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Posts tagged "Pro Choice"

There are two roles anti-choicers like to play for which they are ill-equipped. First, they like to play doctor. And second, they like to play God. In doing so, they spread outright lies about both abortion and contraception to mislead and whip the public into a frenzy about sex, pregnancy, and childbirth. And then, believing themselves to be the righteous ones, they seek to capitalize on their self-created panics to make public health and medical policy for the country based solely on emotion, facts be damned. Their end goal, as they make clear, is to outlaw abortion and contraception no matter the costs to public health, women’s lives, or society writ large.

The trial of Kermit Gosnell provides anti-choicers and their allies with a perfect platform for their efforts. In Gosnell, they have an unethical, unscrupulous criminal acting as a doctor. He preyed on women too poor to seek early, safe abortion care, ran a filthy “clinic,” and conducted illegal abortions during which, it is alleged, some infants were born alive and killed. In their quest to make safe, legal abortion care as inaccessible as possible, anti-choicers are now seeking to sway public policy by conflating safe abortion care with Gosnell’s atrocities, to tar all legitimate providers of safe abortion care as Gosnell clones, and to use a criminal case as a justification to drive legitimate providers out of business.

Rubin, for example, calls for changes in Medicaid but appears not to understand how Medicaid works in the first place. She also calls for changes in federal funding of abortions, but appears not to understand that current law already severely restricts public funding of abortion.

She writes:

First, all Medicaid and other federal support for abortion services should come with caveats—health standards (of the type Pennsylvania refused to issue and enforce) and appropriate training for all personnel. Second, federal taxpayer dollars should not go for late-term abortions.

Let’s start out by making clear that this is the kind of grasping for irrelevant straws I described above (using the existence of a criminal to tar and feather an entire field of professionals who have no relationship to the criminal activity). For one thing, as confirmed in a phone call today to thePennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, and notwithstanding the fact that what he did was illegal in the first place so the case illustrates nothing about safe abortion care, Gosnell was not receiving Medicaid payments for women seeking abortion. In fact, in 2010, there were only seven abortions in the entire state of Pennsylvania paid for by state tax funds, and no federally funded abortions anywhere in the state that year. As in zero. Zip.

Rubin’s suggestion that federal taxpayer dollars should not go for abortions also is a head-scratcher, since the Hyde Amendment already forbids the use of federal funds for abortions except in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest. This law has guided public funding for abortions for low-income women under joint federal and state programs since 1977. 

Perhaps Jennifer Rubin was out of the country or not reading the papers in 2002 when President Bush signed into law the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. This is federal law, as in it covers all the states. Since Kermit Gosnell is and was a criminal, he was not adhering to the law, as is the nature of the term “criminal.”

And exactly how far does Rubin want to go to eliminate late abortions? Under Roe v. Wadestates may not prohibit abortions even after fetal viability in cases where it is “necessary to preserve the life or health” of the woman. Third-trimester abortions, which make up an estimated 1.3 percent of abortions in the United States, happen when there are medical complications that compromise the life or health of the woman in question or fetal anomalies incompatible with life. In the Gosnell case, women who came for late abortions came for them because they didn’t have enough money to get early abortions, conditions created by the very policies Rubin advocates.

If she wants a total ban on late abortions without exceptions for life and health, which women does Ms. Rubin suggest should be left to die? Which women should be left with lifelong health problems from a pregnancy gone horribly wrong? It’s a little harder when you have to face real people in need, so I ask, for which of these women does Rubin feel she or others are better equipped to decide what to do? Would she make the choice for Kate? For Gracie’s parents? For Autumn Elise’s parents? Why does Rubin or anyone else get to decide for these families what is best for them?

The inconvenient truth here is that the very policies anti-choicers espouse are the ones that create the conditions in which Gosnells thrive: limiting access to safe abortion care by closing clinics, driving up the costs, requiring women to go through innumerable unnecessary hoops to secure an abortion, and driving them later in the process—denying women living in poverty public support for safe abortion care. All of these and other policies espoused by anti-choicers drive women to desperate circumstances, as a trip to any number of countries with high rates of maternal mortality from complications of unsafe abortion will tell you.

Remember this, anti-choicers: YOUR failed ideology on reproductive choice (aka abortion) is going to be responsible for MORE Kermit Gosnell-type situations, NOT fewer.

h/t: Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check

The hot conservative story of late last week, starting with a USA Today op-ed by Kristen Powers, was the failure of the mainstream media to cover the horrifying case of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor accused of committing infanticide, and maiming and, in some cases, killing his patients (most of them poor women) in an unsanitary abortion clinic. Perhaps the story does deserve more coverage than it has received, but the lessons to be drawn from it are different from the conclusions conservatives are making. Here are five points currently being overlooked in the coverage of the controversy.

 Feminists Were on It

Whether the mainstream national media has given adequate attention to the Gosnell case is a matter of judgment, although claims that it’s been entirely ignored are incorrect. (Consider, for example, Sabrina Tavernise’s lengthy New York Times story from 2011.) But it should be remembered who hasn’t been ignoring the story: feminist writers. Many prominent feminists, for obvious reasons, reacted with horror to the charges against Gosnell. To the extent that the mainstream media has not been as attentive, there’s a clear reason: Gosnell’s victims were predominantly poor women of color. As Salon's Irin Carmon puts it, “How often do such places devote their energies to covering the massive health disparities and poor outcomes that are wrought by our current system? How often are the travails of the women whose vulnerabilities Gosnell exploited—the poor, immigrants and otherwise marginalized people—given wall-to-wall, trial-level coverage?” The lack of coverage by broadcast networks is simply part of a larger trend of ignoring the problem of massive inequality in the United States.

Pro-Choice Policies Are Not the Problem

Claims of media bias by conservatives dovetail with the suggestion that the Gosnell clinic is some sort of embarrassment for the pro-choice movement. But this is a non-sequitur. Let’s start with this basic fact: Infanticide and medically unnecessary post-viability abortions were already illegal under Pennsylvania law. Pro-choicers do not, of course, oppose either policy. The problem here is not a lack of law on the books, but that the state devotes insufficient law-enforcement resources to protecting the interests of the disadvantaged. It’s even more important to remember that Pennsylvania, to put it mildly, does not have liberal abortion laws. The Keystone State—which was the instigator of the 1992 case thatsubstantially watered down the protections of Roe v. Wade—has long been a pioneer in passing extensive, arbitrary regulations of abortion that are among thenation’s most onerous. Far from being a demonstration of the failure of pro-choice policies, the Gosnell case shows that opponents of reproductive freedom favor regulatory obstacles that endanger women’s health.

Improving Access Prevents Unethical Providers

The belated conservative reaction to the Gosnell case is a classic example of the bait-and-switch at the heart of the increasing proliferation of abortion regulations. Anti-choicers talk a great deal about the relatively tiny number of medically unnecessary post-viability abortions—which Roe v. Wade explicitly allows to be banned and are already illegal—in order to pass regulations that apply at every stage of pregnancy. The most common of these regulations—prohibitions on public funding for abortion, waiting periods,parental-involvement lawsmandatory ultrasounds, and the targeted regulation of abortion providers—are not merely irrelevant, but counterproductive. All of these legal burdens make obtaining a safe first-trimester abortion more difficult. Although the Gosnell case will be used by opponents of reproductive freedom to advocate for more arbitrary regulations, to argue that a single doctor performing already illegal post-viability abortions means that we should make safe pre-viability abortions less accessible is self-refuting nonsense. As Carmon puts it, women kept going to Gosnell’s clinic “because they felt they had no alternative.” That alternative is clinics where even poor women can obtain safe first-trimester abortions in a timely manner, without having to navigate a blizzard of regulatory impediments with the sole purpose of inhibiting access to abortion.

Beware of Women’s Safety Used as a Pretext

Some proposed regulations of abortion clinics, which are allegedly intended to make the procedure safer, superficially appear to have relevance to the Gosnell case. But at their heart, these regulations mimic other arbitrary abortion regulations: Their intent is to prevent all abortions, including those performed by clinics that are perfectly safe. There is no question that Gosnell’s ongoing operation represented a massive regulatory failure on the part of the Pennsylvania government. But shutting down the Gosnell clinic hardly required laws specifically targeted to abortion clinics. Generally applicable laws regulating all medical procedures—the ones requiring licensed doctors to maintain ethically operated, sanitary facilities—could have been applied by the state in this case. Laws such as the one recently passed in Virginia, conversely, are designed not to prevent criminal outliers like Gosnell but to create massive burdens on all abortion providers, including the vast majority who are ethical. In states like Mississippi, TRAP laws have made it nearly impossible for abortion clinics to operate—a result that will force more women to turn to unsafe alternatives. In the end, the constant use of women’s health as a pretext by people who just oppose legal abortion makes the application of health regulations that really are about protecting women’s health more difficult.

Stigmatizing Abortion Hurts Women

Finally, the Gosnell case is an illustration of a deeper problem with abortion politics in the United States. A number of pundits—most notably Slate's William Saletan and The Daily Beast's Megan McArdle—have argued that even though it's best that abortion remain formally legal, pro-choicers should concede that abortion is an icky, immoral procedure that should be discouraged. But the stigmatization of abortion, as it functions in the United States, greatly harms women. In most other liberal democracies, the Gosnell clinic wouldn't be an issue because even poor women could obtain safe abortions in a public hospital. In the United States, even where abortion is legal the constant stigma attached to the procedure—up to and including acts of violence against abortion providers and clinics—contributes to a making safe abortions less accessible. The best way to prevent future Gosnells is to treat pre-viability abortions like the ordinary, safe medical procedures they in fact are, not to engage in sexist moralizing.

The Gosnell case certainly represents a failure by the state of Pennsylvania to protect women. Enacting more regulations that make safe, pre-viability abortions more scarce would be precisely the wrong lesson to take from it, and would mean more Gosnells, not fewer. Making abortion safe, legal, and accessible for all women is more important than ever.

h/t: The American Prospect

Kermit Gosnell is on trial in Philadelphia, charged with eight counts of murder at his grisly abortion clinic. The Associated Press covered the opening proceedings of a trial expected to last eight weeks. A New York Times reporter was also present when the trial opened. His story appeared on page A17, which apparently wasn’t prominent enough for conservatives who are complaining that the media is under-covering the story because, as Charles Krauthammer put it, it places the issue of late-term abortion “starkly into relief.”

Gosnell is charged with illegally performing third trimester abortions, and slitting the spines of the babies, acts that were loudly condemned by pro-choice advocates. It doesn’t bring the issue of late-term abortion “starkly into relief”; it’s the story of a monster completely flouting the law and medical standards. When the story came to light more than two years ago, legitimate providers made that perfectly clear

Is Gosnell’s trial getting the same level of coverage on cable as, say, the Jodi Arias trial? No. But that’s a question about the media’s priorities in general, rather than some sort of ideologically-driven fear that the pro-choice position would be exposed. Proponents of safe, legal abortion do not fear any light shed on this awful episode. To the contrary, they were some of the first to condemn Gosnell when the details of a grand jury report were made public in January 2011 and Gosnell was first charged.  

As Irin Carmon shows, there is no media cover-up of Gosnell. If you’ve missed the story, “It’s probably because you failed to pay attention to the copious coverage among pro-choice and feminist journalists, as well as the big news organizations, when the news first broke in 2011.” Among it: Tara Murtha’s extensive coverage in the Philadalphia Weekly.  

Other prominent examples include Michelle Goldberg writing in The Daily Beast, “Here is something the most doctrinaire pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates can probably agree on: If Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell is guilty of even a fraction of the carnage he’s been charged with, he should spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Rachel Walden, writing at Women’s Health News: “Let me be perfectly clear: it is an abomination when women cannot receive safe, legal abortion services. What happened at Kermit Gosnell’s ‘clinic’ is unacceptable at any time, in any place.”

Now conservatives are suggesting that reporters are in the tank for the pro-choice cause and are (preposterously) therefore afraid to cover the trial that will reveal the moral bankruptcy of the cause. (Kermit Gosnell no more proves that abortion providers are evil than this guyproves that all dentists are evil.) Dave Weigel suggests, “if you’re pro-choice, say, and you worry that the Gosnell story is being promoted only to weaken your cause, you really should read that grand jury report,” because it tells a story of lax, incompetent, or under-funded regulatory system, or possibly one fearful of the politics of a fight over an abortion clinic. No one is actually worried about Gosnell weakening their cause, yet Weigel concludes: “Social conservatives are largely right about the Gosnell story.” He needs to read some background material.

Two years ago, just after Gosnell was charged, Carole Joffe, a sociologist who studies reproductive rights and health, made clear at RH Reality Check that reproductive health advocates are not afraid that the lax-regulator-angle hurts their cause, but rather, like anyone concerned with health and safety, want answers: “What remains baffling is how long this clinic was allowed to operate, in spite of numerous complaints made over the years to city and state agencies, and numerous malpractice suits against Dr. Gosnell. Indeed, it was only because authorities raided the clinic due to suspicion of lax practices involving prescription drugs that the conditions facing abortion patients came to law enforcement’s attention.”

Joffe noted, as others had, that the Gosnell horrors demonstrated what happened in the pre-Roe days of back-alley abortions. But she made a further, crucial point that these horrors occur even when abortion is legal, but difficult to afford or access for many women:

So why did Gosnell’s patients not go to a better, i.e. safer, abortion clinic, for example, the Planned Parenthood in downtown Philadelphia, no more than a few miles from Women’s Medical Society? One very poignant answer to this comes from a statement that one of Gosnell’s patients made to the Associated Press. The woman had initially gone to this Planned Parenthood for a scheduled abortion, but “the picketers out there, they scared me half to death.” 

Another reason women came to Gosnell’s clinic is that he undercut everyone else’s prices. As numerous abortion clinic managers have told me over the years, for very poor women—who are way over-represented among abortion patients—differences of even five or ten dollars can be the deciding factor of where to go. The price list at Women’s Medical Society, listed in the Grand jury report, shows that in 2005, a first trimester procedure was $330.00, while the average price nationally then was about one hundred dollars higher. For a 23-24 week procedure, Gosnell charged $1625.00, while the relatively few other facilities in the Northeast offering such abortions would have charged at least one thousand more.

Still another reason drawing women to this clinic was that it became widely known that Gosnell was willing to flout the law and perform post-viability (i.e. post-24 week) abortions even in cases where women did not meet the very strict legal guidelines of a life-threatening or serious illness or were carrying a fetus with a lethal anomaly. 

h/t: Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches

The reality is that so-called pro-life movement is not about saving babies. It’s about punishing women for having sex. That’s why they oppose birth control. That’s why they want to ban abortion even though doing so will simply drive women to have dangerous back alley abortions. That’s why they want to penalize women who take public assistance and then dare to have sex, leaving an exemption for those who become pregnant from rape. It’s not about babies. If it were about babies, they would be making access to birth control widespread and free and creating a comprehensive social safety net so that no woman finds herself with a pregnancy she can’t afford. They would be raising money for research on why half of all zygotes fail to implant and working to prevent miscarriages. It’s not about babies. It’s about controlling women. It’s about making sure they have consequences for having unapproved sex.
  • Pro-Lifer/Anti-Reproductive Choicer: Aren't you glad that your mother wasn't pro-choice?
  • Pro-Reproductive Choicer: She wasn't? And, all along, I thought she was pro-choice for some time - since before I was even born. But I guess you know my mother better than I do, even though you never met her.

(via Dana Busted: On #RoevWade’s 40th Anniversary, anti-choice extremist Loesch declares it “Happy Baby-Killing Anniversary”)

On the 40th anniversary of the 7-2 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortions in the United States,notorious anti-reproductive choice psychopathic extremist moron Dana Loesch titled the anniversary as “Happy ‘Baby Killing Anniversary” on her blog.

A video from a patriarchal perspective meant to flatter a woman’s perspective of herself. Sexism isn’t ironic if it’s done without any self awareness, it’s just for laughs, I’m sure. Just as I’m sure an organization founded by a racist white woman who wanted to mass murder “undesirables,” which included, by her definition, non-whites, is using a black actor to promote their cause of mostly-female genocide, since more female babies are aborted worldwide than males. 
The award for Idiotic Unintentional Irony Brought On By A Lack Of Historical Knowledge is Planned Parenthood!


She also misleadingly stated to her readers that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was a “racist,” when in fact theopposite is true.


Planned Parenthood on Margaret Sanger:

Myth:  Planned Parenthood has racist roots and its founder, Margaret Sanger, supported “black genocide.”FACT: Several independent media outlets have reviewed the facts and found that these claims are false and wildly misleading. PolitiFact gave this claim its worst rating, “Pants on Fire.”  They say, “We found no evidence that Sanger advocated - privately or publicly - for anything even resembling the „genocide‟ of blacks, or that she thought blacks are genetically inferior.” The Washington Post gave a similar claim made by Herman Cain four “Pinocchios.” They write, “No matter what you think of abortion, it seems pretty clear that Cain is spouting historical fiction.
There is no evidence that Sanger ever sought to kill black babies, either through the Negro Project or any other endeavor.”  The fact is Planned Parenthood opposes discrimination in any form and has worked to address racial and economic bias in access to health care for 95 years

.

More on Loesch’s deliberate falsehoods on the “war on women” and attacks on women and pro-choice viewpoints: 

Dana Busted: #INSen: Anti-choice radical Dana Loesch defends Richard Mourdock’s offensive comments 
Dana Busted: On KFTK’s The Dana Show, Loesch defends Akin against the “GOP Establishment that wants him to drop out”
Dana Busted: Dana Loesch falsely implies that “McCaskill and Democrats want to control women”
LGF: Dana and Chris Loesch Defend Akin’s ‘Legitimate Rape’ Comments
Dana Busted: Clueless moron Dana Loesch defends Todd Akin’s “Legitimate Rape” comment 
Dana Busted: Anti-choice liar Dana Loesch criticizes Lisa Brown’s Vagina Monologues speech
Dana Busted: Loesch on KFTK’s The Dana Show: “Progressive Women Suffer From ‘Fake Leg Syndrome.’”
Dana Busted: GOP flunky Dana Loesch continues to misleadingly accuse the Dems of “pushing a ‘war on women’”
Dana Busted: Loesch defends Kleefisch and Walker from possible recalls

Dana Busted: Loesch visits Chicago, still baselessly claims the “Democrats have a war on [conservative] women” 
Dana Busted: Loesch visits Madison, Wisconsin, and lies her butt off 
Dana Busted: Dana Loesch STILL falsely accusing the “Dems of starting the War on Moms’ 
Dana Busted: Loesch falsely trumpets the “Democrats have declared war on [conservative] mothers” 
Media Matters for America: Dana Loesch’s constant smears against Sandra Fluke 
Dana Busted: Loesch falsely accuses the Dems of “playing political games with VAWA” 
Dana Busted: Big Journalism’s Loesch falsely accuses Jan Schakowsky of “validating misogyny” 
Dana Busted: Loesch defends the sexist Oxycontin Smuggling Hypocrite’s attacks on Sandra Fluke 
Dana Busted: Outright moron Loesch still lying about Sandra Fluke 
Dana Busted: On her radio show, Loesch ridicules college-aged women for supporting access to contraception
Dana Busted: Anti-choice whacko Dana Loesch defends Virginia’s horrid extremist Ultrasound Law
Dana Busted: Loesch’s recent lunacy continues on trucking
Dana Busted: Loesch lies on ABC’s This Week on everything
Dana Busted: Anti-Choice liar Loesch: “Liberals only care about breast cancer to push their pro-abortion agenda”
Dana Busted: More anti-choice propaganda from Dana Loesch 
Media Matters: Loesch and guest Katz bash Michelle Obama 
Media Matters: On The Dana Show, Loesch Claims “Democrats Use Women As Prostitutes For Votes” 
LGF: CNN and KFTK’s Dana Loesch Equates Mandatory Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound to Having Sex 
Media Matters: Limbaugh, Loesch join chorus blaming MoveOn for activist beating

Roe v. Wade turns 40 today.

NEW YORK — By today’s politically polarized standards, the Supreme Court’s momentous Roe v. Wade ruling was a landslide. By a 7-2 vote on Jan. 22, 1973, the justices established a nationwide right to abortion.

Forty years and roughly 55 million abortions later, however, the ruling’s legacy is the opposite of consensus. Abortion ranks as one of the most intractably divisive issues in America and is likely to remain so as rival camps of true believers see little space for common ground.

Unfolding events in two states illustrate the depth of the divide. In New York, already a bastion of liberal abortion laws, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged in his Jan. 9 State of the State speech to entrench those rights even more firmly. In Mississippi, where many anti-abortion laws have been enacted in recent years, the lone remaining abortion clinic is on the verge of closure because nearby hospitals won’t grant obligatory admitting privileges to its doctors.

"Unlike a lot of other issues in the culture wars, this is the one in which both sides really regard themselves as civil rights activists, trying to expand the frontiers of human freedom," said Jon Shields, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College. "That’s a recipe for permanent conflict."

On another hot-button social issue – same-sex marriage – there’s been a strong trend of increasing support in recent years, encompassing nearly all major demographic categories.

There’s been no such dramatic shift, in either direction, on abortion.

For example, a new Pew Research Center poll finds 63 percent of U.S. adults opposed to overturning Roe, compared to 60 percent in 1992. The latest Gallup poll on the topic shows 52 percent of Americans saying abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, 25 percent wanting it legal in all cases and 20 percent wanting it outlawed in all cases – roughly the same breakdown as in the 1970s.

"There’s a large share of Americans for whom this is not a black-and-white issue," said Michael Dimock, the Pew center’s director. "The circumstances matter to them."

Indeed, many conflicted respondents tell pollsters they support the right to legal abortion while considering it morally wrong. And a 2011 survey of 3,000 adults by the Public Religion Research Institute found many who classified themselves as both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” 

Shields, like many scholars of the abortion debate, doubts a victor will emerge anytime soon. 

Supporters of legal access to abortion were relieved by the victory of their ally, President Barack Obama, over anti-abortion Republican Mitt Romney in November.

A key reason for the relief related to the Supreme Court, whose nine justices are believed to divide 5-4 in favor of a broad right to abortion. Romney, if elected, might have been able to appoint conservative justices who could help overturn Roe v. Wade, but Obama’s victory makes that unlikely at least for the next four years.

Abortion-rights groups also were heartened by a backlash to certain anti-abortion initiatives and rhetoric that they viewed as extreme.

"Until politicians feel there’s a price to pay for voting against women, they will continue to do it," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a lightning rod for conservative attacks because it’s the leading abortion provider in the U.S.

In Missouri and Indiana, Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate lost races that their party initially expected to win after making widely criticized comments regarding abortion rights for impregnated rape victims. In Virginia, protests combined with mockery on late-night TV shows prompted GOP politicians to scale back a bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound.

However, anti-abortion leaders insist they have reason for optimism, particularly at the state level.

In the past two years, following Republican election gains in 2010, GOP-dominated state legislatures have passed more than 130 bills intended to reduce access to abortion. The measures include mandatory counseling and ultrasound for women seeking abortions, bans on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, curbs on how insurers cover the procedure, and new regulations for abortion clinics.

The ACLU and other abortion-rights groups are challenging several of the laws in court, notably the 20-week ban. Yet already this year, Republican leaders in Texas, Mississippi and elsewhere are talking about new legislative efforts to restrict abortion.

Mississippi’s Gov. Phil Bryant says he wants to end abortion in the state and is eager for the remaining clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to close.

"My goal, of course, is to shut it down," Bryant told reporters on Jan. 10. "If I had the power to do so legally, I’d do so tomorrow."

The clinic is a steady target of anti-abortion protesters who take turns praying, singing hymns and confronting patients. Its administrator, Diane Derzis, says the three principal physicians on her staff have been unable to get admitting privileges at area hospitals due to pressure from the anti-abortion movement.

She drew a contrast with the push for same-sex marriage.

"With marriage equality, gays and lesbians are fighting for something they didn’t have," Keenan said. "In the case of reproductive rights, you’re trying to maintain the status quo. The millennial generation doesn’t see it as threatened."

Another difference: the campaign for same-sex marriage has benefited greatly from personal testimony by gay couples, speaking out in legislative hearings and campaign videos. By contrast, although millions of American women have had abortions, relatively few speak out publicly to defend their decisions.

"If you know some women, you know a woman who’s had abortion," said Dr. Anne Davis, who is medical director for Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health and provides abortions as part of her practice in New York City.

"But you do not see women talking about their abortions," Davis said. "They do what they need to do and move on. I can’t blame people for that."

Davis, who learned abortion techniques during her residency at the University of Washington in the mid-’90s, said the procedure has become increasingly safe – notably with the advent of abortions via medication. She expressed dismay at the spate of restrictive laws that she and many of her fellow physicians view as ill-founded.

"Initially, we’d say, `That’s ridiculous’ – and now we’re stuck with them," she said.

Despite all the furor, abortion has been commonplace in the post-Roe era, with about one-third of adult women estimated to have had at least one in their lifetime.

Of the roughly 1.2 million U.S. women who have abortions each year, half are 25 or older, about 18 percent are teens, and the rest are 20-24. About 60 percent have given birth to least one child prior to getting an abortion. A disproportionately high number are black or Hispanic; and regardless of race, high abortion rates are linked to economic hard times.

The Roe opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, asserted that the right to privacy extended to a women’s decision on whether to end a pregnancy. States have been allowed to restrict abortion access at late stages of pregnancy, but only if they make exceptions for protecting the mother’s health – and the net result has been one of the most liberal abortion policies in the world.

At the time of Roe v. Wade, abortion was legal on request in four states, allowed under limited circumstances in about 16 others, and outlawed under nearly all circumstances in the other states, including Texas, where the Roe case originated.

Some abortion opponents, such as Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life, urge bipartisan efforts to support pregnant young women as they pursue careers or education, so they don’t feel financial pressure to have an abortion. But supporters of legal access to abortion look askance at such proposals if they are coupled with calls to take abortion decision-making out of a woman’s hands.

For Carrie Gordon Earll, now senior policy analyst for the conservative ministry Focus on the Family, that Roe-established freedom of choice once seemed logical. She got pregnant in 1981 while attending a Christian college and opted to have an abortion.

She recently made a video expressing her regrets.

"I can look back at those 40 years and say without a doubt, the world is not a better place because of abortion, women are not in a better place," she says. "What it has created is a world where you’re almost expected to abort if you’re pregnant at an inopportune time."

In an interview, Earll mused on how the anti-abortion movement has persevered since Roe.

"We’ve had 40 years of marketing by Hollywood and the cultural elites that abortion is a good thing, and we still have a battle going on," she said. "We’re holding our own."

A similar refrain of perseverance is sounded by Dr. Douglas Laube of Madison, Wis., who began performing abortions as part of his practice a year after the Roe decision.

"It was important for women to be able to legally ensure their right to make their own decision," said Laube, who is chairman of Physicians for Reproductive Health Choice. "But it served to polarize society politically."

Laube is worried by the spread of anti-abortion state laws, but encouraged by the surge of women becoming obstetrician-gynecologists – a trend he hopes will ease the shortage of abortion providers.

"I see the movement toward the religious right being countered by a growing movement among practitioners and advocates for maintaining this as legal," he said. "That means the controversy will continue. But it also means we will hold our ground."

h/t: Huffington Post

The last two nights of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show featured segments on how abortion rights are under attack in 4 states (Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota), both by anti-choice zealots and GOP Governors (Bryant [MS], Dalrymple [ND], Daugaard [SD]) and their legislatures, as part of the War On Women playbook to drastically curtail and/or end abortion rights and to defund Planned Parenthood, to name a few. 

Mississippi’s last women’s health clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, could be closed down due to anti-choice extremist Governor Phil Bryant (R)’s wishes that "Mississippi should be an abortion-free state." If his plan successfully goes through, it would be the 1st state since the highly controversial 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling by SCOTUS to effectively ban abortion. 

Of the four states with only one women’s health service clinic (or abortion provider) left in their respective states, all except Arkansas currently has a GOP Governor running the state. All four of the states listed have both their state Houses and Senates under GOP control.

Full blogpost at Daily Kos

But Romney has never been easy to pin down on abortion-related issues. When it comes to women’s health, and particularly the issue of safe and legal access to abortion services, the presidential candidate has had a long and convoluted evolution throughout his political career — shifting from pro-choice to pro-life, amending his stated intentions for the future of Roe v. Wade, and waffling over whether the power to regulate abortion legislation should rest with the states or the courts. ThinkProgress has compiled a timeline of Romney’s constantly changing stance on abortion:

5/27/1994: Romney supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

During a 1994 Massachusetts Senate debate, Romney emphasized his commitment to supporting a women’s right to safe and legal abortions. “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country,” he said. “I have since the time my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S. Senate candidate. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it. And I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice.”

9/8/1994: A Romney spokesperson says Mitt has been consistently pro-choice.

After Sen. Edward Kennedy’s campaign criticized Romney for not being a true supporter of abortion rights, a Romney spokesperson told reporters, “Mitt has always been consistent in his pro-choice position.”

9/21/2002: Romney is “unequivocally” pro-choice.

In a 2002 interview with WBZ-TV, Ann and Mitt sought to clarify that Mitt Romney will not limit women’s reproductive freedom. “When asked whether I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose, I make an unequivocal answer — yes,” Romney said.

5/27/2005: Romney is pro-life, but says he will maintain the pro-choice status quo.

Romney committed to keeping the current pro-choice laws in Massachusetts in place, deferring on his own beliefs on the subject of abortion because he says they are a distraction. “I’m absolutely committed to my promise to maintain the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice, and so far I’ve been able to successfully do that,” Romney said at a news conference.

07/26/2005: Romney vetoes pro-choice legislation.

Romney vetoed a bill that would have allowed women in Massachusetts access to emergency contraception in pharmacies and hospitals. In an op-ed explaining his decision, he wrote, “I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother. I wish the people of America agreed, and that the laws of our nation could reflect that view.”

8/12/2007: Romney says he has never been pro-choice.

Romney told Fox News that he never called himself pro-choice. “I never allowed myself to use the word pro-choice because I didn’t feel I was pro-choice,” Romney said. “I would protect the law, I said, as it was, but I wasn’t pro-choice.”

10/28/2007: Romney supports a federal bill to ban abortion across the country.

In a Republican primary debate in 2007, Romney said he would be “delighted” to sign a bill banning abortion across the country. “I would welcome a circumstance where there was such a consensus in this country that we said we don’t want to have abortion in this country at all, period,” he said. “That would be wonderful…but that’s not where America is today. Where America is, is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority.”

11/30/2007: Romney supports overturning Roe v. Wade and returning control over abortion laws to the states.

At a town hall meeting, Romney said that abortion laws should be determined by the states. “I would like, for instance, to see Roe v. Wade overturned — and by overturning Roe v. Wade, you would effectively be returning to the people and the states the ability to create their own legislation as it relates to abortion and life,” he said.

8/7/2007: Romney supports expanding the definition of the 14th Amendment to include unborn children, which would outlaw all abortions under any circumstances.

During an appearance on Good Morning America, Romney confirmed that he supported the so-called “human life amendment” in the 2004 GOP platform that would extend the 14th Amendment’s protections to fetuses and outlaw abortions without any exceptions. “I do support the Republican Platform and I support that being part of the Republican Platform,” he said.

8/16/2007: Romney qualifies his stance on the Human Life Amendment to say he might not actually support it.

After his Good Morning America appearance, Romney walked back his stance on the 14th Amendment after discussing it with one of his advisers. When reporters asked him to clarify whether or not he actually supported a constitutional amendment banning all abortions, Romney said, “I’m pro-life; it would be great if we could just leave it at that.”

1/23/2012: Romney calls Roe v. Wade “one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history.”

On the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Romney said that it marked “one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history” and recommitted himself to “reversing that decision, for in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America.”

6/18/2012: Romney lays out a “pro-life pledge” that outlines the anti-abortion legislation he would support as president.

Romney reiterates his support for anti-choice policies in an op-ed in the National Review Online, including banning federal funding for abortion under the Hyde Amendment, denying funds for voluntary family planning services in foreign countries under the “global gag rule,” overturning Roe v. Wade, and appointing anti-choice judges to the Supreme Court.

8/27/2012: Romney broadens his support for rape exceptions to include exceptions in the case of the “health of the mother.”

Until this point, Romney had typically argued that abortion should only be limited to rape, incest, or life of the mother. But in an interview with CBS, Romney broadened his rhetoric to say that he is in “favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother.”

8/27/2012: A Romney adviser says that Mitt’s stance on abortion has remained unchanged.

Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul clarified that, even though Romney appeared to have shifted to favor a health exception in his abortion stance, his position on abortion did not change. “Gov. Romney’s position is clear: he opposes abortion except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened,” she said in a statement.

8/27/2012: Romney believes abortion is not a political issue because it should be settled by the courts.

In the same CBS interview, Romney said that abortion “is a decision that will be made by the Supreme Court.”

8/28/2012: Romney’s sister says that Mitt won’t be touching abortion because it’s not his focus.

In an interview with the National Journal, Jane Romney said that her brother would never make abortions illegal as president. “He’s not going to be touching any of that. It’s not his focus,” she said. Calling Democratic concerns about restricted access to reproductive rights unfounded scare tactics, Jane said she believes “Mitt’s much more in the middle” when it comes to abortion.

10/9/2012: Rommey says he does not plan to enact anti-abortion legislation as president.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Romney suggested that he would not focus on abortion issues as president. “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” he said.

10/10/2012: Romney will be a pro-life president, but still will not name specific abortion-related legislation that he will enact in office.

Romney reiterated his support for anti-choice policies, such as regulating abortion at the state level and cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch. “I am pro-life, I’ll be a pro-life president,” he said. “I will take pro-life measures, but those happen to be executive-order and budget measures, as opposed to legislation, at least so far as I’m aware.” When he was asked about the possibility of a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade, Romney said, “That’s not where America is now.”

In the 1994 debate during the Massachusetts Senate race, Kennedy derided Romney as having a “multiple choice” stance on abortion.

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

2011 was a banner year for anti-choice activists who succeeded in pushing through a record number of abortion restrictions. But it’s a new year, and it appears the GOP is dead set on outdoing itself. Republicans in Congress and across the country are introducing a variety pack of extreme anti-abortion bills — including personhood initiatives, heartbeat bills, and fetal pain bills — that saw some success last year. Here is a run-down of the abortion restrictions American women across the country are already facing in the first month of 2012:

– PERSONHOOD: The Virginia General Assembly’s very first bill, House Bill 1, is a “personhood” measure that defines life as beginning at conception and would essentially outlaw abortions. Modeling it on Mississippi’s failed measure, Virginia Republicans threaten to outlaw birth control and in vitro fertilization for couples trying to have a baby. Anti-choice activists hope to push similar measures in at least 11 other states, including Ohio and Kansas.

– RACE-BASED ABORTIONS: Following in Arizona’s footsteps, Florida Republicans introduced a bill that would “require abortion providers to sign an affidavit stating they’re not performing the procedure because the woman did not want a child of a particular gender or race.” Despite a complete lack of evidence, they insist that minority women are seeking abortions, or have a higher abortion rate in their communities, because they loathe the race or sex of the fetus.

– FETAL PAIN: Florida Republicans are simultaneously pushing a bill that prohibits abortion after 20 weeks based on the unfounded idea that fetuses can feel pain. “They suck their thumbs,” said state sponsor Rep. Daniel Davis (R). “They get hiccups. They get excited when their mom talks. They feel pain.” The medical community, however, insists that it is highly unlikely the fetus registers pain as its brain is not developed enough. U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced the same measure to ban post-20 week abortions for women in Washington, D.C in order to protect a fetus from “the agonizing process of being aborted.”

– HEARTBEAT BILL: Slowly proceeding in Ohio, the “heartbeat” bill is also gaining a foothold in the Oklahoma legislature. State Sen. Dan Newberry (R) and state Rep. Pam Peterson (R) filed companion measures that “require abortion providers to use a fetal heart rate monitor on the fetus of a woman who is at least eight weeks pregnant and make the heartbeat of the unborn child audible before an abortion is performed.” The heartbeat can often be detected as early as “six to seven weeks,” before a women even knows she is pregnant.

House GOP Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) are also pushing their own anti-abortion bills in Congress.

h/t: Tanya Somanader at ThinkProgress Health

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is itching to take Speaker John Boehner’s gavel away after he appeared on 60 minutes in an effort to introduce himself to America.

Cantor, who is mostly known by political junkies as the smirking and disingenuous hyper-partisan face on cable news, frequently says no to everything on the Obama agenda.  

Turns out even though Cantor is conservative on all issues, Mrs. Cantor is socially liberal.  

A lifelong liberal Democrat until she met her husband, Diane Fine Cantor expressed support for both marriage equality and choice for women. These are two hot button social issues that her husband and his party are opposed to. Mrs. Cantor says she simply disagrees with her husband on these issues, but still supports his leadership in Congress and the Republican party.

h/t: Loop21.com

Florida state Rep. Charles Van Zant (R) is starting 2012 with yet another radical effort to ban all abortions in the state unless the woman’s life is in danger. Declaring that “the Legislature acknowledges that all persons are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that first among these is their right to life,” the Florida for Life Act would essentially (and unconstitutionally) make it a felony to perform an abortion except when a physician meets very specific circumstances. The Florida Independent reports:

A termination of pregnancy may not be performed unless:

(a) Two physicians certify in writing to the fact that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the termination of pregnancy is necessary to prevent the death of the patient;

(b) Two physicians certify in writing to the fact that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the termination of pregnancy is necessary because to continue the pregnancy would unreasonably reduce the likelihood of successful treatment of a life-threatening disease of the patient; or

(c) A physician certifies in writing that a medical emergency existed and another physician was not available for consultation prior to the time necessary to perform the termination of pregnancy. The physician’s written certification must clearly describe the medical emergency.

h/t: Tanya Somanader at ThinkProgress Health

A judge in Nevada is smacking down “personhood” advocates left and right.

On Wednesday, District Judge James Wilson granted an injunction request by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood against a petition circulated by Personhood Nevada, ruling that it’s too vague and would confuse voters.

The group’s lawyer, birther attorney Gary Kreep, was cagey in the court hearing when asked about the purpose of the petition, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. At one point Kreep said it would prevent “discrimination against the unborn,” and another time noted he could only “speculate” on the possible effects.

Wilson ruled that state law requires the purpose to be clear so as not to confuse voters about what they’re signing. “To me it is not clear,” Wilson said. “It is not capable of being rehabilitated through rewriting.”

Another Nevada judge threw out a similar measure two years ago for the same reasons. That decision was appealed to the state Supreme Court, but by the time the case came up it was too late to collect the necessary signatures to qualify for the election.

Kreep said Personhood Nevada is deciding whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court this time around.

Personhood Nevada called Wilson a “judicial activist” judge in its statement on the ruling, saying that “the people’s voice in Nevada has been silenced by those who profit from abortion the most - Planned Parenthood.”

“Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the liberal courts have stifled our ability to engage in free speech, legally maneuvering until me [sic] miss our statutory deadline, and keeping us from exercising our constitutional rights as Americans and Nevadans,” said Olaf Vancura, the president of the group. “We are determined that no matter how long it takes, we will not be silenced. The personhood petition will be approved, and we will protect all human life in the state of Nevada.”

h/t: Jillian Rayfield at TPM