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Oireachtas committeeImage copyrightRTÉ
Image captionThe cross-party committee was set up to assess abortion law in Ireland

A parliamentary committee in the Republic of Ireland has voted to recommend changes to abortion law.

The committee was set up to consider a report by the Citizens’ Assembly on abortion law in Ireland.

The cross-party group is in favour of repealing the 8th amendment to the Constitution of Ireland.

The 8th amendment acknowledges “the right to life of the unborn and with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother”.

Committee members voted 14-6 to recommend to the Oireachtas (parliament) to repeal the 8th amendment, and voted 12-5 to recommend to allow terminations without restrictions up to 12 weeks.

Woman with hand and clipboardImage copyrightKATARZYNABIALASIEWICZ
Image captionThe Republic of Ireland has a near total ban on abortion

The constitutional article reads: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The committee also voted on numerous scenarios which would provide guidance on parameters for abortion legislation.

This included a vote which supported the decriminalisation of women who seek to procure an abortion, when a termination is carried out in a hospital or licensed clinic.

The committee will publish its final report on December 20.

Speaking in the Dáil Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he intends to hold a referendum on the issue next May.

Presentational grey line

Abortion in the Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has a near total ban on abortion.

In 2013, abortion was legislated for under certain conditions – when doctors deem that a woman life’s is at risk due to medical complications, or if she is at risk of suicide.

The law does not allow for terminations in cases of rape or incest, or when there is a fatal foetal abnormality.

The law was introduced in the wake of the case of Savita Halappanavar who died in a Galway hospital in 2012 after she was refused an abortion.

In what was known as the X Case of 1992, a 14-year-old rape victim was prevented from travelling to England to terminate her pregnancy by the High Court.

This ruling was overturned by the Irish Supreme Court and a referendum approved a further update to the constitution, stating that the eighth amendment did not restrict the freedom to travel to another state.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42344858

LISA LAKE VIA GETTY IMAGES
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) speaks during the Geisinger National Symposium, “From Crisis to Cure: Revitalizing America’s Healthcare System,” on Nov. 9 in Danville, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has reaffirmed his intention to veto a highly controversial bill passed by his state’s Republican-controlled legislature to restrict abortions after 20 weeks.

The ban, known as Senate Bill 3, passed in the state’s House on Tuesday night, 121-70, after passing the state Senate back in February, 32-18.

“This bill is an attack on women, and it should never have reached my desk,” Wolf said in a tweet posted Wednesday. “I will veto it, because all Pennsylvania women deserve to make their own health care decisions.”

Support for the bill in both chambers of the state legislature was just shy of a veto-proof majority.

SB3 represents “the most extreme restrictions” on abortion in the country, according to Planned Parenthood.

Pennsylvania currently allows abortions up to the 24-week mark. SB3 would roll back that limit, allowing abortions after 20 weeks only in rare emergency situations, with no exception for cases of rape, incest or fetal abnormalities.

The measure would also criminalize a certain medically accepted abortion procedure known as “dilation and evacuation,” although SB3 refers to it as “dismemberment abortion.” Were the bill to become law, Pennsylvania would become one of nearly 20 states that have laws banning abortion after 20 weeks ― but experts say the so-called “dismemberment” ban is unprecedented.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the governor called SB3 an “an assault on the doctor-patient relationship by politicians without medical or health expertise.”

“We’ve got to keep politics out of the doctor’s office,” Wolf told HuffPost in March, after holding events with doctors and women who have had the same kind of late-term abortions that would be restricted if the bill became law.

“When people are choosing where to go to school or begin their professional lives or where to start their business or family, Pennsylvania has got to show that it’s open to them,” he continued. “This bill just says the reverse, that you can’t make your own decisions here, this is not a place where we value freedom of conscience.”

Supporters of the bill argue that 20 weeks is the threshold at which a fetus can begin to feel pain, a statement debated by doctors.

The bill’s opponents ― a group that includes the Pennsylvania Medical Society ― argue that some fetal abnormalities are only discovered after the 20-week mark, while others fear that such bans aim to erode Roe v. Wade.

Source: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/pennsylvania-governor-abortion_us_5a317c9be4b091ca2684f0cf

 

A U.S. judge questioned on Tuesday whether the federal government properly formulated new rules that undermine an Obamacare requirement for employers to provide insurance that covers women’s birth control.

New rules from the Department of Health and Human Services announced in October let businesses or non-profit organizations lodge religious or moral objections to obtain an exemption from the Obamacare law’s mandate that most employers provide contraceptives coverage in health insurance with no co-payment.

The move from President Donald Trump’s administration kept a campaign pledge that pleased the Republican’s conservative Christian supporters.

California and several other states with Democratic attorneys general promptly sued and asked for the policy to be blocked while its legality is decided.

At a hearing in an Oakland, California, federal court on Tuesday, attorneys for California argued the Trump administration acted too quickly and did not follow proper notice procedures when issuing the new rules.

U.S. Justice Department lawyer Ethan Davis responded that the Trump administration had to move quickly, given legal uncertainty over who is covered by the Obamacare mandates.

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam questioned that argument.

“I don’t know why that could not be done consistent with the standard notice and comment period,” the judge said.

Gilliam also asked several other questions about the logistics involved with issuing an injunction. He did not announce a ruling at the hearing.

The contraception mandate was implemented as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, popularly known as Obamacare. Republicans, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and White House, have so far failed to repeal the law, a top presidential campaign promise of Trump.

In its reasoning for the move, the administration said among other things that mandating birth control coverage could foster “risky sexual behavior” among teens and young adults. It overturned the Obama administration’s view that the birth control requirement was necessary to meet the government’s “compelling interest” to protect women’s health.

The state of California said it expected a surge in unwanted pregnancies as more women lose contraception coverage, which it said would affect public services.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-healthcare/u-s-judge-questions-trump-administration-on-birth-control-rules-idUSKBN1E632H

When it came to accessing contraception, women I spoke with as part of my research often framed it as a way to prevent abortions rather than preventing pregnancy: a subtle, but important, difference.

“If I was pregnant because I wasn’t taking care of myself, I’d have to just suck it up and say, ‘This is your mistake, you have to live with it.’”

This was just one of the stories I heard while interviewing women in rural California in 2016, when I was a social work PhD student whose research focused on reproductive justice. Contrary to frequent misconception, despite the state’s robust family planning program and overall progressive policy stances on reproductive health, I found that it is not enough to have laws in place that protect a person’s right to make decisions about her body. Many women, especially women of color and poor women, are locked out of health-care systems because they don’t have transportation, money, or the support of their partner to access those services. Furthermore, internalized shame can contribute its own obstacles toward access.

Over the course of the summer, I conducted 68 in-depth semistructured interviews with adult women age 44 and younger who were accessing clinical reproductive health-care services in two rural California counties. Ninety percent of the women who participated self-identified as Hispanic. A majority of women reported that they were married or in a serious relationship, and nearly half had never had a child.

Many of the women’s attitudes toward reproductive health can best be described as conflicts between familial and community-based stigma and the need for personal agency over health-care choices. Some described this stigma as gender inequality and a glorification of sex for men, coupled with judgment and stigmatization against women. And when it came to accessing contraception, women often framed it as a way to prevent abortions rather than preventing pregnancy: a subtle, but important, difference.

Some women in the study reflected that if they were not using contraception and became pregnant, they would live with their pregnancy rather than obtaining an abortion. These women felt that having a child, even from an unplanned pregnancy, would be “their responsibility.” If they wanted to be sexually active, they believed they should “own up” to the result.

At the same time, however, they faced both internal and external hurdles to contraception access. For one thing, the women reported that many providers in private practice or community health centers do not offer a wide range of birth control. Some said they had trouble finding a provider who honored their decisions to use contraception at all.

Furthermore, many of the women I spoke with felt the need to hide their desire or use of contraception from their families. One woman reported, “Someone in my family found out I was using contraception and their response was, ‘So you’re sleeping around or something?’” Another told me, “I don’t feel like I can tell my mom or my sister [about contraception use] because I’m just going to be judged.”

Many women talked about how their families and neighbors expected them to remain virgins until they were married. They say their communities generally tend to describe those seeking reproductive health care as “promiscuous.” This did not keep women from seeking reproductive health services, but it did prevent them from feeling like they could openly discuss their choices.

A few women were embarrassed to discuss issue with me because they are not like “those girls.”

“I don’t know how to say that in a nice way. I’ve heard people call them a lot of terrible things, saying that they’re easier because they’re this and that,” one said. Another told me that openly seeking contraception meant “you’re looked down upon. You’re bad names or a bad person.” Many women said in their communities, young men receive positive reinforcement for being sexually promiscuous, while young women are labeled as “sluts.”

“Most of the time when you hear about young couples having sex, you hear them talking about the girl. It’s like she’s easy and she’s just giving it up … but when it comes to the guy, no one ever really says anything. … They’re giving him props for it,” a respondent said.

For some women, the fear of familial stigma led to choices like crossing the border into Mexico to avoid having their parents find out that they are using contraception: “I’d rather pay this $10 … to get birth control than to come here to a family doctor and have them tell. I feel that’s the fear, too. Like I’m going to go to my family doctor and they’re going to tell my parents”—a clear breach of patient confidentiality.

Women also described religion as a barrier to seeking services. “Since religion says you should be married before being sexually active, it stops you from looking for help,” said one. In response, many created close relationships with friends who were going through something similar to normalize their experiences and give them opportunities to discuss reproductive health free of judgment from their family members.

Even as many participants spoke about the shame exerted on them for seeking birth control, they still expressed judgment about women who did not “take care of themselves”—in other words, by using contraception—and then chose to have an abortion after becoming pregnant.

“If you were irresponsible and you just didn’t take care of yourself and you came out pregnant and then you just want to end it, that makes me feel mad,” said one woman.

Many of the respondents talked about the effects stigma had on their decisions. “I couldn’t get here to do it,” one said. “The reason I delayed it was just going back and forth in my head, like. … how am I going to look at [my mom] in the face after this.”

Another woman talked about how nervous and scared she was—not about the procedure itself, but about potential reactions from her loved ones. “I chose not to talk to anyone in my family about it because they’re very judgmental and they’re probably going to be angry at me and they won’t understand me. I’ve heard them make comments about other girls who have abortions.” But after the care, she said, “I came out [of the clinic] and I felt good. Like I just felt a little sick and I went home and I rested and I felt good.”

A different participant described the experience as “horrible,” continuing, “Well, that’s why I’m [at the clinic]. I don’t want to have kids right now. That’s why I’m on birth control. It’s a really big deal.”

For these women, there is one exception to the abortion rule. Many women articulated that rape is theprimary exception in which abortion should not only be considered but also encouraged.

These interviews illuminate the complexity of many women’s experiences with contraception and abortion. Religious beliefs, especially their mother’s, affected how they discuss sex and contraception. If their mother was passionately opposed to contraception or focused on abstinence until marriage, women would seek advice from female relatives who they knew would support their decision to “take care of themselves.” When it came to abortion, meanwhile, most would stick to speaking to friends or romantic partners.

The “pro-choice” community should not ignore the nuances surrounding feelings about abortion and contraceptive care among many individuals—a reality recognized by the reproductive justice framework, which Black women created in the early 1990s to recognize that bodily autonomy went beyond pro-family planning policies. Oversimplifying the reproductive health-care debate into a conflict between the rights of the government and the right of a woman to control her body ignores the philosophical underpinnings that rural women grapple with on a daily basis. And maintaining a narrow view of the purpose of contraception solely as avoiding pregnancy overlooks the deep cultural and religious experiences of some women in rural areas.

Policymakers, service providers, and health-care researchers must take into account the consequences of ignoring the background that shapes women’s belief systems. Many women stated that community leaders and service providers publicly talking about sex and sexuality, especially among young people, would make getting reproductive health-care services more acceptable in their communities.

“It’s the combination of ignorance, lack of knowledge of the resources you have and what an abortion really is, the culture, religion,” one concluded. “I think that stigma prevents women from obtaining services when they want them.”

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2017/12/12/even-states-progressive-policies-shame-can-contribute-reproductive-health-care-obstacles/

Moore, a candidate in an upcoming special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat, has connections to the most radical parts of the anti-choice movement.

Roy Moore, a Republican vying for his party’s nomination in the special election for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, is touting the endorsement of an anti-choice activist who once signed a letter endorsing the murder of abortion care providers as a “justifiable” act.

The endorsements listed on Moore’s campaign website list the Rev. Matt Trewhella as a key supporter of the Alabama Republican’s Senate bid, as People of the American Way’s Right Wing Watch first reported.

“Trewhella has long been an activist on the far fringes of the anti-choice movement,” Right Wing Watch’s Miranda Blue wrote. “In the early 1990s, he was one of 34 anti-abortion extremists to sign a statementdeclaring that the murder of abortion providers is ‘justifiable.’ Another signer of the statement, Paul Hill, went on to murder an abortion provider and the provider’s bodyguard. Around that time, Trewhella was videotaped calling for churches to arm children in order to form militias.”

Moore’s campaign site identifies Trewhella as the “author of ‘The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate.’” In a blog post for what is his website of the same name, Trewhella defended President Trump’s notorious suggestion on the campaign trail that women who have an abortion should face “some form of punishment” should the medical procedure be made illegal, calling it a “no brainer.”

“If abortion is murder—and it is—the woman should be punished,” wrote Trewhella, going on to suggest abortion is a “capital crime.”

“When we are asked what the punishment should be for women who have illegal abortions, we should unashamedly respond—whatever the penalty is for murder in the state where it takes place,” he wrote.

Trewhella served time in jail for actions associated with his anti-choice activism, as Rewire reported. He co-founded the anti-choice group, Missionaries to the Preborn, and was “one of a half dozen anti-abortion activists [then] under investigation as possible conspirators in a campaign of violence against abortion clinics,” according to an August 1994 report from Newsweek.

Though Trewhella later removed his name from the aforementioned statement suggesting that the murder of an abortion doctor was “justifiable,” he nonetheless “was a mentor for potentially violent anti-abortion extremists” according to a Newsweek investigation.

Trewhella is a part of an arm of the anti-choice movement advocating that states ignore federal law and court decisions that safeguard abortion rights. Moore has twice been removed from his position as a justice on Alabama’s Supreme Court, including once for refusing to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality decision.

Moore has numerous ties to anti-choice extremists, including Operation Save America, according to another report from Right Wing Watch. The anti-choice group’s leader, Rusty Thomas, has donated toMoore’s campaign, and Moore has spoken to the group’s supporters and accepted an award from it.

The campaign’s website notes endorsements from anti-abortion radicals, Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman and Personhood USA’s Jason Storms.

Moore faces Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s runoff for the Republican nomination for the special election for U.S. Senate on September 26. The winner will face Democrat Doug Jones in the December general race.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2017/09/22/roy-moore-endorsed-activist-suggested-murder-abortion-provider-justifiable/

Alabama Republican Seante nominee Roy Moore speaks during a campaign event earlier this week.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For some Alabama voters, supporting abortion rights may be a sin worse than some of the sexual misdeeds Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore has been accused of — allegations Moore has denied.

That’s the conundrum facing the state’s conservative, deeply religious electorate: Embrace Democrat Doug Jones despite his liberal stance on abortion and other social issues or vote for Moore anyway even if they believe there is some truth to the sexual assault allegations against him.

“The abortion issue alone is enough to buy [Moore] a win,” predicted Brent Buchanan, an Alabama GOP pollster and consultant. “That’s the one nonnegotiable for social conservatives. You’re not as hardcore on taxes. ‘I can give up on that,’ some voters might think. But when you’re talking about somebody else’s life, that’s a whole different ballgame. And I think that’s the big difference.”

Moore has underscored that major divide frequently at his campaign events, where he has continued to deny the accusations against him but also refused to answer questions from the media about the swirling scandal. Multiple women have accused the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice of pursuing them romantically decades ago when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, and one woman has said he initiated sexual contact with her when she was just 14.

Moore’s allies have also doubled down on the abortion issue in the race’s final stretch. America First PAC, a pro-President Trump superPAC supporting Moore in the race, released an ad this week calling Jones’ position on abortion “unforgivable,” showing an ultrasound and a heartbeat that then flatlines.

Moore spokeswoman Jane Porter was even less subtle when she appeared on CNN Tuesday, talking to pregnant anchor Poppy Harlow and congratulating her on her “unborn child.”

“[Moore will] stand for the rights of babies like yours in the womb, while his opponent will support killing them up until the moment of birth,” Porter told a surprised Harlow. Porter later invoked Harlow’s pregnancy again, to which the anchor responded, “Let’s leave my child out of this.”

Jones may have unintentionally given Moore plenty of fodder on the abortion front in a September interview on MSNBC’s MTP Daily with Chuck Todd. “I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose,” Jones said, when asked about a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. “Once that baby is born, I’m going to be there for that child. That’s where I become a right-to-lifer,” he added.

Later in an interview with AL.com Jones said he “fully support[s] a woman’s freedom to choose to what happens to her own body.” He clarified that “the law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted except in the case of medical necessity. That’s what I support. I don’t see any changes in that.”

But Moore has seized upon the initial comments to MSNBC, with his wife, Kayla, claiming that Jones supports “full-term abortion.” PolitiFact rated that claim as false, since there is no such thing as “full-term abortion.”

But the damage may well have been done to Jones with the remarks to MSNBC, according to Buchanan, the GOP operative, who called it a “pretty fatal mistake.” And if Jones were anti-abortion rights, it might also be a very different contest, given the mounting problems for Moore.

“If [Jones] were pro-life, if he hadn’t talked about it, he’d be ahead,” Buchanan said. “If Jones were pro-life, he’d be up 10 points.”

The delicate line Jones has had to walk on abortion is nothing new, especially for Southern Democrats. And it’s an issue national Democrats have already wrestled with earlier this year, with groups that support abortion rights and more progressive activists upset that party leaders were willing to support candidates who oppose abortion.

Democratic pollster Brad Chism’s firm surveyed white women in Alabama and found that many were conflicted in their choice, with some wanting to vote for Jones but also still having major reservations about his support for abortion rights.

“Abortion is one of a handful of social issues where the mainline Democratic Party is significantly to the left of most white voters in the Deep South,” Chism said. “These voters in Alabama are very aware of the conflict they have for voting for an alleged child molester as opposed to voting for someone who would stymie the Trump agenda.”

Chism said that while abortion wasn’t always the first issue many voters mentioned as giving them pause in voting for Jones, it was among the top concerns in voting for a Democrat.

Alabama Democratic Senate nominee Doug Jones speaks as he hosts a “Women’s Wednesday” campaign event this week.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Republicans have done a very good job of using that as a wedge issue to castigate a party that stands for much more than reproductive freedoms,” Chism admitted.

But Chism argued that while Jones was “honest and forthright” in his interview about abortion on MSNBC, it was “subject to misinterpretation” and that Republicans were taking his comments out of context.

Steven Taylor, a political science professor at Alabama’s Troy University, agreed that social issues may be a sticking point that many conservative voters aren’t able to overcome in voting for Jones. In addition to abortion, Moore has hammered home his opposition to same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

“I think that, without a doubt, the social issues will motivate voters even if they are skeptical of the allegations against Moore,” Taylor said. “Quite clearly, abortion is probably the most salient issue in the race, and more generally, social issues.”

The fact that Moore is seen as a champion on social issues is nothing new. It’s what propelled him to national political stardom — and into plenty of controversy. In 2003 he was first removed from the state bench when he had a statue of the Ten Commandments erected in the Alabama Judicial Building and refused to remove it even when ordered to do so by a federal court. He was elected again in 2012 but then subsequently suspended when he ordered state judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide under the federal Constitution.

A sign is held up as people attend a campaign rally for Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore at Fairhope, Ala., earlier this week.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

To Moore and his supporters, that defiance is a badge of honor. And it’s a big reason many voters are likely reluctant to believe the sexual misconduct and sexual assault allegations against him too, given the Christian nationalist positions he has wholeheartedly embraced in the past. And at the crux of that is a stringent opposition to abortion.

2014 Pew Research Center survey found that 58 percent of Alabamians believed abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, with just 37 percent supporting its legality. Another Pew study earlier this year found a wide chasm between the parties on the issue of abortion, with it being one of the most polarizing issues separating Republicans and Democrats.

The dilemma for voters is not dissimilar from the one some Republicans faced in last year’s presidential election. Even if they disliked Trump or thought that the sexual assault allegations that had been levied against him were true, for many the abortion issue and the possibility of appointing anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court was a major deciding factor.

And now, with the Senate nearly evenly split and the possibility of another Supreme Court appointment while Trump is in office, that may not be a chance Alabama voters who prioritize the abortion issue are willing to take, either.

“If you believe that abortion is murder and if you believe that the post-Roe v. Wade era is tantamount to new genocide, then you’re willing to say, ‘I’m going to ignore all these allegations and vote for Moore anyway’ or it helps to rationalize away the allegations,” said Taylor.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2017/12/08/569138955/abortion-could-be-deal-breaker-in-alabama-senate-race-for-many-torn-gop-voters?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social