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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Dept. of Uterine Security 

The following item has been cropping up all over Greater Blogovia, but we found it through Brutal Women. From yesterday's Washington Post:
Nine women protesting the Food and Drug Administration's position on the emergency contraceptive Plan B were arrested yesterday when they blocked entry to the agency's Rockville headquarters.

The women, part of a noisy protest in favor of making the morning-after pill available without a prescription, were taken away by officers of the Department of Homeland Security and charged with disorderly conduct.

The protesters said they wanted to speak with Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, who in May rejected an application to allow Plan B to be sold over the counter. FDA staff reviewers and an advisory panel of outside experts had strongly recommended approval, saying the emergency contraceptive
could be safely sold without a prescription.

Yesterday's protest came as the agency is preparing to rule later this month on a second application by Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. to make Plan B more easily accessible. That proposal would allow the drug to be sold to females older than 16 without a prescription but would require a doctor's order for those younger . . . .

The Bush administration has been cool to the expanded use of emergency contraception, which some conservatives see as a form of abortion. This week, the Justice Department issued guidelines for treating rape victims that make no mention of emergency contraception, leading to criticism from women's health groups and others that a standard precaution for rape victims was being ignored . . . .

Kelly Mangan, a National Organization for Women activist from Florida who was among those arrested, said the group has pledges from 2,000 other women to break the law by sharing their prescription-purchased Plan B with women who need it but have no prescription . . . .

Also yesterday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called on the FDA to approve the new application.

"ACOG and other organizations have estimated that greater access to emergency contraceptives could cut the U.S. unintended pregnancy and abortion rates in half," the group said in a statement.
Nonviolent civil disobedience in a worthy cause; all to the good; can't even complain about the arrests, since that's more or less the point of civil disobedience. Here's the part that chaps our imperial rump:
were taken away by officers of the Department of Homeland Security and charged
Nine women blocking a doorway at the FDA? And this is a job for Homeland Security? This is the kind of high-profile collar that those elite terror-busters plan to point to when they ask Congress for their next budget increase?

Pardon our mystification, but you see, we couldn't find a single mention of the Department of Homeland Security here --
Suspected Abortion Clinic Bomb Plotter Arrested
-- or here --
Plot to attack clinic detailed; Made car into bomb, Klan leader quoted
-- or here --
Police: Woman Fired on Abortion Clinic
-- or, of course, here --
They Seemed Normal But Plotted to Kill Thousands
As you may have guessed, the items above are the first ones we turned up during a cursory Google search of Orcinus, where David Neiwert has been providing exemplary coverage of domestic terrorism and related issues for years now. One persuasive thesis he has explored at length: the Bush administration tends to downplay domestic terror, which is generally perpetrated by white supremacists, the "Christian militias," and anti-abortionists, in favor of the international radical-Islamic kind; the war on Al Qaeda, needless to say, pays greater political dividends than would a war on groups that overlap, philosophically, with significant portions of the President's base. See, for example, Frederick Clarkson's Salon article about the trial and conviction of Clayton Waagner, the Army of God fanatic who, in late 2001, mailed "hundreds of envelopes stuffed with white powder and threatening letters to abortion clinics and reproductive rights organizations":
The two-week trial was remarkable not so much for its verdict as for the near-complete lack of media attention that it attracted. Perhaps the conclusion was too anticlimactic, a foregone conclusion. Or perhaps it was because Attorney General John Ashcroft's prosecutors sought to make the trial not about abortion, but about "anthrax hoaxes" . . . .

In fact, the Bush administration's Department of Justice wanted to make certain that Waagner's trial was not going to be about abortion. He was bitterly disappointed that he was not allowed to use the necessity defense, and made a point of getting the judge to reassure him that he could appeal partly on the court's denial. Acting as his own attorney, Waagner tried to raise his issues at every turn. And while he got in his licks, "The prosecution made it their business to make sure that he was not able to do that," Glazier said. "They were totally conscious that he was going to try to go there every single minute. And he did. Prosecutors always were on their feet in a flash. And he got overruled every time" . . . .

There was a time in 2001 when for the first time in history three of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted criminals were antiabortion domestic terrorists. But the past year has seen a series of victories by federal agents and prosecutors against the notorious trio. Before Waagner's conviction, Eric Rudolph, the Olympic bombing and clinic bombing suspect, was captured; and James Kopp was tried and convicted for the 1998 sniper attack that killed Dr. Barnett Slepian, an abortion provider, inside of his home in suburban Buffalo, N.Y.

Chip Berlet, senior analyst at
Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank near Boston, agrees that while the outcome was not in doubt, there was more to why the press stayed away in droves. "Once somebody claims a religious motivation for an act of terrorism," he said, "most people, including reporters and editors, become unglued." If Waagner had been a self-identified Muslim terrorist instead of a Christian terrorist, Berlet observed, "he'd have been lynched by now." Indeed, while news reports invariably note that he is a self-described terrorist, and dutifully quote him as saying so, they also studiously avoid use of the word "Christian."

"The notion of Christian terrorists is a place people don't want to go," Glazier agreed. "And the notion of there being more than one Christian terrorist is a place where people also don't want to go."
Shortly after Clarkson's article appeared, the Army of God website ran a response:
What a sad commentary this is! The days of womb children murderers being found on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list is over. We have devolved. Indeed the wicked should be terrified of good men. Unrepentant baby murderers, sodomites, adulterers, man stealers, pedophiles, rapists and the like should indeed cringe in the shadows at the presence of a God-fearing man, even as they would cringe before Jesus, because they are to act as his body on earth, receiving him as their Governor.

I have heard it said that Christian terrorist Clay Waagner did some things wrong during his 10-month reign of terror and that he does not deserve hero status because he was a bank robber and a car thief. But it should also be noted that this bank-robbing, car-thieving terrorist is directly responsible for saving the lives of 5,000 innocent babies. What great things have brother Clay Waagner's detractors done to qualify them to stand in judgment of his deeds? Prudence would suggest we leave his wartime actions for God to judge and give honor to whom honor is due -- and for those who don't believe a war is going on, it's only because you don't hear their screams. Chalk up another hallelujah and a hip, hip, hooray for the Christian who terrorized the entire nation's abortion industry without firing a shot.
And what exactly is the Bush administration's official stance on the domestic-vs.-imported debate? Neiwert is fond of quoting remarks made by new CIA chief Porter Goss during the 9/11 hearings:
"The trouble is, 'terrorism' is a very broad word, and it lends itself to a lot of mischief for people who would abuse common sense," Goss said. He then cited bombings of abortion clinics. "To me, that's not the kind of terrorism I'm talking about."
Clinic-bombing, in other words, is a simple problem for law enforcement. However, when nine women threaten our nation's security by gathering outside the office of an FDA functionary in a (futile) attempt to assert their reproductive rights, fear not, America -- your Department of Homeland Security is on the job.

UPDATE: Belle Taylor-McGhee in the S.F. Chronicle:
As we await the FDA's decision on Plan B, more media attention has been given to who controls access to emergency contraception and how that control is used. In June, nine Alabama nurses quit their jobs in state clinics rather than provide EC to women in need. Only three states -- Arkansas, South Dakota and Mississippi -- allow medical professionals to deny EC based on moral objections . . . .

In 2002, California became the first state in the nation to pass legislation allowing women to access EC directly from the pharmacist without a prescription. Under California's EC Pharmacy Program, the participating pharmacist, who must receive a minimum of one hour of training to provide EC, initiates the prescription either through a collaborative agreement with an individual physician or under an agreement with the state. Today, five states in addition to California -- Washington, New Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii and Maine -- allow women to obtain EC directly from the pharmacist without a prescription from a physician . . . .

Still, the act of even one pharmacist who refuses to provide EC to a woman who needs it is troubling. Neither the California Pharmacists Association nor the American Pharmacists Association condones refusal to provide EC. In fact, if and when a pharmacist refuses to dispense EC, a referral to a pharmacist who will provide it is considered the minimum standard of care by these professional associations.

When we consider that 3 million unintended pregnancies occur each year in the United States, and that an estimated 1.3 million unintended pregnancies could be avoided annually with EC, it is clear that more needs to be done to increase both awareness of and pharmacy access to EC. Whatever the FDA decides on Jan. 20, California women needing EC -- regardless of their age -- will still be able to go to their local participating pharmacy, request EC and get it.

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