• Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT, via Getty

    Wendy’s Abortion Compromise

    The Texas state senator suggested she might support a 20-week abortion ban if it deferred to women and their doctors—and her position shouldn’t surprise us.

    Earlier this week, Texas State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis made some waves by suggesting she might support a 20-week abortion ban in the state as long as it pays strong deference to women and their doctors. Davis told The Dallas Morning News editorial board: that less than one-half of one percent of Texas abortions occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Most of those were in cases where fetal abnormalities were evident or there were grave risks to the health of the woman. “I would line up with most people in Texas who would prefer that that’s not something that happens outside of those two arenas,” Davis said.

    This would seem a bit of a shift for Davis, who of course rose to national prominence with her 13-hour filibuster to block a bill in the Texas legislature that included a 20-week ban. Davis now says that her primary objection to that bill, which ultimately became law, was not the 20-week provision but the onerous restrictions on abortion providers and clinics. Her statements on the matter came as a surprise to those in the state and nationwide who think of Wendy Davis as a champion of reproductive freedom.

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  • Signs advocating for and against a late term abortion ban hang on a fence outside of a voting site at Eisenhower Middle School in Albuquerque, N.M. on Nov. 19, 2013. (Juan Antonio Labreche/AP)

    Reproductive Rights

    The People Have Spoken On Abortion

    Voter rejection of a late-term abortion ban in New Mexico, a reliably purple state, spells trouble for the GOP.

    Republicans are in trouble.

    After its shellacking in the 2012 election, the Republican Party issued an “autopsy” report that foretold continued losses unless the party moderated its positions, especially on social issues. Voters, the party found, identify Republicans as being “scary”, “narrow minded”, “out of touch” “stuffy old men”. Which was a sufficient problem in 2012 but as the electorate gets younger and more racially diverse, those labels—and the retrograde policy stances that inspire them in voters—are basically a death knell for conservatives.

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  • Getty (3)

    Culture Wars

    My Texas Abortion Telethon

    Why I’m joining a telethon to raise money for abortion services in Texas, land of Wendy Davis and Jane Roe.

    For a while in America, when the reproductive freedoms of women were fairly set in stone or even taken for granted, there was a concern that the next generation of women and women in general were not sufficiently prioritizing choice within their feminist agendas and political litmus lists in general. Consider that concern once and for all, well, aborted.

    Nothing fires up a resurgence of pro-choice fever and fervor in America like the wholesale unilateral attack on the basic rights of women to control their own bodies, restricting access to everything from contraception to in vitro fertilization to abortion services. This is, after all, 2013, not 1813, and modern American women have become used to a certain amount of autonomy over their own bodies and their own lives. When misguided conservative legislators literally invaded that autonomy with transvaginal probes, women decided they would not take it lying down. One by one, millions of American women have been standing up and speaking up for comprehensive reproductive justice—yes, including the right to all women have an abortion if they choose.

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  • Getty

    Enough

    Nebraska's Abortion Shame

    A 16-year-old foster teen asked for an abortion—only to have her request denied by a radical judge. Sally Kohn on why America should be outraged by the case.

    Conservatives don't want our government intervening in the economy to make it more fair or to help people who don't have enough money to help themselves. Conservatives don't want our government intervening to regulate pollution or global warming. Conservatives don't want our government intervening to improve public education. Conservatives don't want our government to collect taxes to support Social Security or Medicare let alone public parks and space exploration.

    But conservatives are thrilled about government intervening in the uterus of a 16-year-old girl.

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  • Eric Gay

    Battling Abortion With Boredom

    Clinics are being regulated out of existence with rules about hallway width, the size of procedure rooms, and vast amounts of other red tape.

    The recent revelation that nearly one in 10 abortion clinics in the United States have closed during the past two years has received a lot less coverage than Todd Aiken’s asininities or proposals to force transvaginal ultrasounds on unwilling women. Nor has there been much chatter about the new round of assaults on RU-486, which have led to a case that’s been accepted before the Supreme Court, with potentially far-reaching conclusions. Partly, this is due to fatigue—these days, news of broad new abortion restrictions is barely news at all. Partly, it’s because there’s so much going on in the world—public attention is, understandably, focused on Syria. But it’s also because the anti-abortion movement has been making epochal advances using regulations that are as tedious to read about as they are to describe. In the abortion wars, boredom has become a powerful weapon.

    Let’s start with the clinics closings. To find out what’s happening on the ground, Bloomberg’s Esmé E. Deprez did the painstaking work of reaching out to abortion providers all across the country, tallying 58 that have closed since 2011. “A wave of regulations that makes it too expensive or logistically impossible for facilities to remain in business drove at least a third of the closings,” she wrote. According to the Dallas Morning News, at least four more clinics are about to close in rural Texas. The sole clinics in North Dakota and Mississippi remain open only because courts have temporarily blocked the regulations that would shut them down.

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  • Mark Wilson/Getty

    Reproductive Rights

    West Bucks Abortion Trend

    A handful of blue states are creatively pushing for ways to expand abortion access even as the rest of the country looks to pass more restrictive measures on providers. By Amanda Marcotte.

    Things are looking pretty bleak in the world of abortion care. A wave of states has already been disturbingly successful at shutting down abortion providers by passing medically unnecessary restrictions on clinics, despite the new laws frequently being blocked in court. In the past three years, 27 states have lost 54 clinics, and while not all closures were due to anti-abortion regulations, plenty were. Considering how few abortion clinics are left in the country—a count in January by The Daily Beast found only 724 left—this loss represents a dramatic decrease in abortion accessibility, especially in states like Texas and Arizona, where huge numbers of clinics shut their doors.

    Because of this, pro-choice efforts to increase abortion availability have become all the more important. Luckily for pro-choicers, there is one advantage they have in the abortion arms race: In the first trimester, at least, abortion is incredibly safe and quite simple. Particularly in the era of the abortion pill, you don’t actually need expensive equipment, separate facilities, or even necessarily a medical doctor in order to provide one. As reproductive-rights advocates in the pre-Roe days understood, early abortion is safe and easy enough that even people who were previously not too familiar with the human body can be trained to do it. It’s this straightforwardness that has allowed pro-choice activists to come up with some innovative options to expand access.

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  • Backsliding

    From Back Alleys to Abortion Drugs

    Amanda Marcotte on why abortion access in red states is about to become worse than in the pre–Roe v. Wade era.

    Should the new abortion laws signed by Gov. Rick Perry of Texas last Thursday, which are expected to close 37 out of 42 abortion clinics through needless red tape, survive a court challenge to go into effect, it will certainly usher in a new era of restrictions on women’s ability to get a safe, legal abortion. Conservative writer Ross Douthat of The New York Times called it the “Texas experiment,” though his reasoning for the term is foggy at best. But he’s not wrong to note that what’s going on in Texas is an experiment. What Rick Perry and the Texas Republicans are trying something unprecedented: seeing if you can end legal abortion without directly banning it.

    Outside of the 20-week ban, this new law doesn’t technically restrict a woman’s right to obtain an abortion or force her to give a reason for the abortion, but it makes it so hard to operate a clinic that it will make getting an abortion physically impossible or prohibitively expensive. It will force most women to travel out of state, often across many states, to get to a clinic that has the room to see them, pushing the cost into the thousands of dollars, the opposite of free. The strategy is to take away abortion without banning it, and it’s something that has never really been done before.

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  • Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

    Tasteless Tweeting

    Pundit Thinks Coat-Hanger Abortions Are Funny

    Conservative pundit Erick Erickson taunted liberals with a back-alley abortion tweet after Texas passed its anti-choice bill—and says his feminist critics just can't take a joke.

    Emotions have run high in Texas since Wendy Davis’s epic filibuster of an abortion bill banning procedures after 20 weeks and imposing new regulations on providers. After the state legislature went ahead and pushed through the measure last week during a raucous special session, conservative pundit Erick Erickson decided to stoke the fire with a particularly tasteless tweet: “Dear Liberals, go bookmark this site now,” he taunted, with a link to an online warehouse selling coat hangers.

    Needless to say, the joke (if you can call it that) was not appreciated. Pro-choicers lashed out at what they perceived as crass disregard for the very real danger of illegal abortions, while pro-lifers chastised Erickson for hurting their movement. In an “apology” posted on RedState.com Saturday at 2:16 a.m., Erickson called his opponents “kid killers” and punted, “I forget that feminists and other pro-abortion activists really are as humorless as they are stereotyped to be.”

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  • Manoocher Deghati/AFP/Getty

    LAST HOPE

    Mexican Pill Option for Texas Abortion

    State's strict new law may send women over the border.

    As the abortion options dwindle in Texas, will women head across the border to Mexico, where there is a pill available to induce a miscarriage? It's also covertly available at some flea markets in Texas. Clinic Nuevo Progreso is one of the places in Mexico that sells the drug, and it sits just yards over the border. The drug, misoprostol, can be used to treat gastric ulcers and can cost as little as $35 for a generic box of 28 pills or $175 for the brand version. "The women see it as a 'pill to make my abortion come,'" Andrea Ferrigno, a vice president of Whole Woman’s Health, told The New York Times. "Often in their minds, it's not abortion. But the drug still remains beyond the law—meaning that unmonitored use can be dangerous.

    Read it at The New York Times
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in his Capitol office in Madison, Wis. On Friday, July 5, 2013, Walker signed a contentious Republican bill that would require women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound of the fetus before the procedure and prohibit doctors from performing abortions unless they have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Opponents have vowed to sue to stop the law. (Scott Bauer/AP)

    Battleground

    Wisconsin Needs a Wendy Davis

    While Texas’s capitol is up in arms over abortion legislation, Wisconsin's governor has signed into law a bill virtually identical to the one in Austin.

    While the rest of y’all were out hootin’ and hollerin’ and blowing things up over the Fourth of July weekend, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was setting off a few of his own rockets inside his state’s capitol building, signing into law a cookie-cutter bill aimed squarely at making abortions tougher to come by in the Badger State.

    The law—which forces women to view an ultrasound before an abortion and requires doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics—is a cookie-cutter bill because at least that “privileges” portion is nearly identical to that in similar laws passed recently in seven other states. For example, it’s just like the bill that Wendy Davis epically filibustered in Texas, as well as the one that threatens to shut down the only abortion clinic in North Dakota.

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  • Demonstrators rally outside the Legislative office building prior to a House Health Care Committee meeting regarding House Bill 695 in Raleigh, North Carolina on July 9, 2013. (Gerry Broome/AP)

    Kill Bills

    What’s Abortion Got To Do With It?

    The most bizarre cases of anti-abortion regulations tacked onto bills.

    What do bills about motorcycles, nursing homes, and tax credits have to do with abortion?

    Well, nothing. But try telling that to some conservative lawmakers, who seem to be willing to do just about anything to get anti-abortion laws passed—including tacking them on to completely unrelated legislation. This seems to be an increasingly popular—and increasingly frustrating—trend.

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  • Youtube

    LUCK OF THE AWKWARD

    Irish Politician Pulls Colleague to Lap

    In a heated Parliament debate on abortion.

    While the Irish Parliament debated the legality of abortions in cases that threaten the mother's life, one policymaker decided to pull another colleague in the room onto his lap. Politician Tom Barry grabbed Áine Collins (both of the Fine Gael Party) and pulled her to a seated position on top of him, as clearly seen in the video. Barry said the act was “horseplay” originally, but then issued an apology saying it was “disrespectful and inappropriate.” RH Reality Check remarks this act “demonstrated why many say Irish politics is still not a friendly environment for women.”

    Read it at RH Reality Check