Monday, September 15, 2008
Boston Globe op-ed: The fate of Roe v. Wade and choice, by Cass Sunstein:
THE RIGHT to reproductive freedom has played an occasional role in many presidential campaigns, but its fate is likely to turn on the 2008 election. Republican presidential candidate John McCain vows to "return the abortion question to the individual states" and then "to end abortion at the state level." The new president will probably be in a position to appoint at least one and perhaps as many as three new justices. With an excellent chance to reconfigure the Supreme Court, McCain, if elected, might well be able to get what the antiabortion movement wants - and more fundamentally, numerous changes in other areas of constitutional law as well.
Those who seek to preserve the right to choose ought to be prepared to make some distinctions. As it was written in 1973, Roe v. Wade was far from a model of legal reasoning, and conservatives have been correct to criticize it. The court failed to root the abortion right in either the text of the Constitution or its own precedents....
But it is one thing to object to Roe as written in 1973. It is another to suggest that it should be overruled in 2008. American constitutional law is stable only because of the principle of stare decisis, which means that in general, the Court should respect its own precedents.
Boston Globe: GOP wants to close stem cell lab doors, by Jonathan D. Moreno and Rick Weiss:
STEM CELL research was one issue that many observers thought would fly under the radar in this year's presidential election. Both candidates have expressed support for research on cell lines from frozen embryos already destined for destruction. Senator John McCain even joined with Senator Barack Obama in voting for legislation that would have loosened President Bush's stem cell research restrictions. And until recently it appeared that the ultraconservative GOP base would give McCain a pass on the issue.
But American politics is nothing if not unpredictable. Just before completing its work two weeks ago, the Republican platform committee was persuaded to change this sentence: "We call for a ban on human cloning and a ban on the creation of and experimentation on human embryos for research purposes" to this sentence: "We call for a ban on human cloning and a ban on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos for research purposes." (Our emphases.)
In case it's been a while since your last logic course, here's how the first sentence translates: We call for a ban on human cloning, and creating human embryos for experimentation/research purposes. And here's how the second sentence parses: We call for a ban on human cloning, and the creation of human embryos for research purposes, and experimentation on human embryos.
See also: The Trail (Wash. Post): McCain Radio Spot Trumpets Stem Cell Policy Palin Opposed, by Robert Barnes.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Reuters: McCain faces tough questions on abortion on U.S. TV, by Jason Szep:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain courted female voters on Friday with appearances on TV shows popular with women, but prompted boos from a studio audience while stressing opposition to abortion.
In reply to a question on ABC television talk show "The View," McCain told the five women hosts and its live studio audience he believed the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of abortion 35 years ago was a mistake.
The Trail (Wash. Post): McCain Radio Spot Trumpets Stem Cell Policy Palin Opposed, by Robert Barnes:
Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign today released a radio ad that four times trumpeted his support for stem cell research but never mentioned that his vice presidential pick opposes it.
The ad, which the campaign said is running in "key states,'' says that the "original mavericks'' will work with congressional allies to improve America's health and mentions the use of stem cell research to, among other things, "help free families from the fear and devastation of illness (the full text is below).
But, unless she has changed her opinion, McCain's running mate opposes stem cell research because of her opposition to abortion, which she condemns even in the cases of rape or incest.
See also: USA Today: Advocates worry McCain support for embryonic research may waver.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
NY Times: Back and Forth on Stem-Cell Research Energizes Race, by Larry Rohter:
First abortion, now embryonic stem-cell research. An issue that energizes social conservatives has once again been thrust into the presidential campaign, after Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee for vice president, attacked Republicans on Tuesday for rejecting President Bush’s limited support for using human embryonic cell lines to develop medical therapies.
“I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents” who face “the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect,” Mr. Biden said at a campaign stop in Columbia, Mo. “Well, guess what folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem-cell research?”
The Republican Party platform, just adopted in St. Paul, opposes any form of human embryonic stem-cell research.
McCain's own past positions on stem cell research have been more equivocal.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Let's forget for a moment that Sarah Palin likes to kill moose, has lots of children and was once voted the second-prettiest lady in Alaska; that's all part of the gusher of sensationalist, but not particularly substantive, news that has dominated coverage of the Alaska governor's addition to the Republican ticket.
Before the next news cycle brings the shocking information that Palin was actually impregnated by Bigfoot, we need to shift the discussion to what really matters about her in the context of the White House: her dangerous views.
AlterNet has compiled a list of Palin's most shocking beliefs, ranging from her positions on the economy to her views on reproductive rights. This list has nothing to do with her personal life, her looks or her gender. It's the stuff that voters need to know: what Sarah Palin really believes.
Among the list: "Despite problems at home, Sarah Palin does not believe in giving teenagers information about sex;" and "Sarah Palin believes in punishing rape victims."
Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The Other Young Mothers, by Gail Rosenblum:
Dominique Hines has been following media coverage of 17-year-old Bristol Palin's pregnancy with great interest. Dominique, 16, is the single mother of a 3-month-old son, Da'Marion. She's also a high school student with big dreams.
But similarities between the two teenagers pretty much end there. Many professionals who work with pregnant girls and teen mothers are happy to see this issue placed center stage. But they worry that the Palin story glosses over an essential truth: Most teenagers, like Dominique, don't have nearly the resources and support that vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's daughter has.
Friday, September 5, 2008
On September 3, Jon Stewart interviewed Newt Gingrich on the The Daily Show. He asked Gingrich whether it wasn't hypocritical for Sarah Palin to emphasize that her daughter, Bristol, had made her own decision to carry the pregnancy to term. Stewart pointed out that the parents' reference to "Bristol's decision" implied that Bristol had made a free choice, something that Palin would deny to other women facing unplanned pregnancies, even in cases of rape. The whole episode is worth watching; the Gingrich interview is the last segment. The video is available here.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
In the wake of Sarah Palin's revelation that her teenage daughter is pregnant and plans to marry and have the baby, June Carbone (UMKC Law School) and Naomi Cahn (GWU Law School) deliver this important message about the consequences of teen pregnancy and parenthood:
The news that Sarah Palin's unwed teenage daughter is pregnant highlights a surprising reality in today's America: The ultra-conservative morality many associate with the red states is out of step with the reality of 21st century America. Today's America rewards women who avoid teen pregnancy, study longer and marry later.
The ultra-conservative morality espoused in the Republican platform, on display this week at the GOP convention, emphasizes a "traditional understanding of marriage." The platform seeks additional funding for abstinence education, which teaches abstinence until marriage as the responsible and expected standard of behavior," pointing out that abstinence "is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies."
That's the platform. The reality is that red states have higher teen pregnancy rates, more shotgun marriages and lower average ages of marriage and first births than blue states. Teenage girls in the red states are more likely than their blue-state sisters to have sex and get pregnant, marry early and get divorced, stop going to school and go to work and end up raising their children in poverty.
Read Pregnancy often puts success out of reach for teens, by June Carbone & Naomi Cahn (STL Today).
Women's E-News: Palin Mixes It Up for Women at GOP Convention, by Allison Stevens & Alison Bowen:
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WOMENSENEWS)--Women in various places in and around the Republican National Convention here expressed wildly divergent reactions to vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, a religious conservative selected last weekend by Arizona Sen. John McCain to share his national ticket.
Political action committee EMILY's List issued polling research saying Palin wouldn't help McCain attract disaffected Democratic women and Code Pink activists staged a street demonstration against her. But inside the convention many Republican lawmakers and advocates hailed Palin, a staunch opponent of abortion and the governor of Alaska, as a figure of ascendant female power within the party.
While that dissonance may have been predictable, it even extended to pro-choice Republican women gathered at the convention.
"I think it's a risky choice," said Jennifer Blei Stockman, national co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice, a group in New York that advocates for reproductive rights. She said Palin not only jeopardizes reproductive rights, she also knocks the party off-message as the news media digs into her past.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
MarketWatch (WSJ): Palin's Daughter's Pregnancy Puts Abortion in Spotlight:
Family-values voters have a lot to digest as the Republican national convention gets under way. Sen. John McCain’s newly chosen running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said Monday that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant and plans to both keep the baby and marry the father...
The timing of the announcement also comes as Republicans gather to ratify their positions on controversial issues such as abortion, which isn’t unanimous within the party....
One of the items on Monday’s agenda is solidifying the party platform, which includes a harder line on abortion than even McCain has taken. The platform calls for opposing it in all cases and supporting a constitutional ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest or threats to the life of the mother, a position Palin supports.
Palin may appeal to social conservatives and the religious right, but her pro-life stance likely will prove too extreme to lure many of the disaffected Hillary Clinton primary voters McCain is angling for. Female voters who want to uphold Roe vs. Wade may not be as moved by the Palin family’s personal choices and may see them as the exception and not the rule when it comes to their ability to avoid a cycle of poverty that unwanted pregnancy often begins or continues.
See also New York Times: Palin Daughter's Pregnancy Interrupts Script, by Monica Davey:
In 2002, when Ms. Palin was completing her second and final term as mayor, her husband’s stepmother, Faye Palin, began campaigning to succeed her. Faye Palin, though, favored abortion rights, people who recalled the race said, and Ms. Palin sided instead with Dianne M. Keller, a City Council member who won the race and remains mayor there today.
Sarah Palin has publicly stated her opposition to comprehensive sex ed, supporting instead the abstinence-only approach, which studies have proven ineffective. On the Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC) today, Lehrer (broadcasting from the Republican Convention) raised the issue of Palin's approach to sexuality education in light of her teenage daughter's pregnancy and wondered what Palin taught her daughters at home about sex. He asked abstinence-only supporters to call in and describe what they taught their own children at home. You can download the podcast here.
Monday, September 1, 2008
L.A. Times: Sarah Palin announces 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, by Maeve Reston & Noam Levey:
As the Republican National Convention prepared to open, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's choice as his vice presidential running mate, announced that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and plans to marry the baby's father.
"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned," Sarah and Todd Palin said in a statement issued by the McCain campaign.
"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support."
Let's hope that this is something Bristol Palin really wants, and not something she feels pushed into doing given her mother's very public and extreme opposition to abortion.
See also AFP: Republicans rocked as Palin says teen daughter pregnant
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
New York Times: Casey, an Abortion Opponent, Praises Obama, by John M. Broder:
Sixteen years after his father was denied a speaking part at a Democratic convention because his anti-abortion views led him to oppose Bill Clinton’s candidacy, Senator Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania told the convention Tuesday night that Senator Barack Obama could bring together supporters and opponents of abortion rights.
Mr. Casey is, like his father, former Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania, a Roman Catholic who opposes abortion. He was invited to speak as part of a broad effort by the Obama campaign to reach out to religious voters and anti-abortion Democrats and independents...
But he also addressed the abortion question head on. “Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion,” Mr. Casey said. “But the fact that I’m speaking here tonight is testament to Barack’s ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him.”
“I know Barack Obama,” Mr. Casey continued. “And I believe that as president, he’ll pursue the common good by seeking common ground, rather than trying to divide us.”
Austin American-Statesman: Twenty years after her mother's star turn, Cecile Richards speaks to Democrats, by W. Gardner Selby:
Richards, who is the president of Planned Parenthood, lacked the late Gov. Ann Richards' memorable drawl, and she didn't try to match her mother's taut wit — though the convention's speechwriting team gave her a joke referring to President Bush....
She cast Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as an enemy of women's health care. She said he's voted 125 times on the wrong side of health issues, including votes against family planning funding and comprehensive sex education.
Friday, August 22, 2008
[A]n unsigned — and previously unattributed — 1990 article unearthed by Politico offers a glimpse at Obama's views on abortion policy and the law during his student days....
The six-page summary, tucked into the third volume of the year's Harvard Law Review, considers the charged, if peripheral, question of whether fetuses should be able to file lawsuits against their mothers. Obama's answer, like most courts': No.
Obama agreed with the Illinois Supreme Court that such lawsuits are bad public policy because they both threaten women's autonomy and fail to promote fetal health. He wrote:
The case highlights the unsuitability of fetal-maternal tort suits as vehicles for promoting fetal health; it also indicates the dangers such causes of action present to women's autonomy, and the need for a constitutional framework to constrain future attempts to expand "fetal rights."
...Expanded access to prenatal education and heath care facilities will far more likely serve the very real state interest in preventing increasing numbers of children from being born in to lives of pain and despair.
You can read the whole case comment via a link on the Tax Prof Blog.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Wash. Post: Candidates' Abortion Views Not So Simple, by Jonathan Weisman:
The narrative of the presidential campaign appeared to be set on the issue of abortion: Sen. Barack Obama was the abortion-rights candidate who was reaching out to foes, seeking common ground and making inroads. Sen. John McCain was the abortion opponent whose reticence about faith and whose battles on campaign finance laws drew suspect glances from would-be supporters.
Via PaperTrail (The Center for Public Integrity):
A new anti-abortion group has its sights set beyond just running ads and launching viral Internet attacks on Barack Obama. The group wants to overturn the federal election law that could rein in not only its own activities but those of any so-called issue advocacy groups.
Behind the effort is one James Bopp, a Terre Haute, Indiana, lawyer who’s spearheaded a string of challenges to state and federal campaign finance laws as well as efforts to reverse Roe v. Wade. On July 30, Bopp filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission on behalf of a new group, The Real Truth About Obama, which had filed papers with the IRS just a day earlier, registering as a nonprofit political advocacy group....
Bopp supported Mitt Romney in the Republican primary and, ironically, has vigorously litigated for years to overturn the campaign finance law authored by the candidate who bested Romney in the primaries, John McCain. Bopp now says he is a McCain supporter.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
USA Today: Religion, ethics experts comment on forum, by Cathy Lynn Grossman:
Sen. Barack Obama, frequently leaning on Bible passages, and Sen. John McCain, sharply delineating his opposition to abortion, sought to burnish their Christian credentials with voters Saturday night in a civil forum at a California mega church.
The presidential candidates took very different approaches to the same set of questions by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the mega-selling Bible study book, The Purpose-Driven Life.
Both candidates were asked when a "baby" first acquires "human rights." Obama answered that he supports Roe v. Wade, but added that "On this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception ... and you are consistent, then I can't argue with you on that. What I can do is say, are there ways we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies?" McCain said he believes that human rights attach "upon conception," something that cannot be squared with his support for rape and incest exceptions or for stem cell research (although Warren gave him a pass on those inconsistencies). For coverage on the candidates' comments on abortion, see: McCain and Obama try to navigate the politics of abortion (LA Times); Sharing stage, Obama and McCain split on abortion (AP). CNN Politics has a link to a video of the forum.
Warren also asked the candidates which Supreme Court Justices they would not have nominated. Obama named Clarence Thomas, while McCain listed all four of the Court's most liberal Justices. CNN Politics.com: Obama, McCain talk issues at pastor's forum:
"I don't think [Thomas] was a strong enough jurist or a legal thinker at the time for that. I profoundly disagree with his interpretation" of the Constitution, [Obama] said.
McCain said he would have never nominated Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens.
"This nomination should be based on the criteria on a proven record of strictly adhering to the Constitution and not legislating from the bench," McCain added.
The Arizona senator said he was "proud" of President Bush for nominating conservative Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the court.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
NY Times, Domestic Disturbances: Walking the Abortion Plank, by Judith Warner:
“Are Democrats Now Pro-Life?” asked ABC News this week, in an online story that pretty much summed up the buzz surrounding the party’s new official platform.
This year’s language on abortion, adopted last weekend, speaks of how “health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.” It declares, “The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child,” and was spun all week as an olive branch to evangelicals, a significant departure from past policy, and a victory for the opponents of abortion rights....
A lot of anti-abortion activists — including the leadership of the group Democrats for Life, which has long tried to get their party to soften its stand on reproductive rights – weren’t buying it. “It would be really tragic if some young evangelicals unaware of history of civics would vote for a candidate that will guarantee that we will have abortion on demand for another 30 years,” Gary Bauer, president of American Values, told Bloomberg News.
And they were right. There is nothing new in the Democratic position....