Opinion | Er, Can I Ask a Few Questions About Abortion? – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Millions of American Christians are likely to vote for President Trump on Tuesday because they believe it a religious obligation to support a president who will appoint “pro-life” judges.

But as I’ve observed before, there is an incipient rethinking underway in evangelical and Catholic circles about what it means to be “pro-life,” and let me try to add to that ferment. For the truth is that the litmus test approach to abortion on the part of many conservative Christians is anomalous, both religiously and historically.

Historically, evangelical Christians supported allowing abortions in some situations, such as rape or the well-being of the mother or family.

Christianity Today, the newspaper founded by Billy Graham, held a symposium in 1968 that endorsed a right to some abortions. The National Association of Evangelicals and the Southern Baptist Convention both backed a limited right to abortion in the early 1970s, and an article in The Baptist Press welcomed the ruling in Roe v. Wade for advancing “religious liberty, human equality and justice.” A 1970 poll found that about two-thirds of Southern Baptist pastors supported allowing abortion in cases such as rape, deformity or a risk to the mother’s physical or mental well-being.”

Opinion | The Case for Accepting Defeat on Roe – By Joan C. Williams – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Williams is a law professor.

“In “Unpregnant, the HBO bildungsroman released this month, the plot revolves around a 17-year-old heroine who travels from Missouri to Albuquerque — a road trip of 1,000 miles — because that’s the nearest place she can get an abortion without parental consent. Watching it made me recall a conversation with a feminist friend, who shocked the hell out of me last year by saying that progressives were too focused on protecting Roe v. Wade.

Why? The argument is that we currently have the worst of both worlds. We’ve basically lost the abortion fight: If Roe is overturned, access to abortion will depend on where you live — but access to abortion already depends on where you live. At the same time, we have people voting for Donald Trump because he’ll appoint justices who will overturn Roe. Maybe it is time to face the fact that abortion access will be fought for in legislatures, not courts.

I was shocked, but I could see the logic. It’s true that abortion access is already abysmal. The stressful road trip in “Unpregnant” is actually in some ways a best-case scenario; many women seeking abortions aren’t suburban teenagers without economic pressures or family responsibilities. Nearly 60 percent have already had one child and nearly half live below the poverty level; some fear they’ll be fired if they take time off, particularly if they need to make two trips, as they must in the 26 states with mandatory waiting periods.

The argument that the left has already lost the abortion fight reflects the fact that there’s no abortion clinic in 90 percent of American counties. This is the result of the highly successful death-by-a-thousand-cuts anti-abortion strategy, which has piled on restriction after restriction to make abortion inaccessible to as many American women as possible.Chief Justice John Roberts’s concurring opinion this summer in June Medical Services v. Russo — the one that mattered — was hailed as a surprise victory for abortion rights, but not by me.

Justice Roberts refused to uphold Louisiana restrictions virtually identical to those the court struck down as unconstitutional just four years earlier, but clearly stated that his reluctance was because of his respect for precedent. Anyone with their eyes open could see the justice signaling to abortion opponents to continue the process of eroding Roe v. Wade’s nigh-absolute protection of access to abortion during the first trimester by inventing new types of restrictions, which they have been remarkably creative in doing.

If Judge Amy Coney Barrett becomes the next Supreme Court justice, Justice Roberts’s vote will be irrelevant, anyway. And if things already looked pretty grim, now they look much worse: Up to 21 states have passed laws banning or limiting abortions in ways that are currently unconstitutional. Many will go into effect immediately if Roe is fully overturned.

So what should we do now? Often forgotten is that R.B.G. herself had decided that Roe was a mistake. In 1992, she gave a lecture musing that the country might be better off if the Supreme Court had written a narrower decision and opened up a “dialogue” with state legislatures, which were trending “toward liberalization of abortion statutes” (to quote the Roe court). Roe “halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue,” Justice Ginsburg argued. In the process, “a well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement rallied and succeeded, for a considerable time, in turning the legislative tide in the opposite direction.”

What Ginsburg called Roe’s “divisiveness” was instrumental in the rise of the American right, which was flailing until Phyllis Schlafly discovered the galvanizing force of opposition to abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment. Schlafly wrote the culture wars playbook that created the odd coupling of the country-club business elite with evangelicals and blue-collar whites. In exchange for business-friendly policies like tax cuts and deregulation, Republicans now allow these groups to control their agenda on religion and abortion. It’s hard to remember now but this was not inevitable: abortion was not always seen as the partisan issue it is todaynor did evangelicals uniformly oppose abortion.”

Editorial | The Roberts Supreme Court Curtails Birth Control Access. Again. – The New York Times

“Well, that didn’t take long.

Only days after surprising the nation by striking down a strict anti-abortion law in Louisiana, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts reminded Americans once again that it is no friend to reproductive rights, or to the vast majority of women who will use some form of birth control in their lifetime.

In a decision Wednesday, the justices dealt another blow to the birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act. In the wake of the 7-to-2 ruling in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, “between 70,500 and 126,400 women would immediately lose access to no-cost contraceptive services,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her dissent, citing a government estimate.

The Little Sisters of the Poor is an order of Catholic nuns who are religiously opposed to birth control. (Many conservatives wrongly conflate some methods of birth control with abortion.) They’re also opposed to the A.C.A.’s birth-control mandate, which says that insurance plans sponsored by large employers must include preventive care — including all forms of birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration — at no additional cost. That’s why, if women have insurance through work, they probably have not been charged a co-pay to get birth control pills or an intrauterine device in recent years.

The order of nuns — along with other entities, like the company Hobby Lobby, that have taken issue with the contraception mandate — say that it violates their religious liberty under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law. The religious order feels this way despite the fact that religious nonprofits already were able to exempt themselves from the contraception mandate by merely filling out a form. In other words, the Little Sisters of the Poor did not have to pay for a single birth control pill.”

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

Melinda Gates on Tech Innovation- Global Health and Her Own Privilege – By David Marchese – The New York Times

Quote

I’m curious about how you decide which strategies you use to try to accomplish your goals. You’re a huge supporter of family planning, but you never explicitly work to get politicians who, say, want to repeal Roe v. Wade voted out of office. Why not?

I have to think about where my voice will help the conversation and where will it hurt. So for today, I have chosen to raise my voice in favor of contraceptives. There are over 200 million women who don’t have them, and it would change their life to have them. They are the greatest antipoverty tool that exists. The minute I speak out, which I may do someday, about where I am on Roe v. Wade, I will be cast into one bucket, and if people disagree with me on that issue, it will be harder for me to build this global coalition for women and their families who don’t have access to contraceptives. I don’t want to damage that. I’m not sure I need to step into the zeitgeist of what’s going on in the United States. I am looking at the long game.

via Melinda Gates on Tech Innovation, Global Health and Her Own Privilege – The New York Times

Opinion | What Happens When Abortion Is Banned? – By Michelle Oberman – NYT

Abortifacient drugs have become so readily available in places like Chile and El Salvador that it has become impossible to enforce abortion bans. That was also the case in Ireland, where by some accounts, before last month’s legalization vote, at least two Irish women a day were self-administering abortions using pills.

The most widely available abortion drug in Latin America, misoprostol, is commonly used to treat ulcers. Although less effective than the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol used in the United States, misoprostol taken in the first trimester causes an abortion in approximately 90 percent of cases. In Brazil, where abortion is all but banned, experts estimate there are about a million illegal abortions each year; around half of them are induced using abortion drugs. Efforts to restrict access to misoprostol will fail not simply because it costs pennies to make, but also because it saves lives. The World Health Organization lists misoprostol as an “essential medicine” for treating miscarriages, and the drug has been credited with reducing deaths from illegal abortions.

via Opinion | What Happens When Abortion Is Banned? – The New York Times

Yes, and, here are the two most recommended comments, I endorsed:

Anne
Portland
Times Pick

There is no ‘good’ or ‘responsible’ way to limit abortion. There are always bad and/or unintended consequences.

No one is in a position to tell a woman whether she is physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially prepared to go through a pregnancy, give birth, and care adequately for a child except for the woman herself. If she is not prepared to be a mother for any reason, she should have the right to a safe legal medical procedure.

And if you’re against abortion, then support comprehensive sex education and ensuring birth control options are readily available to all women.

Anne commented May 31

A
Anne
Portland
Times Pick

If you are a woman who is against abortion, don’t have one. If you’re a man who is against abortion, don’t impregnate anyone.

But don’t dictate what other women should do with their bodies. Birth control sometimes fail, and women are sometimes sexually assaulted. Some women struggle financially or with mental illness or with addiction. It’s not anyone’s job to tell these women that they HAVE to be a mother.

And it’s especially galling when men would disallow abortion as a choice. Because we all know, most women end up as the single mother caring for children when the pregnancy is unintended. Rarely, does the father become the primary caregiver in these situations.