Friday, October 26, 2012
Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock is only the latest of an alarming number of GOP candidates and current members of Congress who favor forcing rape survivors to carry resulting pregnancies to term. But all the attention riveted on this extreme view is distracting us from the only slightly less extreme position that abortion should be banned, except when pregnancy results from rape and incest. That is the position held by Mitt Romney (at the moment, anyway) and many "moderate" Republicans. It's a position that would take us back to pre-Roe days, when panels of male doctors passed judgment on whether a woman had a good enough reason to deserve an abortion.
It is also ideologically inconsistent: if conception marks the beginning of personhood, then Mourdock's position actually makes sense. The fact that most of us, including many "pro-life" politicians, find Mourdock's statement abhorrent shows that, while many or most of us believe that abortion is a morally weighty decision, we aren’t prepared to treat an embryo as a person. That recognition has enormous significance for the policy debate over abortion. But no one seems to want to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Harold Pollack, writing for the Nation, details the radical nature of Romney's view but oddly refuses to question it, adding that "[l]iberals such as myself should respect the moral depth and sincerity of the pro-life position."
It is not disrespectful to demand that a presidential candidate explain how his official position on abortion comports with public reason. Romney should be questioned closely: Is abortion murder? If so, then why does he disagree with Mourdock? And does he think the woman should be punished? If abortion is not murder, why does Romney limit his exceptions to rape and incest? How would he police these exceptions? Does he think women have no other compelling reasons to seek abortion? Is he comfortable with the government substituting its own moral judgment for the woman's? Instead of seeking clarification on these critical questions, reporters and debate moderators give Romney a free pass because he seems reasonable when compared with GOP colleagues like Mourdock.
The media focus on Mourdock and his bedfellows is not unlike the recent flurry of indignation over state-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds, which seemingly made everyone forget the offensiveness of "regular" pre-abortion ultrasound mandates. The disturbing views of Akin, Mourdock, and other Republican politicians ought to be occasion to open up an honest public debate about the moral status of developing human life. The hard question for Romney shouldn't be whether he still supports these candidates. It should be how he can defend his own extreme and ideologically inconsistent position on abortion.
Robin Fretwell Wilson (Washington & Lee University School of Law) has published The Calculus of Accommodation: Contraception, Abortion, Same-Sex Marriage, and Other Clashes Between Religion and the State in the Boston College Law Review. Here is the abstract:
This Article examines, and responds to, a number of “sticking points” voiced by legislators about a qualified exemption for religious objectors that would permit them to step aside from facilitating same-sex marriages so long as no hardship will result. These concerns bear an uncanny resemblance to reasons why some believe the Obama administration should not yield further on the coverage mandate. This Article maintains that religious accommodations qualified by hardship to others can transform what could be a zero-sum proposition into one in which access and religious freedom can both be affirmed.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
The Nation: Romney's So-Called 'Moderate' Stance Would Outlaw 90 Percent of Abortions, by Harold Pollack:
Mitt Romney is blanketing swing states with commercials embracing a more moderate stance on reproductive health issues than we’ve come to expect from the governor in the months since his Republican primary campaign. His central argument for “moderation” is that he would not support banning all abortions—instead, he would make an exception for cases of rape, incest or abortions necessary to save the life of the woman. He has also floated the idea of permitting abortions in the case of a threat to the health of the woman, but has since walked this back.
If Todd Akin and Rick Santorum set the standards for Republican discourse, then indeed Romney holds a more moderate and civil stance. But the contrast here merely indicates how far the legal and culture-war goalposts have moved. . . .
Slate: No Exception, by William Saletan:
Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock aren’t outliers. Banning abortion for rape victims is the new Republican mainstream.
First it was Todd Akin. Then Steve King. Then Joe Walsh. Then Richard Mourdock. One after another, Republican congressional nominees opened their mouths, inserted their feet, and embarrassed their party. Akin, a congressman running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, said rape survivors don’t need abortions because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” . . .
USA Today: Aide: McCain stands by Mourdock, by Catalina Camia:
Sen. John McCain said through an aide that he stands by Richard Mourdock for the Indiana Senate.
In a CNN interview on Wednesday, the Arizona senator said he would not continue to support Mourdock unless he apologized for saying that when a woman becomes pregnant from rape, "it is something that God intended.". . .
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: Scott Brown rejects Mourdock's abortion view, by Elise Viebeck:
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Wednesday distanced himself from Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock (R) and his view that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended.". . .
Center for American Progress: A Dual Disenfranchisement: How Voter Suppression Denies Reproductive Justice to Women of Color, by Liz Chen:
A slew of recent voter identification laws are increasingly threatening the voting rights of people of color. This erosion of our most basic civil right comes alongside historic levels of attacks on reproductive health services. The two are not unrelated. Women of color stand at the crossroads of what is in essence a double disenfranchisement. When they are denied the opportunity to participate in civic life, they also lose the ability to voice their opinions and hold lawmakers accountable on the reproductive health issues that directly affect them. . . .
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
The Huffington Post: Richard Mourdock On Abortion: Pregnancy From Rape Is 'Something God Intended', by Michael McAuliff:
WASHINGTON -- Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock declared Tuesday night he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived in rape because "it is something that God intended to happen."
Debating Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) in their final Senate race showdown, a questioner asked them and Libertarian candidate Andrew Horning to explain their views on abortion.
All three said they were anti-abortion. But Mourdock went the further, putting himself in territory near Missouri GOP Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, the anti-abortion congressman who infamously asserted that women don't get pregnant from "legitimate rape." . . .
Democratic candidate Rep. Donnelly's statement was less extreme but more inconsistent: he "believes life begins at conception," yet would allow abortions in cases of rape and incest.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Todd Akin was arrested at least three times during '80s abortion protests, by Kevin McDermott:
Congressman Todd Akin was arrested at least three times in the 1980s during anti-abortion protests, not just the one time he has publicly acknowledged.
Akin's previously undisclosed arrests, in 1985, were for criminal trespass and resisting arrest at abortion clinic protests in St. Louis and Illinois. . . .
RH Reality Check – blog: "No on Anti-Choice Amendment 6:" The Right Move for Florida, by Samantha Daley:
As a young woman of Color residing in Florida, I’m very interested in and affected by the anti-choice antics in Tallahassee. When I heard about Amendment 6, I just had to tell the world about the next attack on reproductive rights. This attempt directly affects me as a young Black woman. I’m constantly facing stereotypes and attacks on my rights, and this I will not accept. I will not allow politicians to infringe upon my rights, and I will do everything in my power to keep politicians out of my doctor’s office! . . .
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Conservative Institute Launches Campaign to Block Access to Contraception, Abortion, and Same-Sex Marriage
Hunter of Justice: Conservatives launch "religious liberty" state lobbying network, by Nan Hunter:
The Center for Ethics and Public Policy has announced a new project that will establish bipartisan "religious liberty" legislative caucuses in every state by the end of 2013. Their goal will be blocking access to contraceptives, abortion and same-sex marriage. The campaign is starting with Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The network is designed to produce an on-the-ground capacity for lobbying in every state legislature, as well as more efficient coordination of national strategies. . . .
Feminist Majority Foundation - VA Health Commissioner Resigns Over Trap Laws:
Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley resigned from her position on Thursday, citing targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws approved in late September as the primary reason for her resignation. . . .
Bloomberg: Indiana Planned Parenthood Wins Ruling on Medicaid Funds, by Andrew Harris:
The Chicago-based court, upholding a lower court injunction, said the group was likely to prevail on its claim that the state can’t cut off funding it’s otherwise entitled to solely because the organization provides abortions. . . .
Reuters: Judge blocks Arizona law that bars funding to Planned Parenthood, by Tim Gaynor:
(Reuters) - A federal judge blocked Arizona on Friday from applying a new law that bars Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving money through the state to provide medical care because the women's health organization also performs abortions. . . .
The New York Times: Clinic Raffles Could Make You a Winner, and Maybe a Mother, by Douglas Quenqua:
“That’s right, one lucky woman will win the ultimate chance at starting or building her family,” said a contest announcement issued in April by Long Island I.V.F., a clinic in Melville that offers in vitro fertilization to women who are having difficulty conceiving. . . .
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: Rep. Joe Walsh: Abortion never necessary to save women's lives, by Elise Viebeck:
Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) said Thursday that abortions are "absolutely" never necessary to save the lives of pregnant women.
"With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance," Walsh said. "There is no such exception as life of the mother, and as far as health of the mother, same thing.". . .
The Congressman later modified his position:
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: Rep. Joe Walsh edges away from controversial remark about abortion, by Elise Viebeck:
Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) on Friday tempered his remark that abortions are never necessary to save the lives of pregnant women, saying such a situation might arise in "very rare circumstances."
The freshman congressman stoked controversy Thursday when he said that medicine has advanced to the point that abortions are never necessary. . . .
The New York Times – editorial: A World of Harm for Women:
If Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States. . . .
Slate: Talking to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Emily Bazelon:
And clearing up a point of confusion--about her views on abortion--that I caused three years ago.
Three years ago, I interviewed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the New York Times Magazine. At one point, we talked about the lack of Medicaid funding for abortions for poor women, because of a 1980 Supreme Court decision called Harris v. McRae. She said then:
The ruling surprised me. Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion.
I didn’t ask the follow up question that would have given Ginsburg the chance to clarify what she meant—to explain who was concerned about population growth at the time, and in what context. Because I didn’t do that, some conservatives pounced. . . .
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: Poll finds broad support for contraception access, by Sam Baker:
Vast majorities of Americans support access to contraception, according to a new poll commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
The survey found widespread support for the thrust of President Obama's contraception mandate, which a recent Gallup poll indicated is a winning issue with female voters. American adults also overwhelmingly believe that lawmakers who oppose abortion should support contraception, according to Monday's poll. . . .