Roundup: New Political Landscape for Pro-Choice Advocates; March for Life in DC

36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade 

It’s the 36th anniversary of the decision in Roe v. Wade, which we’re celebrating on RH Reality Check. The Center for Reproductive Rights is acknowledging the day by calling on President Obama to work towards the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid funding of abortion care, stating,

For thirty-six years, women in this country have had the
right to obtain safe, legal abortion. But since 1977 when Hyde was first
enacted, low-income women have been deprived of that right by anti-choice
politicians intent on doing away with a woman’s access to abortion

These restrictions patently discriminate against
women.  Abortion is a health service only used by women, and it is the only
medically necessary service not covered by Medicaid for instance.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan research organization, as
many as 35% of women who are eligible for the program and seeking an abortion
are prevented from making the personal decision about their own lives and
forced to carry their pregnancies to term.  On the other hand, virtually
all other health services are covered.


And it’s also Blog for Choice Day!  Visit NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Blog for Choice and sign yourself up to participate in their blogosphere-wide pro-choice event.

March for Life Features Women Regretting Their Abortions
If it’s the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it’s also the date of
the annual March for Life.  This year’s anti-choice protest will
feature women who have had and regret their abortions, reports  According to LifeNews, “The
pro-life movement has a rich history of focusing not just on the death
of an unborn child in an abortion but on the pain and regret millions
of women fell following an abortion. Some of those women who wish they
could undo their abortion decision and choose life will speak out again
at this year’s March for Life.”  Studies have repeatedly found no
correlation between abortion and adverse mental health outcomes.

Caroline Kennedy Withdraws Senate Candidacy

She was in, she was out, in, and out again — Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn her bid for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, the New York Post reports.
She was a pro-choice candidate, but luckily, so are the other
front-runners — Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Carolyn Maloney,
Rep. Kristen Gillibrand.

Provider Conscience Regulation Not Suspended by White House
The White House has suspended all still-pending “midnight regulations” issued by the Bush administration
in its waning days, but that won’t affect the Department of Health and
Human Services’s provider conscience expansion — it has already been
finalized and went into effect January 19.  “Yesterday,
Rahm Emanuel issued a memo placing
a moratorium on any regulations still in the pipeline and giving
leeway to suspend the effective dates of any rules finalized but not
yet in
effect.  Since agencies are in charge of rulemaking, this is certainly
their purview and there is precedent for taking this action,” said
Marilyn Keefe, of the National Partnership for Women & Families.
“Sadly, this won’t
impact the HHS ‘conscience’ rule, which is final and now in effect.”
The administration will have to engage in a new round of rule-making to
address the rule.  Seven state Attorneys General, the National Family
Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and Planned Parenthood
have all filed suit against the regulations.

Political Landscape Around Abortion Reshaped

The Associated Press takes a close look
at the reshaped political landscape around abortion in the wake of
President Obama’s taking office, and examines the hopes and early
priorities of reproductive health groups.

In the U.S., abortion-rights groups are
backing what they call a “common-ground, commonsense” agenda in
Congress aimed at reducing the number of unintended pregnancies. The
Prevention First Act, already endorsed by Obama, would increase federal
funding for family planning, promote comprehensive sex education, and
expand women’s access to contraceptives.

Will pro-choice legislators take on the Hyde Amendment?  They’re not in a hurry, says the AP:

Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., a lead
sponsor of the Prevention First Act, says she opposes the Hyde
Amendment but would not make it a priority to repeal it this year.

“Our efforts should be focused on finding common ground to prevent
unwanted pregnancies so you won’t have to worry about abortions in the
first place,” she said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

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  • invalid-0

    There is a ‘switch’ in every persons head. I think that one’s view on abortion is determined by the position of that ‘switch’
    I used to be pro-choice, here’s why I changed my mind – I hope pro-choice folks who are reading this will give me a chance to explain. I’ll expect to be treated with respect and I hope if I anger anyone, they’ll just think before they respond.
    I’ve come to see abortion as the defining social issue of our time. Too many times in history we have made the horrendous mistake of labeling a certain portion of our population as ‘non persons’ (American Indians, Jews, Africans, and even to some extent…women (who were not allowed to vote). Each time, we have been shamed. Modern science (ultrasounds) shows us that our unborn children are fully persons in their own right…just not born yet. Although as a woman, I love choice – I could no longer justify my choice overruling what might be the choice of another human being…like being born.
    A switch turned on. Abortion is barbaric – plain and simple. The women who have chosen abortion are not barbaric – just the act. I’m ashamed that I once defended it. It has nothing to do with my compassion for a woman who is in a very real ‘bad situation’. Some of my best friends have been there and I don’t judge them for whatever choice they’ve made.
    The other ‘ah ha’ moment came from my two adopted daughters – they are the joy and challenge in my life – no one wanted them – they were 7 and 8 years old, female, a sibling group, and black. The judge in our adoption didn’t even ask to meet me (their future mother!) My husband traveled to Indianapolis, appeared in court and the judge handed them over without even meeting me. My youngest daughter (now 16) just said…Mom – I’m so glad my birth mother didn’t abort me. I looked at her and smiled and said… me too honey.
    Keep an open mind………

  • invalid-0

    If only life were so simple.

    Of course, nearly everybody who is alive is glad they were born! But none of the aborted embryos ever cared one way or the other, having no capacity to feel or think.

    Please read “This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor” by Susan Wicklund for a real picture of why abortions need to stay legal.

    Just because I can’t imagine myself choosing abortion does not give me the right to decide for all women!

    Considering that more than half of early pregnancies are aborted spontaneously (usually without the woman even knowing she’s pregnant) the argument gets even more ridiculous (but painful for the women and doctors who are demonized).

  • invalid-0

    Dear Ruth –

    Thank you. It’s not often that I find someone who is pro choice and still kind and willing to have a reasonable discourse. I will find the book you mentioned by Susan Wicklund and read it.

    I guess I’m coming at this profound dilemma in a totally personal way, believe me, I tried for many years to intellectualize the problem of abortion and to stay pro choice.

    My reasoning comes from personally knowing at least 32 women (some good friends, some acquaintances) who have shared their abortion experience with me. I crunched the numbers (I was truly trying to study this) and found that 21 of my friends felt they had ‘no choice’ I found that ironic…the reason they offered was because of pressure from husbands/partners or parents. The others seemed to feel that there were no other options open to them. Only a couple appeared to be okay with their decision.

    You say ‘if only life were so simple’. I think it can be -and in a very obvious way. My thought is to offer women help. Simply, help. One of the things that bugs me about many pro-choice people is that they push/offer abortion only – why can’t we really promote child care facilities on college campus’s so women can continue their education?

    Too many of my girlfriends are suffering because of their decision. I don’t like that. It makes no sense. We don’t have to go through life drinking too much, doing drugs, and being depressed. I think the solution lies in helping women make a choice that can empower them. We can’t change our inherent make-up to be nurturing, why would we want to?

    My only other comment is to challenge your statement that embryos don’t have the capacity to feel pain. It’s been scientifically proven (quite a while ago) that embryos (children) can feel pain at 9 weeks in utero. As you might know, most abortions occur at 10 weeks. A recent study done in England shows that women who have experienced spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) feel sadness/depression, on average, for up to a year while women who have abortion deal with depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, in many cases for a lifetime.

    I’m convinced that abortion is not good for women. As a women wanting to promote the advancement of women in all aspects of life – I have to go with my gut or what I like to refer to as my feminine genius…Abortion is not healthy for us. It’s hard for me to say, but I think that the pro-choice movement is doing more to hurt us than to help us.


    • invalid-0


      I read your comment about being pro-choice and now you are not. In one comment you wrote pro-choice push/offer abortion only. That is where you need to read This Common Secret by Dr. Wicklund. She is a reproductive advocate and does promote other options and councels her patients on the many options that are available. She will not preform the surgury until she is positive that an abortion is what the woman truely wants. The reason why I chose to read this book is because I have a friend who recently became a “born again” Christian or a Evangelical Christian and sends out emails on Anti Choice groups and statements that she has made are that we are going to hell if we support abortion. She is very discriminating to anyone who doesn’t feel the way she does and we are all sinners. She actually sounds like the people who stand outside the clinic day in and day out that taunt these women to “Not Kill Their Babies”. The thing is if you have never been faced with the circumstances of an unwanted pregnancy you could never know how the woman truely feels inside. It is anguish, pain, sadness, loss, worry, disappointment, and relief to name a few. The thing is pro-choice women are women who also support life and we love babies, we love our children and we love being mothers. There is a difference though we are pro-choice in when we choose to be mothers and we decide our “own” reproductive rights. That is neither you or I to decide and it is up to the individual person. It is wonderful that you personally support life for yourself and I think that is wonderful that you became a mother of adoptive children; those children are very fortunate to have found you. On a last note a lower abortion rate would be ideal…none of these women set out to get pregnant and then have abortion it is very emotional time for them. So instead of taking away their resources we should be educating them, supporting and talking to them so they never have to face another unwanted pregnancy. I respect your feelings on this topic I hope you respect mine.

  • invalid-0

    I am a future physician and pro-choice and I think that both of you have valid points. I would like to address a few scientific facts that have been pointed out however. Fetal pain this is the new forefront in the Anti-Choice movement and as amazing a propaganda move it is there is no proof that the fetus feels pain at 9 weeks, here are a few things to think about with that. How do you measure fetal pain? a fetus does not cry or have the ability to express pain and at nine weeks the nervous system is not even full developed yet and until you have most of that you can’t feel pain it is thought that a fetus may be able to feel pain at around 20 weeks but again pain is really hard to measure, want more proof here is the evidence based med to back that one up

    As you mentioned women that have spontaneous abortion which is the medical term we use miscarriage to make people feel better about what is happening, I would guess that those pregnancies are wanted so depression with a loss like that would be expected. Now when you mention that most women regret their decision to have an abortion I would have to disagree a review was done by John Hopkins came to the conclusion that no high quality study has been able to link the two- but you say there were 3 articles left out, we will have to see if they are high quality and follow the evidence based medicine research standards, that is what the quality of an article is based on. You also have to take into account what the persons predispositions were before they had the abortion and a lot of the studies that find this link do not. They may have been in a high risk situation to begin with, they go back to that high risk situation after the abortion, it is the same for drugs and alcohol. If they are at high risk to begin with they will be at high risk after that is not a link to the procedure being preformed. Now with the anti-choice movement this again is another wonderful PR ploy saying that abortion hurts the woman and the procedure is very risky. The DNC which is the procedure that is usually used is one of the most commonly used procedures in the medical world and very very safe. It is used for a lot of different OBGYN procedures not just abortions. Again with the harm to the woman movement it makes it very easy to think making abortions illegal is the way to go.

    My last comment is some food for thought: if we make abortions illegal will it really solve the problem? Again there have been studies that show that making abortion illegal actually increases the mortality of women in that country – if a woman wants an abortion she will find someone to provide it and its not going to be a licensed physician that knows what they are doing or in a hospital. Here is a link for some food for thought.

    In reality no one wants to preform an abortion we do it to help the woman if that is what she wants, we do it for teens, we do it for mothers that already have children and don’t want another, we do it for pro-lifers daughters and pro-lifers themselves, rape victims, victims of incests and when the mothers life is at risk and they are not judged from us. In the end I think that we need to look at a common question for both sides how do we effectively stop abortions from happening? Its not making them illegal its making birth control available and teaching people how to use it effectively, its talking about sex with our kids because make no mistake the virginity pledge that they take is not enough, they are going to have sex. That is a common ground that anti-choice and pro-choice need to come together on, it is a reachable goal and then both sides would be happy lower abortion rates for all.