morning after pill

Abortion Rights Sebelius

Abortion Rights Sebelius

The pro-choice groups are understandably up in arms over HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision to overrule the FDA and prohibit the “morning after pill” from being available over the counter to minors.  By now, they have issued their press releases condemning the action and personally castigating President Obama.   Some groups, like Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health have been particularly aggressive, which is part of their relatively new effort to convince others that they are now a leading advocacy organization (i.e., “please send us money because we’re really fighting for you”).  But I digress.

The day after the decision the President – the pro-choice president – said that he agreed with Sebelius, expressing concern that a young girl might not use the medication properly.  Suddenly, he was the Father in Chief, clearly thinking about thirteen year old daughter, Malia.

Morning After Pill?

Morning After Pill?

I am going to assume that Obama knew what Sibelius wanted to do.  I mean, c’mon folks, do you really think that she would make that kind of decision without discussing it with the President?  So, if you accept the assumption that they discussed it before hand, the question then becomes was Obama’s decision to support Sibelius based on science or politics?

Actually, that question is too simple.  It suggests that the President or any other politician only examines an issue from one perspective.  But the President (and some of those other politicians) is actually a smart guy and he can analyze an issue from several perspectives.  Heck, he does it all the time.

Abortion Rights

Abortion Rights

From the substantive point of view, he is a father first.  He’s got two young daughters who may soon be having sexual thoughts.  And Obama clearly had to be thinking about the possibility (although highly unlikely) of his daughters going down the drugstore one day to get a box of these pills.  Then, he must have envisioned them in a state of panic taking the wrong dosage or not being physically capable of taking the drug.  He must have projected his fatherly perspective to the thousands and thousands of other fathers (and mothers) who might ultimately be in the same situation.

Then there was the political side of the issue.  It’s no secret that it will be a tough re-election and he has to woo a number of interest groups, including the Catholics and independents.  The problem is that many, if not most, Catholics believe these pills cause an abortion.  Now, if they really thought it through, versus simply taking marching orders from a virgin Pope, they would realize that the pills actually prevent an abortion on a developing fetus.  But that’s another story.  Meanwhile, Obama must have dreamt about the commercials from Newt or Mitt painting him as promoting promiscuity among little teenage girls (cue the dark foreboding music).

Continuing his political analysis, there is his relationship with the pro-choice groups, which has been somewhat strained because of the health care “surrender” and a few other issues.  He certainly knew that he would piss them off if he supported the Secretary’s decision, but he is also smart enough to know that the pro-choice groups have no place to go.  Let’s face it, they cannot support someone who wants to reverse Roe v. Wade, so pro-choicers would have to at least vote for him.  The calculated risk he took was whether or not he would make them less enthusiastic about his campaign?  Would they withhold money from him, not work on the campaign, not run independent commercials like they did in 2008?  He probably concluded what I would have concluded:  that when they hear the Republican nominee talking about banning abortion and the polls are a dead heat, they’ll forget this little tussle and will jump on the bandwagon.

His position on this controversial issue is risky and it’s hard to say whether substance or politics ruled the day.  But we need Obama to be re-elected so, as much as I hate to say it, I think he made the right decision.


Election Results for the House of Representatives

Okay, now that I’ve recovered from my Election night (and, by the way, birthday night) hangover, let’s try to figure out where the hell we are.

By now, everyone knows that the House of Representatives went to the Dark Side by a wide margin.  And while The Force still controls the U.S. Senate, it is by a razor thin margin.  But the one thing you must remember is that there are a number of Senate Democrats who vote pro-life.  I have yet to see an analysis by the pro-choice groups, but although the Democrats still run the Senate, the pro-life forces are in pretty decent shape over there as well.  In the House, they are firmly in control.

So, what this means is that the House of Representatives will pass any pro-life piece of legislation that is offered.  They will no doubt come up with all sorts of ways to make abortion less accessible.  We will probably see some kind of national 24 hour waiting period, so-called “informed consent” measures requiring women to view photos of the fetus, etc.  Anything that is proposed will pass.  However, the Republican Party is not dumb enough to go all the way and try to pass a bill or constitutional amendment banning abortion.  That ain’t gonna happen folks.  That’s because there’s no guarantee that they have the necessary two-thirds vote in both houses.  And the Republicans are thinking that if they’re gonna lose, why ask their folks to stick their neck out on this controversial issue and piss off a bunch of possible pro-choice independents when the measure is unlikely to become law?

So, the House will pass some things and then send it to the Senate.  Pro-life forces basically need 60 votes to pass something in the Senate and those votes over there will be close.  But, let’s say they do pass a 24 hour waiting period.  Fortunately, sitting down at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue (at least for now) is pro-choice President Barack Obama.  If any pro-life bill comes to his desk he’ll veto it and that will be the end of it.

So, as far as attacks on the accessibility of abortion, there will be a lot of talk.  You will get a lot of fundraisingletters from both sides asking you to contribute money to help their lobbyists fight the good fight but, at the end of the day, ain’t nothing terrible gonna happen.

House of Representatives

There is one real problem, however, in the U.S. Senate.  And that has to do with the situation when/if Obama gets to nominate another justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.   That’s where it will get very interesting.  Without having seen the exact numbers, I can virtually guarantee you that the pro-choice forces do not have the necessary sixty votes to confirm an obviously pro-choice justice.  And while great deference is often given to the President’s nominee, if Obama nominates a clear pro-choice justice, there will be a major battle.  That’s because the Court right now favors Roe v Wade by a 6-3 margin.  If they can pick up another pro-life vote, then it becomes a 5-4 margin in favor of abortion rights.  So, come nomination time the pro-lifers will be smelling blood.

So, the bottom line is that Obama will have to nominate some “stealth” candidate who has no clear position on abortion.  It will be a crapshoot.  And as history shows, other presidents have found themselves in a similar situation where they nominated someone hoping they would follow the President’s ideology only to find them on the other side of the fence.  This could happen to Obama.

Stay tuned folks.


73% of America is Pro Choice

For years, there has been a raging debate within the anti-abortion movement about whether to take an incremental approach to restricting access to abortion versus going for the whole enchilada, i.e., banning abortion outright in the Congress or through the courts.  Fortunately, they’ve taken the wrong approach.

For years after Roe v Wade was decided in 1973, the anti-abortion movement focused most of its energies on trying to pass the “Human Life Amendment” and/or the “Hatch Constitutional Amendment.”    The HLA was a non-starter from the beginning.  That legislation, introduced by the late Senator Jesse Helms, simply declared that “life begins at conception” and that the fetus was a “person” from the moment of conception.  That one was laughed out of the room.  The more serious effort was the Hatch (as in Senator Orrin Hatch) Amendment which basically overruled Roe v Wade, thus sending the issue of the legality of abortion back to the individual states.  After years and years of furious lobbying, however, that measure was handily defeated in 1981.

Badly beaten, the anti-abortion movement started coming up with ways to make it more difficult to obtain an abortion in this country.   They were successful early on in restricting the use of federal funds for abortions.  Then they started looking to the state legislatures for help.  They came up proposals imposing 24 hour waiting periods, requiring minors to get the permission of their parents to get an abortion, mandating that clinics show women pictures of fetal development and others.  Then there was the famous “partial birth abortion” campaign that took place on both the national and state level.

In many states, these efforts were successful.  Or I should say they were successfully enacted into law.  But if the goal of the anti-abortion movement is to “save babies,” well, these laws hardly had an impact.

The fact is that the desire to have an abortion can be so strong that most women will walk over burning coals to get one.  So, having to jump through some additional hoops and fires is not the deciding factor for most women.  And before you pro-choicers start jumping all over me, I will say that, yes, having to wait 24 hours when you’ve traveled across the state will mean an extra expense.  And the minor who feels she cannot talk to her parents might wind up going to an adjoining state that doesn’t have any restrictions.  These are very unfortunate situations, but while it’s impossible to prove a negative, my gut tells me that the number of abortions has not dropped dramatically because of these laws.   Babies have not been saved, folks.

Then there’s the “partial birth” abortion law.  That one is the biggest joke and biggest scam.  I can tell you for a fact that this law has had no effect whatsoever.   That’s because abortion doctors have other procedures at their disposal to do late term abortions.  Yes, the pro-choice groups argued that the “partial birth” abortion procedure as defined in the legislation was so vague that it could apply to most abortion procedures but, guess what, not one doctor has been prosecuted under this law.  Geez, were our friends hyping things a little?

The fact is that the number of abortions has been decreasing every year, but lemme tell you honey, it ain’t because of these pesky little laws.  It’s because young people are getting smarter, pure and simple.  Just sit in on an 8th grade sex education class in your local high school and you’ll see what I mean.

If I were running some anti-abortion organization, I’d be looking at the Supreme Court.  I’d be anticipating a one-term Obama presidency and I’d be trying to pass some outrageous anti-abortion legislation, just outlawing it outright, in the hopes that 10 years from now it would reach a possibly more conservative Court.  But if the anti-abortion movement wants to waste their time on 24 hour waiting periods, I say go for it…..

Abortion World

Abortion World

The Global Vision Fund is  philnthropy supported by to help women worldwide. The goal is to protect their rights and to loan them funds, MicroLoans to start new entrprenerial endeavors.

Loans are also given to support and subsidize reproductive freedoms.

Anti-abortion advocates often suggest that many women die each year at abortion clinics, giving them yet another bullet point for their “fact sheet” outlining their reasons for opposing abortion.   I don’t know where they get their “facts,” but let’s discuss this issue for a minute.

It is well documented that hundreds and maybe thousands of women died of illegal or self-induced abortions in the years before abortion became legal in this country.  Whether abortion is legal or not, it is axiomatic that women at times feel it is absolutely necessary to abort and, in the days before Roe v. Wade, they would resort to some outrageous methods of terminating their pregnancy.  The woman would first do some very quiet research, looking for a doctor who was willing to perform the illegal abortion.  Oftentimes, if they found one, that doctor would not be reputable yet many women still had the so-called “back alley abortion.”  The emergency rooms were filled with women who were seriously harmed by these fly by nighters.  Many of those women never made it to the emergency room.

To digress for a moment, I always wondered why the pro-choice movement did not resort to more graphic arguments by showing pictures of women lying in pools of blood after an illegal abortion?  Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words and I fear that the younger generations are losing the perspective of the days of illegal abortions.

If the woman could not find a doctor, there were some women out there who would perform abortions.  While they were better intentioned and certainly more sensitive to the woman’s needs, they were not trained medical personnel so they had their share of botched abortions.

If the women could find no one to do it, they may have actually performed an abortion on themselves.  One of the everlasting political symbols of the pro-choice movement is the coat hanger, a device that many women used to abort their pregnancy.  Or, they would concoct some solution and drink it, thinking it would kill the fetus.  The horror stories are well documented, although many pro-lifers suggest that they’re made up.

Today, when a woman dies of an abortion it makes headlines in the local papers.  I guess that really is the good news, i.e., that it is so rare that it becomes a story for the press.  I haven’t looked at the statistics lately, but when I was involved in the movement there were maybe 2 deaths a year.  And, for the most part, the deaths were not related to the actual abortion procedure but to something ancillary, like the anesthesia.   But when there is a death, it casts a pall on the entire field of abortion providers.

One morning in June, 1996, I got a call from a clinic director who was in tears.  When she finally gained her composure, she told me that a patient at her clinic had died on the surgery table early that morning.  She had died of an embolism, something that no one could have predicted.  Later investigations determined that the clinic and doctor were not responsible.  But to this day, I’ll never forget the mass depression that spread throughout the universe of abortion providers.  Her staff was barraged with emails, telephone calls and letters, urging them to keep moving forward.  The point is the death was so unusual that it evoked an incredible nationwide reaction amongst her peers.

When a woman enters a clinic – any medical clinic – and has surgery, there is a chance she can die.

Prior to the legalization of abortion, however, the chances of dying were much, much higher….

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