A little thing called freedom of the press

Laura McPhee

Attorney General Steve Carter

NUVO received a letter a few weeks back from a Washington, D.C.-based organization called Life Decisions International. "We were disappointed to learn recently that NUVO has supported Planned Parenthood," is the first line of this communiqué, cutting directly to the chase as it were.

"Needless to say," it continues, "abortion is one of the most controversial issues in the world and by supporting Planned Parenthood, NUVO has plunged itself into the middle of this highly volatile issue."

The letter then goes on for two lengthy paragraphs describing the actions that Life Decisions International will take to put our newspaper out of business unless "NUVO will make Planned Parenthood ineligible for future support of any kind."

In conclusion, writes Douglas R. Scott, president, Life Decisions International, "This is not about making a personal decision; it is about making a wise business decision. Regardless of a person's personal views, it is not in the best interest of any company to become embroiled in such a controversial issue. Doing so is simply bad business ..."

I don't know if it is a coincidence or not, but we received this letter just days after Planned Parenthood of Indiana made me the recipient of their 2005 annual media advocacy award.

This honor came my way, according to Planned Parenthood, because I wrote and NUVO published "five important articles that informed the community about vital reproductive health issues." The award now sits in a special place of privilege on my desk, right next to a frame containing the letter from Life Decisions International.

Indeed, during the past year I did write a number of articles about reproductive health and health care. I wrote a story about the deadly consequences of abstinence-only sex education and how our children are being taught fallacies and downright lies about sex in far too many classrooms.

I also wrote a story about pharmacies and pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control to unmarried women and emergency contraception to rape victims, and hospitals and insurance companies refusing to provide or cover tubal ligations or other elective forms of reproductive surgery.

There was a story about how an anti-abortion zealot in Texas has managed to get Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter, along with the attorneys general of nearly a dozen other states, to attempt and seize the medical records of Planned Parenthood patients. While there is no victim, no evidence of a crime and no criminal complaint, Attorney General Steve Carter is demanding that Planned Parenthood turn over the medical files of Medicaid patients in order to see if any crimes might have been committed.

There were other stories as well. Stories about state Sen. Patricia Miller introducing legislation that would make marriage a requirement for pregnancy by any means other than old-fashioned intercourse. Miller wanted to make it a criminal offense for unmarried women to become pregnant by in vitro fertilization and other artificial means. She pulled the legislation after the national media picked up the NUVO story, and her office was inundated with angry calls and letters.

And then there was the one about Gov. Mitch Daniels signing a piece of anti-abortion legislation and flying that same night to attend a fund-raising banquet for the nation's largest anti-abortion organization and presenting the pen he signed the bill with to the group's president as a gift.

So yes, Life Decisions and Planned Parenthood have it right. NUVO regularly publishes articles about reproductive health, health care and legislation. And if you add it all up, we tend to support a woman's right to choose if, when and how to become a mother.

And while I am genuinely flattered and deeply honored to have received an award from Planned Parenthood for these articles, I am only too well aware that the competition couldn't have been that stiff.

How many other media outlets regularly cover these issues?

Life Decisions International has a right to oppose women's reproductive health care (though I think the thinly veiled blackmail threats might be pushing some type of legal limit). Feel free to join their efforts at www.fightpp.org.

Alternatively, feel free to lend your support to Planned Parenthood of Indiana as they continue to serve women throughout the state in important and necessary ways by visiting www.ppin.org. If groups like Life Decisions International are making threats against NUVO for supporting a woman's right to reproductive health care, imagine what they are doing to Planned Parenthood itself.

Finally, if you see a picket line in front of the NUVO offices feel free to honk and wave. Better yet, cross the picket line and bring us lunch. We work up quite an appetite planning how best to next piss off the far right in our defense of things like the U.S. Constitution and basic civil rights.

I like Thai food best. In the alternative, roses will do.


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