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Weekly Pulse: FACE the Facts

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by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

In 1993, anti-choice extremists murdered a doctor, burned 12 buildings, set off a bomb, and blockaded 66 abortion clinics. The following year, President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. FACE made it a federal crime to obstruct a clinic or intimidate patients and providers.

Wendy Norris of RH Reality Check reports that, in the intervening 16 years, the Justice Department has only prosecuted 19 civil and 45 criminal cases under FACE. Abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was assassinated last year by a hardcore clinic protester, and many asked if the FACE Act was being enforced.

Norris's story is part of a series on FACE published by RH Reality. The next installment will explore how one radical anti-choice protester has managed to terrorize the same clinic for 30 years with apparent impunity. Kudos to the Guggenheim foundation for funding this important and timely series, and to the John Jay College Center on Media, Crime and Justice for providing editorial input.

The Pill and I

May 9th is the 50th anniversary of the FDA's approval of Enovid, the first birth control pill. Care2 contributor Ann Pietrangelo, who recently celebrated her own 50th birthday, reflects on how the Pill changed history:

I went through my entire reproductive life in a way that my female ancestors, indeed my own mother, could scarcely have imagined. The Pill and other contraceptive choices were always available to me. I have never had to face the dreaded abortion decision, but throughout my reproductive years, I had the peace of mind of knowing that such a decision, difficult though it would be, was mine to make. I, and millions of women of my age group and younger have been most fortunate. We've lived a different kind of life than would have been possible in another time and another place.

Anti-"personhood" coalition kicks off

A new group has united to fight Colorado's proposed "egg as person" ballot initiative, Joseph Boven of the Colorado Independent reports. The organization calls itself Protect Families, Protect Choices (PFPC). If Amendment 62 passes, it would effectively outlaw abortion, stem cell research, and even some forms of contraception. Women who drink, use drugs, or attempt suicide could face criminal charges if the ballot initiative becomes law.

The Colorado measure is one of of many similar measures proffered by anti-abortion activists in state legislatures around the country. The last time Coloradans voted on whether to give fertilized ova the full complement of rights under state law, 73% voted against the measure. If the bill passes, will frozen embryos be able to own property? Could Coloradans evade their creditors by signing their houses over to zygotes?

Will health care reform save Democrats?

In The Nation, Katherine S. Newman and Steven Attewell tackle the question on everyone's mind: Will health care reform change the political fortunes of President Barack Obama and the Democrats? They warn that Democrats shouldn't expect short-term political gains, even if reform is ultimately regarded as a success story:

For some time to come we can expect the firestorm of opposition to health care reform that is unfolding today to persist, even from people who stand to benefit from the provisions of the new law. The rose-colored glasses through which we sometimes view the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society often obscure how contentious the debates were or how long they continued after the passage of key legislation. We should not be deterred by the noise coming out of the Tea Party. The weight of history is against them.

Passive aggressive red states

Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones sees trouble ahead: So far, at least 15 states have refused to create high-risk health insurance pools. The refusniks are red states hostile to health care reform. High-risk pools are a stopgap to provide coverage for people with preexisting conditions. Insurers are free to discriminate against sick people until 2014, and high risk pools are supposed to cover those who can't buy coverage in the meantime.

Khimm explains that the federal government will have to step in and create high-risk pools if states aren't willing to do so. Health care reform left a great deal of power in the hands of states. The stage has been set for a grim power struggle, a bureaucratic battle of attrition.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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