Thursday, October 23, 2008
Amanda Allen, CUNY Law School '08 and my former research assistant, recently began her tenure as the first fellow at Law Students for Reproductive Justice. She has written a wonderful post on the LSRJ blog, Repossess Reproductive Justice, responding to Senator McCain's references in the last debate to a "pro-abortion movement." Here's an excerpt:
On Wednesday, Senator John McCain referred to the “pro-abortion movement” twice, saying in one instance that the “extreme pro-abortion position” is to stretch the “health” (complete with air-quotes!) of the mother to “mean almost anything.”
After the debate ended I found myself wondering, what is this so-called “pro-abortion movement”?...
The movement that I am a part of “envisons the complete physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of women and girls.” LSRJ believes that reproductive justice will be achieved when all people and communities have access to the information, resources, and support they need to attain sexual and reproductive self-determination. Reproductive justice extends beyond the false pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy that has permeated the culture wars surrounding the debate about reproductive health services. As such, reproductive justice is a movement that does not consider abortion to be “the issue” of prime importance, but also does not believe it is constructive to send a message that it is “always a tragic situation,” as Senator Obama lamented in the last debate....
Read the full post.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Wall St. Journal Op-Ed: Obama Is the Way Forward for Women:Abortion rights and equal pay are at stake in the election, by Catharine MacKinnon:
Women are at a crossroads in our struggle for legal equality as a means to social equality. Having women in politics matters, but it is crucial to have the policies women need. At this moment we risk losing ground gained, but we also have the opportunity to advance. At stake in this presidential election are the federal courts.
Despite inroads, women's status remains characterized by sex-based poverty and impunity for sexual abuse from childhood on. The next president will appoint scores of lower court federal judges who will have the last word in most cases. One, perhaps three, justices may be named to a Supreme Court that in recent years has decided many cases of importance to women by just one vote. Equality can be promoted in employment, education, reproductive rights and in ending violence against women -- or not.
H/T: Suja Thomas
Chicago Tribune: Catholics for Obama: No qualms about abortion issue, by Rex W. Huppke:
...Even in an election where religious issues have taken a back seat to the economy, terrorism and health care, the subject of abortion is bound to give pause to Catholic voters considering Sen. Barack Obama.
So a national group called Catholic Democrats launched a pro-Obama Web site today that lays out reasons Catholics can pull the lever for a candidate who believes in a woman's right to choose....
CatholicsforObama.org argues that voting on the basis of only one issue runs afoul of the faith. Obama's broader social policies would do more to reduce the number of abortions than anything proposed by Sen. John McCain, who is an open opponent of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. the group says. The crux of the argument is that criminalizing the procedure is less effective in reducing abortions than addressing the social circumstances that lead women to seek them.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Notre Dame Event Addresses When "Pro-Life" Voters Have "A Sufficient 'Proportionate' Reason to Justify a Vote for a Pro-Choice Candidate"
On Wednesday, October 8, the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture sponsored a conversation between Gerard Bradley, Notre Dame Professor of Law and member of the Catholics for McCain National Steering Committee, and Vincent Rougeau, Notre Dame Associate Professor of Law and member of the steering committee for Obama's Catholic National Advisory Council. In particular, these participants were asked to address the question: "What constitutes, for an otherwise pro-life voter, a sufficient 'proportunate' reason to justify a vote for a pro-choice candidate?" It is the Center's hope that this event will provide a meaningful opportunity for students and the larger University community to focus on how Catholics should think abou the upcoming election, particularly in terms of life issues. The video of this event is now available....
This event was funded by the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life.
A video of the conversation is available here.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Supreme Court Case Brought by Anti-Choice Group Paved Way for Corporate- and Union-Sponsored Political Ads
PaperTrail (Center for Public Integrity): ELECTION ’08: Supreme Court Ruling Looms Large in ’08 Political Ads, by Marianne Lavelle:
Wonder why you’re seeing so much corporate- and union-sponsored political advertising this election cycle? You have the anti-abortion movement to thank for it.
The group Wisconsin Right to Life paved the way last year when it won a Supreme Court challenge striking down a key provision of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law on First Amendment grounds. Under that law, corporations and labor unions were barred from running so-called issue ads on television or radio within 60 days of a general election if the spots mentioned a candidate’s name. But on June 25, 2007, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for a 5-4 majority, agreed with the anti-abortion group that this portion of the law represented an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. As long as the ads in question don’t explicitly urge voters how to vote, they should be allowed, he wrote.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
The CUNY chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice is hosting a panel tonight entitled, "Pro-Choice Politics: Where Are They?" Participating on the panel are Vanessa Valenti of Feministing and Sabrina Shulman of NARAL Pro-Choice New York. I will be moderating and speaking on the panel as well.
Do you have an LSRJ chapter event planned at your law school that you'd like to announce on this blog? Please let me know about it!
Beliefnet: How Obama Won the Abortion Part of the Debate: Common Ground and Sacred Sex, by Steven Waldman:
...The discussion began with McCain on the offense, painting Obama as the extremist. McCain focused on the two issues in which Obama seems most out of the mainstream -- the "born alive" bill, involving babies born during abortions and late term abortions. Obama did an adequate job defending himself but still let McCain define the terms of the debate at that point.
McCain meanwhile headed toward the middle by emphasizing not that he opposes abortion but rather that he wants the states to decide the issue. No extremism there.
But for the rest of the abortion discussion, Obama outflanked McCain. It was Obama who made the call for finding common ground by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and sent the dial-meters soaring by saying children should be taught that "sexuality is sacred." That one phrase probably did more to cast Obama as a cultural moderate than anything he's said in all the debates.
Slate: Safe, Legal, and Boring: Can Obama Take the Politics out of Abortion?, by William Saletan:
McCain has been trying to make the election a referendum on character: Country first, Obama pals around with terrorists, yada yada yada. How does abortion fit that mold? By exposing Obama as an extremist. ...Bad. Terrible. Extreme. Clear-cut. Feelings. Mainstream America. This is the way McCain, Sarah Palin, and George W. Bush talk: There's honor and evil, good guys and bad guys. We fight for the good side. Our opponents don't. They're extreme.
Obama argued that "women, in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision." ...Common ground. Prevent. Options. Help. Reduce. These are defusing and calming words. They fit Obama's personality. But more than that, they're pragmatic. They convey action, progress, solution.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Time: How Valid is Palin's Abortion Attack on Obama?, by Michael Scherer:
With less than 23 days to go before Election Day, John McCain and Sarah Palin are launching a range of attacks on their Democratic opponent that revolve around one central question: Who is Barack Obama? ...
The McCain campaign's latest salvo centers around perhaps the hottest issue of all, abortion, which up till now hasn't dominated much of the campaign conversation.
Late last week, and with little fanfare, Palin began claiming at rallies and in a radio interview that Obama had once opposed providing medical care for certain newborn babies, who later died. Without any clear context, Palin's statements seemed to suggest that Obama supported a form of infanticide.
Friday, October 10, 2008
NY Times Op-Ed Column: Can This Be Pro-Life?, by Nicholas Kristof:
The Bush administration this month is quietly cutting off birth control supplies to some of the world’s poorest women in Africa.
Thus the paradox of a “pro-life” administration adopting a policy whose result will be tens of thousands of additional abortions each year — along with more women dying in childbirth.
The saga also spotlights a clear difference between Barack Obama and John McCain. Senator Obama supports U.N.-led efforts to promote family planning; Senator McCain stands with President Bush in opposing certain crucial efforts to help women reduce unwanted pregnancies in Africa and Asia.
Wall St. Journal: Barack Obama: The Present Is Prologue, by Jess Bravin:
...On legal matters, including Supreme Court appointments, an Obama administration would likely be shaped by its leader's strong convictions on constitutional law. As in other areas, Sen. Obama's jurisprudence points to a change from the "strict constructionist" philosophy advocated by Republican presidential contenders from Richard Nixon to John McCain.
Precedents, text and other legal tools can provide a just outcome in "95% of the cases," Sen. Obama said before voting against confirming chief-justice nominee John Roberts. But for the "truly difficult" cases that remain, the "last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy."
Wall St. Journal: John McCain: Looking to the Framers, by Jess Bravin:
Until he delivered a fiery speech attacking the federal judiciary in May, Sen. John McCain had never made the Supreme Court a focus of his political agenda.
Even in recommending candidates for home-state judgeships, a prized senatorial prerogative, Sen. McCain has deferred to Arizona's junior senator, fellow Republican Jon Kyl...
In judicial nominations, Sen. McCain is likely to rely on advice from the Republican legal establishment, which has helped pull the court firmly to the right in recent years. Backers say that as president, Sen. McCain would use his "gut instinct" to make the final cut among qualified candidates.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
LA Times Op-Ed: The Candidates and the Supreme Court, by Erwin Chemerinsky:
Why are the two major presidential candidates virtually ignoring the importance of this election in determining the composition of the Supreme Court and the future of constitutional law? One of a president's most long-lasting legacies is in the judges he places on the bench. Justice John Paul Stevens, now 88 years old, was appointed by President Ford in 1975. If John G. Roberts Jr. remains on the court until he is 88, he would be chief justice until 2043...
If McCain gets to replace any of these justices, let alone more than one, there likely will be dramatic changes in many areas of constitutional law. There are almost certainly four votes on the current court -- Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito -- to overrule Roe vs. Wade and allow the government to prohibit abortion. In light of McCain's emphatic opposition to abortion rights, he likely would appoint the decisive fifth vote to end constitutional protection of those rights. Obama, by contrast, would almost certainly appoint individuals who would reaffirm Roe.
Recent news stories document McCain's links to a number of different anti-choice activists.
Right Wing Watch: McCain Campaign Palling Around With Schenck:
Since Sarah Palin decided to go after Barack Obama for his essentially non-existent ties to William Ayers, maybe now is the time to remind everyone about the McCain campaign’s ties to Rob Schenck, who has a long history of militant anti-abortion activism, fines, arrests, and run-ins with President Bill Clinton.
Schenck, who was meeting privately with McCain as far back as early last year, received a VIP pass to the McCain campaign event where he named Palin as his running mate and even got a chance to speak with both of them personally. And last month, when he hosted a forum, the Obama campaign dropped out at the last minute rather than legitimize Schenck and his views, but senior campaign McCain advisor Robert Heckman still attended the event, where other speakers compared Barack Obama to Hitler
Wall St. Journal: McCain Supporter Had Own Ties to Radical Protesters, by Mary Jacoby:
The McCain campaign, in a continuing effort to link Barack Obama to domestic terrorism, released a statement Wednesday from a New York supporter, recounting how his family home was firebombed by the radical 1960s group founded by Obama supporter William Ayers.
But the McCain supporter, John M. Murtagh, has his own ties to radical protesters: He served as a lawyer for a Catholic priest who led protests at an abortion clinic that turned violent.
The Raw Story: Olbermann examines McCain's ties to anti-abortion 'terrorist' sympathizer, by Nick Juliano & David Edwards:
[Keith] Olbermann [of MSNBC] ends up dissecting the implications of McCain's appearance at a fundraiser for the the ultra-right wing Oregon Citizens Alliance in 1993. Earlier this week, RAW STORY reported that McCain shared the stage with Marilyn Shannon, who during her own speech praised a local woman who had shot a doctor because he performed abortions....
As Jed Lewison notes Olbermann's segment does not mention that McCain voted against making abortion clinic bombings a federal crime three months after the OCA appearance.
The Countdown segment also unearthed photos of Shannon as a delegate for President Bush during the 2004 Republican convention, where she wore a purple heart band-aid to mock John Kerry, and at the 2008 convention, which she attended as a McCain delegate wearing a "Shut Up and Drill" T-shirt.
Here's the Olbermann segment:
Monday, October 6, 2008
SocialistWorker.org: Why won't they talk about abortion rights?, by Elizabeth Schulte:
IT WAS the elephant in the room. But there was almost no mention of it at all--just the barest passing reference by Joe Biden--in last night's vice presidential debates.
Abortion. Why is it that the Democrats, the party that is supposed to stand up for women's right to choose abortion, try so hard to keep that fact a secret from the rest of us?...
There are a lot of scary things about Palin, but among the scariest is her extremist stance on abortion--ban it entirely, even in the case of rape or incest. In a 2006 gubernatorial debate in Alaska, Palin was asked her attitude if her own 14-year-old daughter was raped. Her opponent, Anthony Knowles, answered, "I would love her and support her no matter what decision she made." Palin said, " I would choose life."
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Articles of Faith (Boston Globe): Another Anti-Abortion Scholar for Obama, by Michael Paulson:
A second prominent anti-abortion Catholic legal scholar has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president. Nicholas P. Cafardi, a law professor and the former dean of the Duquesne University Law School, is an establishment Catholic figure -- he is a leading expert on canon law, he spent 13 years as the general counsel for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he spent three years on the board of the Canon Law Society of America, and he was appointed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to the first National Review Board advising the church on its response to clergy sexual abuse. He authored an analysis of the bishops' response to clergy sexual abuse, "Before Dallas,'' that was published this year by Paulist Press.
NY Times: Catholic Church Is Riven by Internal Debate, by David D. Kirkpatrick:
As the Roman Catholic Church observes its annual “respect life” Sunday in this heated presidential election season, the unusually pitched competition for Catholic voters is setting off a round of skirmishes over how to apply the church’s teachings not only on abortion but also on the war in Iraq, immigration and racism....
It is a contest for credibility among observant Catholics, with each faction describing itself as a defender of “life.” The two sides disagree over how to address what the church calls “intrinsic evils,” including abortion and racism — the two examples singled out last year in a guide for Catholic voters put out by the United States Conference of Bishops....
Douglas W. Kmiec, a Catholic legal scholar who was a legal counsel in the administrations of President Ronald Reagan and the first President George Bush, has been telling Catholic audiences in Pennsylvania and other swing states that Mr. Obama’s platform better fits Catholic social teaching, including reducing the abortion rate.
Friday, October 3, 2008
The Seattle Times: Think About the Supreme Court When You Vote for President, by Ellen Goodman:
When the court opens Monday, it will look like an oasis of calm in the capital. There are no neon-bright cases on the docket this term. ...But even the court's routine cases will wrestle with personal-injury suits, job discrimination, sexual harassment and the environment. The not-so-fleeting fact is that the court ultimately touches every life. And so I come reluctantly to my quadrennial and usually futile plea to consider the court when you get into the presidential voting booth...
George W. Bush's shadow will hover over the country long after he's gone, in the shape of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. In just three years and counting, the Roberts court has chilled desegregation efforts, allowed the first abortion ban with no exception for a woman's health, made it harder to claim employment discrimination, and easier to mix church and state.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
As she did when discussing her own daughter Bristol's decision to carry her pregnancy to term, Governor Palin often talks about abortion in a way that suggests that, although she is personally opposed to abortion, she views the decision as a personal choice. This is misleading given her position opposing abortion "with the exception of a doctor’s determination that the mother’s life would end if the pregnancy continued." Moreover, while Palin also talks about same-sex relationships in a non-judgmental way, she has said that "I believe that marriage should only be between and man and a woman."
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
NY Times: Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholic Votes, by David Kirkpatrick:
...A struggle within the church over how Catholic voters should think about abortion is once again flaring up just as political partisans prepare an all-out battle for the votes of Mass-going Catholics in swing-state towns like Scranton.
The theological dispute is playing out in diocesan newspapers and weekly homilies, while the campaigns scramble to set up phone banks of nuns and private meetings with influential bishops.
Progressive Catholics complain that by wading into the history of church opposition to abortion — Mr. Biden brought up St. Thomas Aquinas, Ms. Pelosi discussed St. Augustine — Democratic officials are starting a distracting debate with the church hierarchy.