WASHINGTON – As the Supreme Court decides whether to review a Texas law that would force more than half of the state’s abortion clinics to close and could have sweeping implications nationwide, a new report from People For the American Way provides a snapshot of the tactics anti-choice legislators and activists are using to erode reproductive health care access in Texas and across the country. The report, “Chipping Away at Choice: Growing Threats to Women’s Healthcare Access and Autonomy: 2015 Update,” notes that 51 new abortion restrictions were enacted in states in the first half of 2015 alone, from the extension of mandatory waiting periods to laws placing unnecessary burdens on abortion clinics with the goal of shutting them down.
“The Texas case serves as a major test of the right-wing strategy of incrementally chipping away at women’s access to reproductive health care,” said Miranda Blue, Senior Researcher for Special Projects at People For the American Way. “Anti-choice activists have been quietly working to erode all access to reproductive choice. As women face longer drives, higher price tags, and other unnecessary burdens when they seek reproductive health care, the right to safe and legal abortion becomes increasingly abstract.”
The report examines seven threats to choice:
The full report, which updates a 2013 report of the same name, can be found here: http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/chipping-away-choice-growing-threats-women-s-health-care-access-and-autonomy-2015-updat
PFAW Senior Researcher for Special Projects Miranda Blue is available for interviews. To arrange one, please contact Laura Epstein at email@example.com or call 202-467-4999.
Gov. Scott Walker was chatting recently with right-wing radio host Dana Loesch about his efforts to set up regulatory hurdles to abortion access in Wisconsin, when heoffered this defense of a law he signed that would require a woman to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound before exercising her constitutionally protected right to an abortion:
I'm pro-life. I've passed pro-life legislation. We defunded Planned Parenthood, we signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. You know, most people I talked to, whether they're pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids' ultrasound and how excited they are, so that's a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasounds. It's just a cool thing out there.
Right Wing Watch, a project of People For the American Way, was listening to the show and brought attention to Walker's comments, and they understandably hit a nerve.
Sure, an ultrasound could be "cool" if you are a woman carrying a healthy child, surrounded by family, love and support and making your own medical choices along with your doctor. Or you are excited grandparents looking forward to years of joy with a child. What's not "cool" is if the state mandates that you undergo a medically unnecessary procedure in an effort to prevent you from making a choice that you, an adult woman whose circumstances your politicians have no right to know or judge,have already made and are unlikely to change.
Even less "cool" is the fact that the ultrasound bill was passed as part of an explicit effort to undermine women's access to health care. Its companion bill was an "admitting privileges" requirement, a common anti-choice tactic, that threatened to close two abortion clinics in the state. Since then, Walker has boasted to anti-choice leaders of using deceptive rhetoric about the ultrasound bill in order to downplay its true intentions.
Unlike the ultrasounds of the Walkers' children, forced ultrasounds like these aren't the kind that anyone wants to show off. What's astonishing is that Walker doesn't seem to get this. Instead, he's accusing the "gotcha" media of being "biased" and "lazy" and twisting the meaning of his comments. Unfortunately, some of the media are taking him at his word.
Walker's remarks weren't twisted. You can listen to his whole answer to the questionhere. The problem is that Walker just doesn't seem to get why what he said was so offensive. For someone who wants to be president, that's deeply troubling.
People For the American Way Foundation board member Kathleen Turner appeared on “All In with Chris Hayes” on Friday to discuss the “personhood” movement and how it’s working in concert with its rivals in the anti-choice movement to end abortion access, especially for low-income women.
Turner said that she sees “personhood,” which would give fertilized eggs and fetuses the same rights as people, as “a Trojan horse.”
The fact is because [personhood] has been soundly defeated in several states – Mississippi, North Dakota – that one thinks that it’s a non-issue. But in fact at the same time, there’ve been hundreds, hundreds of bills in every state that have made it more and more difficult to access any kind of healthcare, not just abortion.
To learn more about the personhood movement, be sure to check out PFAW Foundation’s new report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes from and What It Means for the Future of Choice,” and read Kathleen Turner’s piece in RH Reality Check, “Think the “Personhood” Issue Is Over? Think Again.”
(Originally posted on RightWingWatch.org)
The “personhood” movement — those who seek sweeping bans on all abortion and common types of birth control in an effort to confront Roe v. Wade head-on — is hugely divisive within the anti-choice community. Groups like National Right to Life Committee, which have been pushing a more careful, incremental approach toward ending legal abortion, worry that the personhood movement risks undermining their progress toward the ultimate goal. Meanwhile, personhood advocates accuse groups like NRLC of selling out the ultimate goal in the service of small steps that they claim will never lead to the full criminalization of abortion.
A few months ago, we published a series of posts exploring the anti-choice personhood movement, its history, and how it is confronting a changing political landscape. People For the American Way Foundation has adapted that series into a report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From And What It Means for the Future of Choice,” which was released today.
As the national debate over a NRLC-backed federal bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy have shown, one of the major sticking points between the two factions is whether the anti-choice movement should accept “compromises” that exempt women who have been raped from abortion bans. From the report’s introduction:
The largest and best-funded groups opposing abortion rights have, over the past several years, achieved astounding success in chipping away at women’s access to legal abortion in the United States. But these successes, Personhood Alliance’s founders maintain, are too small and have come at a grave cost.
In seeking mainstream approval for anti-choice politics, personhood advocates believe, groups like the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Americans United for Life (AUL) have adopted a secular tone and downplayed their Christian origins. In focusing on drawing attention to issues like late-term abortion, they may have won some support for the cause but have done little to end the procedures they targeted. In seeking incremental successes, personhood advocates argue, the movement has given up on making a moral argument for the humanity of fertilized eggs and fetuses and lost sight of its larger goal of eliminating legal abortion entirely.
But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term.
The personhood movement provides an interesting look into the bitter “incrementalist vs. immediatist” divide that has split the anti-choice movement since before Roe v. Wade. Both sides want an end to legal abortion; neither trusts the other to get there. But in the meantime, each is making progress in making it more difficult and more dangerous for women to access safe and legal reproductive care.
Christian Post blogger Michael Bresciani believes President Obama, much like Vlad the Impaler and Adolf Hitler, will be remembered as one of the world’s most evil men.
In a blog post yesterday, Bresciani writes that no one will visit his presidential library besides “a few democrats [sic] and liberals and those of the LGBT persuasion,” for it will be “haunted by the ghosts of millions of aborted children.”
Bresciani also warns that the gay rights movement will turn the United States into a North Korean-style police state even though “most of the people in this nation still view homosexuality as a perverse and un-natural lifestyle.”
The idea of re-education for the socially inept is not new. China, Russia, North Korea and Vietnam are a few countries that interred people into camps or re-education centers to forcibly change their way of thinking. Some of these countries do so to this day.
North Vietnam employed highly sophisticated means of coercion such as torture, deprivation and abuse. Hundreds of thousands died in those camps after the fall of Saigon and some people spent as much as 17 years in the re-ed centers.
We don’t have anything resembling the re-ed camps of Vietnam, but the seeds have been planted by the homo-fascists as seen in recent events in the wide world of sports. Will America water these seeds and culture them in the days ahead? If the trend of intolerance and excess now seen in the gay movement is not reeled in, then anyone’s guess is as good as mine.
No minority can be discriminated against according to the Constitution but no minority can circumvent or dismiss the will of “we the people.” Is it time to let the LGBT know this in no uncertain terms. Most of the people in this nation still view homosexuality as a perverse and un-natural lifestyle. We do not need to apologize for this position and we also should refuse to be punished in any way shape or form for our views.
We are judges of evil thoughts when we think rejection of a perverted pop-culture trend is reason to punish those who disagree with it.
While Vlad was a murderer in real life who impaled his enemies on stakes, he became a legend after death. Millions have been thrilled by the stories of Count Dracula made popular by novelist Bram Stoker. Most great evil figures are not so lucky. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and others are known today mostly for their acts of barbarism and genocide.
History may not be so kind to Barack Obama. He is a gay enabler who with a few well-chosen words has dismissed mostly the entire Bible except the Sermon on the Mount and has abandoned civilization’s longest standing sanctified, God given ordinance – the marriage of one man and one woman.
What will we put in his presidential library? If someday his real birth certificate is found and a release of his school transcripts is made, they may be on display, but who will come to the library other than a few democrats and liberals and those of the LGBT persuasion? Will a West Virginia coal miner darken the door or someone who lost their health coverage and their trusted doctor?
Being the most active and highest ranking politician in history to wholeheartedly support abortions it is not impossible to imagine a presidential library haunted by the ghosts of millions of aborted children. They were impaled and worse on the scalpels and devices of doctors no less terrible than Vlad the Impaler.
Barack Obama has appointed activist judges, refused to defend DOMA, and in general has made great strides in popularizing the perverted in America. He is both an enabler and a child of error according to the scriptures that he has dismissed.
Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, writes in a Christian Post column this week that legal abortion “is the seminal human rights issue of our time” and a “heart-breaking atrocity against mankind” that is worse than the Holocaust.
Abortion is the seminal human rights issue of our time. For our grandparent's generation, the Holocaust was the most heart-breaking atrocity against mankind. As many as 1.5 million Jewish children were killed as a result of the Nazis' horrific genocide scheme. What's shameful is that America surpassed this number of little lives lost to a cruel genocide long ago. Since 1973, the deaths of more than 54 million unborn children have been reported in the United States alone. Every year, approximately 1.21 million more unborn children will be aborted. And nearly 4,000 abortions are performed daily, as reported by National Right to Life. This is an injustice which must end.
Texas this week is ground zero in the abortion debate, as pro-life supporters engage in a righteous battle to protect babies in utero and their mothers. And as one side of the debate sang "Amazing Grace" and the other chanted "Hail, Satan," we clearly see the founding principles on which opposing belief systems are based. One is life. One is death.
Earlier this year, Nance linked then-transportation secretary nominee Anthony Foxx to the Holocaust, claiming that his declaration of a National Day of Reason represented the kind of thinking that “led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust.”
At a hearing today on his bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy without exception, Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona said he opposed adding a rape exception to the bill in part because “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Franks added, nonsensically, “But when you make that exception, there’s usually a requirement to report the rape within 48 hours. And in this case that’s impossible because this is in the sixth month of gestation. And that’s what completely negates and vitiates the purpose of such an amendment.”
Franks’ misinformed, Todd Akin-like comments on the mechanics of pregnancy are just the latest in a long line of extreme anti-choice positions.
At a rally in Germantown, Maryland this week, anti-choice activist Lila Rose compared the effort to bring about “the complete end of abortion” with the abolitionist movement, the civil rights movement, the movement to end child labor, the Revolutionary War and the early women’s movement.
Who says we can’t have an America completely free, with the complete end of abortion? We can have that America. We overcame many things in our history. We’ve overcome many things, from slavery to civil rights abuses in the 20th century to child labor. We’ve overcome many things, even the Revolutionary War to have our independence won. We’ve overcome many things in this country. The women’s rights movement for suffrage. And we can overcome, to defeat the hopelessness and the lies and the despair that says that we need abortion somehow. And it’s happening.
Rep. Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, joined Family Research Council president Tony Perkins and anti-choice activist Lila Rose on an FRC webcast yesterday on “exposing America’s late-term abortion industry.” Franks, who recently introduced a bill that would institute a national ban on the rare practice of abortion after 20 weeks, compared his fight against reproductive rights to the ending of the Holocaust and the abolition of slavery. “We are the ones that rushed into Eastern Europe and arrested the Holocaust, we are the ones that said no more to slavery after thousands of years, and by the grace of God, we’re going to be the ones that say that we’re going to protect our own children,” he said.
When Perkins asked him to elaborate on the stakes of his bill, Franks answered that if it fails, “I would suggest to you that we undermine everything that America was ever dreamed of to be and we step into that Sumerian night where the light of compassion has gone out and the survival of the fittest finally prevails over man…If we turn our backs on this, I’m afraid we’ve broken the back of what America really is.”
The anti-choice movement has for several years been experiencing a quiet rift over extreme state-level measures would ban all abortions – and in some cases, in vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control – in a head-on challenge to Roe v. Wade. As Personhood USA and Janet Porter gain more and more success in pushing “personhood” and “heartbeat” bills at the state level, national pro-life groups who oppose the laws for strategic reasons find themselves in a bind.
In March, when North Dakota passed a “heartbeat” bill which would ban nearly all abortions in the state and strike directly at Roe v. Wade, it also passed two narrower measures banning abortion based on genetic abnormalities or the sex of the fetus. The national anti-choice group Concerned Women for America praised heartbeat the bill, while Americans United For Life issued press releases that ignored the bill and praised the narrower measures. National Right to Life went even further, actively speaking out against the North Dakota bill and similar “heartbeat” measures in other states.
In an article for the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly this week, Americans United For Life’s senior counsel, William Saunders, lays out his fears of what would happen if the Supreme Court were given the opportunity to reconsider Roe v. Wade. While he praises the “admirable and inspiring” efforts behind the trio of new abortion restrictions in North Dakota, Saunders warns that a direct challenge to Roe will give the Supreme Court a chance to rewrite their 1973 decision on more solid “equal protection” footing.
Instead, he argues, anti-choice activists should target incremental measures at wearing away the opposition of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to uphold the so-called “partial birth” abortion ban in Gonzales v. Carhart. “Can the statute be fashioned so as to make it as easy as possible for him (and the others) to go the one step (or two or ten) further than Gonzales in restricting abortion?,” he asks.
Taken together, these three laws provide significant food for thought.
While the persistent efforts of pro-life Americans at the state level are admirable and inspiring and must be encouraged, how does one evaluate the wisdom of any particular proposed (or enacted) law? First, I suggest, one must recognize the legal realities—what kinds of statutes will the courts certainly overturn? Of course, this is not to say that the courts should govern this matter. In fact, the usurpation of the political process by courts is, in my view, unconstitutional itself and should be resisted. However, if we know a law will be overturned by a court, we should consider the risk of such a decision. At least one significant risk is that the Supreme Court, in overturning a law, will entrench “abortion rights” more firmly in constitutional jurisprudence, perhaps under an “equal-protection”-based right, as Justice Ginsburg and three colleagues wanted to do in the Gonzales dissent.
Sad as it is to consider, Gonzales was decided by only one vote, that of Justice Anthony Kennedy. The opinion he wrote for the majority, while speaking of the right of the legislature to choose among divided experts in fashioning law and while recognizing that abortion harms at least some women, did no more than uphold the outlawing of one abortion procedure when others were available. Is such a person likely to uphold a ban on all abortions at any point in pregnancy? If so, what rationale for doing so (what basis) is likely to appeal to him? Can the statute be fashioned so as to make it as easy as possible for him (and the others) to go the one step (or two or ten) further than Gonzales in restricting abortion? Might a statute with a ban (or limit) early in pregnancy lead him to “protect” the “abortion right” and vote with Ginsburg and her colleagues in favor of a firm affirmation of a “constitutional” right to abortion? Is it better to move the ball gently, seeking to build momentum for the ultimate reversal of Roe/Doe, or to force the issue with a broad and early ban? While reasonable people can differ on the answers to these questions, the consequences of a possible forty more years of unlimited abortion due to another Casey-like decision by the Supreme Court counsels for very careful consideration of what prudence requires.
A jury today found Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell guilty in the deaths a woman and three infants in a squalid, nightmarish abortion clinic. Anti-choice groups have been closely following the trial, attempting to link Gosnell’s crimes to the very existence of legal abortion. They have exploited the Gosnell trial to push for state-level “TRAP” laws meant to close abortion clinics with unnecessary regulations. Now, anti-choice groups are targeting legal abortion in Washington, DC.
Reacting to the Gosnell verdict, the Family Research Council and the Susan B. Anthony List both singled out a bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, that would ban abortions in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah also plugged the bill in an interview with Janet Mefferd about Gosnell. The bill, similar to several that have been considered in state legislatures, is based on the disputed claim that 20 weeks is the point at which a fetus can feel pain. Such procedures are rare, accounting for just 1.5 percent of abortions.
DC has long been a convenient target for Republican lawmakers looking to expand school vouchers, eliminate needle exchange programs, stop gun control measures…and, of course, infringe on abortion rights. Thanks to a 2011 budget deal, for instance, the District is currently barred from using its own local tax dollars to help low-income women access abortions – a policy that has been in effect off and on for 25 years.
Of course, Franks’ DC bill is completely unrelated to the Gosnell trial. In reality, abortion performed in proper conditions are one of the safest medical procedures provided in the United States. Gosnell’s clinic, which was the last refuge for many low-income women, illustrated the horrors of the unsafe, back-alley abortions that are all too common in parts of the world where abortion is illegal.
Last year, when Franks introduced a similar bill, he refused to let D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton testify against it in committee.