Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Remembering Keith...

It's been a year since the death of Planned Parenthood's lobbyist, Keith Smith. His sudden death was a shock to us and a major loss to the community. At PPCO, we miss him bouncing in and out of the office like Tigger. He had so much energy and played an intregal part of protecting a woman's right to choose in Oklahoma.

One of my favorite pictures, which is still a part of my office decor, is the picture of Keith that was in the Oklahoma Gazette last spring. In the picture, Keith is doing what he loved best, standing face to face with an anti-choice legislator...giving him the "what for"...

We miss you Keith, thanks for all you did for reproductive rights in Oklahoma.

Submitted by Keri Parks

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The National Advocates for Pregnant Women did an outstanding job organizing yesterday's forum on Women, Pregnancy and Drug Use: Medical Facts, Practical Responses and the Well-Being of Children and Families.

Check out the Oklahomans article on yesterday's forum.

Research from Dr. Barry Lester, Ph.D., who directs the Brown University Center for Study of Children at Risk, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, and Professor of Pediatrics, shows that there is no increase in physical damage in meth exposed infants. Dr. Lester also talked about the implications of women who do not get treatment while pregnant and the cost to society.

Other speakers included Carol Mason, Ph.D., OSU; Martha Kendall Holmes, MSW, LCSW; William Yarborough, M.D., FACP; Mary Barr, Executive Director of Conexions; and our friends Dana Stone, OB/GYN, M.D. and Eli Reshef, OB/GYN, M.D.

Nancy Goldstein, Tiloma Jayasinghe, Lynn Paltrow; Joann Horn, Kathleen Wallace, and Jim Rowan deserve a big round of applause for their efforts in helping Teresa Hernandez. We've got our fingers crossed that she will have her sentence reduced on December 21st.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Trust Oklahoma Women

We received this email from the son of a former employee today and wanted to post it for others to read.

"I want to share a story with you from this past Saturday.

My mother worked for Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma as a health educator when I was in grade school. She used to take me along to events, but I was too young to understand the broader issues she and her colleagues represented. She was very proud when I told her that I had begun volunteering as an escort for Planned Parenthood in Houston. That Christmas, she sent me a set of Planned Parenthood thank-you cards along with a glass which had the Planned Parenthood logo and the words “Trust Oklahoma Women” etched onto the surface. I placed the glass on my shelf along with a few other trinkets and never gave it much thought.

This Saturday, during the height of Houston Coalition for Life’s presence, a young couple arrived. I and another escort greeted them at the car and began walking them towards the clinic. It was clear to us that this couple was there for an abortion - the woman was nervous and seemed emotionally frail. As they approached the east gate, Christine began her standard speech. The girl burst into tears and three other escorts ran to her aid as we walked through the gate. We began comforting her in an effort to drown out Christine's words. I don't remember all that was said, but they were words of love and support. By the time we approached the clinic, she was smiling through her tears even laughing a bit, having never heard the rest of the crowd's tirade.

In two years of escorting for Planned Parenthood, no instance has upset me like this one. I thought about it for the rest of the weekend and it wasn't until I talked it out to a friend over coffee that I finally understood why it was so upsetting. Abortion is not a pleasant idea - I hope never to meet the person who disagrees. That l like less telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body does not make me pro-abortion, it makes me pro-choice. We have all seen the emotional bond a woman experiences once she learns she is pregnant and we all know of the controversy surrounding the choice afforded to women should they choose not to continue a pregnancy. This in mind, I doubt any woman coming to Planned Parenthood for an abortion has not considered and even agonized over what must be a terrifically difficult decision. But it is her decision, it is a legal decision and it is to be respected.

This in mind, I would have no problem with protestors who approached clients to say "may I tell you about other options" or "may I help ensure you know all the details of what you are about to do" provided they backed off in response to a negative response. Given the principles at hand, I could appreciate someone saying "I believe life begins at conception and although this is certain only by biological definitions which apply to every cell in my body, my belief system tells me that conception yields a soul." Although I disagree with the conclusion from which these statements spring, they would at least show a level of respect to the client. Instead, what I hear are emotionally driven sound bites. Telling a woman that she has "a beautiful baby boy or girl" or that "[her] baby already has a beating heart" is not an effort of reason but one of emotion. It is equivalent to saying "I don't trust your judgment, so I am going to get to you using your emotions." In short - it shows a complete lack of trust.

Women who approach our clinic having decided to terminate their pregnancies have come to that decision through whatever thought process they deemed appropriate. To assume that thought process is flawed simply because it doesn't match up with yours represents the height of condescent. I was never prouder to be a Planned Parenthood escort than I was that day. "Trust Oklahoma Women" - today I finally understand what my mother meant."

We appreciate your efforts too...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Anti-Birth Control Hardliner to Head Family Planning Post

Yet another anti-birth control, anti-sex education hardliner, Susan Orr, was named to run the nation’s largest family planning and birth control program, Title X. President Bush recently appointed Orr to this position, which administers Title X, the nation's family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to more than five million low-income individuals annually, helping prevent more than one million unintended pregnancies each year.

Orr was formerly a senior director for marriage and family care at the Family Research Council, a political organization that opposes family planning. While in this role, Orr cheered the Bush administration’s proposed elimination of the contraceptive coverage requirement from federal employees’ health insurance. Said Orr of the proposal, “We're quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”

Nov. 14th Forum to Discuss Women, Pregnancy and Drug Use

"Women, Pregnancy and Drug Use: Medical Facts, Practical Responses and the Well-Being of Children and Families" will be held on November 14, 2007 from 4-6 pm at the Presbyterian Health Foundation Conference Center (655 Research Parkway, Suite 100 – just southeast of the intersection of Northeast 8th Street and Lincoln Boulevard).

Recently, in State v. Hernandez, the state prosecuted an Oklahoma City woman for murder after suffering a stillbirth and testing positive for methamphetamine — despite a lack of medical evidence connecting the two events and the disapproval of local and national medical and public health associations and individuals. Hear renowned local and national experts in the fields of medicine and social work separate myth from fact regarding drug use and pregnancy, discuss the implications of the case for the health and well-being of Oklahoma’s women and babies, and map out strategies for effective and appropriate responses to addiction and pregnancy.