Tagged: Pro-Choice

Why the Koch brothers’ newspaper takeover could impact women’s rights

Women’s rights, specifically reproductive justice rights, haven’t been identified as a front-and-center issue on the Koch brothers’ radar.  A recent review of their political ideologies and current outcomes indicates that affecting policies about women’s healthcare is a high priority for them. Allowing them unbridled access to mainstream media, such as their proposed newspaper buyout, [1] appears to have the potential to create serious setbacks for the reproductive justice movement.

The Koch brothers have never commented publicly about abortion but according to a 2011 report titled, “The Koch Brothers What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right” by the Center for American Progress Action Fund [2] the top policy issue on the Koch brothers political agenda is the repealing of health reform. Abortion and access to birth control continue to dominate the healthcare reform debate in this country.

Kari Ann Rinker, a writer for RH Reality Check and former State Coordinator and Lobbyist for Kansas NOW, lives in Wichita, Kan., and believes that because women’s healthcare has become so ensnared in the political landscape abortion and access to birth control are just a means to an end for the Koch brothers.

Even if that’s true, those “ends” are having a very real impact on women’s abilities to make their own decisions about healthcare and access to abortion, in states targeted by the Koch brother’s political machinery, as Kansas women can confirm.

Home to the Koch family, Wichita, Kan., has been the site of unrelenting acts of anti-abortion terrorism culminating in the murder of Dr. George Tiller in 2009. The Koch’s have never publicly commented about the terrorist activities or groups, but as Catholics [3], their religious affiliation ties them to a very strong anti-abortion ideology.[4]  Regardless of their personal beliefs, their current political maneuverings have produced outcomes in Kansas that support the anti-abortion agenda while severely restricting women’s healthcare options.

In 2012, moderate Kansas Republicans [5] were soundly defeated by conservatives who were heavily funded by Americans for Prosperity; a group backed by the Koch brothers. These same moderate Republicans had previously blocked a Tea Party led House from passing stringent abortion laws. Former Senate President Steve Morris (R-Hugoton) [6] said that the Koch brothers helped fund the campaign, so they could use Kansas as a testing ground for their ideas. “They said it will be a ultraconservative utopia,” Morris said of the Kochs.

In 2013, Governor Sam Brownback, a Koch-backed, pro-life candidate signed into law some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws [7] in the nation, clarifying  women’s reproductive rights in the ‘ultra conservative utopia’. To learn more about a woman’s rights in a ultraconservative utopia refer to the ‘Women’s Guide’ provided below.

Since the New York Times broke the story about the Koch brother’s possible newspaper takeover, there have been non-stop discussions both for and against the takeover. The recurring theme in all the discussions is whether or not the Koch brothers will treat journalism and news with respect and objectivity [8]. Ken Doctor, in his article “The newsonomics of the Koch Brothers and the sales of U.S.’ top metros” [9] refers to this concern as the “rupture of public trust.”  Transparency is the key to maintaining public trust.

And transparency has never been the Koch brother’s calling card.  Jane Mayer’s 2010 article in the New Yorker [10] perfectly summarizes the brother’s modus operandi; “’The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called ‘the largest company that you’ve never heard of.’”

Given the Koch brother’s carefully cultivated lack of transparency combined with the current political outcomes in Kansas and the ongoing national debate about abortion and access to birth control, the women’s reproductive justice movement appears to have little to gain from a Koch-backed newspaper buyout.

[1]  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/business/media/koch-brothers-making-play-for-tribunes-newspapers.html?ref=media&pagewanted=all
[2]  http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/regulation/report/2011/04/04/9399/the-koch-brothers/
[3]  http://www.nndb.com/people/707/000170197/; http://www.kapaun.org/pages/publications/quest/archives/Fall2012_quest.pdf
[4]  http://www.pewforum.org/Abortion/Religious-Groups-Official-Positions-on-Abortion.aspx
[5]  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/08/14/koch-brothers-and-kansans-life-alliance-that-killed-kansas-moderate/
[6]  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/steve-morris-kansas-senate-koch-brothers_n_1757928.html?
[7]  http://www.kansas.com/2013/04/19/2769496/brownback-signs-sweeping-anti.html
[8]  http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-koch-brothers-20130429%2c0%2c4766912.story
[9]  http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/04/the-newsonomics-of-the-koch-brothers-and-the-sales-of-u-s-top-metros/
[10]  http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer?

Womens Reproductive Rights

Resources Women’s Guide:
Singular, S., “The Wichita Divide The Murder Of Dr. George Tiller And The Battle Over Abortion”.  St. Martin’s Press, 2011


A strange thing happened to me on the way to Weld County

The news article, In Weld County A New Plan B, was not the article I had intended to write when I sat down to complete my latest class assignment.  My intention was to interview experts in Weld County who would be knowledgeable about impacts to the community stemming from  the 2010 Weld County Commissioners decision to stop providing Plan B (emergency contraception commonly known as the morning-after pill) at their clinics. I expected to find opinions on both sides of the fence.  Instead, I found that the experts  I attempted to contact in Weld County were either unable or unwilling to respond.  Bottom line; no one would say anything and it shocked me. In fact, it still does.

It’s been my experience that when the response is disproportionate to the question being asked, the response is the answer and their response was disturbing; because by refusing to take part in this discussion they are at best condoning the compromise of  choice and at worst advocating it.

Personal choice is not something that we can afford to incrementally dispense with because, today. it doesn’t effect our lives.  The Greeley community seems to understand that, even if their leaders don’t.  A  poll conducted by the Greeley Tribune on Jan. 26, 2013 showed that 67.19% of the people interviewed believed that the Weld County commissioners should reconsider their decision about the morning-after pill.  Recently, Planned Parenthood, who operates the only TWO clinics in Weld County that dispense emergency contraception, have gathered over 60 signatures in a petition that concludes by saying,  ” The Commissioners should revisit this decision, in a public meeting, with expert medical testimony. The women and families of Weld County deserve a commission committed to transparency and a healthy community.”

Based on the strange thing that happened to me on my way to Weld County, I’m afraid they’re in for  an uphill battle.  For almost three years this group of county commissioners has effectively boxed in choice and may have realistically eliminated it for a vulnerable part of their community; all the while avoiding paying any of the costs associated with finding emergency contraception elsewhere. No wonder they won’t comment, but what do other social service agencies, a local university Community Health department and other experts have to gain by refusing to comment?

Since I don’t have any answers, maybe I should ask Flo about it.

It’s not about choice, it’s about spermhood

Well, I thought, at least it doesn’t smell as bad as I remember. The smells of stale urine and unwashed bodies have stubbornly embedded themselves in my memory, causing an involuntary gag reflex to kick in when I walk into a nursing home and catch the first whiff. I knew Mackenzie Place had lots of visitors on Sunday afternoons and I hoped I could interview an older woman about choice and abortion without gagging.

Approaching the lobby I noticed a petite lady sitting in the corner; she looked at me with a sparkle in her eye and said “Hi, I’m Flo.” I smiled nervously, sat down and introduced myself. Looking me over, she announced “I’m almost 82 years old and I’m done. If I had my choice, and of course I don’t, I’d be gone. I’ve had a marvelous life, full of adventure and love and I don’t want to hang around and watch myself decline.” Murmuring agreement, I asked, “About choice, do you think a woman has right to choose to abort? Why do you think it bothers men so much?” “Well” she replied, “I think it is a woman’s choice to abort and she should only do it when she has to. Men don’t give a damn about the women; it’s all about their male heir. It’s like women are hurting their manhood, their spermhood.”

Startled, I looked at her; that idea had never crossed my mind. But as I listened, for little over an hour, to her enthusiastic description of a life defined by 56 years of marriage and her husband’s interests, I realized that maybe Flo had an insight into men’s psyche that I hadn’t recognized.

I am looking forward to discovering if Flo has a valid point as I cover stories about choice and abortion.