Tuesday, January 20, 2015
The New York Times editorial: A Perilous Year for Abortion Rights:
The start of 2015 finds no letup in the attacks on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to make her own childbearing decisions. Republican lawmakers and organizations devoted to dismantling reproductive freedom have succeeded in shrinking the already inadequate number of abortion providers, making it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for women — especially young and poor women — to obtain safe and legal abortion services in large swaths Texas and other parts of the country. . . .
Friday, October 24, 2014
Elle: Ending the Silence That Fuels Abortion Stigma, by Cecile Richards:
It’s hard to imagine a medical procedure in this country that carries the stigma and judgment that abortion does. Women’s experiences are often seen through the lens of cultural and political battles. If a woman says that she’s relieved after having an abortion, she may be judged for being heartless or unfeeling. If she says that she feels regret, anti-abortion activists use this to push for laws that restrict access to abortion or laws that assume women are incapable of making their own decisions without the interference of others.
So instead, we just don’t talk about it. That’s how abortion came to be discussed as an “issue” instead of an experience. . . .
In ELLE's November issue, features director Laurie Abraham wrote a trenchant, honest essay about her abortions. Here, we share stories from other women who had abortions, to show that different women have different reasons for having an abortion, and that the procedure inspires all sorts of feelings—all of them, valid.
Friday, September 12, 2014
The New York Times op-ed: This Is What an Abortion Looks Like, by Merritt Tierce:
I MET Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator and Democratic candidate for governor, for the first time last week, and I told her how much it meant to me that she wasn’t afraid to talk about abortion. But we need a much larger conversation about abortion — one that also includes, without prejudice, the stories unlikely to generate much sympathy. Stories like mine.
Ms. Davis’s background feels familiar to me. She became a single mother at 19, her first marriage lasted only two years, and she worked as a receptionist and waitress until she could afford to go back to school. I had two children by the time I was 21, filed for divorce at 23, and worked as a secretary and waitress. Thanks to the support of friends and family, and especially my ex-husband, the father of my children, I was able to go back to school in 2009. And like Ms. Davis, I have also had two abortions. . . .
Saturday, June 28, 2014
The New York Times - opinion column: The Eggs and Us, by Gail Collins:
The Abortion Wars Rage On
Let’s talk personhood, people.
Personhood is an anti-abortion movement that holds that life begins at conception, giving fertilized eggs all the rights of a human being. It might make it impossible to kidnap them for in-vitro fertilization. It could outlaw some forms of contraception.
Senator Rand Paul claims every fertilized egg is protected by the 14th Amendment. Many current Senate candidates are personhood supporters, including Cory Gardner, who is running a very close race in Colorado against Mark Udall.
No! Wait! Wait! Cory Gardner just changed his mind. Obviously, this is going to take a little unraveling. Give me a minute. . . .
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The Wrap: Planned Parenthood Jumps Into ‘Obvious Child’ and NBC Abortion Flap, by Eric Czuleger:
Planned Parenthood is lashing out at NBC for refusing to air the trailer for Jenny Slate's new film,”Obvious Child.” The organization has launched an online petition to pressure the network into reversing its decision. . . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Media Matters: For The Wall Street Journal, It's About Abortion Even When It Isn't, by Meagan Hatcher Mays:
The Wall Street Journal is celebrating a recent Supreme Court ruling that will allow an anti-choice activist group to challenge the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bans false statements in election campaigns, a state statute that is opposed by free speech advocates across the political spectrum. But the WSJ went on to erroneously argue that the false statement at issue in the case -- that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) funds abortions -- is actually true, because contraceptives are actually "abortifacients." . . .
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
NPR: Research: Children Of Judges May Influence Court Decisions, by Shankar Vedantam:
It's been suspected that judges are swayed by their personal beliefs and affiliations. An analysis found that judges become more likely to rule in "pro-feminist" ways if the judges have daughters. . . .
In this paper, we ask whether personal relationships can affect the way that judges decide cases. To do so, we leverage the natural experiment of a child's gender to identify the effect of having daughters on the votes of judges. Using new data on the family lives of U.S. Courts of Appeals judges, we find that, conditional on the number of children a judge has, judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons. This result survives a number of robustness tests and appears to be driven primarily by Republican judges. More broadly, this result demonstrates that personal experiences influence how judges make decisions, and it is the first paper to show that empathy may indeed be a component in how judges decide cases. . . .
Sunday, May 11, 2014
The link to Letts's essay is here:
Cosmopolitan: Why I Filmed My Own Abortion, by Emily Letts
TIME: Here's Why This Woman Filmed Her Own Abortion, by Charlotte Alter:
Emily Letts works as an abortion counselor at Cherry Hill Women’s Center in New Jersey, so when she herself got unexpectedly pregnant, she didn’t take long to decide she would terminate the pregnancy.
It wasn’t a difficult decision for her, she wrote in a Cosmopolitanessay, because she knew she wasn’t ready to have kids. But Letts took it one step further– she decided to film the abortion to show other women that it wasn’t scary. . . .
The Huffington Post: Emily Letts' Abortion Video Garners Angry Reaction From Right-Wing Media, by Emily Thomas:
When Emily Letts found out she was pregnant last November she knew she would get an abortion. In an effort to help inform women facing a similar situation, the 25-year-old abortion counselor decided to film herself undergoing the procedure. Reactions to the award-winning clip, however, have been quite mixed. . . .
Monday, March 10, 2014
MSNBC: Meet the rebels of the anti-abortion movement, by Irin Carmon:
For the mainstream movement to ban abortion, graphic photos and aggressive language have generally gone out of style. The winning slogans, the ones Republican politicians prefer, are warmer, fuzzier: Thumbsucking ultrasound photos, or “women’s health” used as a pretext to shut down safe abortion clinics, including three in Texas this month alone. The losing slogans involve Akin-like “legitimate rape” and comparing Planned Parenthood to the Klan.
Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) begs to differ. Founded out of Norman, Oklahoma, and with chapters nationwide, AHA activists wear t-shirts emblazoned with “End Child Sacrifice” and proudly display photos of bloodied, fully developed fetuses. They protest outside churches – yes, churches – accusing them of not doing enough to end abortion, and talk scornfully of “pro-lifers” who make peace with rape exceptions to abortion bans. . . .
Friday, January 24, 2014
E! Online: Sarah Silverman and Jesus Chat About Abortion, Women's Reproductive Rights—Watch Now, by Rebecca Macatee:
Sarah Silverman might've known that a PSA with her "Jesus f--king Christ" talking about abortions would get people's attention.
And just why is God's son (an actor portraying Him, actually) paying her a visit in this controversial YouTube clip? To discuss women's reproductive rights and specifically to talk about access to safe abortions in the state of Texas. . . .
Monday, December 9, 2013
The New York Times editorial: When Bishops Direct Medical Care:
Beyond new state efforts to restrict women’s access to proper reproductive health care, another, if quieter, threat is posed by mergers between secular hospitals and Catholic hospitals operating under religious directives from the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. These directives, which oppose abortions, inevitably collide with a hospital’s duty to provide care to pregnant women in medical distress. This tension lies at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union. . . .
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Media Matters: Fox Uses Hobby Lobby Case To Falsely Call Morning-After Pill Abortion, by Brian Powell & Samantha Wyatt:
Fox News repeatedly conflated the emergency contraceptive Plan B (also known as the morning-after pill) with abortion while covering two Supreme Court cases brought by companies that object to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control coverage benefits. However, experts agree that the morning-after pill is not abortion -- it prevents pregnancy but cannot stop pregnancy after fertilization takes place. . . .
Monday, November 11, 2013
The New York Times: Using Humor to Talk About Birth Control, by Tanzina Vega:
FEW things may be less comfortable to talk about with one’s parents than sex and birth control, and with that in mind, a new public service campaign hopes to offer guidance through a series of ads and online videos. . . .
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The New York Times: Rights Groups and Clinics Sue Texas Over Provisions in Its New Abortion Law, by Erik Eckholm
The Washington Post: Texas abortion providers sue over new limits, by Juliet Eilperin
NPR - The Two-Way blog: Women's Health Groups Sue Texas Over Its New Abortion Law, by Bill Chappell
MSNBC: Planned Parenthood takes Texas abortion laws to court, by Irin Carmon
Texas isn't the only state to have passed these kinds of restrictions recently, and indeed courts have already blocked similar restrictions elsewhere. Admitting privileges requirements have been enjoined in Mississippi, Alabama, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. Laws requiring adherence to the outdated FDA protocol for medication abortions were enjoined in North Dakota and Oklahoma (in a case the Supreme Court may review this term), although a federal appeals court upheld Ohio's similar law in 2012.
Texas's law is unique, however, in combining so many different restrictions in one measure (North Dakota went on a similar rampage this year but passed its restrictions in piecemeal fashion). Additionally, state senator Wendy Davis's famous filibuster of the omnibus bill helped to focus the nation's attention on Texas. Finally, the bill would have a Texas-sized impact if allowed to take effect: as many as one-third of the state's clinics could be forced to close, leaving large areas of the state without a provider.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Slate: Fetal Fact Check, by William Saletan:
The doctors cited by pro-lifers say their fetal pain research doesn’t support abortion bans
In much of this country, over the last three years, pro-lifers have banned abortions 20 weeks after fertilization. They’ve justified these bans by asserting—contrary to the most authoritativestudies—that fetuses at this stage of development can feel pain. Their assertions, in turn, are based on research by several doctors. But the doctors don’t buy the pro-lifers’ conclusions. They say their research doesn’t support the bans. . . .
Here's what William Saletan gets right in this column: The science supporting claims that human fetuses can perceive pain at 20 weeks after fertilization is weak. Here's where he goes on irrelevant tangents:
(1) Dr. Kanwaljeet J. S. Anand, apparently the only known researcher who believes fetuses can feel pain at this stage, also believes "that 'fetal pain does not have much relevance for abortion, since most abortions are performed before the fetus is capable of experiencing pain.'" Who cares? If fetal pain marks the (moral) point at which abortion should be banned, why does it matter how few abortions are implicated? Any abortion after that stage, proponents would argue, is immoral and should be banned.
(2) Dr. Anand believes that his research does not support post-20-week abortion bans. (Anand says that pain could be averted through anesthesia or causing a quick fetal demise before beginning the abortion procedure.) Again, so what? This point seems to misapprehend how anti-choice activists are using Anand's research. They claim that the ability to perceive pain marks a moral threshold of human development sufficiently significant that abortion should not be permitted after this point. That might be an important moral claim meriting a response (if not necessarily agreement), if the science backed up their assertions. But while Anand believes fetuses can perceive pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization, he is contradicted by numerous other experts who conclude otherwise. The best evidence suggests that a human fetus's ability to perceive pain does not occur before fetal viability, after which states can already ban abortions under Roe v. Wade.
(3) There is a "gap" between the claim that fetuses feel pain and the claim that abortions should be banned, since pain could be addressed in ways other than banning abortion. While this is absolutely true, it fails to take the anti-choice argument seriously. As explained above, anti-choice activists obviously do not believe that abortion is morally acceptable so long as fetuses don't feel pain. They are asserting that fetal pain is a critical marker of human development: once a fetus can feel pain, it has reached the stage where it is morally unacceptable to kill it. Saletan describes the "gap" between (doubtful) assertions of fetal pain and banning abortion as a "sleight of hand." But he overlooks the real deception. Anti-choice activists will not be content with banning abortions at 20 weeks. For these activists, pain perception is not in fact the definitive moral milestone that they claim it is. Their ultimate goal is to ban all abortions from the moment of fertilization, when the pre-embryo can scarcely be seen with the naked eye. The question of fetal pain is thus totally irrelevant to their moral claims. They are simply trying to get the public to move one smallish step with them toward their ultimate goal, without reminding the public of what that goal really is.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The Washington Post - editorial: Virginia’s next governor will determine whether most abortion clinics close:
VIRGINIA ATTORNEY General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) was instrumental in ensuring that new regulations will result in the closure of many of the state’s abortion clinics. Two of the busiest, in Northern Virginia and Norfolk, already have closed. If Mr. Cuccinelli is elected governor in November, most of the remaining 18 clinics are likely to shut their doors within months.
That would make access to abortion, as well as to family planning advice, difficult for thousands of Virginia women, particularly in rural areas; in some cases, it would become practically impossible. It would also represent a capstone in the Republican campaign in Richmond to limit abortion, despite Supreme Court rulings protecting it. . . .
Monday, September 2, 2013
Jezebel: Progress! NY Times Wedding Announcement Openly Discusses Abortion, by Doug Barry:
Signs of real social progress are often very subtle. They ought to be, by nature, since real progress is really a process of normalization. When same-sex marriage doesn’t merit the “same-sex” modifier, for instance, in most mainstream news publications, it’s a signal that most members of our society think beyond the man + woman = monogamous married couple for ever and ever paradigm. Or, when a wedding announcement in the New York Times openly discusses abortion as a difficult yet pragmatic decision a young couple made before they were financially and emotionally ready to have a kid, it’s a signal that a vast majority of Times readers (at the very least) recognize that having an abortion is a completely legitimate option.
On Friday, the Times announced the wedding of Faith Rein and Udonis Haslem, a power forward on the Miami Heat’s championship-nabbing team. . . .
Monday, July 15, 2013
Rolling Stone: The 10 Dumbest Things Ever Said About Abortion and Women's Rights, by Sarah Seltzer:
The worst sexist statements, logical fails and outright idiocy from the anti-choice movement
As long as abortion restrictions and bans continue to be rammed through state legislatures and introduced on Capitol Hill, it seems that anti-choice zealots will continue making headlines with their bizarre, scientifically incorrect and downright cruel remarks. Whether they're confusing the basics of female anatomy, making offensive comparisons to historical tragedies, trivializing rape or labeling pro-choice politicians "terrorists," these anti-abortion crusaders – led by a hee-hawing band of actual elected officials – could populate a thousand lists of epically dumb comments. Here's a sampling of the most ill-informed, borderline delusional and flat-out misogynist statements from the so-called "pro-life" movement: . . .
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The New Times - Taking Note blog: What’s Wrong With a 20-Week Abortion Ban?, by Andrew Rosenthal:
The Texas House today passed the abortion restriction bill that State Senator Wendy Davis derailed last month.
One provision would move the point at which abortions are no longer legal to 20 weeks from 24 weeks. Another would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and allow abortions to take place only in surgical centers.
The Catholic Association’s press release celebrating progress on the bill said it merely “seeks to raise standards for women’s health and limits the inhumane and heart-breaking practice of late-term abortion.”
So what’s the big deal? . . .
Minnesota Public Radio's The Daily Circuit: State-by-state abortion limits appear headed for the courts:
The growing national trend toward state-by-state limits on abortion and abortion clinics will eventually have to be addressed in the courts, say experts on reproductive-rights policy.
Attention has been focused on state-level regulation of abortion since last month, when state Sen. Wendy Davis stood on the floor of the Texas Senate for more than 12 hours to block a vote on what would have become one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. . . .
I participated in this program, along with Scott Gaylord (Elon Law School) and Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post. Audio is available here: