12-17-19 Ruth Bader Ginsburg says US abortion law hits poor women
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has told the BBC that restrictive abortion laws affect poor women in society. Several states have passed highly restrictive abortion laws this year - and dozens more have proposed similar bills in their legislatures - though none have gone into effect thus far. The BBC's Razia Iqbal spoke exclusively to Justice Ginsburg at a dinner at the New York Public Library where she was awarded the Berggruen Prize for philosophy and culture. The $1 million prize is awarded annually to someone whose ideas "have profoundly shaped human understanding and advancement" (she's donating the money to charity).
12-6-19 Number of abortions drop
The number of abortions dropped to 623,471 in 2016 across 47 states—the lowest number since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking the procedure in 1969. (Three states did not report data.) Of those abortions, 91 percent were performed at or before 13 weeks.
12-6-19 Ectopic pregnancies can be fatal
For the second time in a year, Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill in the Ohio state legislature that would require doctors to attempt to reimplant an embryo from an ectopic pregnancy into a woman’s uterus, or face murder charges—even though such a procedure does not exist. Ectopic pregnancies, in which the embryo implants itself in a woman’s fallopian tube, can be fatal for the mother unless doctors end the pregnancy.
11-22-19 Democrats’ abortion extremism
Democrats used to say they wanted abortions to be “safe, legal, and rare,” said Alexandra DeSanctis. Bill and Hillary Clinton frequently used that phrase to signal that they were moderates who wanted to protect the right to abortion while “acknowledging the views of people with moral qualms about the practice.” Today, however, the progressive base vehemently objects to “rare” as an unacceptable concession to abortion opponents and rejects the idea—once embraced by both the Clintons and Barack Obama—that “abortion might be a subject on which reasonable people can disagree.” The Democrats’ new purity test on abortion requires viewing a fetus of any gestational age as a “clump of cells” with no restrictions even in the third trimester. But by moving so far left on the issue, Democrats are abandoning the 30 percent of their party who describe themselves as pro-life and the ambivalent middle of the electorate. Only 46 percent of Democrats support unrestricted abortion in the second trimester, and just 18 percent in the third. Democrats are making “a political mistake” by alienating independents and moderate Republicans who desperately want an alternative to President Trump—but can’t bring themselves to vote for unlimited abortion rights.
11-1-19 Alabama vs. Roe
Alabama’s near-total abortion ban “defies” a woman’s constitutional rights, a federal judge ruled this week, paving the way for the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade. Laws severely restricting abortion access that were passed in nine states this year have now been blocked in court. Alabama’s went furthest, banning abortions even for pregnancies arising from rape or incest, and threatening doctors with up to 99 years in prison. “Enforcement of the ban,” said U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, “would yield serious and irreparable harm, violating the right to privacy and preventing women from obtaining abortions.” The legislation was crafted specifically to force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe, which affirms the right to an abortion until a fetus is viable outside the womb, usually after 24 weeks into a pregnancy.
Abortion and same-sex marriage are now legal in Northern Ireland, and local politicians didn’t get a say in the matter. The U.K. province’s power-sharing government collapsed in 2017 amid a dispute between Sinn Féin, which wants a united Ireland, and the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The province is now effectively governed from London. In July, British lawmakers added the two reforms to a bill on Northern Ireland, to bring it into line with the rest of the country; those reforms became law this week. The protestant DUP tried to revive the power-sharing government to stop the laws, but Sinn Féin refused. Most Northern Irish supported lifting the near-total ban on abortion.
10-22-19 Abortion is now no longer illegal in Northern Ireland
Abortion in Northern Ireland is now legal. As of midnight on Monday 21 October, women and girls can legally access abortions and seek medical aftercare, and the UK government will fund journeys to England for the procedure. The UK Offences Against the Person Act ruled that “procuring a miscarriage” was against the law in 1861. The Abortion Act legalised abortions in some cases in 1967, but not in Northern Ireland, where the procedure remained illegal even in cases of rape, incest and when the fetus is unlikely to survive. As a result, many women in Northern Ireland travel to England and Wales for abortions. In 2018, 1,053 women made the journey, 192 more than the previous year. It isn’t known how many of those unable to travel may have bought abortion pills online. In 2015, Belfast’s High Court ruled that abortion laws in Northern Ireland breached human rights legislation. Four years later, in July this year, MPs voted in Westminster to pass a law that lifts the ban on 22 October if the Northern Ireland assembly didn’t reconvene before then. Unionist politicians, who oppose liberalisation of abortion laws, used a petition to recall the assembly, but they were told yesterday that the assembly couldn’t take any action until a speaker was elected. From today, ongoing prosecutions, such as that of a mother who bought abortion pills for her 15-year-old daughter, will be dropped. Local abortion services should be in place by 31 March 2020. “Today marks the first step in getting women in Northern Ireland equal rights with their counterparts in England and Wales,” Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow who tabled the abortion amendment, said in a statement. “When it comes to being able to make decisions over their own bodies, women and girls in Northern Ireland will no longer be threatened with the criminal law.”
10-2-19 Georgia abortion ban: Federal judge temporarily blocks bill
A US federal judge has temporarily blocked a strict new abortion law in the state of Georgia that would have banned terminations as early as six weeks into pregnancy. The law, signed in May by Republican Governor Brian Kemp, was scheduled to come into effect on 1 January. A group of civil rights groups, doctors and clinics sued state officials in June in an attempt to block it. The governor's office said it was reviewing the judge's decision. The state's so-called "heartbeat bill" seeks to make abortion illegal as soon as a foetal heartbeat can be detected. In most cases that is around the six-week mark of a pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. The law allows for exceptions in some circumstances, including pregnancies by rape or incest, a medical risk to the mother's life, or when the foetus is determined to have a serious medical condition. Georgia was among a number of Republican-led states that passed stricter abortion legislation this year, but none of the new laws has yet taken effect amid legal challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights collectively filed a constitutional challenge to stop the legislation from going into effect, calling it an "affront to the dignity and health of Georgians". US District Judge Steve Jones cited the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v Wade decision, which legalised abortion prior to viability. Judge Jones argues that Georgia's new law contravened the landmark Supreme Court decision because a foetal heartbeat can be detected months before the point of viability. The Supreme Court, he wrote, had "repeatedly and unequivocally held that a state may not ban abortion" prior to that point. The challenge to the new law was likely to succeed, he said, adding that the current legislation should remain in effect for the time being.
9-24-19 Indonesia protests over sex before marriage bill
Police have fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters demonstrating outside the Indonesian parliament over a proposed new criminal code that would ban sex before marriage. Protests against the bill also took place in other cities in the country. The bill would outlaw most abortions and make insulting the president illegal. The bill has been delayed, but protesters are concerned it could still eventually pass through parliament. The proposed new criminal code includes the following: 1. Sex before marriage would be criminalised and could result in a one-year prison term. 2. Living together outside marriage could lead to a six-month prison sentence. 3. Insulting the president, vice president, religion, state institutions and symbols such as the flag and national anthem would be illegal. 4. Abortion would carry a maximum four-year prison term if there were no circumstances of a medical emergency or rape. The bill was initially scheduled for a vote on Tuesday - however, President Joko Widodo postponed the vote on Friday, stating that that new laws needed more consideration. Despite the delay, many Indonesians are concerned that the bill could still be pushed through parliament. There is also anger over the passing of a new law that has weakened the Corruption Eradication Commission, an important arm in rooting out corruption. Thousands of protesters, many of which were students, took to the streets in cities across Indonesia. The main clashes took place in the capital Jakarta as demonstrators demanded to meet parliament speaker Bambang Soesatyo. Protesters pelted police with rocks, who responded with tear gas and water cannons. One placard held by a woman said: "My crotch does not belong to the government". Protests in other areas, including Yogyakarta and Makassar on Sulawesi island, continued for a second day.
9-23-19 Five theories for the record-low US abortion rate
Abortion rates have fallen to their lowest level since the pregnancy-terminating procedure was legalised in a 1973 Supreme Court decision, according to a new report. But experts say the reason for the decline can be hard to isolate. The study released on Wednesday by the Guttmacher Institute - a research organisation that supports abortion access - found a 7% decline from 2014 to 2017. In 2017, around 862,320 abortions were performed, the group estimates - nearly 200,000 fewer than in 2011 and down from a high of 1.6m in 1990. Despite nearly a decade of efforts by conservative state and county politicians to restrict abortion access, Guttmacher says the decline is not necessarily linked to new laws. So what are some of the theories for the record-low US abortion rate? The authors of the Guttmacher report - which is periodically compiled based on hospital and abortion clinic surveys - found that one reason for the decrease could be due to better access to contraception and improvement in female contraception devices. Intrauterine devices and implants have improved in the past decade and are increasingly covered by insurance companies due to the 2009 Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Elizabeth Nash, a policy manager for the Guttmacher Institute, says that the ACA, along with other local legislation, has increased access to birth control. She cautions that the report shows the national average, but does not tell individual stories. For example, although the average distance women travelled for an abortion in 2014 was 34 miles (55km), some women were forced to travel much further for the same procedure. "Some people are going hundreds of miles while some people are living in cities where they can take the bus or the train," she says. Women are also turning to at-home medical abortions rather than surgery, the report says, noting that 95% of all documented procedures still take place in specialised clinics. Abortions performed outside a clinic are harder or impossible to track, and could help explain the drop. Medical abortions, which use the so-called abortion pill, accounted for 39% of abortions in 2017, up from 20% in 2014. Nearly four in 10 abortions in 2017 were performed using abortion pills instead of surgery, the report notes.
9-13-19 Where abortions are still happening
At least 276,000 women had abortions outside their home state between 2012 and 2017, as some states have passed stricter abortion laws and the number of clinics has declined. In New Mexico, the number of out-of-state women who had abortions doubled over that period, while Missouri women had almost half the abortions performed in Kansas.
8-30-19 Abortion ban blocked
A federal judge blocked Missouri’s ban on abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy this week, one day before it was set to take effect, saying the law is likely unconstitutional. Judge Howard Sachs criticized lawmakers’ “hostility” to Supreme Court precedent, calling the bill passed in May a “protest” against decisions such as Roe v. Wade; he said it would block about half of reported abortions in Missouri, where just one abortion clinic remains. Sachs did allow other components of the law to take effect, including bans on abortions motivated solely by the sex or race of the fetus, or by a diagnosis of Down syndrome. The law would punish medical professionals who break the eight-week rule with up to 15 years in prison; Roe established a 24-week standard. Missouri created exceptions for when a woman faces a “medical emergency,” but not for when a pregnancy results from rape or incest.
8-28-19 US judge blocks Missouri eight-week abortion ban
A US federal judge has temporarily blocked Missouri from enforcing a law banning nearly all abortions in the state after eight weeks of pregnancy. The law was set to take effect on Wednesday. It would ban abortions after eight weeks except in cases of medical emergency. US District Judge Howard Sachs said it was not to be enforced, "pending litigation or further order of the court". The decision to block the law's enforcement followed a legal challenge by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union. They sued Missouri last month, arguing that the law was unconstitutional and went against the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, which legalised abortion nationwide. A number of US states have introduced or proposed restrictive abortion regulations this year in an effort to challenge the ruling. "While federal courts should generally be very cautious before delaying the effect of State laws, the sense of caution may be mitigated when the legislation seems designed, as here, as a protest against Supreme Court decisions," Mr Sachs wrote in his opinion on Tuesday. A portion of the legislation prohibiting abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential for Down syndrome was permitted to take effect. Planned Parenthood said it would continue fighting to oppose that section of the law, too. "Every reason to have an abortion is a valid reason," Dr Colleen McNicholas, a chief medical officer with the organisation, said. Attorneys for the state can now appeal against the ruling. A spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said his office was reviewing the ruling before deciding what steps to take next.
8-23-19 Planned Parenthood rejects federal funding over ‘gag rule’
Planned Parenthood announced this week that it was withdrawing from a federal family-planning program that funds health care for poor women, rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that bars participating clinics from telling patients where and how they can get an abortion. The group receives some $60 million a year through the program, Title X, which Planned Parenthood uses to provide 1.5 million women each year with services such as contraception and pregnancy tests, as well as screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and cervical and breast cancer. Planned Parenthood’s acting president, Alexis McGill Johnson, said the group had no choice but to opt out of Title X because of the “unethical” new rule. “Our patients deserve to make their own health-care decisions,” McGill Johnson said, “not to be forced to have Donald Trump or Mike Pence make those decisions for them.” The implementation of the new Title X rule was cheered by anti-abortion groups. “It is a long-awaited victory that will energize the pro-life grass roots,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life. The impact of Planned Parenthood’s exit from Title X will vary across the country: Some states, including Illinois and Vermont, have said they will make up the shortfall. But in Utah, where Planned Parenthood is the only Title X provider, and Minnesota, where it serves 90 percent of Title X recipients, cutbacks could mean low-income women will face long waits for appointments. Some, the group says, might opt to go without any care at all. No respectable medical provider would obey this “gag rule,” said Melissa Gira Grant in NewRepublic.com. Now Planned Parenthood clinics across the country will on average lose 19 percent of their funding, and millions of poor Americans will lose access to vital services. If you want to know what will happen next, “Texas provides a disturbing preview.” After the state clamped down on family-planning funds in 2011, long-acting contraceptive use fell by 35 percent and Medicaid-covered births jumped 27 percent.
8-23-19 Miscarriage is not murder
A Salvadoran woman who was accused of inducing an abortion after suffering a stillbirth had her homicide conviction overturned on appeal this week, ending a case that brought international attention to El Salvador’s strict anti-abortion laws. Evelyn Hernández, 21, was raped by a gang member and says she did not know she was pregnant until she gave birth to a stillborn in a bathroom in April 2016. Doctors could not determine whether the fetus had been alive at the birth. Prosecutors charged her with murder because in El Salvador abortion is illegal under all circumstances—including rape and incest—and in 2017 she was sentenced to 30 years in prison. “Thank God, justice was done,” Hernández said. “There are many women who are still locked up, and I call for them to be freed soon, too.”
8-20-19 El Salvador woman cleared over baby's death says 'justice was done'
A 21-year-old woman acquitted of the aggravated murder of her baby in El Salvador has called on her supporters to fight for others like her. A judge said there was no evidence that Evelyn Hernández had killed her child, which was found dead in the septic tank of the toilet where she gave birth. His ruling contradicted that of a 2017 trial, during which Ms Hernández was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years. Women's groups hope the ruling will set a precedent for other jailed women. "I ask that justice and freedom be done for the other women," Ms Hernández said, referring to at least 17 women who are currently in jail over similar cases. El Salvador has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances and those found guilty face between two and eight years in jail. But in many instances, including the case against Ms Hernández, the charge is changed to one of aggravated homicide, which carries a minimum sentence of 30 years. Ms Hernández says that on 6 April 2016, when she was 18, she experienced severe stomach pains and bleeding while at her home in rural El Salvador. When she went to the toilet, located in an outhouse, she fainted. Her mother took her to a hospital, where doctors found she had given birth. She was arrested after the body of her baby was found in the toilet's septic tank. She was originally charged with inducing an abortion, which is illegal in El Salvador. That charge was later changed to aggravated murder, and she was sentenced to 30 years in prison in July 2017. Her lawyers appealed against the sentence, arguing that forensic evidence showed that the baby had died of meconium aspiration, inhaling his own early stool. This can happen while the baby is still in the uterus, during delivery or immediately after birth – casting doubt on the prosecution's argument that the baby had died from inhaling faeces inside the septic tank. Ms Hernández served 33 months in jail before her appeal was successful and a retrial was ordered. She was released from prison in February pending her retrial.
8-9-19 Forced abortions
China is complicit in the forced abortions performed on pregnant North Korean women who try to defect, experts on the Hermit Kingdom said this week. China routinely sends defectors back to North Korea, where guards kick or beat any who are pregnant until they miscarry, assuming they are bearing Chinese children. “Some [defectors] reported having soldiers jump on their stomach until the baby came out, others by having various instruments inserted,” said Dong Yon Kim of South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo. If a repatriated woman does give birth, prison guards “smother or drown their babies before their very eyes,” said Olivia Enos of the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation.
8-5-19 Abortion rights: New Zealand moves to decriminalise
New Zealand's government has proposed decriminalising abortion and allowing women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Jacinda Ardern's government issued details of a bill which would change abortion laws in force since 1977. As things stand, a woman may only obtain an abortion if two doctors certify continued pregnancy would endanger her mental or physical health. Ms Ardern has said she expects voting on the bill to be "close". The legislation will go before parliament for the first time on Thursday. If passed, the proposal would mean a woman would no longer have to be assessed by a health practitioner for mental or physical wellbeing before 20 weeks. Women would be able to refer themselves to an abortion service provider and would have to be made aware of counselling services. After 20 weeks of pregnancy, the person providing the abortion would have to "reasonably believe" the woman's mental and physical health were adequate for the procedure to go ahead. The legislation also allows for "safe areas" round the premises of abortion providers to prevent harassment from anti-abortion protesters. "It is time for this to change," Justice Minister Andrew Little said. "Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue; a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body," he added. There is currently no upper limit to when an abortion can take place in New Zealand law, according to New Zealand Family Planning, but abortions beyond 20 weeks are rare.
7-21-19 How Roe v. Wade benefits men
Fellas: Did you watch the World Cup? Did you catch When They See Us? How do you feel about lower crime rates, and fewer kids born into poverty? Paternity leave and free access to screening for sexually transmitted diseases? How about being able to talk to your wife about Stranger Things instead of sitting across a table from her in silent, uncomprehending alienation? Pretty cool, isn't it? So why aren't we speaking up a little more about abortion rights? When I contemplate the compounding benefits of Roe v. Wade, to me and everyone I know, the world before it looms like a primordial, three-martini swamp, barely capable of supporting life as we know it. The distance traveled since 1973, when half the population was excluded from full participation in the cultural, civic, economic and political life of the country so that men could enjoy — what, exactly? — can feel as unclosable to me as the space between stars. Roe may not have toppled the patriarchy, but it gave its foundation a profound and reverberating shake, not only freeing countless women from the near-slavery of forced child birth and embittering marriage, and large numbers of men from the heart-hardening and soul-crushing behaviors required to keep the machinery of subjugation functioning, but even much of the wider culture from a narrow-minded and misogynistic self-conception. The right to abortion is a lynchpin of modernity. The recognition of women's reproductive rights, and by extension their full-fledged humanity, was an event that, like the Voting Rights Act or the New Deal before it, seemed to mark a before-and-after point in our fitful national progress. Yet, just like those once-immovable milestones, Roe v. Wade is now under concerted, ferocious attack. We are speeding backwards toward the grim old days, on a bus hijacked by men who refer to blastocysts as "babies," their wives as "mother," and credibly accused sexual predators as "Mr. President." Roe has already been effectively overturned in dozens of states, and the federal right to abortion is hanging on by the narrow width of a thinning, bleached, and over-combed hair. So-called "personhood" and "heartbeat" bills not only lay the foundation for banning abortion and contraception, they will eventually, like Roe, exert broad influence across our legal, economic, environmental, and political landscape. It will be an unmitigated disaster if Roe's opponents succeed, first and foremost for women, of course, but also for the nation as a whole. Roe didn't merely change reproductive law; it contributed to sea changes in public health, politics, education, crime, advertising, migration, sports, art, and entertainment. It freed women to imagine futures that had been unavailable to them for millennia, and men to share in the many fruits of those futures. So why are we responding to this emergency by asking women to take on yet another unpleasant task made unpleasant by men: the fight against the many forces committed to denying them bodily autonomy? Who do we think we are? No, really. Who. Who do we imagine ourselves to be, exactly?
7-19-19 60% of Americans say abortion should be legal
As numerous states seek to strictly limit access to abortion, 60% of Americans say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, up 5% from 2013 and the highest level of support in 24 years. 36% think abortion should be prohibited in all or most cases, tying the record low. Description
6-28-19 No forced abortion
A British appellate court has overturned a lower court’s ruling that would have forced a mentally disabled woman to get an abortion against her wishes. The unnamed woman, a Catholic, is in her 20s but has the intellectual capacity of a 6- to 9-year-old. Her care is supervised by a National Health Service trust, which sought the abortion. The circumstances of the pregnancy are unclear. (Webmaster's comment: She was obviously raped by some man who took advantage of her condition, and will now get to have his genes passed on.) The lower court had ruled that even though it would be “an immense intrusion,” an abortion would be in her best interests, because she could not care for the child. “I think she would like to have a baby in the same way she would like to have a nice doll,” said Judge Nathalie Lieven. The woman’s mother, who says she is willing to raise the child, appealed the decision, and the higher court reversed the ruling just days before the procedure was to have been carried out.
6-28-19 When US pulls overseas abortion funding, abortion rates go up not down
When US foreign aid for abortion providers stopped in 2001 for eight years, the number of pregnancy terminations in parts of sub-Saharan Africa went up, new figures show. The rise may have happened because many health clinics that offer abortions also provide contraception services, so more women got pregnant without meaning to, says Eran Bendavid of Stanford University in California. The US, which is one of the world’s biggest foreign aid spenders, has withheld money from overseas clinics that provide abortions whenever it has had a Republican president, ever since the Reagan administration. The policy is known as the global gag rule or the Mexico City Policy – named after the place where it was announced in 1984. Abortion funding was turned back on under President Bill Clinton, turned off under President George W. Bush, on under President Barack Obama and was turned off under President Donald Trump in 2017. Bendavid’s team analysed the provision of contraception and abortion services in 26 African countries between 1995 and 2014, spanning periods when funding was on, then off, then on again. Half the countries were highly affected by the funding changes, but the rest were less dependent on US aid in this area. Compared with the less dependent countries, the highly affected nations had a 40 per cent rise in abortions when funding for clinics was withdrawn. Contraception use was also lower during this period. “I imagine that many people who support the policy would have a preference for a world with fewer abortions,” says Bendavid. “I would say the policy is counterproductive.” A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a charity that provides abortion services in the UK, says the Mexico City Policy hits countries particularly hard because clinics that get US funding are often chosen by the US authorities because of a lack of other health services in the area.
6-28-19 Alabama woman charged after losing unborn baby in shooting
A 27-year-old woman in Alabama has been indicted for manslaughter after losing her unborn baby in a shooting - despite not being the shooter. Marshae Jones was arrested on Wednesday for initiating a dispute last December that led to another woman shooting her in the stomach, local media reported. Charges against the shooter were dismissed after a failed indictment. Pro-choice groups are now saying it shows how the state's new restrictive abortion laws can affect other cases. The Jefferson County Bessemer District Attorney's office issued a statement saying they are weighing whether or not to prosecute the "truly tragic case" and denying any connection to anti-abortion legislation, local media reported. "Our office is in the process of evaluating this case and has not yet made a determination about whether to prosecute it as a manslaughter case, reduce it to a lesser charge or not to prosecute it." On 4 December, while she was five months pregnant, Ms Jones was involved in a fight with 23-year-old Ebony Jemison outside of a Dollar General store, according to AL.com. According to police, the argument began over the unborn child's father, and resulted in Ms Jemison eventually shooting Ms Jones and leading to her miscarriage. Ms Jemison faced a manslaughter charge that was dismissed after a grand jury failed to indict her, AL.com reported. Police then said that since Ms Jones allegedly started the initial argument and endangered her baby's life, she would face similar charges. Police also alleged that Ms Jemison was forced to defend herself from Ms Jones. (Webmaster's comment: A travesty against pregnant women everwhere!)
6-25-19 Majority in U.S. Still Want Abortion Legal, With Limits
As activists on both sides of the abortion debate respond to a spate of new state laws aimed at curtailing first-term abortions, Gallup finds the views of U.S. adults about abortion holding steady. At the same time, more Americans than ever before in Gallup polling say their support for candidates will hinge on the issue. Currently, 53% of U.S. adults believe abortion should be legal "only under certain circumstances," far more than the 25% who favor it being legal with no restrictions and the 21% who think it should be completely illegal. These results from a May 1-12 Gallup poll, align with what Gallup has found most years since 1975, the year it began tracking these attitudes.
- Americans lean against fetal heartbeat laws and overturning Roe v. Wade
- Record high 29% will only consider like-minded candidates on abortion
- Public still closely divided in identifying as "pro-life" or "pro-choice"
6-14-19 What's going on in the fight over US abortion rights?
Louisiana has joined a slew of states across the US in legalising an anti-abortion measure that bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy. What's behind the push - and the backlash - for anti-abortion bills across the US? In the first months of this year, nearly 30 states introduced some form of an abortion ban in their legislature. Fifteen have specifically been working with so-called "heartbeat bills", that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. These bills are part of a wider movement of anti-abortion measures sweeping the US. Earlier in May, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill to ban abortion outright. And Missouri's sole remaining abortion clinic remains embroiled in a legal battle to keep its operating license from the state health department. If the provider loses, Missouri will become the only US state without an abortion clinic. (Webmaster's comment: Let's make sure the poorer women who can't afford more children have to have them!) "Heartbeat bills", as the term implies, seek to make abortion illegal as soon as what anti-abortion supporters describe as a foetus' heartbeat becomes detectable. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says the name is misleading, and that what is being detected is "a portion of the foetal tissue that will become the heart as the embryo develops" In most cases, this point is at the six-week mark of a pregnancy - before many women even know they are pregnant. "We have never seen so much action around six-week abortion bans," said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute - a group that researches sexual and reproductive health. But we now have seen a shift in the composition of the US Supreme Court." President Donald Trump has placed two conservative Supreme Court justices and, Ms Nash says, making it seem more amenable to revoking abortion rights. "Because of this, we are seeing state legislatures looking to ban abortion as a way to kickstart litigation that would come before the [Supreme] court, and the court could then roll back abortion rights."
6-14-19 Government clampdown on fetal tissue research
Scientists reacted with dismay last week after the Trump administration sharply restricted federal funding for medical research that uses fetal tissue, potentially affecting some $100 million in grants. Collected from elective abortions, the tissue has been used to develop vaccines for illnesses including polio, rubella, and measles, and is currently being used to study diseases including cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. The new restrictions will result in three research projects at the National Institutes of Health being shuttered. About 200 outside research projects that use the material and receive NIH funding will be allowed to continue until their grants expire. Future research projects will then have to be approved by an ethics advisory board appointed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. The White House said the research clampdown would “protect the dignity of human life.” The change is a victory for anti-abortion groups. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said it was “disgusting” that taxpayers had helped fund “experimentation using baby body parts.” But scientists said the restrictions would severely hamper their research. Stem cells harvested from fetal tissue can transform into any cell, replicate quickly, and don’t trigger the same immune response as adult cells, which means they can be injected into lab mice to study human diseases. “The ban on fetal tissue research,” said Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University, is “a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life-threatening and debilitating diseases.” “This is nothing more than a sop to the religious right,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. Clamping down on scientists’ use of fetal tissue won’t save any babies—because abortion will continue—but it will chill research that could help babies, children, and adults avoid suffering and death. You can’t claim to be pro-life if you’re denying science “the best tools available to find cures and create medicine for sick people.”
6-14-19 Hyde Amendment: Biden’s abortion flip-flop
“I think it’s fair to award Joe Biden with a triple flip-flop for his recent abortion acrobatics,” said Philip Klein in WashingtonExaminer.com. The presumptive Democratic front-runner reversed his position on federal funding for abortions no less than three times in recent weeks. When asked at a campaign event whether he supports the Hyde Amendment, which bans Medicaid funding for abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the patient’s life, Biden said, “It can’t stay.” Later, Biden—a Catholic who has supported the amendment since the 1970s—quickly backtracked, saying he misheard the question. Predictably, this enraged pro-abortion liberals. So, Biden reversed himself yet again and called for the Hyde Amendment to be repealed. How telling. Moderate Democrats like Biden used to embrace Hyde as “an olive branch to the pro-life community.” But in the “pro-abortion extremism” of today’s Democratic Party, moderation is heresy. The middle ground on abortion “no longer exists,” said Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post, and it’s Republicans who’ve made it this way. As long as abortion remained generally available, it was possible for moderates like Biden to embrace compromises like the Hyde Amendment. But with Republican state legislatures shutting down abortion clinics with ever-stricter regulations, the procedure is becoming de facto unavailable in many parts of the country. That’s why the Hyde Amendment—which makes it much harder for low-income women to get the procedure—is no longer acceptable to pro-choice Democrats.
6-11-19 Firms say US abortion restrictions are 'bad for business'
Nearly 200 business leaders have signed an open letter arguing US moves to restrict abortion are "bad for business". The campaign comes as several US states have passed or are considering stricter new abortion laws. They include controversial "heartbeat bills" which would ban abortion once a foetal heartbeat is detectable. The letter published in the New York Times said curbs on abortion threaten the health of staff and customers. The chief executives of Slack, Square, Zoom, and Bloomberg were among those who signed the letter entitled "Don't Ban Equality", according to the American Civil Liberties Union which helped organise the campaign. "Restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and customers," it said. "It impairs our ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the wellbeing of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and out." "Simply put, it goes against our values and is bad for business," the letter said. The heartbeat bills seek to make abortion illegal as soon as a foetus' heartbeat is detectable. In most cases, this is at the six-week mark of a pregnancy - before many women even know they are pregnant. A number of US media giants have publicly stated they will reconsider filming in Georgia if the state's strict new abortion law takes effect. Disney, Netflix and WarnerMedia have all objected to the legislation. Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney, said Georgia's heartbeat bill would make it "difficult" to keep filming there. WarnerMedia said it would reconsider Georgia "if the new law holds" and Netflix has said it would "rethink" its productions in the state should the law take effect. Georgia makes billions of dollars from film and television productions.
6-7-19 Abortion: Hollywood’s Georgia boycott
Hollywood’s biggest companies are threatening to boycott Georgia over its “fetal heartbeat” abortion law, said Steven Zeitchik in WashingtonPost.com. Facing pressure from more than 100 stars, among them Ben Stiller, Amy Schumer, and Don Cheadle, Netflix’s chief content officer vowed to “rethink our entire investment in Georgia.” The state, which offers large tax incentives to producers, has been dubbed Y’allywood for the billions in entertainment industry business it attracts; it was the site of 455 TV and film productions last year, including Avengers: Endgame. Disney, WarnerMedia, Sony, CBS, and NBCUniversal also threatened to shun Georgia should its new abortion law take effect. “Many people who work for us will not want to work there,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. With Hollywood’s image “tarnished” by #MeToo revelations, said Tara Lachapelle in Bloomberg.com, this boycott gives the industry a chance to stand up for “the rights and safety” of women.
6-7-19 Biden reverses stance on abortion funding amid Democratic backlash
Former US Vice-President Joe Biden has reversed his stance on abortion funding amid mounting criticism from his fellow 2020 Democratic rivals. At a Democratic gala on Thursday, Mr Biden denounced a law which restricts federal abortion funding, saying he believed all healthcare was a right. The party's current front-runner added that he made "no apologies" for having backed it previously. Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke had been the latest to attack his stance. Mr Biden had long voiced support for the Hyde Amendment - a law passed in 1976, right on the heels of the Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion across the US. His campaign had told NBC News this week he was still in favour of the amendment, triggering a backlash from liberal Democrats. In 1976, Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican congressman, wrote an amendment to a federal funding bill that stated: "None of the funds contained in this Act shall be used to perform abortions except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the foetus were carried to term." The amendment meant that the vast majority of women receiving federal assistance through the low-income healthcare programme Medicaid would be blocked from using that money for abortion services, which can often cost several hundred dollars. In 1994, under Democratic President Bill Clinton, the Hyde Amendment was updated to include exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Speaking at a gala by the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta, Mr Biden said the amendment was now incompatible with his views on universal health coverage. "If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's ZIP code." "I want to be clear," he added. "I make no apologies for my last position. I make no apologies for what I'm about to say." Mr Biden said he was "working through the finer details" of his healthcare plan and had been "struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents". He cited the recent push by conservative state legislatures nationwide to enact restrictions on abortion - or an outright ban, as Alabama did - as one of the reasons for his policy change.
6-6-19 Trump administration ends federal foetal tissue research
The Trump administration has ended federal research using human foetal tissue, delivering a victory to anti-abortion advocates. The move, announced on Wednesday, has been criticised by scientists who say such tissue is essential in researching diseases like HIV and cancer. The Department of Health and Human Services cited "the dignity of human life" as a "top priority". Privately funded or university-led research is not affected by the policy. "Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump's administration," the department said in a statement. Any National Institutes of Health (NIH) research that requires acquiring new foetal tissue will no longer be conducted under the policy change. As for external grant applications that would use this tissue, HHS said they will be subject to review from an ethics advisory board to determine "whether, in light of the ethical considerations, NIH should fund the research project". In 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began reviewing all federal research involving human foetal tissue and halted any new acquisition of tissue. Now, the government will also not renew a $2m (£1.5m) contract with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) for research using tissue from elective abortions. The contract expires on 5 June. "The audit and review helped inform the policy process that led to the administration's decision to let the contract with UCSF expire and to discontinue intramural research - research conducted within the National Institutes of Health - involving the use of human foetal tissue from elective abortion," the statement said. According to the Associated Press, a senior official said the policy move came from President Donald Trump, not the NIH Director, Francis Collins
5-31-19 Missouri's last abortion clinic wins last-minute reprieve
A judge has temporarily blocked Missouri from becoming the first US state not to have an abortion clinic in nearly half a century. Planned Parenthood won a court order to keep the state's only abortion clinic open, on the day it was due to close. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has refused to renew its operating licence, alleging "deficient practices". Nine US states have passed anti-abortion legislation this year. On Friday, Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer said the Missouri abortion clinic's licence could remain in effect while Planned Parenthood seeks a preliminary injunction against the state. A ruling on that matter is expected next Tuesday. Earlier this week, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released a statement citing "ongoing concerns" about the clinic in the wake of its annual inspection. These concerns included violations of Missouri law and "failed surgical abortions in which patients remained pregnant", according to state officials. Planned Parenthood dismissed the charges as politically motivated. "Today is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over," said Dr Leana Wen, president of the reproductive health organisation. If Planned Parenthood ultimately loses the case, Missouri could become the first state not to have a legal abortion clinic since 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled that US women have the right to choose an abortion. The legal battle comes days after Missouri enacted a bill to outlaw nearly all abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, making no exceptions for rape or incest. On Thursday, Louisiana approved legislation banning pregnancy terminations after a foetal heartbeat is detected. Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi have passed similar bills.
5-31-19 Louisiana passes law banning abortions after heartbeat is detected
Louisiana's Democratic governor has signed a highly restrictive new abortion law that bans the procedure after a foetal heartbeat is detected. The law could prohibit abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. State legislators overwhelmingly backed the bill on Wednesday, by 79 votes to 23 and Governor John Bel Edwards signed the bill into law on Thursday. It is the latest in a raft of anti-abortion measures which are expected to face legal challenges. Four other states have passed similar limits to abortion this year. In a statement, Governor Edwards said: "I call on the overwhelming bipartisan majority of legislators who voted for [the law] to join me in continuing to build a better Louisiana that cares for the least among us and provides more opportunity for everyone." He did not hold a signing ceremony. Women throughout the US have staged protests against the Lousiana legislation, and major Hollywood stars and production companies have vowed to boycott states that implement such bans. Disney, Netflix and WarnerMedia have all publicly threatened to rethink production in these states if the laws take effect.So-called heartbeat laws seek to make abortion illegal as soon as a foetal heartbeat is detectable. In most cases, this is at the six-week mark of a pregnancy - before many women even know they are pregnant. Although Louisiana's stringent law does allow abortions in cases where the pregnant woman's life is in danger, it does not include exemptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape. But the law will only come into force if a federal court upholds a similar ban passed in neighbouring Mississippi. A judge temporarily blocked the Mississippi law when it was passed. US President Donald Trump has appointed two conservative judges to the Supreme Court since taking office, and analysts say conservatives across the US see this as the moment to challenge the 1973 Roe vs Wade ruling - which granted women the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Louisiana is the fifth state to pass a heartbeat law, after Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi. (Webmaster's comment: A women's right to decide what happens to her own body is under attack by religious zealots! They wish to turn her into a breeding machine under their control. And if she doesn't obey back to stoning them to death.)
5-30-19 Disney could pull productions from Georgia over abortion law
Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney says Georgia's controversial new anti-abortion law would make it "difficult" for the company to keep filming there. Blockbusters like Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame, were recently shot in the state, due to its generous tax breaks for film productions. However, Iger said "many people who work for us will not want to work there" should the law go into effect. "We will have to heed their wishes," he told Reuters. Earlier this month, Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed the so-called "heartbeat bill," which would ban abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January, but is expected to face challenges in the courts. The legislation has caused a furious backlash in Hollywood and led to calls for a boycott. Earlier this week, Netflix said it would "rethink" its operations there with chief content officer Ted Sarandos explaining: "We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law," He said the streaming giant would "work with the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] and others to fight it in court." Meanwhile, stars including Amy Schumer, Ben Stiller, Christina Applegate, Laverne Cox and Alec Baldwin wrote to the governor saying they would "do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women". Comedy actress and writer Kristen Wiig also confirmed to CNN that her new comedy had pulled out of filming in the state while the executive producers of a new Amazon show The Power said it was no longer scouting for filming locations in Georgia because of the controversial bill. Actor Jason Bateman, who stars in the Netflix show Ozark and in HBO's The Outsider, which are both currently filming in Georgia, told The Hollywood Reporter: "I will not work in Georgia, or any other state, that is so disgracefully at odds with women's rights".
5-29-19 Clarence Thomas' anti-eugenics argument against abortion and birth control is outrageous
Why the Supreme Court justice's screed should concern all Americans The politics of abortion have become so heated that Tuesday's news about Missouri's intent to force the last abortion clinic in the state to shut down by the end of this week was only the second most important story of the day to touch on reproductive rights. First prize would have to go to the remarkable 20-page concurrence penned by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in an otherwise fairly low-stakes abortion case. The concurrence raised sweeping moral and legal objections to abortion — but it went far beyond that, taking aim squarely at birth control, the purchase of which has been constitutionally protected since 1965, when Griswold v. Connecticut established a right to privacy in matters of marriage and sex. With this concurrence, Thomas may well be attempting to set the legal and constitutional agenda for the next generation of social conservatives. That the arguments he deploys in doing so are extraordinarily weak should ease no one's mind at all. The case that served as the occasion for Thomas' moral musings was Box v. Planned Parenthood. The Box petitioners asked for review on two issues. The first involved the question of whether Indiana law may require health-care facilities to dispose of fetal remains in the same manner as other human remains (through burial or cremation). By a vote of 7-2, the Court ruled that it can. (For pro-lifers, this could potentially serve as one tiny step among hundreds in the direction of establishing fetal "personhood," which anti-abortion activists hope one day to use to get the procedure banned nationwide. But that day is still a ways off.) The second question raised by the Box petitioners dealt with whether a state may prohibit abortions motivated solely by the race, sex, or disability of the fetus. On this matter the Court denied review, claiming that the Courts of Appeals must weigh in before the high court takes a position. But that didn't stop Justice Thomas from writing a concurrence in which he made quite clear that he thinks such restrictions on abortion are not merely permitted by law but quite possibly demanded by morality itself. The concurrence sketches the history of eugenics in the United States, highlighting its ties to the movement for rights to birth control, especially in the writings of Margaret Sanger, the feminist icon and founder of Planned Parenthood. Sanger favored birth control as a means to eugenic ends, according to Thomas, including the elimination of undesirable traits from the human race through selective breeding, sterilization, and other forms of control over who gets to reproduce.
5-28-19 Abortion in US: What surprise Supreme Court ruling means
In a surprise move, the Supreme Court has issued a pair of decisions on an Indiana law restricting abortions, offering clues on how the nine-member court - with two new justices appointed by Donald Trump - could view the contentious issue in the days and years ahead. The court's actions were a mixed bag for those on both sides of the abortion debate. In an unsigned opinion, the justices upheld a state requirement that all foetal remains - whether the product of a miscarriage or an abortion - be either buried or cremated. Anti-abortion activists viewed the provision as a step toward recognising foetal tissue not as medical waste but as human remains deserving dignified treatment. Abortion rights groups countered that the Supreme Court precedent does not consider a foetus to be human. The purpose of the Indiana law, Planned Parenthood wrote in a statement, is to "shame and stigmatise" women seeking abortions. A majority of the justices sided with Indiana, holding that the burial provision advanced a legitimate interest of the state, even if the law wasn't "perfectly tailored" to address foetal remains in all circumstances. The second portion of the Indiana law at issue was where the real fireworks could have erupted - but didn't. The justices declined to reverse, or even review, a lower court's ruling invalidating the portion of the Indiana law that prohibited elective abortions performed because of the race, gender or "disability" of the foetus. While there is little evidence of abortions performed because of race or gender in the US, physicians regularly test for foetal abnormalities, presenting parents with the decision of whether to terminate the pregnancy. If the court had chosen to consider the case - with full legal briefings, oral arguments and a ruling sometime next year - it could have served as the vehicle to reverse the 1973 Roe v Wade precedent upholding a woman's unfettered right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.
5-25-19 US groups sue Alabama over 'extreme' abortion ban
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood, an abortion and healthcare provider, have sued Alabama over its ban on abortion. The groups called the "extreme" law a "manmade public health emergency". The ban, which offers no exceptions for rape or incest, was signed last week but has not taken effect. Anti-abortion supporters expected legal challenges, and hope the appeals will reach the US Supreme Court and allow them to re-visit federal laws. Randall Marshall, executive director of the Alabama ACLU, said: "Abortion remains - and will remain - safe and legal in Alabama. With this lawsuit, we are seeking a court order to make sure this law never takes effect." The southern state's controversial abortion law has made national headlines for weeks. Under Alabama's new ban, physicians who provide abortions could go to jail for up to 99 years, but a woman seeking the procedure would not be criminally liable. The law allows exceptions only if the mother's life is seriously at risk or the foetus has a fatal complication. Alabama is one of several states to pass highly restrictive abortion laws this year - and dozens more have proposed similar bills in their legislatures. On Friday, Missouri's governor signed into law a bill banning abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The governors of four states - Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio - signed bills in recent months banning abortion if an embryonic heartbeat can be detected. Currently, abortion is still allowed in the US thanks to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade, which ruled that abortions are protected up until viability - the point at which a foetus is able to survive outside the womb, around the third trimester of a pregnancy. (Webmaster's comment: South Dakota is very hostile to abortion. A woman is considered to be a birth cow, nothing more. It's the man's sperm that matters. It must bear fruit regardless of how the women is impregnated! So men can just rape away, including their children!)
5-24-19 Abortion: Will the Alabama law backfire?
Alabama’s extreme new abortion law “is the most damaging development to the pro-life movement in decades,” said Jonathan Last in TheBulwark.com. Brimming with confidence that the Supreme Court’s new solidly conservative majority is primed to overturn Roe v. Wade, Alabama legislators have passed a bill that bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy—with no exemptions for rape and incest. Doctors who participate in abortions could be sentenced to 99 years in prison. “Planned Parenthood couldn’t have designed a better weapon in their wildest dreams.” Most Americans favor some restrictions on abortion, but only about 20 percent want to see abortion outlawed altogether. The idea of forcing 13-year-olds raped by their fathers to give birth is even more toxic. The Alabama bill will erode the steady ground pro-lifers have gained in recent years in changing public opinion; it will hang like an albatross around the necks of Republicans running for office, while driving pro-choice fundraising and turnout. And for what? The law will be overturned in federal courts and the Supreme Court will decline to reverse them, because supporting such an extreme, nakedly partisan piece of legislation would destroy what’s left of the court’s reputation. In the end, the Alabama bill “will not prevent a single abortion.” “Alabama Republicans simply took the anti-abortion movement at its word,” said Sarah Jones in NYMag.com. Abortion opponents may be divided on tactics, but they agree on the basic premise: Every abortion, at every stage, “kills a person.” If you really believe that abortion is child murder, it follows that rape survivors should be forced to carry their rapist’s baby to term. The Alabama bill should serve as a wakeup call for the pro-choice movement. For decades, pro-choice women who’ve sounded the alarm about “the steady, merciless, and punitive erosion of reproductive rights” were dismissed as “silly hysterics,” said Rebecca Traister in The Cut.com. Comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale were mocked. Now we see what our Republican adversaries intend: Reversing Roe v. Wade, asserting power over women’s bodies and sex lives, and compelling us to give birth no matter what the circumstances. “It is terrifying,” and the fight for our privacy and self-determination “is going to last the rest of our lives.”
5-24-19 Jason Bateman
Actor and director Jason Bateman last week said he will refuse to keep filming Netflix’s Ozark and HBO’s The Outsider in Georgia if the state’s “heartbeat” abortion ban survives court challenges. He joins 40-plus actors—including Ben Stiller, Amy Schumer, and Don Cheadle—who’ve threatened to boycott the state, where lenient tax laws attract billions in Hollywood business. Producer Ron Howard also said last week that he would cease working in Georgia should the abortion crackdown take effect next January. “I will not work in Georgia,” Bateman said, “or any other state that is so disgracefully at odds with women’s rights.” Republican Gov. Brian Kemp defended signing the law, “even if that makes C-list celebrities squawk.”
5-23-19 What white women are getting wrong about the abortion debate
If you're marching around in a red handmaid's robe, you're missing the point. omen's reproductive rights are under attack in America. More than a dozen states have recently attempted to pass strict anti-abortion laws, and this month, two bills catapulted the anti-choice movement to a whole new level. In early May, Georgia voted to restrict abortion access to the first six weeks of pregnancy, a time when many women don't even know they are pregnant yet. Under this bill, getting or performing an abortion is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. A week later, Alabama passed legislation that not only criminalizes all abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, but would seek to penalize abortion providers with up to 99 years in prison. The response from pro-choice advocates has been loud and angry. They've taken to the streets in protest, often enrobed in the iconic red cloaks donned by characters in The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel (and now popular Hulu series) set in an America overtaken by Christian extremists and renamed Gilead. In a way, invoking the image of the Handmaid to raise alarm over disappearing reproductive rights makes sense. In Atwood's novel, many women live under intense levels of oppression, and their bodies are never their own. Fertile women are forced into the role of Handmaids and regularly raped by high-ranking husbands and forced to give birth on behalf of their infertile wives. But one of the things that makes Atwood's novel unequivocally fiction is its whiteness. In the real world, it is young women of color who will be affected most by these new laws. And cis white women responding to the legislation by donning Handmaid's robes and warning of a dystopian future is not only melodramatic and ineffective, it's also dismissive of the real harm that is happening here and now. Though the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale has recasts precious little diversity into the show, the book itself is unapologetically white. So, in the book, it's white women whose reproductive rights are stripped, and whose bodily autonomy is hijacked. But reality, of course, looks very different. Black mothers are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white mothers. Historically, black women have been subjected to unnecessary hysterectomies and were treated as guinea pigs when modern gynecology was invented. In other words, black women have already lived the horrors of The Handmaid's Tale.
5-22-19 In pictures: Protests across US against abortion bans
Thousands of people have taken part in co-ordinated rallies across the United States to protest against several states passing tough laws to restrict abortions. The anti-abortion bills, approved by Republican state legislatures amid a nationwide push for new restrictions by opponents of abortions, are likely to be challenged legally, forcing a ruling by the Supreme Court. Those against abortions hope the court - which now has a Conservative majority following appointments by President Donald Trump - could then overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that established a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy. Last week, the state of Alabama passed the most restrictive law yet, banning abortion in all cases apart from when the mother's life is at risk. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio are among the other states to pass new abortion restrictions. Earlier this year the Supreme Court blocked implementation of new abortion restrictions in Louisiana. However, the ruling was made by a narrow margin and the case is due to be reviewed later this year.
5-19-19 Trump breaks silence amid Alabama abortion ban row
US President Donald Trump has outlined his "strongly pro-life" views on abortion amid controversy over strict new laws passed in several states. Mr Trump said he was against abortion except in cases of rape, incest or a "serious health risk" to the mother. His stance on what is a divisive election issue in the US emerged days after Alabama passed a law banning abortion in almost all cases. A pro-choice rally is planned later on Sunday in protest at the new measures. Mr Trump, whose position on abortion has shifted over the years, had been largely silent on the Alabama restrictions until Saturday, when he posted a series of tweets outlining his views. "I am very strongly pro-life, with the three exceptions - rape, incest and protecting the life of the mother - the same position taken by Ronald Reagan", he said. The president added that judicial measures, such as his appointment of conservative Supreme Court judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, had helped to make abortion laws in various states more restrictive. "We have come very far in the last two years with 105 wonderful new federal judges (many more to come), two great new supreme court justices … and a whole new and positive attitude about the right to life." Abortion is an issue which remains controversial in the US, with evangelical Christians in particular forming a nucleus of voters who want to restrict, or even outlaw, the procedure completely. Mr Trump has adjusted his stance over the years. In 1999, he said: "I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still - I just believe in choice." But in March 2016, he clarified that his position was "pro-life with exceptions". On Saturday he tweeted that Republicans must unite to "win for life in 2020".
5-18-19 Alabama abortion ban: Should men have a say in the debate?
Most of the US state laws banning or severely restricting access to abortions have been voted on by male politicians. Should men have the right to rule on an issue that impacts women so intimately? The corridors leading up to the Alabama Senate are lined with black-and-white photographs of past legislative sessions - each framed poster like a yearbook page from a distinctly male-only school. But inside the dim public gallery, looking down onto the Senate floor, many of the seats are filled by women. They are young and old, some in suits and some in bright shirts with pro-choice slogans emblazoned across the front. They watch the drama play out in the chamber below, as a handful of Democrats and an even smaller number of women make clear their outrage over the abortion ban that will pass in just a few hours, and in a day, will become law. The activists next to me in the gallery laugh and gasp with each argument and reply. Some shout an 'Amen!' in agreement as the debate continues. When a female lawmaker steps up to the microphone, she says: We do not police men's bodies the way we police women's - and this decision about an issue concerning women so intimately is being made almost entirely by men. Though women make up 51% of Alabama's population, its lawmakers are 85% male. There are only four women in the 35-seat Alabama Senate, and they are all Democrats. Outside the stark white walls of the State House on Tuesday night, however, women were in the majority. Groups of pro-choice supporters chanted for hours in the courtyard, holding signs calling for abortion freedoms, for women alone to decide what happens to their own bodies. Delaney Burlingame, one of the young pro-choice activists I met there, told me: "These people don't care about protecting human rights. It's about controlling women." "They just want to be able to say: 'I control what happens in your body'." (Webmaster's comment: These men just want the right to rape a women and force her to have the child. Expect rape rates in Alabama to go way up!)
5-17-19 Alabama abortion ban: 'I had to give birth to my rapist's child'
Dina Zirlott says Alabama's ban on abortion even in cases of rape and incest treats women as "an incubator".
5-17-19 The silenced majority in America's crazed abortion debate
Abortion is tragic in the strict sense of the term. It's an act that pits fundamentally irreconcilable absolute rights against each other — the pregnant woman's right to determine what happens to her own body without state interference against the right to life of the fetus she carries inside her womb. Anyone who adopts an absolute position on the issue, denying the moral weight of the case for the opposite view, does so through an act of willful, ideologically motivated simplification.. In a country where laws reflected this tragic reality, abortion would be safe and legally available early on in pregnancy, while freely available birth control and generous support for pregnant women would contribute to making it as rare as possible. Restrictions on abortion would increase as the fetus approaches viability, with the termination of a pregnancy after viability allowed only in the rarest and most wrenching of cases — when the mother's life is at significant risk and/or doctors learn that the baby will suffer from severe, life-threatening health problems. Such an arrangement would build on the widespread moral intuition that the fetus is a matter of relative moral indifference early in pregnancy but develops into a being possessing full dignity and rights by the time of birth. For many people, this intuition makes a first-trimester abortion minimally unsettling but one during the third trimester morally monstrous, with second-trimester abortions somewhere in between. That the United States is moving away from policies that reflect these intuitions is a tragedy, too, though this time in the less precise, colloquial sense of word: It is a terrible misfortune. Our abortion crackup is a synecdoche for the political dysfunction that afflicts our politics as a whole, with activists on the extremes controlling the agenda on both sides and the reasonably conflicted majority in the middle increasingly silenced, its voice barely penetrating the debate in state houses and courtrooms. The center of gravity in public opinion on abortion very much reflects the moral messiness of reality. According to Gallup's long-running tracking poll on the subject, just 18 percent of the country wants the procedure banned in all cases, and just 29 percent want it legal in all cases. That's 47 percent in favor of purity on one side or the other. That leaves a bare majority — 50 percent — supporting a compromise view that keeps abortion "legal under some circumstances." It's also worth noting that, despite what many pro-choice activists like to imply about a male-driven crusade to transform the country into the misogynistic tyranny from The Handmaid's Tale, the Pew Research Center has shown that men and women hold quite similar views on abortion — with 60 percent of women and 57 percent of men in favor of keeping it legal in all or most cases, and 36 percent of women and 37 percent of men preferring in all or most cases to ban it. (The discrepancy between the two polls is mainly a function of Pew's decision to lump together those on the extremes and in the center — "all or most" — on each question.) Instead of public policy reflecting the rightly conflicted majority view — as it tends to do, for example, in much of Europe — we have a misshapen, increasingly grotesque situation in which only the extremes prevail.
5-16-19 The looming fight over a federal abortion ban
The abortion fight will not end with different laws in different states. Here's why. During the 2016 presidential debates, then-candidate Donald Trump envisioned a future in which abortion rights would "go back to the states, and the states [would] make a determination." For many who oppose the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this is assumed to be conservatives' logical end goal: turning America into a patchwork quilt of abortion rights tailored to the values of individual conservative, moderate, and liberal states. But the signing on Wednesday by Alabama's governor of one of the strictest abortion bans in the country shows such an assumption is dangerously incorrect. Supporters of extreme abortion bans aren't just trying to get the conservative-majority Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and make the legality of abortion a state-by-state decision. The end game is to provoke federal legislation that would ban abortions nationwide. While Roe v. Wade has been under attack by conservatives and religious groups since the ruling in 1973, President Trump's bolstering of the conservative side of the bench has re-energized pro-life movements across the country. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and advocacy nonprofit, report that in 2019 alone, 250 abortion restrictions were introduced in 41 states. "We've never seen states passing near-total abortion bans," the Guttmacher Institute's senior state issues manager, Elizabeth Nash, told the Los Angeles Times. "This is new and different." Although Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices have said they'd honor the 1973 ruling on Roe, it's hard not to look at the emboldened Alabama legislature and wonder what will happen if the Court does hear the case. Roe v. Wade established the precedent that abortions in the first two trimesters of a woman's pregnancy could in no way be prohibited by the government. Key to this ruling was the Court's establishment that a fetus is not a "person," and therefore not protected by the Constitution's use of that word. Alabama's Human Life Protection Act presents the court an opportunity to overturn this long-standing precedent by flagrantly violating the ruling in observation of "fetal personhood." The Alabama legislature even went as far as to vote down exemptions in the bill for rape and incest victims: "It has to be 100 percent a person at conception," the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Terri Collins (R) said, explaining "what I'm trying to do here is get this case in front of the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be overturned." If the Trump judges break their good faith reassurances and Collins' plan doesn't backfire, the overturning of Roe v. Wade would in all likelihood send abortion regulation back to the states — at least temporarily. First, a patchwork of different reproductive restrictions would emerge, since seven states and counting have strict "trigger laws" that would automatically ban abortion in the case of Roe being overturned. Other states would undoubtedly pass their own bans or partial bans. Meanwhile, certain blue states have already bolstered their laws in anticipation of Roe being overturned, including New York, which specified this January that people who become pregnant have "the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion." There's no reason to think this kind of language could protect us long term, yet many still seem to think conservatives will stop after the decision returns to the states. Megan McArdle, an "uneasily pro-choice" libertarian columnist for The Washington Post, wrote last summer that "returning the matter to the states would give most people a law they can live with." Robin Marty, an abortion rights activist, envisioned in Politico earlier this year a nation in which "the privileged and well-connected would still be able to ... catch a plane to Chicago or New York City" for an abortion. But overturning Roe does something even more dangerous than impose restrictions on people in conservative pockets of the country: It opens the doors to Congress writing legislation that could ban abortions at a federal level.
5-16-19 A pro-life world can be good for women. Here's how.
Lasting protections for the unborn will be sustainable only if a majority of women nationwide can be persuaded that they want them ight now, the fate of abortion in America is in the hands of the jurists. The Federalist Society is assembling its best lawyers, and so are NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU. Legal theorists are fine-tuning their arguments. In the months and years to come, briefs will be written, and speeches will be made. Justices will lie awake pondering weighty questions. When the dust settles, we may be living in a world substantially similar to the one we've known since 1973, when Roe v. Wade first became law. Or, things may be very different. Already we're getting a glimpse of what might happen in a post-Roe v. Wade America. Some blue states are scrambling to ensure that abortion remains readily accessible, while red states create restrictions. Alabama's governor just signed into law the strictest abortion ban in the nation, imposing lengthy prison sentences on doctors who perform the procedure. This is the sort of future we should expect, if indeed the courts strike down abortion law. Policies will end up varying widely from state to state. On the West Coast or along the Northeast corridor, abortions will be readily attainable. In Utah, Idaho, or the Southern states, it will be a different story. Pro-lifers are excited. We've been dreaming for decades about a post-Roe world. It's incredible to think that at long last, it will finally be possible to approach this issue through normal democratic means. We can't waste much time celebrating, however. The pro-life movement is currently standing at the foot of the mountain, not the peak. Even if the right's jurists prevail in the coming battle, the larger culture war is likely to turn against us unless abortion-restrictive states can succeed at an even more daunting task: building a pro-life culture that the rest of the nation wants to emulate. Most especially, we need to prove that a pro-life world can be good for women. Of course, abortion's opponents have always claimed to be pro-woman. Women have long been central to the organization of pro-life activism, and statistics suggest that women are as likely as men to favor restrictive abortion laws. It shouldn't be news to anyone that many women don't want reproductive rights. Beyond the statistics, pro-lifers like to point out that abortion is especially helpful to men who exploit women sexually. For centuries, pimps have been intimately familiar with abortifacients, drugs that induce abortion. Modern men find it much easier to objectify women when they're confident that an inconvenient pregnancy can simply be terminated. In the earlier portion of the 20th century, most children were born to married couples, with fathers helping to support the family. Contraceptives and abortion have helped to create a culture in which mothers are far likelier to be unmarried, often parenting solo, carrying heavy responsibilities with little help. Meanwhile, it's fairly obvious that reproductive rights have not tamed men's tendency to reduce women to sex objects. Just consider the #MeToo movement, or our epidemic levels of porn addiction. Despite all of this, it's understandably difficult to persuade the general public that abortion bans are pro-woman. Without abortion, a pregnant woman has no choice but to carry a child to term. As philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson famously argued, we don't often see it as acceptable to foist such heavy obligations on people against their will. Pregnancy also leaves women vulnerable to other types of exploitation. If a woman needs to provide for children and prepare for the possible eventuality of being pregnant at any time, she may not have much choice but to accept whatever community or household role is offered to her.
5-16-19 Why America's strict new anti-abortion laws could backfire
The anti-abortion laws passed in recent days by legislatures in Alabama and Georgia seem designed for one purpose: to get the Supreme Court to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed a woman's right to an abortion. The Court — more solidly conservative now than ever thanks to the recent addition of Justice Brett Kavanaugh — may well uphold those new laws. Will voters do the same?. Maybe not. There is plenty of evidence that citizens of conservative states are, to some extent, actually protective of abortion rights. It may not be something they proclaim in their offices, at church, or to pollsters — but their secret beliefs can become quite evident once they enter the voting booth. This should make the legislators who passed the new bills very nervous. My home state of Kansas has been a hotbed of abortion-related activism for more than a generation. Most memorable, perhaps, were the 1991 "Summer of Mercy" protests in Wichita, where thousands of protesters flooded the city to blockade an abortion clinic operated by Dr. George Tiller; over the course of six weeks and more than 2,600 people were arrested. Anti-abortion protests in Kansas have, on occasion, congealed into violence: Tiller's clinic was firebombed in 1986; he was shot and injured by an abortion opponent in 1993; he was shot and killed by another abortion opponent in 2009. But the state's record on abortion is more mixed than Tiller's story might suggest. Take, for example, the story of Phill Kline, someone you've likely never heard of but whose rise and fall could be a warning sign for anti-abortion legislators in Kansas and other red states today. Kline spent a decade as a culture warrior in the Kansas legislature before being elected the state's attorney general in 2002. He used the perch to go on an anti-abortion crusade, ultimately bringing more than 30 misdemeanor charges against Tiller in 2006. A judge threw out those charges; Tiller was acquitted in a follow-up case the following year. But voters in the famously red state of Kansas had enough: Kline lost his re-election campaign, badly, with just 41 percent of the vote. He managed to get himself appointed as district attorney in Johnson County, home to prosperous Kansas City suburbs, only to lose a primary election two years after that. These days, he's on the faculty at Liberty University in Virginia, having lost his law license for misconduct during the abortion investigations. Kansas is hardly a progressive state, but voters here often tire quickly of extremists. The same is probably true in other conservative states. While America's abortion politics are polarized, many citizens are closer to the mushy middle on abortion — morally squeamish about it, but sometimes willing to suspend those qualms when faced with difficult decisions for themselves or their family members. Across the nation as a whole, just 17 percent of Americans say Roe should be overturned entirely, and this reality is reflected at the state level: In 2008, voters in the solidly-Republican state of South Dakota overwhelmingly rejected a statewide ban on abortion — and repeated the feat two years later, even after exceptions for incest and rape were added to the proposed law. In 2011, Mississippi voters rejected a similar referendum by an even larger margin. Back in my home state of Kansas, the state Supreme Court last month ruled — shockingly — that the state constitution protects the right to an abortion.
5-16-19 Alabama abortion bill ignites women's stories with #youknowme
Women have been sharing impassioned stories of how they terminated their pregnancies following Alabama's vote for an almost blanket ban on abortion. The hashtag #youknowme has begun circulating on social media following a plea from actress and talk show host Busy Philipps. Philipps asked social media users to share their abortion stories in a move echoing the 2017 #metoo hashtag, which gained momentum when actress Alyssa Milano asked victims of sexual assault to speak out. "1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don't know someone who has, but #youknowme," Philipps tweeted to her 367,000 followers. "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," she urged in a Twitter post which has been liked more than 14,000 times since being posted early on Wednesday. Philipps' tweet was in response to Alabama becoming the latest US state to move to restrict abortions. Under the bill, doctors could face 10 years in prison for attempting to terminate a pregnancy and 99 years for carrying out the procedure. High profile celebrities who have come out in opposition to the bill include comedian Sarah Silverman, actress Alyssa Milano and Captain America star Chris Evans. Pop star Lady Gaga called the bill "a travesty". So what is the meaning behind 'you know me'? Last week on her talk show Busy Tonight on the E! cable channel the actress shared that she had an abortion when she was a teenager. "Maybe you're sitting there thinking I don't know a woman who would have an abortion, well you know me. I had an abortion when I was 15 years old," she told viewers while fighting back tears. "I'm telling you this because I'm genuinely really scared for women and girls in this country. "I think we should be talking more and sharing our stories more." On Wednesday hundreds of women responded to Philipps' call on Twitter using the hashtag to share their own abortion stories. (Webmaster's comment: Many religious don't beleive a woman's uterus belongs to her. It belongs to any man who rapes her or has sex with her and impregnates her.)
5-16-19 Missouri latest state to pass abortion bill in US crackdown on laws
Missouri lawmakers have passed a controversial bill which would outlaw nearly all abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy in the US state. The bill was approved by Missouri's Republican-led Senate by 24 votes to 10 on Thursday morning. Missouri's House and Republican Governor Mike Parson must back the bill before it can become law. If approved, abortions past eight weeks would be banned in most cases, including rape or incest. Missouri's Democratic Senator Jill Schupp condemned the bill for failing to "understanding that women's lives all hold different stories". However, Republican Senators Dave Schatz and Caleb Rowden published a joint statement praising the "life-affirming" legislation. The vote came hours after Alabama's governor signed a near-total ban on abortion in the state on Wednesday, promoting protests and concern from pro-choice supporters. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio are among the other states to pass new abortion restrictions. Most anti-abortion bills have faced legal challenges. However, this is what pro-life supporters hope will happen, as they want to reach the Supreme Court in order to challenge its landmark decision to legalise abortion in 1973. Earlier this year the Supreme Court blocked implementation of new abortion restrictions in Louisiana. However, the ruling was made by a narrow margin and the case is due to be reviewed later this year.
5-16-19 Alabama’s extreme new law could lead to an end of US abortion rights
The most restrictive abortion bill in any US state has just been signed into state law, outlawing abortions in Alabama at any stage of pregnancy. The law will take effect in six months, and includes criminal penalties for doctors who perform or attempt to perform abortions, with a sentence of up to 99 years in prison. There are exemptions for cases where the life of the mother or fetus is threatened, but none for cases of incest or rape. This is the latest in a slew of state bills that have passed this year aiming to reduce abortion rights in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky and Mississippi. Some have been swiftly struck down in state courts as unconstitutional, others are set to take effect over the next seven months. And some may be appealed to the Supreme Court, where its verdict could overturn 50 years of abortion protections. Georgia recently banned all abortions after a heartbeat can be detected – usually about six weeks after conception, when many women are still unaware that they are pregnant. The Georgia law recognises a fetus as a person, which means it could be considered murder. However, it leaves open the question of who would be penalised for an abortion – the person ending their pregnancy or the doctor performing one. In Georgia, the penalty for murder is life imprisonment or the death penalty. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has said it will file lawsuit to stop these bills moving forward. On 15 May, it entered such a legal battle with the state of Ohio, where a similar law will take effect in July if it isn’t struck down in court. Like the law in Alabama, Ohio has no exemptions for incest or rape. The coming legal battle is precisely the point of these bills, which are unconstitutional by design. Terri Collins, the Alabama Representative who sponsored that state’s latest abortion bill, says the purpose is to challenge the federal law that protects the right to an abortion. (Webmaster's comment: These religious pro-life advocates are the scum of the earth!)
5-15-19 Alabama Bill at Odds With Public Consensus on Abortion
It's not difficult to view abortion as a contentious issue. With equal percentages of Americans -- 48% each -- identifying themselves as "pro-choice" and "pro-life" in Gallup's May 2018 update on abortion, the country looks to be completely polarized on the matter. The two sides also diverge when it comes to the legality of first-trimester abortions. Nine in 10 pro-choice Americans say abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, while six in 10 pro-life Americans believe it should be illegal. At the same time, there are two important areas of consensus that have typically been respected in U.S. abortion laws. One involves protecting abortion rights when pregnancy endangers a woman's life. The other is keeping abortion legal when pregnancy is caused by rape or incest. According to Gallup's 2018 abortion survey, not only do most Americans as a whole favor these protections, but so do majorities of pro-life Americans -- 71% for the endangered woman's life exception and 57% for cases of rape or incest. Support for these allowances is nearly universal among pro-choice Americans. (Webmaster's comment: These numbers mean 29% do not believe in abortions even if the mother's life is in danger, and 43% do not believe in abortions in cases or rape or incest (which is mostly with the male's own children). These people are the scum of the earth!)
5-15-19 Alabama passes bill banning abortion
Alabama has become the latest US state to move to restrict abortions by passing a bill to outlaw the procedure in almost all cases. The law includes a ban on abortion in cases of rape or incest. Supporters say they expect the law to be blocked in court but hope that the appeals process will bring it before the Supreme Court. They want the court, which now has a conservative majority, to overturn the 1973 ruling legalising abortion. Alabama's 35-seat senate is dominated by men, and none of its four female senators backed the ban which will now go to Governor Kay Ivey. She has said she will only sign it into law once she has considered it.Sixteen other states are seeking to impose new restrictions on abortion. Earlier this year the Supreme Court blocked implementation of new abortion restrictions in Louisiana. However the ruling was made by a narrow margin and the case is due to be reviewed later this year. The bill's architects expect that it will be defeated in the lower courts, but hope that it will therefore eventually come before the Supreme Court. They have been emboldened by the addition of two conservative justices nominated by President Donald Trump, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who give the nine-member court a conservative majority. Their aim, they say, is for the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling to be undermined or overturned completely. Alabama's Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth said: "Roe must be challenged, and I am proud that Alabama is leading the way." Eric Johnston, who founded the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition that helped draft the bill, told NPR: "The dynamic has changed. "The judges have changed, a lot of changes over that time, and so I think we're at the point where we need to take a bigger and a bolder step." (Webmaster's comment: Abortions will soon be eliminated for any reason. Preserving a mans spawn will be more important than even the women's life. The repeal of all LGBT rights will be next along with arrests and forced "cures", like Pense's forced electroshock!)
5-12-19 Alyssa Milano urges sex strike in protest against Georgia abortion law
Actress and #MeToo activist Alyssa Milano has urged women to take part in a "sex strike" to protest against a new abortion law in the state of Georgia. "Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy," she tweeted. Georgia is the latest state to enact legislation restricting abortion. Ms Milano's tweet divided opinion on social media, sparking a debate that led to the #SexStrike hashtag trending on Twitter in the US. The so-called "heartbeat" bill, which was signed by Governor Brian Kemp on Tuesday, is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January. The law bans abortions as soon as a foetal heartbeat can be detected - which is at about six weeks into a pregnancy. Many women do not know they are pregnant by six weeks, with morning sickness usually starting after about nine weeks. However, the law is expected to face challenges in the courts. A federal judge blocked such a law in Kentucky which was scheduled to come into effect immediately as it could be unconstitutional, while Mississippi passed a six-week abortion law in March that is not due to take effect until July and is also facing challenges. Ohio passed a similarly restrictive law in 2016 which was vetoed by the governor. Ms Milano tweeted out her call for action on Saturday, and both she and the hashtag #SexStrike were soon trending on Twitter. More than 35,000 people have liked her tweet, and it has been retweeted more than 12,000 times. Fellow actress Bette Midler tweeted in support of Ms Milano. But there was an immediate backlash online, both from those who support the new law and from those who criticised the idea that women only have sex to please men. "I appreciate the intent, but a #sexstrike is a bad and sexist idea," wrote one person on Twitter. "As if we provided sex as a reward to the worthy. It's denying women's pleasure". "Self-denial and abstinence for some sort of gain is the antithesis of a sexually empowered world," wrote another. In her defence, Ms Milano later tweeted a Quartz article about how sex strikes can work - prompting further criticism online. (Webmaster's comment: It's mostly men that are anti-abortion. Effectively cutting their dicks off will change their mind.)
5-11-19 Georgia state abortion law fuels Hollywood boycott call
A new abortion law in the US state of Georgia has fuelled calls for a Hollywood boycott from actors and production companies. A number of actors had signed an open letter in March pledging not to work there should the law pass. Governor Brian Kemp signed the so-called "heartbeat" bill on Tuesday, which bans most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. It is the latest state to enact legislation restricting abortion. The law is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January, but is expected to face challenges in the courts. A federal judge blocked such a law in Kentucky which was scheduled to come into effect immediately as it could be unconstitutional, while Mississippi passed a six-week abortion law in March that is not due to take effect until July and is also facing challenges. Ohio passed a similarly restrictive law in 2016 which was vetoed by the governor. Many women do not know they are pregnant by six weeks, with morning sickness usually starting after about nine weeks. The Georgia governor's office said film and television productions brought $2.7bn (£2.1bn) into the state in 2018. Hollywood blockbusters Black Panther and The Hunger Games series were filmed there, as were the programmes Stranger Things and The Walking Dead. During the bill's passage, 50 actors proposed a boycott of film and television production in the state - including Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer, Christina Applegate, Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn. "We want to stay in Georgia," the letter reads. "But we will not do so silently, and we will do everything in our power to move our industry to a safer state for women if [this] becomes law." Ms Milano, who stars in the Netflix show Insatiable, told Buzzfeed News she would "fight tooth and nail to move Insatiable to a state that will protect our rights" after Governor Kemp approved the legislation.
5-11-19 The GOP is massively overplaying its hand on abortion
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed a sweeping and dystopian bill into law Tuesday which outlaws abortion when a heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks after conception. It might lead to life imprisonment for women who violate the law, hang second-degree murder charges on those who miscarry under certain circumstances, and allow prosecutors to charge women for obtaining out-of-state abortions as well as anyone who helped them. This mind-boggling escalation of the abortion wars was presented by the state GOP to the public with a completely straight face, like they had just tweaked Atlanta's zoning laws and not turned millions of women exercising their reproductive rights into murderers. While movement conservatives might be patting themselves on the back today, they are almost certainly overreaching in ways that could have dire consequences for them next year. Most importantly, abandoning the right's incremental anti-abortion strategy in such spectacular fashion could finally awaken pro-choice forces and lead to a massive election day counter-mobilization. Georgia's patently absurd law is little more than the very predictable and very-much-only beginning efforts to put a variety of laws that challenge Roe v. Wade into the federal court system, with the goal of getting a hearing before the Supreme Court as soon as possible. This is the fourth such law passed just this year, with the always reliably despotic Alabama legislature set to pass even more Gileadian legislation soon, which would effectively outlaw it altogether and carry 99-year prison sentences for abortion providers. You can think of these chilling laws as the inevitable consequence of Anthony Kennedy handing his Supreme Court seat, his legacy, and thus the future of abortion rights into the pillowy hands of President Trump. A coordinated, national attack on abortion rights is just the latest in a long line of potentially irreversible consequences stemming from Republican victories in the 2016 election that we are only just now beginning to feel tangibly. It will all get dramatically uglier before it gets better. Georgia's draconian law is unlikely to be enforced for long, and this new law will be challenged immediately in court too. And all of the heartbeat laws may meet with varying fates at the district and appellate levels, and would likely be consolidated into a single case by the Supreme Court. What happens then is anyone's guess, but it seems unlikely that Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch have spent their entire adult lives plotting to kill Roe only to be the ones who keep it alive. It would be like if Captain Ahab had a clear shot at Moby Dick and decided to have a cocktail instead.
5-10-19 ‘Heartbeat’ abortion ban
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill this week banning most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy. The Republican said he was fulfilling his 2018 campaign pledge to enact “the toughest abortion bill in the country.” He faces stiff competition: Sixteen states have passed or are racing to pass “heartbeat” bills, with Alabama weighing a ban on all abortions unless the woman’s life is at risk. The Georgia law, slated to take effect Jan. 1 next year, would ban abortions before many pregnancies are even detected. Georgia is one of the states aiming to provoke a challenge to Roe v. Wade. Courts have blocked “heartbeat” bills in Kentucky, Iowa, and North Dakota, and the American Civil Liberties Union vowed to challenge Georgia’s. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll found that only 44 percent of Georgians support the legislation.
5-3-19 State’s rights
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last week that the state constitution guarantees abortion rights, creating a set of protections that are potentially broader than federal ones and would survive changes to the standards set in Roe v. Wade. In a 6-to-1 ruling, judges found that the “right of personal autonomy” laid down in the state constitution implies the right “to control one’s own body,” including for pregnant women. The case stemmed from a 2015 Kansas law banning the abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, used in about 95 percent of second-trimester abortions. Kansas Treasurer Jake LaTurner, a Republican, said the decision marked “one of the darkest days in our state’s history.” Nine other states have found their constitutions protect abortion rights. Kansas abortion opponents are now working to follow the lead of Tennessee and West Virginia, which passed anti-abortion amendments in response to similar rulings.
4-24-19 What's behind the rise of anti-abortion 'heartbeat bills'?
A slew of states have introduced new anti-abortion legislation that would ban the procedure as soon as a foetal heartbeat can be detected. What's behind the push - and the backlash - for these bills and what exactly do they mean for women? In the first months of this year, nearly 30 states introduced some form of an abortion ban in their legislature. Fifteen have specifically been working with so-called "heartbeat bills", that would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute - a group that researches sexual and reproductive health - says it's a huge increase, up from seven last year. "Heartbeat bills", as the term implies, seek to make abortion illegal as soon as a foetus' heartbeat is detectable. In most cases, this is at the six-week mark of a pregnancy - before many women even know they are pregnant. For context, morning sickness generally happens around the nine-week mark, according to Mayo Clinic, and one study found about only half of women experienced pregnancy symptoms by the end of the fifth week of pregnancy. "We have never seen so much action around six-week abortion bans," Ms Nash says. "But we now have seen a shift in the composition of the US Supreme Court." President Donald Trump has thus far successfully placed two conservative Supreme Court justices - moving the nation's top court further to the right, and, Ms Nash says, making it seem more amenable to revoking abortion rights. "Because of this, we are seeing state legislatures looking to ban abortion as a way to kickstart litigation that would come before the [Supreme] court, and the court could then roll back abortion rights." Progressive legislators are also responding - in January, New York signed into law a bill safeguarding abortion rights after 24 weeks in certain cases, reigniting discussions about the controversial procedure.
4-16-19 Sex-selective abortions may have stopped the birth of 23 million girls
A huge analysis of worldwide population data suggests sex-selective abortions have led to at least 23 million fewer girls being born. The majority of these “missing” girls are in China and India. Many societies value sons over daughters. As people around the world increasingly have fewer children, there has been a rise in families choosing to abort female fetuses in an effort to have at least one son. Normally, 103 to 107 boys are born for every 100 girls. But an analysis has found evidence of an unnatural excess of boys in 12 countries since the 1970s, when sex-selective abortions started becoming available. Fengqing Chao of the National University of Singapore and her colleagues synthesised birth data from 1970 to 2017 from 202 countries, using a modelling method that filled gaps in countries with poor statistics. During this time period, they found excess male births had occurred in some years in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Montenegro, Taiwan, Tunisia and Vietnam. In every nation except Vietnam, the team found that the skew in sex ratios is returning to normal. This seems to be true even in China, which the analysis says accounts for 51 per cent of the missing female births. In 2005, 118 boys were born in China for every 100 girls, but by 2017 this had dropped to 114. “Whether the downward trend in China continues remains to be seen,” says Chao. Birth gender ratios have already returned to normal in Georgia, South Korea and Hong Kong. But Chao’s team found that the fall in excess boys in India – which the analysis suggests accounts for 46 per cent of the missing girls – is only slight. With 12 million girls born each year compared with 7 million in China, reducing the rate of sex selection in India is crucial for ending the practice worldwide, says Sabu George of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies in New Delhi.
4-11-19 South Korea must end abortion ban by 2020, says court
South Korea's ban on abortion has been ruled unconstitutional in a historic court decision. The country's constitutional court ordered that the law must be revised by the end of 2020. Under the 1953 ban, women who have abortions can be fined and imprisoned, except in cases of rape, incest or risk to their health. Doctors who perform the procedure can also face jail. South Korea is one of the few developed countries to criminalise abortion. (Webmaster's comment: and the United States will do so soon with the Religious radicals packed on the Supreme Court and on Federal Benches. Roe vs. Wade will soon be history! Sharpen your coat hangers!) On Wednesday an opinion poll found 58% of the public favour abolishing the ban. The law was reviewed after a challenge from a female doctor who was prosecuted for performing almost 70 abortions. She said the ban endangered women and limited their rights. The push for change comes from a burgeoning movement fighting for women's rights in South Korea. Pro-choice campaigners say the abortion ban is part of a broader bias against women in the country. South Korea is home to a large number of evangelical Christians, however - and some want abortion to remain illegal because they say it forces women to think deeply about the decision. Despite the restrictive law, abortions are widely accessible in South Korea and can be carried out safely. Women who end their pregnancies are rarely prosecuted, but activists say the ban puts their health at risk and generates social stigma. Teenagers who get pregnant are often forced to end their studies or transfer to remote institutions, according to youth rights groups. A survey last year found that one in five women who had been pregnant had had an abortion, and just 1% fell under the legal exemptions, AFP news agency reports.
4-5-19 The coming collision on abortion
Our abortion divide is only going to get deeper, said Michelle Goldberg. Emboldened by President Trump’s reshaping of the federal judiciary, Republicans have been pushing through “a barrage of anti-abortion measures at the state level.” Mississippi and Kentucky have passed bills this year banning most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at about six weeks’ gestation. Similar legislation is moving forward in Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia. Although the courts have rejected “heartbeat bills” in the past, sponsors hope that one of the new bills ends up before the new-look Supreme Court, giving conservatives an opportunity to “eviscerate or overturn Roe v. Wade.” Rather than “ease culture war hostilities,” having “radically different abortion regimes” in the states “will further rip America apart.” Blue states have responded to the assault on Roe by expanding abortion access, including late-term abortion. That has led Republicans to endorse new federal anti-abortion legislation. Red states that effectively outlaw abortion could face corporate boycotts like the kind Indiana and North Carolina faced after passing anti-LGBT legislation. “If Roe falls, liberals won’t like what follows, but conservatives might not, either.”
3-22-19 Mississippi bans abortion after foetal heartbeat can be detected
The governor of Mississippi has signed a law banning abortion after a foetal heartbeat can be detected, which is about six weeks into a pregnancy. The law, which becomes one of the most restrictive in the US, is expected to be challenged in courts before it is due to take effect in July. Critics say the ban's intent is "outlawing the procedure before most women even know they are pregnant". It comes amid several new restrictions on abortion among conservative states. "We think this is showing the profound respect and desire of Mississippians to protect the sanctity of that unborn life whenever possible," Governor Phil Bryant said after signing Senate Bill 2116 on Thursday. He added that he and other Republican politicians are "haunted by the hundreds of thousands of babies that are murdered across the nation" every year. (Webmaster's comment: These are not Babies! They are little balls of unconscious protoplasm!) A ban on abortions after 15 weeks was passed in Mississippi in November 2018, but was almost immediately blocked by a judge who later overturned the law saying it "unequivocally" violated women's constitutional right to an abortion. Critics in Mississippi say that the bill will probably be overturned, and that the state is wasting money by mounting a legal defence. Lt Gov Tate Reeves, who also supported the bill said the state would pay "whatever it costs to defend this lawsuit, because I care about unborn children". Only one Republican in the chamber, which is reportedly the most male-dominated statehouse in the country, voted against the bill. Representative Missy McGee told the Clarion Ledger: "I cannot support legislation that makes such hard-line, final decisions for other women." (Webmaster's comment: Male Brutes seek to control every aspect of a women's reproductive life! Starting from the first rape to birth!)
3-15-19 Planned Parenthood
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week upheld an Ohio law that defunds Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions. An 11-6 decision allowed the state to strip $1.5 million of annual support for Planned Parenthood’s more than two dozen clinics in Ohio. Just three of those provide abortions, but Ohio passed a law in 2016 preventing organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving government funds. The 11-judge majority, four of them appointed by President Trump, ruled that providers “do not have a due process right to perform abortions.” The case, one of several nationwide concerning efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, likely will be appealed to the Supreme Court. While the high court has recently avoided similar cases, conservative justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas have pushed for it to issue a definitive ruling.
3-1-19 New rule blocks Planned Parenthood funds
The Trump administration issued a rule last week barring federally funded family planning organizations from providing abortion referrals. The change could cost Planned Parenthood about $60 million a year in funds. The money, from the federal government’s $286 million family-planning program, would most likely be redirected to religion-based anti-abortion groups. The rule was celebrated by social conservatives, although critics—including the American Medical Association and 15 governors—promised to sue to block the rule from taking effect. Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen called it “unconscionable.” The change would not, however, totally defund Planned Parenthood, which gets the bulk of its government dollars from state Medicaid programs. (Webmaster's comment: The assaults on women just never stop!)
2-28-19 Argentine 11-year-old's C-section sparks abortion debate
News that doctors performed a caesarean section on an 11-year-old rape victim has reignited a debate on Argentina's abortion rules. The girl became pregnant after being raped by her grandmother's 65-year-old partner and had requested an abortion. However, her request was delayed by almost five weeks, and some doctors refused to carry out the procedure. Eventually doctors carried out a C-section instead, arguing it would have been too risky to perform the abortion. The baby is alive but doctors say it has little chance of surviving. The girl was 23 weeks pregnant when - after several delays - she was to have the abortion. Local media report that the girl had been clear from the beginning that she wanted to terminate her pregnancy, telling officials: "I want this thing the old man put inside me taken out." Abortion is legal in Argentina in cases of rape or if the mother's health is in danger, but in the case of the 11-year-old girl uncertainty about who her legal guardian was caused delays. The girl's mother agreed with her daughter's wishes but because the girl had been placed in the grandmother's care some time earlier, the mother's consent was at first deemed not enough. However, because the grandmother had been stripped of her guardianship for co-habiting with the rapist, she could not provide the necessary consent either. By the time the issue had been settled, the girl was in the 23rd week of her pregnancy. Further problems surfaced when a number of doctors at the local hospital refused to carry out the procedure, citing their personal beliefs. On Tuesday, the health authorities in the northern state of Tucuman instructed the hospital director to follow a family judge's decision and to carry out the "necessary procedures to attempt to save both lives". The family court which the statement quoted has since come forward to say it had made no mention of saving two lives. The doctors who performed the C-section said they did so not because of the instruction to "save both lives" but because the abortion would have been too risky. (Webmaster's comment: Think of the victim in this case. 11 years old, raped, and then brutalized by all those around her all becasue of some EVIL religious beliefs. She will NEVER mentally recover!)
2-22-19 Teen rape victim freed
El Salvador’s supreme court has overturned a 30-year prison sentence for a teenage rape victim who was accused of murder after a 2016 stillbirth. Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz, then 18, said she had been repeatedly raped by a gang member but didn’t realize she was pregnant until she gave birth into a toilet. Medical experts couldn’t determine whether the baby died in her womb or after being born, but prosecutors said she was guilty of murder because she did not seek prenatal care. Hernández was released this week after serving nearly three years of her sentence; she faces a new trial in April. Human rights activists are asking that at least 20 women in jail for abortion also be released. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances in El Salvador, and women who have stillborn babies can be convicted of murder.
2-16-19 El Salvador: Woman jailed over stillbirth is freed from 30-year sentence
A court in El Salvador has freed a woman who was sentenced to 30 years in prison after she gave birth to a stillborn baby in a toilet. Evelyn Beatríz Hernández Cruz, 20, had served nearly three years of her sentence for aggravated homicide. Following an appeal a court ordered she be re-tried, but she will be able to live at home during the process. She and her lawyers have always maintained she was unaware she was pregnant and no crime had occurred. But prosecutors said she was guilty of murder because she had had not sought out antenatal care. Activists greeted her at the jail gates, chanting "Evelyn, you are not alone". The Central American country bans abortion in all circumstances, and dozens of women have been imprisoned for the deaths of their foetuses in cases where they said they had suffered miscarriages or stillbirths. In April 2016, Ms Hernández gave birth in the latrine of her home in a small rural community. She lost consciousness after losing large amounts of blood. Her mother told the BBC that police arrived at a hospital after the pair went there for emergency care. Ms Hernández said she did not know whether her baby had been born alive or dead, and that she would have gone to see a doctor if she had known she was pregnant. During her original trial she said she had been repeatedly raped. Her lawyers said she was too frightened to report the rapes, and some reports said the man who raped her was a gang member. Medical experts could not determine whether the foetus had died in her womb or just after being born. Although she was in the third trimester, Ms Hernández said she had confused the symptoms of pregnancy with stomach ache because she had experienced intermittent bleeding, which she thought was her menstrual period. (Webmaster's comment: Brute males always want to find some excuse to punish a woman!)
2-15-19 Supreme Court: Is Roe v. Wade on the way out?
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh “is already done pretending to care about abortion rights,” said Elie Mystal in The Nation. Last week, Kavanaugh dissented when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to temporarily block a strict new Louisiana law that would shut down all but one of the state’s abortion clinics. The law, which would require providers to get admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, is almost identical to a Texas law that the court struck down in 2016 for putting an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion. The “undue burden” standard is a key Supreme Court precedent. This is what the pro-choice movement feared, said Mark Joseph Stern in Slate.com. By writing a dissent that argues in favor of ignoring the Texas precedent, Kavanaugh “just declared war on Roe v. Wade.” Roberts isn’t a “traitor” to the conservative cause, said Paul Waldman in The Washington Post. It’s likely that the solidly conservative chief justice will ultimately uphold the Louisiana law, after making it look as if he and the other conservatives carefully weighed its merits during the stay. After all, Roberts originally voted with other conservatives to uphold the Texas law when the liberal faction still had Justice Anthony Kennedy as a swing vote. Roberts knows that polls show nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose overturning Roe, and that doing so would spark a massive backlash against Republicans. “To save the GOP from itself,” Roberts instead will now join the four other conservatives in ruling in favor of most state abortion restrictions—effectively making it illegal in red states, and legal in blue states. “If your goal was to destroy Roe and to minimize the backlash Republicans will suffer at the polls, that’s how you’d do it.”
2-15-19 GERMANY The ban on abortion information
If you need an abortion in Germany, you won’t find any information on your doctor’s website, said Margarete Stokowski. Activists campaigned for months to overturn the law that bans all “advertising” of abortion services—which effectively prohibits doctors from releasing any information at all about the procedure. And after a long parliamentary debate on women’s rights and self-determination, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet last week offered a miserly compromise. Under the proposal, doctors and hospitals will be able to add the word “abortion” to the list of services they provide. But they will not be allowed to give any more information than that—not how long the procedure will last, for example, or what to expect in recovery. The legislature will now vote on the measure. It is yet another reflection of the hypocrisy surrounding abortion in Germany. Terminating a pregnancy here is technically still “a criminal offense,” but it is tacitly allowed in the first trimester if the patient gets mandatory counseling. Yet the number of clinics that provide abortions has been steadily falling across the country, and German medical schools teach the procedure only perfunctorily or not at all. In some areas, women have to travel 100 miles to reach a provider and then brave a gaggle of protesters. At this rate, we’ll soon be as restrictive as the U.S.
2-8-19 What US ruling may mean for Roe v Wade
Just a few hours before a temporary stay expired at midnight, the US Supreme Court issued an injunction blocking implementation of new abortion restrictions in Louisiana. The state law, passed in 2014, would have required doctors who provide abortion services to be certified to practise at a nearby hospital. Critics of the law say that the new measure placed an onerous and unnecessary burden on the right to abortion and would have shuttered two of the three clinics that perform the procedure in the state. Louisiana and its supports have countered that it is a phased-in requirement which protects women by ensuring that abortion doctors are capable of handling medical emergencies. The Supreme Court order was issued by the narrowest of margins. Five justices, including the four most liberal members and Chief Justice John Roberts, supported the injunction. The four more conservative justices, including President Donald Trump's two recent appointments to the bench, would have let the law go into effect. Although the court action has been welcomed by abortion rights activists, their enthusiasm is tempered because the victory is only a temporary one. The court will almost certainly agree to give the case a full review in the autumn, and at that point it could issue a formal opinion affirming a lower-court's decision to uphold the law - and opening the door for similar restrictions to be enacted in other states. (Webmaster's comment: A Women's right to decide what happens to her own body is under siege!)
2-8-19 Abortion: Have pro-choicers gone too far?
“No, Democrats aren’t trying to legalize infanticide,” said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. The uproar over the Virginia bill began after a Republican legislator floated a hypothetical question: “Could a woman about to go into labor request an abortion if her doctor certified that she needed one for mental health reasons?” Tran responded poorly, but the question itself was ludicrous. No doctor would ever approve an abortion while a woman is in labor. Only about a dozen physicians in the United States even perform late-term abortions, which represent about 1 percent of all terminations. “Nobody gets a third-term abortion for the hell of it,” said Sarah Jones in New York magazine. Not only are they painful and expensive, they often happen under tragic circumstances, involving severe deformities in wanted pregnancies. The real outrage is that conservatives would demand that a woman endure a full pregnancy and labor, knowing the baby would die shortly after birth. (Webmaster's comment: A women must have the right to decide what happens in her own body!)
1-31-19 Virginia late-term abortion bill labelled 'infanticide'
A bill that would have removed restrictions on late-term abortions in Virginia has led to a conservative outcry. The Democrat who sponsored the measure said it would allow abortions at any point in pregnancy up until the point of childbirth in certain cases. Critics said the bill, which failed on Monday to be voted out of subcommittee, would have allowed infanticide. US President Donald Trump predicted the measure would energise his supporters. "This is going to lift up the whole pro-life movement like maybe it's never been lifted up before," he told the Daily Caller in an interview published on Wednesday. Under current Virginia law, third-trimester abortions are only permitted if the risk to the mother's life is "substantial and irremediable" - language that Democrats wanted removed. The Democratic bill sought to allow for late-term abortions if the mother's physical or mental safety were at risk. The procedure would also have required sign-off by only one doctor, rather than the three required under existing law. Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam defended the bill in an interview to radio station WTOP. The paediatric neurologist said the measure allowed termination "in cases where there may be severe deformities" or when there is a "foetus that's not viable" outside the womb. "So in this particular example, if a mother's in labour, I can tell you exactly what would happen," he told WTOP's Ask the Governor programme Wednesday. "The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother." After Republicans accused him of advocating for infanticide in his remarks, his spokeswoman said that he was only discussing cases of "tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe foetal abnormalities". "The governor's comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labour."
1-28-19 New York abortion law: Why are so many people talking about it?
On the 46th anniversary of the landmark US ruling that made abortion legal, New York state signed into law a new abortion rights bill. Why is it so controversial? The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) has been seen by some as a necessary move to safeguard abortion rights should the Supreme Court overturn the ruling, known as Roe v Wade. And it comes at a time when states such as Mississippi, Iowa and Ohio are rolling back abortion provisions. While others see it as an "extreme" and "inhumane" expansion of abortion access. The act removes the need for a doctor to perform some abortions and takes abortion out of the criminal code, making it a public health issue. However, the most controversial aspect of the RHA is the provision allowing abortions after 24 weeks in cases where there is an "absence of foetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient's life or health". The RHA has caused an intense and heated debate about how abortion is regulated in New York, with impassioned arguments made on each side.
1-26-19 Italy's shortage of abortions
Italy legalized abortion 40 years ago. But according to a group of Italian gynecologists, access to the procedure has been declining for years now. The main reason is that fewer doctors who work in Italy's public health facilities are willing to perform abortions. Italy's abortion law requires all hospitals to provide access to the procedure. But the law also gives gynecologists the option to declare themselves "conscientious objectors." "For example, in the public University of Rome, we have more than 60 doctors but only two provide abortions, only two," said Silvana Agatone, a gynecologist in Rome. Agatone is the president of a group of gynecologists that wants to make it easier for Italian women to get an abortion. She says that conscientious objections are happening more often even when women’s lives are in danger. So, in practice, when women show up at a public hospital in Italy seeking an abortion, many of them end up being turned away. "In 2005, the percentage of gynecologists that didn't provide abortion was about 59 percent," she said. "Now [it's] 70 percent. And it's growing every year." In some parts of the country, the percentage of doctors who refuse to perform abortions is as high as 90 percent. And it's not just gynecologists who can refuse to carry out an abortion. Nurses and anesthesiologists can refuse to perform the procedure on moral grounds. An unintended consequence is that those doctors who are still willing to perform an abortion are starting to feel pretty isolated, Agatone says. "Because [people] around you look at you like you are a criminal and then don't help you in your work, you have more risk if you have a complication." Agatone says it's all about politics. Far-right and populist parties in Italy are on the rise, and their members tend to be more socially conservative. Some conservative groups, like the League and the populist party known as the Five Star Movement, have called on the Italian government to criminalize abortion once again.
1-2-19 Surrogacy should be a relationship, not a transaction
UK surrogates are speaking out against a move to pay women a fee for carrying someone else's child, says Natalie Smith. SURROGACY law in the UK is in dire need of an overhaul. So it was no surprise when, last year, the body that oversees legal reform, the Law Commission, announced a project to make surrogacy rules “fit for the modern world”. A consultation paper is due in May. I am a mother to two wonderful daughters born by surrogacy, who are now nearly 8 years old. For the past four years, I have been pushing for new legislation. The most hotly debated issue is whether surrogates in the UK should be paid. Former president of the Family Division of the High Court, James Munby, has said that serious consideration should be given to abolishing the UK’s ban on commercial surrogacy. Yet the largest UK survey on attitudes to this, published last month, shows that surrogates don’t support a move towards commercialisation. Over 70 per cent of surrogates agreed that they should only receive “reasonable expenses”. They are motivated by making families, not money. The existing surrogacy culture in the UK, based on trust, mutual respect and partnership, has grown because the law as it is puts altruism at the heart of surrogacy. That must stay. Making it commercial would create problems. For example, in California payments to surrogates are typically equivalent to around £35,000. In total, surrogacy there can cost parents upwards of £100,000. We cannot be flippant about such sums. They are beyond most people. The real winners of a commercial model are surrogacy agencies and lawyers.