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Posts tagged reproductive rights
5:43 pm - Sun, Apr 14, 2013
22 notes

“U.S. out of my uterus,” reads a sendup of liberal orthodoxy on reproductive freedom. “But first,” it concludes, “buy me stuff for my uterus.” Like a lot of good humor, the joke is not far from the truth.

Progressives groups in Virginia were outraged recently when Gov. Bob McDonnell amended legislation authorizing an insurance exchange to prohibit policies offered through the exchange from covering abortion. The amendment “interferes in private medical and economic decisions,” complained Progress Virginia. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia also condemned the measure, which it said would “restrict private economic interactions in order to advance an extreme anti-choice agenda.” Planned Parenthood objected, as did many Democratic legislators.

On the other coast, however, it’s a completely different story. Or rather, precisely the same story in reverse.

Until last week, lawmakers in Washington state had been debating a piece of legislation called the Reproductive Parity Act. That measure, killed in a Senate committee, would not have forbidden insurance policies offered through the state exchange to cover abortion. It would have required them to.

How did ostensibly pro-choice groups feel about the bill? Planned Parenthood endorsed it. So did NARAL. The measure had the support of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and cleared the Democrat-controlled House principally on party lines. It probably would have cleared the Senate, too, had it gotten out of committee.

But wait a sec. If forbidding abortion coverage “interferes in private medical and economic decisions,” then requiring such coverage does exactly the same. In each case, politicians are using the coercive power of the state to impose their economic preferences on others. So why were ostensibly pro-choice groups trying to get the Parity Act passed?

Because they are not really pro-choice. This hardly qualifies as a new insight — but thanks to Obamacare, these days it sticks out like a porcupine in a petting zoo.

Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL supported passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 — and when the Supreme Court upheld it two years later, they both cheered. The only thing they didn’t like about the landmark law — aside, perhaps, from the fact that it did not go far enough — was a logjam-breaking deal in which the president agreed to sign an executive order preventing federal funds from subsidizing abortions.

As NARAL President Nancy Keenan noted in a letter to The New York Times, “House Republican leaders’ desire to further restrict abortion coverage in health care reform … smacks of hypocrisy. Interfering in families’ private medical decisions and in insurance companies’ business decisions doesn’t sound at all like the smaller, less intrusive government those politicians pledged during the campaign.”

True enough. But, of course, the Affordable Care Act includes many mandates — most salient among them the individual insurance mandate, an unprecedented expansion of federal power that forces every U.S. resident to buy coverage whether he or she wants it or not. Short of conscription, you can’t get much more intrusive than that.

Under the ACA, insurance companies also have to provide coverage for 10 different categories of care, including preventive care. That is the hook on which the Obama administration hung another mandate — the one requiring coverage of contraception. Pro-choice groups loudly, intensely — and sometimes weirdly — fought for enactment of that mandate as well. Their argument seemed to be that the right to choose contraception included the right to have it paid for by someone else, even if that someone had strenuous religious objections.

This is like saying the right to keep and bear arms includes the right to a free Smith & Wesson. But pro-choice groups stuck to their guns, insisting that the government should force companies and institutions that buy insurance to buy contraception coverage as part of it.

Yet once you grant the state the power to compel coverage of a given treatment, then you necessarily grant it the power to forbid coverage of a given treatment as well. It’s a tad rich for pro-choice groups to complain that McDonnell’s measure “interferes in private medical and economic decisions,” when that is the entire purpose of the Affordable Care Act — or to grumble that McDonnell wants to “restrict private economic interactions in order to advance an extreme anti-choice agenda” after they have expended so much effort seeking to restrict private economic interactions in order to advance a pro-choice agenda.

Political winds shift. The good guys will not always hold office. The only way to keep the bad guys from using government power for nefarious ends, therefore, is to deny government much power in the first place. Once again, pro-choice groups are learning the hard lesson that, as Thomas Jefferson is said to have said — but in fact did not — a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.


11:46 am - Thu, Apr 11, 2013
7 notes

Let me state the obvious. This should be front page news. When Rush Limbaugh attacked Sandra Fluke, there was non-stop media hysteria. The venerable NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams intoned, “A firestorm of outrage from women after a crude tirade from Rush Limbaugh,” as he teased a segment on the brouhaha. Yet, accusations of babies having their heads severed — a major human rights story if there ever was one — doesn’t make the cut.

You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” It’s about basic human rights.

- Kirsten Powers, on the media blackout of the Kermit Gosnell trial.

Bonus point: Gosnell is no longer an “isolated incident.

FWIW, I support abortion rights. What I don’t support is the intolerable double standard in the media that treats killing children with guns as front-page news for months on end, but killing children with scissors as unworthy of notice.


3:39 pm - Sun, Nov 25, 2012

Bob Marshall, the most notorious legislator in Virginia, is like the broken clock in the adage: Egregiously wrong much of the time but right on the dot now and then.

It is hard to know which Marshall abhors more — gays and lesbians, or a woman’s right to control her body. He sponsored Virginia’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and tried to get openly gay men banned from the Virginia National Guard (because “If I needed a blood transfusion and the guy next to me had committed sodomy 14 times in the last month, I’d be worried”). This past February, his GOP colleagues backed away from a bill requiring transvaginal ultrasounds of women seeking abortion. Marshall did not: “There’s no reason to,” he said. He once sponsored a bill to prevent unmarried women from conceiving children through medically assisted means.

Last year Marshall introduced a fiercely debated fetal-personhood bill. That bill was carried over, which means it will come up for debate again when the General Assembly convenes Jan. 9. Marshall also has filed legislation to forbid abortion for the purposes of sex selection. He might have more bills up his sleeve (he often does). Progressives will have plenty of reasons to shake their fists at him.

But they should cut him a break when it comes to contraception. On that issue, he has taken the truly pro-choice position and they have not… .


1:54 pm - Sat, Nov 3, 2012
2 notes

Why Abortion Makes (Almost) Everyone Incoherent

I’ll take Ari Kohen’s word about the incoherence of this diavlog. But then, nearly everyone except pro-life absolutists (such as Richard Mourdock) is muddled on the subject. Perhaps this is because perfect consistency leads to some odious places, such as insisting that women who are sexually assaulted should be forced to carry resulting children to term.

I assume Kohenari does not want to suggest some human life does NOT have intrinsic moral worth. (Maybe I shouldn’t assume that!) Because if you start by saying some human life has moral worth and some doesn’t, then you have to ask which humans do and don’t have intrinsic worth, and at what point those who don’t have it might attain it, and whether they can lose it. That can lead down some dark avenues rather quickly.

Another muddle: Those who are pro-choice tend to be fairly liberal politically, and to accept the validity of compulsory social-welfare spending. But this seems incoherent, too. If Mary has no moral obligation to support a life she helped bring into the world, then why does she have a moral obligation to support a life she had nothing to do with creating? (See Judith Jarvis Thompson’s “A Defense of Abortion" for more along this line.)

For that matter, why does Mary have an obligation to support a child that she chooses to carry to term? If she can choose to abort its existence before birth, then why does she need to sustain its life after it is born?

Well, pro-choice advocates might say, she chose to bring the child into being, and that choice imposes a duty on her. But this is precisely the same argument that pro-lifers make about men and women who have sex: They made a choice that entailed duty-conferring consequences. Pro-lifers simply put the point at which the duty takes effect earlier in the reproductive cycle. I’m not sure I agree with them, but I’m also not sure that makes them heinous idiots.

Abortion-rights absolutists can avoid these questions to some extent by insisting unborn children are not fully human, and therefore are not rights-bearing — they are “products of conception” that have no more intrinsic value than a tumor. But few people would go so far as to say this is entirely the case up to the moment of birth and entirely not the case five seconds afterward. So, again, we’re arguing over where to draw lines, not whether to.

What’s more, the rhetoric of reproductive choice often belies this view, when choice advocates insist (as they frequently do) that abortion is a very difficult and personal decision. But abortion should not be a difficult decision at all, unless there is something about the fetus that makes it somehow more intrinsically precious than other bits of flesh. People do not agonize over whether to have their tonsils out.

I’m not offering any answers. I support legal abortion — but I can see why many people don’t.


11:44 am - Mon, Oct 29, 2012
1 note

Tim Carney:

Obama’s abortion record and views are far outside the American mainstream.

In the Illinois state senate, Obama repeatedly opposed efforts to require hospitals to care for babies who survived abortions. The bill explicitly and repeatedly stated that it in no way pertained to babies still in utero. These assurances, in an identical bill in the U.S. Senate in 2001, were enough to win the vote of every pro-choice senator.

But what was good enough for California liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer was not good enough for Sen. Barack Obama. He steadfastly opposed the born-alive protection measure… 

In his 2004 U.S. Senate race, Obama also showed his cards. His campaign sent out a fundraising email in Michelle Obama’s name. The issue it used to rally his supporters: partial-birth abortion. The email railed against a federal law that repeatedly passed the U.S. Senate with more than 60 votes, which banned what Michelle called “a legitimate medical procedure.” …

Obama is an abortion absolutist. He opposes all restriction on abortion. The only red line he had in the 2010 government shutdown debate was federal funding for the nation’s leading abortion provider Planned Parenthood. Tax cuts for the rich, domestic spending cuts — all those things he could accept. Reduced subsidies to the abortion lobby — that, he could not abide…

All of this puts Obama firmly outside the mainstream. In the latest Gallup polls, 71 percent favor laws requiring parental consent before a child gets an abortion. Obama opposes even parental notification. Only 26 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal under all circumstances. Obama thinks it should be legal and subsidized under all circumstances.
Obama’s abortion absolutism doesn’t come from a deep respect for individual liberty: He’s a war-on-drugs stalwart who forces people to buy private health insurance and undergo intrusive scans or pat-downs at the airport. There’s something else going on here.


1:19 pm - Mon, Oct 15, 2012
2 notes

It’s misogynistic bullying, you see.

Meanwhile, more Westerners are embracing the idea that the right to free speech does not protect “blasphemy,”  esp. blasphemy as it relates to a certain Prophet who is quite popular in parts of the Middle East. (I’m not mentioning any names here, but his name starts with Mu- and ends in -hammad.)

If present trends continue, with government help Islamic extremists soon will be “imposing their views” on everyone else, while Catholics will be forbidden to impose their views even on themselves.

Seems rather odd, doesn’t it?


3:29 pm - Fri, Sep 14, 2012
7 notes

Remember when conservatives opposed punishing small businesses with pointless rules? (Remember when liberals didn’t think that ever actually happened?)


10:22 am - Wed, Jul 4, 2012
18 notes

Are Teenagers Big Kids — Or Little Adults?

State officials don’t have to agree with the Supreme Court’s view of adolescence. But they ought to be able to agree with themselves. Yet in many cases, they do not. Take Texas. Not only does Texas slap kids with criminal charges for classroom antics, it also allows children as young as 14 to be charged as adults for certain felonies. On the other hand, Texas sets the age of consent for sexual activity at 17. This means that, in the Lone Star state’s eyes, a 16-year-old is a fully culpable adult if he robs a gas station — but a defenseless child if he loses his virginity.

What’s more, Texas also requires both parental notification and consent before a minor can have an abortion. So in the state’s eyes, some 14-year-olds who commit crimes have the maturity and judgment of fully grown adults, but no 17-year-old has the maturity and judgment to make a medical decision for herself. Those two positions cannot be reconciled.

Texas isn’t alone. Virginia law takes the same two positions. In Mississippi, children as young as 13 can be tried as adults not only for violent felonies but for any criminal offenses whatsoever — and they must be tried as adults for some felonies, including capital crimes. But both parents must agree before a Mississippi girl just shy of her 18th birthday can have an abortion. In Kansas, the discrepancy is even more stark: 17-year-olds must obtain consent from both parents for an abortion, and the age of sexual consent is 16 — but children can be charged as adults for any sort of crime starting at age 10….

Read the rest here.


9:21 am - Tue, Jun 19, 2012
1 note

Whatever Happened to “Keep Your Laws Off My Body”?

First New York, now Cambridge:

Following in the footsteps of New York City, Cambridge is considering limiting the size of sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages in city restaurants.

Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis proposed the idea at the council’s meeting Monday night, saying she brought the idea forward because of the health risks caused by consuming too much soda.

City Councilor Minka vanBeuzekom said she supports the idea of limiting the size of sodas because of the health concerns.

“It’s a very good thing to try and pursue, and in my opinion to ban, but it won’t be easy,” she said.

Five bucks says Cambridge’s officials are uniformly pro-choice when it comes to abortion. And good for them if they are.

So what makes them think they have any business controlling what other people do with their bodies?


9:18 am - Tue, May 29, 2012

A reactionary outside group is planning to unleash a barrage of sharply negative ads funded by deep-pocketed donors from other states, according to recent campaign finance reports.

Karl Rove’s American Crossroads? Restore Our Future, a super-PAC supporting Mitt Romney? No, we refer to an entirely different outfit: the Women’s Strike Force, a group formed earlier this year in reaction to ultrasound legislation in the General Assembly. The Strike Force’s sole purpose is to defeat any Virginia lawmaker who supported either the ultrasound bill or legislation granting personhood to an unborn fetus.

"Our organization is not even three months old, yet activists across Virginia are clamoring to get involved and help raise money," the group’s director, Rebecca Gellar, boasted recently. "In our first two weeks, we raised a breathtaking $100,000." According to public documents, that includes $20,000 from a single donor in Charlottesville — as well as four-figure contributions from as far afield as Massachusetts and California.

And while the Strike Force claims to be a bipartisan, grass-roots organization, its leadership reads like a who’s-who among Democratic activists: Mame Reilley, a Democratic consultant who chaired the women’s caucus for the Democratic National Convention; Leslie Byrne, a former Democratic member of Congress; Kristen Amundsen, a Democratic state lawmaker from Mount Vernon; former Democratic Del. Robin Abbott; and more. They will be able to say just about anything they want about the candidates, and neither the candidates nor the political parties will be able to stop them.

* * * * *

If the foregoing strikes you as one-sided and overwrought, well, welcome to the world of campaign-finance reporting. This is how participation in the electoral process is typically portrayed, particularly when the participants support conservatives and especially since the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United .

The American left regards that decision with universal contempt for allowing more unregulated corporate money in politics. (It also freed up union participation, but liberals usually overlook that.) Roughly five bazillion pieces have noted with dismay the rising influence of “outside groups” funding “negative ads” etc., etc. So it bears noting that the Women’s Strike Force is a corporation, too — and that it plans to do precisely what American Crossroads and other much-reviled PACs and super PACs have been doing.

Yet after reading the Strike Force’s press clippings, we’re struck by the apparent lack of concern that this corporate entity will “corrupt” the democratic process by “buying influence” or “swaying the electorate.” Little wonder why: It’s pushing a cause near and dear to liberal hearts: reproductive choice. Suggesting that a noble cause could corrupt people or institutions would be oxymoronic, so naturally the possibility does not get raised.

But this exposes the basic flaw in campaign-finance reform: Money is not inherently corrupting. It is only corrupting if it supports the wrong side. Recently The Daily Caller reported that Barack Obama has become the first $1 billion man — the first person to raise more than that threshold sum in the course of his political career. According to campaign-finance theory, this would make him the most corrupt politician in American history. He clearly is not. More to the point, liberals certainly don’t think he is. But if the theory doesn’t match the facts, then something must be wrong with the theory. Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

- Richmond Times-Dispatch


11:37 am - Wed, May 23, 2012


7:32 am - Fri, Mar 30, 2012

What Do Ultrasounds, Contraception, and the ACA Have in Common?

Answer in today’s column, “Survey Says: Nobody Likes a Bully.”


10:26 am - Wed, Mar 21, 2012

Hey, What Happened to Catholics Not Imposing Their Values on Others?

The Nation approvingly quotes Catholics United on the ostensible immorality of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan:

Ryan’s budget emulates Randian principles by decimating safety net programs and turning them into voucher-based systems, ostensibly ignoring the human dignity of the most vulnerable in society. Catholics United calls on Congressman Ryan to sincerely examine his conscience and recognize the devastating impact his Rand-inspired budget will have on the most vulnerable in society. The social Darwinist teachings of Ayn Rand have consistently been denounced by major Catholic leaders as antithetical to Catholic doctrine…


Boy, I remember this one time a while back when people thought the Catholic Church should keep its own darn values to its own darn self. I think it was yesterday, as a matter of fact. And the day before that. And the day before that. And….


12:45 pm - Thu, Mar 15, 2012
7 notes

From The Washington Post:

Virginia seems to have ushered in a new protest genre: the gynecological overshare.

Lots more here.


10:46 am - Thu, Mar 1, 2012

A group of British ethicists says infanticide should not be morally troubling because even after birth babies are not really people.

Consider this the flip side of the debate over personhood bills here in the U.S.


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