• Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

    It’s Complicated

    The Christian Case for Abortion

    Wendy Davis’ abortion revelations raise the question: Can abortion be the most compassionate choice? Some religious leaders say yes.

    When news broke that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis had previously terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons, she received words of compassion from a surprising source. A spokesperson for Texas Right to Life called “the value of life precious” but nevertheless also stated, “Our heart goes out for the decision she had to make.” Part of what has struck a chord about Davis’ story is that it serves as a potent reminder that the factors that go into the decision of whether to have an abortion are rarely as black and white as public political debates pretend they are.

    Her story highlights the moral, ethical, and spiritual uncertainty that many Americans feel on the issue of abortion, particularly when confronted with the harrowing details of real women’s stories. In Davis’ case, one pregnancy was a danger to her own health, thus necessitating termination. But in another her fetus, if she survived birth, would have emerged deaf, blind, with a deformed brain, and in a permanent vegetative state.

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  • 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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  • Susan Walsh/AP

    ‘Uncle Sugar’

    Why Women Do Not ♥ Huckabee

    What galaxy do Republican men live in? Apparently one where ladies who use contraception are ‘helpless’ and this potential 2016 contender could have been the fifth Beatle.

    A few weeks ago, right after the dark clouds gathered over Chris Christie’s presidential prospects, some friends and I were having the usual Washington conversation of discussing the rest of the field. After we agreed that it was an awfully B-list bench, someone piped up: Hey, don’t forget Mike Huckabee! He’s losing all the weight!

    Clearly, some of that vaporized body mass came out of his brain matter, based on his unhinged comments Wednesday at the Republican Party’s winter meeting. Discussing the GOP’s need to get more of the women’s vote, he said the Democratic Party tells women “they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government.”

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  • Rob Lewine/Corbis

    UK ABORTION

    The Gender Abortion Scandal

    A controversial report claims Britain’s immigrant communities are aborting female babies on a mass scale.

    A global war on girls, which is endemic in parts of the developing world, may have landed in Britain according to a study that claims some immigrant families are using selective terminations to choose the sex of their children.

    Afghan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Britain have been accused of aborting female fetuses by the Independent newspaper. An analysis of government figures suggests that the proportion of second and third born children within those groups is statistically abnormal—favoring the birth of boys.

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  • Blue State Blues

    The Abortion Battle in Seattle

    As the ACLU sues American bishops for denying a Michigan woman reproductive care, Washington state is facing its own fight with Catholic hospitals over abortion coverage.

    Suzanne Holland is a practicing Catholic, a professor of science and values at the Methodist-aligned University of Puget Sound, and an admirer of the commitment of Catholic hospitals to serve the poor, regardless of cost. But she’s also a lesbian, and despite her religious affiliation, she’s wary of going to her local Catholic hospital for her own healthcare needs.

    “I would prefer not to use the Catholic hospitals in my area because I don't know if they would recognize my domestic partner,” Holland said recently. “We’re not legally married, so I don't know if they’d recognize her as my healthcare surrogate or not.”

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  • The study found that young, low-income women are disproportionately more likely to seek abortions at or after 20 weeks. (Angela Wyant/Getty, Angela Wyant)

    Exclusive

    New GOP Abortion Backlash

    As the Supreme Court announces it will hear a challenge to Obama’s contraception mandate, a study on late-term abortion seekers finds the GOP’s anti-abortion laws are backfiring.

    Right wing politicians who are push laws to restrict a woman’s access to later-term abortions presumably do so because they don’t want women having abortion after 20 weeks. But new research from medical school-based scholars finds that other policies that conservative Republicans are pushing, including restrictions on access to clinics as well as constrained access to health insurance, actually result in more women seeking later-term abortions. In other words, not only are Republicans hypocrites—but their hypocrisy is backfiring.

    Diana Greene Foster and Katrina Kimport are professors in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. Between 2008 and 2010, Foster and Kimport studied the cases of 272 women who had received an abortion at or after 20 weeks of gestation, as well as of 169 women who received first-trimester abortions. These women were interviewed just one week after their abortions and asked a variety of questions including what led to the delay in their medical care. The results are striking and profoundly important for those who seek to promote—or constrict—the rights of women to access and exercise their own reproductive freedom.

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  • Getty

    Reproductive Wars

    Her Right to Choose

    Sally Kohn on why she wants safe, legal abortion to be around when her daughter comes of age—and how the right is fighting to shut down that option.

    I’m always struck that anti-abortion activists try to frame being pro-choice as meaning you’re anti-family and anti-children. Because when I think about abortion, I think about my daughter.

    My partner and I have a five-year-old. Her name is Willa. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will be inundated with adorable pictures of Willa.

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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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  • Carsten Koall/Getty Images News

    REPRODUCTIVE WARS

    Secret Film of Bronx Abortion Clinic Released

    Pregnant anti-abortion activist went undercover to discuss late-term abortion procedures.

    Seizing on the publicity around the Kermit Gosnell case, the anti-abortion group Live Action has released video of a staffer at a Bronx clinic discussing late-term abortion procedures with a pregnant woman posing as a patient. At one point, the pregnant woman asks what will happen if the fetus “comes out” at home after the first day of the two-day procedure. “If it comes out, it comes out. Flush it,” the staffer says. Live Action, which is known for its video stings of abortion clinics, claims the recording proves that Gosnell’s clinic wasn’t an anomaly. An unedited version of the recording, which Live Action posted along with a shorter version, shows that the staffer who tells the woman to flush it was an intake worker, not a counselor. “In the same video, an abortion counselor gives the woman somewhat different explanations,” The New York Times reports. She tells the woman that, in the unlikely event that the fetus survives the abortion, the doctor will send it to a hospital or resuscitate it. “Once that pregnancy comes out alive, he will do everything he can to save it,” she says.

    Read it at The New York Times
  • Adam Berry/Getty Images News

    Chilling

    Iowa Man: Shoot More Abortion Docs

    Calls for 92 more attacks on providers.

    An anti-abortion activist in Iowa with ties to Scott Roeder, the man who murdered abortion provider George Tiller, is under fire for calling for the shooting of the people who reopened Tiller’s abortion clinic. “If someone would shoot the new abortionists, like Scott shot George Tiller ... It will be a blessing to the babies,” Dave Leach says on a YouTube video. The clip features a recorded conversation between Leach and a man Leach identified as Roeder, who is currently serving life in prison for Tiller’s assassination. Citing an anti-abortion activist who predicted that the abortion “industry” would end if 100 doctors were shot, the man identified as Roeder says, “I think eight have been shot, so we've got 92 to go.” He then suggests that the new clinic director might be No. 9, saying, “I’m not sure about that. But she's kind of painting a target on her.” Prison officials are investigating whether the man on the recording was indeed Roeder, and, if it was, how he was able to participate in such a phone call.

    Read it at USA Today
  • PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

    Reproductive Rights

    Blue States' Abortion Access Push

    California legislation would allow midwives, nurses to perform the procedure.

    Even as red states race to enact increasingly stringent abortion restrictions, a California lawmaker is working to expand abortion access. California Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins has proposed legislation that would allow midwives, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to perform pregnancy terminations during the first trimester. It’s aimed at increasing services in the more than 50 percent of California counties that lack an abortion provider. As Bloomberg reports, California Democrats aren’t alone in trying to buck the national trend. Earlier this year, a Washington state measure to require insurance companies to cover abortion passed the state House, though it was defeated in the Senate. And in New York, where abortion after 24 weeks is currently only legal to save a woman’s life, Andrew Cuomo has pledged to add broader health exemptions.

    Read it at Bloomberg
  • Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic, Mississippi's only operating abortion clinic, Jan. 22, 2005. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

    Reproductive Rights

    Mississippi Abortion Clinic To Stay Open

    Federal judge temporarily blocks part of a state law that would have shut down the Jackson Women's Health Organization.

    Mississippi’s only abortion clinic will stay open, for now. On Monday, a federal judge blocked part of a state law that would have shut down the Jackson Women’s Health Organization by requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The two doctors who provide most of the procedures at the clinic have sought such privileges, but have been turned down precisely because they perform abortions—two hospitals refused to even let them apply. The state was planning to use that Catch-22 to revoke the clinic’s license after a hearing on Thursday. Monday’s reprieve is only temporary, pending a ruling on the law’s constitutionality. That means that Mississippi could still become the first state in the country without an abortion provider.

    Read it at Reuters