In four yellowing pages, she outlined her struggles with the question, and the pivotal role the death of her daughter Robin played in forming her views.

In 1980, when George H. W. Bush was making his first bid for the presidency, Barbara Bush covered four sheets of lined paper with her bold handwriting, then tucked the pages into a folder with her diary and some personal letters. She was trying to sort out what she believed about one of the most divisive issues of the day.

She was sure to be asked what she thought about abortion, and she wanted to have an answer.

This article was adapted from The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, by Susan Page.

The former first lady never released the pages or detailed the reasoning she outlined in them, not in hundreds of interviews she gave over the decades that followed nor in her two memoirs. But in February 2018, two months before she died, she gave me permission to read her diaries as I researched a biography of her. (The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty is being published by Twelve on April 2.) She had donated the diaries to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, in College Station, Texas, with the restriction that they be held private until 35 years after her death—as it turns out, until 2053. Only the historian Jon Meacham had been given permission to see them before, when he was working on Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush.

When I began reading her diaries, she and I planned to have another interview, our sixth, in March 2018. (I was allowed to read her papers and to make notes, but not to photograph them.) But she fell the night before and ended up in the hospital; she never recovered enough for us to meet again before she died, a month later. I never had a chance to ask her about what I found.

As I worked my way through an archival box filled with accounts of her endless, exhausting campaign travel that year, I pulled out the yellowing pages, unfolded them, and discovered what was in effect a conversation with herself.

“Thoughts on abortion,” she wrote across the top of the first page, underlining the words.

Her deliberations might astonish cynics who assume that, for those who operate in the world of elective office, the calculations on such contentious topics are always political. The notes provide a window into how seriously she took the issue, and how she saw it as a moral question. The careful thought process they reflect may be the reason she never wavered in her views.

Her husband would, modifying his stance on abortion after Ronald Reagan chose him as his running mate at the Republican National Convention that summer. Before then, George Bush had tried to navigate a position down the middle. He opposed abortion but also opposed passing a constitutional amendment to ban it. He was against federal funding for abortion in general but supported exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or to preserve the health of the mother.

When Reagan asked him to join the GOP ticket, though, Bush promised to support the party platform, which endorsed a constitutional amendment that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision recognizing abortion rights. By 1988, when Bush was the presidential nominee himself, the GOP platform would go even further. It asserted that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”

Barbara Bush had no reservations about embracing her husband’s positions on the economy and foreign affairs, and most of all about extolling his virtues as a person and a leader. But on cultural and social issues, she often found herself at odds with the GOP and its increasingly conservative tilt. “In all our years of campaigning, abortion was the toughest issue for me,” she said later.

At the 1980 Republican convention, in Detroit, when George Bush’s prospects to be picked as Reagan’s running mate seemed to have faded, Barbara Bush arrived at a luncheon hosted by the National Federation of Republican Women sporting a pro-choice button. With her husband’s political ambitions apparently vanquished, she felt free to make her own stance on the issue clear.

That burst of independence was over almost before it began. That night, after negotiations with former President Gerald Ford to join the ticket collapsed and Reagan tapped Bush, her pro-choice button disappeared. She didn’t change her views, but she did stop talking about them, saying that only the opinion of those on the ballot mattered. While many assumed she still supported abortion rights—a reassuring thought to some moderate and liberal Republicans—she would rebuff attempts by reporters and activists to engage publicly on the issue until she published her White House memoirs 14 years later.

“Both George and I felt strongly about our positions but respected each other’s views; there was no point in discussing it every time it came up,” she wrote in 1994, in Barbara Bush: A Memoir. While she said the law permitting abortions had been “abused” and called the number of abortions “unacceptable,” she added, “For me, abortion is a personal issue—between the mother, father, and doctor.”

It was in this early memo that she crystallized the issue in her mind.

“When does the soul enter the body is the #1 question,” she wrote. “Not when does life begin, as life begins in a flower or an animal with the first cell. So the question is does the life begin (soul entering the body) at conception or at the moment the first breath is taken? If the answer to that question is at conception, then abortion is murder. If the answer to that question is the moment the first breath is taken, then abortion is not murder.”

As with many profound questions, she thought about the lessons she had taken from the life and death of her daughter Robin. Her beloved 3-year-old had died of leukemia in 1953, after six months of brutal treatments and dashed hopes. The tragedy would shape everything from Bush’s views on big issues to her impatience with prattle.

“What does Barbara Bush feel about abortion,” she wrote in the memo, referring to herself in the third person. She decided that Robin had answered the question she posed.

Judging from both the birth and death of Robin Bush, I have decided that that almost religious experience, that thin line between birth, the first breath that she took, was when the soul, the spirit, that special thing that separates man or woman from animals + plants entered her little body. I was conscious at her birth and I was with her at her death. (As was G.B.) An even stronger impression remains with me of that moment, 27 years ago [when she died]. Of course, extreme grief, but that has softened. I vividly remember that split second, that thin line between breathing and not breathing, the complete knowledge that her soul had left and only the body remained.

She had sensed Robin’s soul entering her body at the moment of her birth, she decided, and she had felt it leave her at the instant of her death.

“What do I feel about abortion?” Bush continued in her distinctive handwriting, almost no words crossed out or reconsidered. “Having decided that the first breath is when the soul enters the body, I believe in Federally funded abortion. Why should the rich be allowed to afford abortions and the poor not?” She said she could support limits on the timing of abortions—“12 weeks, the law says”—but she wrote it was “not a Presidential issue,” underlining not twice. “Abortion is personal, between mother fathers and Dr.”

She considered what public policies might make sense. “Education is the answer,” she wrote. “I believe that we must give people goals in life for them to work for—Teach them the price you must pay for being promiscuous.”

Along the side margin of the last page, she wrote, “Needs lots more thought.”

SUSAN PAGE is the Washington Bureau chief of USA TODAY. This essay is drawn from her book, The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of An American Dynasty, being published on April 2 by Twelve.

This is some really weird Handmaid’s Tale stuff.

Illustration by Erin Lux

We still don’t know where 1,488 migrant children are. The U.S. government lost them. They admit as much. Even though the court ordered a halt to the policy of family separation, 245 more children have been taken from their parents. So they can’t figure out where children separated from their parents are, but by God, they can keep track of teenage migrant girls’ menstrual cycles.

There are 28 pages detailing the periods, pregnancies and reason for the pregnancy (whether by rape or not) of teen girls in custody, some of whom are as young as 12. There may well be reasons for the government to track whether or not a woman is pregnant, and how far along in her pregnancy she is, but there’s no reason to track the cause of her pregnancy. It’s pretty fair to assume that they’re not doing this because they want to ensure women know all the options regarding their pregnancy. It’s almost certainly an attempt to bar them from getting abortions.

We know that, because the tracking was done by the anti-abortion advocate Scott Lloyd, the head of refugee resettlement at the height of the children separation (he has since been removed from that post). Lloyd declared he needed to sign off on all abortion requests (this was previously not the case) and in one instance, attempted to use a migrant girl as a way to test an “abortion reversal” method.

Lloyd has admitted to pressuring these young women to keep their pregnancies. Seemingly, he was quite strenuous in his insistence. In one email, Lloyd relates that a pregnant woman in his care who was seeking—and being kept from having—an abortion mentioned suicide. In response to that, he writes: “The clinician describes her demeanor as ‘obnoxious’ and that ‘the unborn child is in our care so the medical team should continue with standard prenatal care.'” If she continued to want an abortion after “spiritual counseling,” Lloyd continues, she’d have to obtain parental consent. Because deciding to terminate a pregnancy seemingly takes more maturity than motherhood. And, if you think they did not take into account how difficult it might be for teenage migrants to obtain consent from parents they might not be traveling with—oh, don’t worry. They took that into account.

This tracking continued well after the ACLU intervened to stop government interference with immigrant women seeking abortions.

And what happens when these children are born? Well, that’s hard to say. However, we know that many migrant children have gone to Bethany Christian Services, an organization that has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos. It is also an agency that allegedly won’t place children with LGBTQ couples. Asylum-seekers are separated from their children, and then told by officials that if they don’t “behave” they will put their children up for adoption.

And once those children have gone to foster homes, they may well be gone for good. The AP reported back in February:

Jonathan White, who leads the Health and Human Services Department’s efforts to reunite migrant children with their parents, said removing children from ‘sponsor’ homes to rejoin their parents ‘would present grave child welfare concerns.’ He said the government should focus on reuniting children currently in its custody, not those who have already been released to sponsor homes.

All of this in spite of that fact that the first goal of foster care is supposed to be “family reunification.”

Now, why would there be a benefit to creating a supply of children to be adopted by Christian, heterosexual families? Well, partly for money. As Kathryn Joyce notes in her book The Child Catchers, “Hefty adoption fees provide lots of incentive to increase the ‘supply’ of adoptable children, recruiting ‘orphans’ from intact but vulnerable families.” Anyone who has looked into adoption has probably found that, despite what This is Us leads you to believe, it is not generally the case that you find an abandoned baby peacefully waiting for adoption in the hospital ward. Instead, adoption through agencies is a lengthy process that costs, on average, $39,966, a cost that can make it prohibitively expensive for many families. For all the talk of how adoption is great because there are “so many unwanted babies in the world” there’s actually an enormous market of prospective parents looking for a baby—however, white and Hispanic babies cost about $8,000 more to adopt than black babies.

Beyond that, moving children to a family that government officials prefer is what authoritarian regimes all through history have done. It’s a textbook way to reward your followers, terrify marginalized people into submission, and ensure that a new generation of children are raised to support your regime.

It’s not even in the distant past. From 1977 to 1983 the military junta in Argentina took the children of dissidents, and, after killing or “disappearing” their parents, placed the orphans with childless families friendly to the regime. In some cases, pregnant women being held by the regime were made to give birth specifically for this purpose. The Asociación Civil Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo) still gather in Buenos Aries to look for the grandchildren that were taken by the regime after their parents were murdered (thus far 128 out of 500 have been found.)

“It’s a textbook way to reward your followers, terrify marginalized people into submission, and ensure that a new generation of children are raised to support your regime.”

Moving children from marginalized people to people in power has a basis in American history, too. In 1958, the “Indian Adoption Project” stole Native American children from their homes (even if there was no evidence of any neglect or abuse) and gave them to non-Native families to raise. Roger St. John, one of the children who was taken, claimed, “We were brought up without our culture, which took a terrible toll on our lives. I grew up angry and miserable.”

And now, here we are again, with pregnant women being tracked to ensure they’ll give birth to babies that a 13-year-old mother may not find themselves equipped to raise. We have plenty of reason to suspect where the babies will end up.

If the government can compel marginalized women to have children to give to the government’s preferred people, then you don’t need to make jokes about how America is turning into The Handmaid’s Tale anymore. We’re already there. We just don’t have the bonnets.


Despite a powerful anti-choice lobby and the presence of anti-choice Democrats who have blocked the bill in the past, many Rhode Island lawmakers are determined to protect abortion rights.

Despite being the most Catholic state in the US with powerful anti-choice Democrats in the General Assembly, Rhode Island added more women and pro-choice legislators last year than ever before.
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock

As a bill to protect abortions rights is being considered in the Rhode Island Senate, lawmakers are cautiously optimistic after decades of pushing for Roe protections in a state legislature long run by anti-choice Democrats.

The hotly debated bill, S 152A, continued its momentum with a visit from Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who came to the capitol Tuesday to urge state senators to pass the legislation, which would protect abortion rights if conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court strike down Roe v. Wade. The state senate bill mirrors the house version, which was reintroduced in January by Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Providence). The bill passed the Rhode Island House on March 7.

“I’m very proud to be standing with so many people here who are amazing champions of reproductive rights and health,” Wen said in the house’s crowded State Library, where many advocates and lawmakers sported pink.

The Reproductive Privacy Act (as the Reproductive Health Care Act or RHCA will be known if it becomes law) would guarantee safe and legal abortion in Rhode Island, and would eliminate restrictions like spousal notification and the criminalization of health-care providers.

Wen commended supporters of the bill and said the fight is urgent given the “terrifying reality” of Roe v. Wade being overturned, which could lead to as many as 25 million—more than 1 in 3 women of reproductive age—living in states where abortion is outlawed or criminalized. In 2017, there were 212,000 women of reproductive age in Rhode Island.

[Photo: Dr. Leana Wen speaks at an event in Rhode Island.]

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Dr. Leana Wen came to Rhode Island this week to support the Democratic effort to safeguard abortion rights in the state.











“It’s early in 2019, and already there have been over 250 bills introduced that directly restrict abortion access across the country. Fifteen states have introduced abortion bans early in pregnancy at six weeks, when most women don’t even know they are pregnant,” she said. Two of those GOP-backed bills have been signed into law, in Kentuckyand Mississippi. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is expected to sign similar legislation passed last week. “These are examples of politicians directly interfering with medical practice and, in the process, endangering women’s lives,” she said.

Yet support for abortion protections is at an all-time high, she said, pointing to the midterm elections that resulted in the most pro-choice, most female, and most diverse U.S. House of Representatives in history.

“It’s Rhode Island’s turn to stop politicians from directly interfering with medical practice and endangering women’s lives. We urge the Senate to stand with us and vote to protect women’s health and the health of families and communities,” Wen said at Tuesday’s press conference.

Abortion providers like Dr. Beth Cronin, Rhode Island vice chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), debunked falsehoods that have fueled some of the most draconian anti-choice legislation. “Abortion, like pap smears and prenatal care, is essential health care,” she said at the Tuesday press conference. “The Reproductive Health Care Act will not change how I or any other physician in this state currently practice medicine. It will simply keep abortion safe and legal for all citizens of Rhode Island.”

Democrats in New York and Illinois have passed laws safeguarding abortion rights, while anti-choice Democrats stopped a similar effort in New Mexico last month.

Despite being the most Catholic state in the country, with powerful anti-choice Democrats in its general assembly, Rhode Island added more women and pro-choice legislators last year than ever before. Many of the newcomers are champions of the bill—like state Sen. Melissa Murray (D-Woonsocket, North Smithfield), who told Rewire.News she has heard from an increasing number of constituents who want the bill to move out of committee and come to a full vote.

“Fifteen cases that could overturn Roe are steps away from the Supreme Court. Our rights are at stake. We must do everything we can to protect Roe and a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion. It is critical. It is urgent. We are the 71 percent and the time is now,” she said at the press conference, referring to a 2018 poll that indicated statewide support for the legislation.

Advocates who joined the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom to urge for the bill’s passage in the state senate said they are excited to see support grow.

Jordan Hevenor, co-director of The Womxn Project, which has been hosting weekly events at the state house, told Rewire. News the movement to pass the bill “has really been building.”

“One of the most inspiring things is that new people are coming out and showing up. At every event we are capturing this energy and excitement, and helping people get plugged into activism that work for their life,” she said.

At least four of the nine senate Judiciary Committee members plan to vote favorably; three who were endorsed last year by the Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee are expected to oppose it. Like his anti-choice counterpart, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston), Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-Providence) seems to be allowing the process to play out despite his personal opposition to abortion rights, according to news reports. Both men have blocked the RHCA from floor votes in past years.

With 17 co-sponsors in the state senate (19 votes are needed for passage), where Democrats maintain a supermajority, lawmakers are hopeful the bill can pass this year. A committee vote has not yet been scheduled.

“I feel optimistic,” said state Sen. Gayle Goldin (D-Providence), a longtime supporter of legislation to secure abortion rights in Rhode Island.

“I know there are thousands of people talking to their senators about the bill and we are hopeful. Every year we have seen a growing amount of momentum for the passage of a bill to codify reproductive rights and there is ongoing support here every day,” Goldin, the bill’s sponsor, told Rewire.News.

Despite a powerful anti-choice lobby and the presence of anti-choice Democrats who have blocked the bill in the past, “we know there is a real threat to Roe being overturned and we don’t need to wait until reproductive rights are further diminished to take action in Rhode Island,” she said.

Rep. Anastasia Williams (D-Providence), who co-sponsored the legislation, urged women in Rhode Island to speak up. “It was a hard and very long journey but we are almost there,” she said of the passage of the house bill. “This is our moment to make the change that needs to be made. We are halfway there and we cannot allow any guy, anyone to stop it.”


With its obvious polemics, Hallmark Channel acting, and gauzy visuals, the film adaptation of the anti-abortion activist’s personal story isn’t even skillful propaganda.

Based on Abby Johnson’s memoir, Unplanned depicts Johnson’s journey from being conflicted about abortion but working at Planned Parenthood to being staunchly anti-choice after witnessing an abortion.
Unplanned Movie / YouTube

The political is ultimately personal. And oftentimes, the best art, the art that has touched me personally, doesn’t attempt to obscure this fact.

Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, the writer-director team behind the new anti-abortion film Unplanned, know this.

Based on Abby Johnson’s memoir, the film depicts Johnson’s journey from being conflicted about abortion but working at Planned Parenthood to being staunchly anti-choice after witnessing an abortion. And the film, to its credit, acknowledges the personal nature of how Johnson (played by Ashley Bratcher) arrived at her stance after what she characterizes as a life-changing and traumatic experience.

But that is where my praise of Unplanned, however faint, begins and ends. Unplanned is far from the best art. It’s not even particularly sophisticated propaganda, and it allows for no nuance in how it depicts people with either pro-choice or anti-choice beliefs.

It’s impossible to ignore the cartoonishly anti-choice representations of Planned Parenthood employees—not a surprise since Johnson has worked with anti-abortion group Live Action, which has targeted Planned Parenthood in secret video stings. The workers are positively giddy about the notion of abortion. Johnson’s co-worker Renee (Tina Toner) jokes about a room where the biological waste is handled, saying that POC (products of conception) stands for “‘parts of children.’ Hope you had a big breakfast!” She delivers the line with a cheerful wink. And during the abortion scene that provokes Johnson’s epiphany, the male technician gleefully states “Beam me up, Scotty” before inserting the vacuum aspirator into the patient’s uterus.

In addition to the film’s obvious anti-choice positioning, Unplanned delivers a more coded racial—and racist—message. The only nonwhite speaking characters are either those overly enthusiastic Planned Parenthood staffers or abortion-seekers who are portrayed as too downtrodden or stupid to realize the “wrongness” of their decision. The film features several montages of sad women seeking abortion services, including women of color specifically dressed and styled to indicate their poverty. They are rarely given dialogue compared to white women in these montages. Here, there is no chance for redemption if you’re Black or brown: You are either a glib “abortionist” or a tragic victim.

There’s also a disturbing visual message in the casting. Perhaps it’s a coincidence that many of the white anti-choice activist women are blonde, blue-eyed, even Aryan-looking. Most of the Planned Parenthood employees, including supervisor Cheryl (played as a child-hating, evil career woman by actress Robia Scott), have dark hair.

Beyond the racial politics of Unplanned, it also has an ax to grind against working mothers. The film opens with Johnson feeling guilty and apologizing to her daughter for having to work on a Saturday while her saintly husband, Doug (Brooks Ryan), eats breakfast. It’s just one of several scenes in which working mothers apologize for their absences or the film frames motherhood as incompatible with having a career. Take a flashback in which Johnson tells her boss about her pregnancy. Johnson’s supervisor encourages her to abort in order to advance her career, though Johnson is clearly excited about the pregnancy. The tacit message: To be a professional woman means to be against motherhood.

I watched this film, trying to be cognizant of my own biases and beliefs. I did not want to launch into immediate condemnation, like the clinic protesters who lob judgments from the other side of the Planned Parenthood fence in the film.

I have been staunchly pro-choice since I was 15. Like Johnson, I arrived at my position based on my own experience. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school, and was pro-life by default—until a classmate I’d known since childhood had an abortion. A few months later, her abortion became public knowledge after a spiteful former best friend divulged the information. Gossip and ridicule basically ran her out of the school, clear across the country where she went to live with her father. I remember thinking: “This can’t be God. This can’t be what God looks like.”

Neither is Unplanned what a good film looks like.

Overall, the movie is shot (and scored) like a laundry detergent commercial, with a gauzy, soft filter. In the abortion Johnson watches, a badly CGI-animated fetus is depicted via ultrasound as fighting to avoid the vacuum aspirator during the procedure—echoing the 1984 anti-abortion film The Silent Scream and debunked claims about fetal pain.

The acting in Unplanned is just as unconvincing as the animated fetus. The success of this story hinges on its lead actress selling the emotional arc of going from being ostensibly pro-choice to being pro-life. Bratcher’s simply not up to the task. She certainly is no Kimberly Elise, whose performance in the film adaptation of Woman Thou Art Loosed elevated Bishop T.D. Jakes’ regressive ideas about gender roles and facile writing.

Still, I want to be as fair as possible to Bratcher, who has mostly acted in short films and bit parts here and there. The script does her absolutely no favors with a tone that veers wildly from obtusely earnest to transparently cynical. The script calls for her to narrate the film, which often indicates lazy writing or directors who don’t trust their actors to show rather than tell. “Any choice you make that you’re not comfortable sharing with your mother is probably a bad idea,” Johnson/Bratcher states early in the film—a broad and strange declaration, considering all the perfectly reasonable choices many adults don’t share with their parents.

What it does show, however, is a sensationalistic take on one of Johnson’s own abortions. According to the film, she had two abortions before working as a supervisor for Planned Parenthood—both while partnered with an unloving and disrespectful first husband.

Johnson is clearly happy to be rid of him and not have any connection to him, so one can’t help but wonder about the mixed messages on display here. Abortion helped her leave a neglectful, uncaring partner without having to be tethered to him. Yet she’s ashamed of her choice. In a shower scene, the character writhes in pain, with bloody tissue dripping from between her legs. She later lies on the floor of a blood-splattered bathroom, crying in both physical and emotional agony. The implication is an abortion gone terribly awry—when the complication rate of abortions is actually very low—or, worse, that most abortions are like this or most women feel as Johnson did. Most women don’t, with an overwhelming majority saying that terminating a pregnancy was right for them.

In scenes like these, Bratcher’s flat, Hallmark Channel-caliber acting just doesn’t pass muster. It verges on the comic, and it actually did evoke laughter from a few audience members in my screening, even though their responses told me they were generally inclined toward the film’s political message.

In addition to an obtuse yet obvious script, the film relies on swelling, dramatic instrumental music and Christian pop-rock songs to convey emotions its actors can’t. The combination of overly telegraphed and polemical writing, miscasting, and overwrought music makes the whole exercise feel amateurish. And this ultimately falls on the writer-directors, Konzelman and Solomon—two men, for the record, whose previous credits include Christian dramas such as God’s Not Dead.

There is nothing wrong, on its face, with a story about someone discovering abortion doesn’t jibe with their personal politics. Look at Jason Reitman’s Juno (2007). Ellen Page plays the 16-year-old pregnant title character. After considering abortion and a clinic-visit encounter that had viewers questioning the film’s abortion politics, Juno decides to carry the pregnancy to term and give the child up for adoption. Like Johnson in Unplanned, Juno’s shift from thinking about getting an abortion to deciding that abortion isn’t right for her is key to both the narrative arc and the protagonist’s emotional journey. Juno’s skillful direction, its thoughtful use of voiceover to get us in to Juno’s head, and Page’s Oscar-nominated performance sell the film with subtlety and emotional truth.

Unplanned does not rise to that level of craft.


Dr Caitriona Henchion has raised concerns

Many women encounter “a huge amount of confusion” about what constitutes 12 weeks’ pregnancy when accessing a medical abortion.

This can lead to some fraught situations since the new law came into effect in January, warn doctors.

Medical director of the Irish Family Planning Association Dr Caitriona Henchion said under the new abortion law a termination can only be carried out where a doctor is of the reasonable opinion that the woman is not beyond 12 weeks.

“The pregnancy tests that a lot of women get in the pharmacy actually give them an estimate of date, but they are counting from conception. The legislation is based on counting from last period, which means you immediately have to add two weeks on to what you thought,” Dr Henchion told the ‘Medical Independent’.

“From our point of view, when we get someone who thought they were eight, nine weeks, and turns out to be 11-plus, it becomes a panic to try to get them an appointment on time. It really does; there is no other way I can describe that.

“And some of the hospitals are really, really helpful, but at the same time they only have a certain number of appointments and it is only certain days of the week.

“They may be full and they may not be able to take any more and they may not have any theatre slots available and you get into this very, very fraught situation of trying to find someone a place to go.”

Dr Henchion also said some women are upset to discover there is a mandatory waiting period of at least three days between getting the abortion certified and having the termination. Others are fully aware of the timeline.

Meanwhile, the Irish College of General Practitioners said it will not hold an extraordinary general meeting on the law as requested by some members but will discuss motions at its annual meeting.


Georgia state Sen. Jen Jordan (D) drew on her own personal struggles with pregnancy to issue a powerful rebuke against the “heartbeat” abortion bill last week.

A Georgia state lawmaker’s decision to share of her own personal struggles with pregnancy to rebuke the “heartbeat” abortion bill went viral on Saturday.

Last week, state Sen. Jen Jordan (D) delivered a powerful speech in the chamber against the state’s “heartbeat” abortion bill, a legislation that, if signed, would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected which the state House eventually voted to pass on Friday. The bill was then sent to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to be signed. Kemp has stated he plans to approve the legislation.

To denounce this severe restriction on abortion procedures, Jordan drew on her own personal experiences to explain the importance of a woman’s right to privacy.

“My husband and I were talking about this bill the other night and he told me that he didn’t want me to share anything personal because no one was entitled to that information. And I have always fiercely guarded my privacy,” Jordan said. “But the deepest, darkest times of my life have occurred in the presence of and with my physician.”

The Democratic lawmaker revealed that despite being pregnant 10 times, she had only given birth twice. “I have lost seven pregnancies in varying points of time before 20 weeks. And one after five months. Her name was Juliette,” she said. “I have been escorted out the back door of my physician’s office so as not to upset the other pregnant women in the waiting area, my grief on full display and uncontainable.”

Jordan then emphasized the importance of the “basic principle that woman must be able to make her decisions, in consultation with her God and her family.”

“It is not for the government or the men of this chamber to insert itself in the most personal, private, and wrenching decisions that women make every single day,” she continued. “Matters such as a woman’s ability to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy involve the most intimate and personal decisions a person can make.”

Jordan added: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

On Saturday, a day after the the Georgia House approved the bill, Jordan’s speech went viral on social media, gathering millions of views and shared by a range of users. The measure, if enacted, could limit the period for abortions to as early as six weeks, a time frame in which many women will likely not even be aware they are pregnant. Under current law woman can seek abortions up until 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

Speaking to Newsweek about the “intent” of the fetal heartbeat bill, Jordan said: It’s a race to the U.S. Supreme Court, with all of these conservative states to be the one that gets Roe overturned… I think they’re trying to be as outrageous as they possibly can, and they’ve definitely done it here.”

Although rape and incest are the exceptions under the bill, the woman is required to first file a police report, reported Associated Press.


If it feels like you’ve been seeing more headlines than usual about attempts to restrict abortion rights across the country, it’s not just you. States across the nation have introduced an alarming number of anti-abortion bills in 2019 compared to 2018, according to a new report from Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, a research center focused on reproductive health policy.

In their 2019 State Abortion Restriction Snapshot, Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute revealed that 41 states have seen more than 250 bills introduced in state legislatures this year alone. About half of those bills have the goal of banning abortion entirely or in certain circumstances. Six states currently have only one abortion provider serving the whole state: the Dakotas, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Mississippi.

“Energized by a new Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists and politicians have kicked into high gear their decades-long agenda to ban abortion through a series of increasingly radical and dangerous abortion bans,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, in a Planned Parenthood press release. “At their core, abortion restrictions are about exerting control and power over pregnant people.”

Compared with 2018, states have also introduced almost 63 percent more six-week abortion bans so far this year.

Six-week abortion bans are often called “heartbeat bills” because they attempt to ban abortion once doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat. They effectively amount to a full abortion ban, because many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant until right around or after six weeks.

As the Guttmacher Institute explained, numerous six-week abortion bans have already been struck down in court when states passed them in previous years. Now that opponents of reproductive rights see perceived allies in both the White House and the Supreme Court, however, they’ve moved to the forefront of the strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“Today, the reality we live in is a terrifying one for women around the country,” Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen said in a press release. “Access to abortion care is disappearing in states, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles for health care or to go without health care completely.”

“The surge in attempts to ban abortion in the earliest stages of pregnancy drives home that the end goal of anti-abortion politicians and activists is to ban all abortion — at any point during pregnancy and for any reason,” Nash said in the same release, referring to six-week bans.

These moves by Republican lawmakers come despite numerous polls showing that a growing majority of Americans support Roe and don’t want to see abortion rights disappear in the United States. And as Wen explained, closing clinics that provide abortion services also prevents women from receiving other necessary care, like cancer screenings, birth control, and STD testing.

“The politicians pushing these dangerous policies are directly interfering with medical practice and endangering women’s lives,” Wen said in her statement. “Abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure that nearly 1 in 4 women will have in their lifetime.”

With so many state governments working to limit abortion access, reproductive rights advocates can take action by telling lawmakers in their state what they think of their proposed legislation. As Wen explained:

“Those of us who work to protect women’s health and rights must aggressively push for policies that protect and expand reproductive health access in the states, which are the critical backstop to protecting safe, legal abortion.”