Monday, June 12, 2006

Updates on Women's Reproductive Health

Seige on Last Mississippi Abortion Clinic

I just received this email from a representative of Georgians for Choice: The Statewide Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. Apparently Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue) is planning to attack, from July 15-22, 2006, on the "gates of hell" whose "physical manifestation" they see as the gated entry to the last abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi (See the rather ominous video at the link in the below letter). Reproductive Choice Advocates are organizing and fundraising to mount a counter-protest, and apparently the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force (WACDTF) is providing help with travel expenses for Choice Advocates who want to be present for that effort. Some of the prior history of legislative shifts determining abortion service availability in Mississippi and other southern states is detailed in the PBS Frontline documentary, The Last Abortion Clinic: the entire documetary is at this link. BTW the Southern Abortion Fund is located in Richmond, VA, its mission is to provide funding for low income women in the southeastern US, particularly AL, MS, and LA, who are seeking to have abortions.

Hello Friends and Allies,

Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue) has put out a
call for a siege on the last abortion-providing clinic in Jackson,
Mississippi this summer.
Their message is being spread far and
wide and we are planning a massive clinic defense demonstration to
keep the clinic open. July 15-22, 2006 is the proposed siege week.

In order to sustain a week's worth of clinic defense we are in need
of a variety of support and especially people to participate in the
counter-action. Currently, members of abortion funds across the
south are planning for a caravan to Jackson and we need your help!

If you are interested in participating in the caravan or would like
to be a fiscal sponsor of the caravan and clinic defense, please
contact us as soon as possible!

Also, we are in desperate need of items like water bottles and food
for the persons who will be convening in Jackson as well as housing
opportunities for the activists. We are also raising money to raise
awareness with buttons, stickers, t-shirts, and other items. Any
letters to the editor that you send regarding this event would be
helpful or any other publicity for that matter.

We are hoping for a big turn out to let the rest of the south know that
we are in this together. For more information or to find out how to donate contact
the Southern Abortion Fund at or the Jackson
area NOW chapter at

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in Jackson.

Quillin of the Southern Abortion Fund

FDA Approves HPV Vaccine from drug manufacturers Merck

As of June 8th this vaccine, Gardasil, is available to the public. HPV is sexually transmitted and can clear up by itself over time, but in other cases the infection lingers causing cancer decades after transmital. While the vaccine does not protect against all forms of cancer causing Human Papiloma Virus strains, only protecting against HPV-16 and HPV-18, it is the first step in efforts to create greater protections for women against cervical cancer. "Worldwide, 70% of women who develop cervical cancer have one or both of these types of HPV."It also protects against two of the HPV strains that cause cervical warts. An important issue raised being raised by the National Women's Health Network (NWHN) is making the vaccine available to women with less access to healthcare, and women's health information. Once again Merck holds the cards determining people's means to a medication that can save their lives. GlaxcoSmithKline has also developed a vaccine, Cervarix, targeting the same HPV strains, but to date it has only been approved for use in Europe. For more information check out the NWHN website HPV & vaccine information page. Sadly the New Scientist is reporting that conservative groups are pushing to ban vaccination because ideally it would be administered before a female had become sexually active. For some this raises the question of granting girls license to have premarital sex: "'Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV,' says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council...'Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex.'" Of course, as the New Scientist noted, most young women have not even heard of HPV. Tellingly, while the HPV viruses are rarely cancerous in males, with penile cancer accounting for only 1% of cancers in men, vaccinating males before they become sexually active stops them from becoming carriers of the virus--also reducing their 80 percent lifetime risk of genital warts--but so far hardly a word among the conservatives about males' ability to transmit the virus to female (or male) sex partners. The moral fight is almost exclusively posited on the terrain of women's (hetero)sexuality. It is easy to imagine this becoming a loaded health policy issue. For a summary of the medical studies and some of the health policy questions check out this 2003 edition of Journal Watch: Women's Health from the publishers of the New England Journal of Medicine as well as this May 2005 piece from The Nation columnist Katha Pollitt.


At 9:47 AM, Anonymous quillin drew said...

i'm quillin of the saf. i just wanted to update folks that we are still hard at work organizing a weeklong reproductive justice presence in jackson. the local now organization is preparing for rallies, speakers, marches... the clinic is preparing its defensive strategies and will keep it's doors open. the operation oppress america is adding to its coalition forces and has most recently been joined by minute men united (scary). folks around the country are also still struggling to raise funds for their abortion funds. if you are interested in starting one in your area, especially in the south, please contact the national network of abortion funds at we've got to help one another in these desperate times! great work on an amazing and informative blog!

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