated a patient's death in 2005 but concluded Tiller and his clinic had met all standards for reasonable care.

The late-term law under which Tiller is now charged applies after the 21st week of pregnancy and when the fetus can survive outside the womb.

It says before abortions can be performed in such cases, two doctors must conclude that a woman or girl faces death or "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function," which has been interpreted as including mental health. It also says the two doctors can't be legally or financially affiliated.

Seventeen other states have a requirement that a second doctor sign off on some abortions or be present when some are performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a Washington-based research group.

Morrison allege that for 19 late-term abortions Tiller performed in 2003, the second opinion came from Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, of Nortonville, and she and Tiller were financially affiliated. Tiller's attorneys contend the charges stem from a disagreement about "unusual technicalities."
Case is State v. Tiller, No. 07CR2112 in Sedgwick County.
On the Net:
Attorney general's office:
Tiller's clinic:

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The 2007 Oklahoma Legislative Session: A Memorable Moment for Reproductive Rights in Oklahoma

The last few days I've been reminicing about the 2007 legislative session here in the great state of Oklahoma.

In case you didn' t know, Oklahomans had an important victory against SB 714. This bill would prohibit state employees or facilities, including agencies that receive state funding from performing or "encouraging" a woman to have an abortion.

Additionally, this bill would prohibit publicly funded hospitals (including OUHSC) from providing women the option of a therapeutic abortion, one that would protect the health of the mother or terminate a pregnancy that has a genetic anomaly. An example of this situation might be a woman who, when diagnosed with cervical cancer, finds that she is in the early stage of pregnancy and must decide a course of action to either treat her cancer or continue with the pregnancy. Or, after genetic counseling early on in pregnancy, a woman is informed that the fetus has a genetic defect that would result in death of the fetus before or immediately after birth.

SO many people worked so hard to try and stop the movement of this bill. From physicians to lobbyists, activists to individuals who were mixed choice, we all knew how harmful this bill was to the women of our state.

We all have memorable day...first child being born...etc., but one of the most profound moments of my life began with a phone call the Monday after SB 714 passed the Senate and was headed to the Governor's desk.

After the vote (34 Aye, 14 Nay) we all felt like we've been kicked in the teeth. We immediately began our campaign to call the Governor to veto SB 714. Activists began recruiting and encouraging anyone and everyone (pro-choice and mixed choice) we could find to contact the Governor's office.

At 8 a.m. on Monday, April 16th, I received a phone call I wasn't expecting with a very criptic request. One of our physician friends called me and asked for me to contact as many "white coats" (meaning docs, nurses, physician assistants, etc.) as possible and ask them to meet at the capitol at 11 a.m. on Wednesday..."ask them to bring their coats...not wear them."

I started calling docs and it never occured to me to ask why. Call after call I began thinking, could a veto of an anti-choice bill really be OKLAHOMA? My mind began racing, I wouldn't allow myself to think about a veto just yet. NO WAY.

On Wednesday, April 18th, the day the Supreme Court upheld the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban, we began our journey to the capitol. As I walked into the Governor's office I was shocked at the number of physicians standing and waiting for the Governor's press conference at 11:30 a.m.

Still I wouldn't allow myself to believe. It couldn't be possible. As more physicians filed in the press room, they were told to stand behind the Governor when he appeared at the podium. The press room was filled with reporters, on lookers and physicians.

Here's the funny thing, I still wouldn't allow myself to believe the Governor was going to veto SB 714 until I saw the whites of his eyes and the words leaving his lips.

So as the physicians stood behind the Governor, he finally said the one word I've been waiting to hear. ( - go to April 18th, 2007 - Henry Vetos Abortion Bill)

He vetoed SB 714.

What a moment. A victory for women and a historic moment for reproductive rights in Oklahoma. It was a moment I'll never forget...we got a freaking veto.

Ah, let me savor the feeling for another second....or two...which was about the amount of time we had before a veto override was attempted, the next day. Two more attempts to override the Governor's veto failed. It was a wild ride and we fought a heck of a fight.

Then things got down and dirty...

What happened next was nothing more than tragic, but that'll take another posting some other time.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Spiderman teaching life lessons...

A friend emailed this link to a 1970's lost Spiderman Comic that tackles the issue of sexuality and pregnancy prevention.

This is great

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Will Women Go Out of State?

SB 139 is going to haunt the low-income women who have complicated pregnancies in Oklahoma. We worked so hard to stop this bill from becoming law in the form of SB 714 but were unsuccessful when it became SB 139. The bill flew through the House and Senate in three days. The bill passed without the signature of Governor Henry and desperatly needs amendments for the sake of women's health in our state.

Jennifer Mock with the Daily Oklahoman wrote this article on the possible implications of this terrible bill.

"Will women go out of state?"

Bravo CNN!

If you didn't get a chance to watch the CNN/You Tube Democratic Presidential Debate, you missed a heck of a good show. Eight candidates were asked questions, via a You Tube video, from normal (some not so normal) concerned citizens. It was fascinating to see the video's as well as hear the responses from candidates.

To see highlights go to!

Well worth the hour...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Positive News about Teens and Reproductive Health!

Great news today out of Washington. A report released by the government reveals fewer teens are having sex and the teens who are having sex are using protection.

Read more

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why can't you say the word RAPE...

It's bad enough this brave woman has to face her attacker to file charges, now the judge wants her to sign an order that states she can't use the word "RAPE" in her testimony. She is at risk of jail if she uses any words listed in the order...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Opinion Article from the Kansas City Star

Received this opinion article the other day. It is thought provoking and terrifying as we face a continous battle to protect the reproductive rights.

What are your thoughts on this article?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Check out this story...

Pro-lifers, progressives miss rendezvous in D.C.There's common ground on which both progressives and conservative pro-life Democrats can agree _ the common ground of electoral self-interest. But is there any ideological accord?

From the National Advocates for Pregnant Women

Prosecution of Woman for Pregnancy Loss Draws State and National Criticism

Over 150 Leading Medical and Public Health Organizations, Experts, and Related Advocates Say Prosecution Will Undermine Fetal and Maternal Health

Today over 150 medical, public health, and advocacy groups, as well as leading medical health care providers and experts, sent an open letter to the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office opposing the prosecution of Theresa Lee Hernandez. She has been charged with first-degree murder for suffering a stillbirth at 32 weeks of pregnancy based on the highly questionable medical claim that the pregnancy loss can be attributed to Ms. Hernandezs drug use during pregnancy. Ms. Hernandez is being held in jail awaiting disposition of her case.

The letters signatories, including the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, and organizations concerned with perinatal loss and bereavement, state that while they do not in any way condone a persons use of alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs that might affect pregnancy outcome or a persons ability to parent, their commitment to the care of pregnant women and their children, as well as the interests of society as a whole, requires us to speak out against dangerous and counterproductive measures such as the arrest of pregnant women and new mothers as murderers subject to life imprisonment.

The signatories stance aligns them with every leading medical organization to address this issue, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Nurse Midwives, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the March of Dimes. All agree that the problem of alcohol and drug use during pregnancy is a health issue best addressed through education and community-based treatment, not through the criminal justice system.

As Dr. Dana Stone, the Oklahoma state chair for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and one of the experts signing the letter, explained: "Stillbirths and miscarriages are unfortunately a risk of pregnancy for all women. Prosecuting women for pregnancy loss based on what they allegedly did or didn't do will only deter women from
seeking prenatal care and drug treatment, and that's ultimately bad for babies."

For a complete text of the letter and signatories, click here.

Mary Fallin comments...

Copyright 2007 The Oklahoman, All Rights Reserved
The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK)
June 22, 2007 Friday City Edition

HEADLINE: House passes aid bill tied to abortion

WASHINGTON - The House voted narrowly Thursday to reverse a ban on contraception aid to groups overseas that offer abortions, challenging a pillar of President Bush's foreign aid policy.
If the proposal passes the Senate, Bush is likely to veto it and be upheld by conservative lawmakers, who say no assistance of any kind should be given to organizations that promote or offer abortions.

The measure is intended by Democrats to crack open debate on a policy barring any assistance to organizations abroad that perform or promote abortion as a method of family planning - a policy they say is failing badly.

In a speech on the House floor, Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, said that if Congress gives aid for contraceptives to organizations that promote abortion, it would free up money for those organizations to use abortion as a method of family planning.

"Let's show that the United States will not be in the business of exporting abortion to foreign countries," Fallin said.

Contributing: Chris Casteel, Washington Bureau

Thursday, July 5, 2007

"Are you a feminist yet?"

"Are you a feminist yet?" I know, what the heck kind of question is that? My 18 year old cousin returned to Wichita Falls this summer after her freshman year at an all female college in Philadelphia. I'm so fascinated with her decision to attend a liberal college from her very religious small town back ground. As an active member of her baptist church, she spent most of her high school years going on mission trips, singing in the church choir and teaching bible school on Sundays. Don't know if she had a boyfriend or was popular but I do know her world was perfect in her eyes...that really is all that mattered.

So when my cousin decided to hit the road for college and move to Philadelphia...not to mention that she would attend an all female college, I couldn't help would this change her both from her baptist views of the world and her life in a small Texas town. She was conservative because she didn't know any other way.

After six months at this college, she came home from Christmas break. We had our usual family gathering and I couldn't wait to ask, "Are you a feminist yet?" She immediately said "NO!" and proceeded to follow it with look that meant I was crazy for asking.

Hmm. No change so far. I believe Philadelphia was voted most liberal city in the United States not to long ago. Okay, she's got time, I mean she's only spent six months at school, what should I expect. Especially as a freshman, I can't even remember my freshman year of college.

So three more months pass, she now has a myspace'm so out of date, I can't figure out how to find the damn thing. Prince Charles and Carmela visit the college and she is elected to represent and give them flowers upon their arrival...that's pretty big stuff.

Two more months pass, she has a entry in her department's fashion show, wins a category for her work...very cool. Seems acclimated to the college and doing well. Good.

Two days ago, after one full year under her belt, I asked the question "Are you a feminist yet?" "Weeeelllll, what do you mean by feminist?" Wow, she didn't say "NO!" Not only didn't she say "NO!" she continued on for 20 minutes about her views of strong females and the hope of equality and "her professors are homosexuals and some of the most loving people in the world."

Maybe someday she'll realize that my question has nothing to do with being a feminist, it has everything to do with having an open mind, a strong heart and the will to dream.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Kudos to Trojan Condoms for creating an advertising campaign encouraging individuals to "Evolve Toward a Sexually HealthyAmerica"! Check out their website!

Thumbs DOWN:
FOX and CBS television networks are refusing to air condom ads. A FOX network spokesperson quoted in today's New York Times even went so far as to say that condom ads "must stress health-related issues rather than the prevention of pregnancy."

As major networks, FOX and CBS have an obligation to promote responsible decision making and commonsense public health solutions, including using condoms to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Theresa Hernandez

As we sit here anticipating the outcome of a meeting with newly elected District Attorney David Prater and the attorneys representing Theresa Hernandez I can't help but wonder...why is this punishment so extreme for a wanted pregnancy?

The anti-choice, anti-woman, incubator only attitude in this state needs to be redirected.

Our fight begins with abortion but also includes the threat of decreased access to birth control, a challenge from think tanks such as the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs attempt to shut down the women studies program at our universities, pharmacies in rural Oklahoma denying patients birth control because of their religious beliefs, and the truth that abstinence only programs are not working yet they continue to receive federal funding!

Why doesn't this scare the bejeezus out of Oklahoma women? Please post your thoughts!