The Planned Parenthood Web site features a monthly listing of incidents of harassment that occur at Planned Parenthood facilities across the United States. These incidents range from non-violent protests to harassment, threats, vandalism and obstruction of pedestrian traffic.

There are so many disturbing things about these reports that I’m not even sure where to begin. Just the listing for November 2009 alone is mystifying. It seems as though some protesters will go to unthinkable lengths to voice their opinions. These lengths include personal letters and phone calls to the homes of physicians and clinic staff and blocking or impairing visibility of passing vehicle traffic – creating a dangerous situation even for uninvolved passerby’s.

Some November 2009 Hotspots Listed by Planned Parenthood:

  • Colorado  11/30/09 The front window of a Planned Parenthood health center was found shattered by a piece of concrete when staff arrived for work in the morning.”
  • Michigan  11/18/09 A Planned Parenthood health center observed three protesters with red tape over their mouths with the word “LIFE” written on it. They remained on the sidewalk and no confrontations occurred.”
  • “Pennsylvania  11/16/09 A staff member at a Planned Parenthood health center received a call from an unknown individual asking about the funeral arrangements for one of their health care providers (the provider is alive). The caller also asked how the staff member could sleep at night.”
  • Colorado  11/12/09 Motorists passing a Planned Parenthood health center complained that protester signs were obstructing their view of oncoming traffic. Police responded and the signs were moved.”

While the pro/anti-choice battle has offenders on both sides of the argument, my biggest issue is with harassment of women who seek health services at these clinics. They should not be denied services because of a fear of protest or retaliation. Many of the protesters who harass women like this find support through the leadership of anti-choice politicians such as Senator Bart Stupak. Sen. Stupak worked tirelessly to make sure that health care reform would NOT allow a woman who receives federally assisted health funding to safely and affordably terminate a pregnancy. On his Web site, Stupak credits his anti-choice allies with passing the less-than-sufficient health care reform bill.

“Without the votes of 41 Democratic Pro-Life supporters of my amendment, health care reform never would have passed the U.S. House of Representatives,” Stupak wrote on the site.

Many progressives and liberals, like myself, may be starting to lose faith in the health care reform bill’s ability to provide adequate coverage to women in need. Why deny reproductive rights to a woman who does not have access to affordable health insurance and can simply not afford to start a family – or take UNPAID time off from work simply to give the child up for adoption?

Health care reform aside – I hope that women struggling with this very important and life-altering decision find the peace to do what is right for them, despite whatever resistance they may face. I can only hope that 2010 brings a decrease in incidences of violence and harassment towards those who provide women’s health services.


Screen capture of YNN Rochester Web site homepage.

Today’s top news stories as reported by Time Warner Cable’s YNN Rochester all depict various acts of violence allegedly committed against women, including rape and murder. With the understanding that all suspects are to be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty, the fact that these headlines are dominating Rochester’s news media is pretty disturbing to say the least.

Rochester’s first murder victim of 2010 was identified as a 29-year-old teacher’s aide for the Rochester City School District. Her alleged killer is believed to be her ex-boyfriend. The victim’s mother spoke with YNN Rochester in regards to the suspect and his relationship with the victim.

“He refused to leave her alone and there were some other issues that were in this matter,” the mother said in a quote on YNN Rochester’s Web story.

Today’s other top news stories include a probable cause hearing for the September 2009 arrest of a man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend’s aunt and then kidnapping his ex-girlfriend. The suspect’s trial is set to begin March 15.

The last story pertains to a Greece school teacher who is accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with a female student. The teacher was suspended without pay and faces charges including criminal sexual act, sexual abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and rape.

These stories all revolve around abusive relationships in one way or another. If you or anyone you know is involved in a physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive relationship, I urge you to seek immediate help.

For help in Rochester, NY:

Rape Crisis Service in Monroe County: (585) 546-2777

RPD Family Crisis Intervention: (585) 428-7183

RPD Victim Assistance: (585) 428-6630

Alternatives for Battered Women: (585) 232-7353

Wegman's, an upstate New York grocery chain, is the first place I have seen preferred parking for pregnant women.

Wegmans, a grocery chain based on western New York, is the first place I have seen preferred parking for pregnant women.

Many businesses are now offering preferred parking spaces for pregnant women. These spaces are typically located closer to the store entrance, just beyond the handicapped parking, and are marked with signs that say “Expectant Mother Parking” or “Reserved for Expectant Mothers.”

While this seems like a nice way to demonstrate a  business’ commitment to helping women, it has actually stirred up a lot of controversy across the Web. Bloggers are ranting about how much they hate these spots. Needless to say, many of these bloggers are men or women who have never had children. I, myself, have never been pregnant but I can only imagine the struggles an expectant mother goes through, especially single mothers who are expecting.

My suggestion to those of you who may be bothered by this preferred parking is to suck it up. There is nothing wrong with walking an extra 30 feet. If anything, it will probably do most people some good. If for whatever reason you are unable to walk the extra 30 feet with ease, then you probably are in need of a handicapped parking pass. Or, perhaps, it is because you have an extra 60 pounds of baby protruding out of your abdomen.

If you own a business and would like to consider reserved parking spots, you can purchase pre-made or customized signs from

gay pride

Today the California Supreme Court ruled to uphold Proposition 8, the state ban on same-sex marriage. While this is a terrible setback in the struggle for equal rights, there was a glimmer of light in that the state will continue to recognize the thousands of marriages performed legally before the passing of Proposition 8 last November.

The LGBT community, along with its allies, will continue to fight Proposition 8 (or Proposition H8, as it is known by those who oppose it). I look forward to the day when all human beings are granted the same legal rights, terminology, respect and dignity regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, race, physical ability or lifestyle.

A civil union is not the same thing as marriage, that is clear. It was made pretty apparent during the civil rights movement that separate is not equal – so why offer separate ways for humans to celebrate and make official their love and commitment?

When I first sang Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” while playing Rock Band on my boyfriend’s PlayStation 3, I had no idea that it was an early 1990s feminist anthem. Considering the fact that I was four-years-old in 1990, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I missed the boat on the whole Riot Grrrl movement. However, I think the “Revolution Grrrl Style” message is just as important today as it was then. Perhaps even more so.

Riot Grrrl was an underground feminist punk rock movement in the 1990s which embodied third-wave feminist ideals. They promoted their feminist agendas through underground punk and garage bands and self-published “zines” or “fanzines”. The movement was started partially in response to the male-dominated punk and grunge scene in the Olympia, Wash. area at the time.

You can still listen to music from the bands most commonly associated with Riot Grrrl today, most notably Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. Also, you can follow a number of feminist issues on the Riot Grrrl blog, Forwrrrd. Also check out this video featuring Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl.”