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National Abortion Federation Blog: Saporta Reporter

News about reproductive choice from the President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta. photo of Vicki Saporta
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  Remembering an American hero: George Tiller

We continue to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a dedicated physician who provided quality abortion care to women, at great personal sacrifice and risk. He is truly a hero to his fellow abortion providers and his patients. Dr. Tiller’s office is filled with letters from women, thanking him for the excellent, compassionate care he provided. Many of these women say Dr. Tiller saved their lives.

Since his tragic death, we have received messages from some of his patients and from people around the world who are saddened and outraged. We feel it is important to share these words and tributes to our beloved colleague and friend. For the first time, we will enable comments on our blog so that all of you can share your condolences or offer memories of Dr. Tiller. We invite you to join us in honoring a true American hero, Dr. George Tiller.

Post your comments, condolences, and personal memories of Dr. Tiller

Monday, January 29, 2007

Nineteen Years of Reproductive Freedom in Canada

Sunday marked the 19th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada case that struck down Canada’s abortion law as unconstitutional, and made Canada one of the few countries without a law restricting abortion. The Chronicle Herald featured a profile of NAF member Dr. Henry Morgentaler and his involvement with this landmark case.

Abortion is among the health services guaranteed by the Canada Health Act and is funded under provincial and territorial health plans. However, access is variable across the country and women in New Brunswick lack the same access to publicly funded abortion care as women in the rest of Canada. NAF has been actively working in New Brunswick to improve women’s access to reproductive health care services.

>Learn more about
access to abortion in Canada.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Anti-Abortion Extremist James Kopp Convicted of Violating FACE Act

Here is the press release we issued following James Kopp's conviction:

Today a jury in the federal trial of anti-abortion extremist and confessed murderer James Kopp, found him guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and using a firearm to commit a violent act. Already serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, this latest conviction could result in Kopp’s sentence being increased to life without parole when he faces sentencing in June.

“Based on the evidence, we were certain that the jury would convict James Kopp,” said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of National Abortion Federation (NAF). “He carefully planned this murder and deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. He should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

Acting as his own attorney, Kopp attempted to convince jurors that he only meant to wound Dr. Slepian to prevent him from performing abortions. This defense strategy proved unsuccessful with the jury. Throughout the trial Kopp repeatedly admitted to purchasing a semiautomatic rifle, practicing with the weapon, and then stalking Dr. Slepian outside his home. Kopp is also a suspect in the non-fatal shootings of four abortion providers in the U.S. and Canada during the 1990s.

“We cannot allow people to take the law into their own hands in order to advance their own personal, political agendas,” Saporta said.

NAF was instrumental in advocating for the passage of the FACE Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994. FACE prohibits the use of "force, threat of force or physical obstruction" to prevent someone from providing or receiving reproductive health services.

Since 1977 NAF has been compiling statistics on violence and disruption against abortion providers. The prosecution and conviction of anti-abortion extremists like James Kopp, have led to a decrease in major acts of violence against abortion providers.

“Even though major acts of violence have decreased in recent years, many anti-abortion extremists still believe that it is justifiable to murder doctors because they provide women with safe and legal abortion care,” said Saporta. “We hope this conviction sends a clear message that violence against abortion providers will not be tolerated and perpetrators of such crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Celebrating Reproductive Freedom: Commemorating Roe v. Wade in the Nation’s Capital – Update 2

I wanted to share with you insights from one of our staff members handling violence and security issues:

Anti-abortion protesters from around the country came to Washington, DC to participate in Monday’s “March for Life” as well as numerous other activities that took place over the weekend. The march itself began with a rally on the national mall near the White House where the crowd was addressed by anti-choice legislators. President Bush also addressed the protestors via telephone.

On Saturday, a group of anti-abortion teens and college students protested at abortion clinics in Washington, DC. They held signs, prayed, sang, and attempted to approach patients and staff entering the clinics. Escorts from the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force were on hand to assist women safely into the clinics. On behalf of our members, I went to the clinic protests and the march to monitor the protesters; ensure that no laws were broken; and offer support and assistance. One difference this year at the clinic protests was the noted absence of the older adult male leaders such as Frank Pavone, Pat Mahoney, and Jeff White.

In such an important week for reproductive freedom, another anti-abortion extremist is in federal court. Today the jury found convicted murderer
James Kopp guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and using a firearm to commit a violent act. He was previously convicted on state murder charges for the 1998 shooting death of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian, and is serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence. This federal conviction could ensure that he would not be eligible for parole. Such prosecutions and convictions have led to the decline in major acts of violence against abortion providers in recent years.

>Learn more about clinic violence.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Celebrating Reproductive Freedom: Commemorating Roe v. Wade in the Nation’s Capital - Update 1

The Supreme Court steps seemed a fitting place to commemorate the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Braving the cold and leftover snow, we joined other activists to celebrate the landmark decision that legalized abortion. As you might expect our celebration was met by anti-choice protestors, but neither their signs nor the weather could dampen our spirits. Roe day is a day for us to celebrate our freedom – and as we stood between the nation’s highest court and the Capitol, we were reminded that we must continue to stand up for our reproductive rights.

After the rally at the Supreme Court, we headed over to an event sponsored by one of our members, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (PPMW). In addition to meeting other activists and members of the pro-choice community, we also got the chance to meet actress Kathleen Turner. Ms. Turner is an advocate for reproductive freedom and spoke about the need for young women to get involved in protecting a woman’s right to choose abortion. She also talked about the obstacles low-income women face in obtaining abortion care. This event raised money for PPMW’s Justice Fund which offers financial assistance to women seeking abortions. Everyday the NAF Hotline helps low-income women struggling to find a way to pay for their abortions.


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Celebrating Reproductive Freedom: Commemorating Roe v. Wade in the Nation’s Capital

One of the things I value most about our staff is their passion and commitment to women’s reproductive freedom. Working at NAF is more than just a job; our staff members are active in the pro-choice movement even after they leave the office. This week, NAF staff members will be participating in events to celebrate Roe v. Wade and their reports will be featured on our blog.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

On the 34th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion Federation Releases its 2006 Legislative Report

As our nation today commemorates the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) released its 2006 Legislative Report. While abortion rights remained under attack in 2006, there were several notable victories at the federal and state levels that could lay the groundwork for future pro-choice legislative victories.

"Legislative attacks on women's reproductive freedom are all too common," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "Women deserve to have access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion care. At the same time that we celebrate what Roe v. Wade has done to improve the lives and health of American women, we must remain vigilant in opposing attempts to further restrict abortion access."

The report examines key events in 2006, including the confirmation of Samuel Alito, the introduction of sweeping abortion bans in several states, successful campaigns against restrictive state ballot initiatives, the enactment of protective measures for abortion providers, the defeat of anti-abortion legislation on Capitol Hill, and the 2006 elections.

"NAF will continue to work on the state and federal levels to ensure that abortion is safe, legal, and accessible to promote health and justice for women," said Saporta.

NAF’s 2006 Legislative Report is available at www.prochoice.org.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Roe Anniversary News Clips

Monday marks the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. As press coverage of the anniversary begins, here are two articles to read over the weekend:

>
Slate magazine features a story that discusses another significant abortion case: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and its impact on Roe.

>An article in The Tampa Tribune profiles Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who successfully argued Roe before the Supreme Court.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Researchers Search for Alternate Uses for Mifepristone

Researchers continue to look for other uses for mifepristone, such as treating breast cancer and reproductive system disorders. So far, the research has been promising. A study released in November reported that mifepristone had been successfully used to treat breast cancer in mice. Finding additional uses for mifepristone will increase its availability and benefit the lives and health of women.

>Learn more about mifepristone and Medical Abortion.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Georgia Representative Introduces Bill to Ban Abortion

Earlier this week, I reported on some of the attacks on abortion access at the state level. Unfortunately another restrictive bill has been filed this week. State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) introduced a bill in the Georgia House of Representatives that would ban safe abortion procedures at all stages of pregnancy. This dangerous bill is unconstitutional since it lacks an exception for the life and health of the woman.

Franklin has filed similar bills in the last three legislative sessions, but none have reached a vote in the state House.

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Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act Passes!

Thank you for taking action and urging your representatives to support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. The House voted 253 to 174 to approve the bill.

> Sign up to receive Action Alerts and learn how you can stay involved to keep abortion safe, legal, and accessible.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

‘L-Word’ Depicts Crisis Pregnancy Center

This week’s episode of the Showtime original series “The L-Word” depicts the misleading practices of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). Like so many real women who have shared their stories with us, a character on the show thinks she is at her appointment for an abortion, but instead finds herself at a CPC where the staff at the center attempt to intimidate her and change her mind. After an experience at a CPC, many women feel betrayed and angry just like the character on the show.

>Watch the “L-Word” CPC segment.
>Share your story about an encounter with a CPC or read our report on CPCs.

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Urge Your Representative to Support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act Today!

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007 (H.R. 3), which lifts existing federal restrictions and expands the number of stem cell lines that are eligible for federally funded research. NAF strongly supports this important legislation, which passed the House and Senate last year with strong bipartisan support. Unfortunately, it was then vetoed by President Bush.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act promotes potentially life-saving embryonic stem cell research that could benefit millions of Americans, and such research has the potential to help find new treatments for diseases like cancer, diabetes, Parkinsons, ALS and Alzheimers. Please urge your Representative to support this important legislation!

>Take Action Now!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush Withdraws Controversial Federal Judge Nomination

Facing the Democratic majority in Congress and certain opposition from Senate Democrats, President Bush has withdrawn four of his federal judicial nominations, including the nomination of Michael Wallace to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This is welcome news since Wallace’s record as an attorney raised serious questions about his ability to fairly adjudicate questions regarding reproductive rights. He has demonstrated hostility toward abortion issues and providers. NAF strongly opposed his nomination because we did not believe that his actions as a judge would be objective when considering matters involving abortion.

Judges in the federal courts are appointed for life by the President. The nominations that Bush makes now will influence the outcome of many cases, including cases protecting a woman's right to choose abortion. We hope the Bush Administration will acknowledge Americans' desire for an independent judiciary and nominate judges who can fairly rule on matters such as abortion.

>Learn more about the federal court system and the importance of judicial nominations.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Testimony Begins in Kopp’s Federal Trial

The federal trial of convicted murderer James Kopp, charged with violating the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, began today in Buffalo. The judge interrupted Kopp several times as he attempted to use his anti-abortion views as justification for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian. Representing himself in court, Kopp lost an earlier appeal to use a so-called necessity defense.

>Read more details about the first day of the trial.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Threats to Abortion Access in the States

Attacks on abortion rights continue at the state level. Following are two recent examples:

Ohio: In one of his last acts in office, Governor Bob Taft signed a bill prohibiting public funding of abortions except in instances of rape, incest, or life endangerment. The bill officially states that childbirth is preferred over abortion as the public policy of the state, and also banned the use of public money, including Medicaid, for abortion counseling and referrals.

Oklahoma: State Representative Mike Reynolds recently filed a “trigger” bill, which would automatically go into effect if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and re-establish the state’s anti-abortion laws.

>Learn more about state level threats to abortion access

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Pro-Choice License Plates Proposed in Florida

After years of unsuccessful attempts to stop the sale of anti-choice specialty license plates, NOW’s Orlando chapter has designed a Florida license plate which supports abortion rights. The group spent the past year designing the plate and plans to seek legislative approval for the proposed design next year. Thirteen states, including Florida, allow drivers to pay extra for anti-choice vanity plates, but only Hawaii and Montana offer plates that support reproductive freedom.

The revenue from anti-choice license plates often funds Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) and other anti-choice organizations.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kopp’s Federal Trial Set to Begin

Jury selection begins tomorrow in the federal trial against convicted murderer James Kopp. Already serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence for the 1998 murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian, Kopp faces life without parole if he is found guilty of violating the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Check out the AP story discussing the importance of the enforcement of FACE.

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