9-28-18 US review of fetal research signals the return of the abortion wars
Backed by the “most pro-life president in modern history”, conservatives are gearing up for a new assault on reproductive rights, says Lara Williams. The Trump administration has launched a review of state-funded research that uses fetal tissue, prompting many to speculate the start of a fresh battle on abortion rights in the US. The Health and Human Service (HHS) department announced on Tuesday that it was cancelling a contract for Advanced Bioscience Resources to supply the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with fetal tissue for research purposes. This was followed by a statement from the HHS confirming a full audit on the use of such tissue. “HHS was not sufficiently assured that the contract included the appropriate protections applicable to fetal tissue research or met all other procurement requirements,” the department announced. “HHS is now conducting an audit of all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue to ensure conformity with procurement and human fetal tissue research laws and regulations.” In the US, $98 million, including grants, contracts and other state spending, was dedicated to fetal tissue research just last year. It has been instrumental in developing vaccines and in fighting diseases such as Zika. Even so, research using embryonic stem cells and fetal tissues is heavily policed: several states, such as South Dakota and Florida, prohibit the use of such cells in research, and there are staunch restrictions on profiting from their supply. The HHS now suggests these controls are inadequate. The move is a troubling one from an administration headed by “the most pro-life president in modern history”, in one supporter’s words. Trump has stocked the HHS with anti-abortion advocates, with evident results: in October 2017, the HHS released a strategic plan that declared its purpose as “serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception”.
9-24-18 Imagining post-abortion America
The age of abortion may well be ending. What shall we fight about next?Abortion has consistently been the most fractious social issue of the past half-century of American life. This may be about to change. It's hard to imagine, I know. After all, there are reasons why abortion has been so divisive for so long. Pro-lifers like myself see legal abortion as a scourge that has claimed tens of millions of human lives in the United States alone. By contrast, many progressives see it as a necessary guarantor of women's full social equality. These battle lines seem deeply etched into our social consciousness. What could possibly soften them? I can think of several possibilities. First of all, contraceptives have become considerably more effective even just over the past few years. The newest IUDs and hormonal implants do seem to prevent pregnancy with some (though still not perfect) reliability. We may soon reach a point where contraceptives are nearly failproof, with little or no margin for "user error." When unplanned pregnancies become an extreme rarity, the demand for abortion will fall too. If I were in the abortion-providing business, I'd be worrying about a lot more than just Supreme Court nominations. Contraceptives are just the beginning, though. You won't need them if, like increasing numbers of young people, you're not interested in sex in the first place. They'll also be superfluous if declining male sperm counts make conception an ever more remote possibility. When today's kids reach adulthood, they may be so concerned about achieving pregnancy that they lose interest in fighting over whether and how it should be ended. One more possibility looms on the political horizon. What if the pro-life movement becomes so wedded to toxic political currents that it alienates the younger generation and women, finally losing its long-standing influence? (Webmaster's comment: Women will be forced to have any child regardless of circumstances, even rape and parental rape, and even if we have to strap them into a bed for 9 months.)
9-13-18 Pregnant and breaking the law
The women and men who risk all to have abortions in Iran. Every year more than 250,000 illegal abortions take place in Iran. In Iran abortions are only permitted up to the 19th week of pregnancy and only under certain circumstances. Fahimeh was just 16 when she was forced to marry a man 11 years her senior. She grew up in a conservative family. "My mother believed that girls should not know anything about things like sex and menstruation," she says. After the wedding she was sent home with her husband. "The first night with my husband was the most traumatising experience of my life." From the very beginning Fahimeh knew she didn't want to stay in the marriage, but she was afraid of telling her family, thinking they would not understand. Knowing little about sex and contraception, Fahimeh became pregnant straight away. More than 200 million women in the developing world don't have access to modern contraceptives, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Fahimeh was one of them. She pleaded with her husband to help her end the pregnancy. "I am a child myself, I am so inexperienced, I don’t even know if I want to keep on living, I can’t be a mother." Eventually he agreed. Abortion in Iran is illegal unless the pregnancy poses a risk to the woman's life or the foetus has severe physical deformities. Because of these restrictions, the abortion pill is not available on the market. So Fahimeh's husband bought hormone injections, which can cause a miscarriage, on the black market. The couple then went to a midwife who was willing to administer the injections. Fahimeh was treated on a dirty old sofa in a damp basement. The midwife advised her to lift heavy things once she got home to help the hormones take effect. But she also warned her the termination might not succeed.
9-6-18 Brett Kavanaugh: Supreme Court pick 'questioned abortion ruling'
US President Donald Trump's choice for the Supreme Court questioned whether a ruling legalising abortion was settled law, emails show. Brett Kavanaugh, 53, made the comments while working as a lawyer in 2003 for then-President George W Bush. His record is being closely examined as his appointment is seen as likely to tip the court towards the right. The Supreme Court is America's highest and has the final word on many contentious matters. Judges are appointed for their lifetime and getting his nominee approved would mark a victory for President Trump and his supporters. The email shows Mr Kavanaugh considering an opinion piece which states "it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land", referring to the landmark ruling that legalised abortion in the US. In response, Mr Kavanaugh says: "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since court can always overrule its precedent, and three current justices on the court would do so." The nominee is currently attending day three of a four-day confirmation hearing in Washington. Asked about the document, he repeated what he said on Wednesday that Roe v Wade was an "important precedent of the Supreme Court, reaffirmed many times". While campaigning for the presidency, Mr Trump promised to appoint pro-life judges, raising the possibility of Roe v Wade being overturned. (Webmaster's comment: Putting him on the Supreme Court would be a first step in abolishing all abortions in this country for any reason. Women have no rights in this regard in his thinking. They must bear the fruit of a man's loins.)
8-25-18 Women in England to be allowed to have abortions at home
Women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant will soon be able to have abortions at home, bringing England in line with Scotland and Wales. Women in England will soon be able to have abortions at home if they are less than ten weeks pregnant. Home abortions were introduced in Scotland and Wales last year. Now the UK government has said this will be legalised in England before the end of the year. But abortion remains illegal in almost all circumstances in Northern Ireland. Medical abortions during the first nine weeks of pregnancy involve taking two lots of medicine, a day or two apart, called mifepristone and misoprostol. About eight in ten terminations of pregnancy now happen this way. Currently women in England have to take both doses in a clinic under medical supervision, and then leave the clinic after the second pill to pass the pregnancy at home. Women may experience pain, bleeding, nausea and vomiting. But studies have shown the process is relatively safe. It’s the same process that happens when women have a miscarriage, which they usually don’t need to go into hospital for. As some women start passing the pregnancy on their journey home, charities such as the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a UK abortion provider, have long been campaigning for home abortions to be legalised. The Department of Health and Social Care announced today that, under the new system, women will be allowed to take the second pill at home if they prefer. The change will not be debated in parliament, but the UK health minister will need to take some legal steps so that homes become approved as a venue where abortions can take place.
8-9-18 Argentina abortion: Senate defeats bill after polarising debate
Argentina's senate has rejected a bill which would have legalised abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. After a marathon debate, 38 senators voted against it and 31 in favour. Its defeat means lawmakers must wait until next year to resubmit legislation. Currently abortion is allowed in Argentina only in cases of rape, or if the mother's health is in danger. Some pro-choice campaigners started fires and lobbed missiles at police in Buenos Aires after the vote. Demonstrators on both sides of the debate had rallied outside parliament as voting took place. Anti-abortion activists have been jubilant. "It's a joy to see that our society can be based on such an important principle as the defence of the most defenceless, the child," said one. Pro-choice campaigners have for years tried to get bills passed in Argentina, where the population is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Their efforts gained new impetus when President Mauricio Macri - who opposes abortion - called on Congress to consider a vote on it, and it narrowly passed in the lower house. However, with the Senate leaning conservative, the bill's passage always looked difficult. Among the 30 women in the chamber, the vote was evenly split. The debate lasted more than 16 hours in an often fraught session.
8-7-18 No going back: The two sides in Argentina's abortion debate
It is the middle of winter in Buenos Aires, but a spring-like green has blossomed in the city in recent months. Everywhere you go, you see women wearing emerald pañuelos (bandanas) around their necks, wrapped around their wrists, or tied to their bags. The bandanas are the symbol of the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe and Free Abortion which started in 2005. Since then, it has introduced seven bills to Congress. For years, its supporters got nowhere. But that all changed earlier this year when President Mauricio Macri, who himself opposes abortion, called for Congress to debate the latest bill. The pace at which things have moved since has surprised everyone, and the green bandana has also come to represent a peaceful resistance by a growing women's rights movement which argues that society needs to change. Currently abortion is only allowed in Argentina in cases of rape, or if the mother's health is in danger. The bill asks for the practice to be legalised in all circumstances in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. In June, the lower house narrowly passed it in a marathon debate that lasted nearly 24 hours while hundreds of thousands of women held a vigil outside. Now, as Argentina's Senate prepares to vote later on Wednesday, women are getting ready for another long and cold night outside the Congress building. Ana Correa will be there, wearing her green pañuelo with pride. Eleven years ago, when she was three months pregnant with her second child, she discovered the baby had Edwards' syndrome (a serious genetic disorder), and doctors told her it would never live beyond birth. "I decided to end the pregnancy. It didn't make any sense to prolong the pain," she tells me. "I went to a doctor who was very close to the Church and he suggested that I continue with the pregnancy, so that I would be able to hug my dead baby." "He said that that was all the help he could offer me."
7-30-18 The GOP's abortion conundrum
These are bittersweet times for pro-life conservatives. On the one hand, once President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed (and he will be), for the first time in 45 years conservatives will have enough strength on the bench to overturn Roe v. Wade. On the other hand, since Trump was elected, the pro-life movement's gains over the last decade or so in turning public opinion against abortion have evaporated into thin air. Poof! This startling change suggests that conservatives can't hang a simple morality tale on abortion (Abortion = Murder!) in their quest to severely restrict reproductive rights. They will need to take the full complexity of this issue into account if they want to truly convince a majority of Americans of their cause's righteousness. Whatever they do, they should resist the temptation to demonize women in an ill-fated effort to turn Americans against abortion. Kavanaugh doesn't have a lengthy track record on this issue (which is why he was an ideal Supreme Court nominee), but it is safe to assume that, like the four other conservatives on the court, he would be no friend of Roe (which is widely reviled in conservative circles as judicial activism at its worst) or reproductive rights. He is a practicing Catholic whose legal hero is former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, one of Roe's two lonely dissenters. The only abortion case Kavanaugh has ever ruled on went against the woman. It involved a pregnant unaccompanied minor in government custody who requested a termination. Kavanaugh opined that the government wasn't obligated to provide "abortion on demand" and she could wait to get one once she was released to a sponsor or deported. No matter how much he protests during his confirmation hearings that he considers Roe to be settled law, the only question is whether he would vote to overrule it in one fell swoop or kill it incrementally. But either way, Kavanaugh and the pro-life movement will get their wish. And then they will run into a buzzsaw of public opposition.
7-30-18 Why rejecting birth control can be an empowering feminist choice
Confessions on my organic-sex life. I'm not by nature an exhibitionist, but we all have our moments of temptation. Mine often come in elevators, when I'm momentarily cloistered in close quarters with my four young boys and some man. It's crowded, so he is literally backed in a corner. I see him glancing back and forth between the children and me, his thoughts as clear as a baby's bottle. Can they really all be hers? Holy cow. In my fantasy, I address him casually. "Hey, Mr. Staring Guy," I say. "Have you had sex four times in your life? That's great. Me too!" I don't actually say this, because a lady doesn't kiss and tell, even when the evidence is rummaging through her coat pockets and tugging at both sleeves. It's fun to imagine though, and since my fifth is expected at the end of this year, it should soon be possible to shock without speaking. I'm looking forward to some sizzling months of scaring strangers with my shameless fecundity. Four boys, and she's even having another one? Who does that? The short answer is: a Catholic. I'm one of those crazy orthodox ones who shuns artificial contraceptives. When my husband and I plunged into this lifestyle a decade ago, we were recent Catholic converts, and perhaps not fully aware that we were flinging ourselves into a chasm of religious zealotry. I'd read the Catechism, and a collection of important papal encyclicals. It seemed like this was how Catholics did things. Naturally, in the intervening years I've been acquainted with the reality that I am a nut, enslaved to patriarchy and probably dwelling somewhere in the low country between Michael Houellebecq's France and Margaret Atwood's Republic of Gilead. That's a little startling, but I soldier on anyway. For one thing, I like to finish what I start. Also, I'm actually pretty happy with the organic-sex lifestyle. It's a little demanding on certain fronts, but it makes for a very meaningful life, and one that is in some respects especially good for women.
7-30-18 Cricket Australia accused of sacking woman over abortion tweets
A former Cricket Australia (CA) employee says she was sacked for publicly criticising lawmakers over the state of abortion services in Tasmania. Angela Williamson, 39, had been a government relations manager at affiliate Cricket Tasmania until June. Ms Williamson said she was sacked after writing tweets critical of the state government. CA said only that it would not tolerate "offensive comments". The recent closure of Tasmania's only abortion clinic has been controversial. Its closure, due to lack of demand, has forced Ms Williamson and other women to travel to mainland Australia to seek an abortion. Ms Williamson has launched legal action against CA over her dismissal. In June, Ms Williamson used her Twitter account to express frustration about healthcare in Tasmania and local lawmakers. One tweet criticised a lawmaker's speech on abortion as the "most irresponsible, gutless and reckless delivery in parliament ever". CA referred to the tweets in its termination letter to Ms Williamson on 29 June. Ms Williamson's lawyers argue that her sacking breaches national employment laws. "Political opinion is protected under the law. She was obviously shocked to lose her job over an issue like this," lawyer Kamal Farouque told the BBC.
7-20-18 Push for legal weed, abortion
The jurist who may serve as Mexico’s next interior minister has said that she will seek to decriminalize abortion in the first trimester. Abortion is currently only legal in Mexico in cases of rape or to save the mother’s life. But Olga Sánchez Cordero, President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s pick for the interior ministry, said women “should not be deprived” of the right to an abortion, and vowed to discuss the issue with Mexico’s 32 state legislatures. López Obrador’s Morena party took a majority in 22 of the state legislatures earlier this month. Sánchez Cordero also said she would push at a state level for legalizing marijuana use. “Canada has already decriminalized, as well as almost half of the states in the U.S.,” she said in a radio interview. “Why are we killing ourselves when North America and many European countries have decriminalized?”
7-12-18 Nearly Two-Thirds of Americans Want Roe v. Wade to Stand
As the U.S. Senate prepares to hold confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the public is strongly opposed to any attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide. Currently, 64% of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, while 28% would like to see it overturned.
- 28%, including 51% Republicans and 13% Democrats, want Roe v. Wade overturned
- 49% say Supreme Court nominee's views are a reason to reject
- 46% think rejection based on nominee's views is unjustified
7-7-18 If Roe v Wade is overturned, will abortion become illegal in the US?
Could abortion in the US become illegal? That's the question being typed into search engines across the world, as people wait to see who President Donald Trump announces as his nomination for the US Supreme Court. He's previously promised to appoint a "pro-life" judge. Since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, questions have been raised over whether his replacement will overturn Roe v Wade. That landmark Supreme Court ruling legalised abortion across the US in 1973. There's no guarantee, regardless of who is appointed, that Roe v Wade will be overturned, but there has still been an explosion of search interest on Google as to what will happen to abortion access if it does. In the absence of Roe v Wade, a woman's access to abortion would be affected by the state she lives in. Ultimately, in most - but not all - states, a ban is unlikely come into immediate effect. However, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, 23 states would have the potential to ban abortion outright if Roe v Wade is overturned. "In nine states (including the District of Columbia), the right to abortion is at risk of loss, and in 19 states, the right to abortion appears secure," it says. (Webmaster's comment: Many men think a women is male property and the right to have his spawn bear fruit regardless of the circumstances must be preserved even if she's gang raped! Even if she must die it's the unborn fetus that's important to him! She is just a breed cow.)
6-29-18 Pharmacy dispute
Walgreens faced angry calls for a boycott this week after an Arizona pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for medication that would induce a miscarriage for a woman with an unviable pregnancy. Nicole Arteaga had been saddened to learn from her doctor that her 9-week-old fetus’ heart had stopped beating. She opted to take misoprostol, a medication used to end a failed pregnancy. But the pharmacist at the local Walgreens refused to fill the order on ethical grounds, ignoring Arteaga’s tearful and careful pleas while her 7-year-old son was in earshot. “What [the pharmacist] failed to understand is this is something I have zero control over,” said Arteaga, 35, in a Facebook post; she later obtained the medication at another Walgreens. Refusing to fill prescriptions is expressly permitted under Arizona law and Walgreens policy.
6-29-18 The risk of a radically pro-life American future
The pending retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court has provoked alarm among defenders of women's reproductive rights. They worry that his successor may well be willing, as Kennedy himself was not, to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion. This concern is fully justified. If Roe were overturned, abortion would immediately revert to being an issue decided at the state level, and as many as 20 states may be poised to ban the procedure outright. But this isn't even the worst-case scenario for abortion rights on a post-Kennedy Supreme Court. What if a conservative majority of the Court rules not that abortion should be decided by state legislatures, but that the procedure should be banned outright at the federal level as an assault on the personhood (and hence constitutionally protected, inviolable rights) of the fetus? Far-fetched? Perhaps. But we simply don't know how sympathetic the Court's current crop of conservatives might be to such arguments, just as we're unlikely to receive much illumination about the question during confirmation hearings for President Trump's nominee to succeed Kennedy. (Nominees have long eschewed answering detailed, specific questions about their views on the most controversial issues likely to come before the court, for fear of sinking their prospects of receiving an affirmative confirmation vote.) The reality is that such arguments about the personhood of fetuses are in wide circulation among conservatives and anti-abortion activists — and that they have gained considerable traction over the past two decades, eclipsing the originalist arguments on which Robert Bork would have drawn in seeking to overturn Roe had he been confirmed back in 1987, and which Antonin Scalia regularly made in justifying his own contempt for the 1973 decision. That's why everyone who cares about the reproductive freedom of American women needs to be aware of the present danger — as should Republicans, who may end up inadvertently reaping the political whirlwind with their votes to confirm a justice who could conceivably declare unconstitutional a procedure that fewer than one-fifth of Americans want to see banned outright.
6-29-18 Legal bid to throw out US sex trafficking law
Digital rights campaigners are starting a legal challenge to a US law that seeks to fight online sex trafficking. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says the "poorly written" law can hinder attempts to help victims and prosecute traffickers. The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (Fosta) also trespasses on free speech laws, claims the lawsuit. The EFF wants the law declared unconstitutional to stop it being enforced. In a blog announcing its legal action, the EFF said the law needed to be halted because, in its current form, it was harming many people working on behalf of sex workers and victims. In particular, said the EFF, the vague language in Fosta puts those who call for decriminalisation of sex work, or who try to establish greater recognition for prostitutes and others in the trade, at the risk of prosecution. In addition, it said, the law undermines established protections enjoyed by websites that host content posted by their users. Fosta "vastly magnifies" the risk these net firms bear if they choose to run ads or forums dedicated to these sexual professions, it said. Already net firms including Craigslist, Reddit and others have shut down forums and chat rooms dedicated to the buying and selling of sex for fear of prosecution. The law has also limited the work of organisations trying to help people who offer sexual services, said the EFF. One such was VerifyHim, which logged descriptions of abusive clients to help workers avoid them. The EFF's legal challenge is also being aided by the Internet Archive, Human Rights Watch and Woodhull Freedom Foundation. In addition, two individuals are backing it - one a spokesperson for sex workers and another a masseur who now finds it hard to advertise his non-sexual service.