Abortion Information

Many leaders in the movement to outlaw abortion care in the United States continued to support the Republican Senate candidate in the face of sexual misconduct allegations.

Anti-choice activists are baselessly questioning election results and lamenting a massive blow to their agenda after Democrat Doug Jones’ stunning victoryagainst Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election for the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

Many in the media suggested Jones’ pro-choice views could keep him from winning the race, and Moore attempted to use the issue to distract from allegations that he sexually abused a minor and engaged in inappropriate behavior with other young women. Moore’s radical views on abortion, which include support for so-called personhood legislation that would criminalize abortion and ban some forms of contraception, made him a favorite of anti-choice advocates. Many leaders in the movement to outlaw abortion care continued to support him in the face of the allegations of sexual misconduct.

As Moore refuses to concede the race to Jones, many in the anti-choice community are grappling with the ramifications of losing Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat.

Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, blamed Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for Moore’s loss in a Wednesday press release, calling on the Senate majority leader to step down and claiming that Congress would no longer be able to pass anti-choice legislation after Moore’s defeat.”It is my opinion that Sen. Mitch McConnell heavily contributed to Moore’s defeat, and because that led to giving a seat away to a pro-abortion Democrat, he should resign immediately,” he said.

“McConnell has ensured that pro-life legislation will never pass, Planned Parenthood will never be defunded, and babies that can feel pain will continue to be aborted after the mid-point of pregnancy,” Newman said in his statement, referring to the GOP’s attempts to pass a 20-week abortion ban based on the unsupported claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy.

Newman, who is notorious for using violent and extreme rhetoric to discuss abortion and for co-founding the discredited anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress, was a vocal supporter of Moore’s campaign. He stood by the Alabama Republican amid allegations that Moore sexually abused a minor and behaved inappropriately with other young women.

Rusty Thomas, national director of Operation Save America—the group that made headlines this year when it spent a week protesting in front of Kentucky’s last abortion clinic—said the race may not be over. “Apparently, Alabama did not count all the votes, like the military vote that is traditionally Republican,” Thomas wrote in a Wednesday post to his Facebook page. “As a result, Roy Moore will not concede until there is a recount. This may not be over brethren.”

Thomas spoke on Moore’s behalf at a November press conference, telling the crowd that he continued to support the Republican “without hesitation” despite the flood of allegations against him.

Matt Trewhella, whose endorsement was touted on Moore’s campaign site, took to social media to encourage supporters not to give up the cause. “The Democrats and Republicans are all happy by the Potomac – Moore has lost and Bannon suffers a blow in his cause to destroy the GOP Establishment,” he wrote in a post to his Facebook page. “Business as usual in DC. – status quo maintained. Don’t lose your fight however – stay true to Christ and rally the lesser magistrates! Tomorrow’s another day.”

Trewhella signed a statement in the early 1990s saying the murder of an abortion care provider was “justifiable.” Though he later withdrew his name from the statement, a 1994 investigation by Newsweekdescribed Trewhella as “a mentor for potentially violent anti-abortion extremists.”

Cal Zastrow, an anti-choice activist connected to Operation Save America and co-founder of Personhood USA, claimed—without evidence—that voter fraud could have played a role in the results. “Please pray with us that all voter fraud will be exposed during the recount,” he wrote on his Facebook page. Voter fraud has been proven tonot be prevalent in the United States, and it is often used as a baseless excuse to erect barriers to the ballot box.

American Family Association Action and the Family Research Council, both of which supported Moore’s campaign, did not respond to Rewire’s requests for comment.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2017/12/13/abortion-rights-foes-flail-finger-point-mourn-roy-moore-falls-alabama/

Protesters with shirts saying "Stop the Bans" gathered in the Ohio Senate chamber after legislators passed a bill banning abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis.

The GOP-led Ohio state Senate on Wednesday passed a ban on abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and Republican Gov. John Kasich has sent signals that he will soon sign the measure into law.

Lawmakers voted 20-12 in favor of the ban, which would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if doctors know that it is being sought, “in whole or in part,” to avoid a Down syndrome pregnancy.

Doctors who violate the ban would lose their medical license and face a fourth-degree felony charge, including up to a $5,000 fine and 18 months in prison. Mothers would not be punished by the law.

Three Republicans voted against the measure, which was opposed by all of the state Senate’s Democratic lawmakers.

The bill has also divided the disability community in Ohio, with some disability advocates testifying against the proposal because, they said, it prioritizes Down syndrome over other disabilities.

“This bill sends a very clear message, that some disabilities are more worthy of life than others and that one disability — Down syndrome — is the most worthy,” Jane Gerhardt, a woman whose daughter suffers from Down syndrome, testified Tuesday, according to local reports.

The ACLU has characterized the bill as an unconstitutional effort to usurp well-established abortion rights.

A group of abortion-rights activists staged a silent protest in the Senate chamber after the Down syndrome bill’s approval, standing in a row wearing T-shirts that spelled out “Stop the Bans.”

The legality of aborting fetuses with Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality that causes developmental delays and other serious medical problems, has recently been debated in other states. Indiana and North Dakota already have passed laws like the one that Ohio is advancing.

The Indiana measure, enacted in 2016, was blocked by a federal judge on constitutional grounds after a lawsuit by the ACLU. An appeal by state officials is pending.

The 2013 North Dakota law has not been challenged, so courts have not yet had the ability to rule on its constitutionality. The state’s sole abortion clinic, in Fargo, says the issue hasn’t arisen under its policy of not performing abortions after 16 weeks into a pregnancy.

The Ohio vote was a key policy victory for Ohio Right to Life, the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group.

“Both the House and the Senate sent a loud message that we are a society built on compassion, love, equality,” said president Mike Gonidakis. “We expect Governor Kasich will sign this legislation, as he said he would in 2015. Every Ohioan deserves the right to life, no matter how many chromosomes they have.”

Kasich’s spokesman declined to say what the governor would do. Kasich has said in recent weeks that he thought the measure seemed “appropriate,” but that he would review it when he received it.

Last December, Kasich vetoed the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which would have banned abortions after a heartbeat is detected — typically about six weeks into a pregnancy.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/14/bill-banning-down-syndrome-abortions-passes-in-ohio-heads-to-kasichs-desk.html

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

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/

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