Actor and advocate Busy Philipps gave a passionate, deeply personal testimony at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Tuesday about threats to reproductive rights in America. She spoke about her own abortion experience — and was unfazed by a conservative lawmaker who grilled her on the subject.
Philipps, who was among several women on both sides of the abortion debate who spoke at the hearing, has been at the forefront of a movement to protest recent clamp-downs on reproductive rights in Georgia and Alabama. She revealed on her E! late-night talk show that she had an abortion when she was 15, and later took to Twitter to ask women to share their abortion stories using the hashtag #YouKnowMe, prompting thousands of responses.
1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don't know someone who has, but #youknowme. So let's do this: if you are also the 1 in 4, let's share it and start to end the shame. Use #youknowme and share your truth.
— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) May 15, 2019
Philipps said during the subcommittee hearing that while getting an abortion in 1994 was not a decision she made lightly, she has “never for a moment doubted that it was the right decision,” according to CBS News. She added, “But so much has changed—in Arizona and other states—since then.”
She continued, “If I were that 15-year-old girl in Arizona today, legally I would have to get parental consent. I would be forced to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound, to go to a state-mandated in-person counseling, designed solely to shame me into changing my mind, then take a state-mandated 24-hour time out to make sure I really knew what I wanted. And finally, I would be forced to give the state a reason why. Well, here is mine: My body belongs to me, not the state. Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. No one else.”
The subcommittee also heard from Melissa Ohden, a pro-life advocate who learned as a teenager that she was a survivor of a botched abortion. After Ohden spoke, Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert, who is also pro-life, asked Philipps if she would agree that “somebody who has survived an abortion, like Melissa Ohden, has a right once she’s born, to life, to control over her body where someone else doesn’t take her life?”
“Although I played a doctor on television, sir, I am actually not a physician,” Philipps responded, per CNN. She stressed that this was an important point. “I don’t believe that a politician’s place is to decide what’s best for a woman — it’s a choice between a woman and her doctor,” Philipps explained.
She would not relent when Gohmert pressed the issue. “I just wondered how far your feeling about that went,” he said. “Because once [Ohden] is born, would you agree that she is a person in being?”
“I’m not speaking about birth, sir,” Philipps replied. “I’m speaking about abortion.”
Emily Doe, the anonymous woman who was assaulted by Brock Turner and galvanized the nation with her stunning victim impact statement, is writing a memoir, Vogue reports.
The memoir will be published by Viking Books and is due to be released in September 2019. In a statement, Viking said that in the memoir, Doe will “reclaim the story of her sexual assault, expose the arduous nature of the legal system, and emerge as a bold, unifying voice.”
In 2015, Turner, a former Stanford University student and star swimmer, was caught assaulting Doe while she was rendered unconscious by intoxication. Controversially, Turner was sentenced to just six months in jail after Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky decided that a “prison sentence would have a severe impact on him.”
The case sparked a fury that would be echoed in the #MeToo movement some years later. Doe’s impact statement, which was published by Buzzfeed after the sentencing, described the trauma she had suffered due to the assault and its aftermath. Her words — eloquent, yet raw — quickly went viral. Last year, California residents voted to recall Judge Persky over his handling of the case.
“Emily Doe’s experience illuminates a culture built to protect perpetrators and a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable,” Viking editor-in-chief Andrea Schulz said. “The book will introduce readers to the writer whose words have already changed their world and move them with its accounting of her courage and resilience.”
Read more at Vogue.
Former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized abortion rights advocates in a keynote speech at the Susan B. Anthony List Campaign for Life Gala, saying that advocates who “demand conformity” of women on the issue of abortion are not real feminists.
“Unfortunately, many on the left use the abortion debate to divide women and demand conformity,” she said at the event on Monday, according to USA Today. “They do this in the name of feminism. But that is not real feminism. The idea that women must adhere to a particular set of values is one of the most anti-women ideas in today’s culture.”
She continued, “Respect for human life is who we are as Americans. It’s right there in the Declaration of Independence. You can’t have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without the right to life.”
After she resigned from her post in October 2018, speculation swirled about her future political ambitions. She has said she won’t run for president in 2020, according to USA Today.
Haley’s comments come amid a heated debate over women’s reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S., as a number of states have passed bills in recent months to severely restrict or ban abortion.
Watch video of Haley’s remarks below.
Read the full story at USA Today.
The body of Chynal Lindsey, a 26-year-old black transgender woman, was found in Dallas last Saturday bearing “obvious signs of homicidal violence,” police said. This is the second time in less than a month that a black trans woman has been murdered in the city, and at least the fourth killing of a black trans woman over the past three years.
Lindsey was a home health-care worker who had moved to Texas from Chicago in recent years, according to Buzzfeed News. Her body was discovered in a lake, The Guardian reports. Dallas police chief Reneé Hall did not reveal the cause of death during a press conference, but she did say that police had contacted the FBI to ask for assistance.
“We are concerned, we are actively and aggressively investigating this case, and we have reached out to our federal partners to assist us in the efforts,” Hall said.
The homicide comes just weeks after 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker was shot and killed on a Dallas street. A month before her murder, Booker had been attacked in what the city’s mayor described as an incident of “mob violence.” Shocking footage of the attack showed people gathering around Booker, punching and kicking her, until a group of women helped her escape. Edward Thomas, 29, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault in connection with the incident. Police have said there is no evidence linking him to Booker’s murder.
In October of last year, Brittany White was fatally shot in southeast Dallas. In 2015, the body of a black transgender woman named Shade Schuler was found in a Dallas field. Police have also remarked on a 2017 case, where the remains of a transgender woman were once again discovered in a field, although the cause of death in that incident has not been determined.
When asked if the deaths could be attributed to a serial killer, Hall said police don’t currently “have the evidence to substantiate that.” But authorities noted in a statement last month that two of the victims “were in the area of Spring Avenue and Lagow Street prior to the offenses occurring,” and that “two of the victims got into a vehicle with someone.” The statement stressed, however, that “detectives have not established a direct link between these cases.”
Transgender woman are disproportionately affected by violence, and in Texas, violent acts linked to gender identity are not covered by hate crime laws. In spite of Hall’s assurances that police are working “to provide safety for each and every person in the community,” Nell Gaither, the president of Dallas’s Trans Pride Initiative, told BuzzFeed News that trans people in the city do not feel safe.
“Even if you weren’t feeling it before, this seems like a tipping point,” Gaither said. “People are looking at it as, we’re not safe here anymore.”
In recent days, a shocking story proliferated around the world: A 17-year-old Dutch rape survivor, who suffered from severe depression and anorexia, had died by euthanasia at a clinic in the Netherlands. But as The Guardian reports, the story wasn’t true — at least not in its entirety.
Noa Pothoven did in fact die on June 2. But she was not euthanized; she had died in her parents’ home, after voluntarily refusing to eat and drink. Her parents and doctors decided that they would not force-feed her.
Pothoven was the author of an award-winning memoir titled Winning or Learning, in which she attributed her struggles with depression and anorexia to incidents of sexual assault during her childhood. She had experienced repeated hospital stays and involuntary treatments; at one point, she was so perilously underweight that she was put in a coma so doctors could feed her intravenously. Pothoven had also attempted to commit suicide.
In an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Gelderlander last year, Pothoven revealed that she had contacted the Levenseinde, or “end-of-life” clinic in The Hague to find out if she could be considered for euthanasia or assisted suicide. Under strict and specific conditions, euthanasia, in which a doctor ends a person’s life, and assisted suicide, in which a person is given the means to end their own life, are legal in the Netherlands. But the clinic turned down Pothoven’s request.
In light of the false reports that had been circulating throughout the media, however, the clinic issued a statement from Pothoven’s friends saying that she “did not die of euthanasia. To stop her suffering, she stopped eating and drinking.”
Days before her death, in fact, Pothoven had revealed that she was no longer taking food and drink, posting her decision in what she called a “sorrowful last post” on Instagram, which has since been deleted.
“I’ll get straight to the point: Within a maximum of 10 days I will die,” she wrote. “After years of fighting and struggling it is over. I have stopped eating and drinking for a while now, and after many conversations and reviews it has been decided that I will be let go because my suffering is unbearable. It is finished. For so long I have not really been living, I have been surviving, and even that not really. I have not really been alive for so long, I am surviving, and even that not really. I breathe but I am no longer alive.”
So how had the false story spread? According to Politico, Dutch media never reported that Pothoven had died by euthanasia. The source of the erroneous information is not entirely clear, but The Guardian reports that British publications received it from the Central European News (CEN), “which specializes in supplying unusual and quirky foreign stories to English-language news outlets.” CEN has previously been accused of propagating inaccurate news updates; the wire unsuccessfully attempted to sue Buzzfeed over such allegations.
Paul Bolwerk, a journalist at De Gelderlander who has followed Pothoven’s story, confirmed in an interview with Politico that “you can’t speak of active euthanization” in this case. “She got depressed more and more, and said, ‘Well, OK, now I press on the button. Now I say I will stop with all treatments,’” Bolwerk said. “And that was very stressful for everyone, including the parents, the doctors, the psychiatrists.”