Chip, chip, chippity chip. That’s the steady sound of American legislatures, lawyers, and lobbying groups taking their chisels to what should be solid stone rights, and setting to work eroding them. We’re talking, of course, about abortion and procreative choice: the right to have an abortion; the right to have one freely, unmolested by the state, without shame or guilt; and more generally, the right to choose not only whether to bear a child, but also how to approach one’s own pregnancy and childbirth.
You can now hear an echo of that chipping sound in the UK. Quietly, quite similar tactics are being adopted, not just by protest groups (as noted by Jender here), but also by politicians. The Prime Minister has a consistent record of calling for the time limit on abortions to be reduced. This familiar ploy to curtail the availability of abortion failed in a Commons vote in 2008, but only by 71 votes. Then there’s the astonishing decision (noted by Jore on the Jender thread just mentioned) to give the pro-abstinence, anti-abortion group LIFE a place on the Sexual Health and HIV advisory panel. And finally, the thing that prompted me to write a quick post, the nasty little piece of legislation mentioned here, seven paragraphs down:
an amendment to the health and social care bill that would create a new precondition for women having an abortion to receive advice and counselling from an organisation that does not carry out terminations.
It will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the UK’s politics that Nadine Dorries is responsible for this reprehensible suggestion, along with the former Labour minister Frank Field. It’s not clear just how much chance this amendment has of making it on to the statute books; probably, thankfully, not too large a chance. There’s still a long way to go before the UK forces women to pay for and look at an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. Even so… chip, chip, chip.
The first can cause the second, right? Not exactly; in fact, that looks wrong:
A press release for the study, which is published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, explains, “The researchers found that young women in the study who had an abortion were no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem within the first year of pregnancy — or five years later — than their peers who were pregnant, but did not have an abortion.” The data was pulled from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which surveyed 289 girls between the ages of 13 and 18.
The possibility of psychological harm has been appealed to in arguments for parental notification and pre-abortion warnings. But now it looks as though the harm may well not be there.
The truth, according to science, is that “on average, abortion does not appear to have major psychological consequences — for adult women or for teens,” says [lead author Jocelyn] Warren. Marie Harvey, a public health professor at Oregon State University, which conducted the research with the University of California, San Francisco, said: “We have policies being made that are not evidence-based, and that have adverse consequences for women’s health.”
Gosh! Not evidence-based?!? Who would have guessed? It makes it sound as though maybe there’s another agenda being acted on.
Samantha Bee on John McCain’s air quotes, at about 3 minutes 20 seconds in. Thanks, Mr Jender!
Sort of. Actually, not really at all. But a very fun idea, passed on by Den Bro in comments and Andrew in an email.
Instead of (in addition to?) us all complaining about how horrible she
is, let’s all make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s
name for reminding us of the importance of protecting our rights for
birth control, women’s health and reproductive choice. This is a
brilliant idea for $10, or even $5.
And here’s the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name,
they’ll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in
her honor. Use this link.
You’ll need to fill in the address to let Planned Parenthood know
where to send the “in Sarah Palin’s honor” card. I suggest you use the
address for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:
McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street
Arlington , VA 22202
PS: make sure you use that link above or choose the pulldown of
Donate–Honorary or Memorial Donations, not the regular “Donate
From the ACLU’s Blog of Rights:
Last Thursday the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released proposed regulations (PDF) that could seriously undermine women’s access to reproductive health services, including birth control and abortion. Now the public has 30 days to let the Bush administration know precisely what we think of these regulations…
What’s really new about these proposed regulations is that they appear to take patients’ health needs out of the equation. They expand the ability of health care workers to refuse to provide complete and accurate information and counseling to women who seek services. Moreover, both the regulations, and Secretary of HHS Michael Leavitt’s public comments about them, leave the door open as to whether institutions and individuals can refuse to provide contraception.
Make no mistake: that lack of clarity is intentional. As the Washington Post reports, “…when pressed about whether the regulation would protect health-care workers who consider birth control pills, Plan B and other forms of contraception to be equivalent to abortion, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt said: ‘This regulation does not seek to resolve any ambiguity in that area.’” Indeed, the Wall Street Journal notes Leavitt’s admission that some medical providers may want to “press the definition.”
The deadline for feedback on this is 20 September, and volume of replies is very important, so please go here— it only takes a few seconds– to let them know what you think.
Women in countries where abortion is restricted are using the web to obtain abortifacient medications. There are some significant safety concerns, and it also looks like there’s considerable variation between various services. But Women on the Web sounds like a very responsible organisation. It looks like it is generally legal to use this service, even if abortion is illegal where one is located. A very interesting and important use of the web to help women who really need help. (Thanks, Mr J!)
Obama recently said (to a Christian publication) that he would only support 3rd trimester abortions where necessary for a woman’s physical, not mental health.
I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.
As laid out very clearly here and here, this is a position deeply at odds with the state of abortion law in the US. So the Democratic presidential candidate has now come out in favour of reducing abortion rights. Of course, he quickly backpedalled.
My only point is that in an area like partial-birth abortion having a mental, having a health exception can be defined rigorously. It can be defined through physical health, It can be defined by serious clinical mental-health diseases. It is not just a matter of feeling blue. I don’t think that’s how pro-choice folks have interpreted it. I don’t think that’s how the courts have interpreted it and I think that’s important to emphasize and understand.”
And that’s a perfectly reasonable distinction to make. The problem is that he didn’t make it earlier. I think Zuzu has a great analysis of what’s going on: abortion just isn’t something he has thought much about. The guy’s a constitutional law professor– if he’d thought much, he would have been far more careful in his initial remarks. We need to make him think about this– and make him think well. (Do that here.) Being thoughtless on this sort of thing sure as hell isn’t going to win back the Clinton supporters. more generally, Obama is doing a pretty dramatic version of the standard general election shift-to-the-right, and I don’t think we should just sit idly by on any of it. (Thanks, Mr J, for your help on this one.)