Opinion | Leana Wen: Why I Left Planned Parenthood – By Leana S. Wen – The New York Times

By Leana S. Wen

Dr. Wen is an emergency physician.

“This week, I left my position as the president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood.

In my farewell message to colleagues, I cited philosophical differences over the best way to protect reproductive health. While the traditional approach has been through prioritizing advocating for abortion rights, I have long believed that the most effective way to advance reproductive health is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one. I believed we could expand support for Planned Parenthood — and ultimately for abortion access — by finding common ground with the large majority of Americans who can unite behind the goal of improving the health and well-being of women and children.

When the board hired me to chart this new course, I knew that it would be challenging. Few organizations, let alone organizations under constant siege, accept change easily. Indeed, there was immediate criticism that I did not prioritize abortion enough. While I am passionately committed to protecting abortion access, I do not view it as a stand-alone issue. As one of the few national health care organizations with a presence in all 50 states, Planned Parenthood’s mandate should be to promote reproductive health care as part of a wide range of policies that affect women’s health and public health.

Another area of contention was my attempt to depoliticize Planned Parenthood. The organization and the causes it stands for have long been in the cross hairs of political attacks. In the last few months, seven states have passed laws banning abortion before many women even know that they are pregnant. Just this past Monday, the Trump administration announced that it would start enforcing a gag rule that would prohibit doctors and nurses working in federally funded clinics from referring patients to abortion care.

I had been leading our organization’s fights against these attacks, and believe they offer even more reason for Planned Parenthood to emphasize its role in providing essential health care to millions of underserved women and families. People depend on Planned Parenthood for breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, H.I.V. testing and family planning. To counter those who associate the organization with only abortion and use this misconception to attack its mission, I wanted to tell the story of all of its services — and in so doing, to normalize abortion care as the health care it is.”

David Lindsay:  This story makes me sad. I have been a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood since young adulthood, but I am at a loss. I thought Leana Wen had good ideas for making this organization more palatable to some of its enemies. I also fear that a softer, more sophisticated PP would be more helpful in defeating Donald Trump. Tightening up and becoming more narrow and strident, will problably help him by keeping his pro-life supporters galvanized.

Here is a comment I liked:

Billdoc2
Newton, MA
Times Pick

Wen is correct and those within PP who opposed her will regret her loss. As an older physician who went through medical training at a time when abortion was illegal and I watched over the deaths of many young women who died from botched attempted abortions, I know how important Roe is. As a long time observer of the political realities, I know that a different approach by PP made excellent sense. I have been a dedicated financial supporter of PP. My enthusiasm for continuing in that role has been severely diminished. I suspect I am not alone in those feelings.

9 Replies351 Recommended

Republicans’ Messaging on Abortion Puts Democrats on the Defensive – The New York Times

By Jeremy W. Peters
May 16, 2019, 6
“WASHINGTON — With grisly claims that Democrats promote “birth day abortions” and are “the party of death,” the Republican Party and its conservative allies have aggressively reset the terms of one of the country’s most divisive and emotionally fraught debates, forcing Democrats to reassess how they should respond to attacks that portray the entire party as extremist on abortion.

The unusually forceful, carefully coordinated campaign has created challenges that Democrats did not expect as they struggle to combat misinformation and thwart further efforts to undercut access to abortion. And advocates of abortion rights fear it is succeeding in pressuring lawmakers in more conservative states to pass severe new restrictions, as Alabama did this week by approving a bill that would essentially outlaw the procedure.

These new measures, combined with the likelihood that the Supreme Court will agree to take up at least one case in the coming months where Roe v. Wade will be tested, have stirred intense passions on both sides and elevated abortion into a prominent issue in the presidential race.”

Opinion | Trump’s Anti-Abortion Incitement – By Michelle Goldberg – The New York Times

The president’s lies about infanticide could inspire violence.

By Michelle Goldberg
Opinion Columnist

April 29, 2019, 858

President Trump on Saturday in Green Bay, Wis., where he described Democrats as in favor of infanticide.
Credit
Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“Last week, The Washington Post’s tally of Donald Trump’s false and misleading claims hit a milestone, topping 10,000. His untruths, which lately average almost two dozen a day, have long since stopped being news, becoming instead irritating background noise. So when, on Saturday, he told a particularly lurid lie about infanticide at a political rally in Wisconsin, it was, like so much in this administration, at once shocking and unsurprising.

As his raucous crowd booed and screamed, Trump described a hideous scenario that he insists Democrats approve of. “The baby is born,” said Trump. “The mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully” — at this, he seemed to mime rocking an infant — “and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.” He made a chopping motion with his hand.

Trump was elaborating on the willfully misunderstood words of Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia, who, in a radio interview in January, responded to a Republican hypothetical about a woman requesting an abortion during labor. A pediatric neurologist by training, Northam described what actually occurs when a woman whose pregnancy may not be viable gives birth. If “a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he said. “The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.””

Edidtorial | Roe v. Wade Is at Risk. Here’s How to Prepare. – The New York Times

“Abortion opponents have spent decades planning for a Supreme Court with a majority hostile to reproductive rights. So it’s little surprise that, with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh in the fall, the necessary fifth vote, they’ve been quick to seize the moment.

The anti-abortion movement has also spent those decades building a vast fund-raising and organizing network, with the goals of securing an anti-abortion voting bloc and getting more like-minded judges, at every level, and lawmakers — and presidents — into power.

Mere weeks after Justice Kavanaugh was sworn in, West Virginia and Alabama passed state constitutional amendments that could ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Those on the other side, then, need their own robust and creative playbook — not just to fight back against attacks on reproductive freedom but also to pre-emptively protect and expand those freedoms wherever possible.”

Opinion | Can a Corpse Give Birth? – BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD – The New York Times

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD DEC. 28 2018

“Rarely will a woman who lost an unborn child be charged with murder. Yet the mere existence of criminal statutes aimed at forcing women to make decisions to protect their fetuses — even at the expense of their own health — has injected fear into maternity wards and operating rooms, complicating even routine health care decisions.

Sometimes doctors or nurses are overzealous. In Florida, a doctor told Lisa Epsteen that he was sending law enforcement to her home if she didn’t report immediately to the hospital for a C-section. In New Jersey, a woman known in court documents as V.M. lost custody of her newborn for years after refusing to have her baby delivered surgically. The baby was born vaginally — and in full health — but put in foster care.

Other times, in many states, doctors and nurses — the very people who are meant to help pregnant women — are required to report suspected drug use to the police. The threat of prison and losing custody of their children drives pregnant women who suffer from addiction or mental illness away from much-needed prenatal care and treatment.”

Opinion | The Kavanaugh Accusation Is Dangerous for the Pro-Life Movement – By Ross Douthat – The New York Times

“This includes the pro-life movement. Even if it wins its long-desired victory at the high court and more anti-abortion legislation becomes possible, a pro-life cause joined to a party that can’t win female votes and seems to have no time for women will never be able to achieve those legislative goals, or at least never outside a very few, very conservative states. And having that long-awaited victory accomplished by a male judicial appointee confirmed under a cloud of #MeToo suspicion seems like a good way to cement a perception that’s fatal to the pro-life movement’s larger purposes — the perception that you can’t be pro-woman and pro-life.

This points to a conclusion that’s certainly unfair to Kavanaugh if he’s innocent, but nobody ever said that politics would be fair. If his accuser testifies publicly and credibly, if her allegation isn’t undermined by a week of scrutiny and testimony, if it remains unprovable but squarely in the realm of plausibility, then all the abortion opponents who were supporting him should hope that his nomination is withdrawn — with, ideally, a woman nominated in his place.”

DL: Nice try Ross.
Here is a comment that covers my main thoughts well.

Clare

Sorry, but people thinking they can be feminists or pro-women’s rights and also thinking that the state should force women to give birth against their will is fundamentally untenable. If you don’t like abortion, first of all, don’t have one. That seems obvious, but the stories of pro-life protesters waving signs outside clinics one day and going into one the next when they or a family member needed an abortion are legion. Second, recognize that making abortion illegal does not help you reach your stated goal of limiting abortion to the greatest extent possible. (In fact, both history and contemporary experience teaches us that the more restrictive the abortion laws, the higher the abortion rates — true across states and countries). What reduces abortion rates are comprehensive sex education, readily accessible, effective birth control, and a social safety net that is sufficient for women to make decisions about abortion for reasons other than economics. When people on the so-called pro-life side embrace these things as policy, I will be willing to concede that they care about the actual issue and not just punishing women for exercising their agency. Until then, please don’t pretend you care in the least about women and their rights, or even policy positions that have a chance of getting you to your stated goals.

Opinion | The Handmaid’s Court – by Michelle Goldberg – NYT

“Shortly after his inauguration, Donald Trump, uniquely attentive to his debt to the religious right, appointed the anti-abortion activist E. Scott Lloyd to head the Office of Refugee Resettlement, despite Lloyd’s lack of relevant experience. The position gave Lloyd authority over unaccompanied minors caught crossing into the United States, authority Lloyd exploited to try to stop pregnant migrants from getting abortions.

Last year, thanks to Lloyd’s interference, a 17-year-old from Central America had to wage a legal battle to end her pregnancy. Known in court filings as Jane Doe, the girl learned she was pregnant while in custody in Texas, and was adamant that she wanted an abortion. In keeping with Texas’s parental consent law, she obtained a judge’s permission, helped by a legal organization called Jane’s Due Process. Jane’s Due Process raised money for the abortion, which was scheduled for the end of her first trimester.

But under Lloyd’s direction, the shelter where she was being detainedrefused to cooperate. Doe went back to court, and a federal judge ruled in her favor, issuing a temporary restraining order against the government. The administration appealed, and the case, Garza v. Hargan, went to a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. One of the judges was Brett Kavanaugh.

Garza v. Hargan was the only major abortion-rights case Kavanaugh ever ruled on. His handling of it offers a clue about what’s in store for American women if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. No one knows whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade outright or simply gut it. But even on a lower court, Kavanaugh put arbitrary obstacles in the way of someone desperate to end her pregnancy. Thanks to Trump, he may soon be in a position to do the same to millions of others.”

David Lindsay Jr:

Michelle Goldberg expounds above with her usual brilliance on this threat to women’s rights. Thank you.

Kathleen Schomaker and I drove out to Wisconsin, to vacation in Athelstane above Green Bay. In the 19 hour car ride, we listened to The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. It was not pleasant to listen to. Distopian novels are famously unpleasant. But it had fascinating and challenging material. It has some resonance today, since it is about a coup d’etat, where the ultra right to life and fundamentalist Christian faction takes complete control of a future dictatorship after some sort of disaster which has reduced world population dramatically. When the book came out in 1985, so close to 1984, Kathleen reports that she and other feminists devoured it and found it enlightening.

Brett Kavanaugh is a disaster for women’s rights. As I explained in a previous post, it is one of the several reasons I oppose his appointment to the Supreme Court. 

The Abortion Case That’s Really About the First Amendment – By ROBERT McNAMARA and PAUL SHERMAN – NYT

“The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in a case that pits abortion-rights advocates against religious groups dedicated to steering women away from abortion — including, some say, by outright deception.

But that is not why the case is important.To be sure, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra has all the hallmarks of a classic culture-war throwdown. The case centers on California’s attempt to force so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which exist primarily to dissuade women from having abortions, to display prominent advertisements detailing the availability of state-funded abortions.

As The Times’ Adam Liptak put it, succinctly: “The centers say the law violates their right to free speech by forcing them to convey messages at odds with their beliefs. The law’s defenders say the notices combat incomplete or misleading information provided by the clinics.”

In certain ways, the case has played out just as one might have expected: The Conference of Catholic Bishops has lined up on one side and Planned Parenthood on the other. Most people’s opinions on abortion rights and their opinions on the correct outcome in this case are probably pretty closely linked.

But that link shouldn’t be inevitable. We filed a brief in this case supporting the First Amendment rights of crisis pregnancy centers, even though we also personally support abortion rights (our firm shares our view of the First Amendment, though it takes no position on abortion).”David Lindsay: Sad, but probably true. I found no fault in the logic of these lawyers.

They argued:

“Sometimes, government officials use their newfound powers to silence speech they find politically uncongenial. For example, after the American Medical Association adopted a policy urging doctors to discuss gun ownership with their patients — either to talk to them about gun safety or, perhaps, to dissuade them from owning guns at all — the Florida Legislature, spurred by gun-rights advocates, rushed to prohibit doctors from doing so. In court, Florida defended the law as a regulation of unprotected “professional speech.” It took five years of litigation, in the face of repeated court rulings upholding the ban, before the law was finally struck down in 2017 by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Other times, officials simply try to silence speech that is embarrassing. When an Oregon man named Mats Järlström, who we have represented, wrote to his state engineering board to complain that traffic engineers had made mistakes in how they calculated the timing of red-light cameras, the board fined him $500 for doing the underlying math without an engineering license. (As it happens, the physics professor who initially came up with the formula for timing red-light cameras thought that our client was probably right, but that made no difference to state officials.)

And these threats to free speech extend far beyond traditional professions like doctors or engineers. Regulators have invoked the idea of professional speech to crack down on everything from everyday advice about healthy eating to private citizens’ testimony at public city-council hearings. One court even held the professional-speech doctrine applies to fortune tellers; in another case, city attorneys said it should apply to tour guides telling ghost stories. It turns out that there really is no such thing as just a little bit of censorship.”

dl: I’m not happy about the Pro life clinics, but they aren’t the only choice for advice in California. On the good side, they provide an outlet for their hard core believers. The reason they should be regulated, is that environmental scientists are saying things like we need to set aside half the planet for non human life, most of which is going extinct, and that extinction threatens our future existence. Some scientists argue well that though humans now are 7.5 billion, the proper sustainable number of humans for a safe clean quality of life and environment is probably 4 billion. Abortions might be terrible, but over population leading to civil war, starvation and massive die offs of human population centers is probably much worse. Medical triage is also mean and horrible, but it saves the largest number of human lives.

 

The Gathering Threat to Abortion Rights – The New York Times

“People who care about basic American freedoms should be grateful to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, for one thing: He has given liberals another good reason to flock to the polls in November.

Mr. McConnell is set to hold a procedural vote this week on a bill that would ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, is part of a long-term legislative effort by the anti-abortion movement to gut Roe v. Wade and severely curtail abortion access nationwide.Twenty-week abortion bans, enacted in more than a dozen states and struck down in two, violate the Supreme Court’s standard that abortion can be restricted only when a fetus is viable outside the womb. Many, including the one being considered by the Senate, are based on claims not supported by most scientists about when a fetus feels pain.”

Legal Fight Could Make Kentucky Only State With No Abortion Clinic – The New York Times

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As states across the nation enact increasingly aggressive restrictions on abortion, perhaps nowhere has the political climate shifted as much as here in Kentucky, where the E.M.W. Women’s Surgical Center, a squat tan brick building on Market Street, is the state’s sole abortion clinic.Over the past year, Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican who calls himself “unapologetically pro-life,” has blocked a new Planned Parenthood clinic from performing abortions, shuttered E.M.W.’s satellite clinic in Lexington and threatened to close the existing one in Louisville. Backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the clinic has sued the state; a trial is set for September.

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Consider the chapter in Freakonomics, (the first book) on the discovered correlation between the rise in legal access to abortions in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and the dramatic decline in crime rates in the 1990’s, but only in the states that really made abortions available to poor people.

from freakonomics.com: “These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn the conventional wisdom on its head.”

One of the many tragedies of the this war over a woman’s right to control her own reproduction, is that overpopulation is the great elephant in the room. We have gone from 2 to 7.5 billion people in just 100 years, and we humans, in our growth rate, are the new asteroid hitting the planet’s ecosystems.