Tag Archives: abortion

Let’s end pro-choice demagoguery

Abortion is coming back onto center stage soon as the Senate gets ready to debate the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

I know this won’t happen, but I’ll ask for it anyway. How about calling a halt to the demagoguery that equates “pro-choice” with being “pro-abortion.”

The anti-choice side no doubt will make that unfair assessment as it argues on behalf of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination by Donald J. Trump. The president has vowed to appoint federal judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that in 1973 legalized abortion.

The ruling has enraged anti-choice advocates for 45 years.

What has been troubling to me has been the conflating of “pro-choice” advocacy with favoring abortion.

I consider myself to be a pro-choice American. I also am vehemently opposed to abortion. Could I ever advise a woman to end a pregnancy? No. Thankfully, I’ve never faced that question from a woman.

To be candid, I’ve never met a single person in my entire life who’s admitted to favoring abortion. And, yes, I have made the acquaintance of many people over the years who have been pro-choice on the issue.

To believe in a woman’s right to make the gut-wrenching choice about ending a pregnancy is not an endorsement of abortion.

Can we please end the hateful demagoguery? Emotions run white-hot enough as it is whenever the topic concerns abortion.

There will always be abortions

Let’s be crystal clear about something few of us want to discuss.

If the U.S. judicial system decides to overturn a ruling that legalized abortion, does anyone really believe that abortion will come to an end? Will women across the country decide to give birth even though they have been raped by an attacker, or impregnated in an incestuous relationship?

Abortion is about to return front and center to the public debate stage as the U.S. Senate ponders the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1973 the high court ruled in the epic Roe v. Wade decision that abortion can be done legally throughout the United States. It declared that the Constitution guaranteed a woman’s right to choose to end a pregnancy.

The discussion today centers on whether the court would reverse that decision if it receives a case involving abortion.

I want to be clear. Abortion won’t end if the court hands the issue back to the states. Many states are likely to make abortion illegal. I live in one of those states: Texas. Legislators here already have enacted anti-choice legislation and Gov. Greg Abbott has signed it into law. They have decided to make obtaining an abortion quite difficult.

Does it end abortion? Not in the least. Women will continue to seek them — for whatever reason they believe compels to do so.

I get the argument from those who are fervently anti-choice. They are sincere in their belief about when life begins. Their argument, though, won’t ever stop women from making profoundly difficult choices that only they can make.

Rep. Murphy quits Congress … see ya later

Tim Murphy is about to become a former member of Congress from western Pennsylvania. He had toiled in relative obscurity until he decided to make a politically fatal mistake.

This Republican lawmaker got involved intimately with a young woman, who became pregnant as a result of their extramarital affair.

Now, what grows legs under this story is that Murphy — whose main claim to fame as a member of Congress is that he has been fervently anti-abortion — asked his paramour to obtain an abortion. 

As the saying goes: Oops!

Murphy had intended initially to retire at the end of his current term. He has decided to quit the House and will depart Capitol Hill in about a month.

Good. I recognize that Congress is full of hypocrites. There will be more hypocrites coming along even as some of the current congressional hypocrites depart the scene.

When one of those hypocrites sacrifices his moral authority in such a callous matter, it’s good to show him the door and urge him to avoid letting that door hit him in the … you know.

‘Backbencher’ thrusts himself into the limelight

I had never heard of Tim Murphy before today.

He used to be an obscure member of Congress from western Pennsylvania. The Republican lawmaker was known mostly to his constituents and, I presume, his colleagues in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives.

To the rest of this vast nation, he was a stranger.

No … longer.

Many more Americans now know Murphy as a duplicitous politician who got caught doing something he shouldn’t have done. The married pol got involved with an extramarital affair with a much younger woman. That relationship resulted in the woman becoming pregnant.

What did Murphy do at that point? He reportedly asked the woman to obtain an abortion. And why is that a big deal? It’s because Murphy has been an ardent political opponent of abortion. He’s a “pro-life, family values” Republican.

Murphy is going to finish the rest of his term. Then he’ll retire from Congress.

There you have it. An individual who labels himself a certain way behaves at a couple of levels like someone quite different.

He’s not the first politician to fall off the virtue wagon. He won’t be the last one. Politicians of all stripes have said one thing and done another. Former Democratic U.S. Sen. John Edwards used to proclaim his love for his late wife — only to be revealed to have fathered a child with another woman. Ex-GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich wailed aloud about Bill Clinton’s misbehavior with a White House intern while taking a tumble with a female staff member.

The list is endless.

I just have to believe Tim Murphy wishes for a way he could return to the farthest end of the back bench — out of sight and out of mind.

Sorry, Rep. Murphy. You brought this unwanted attention on all by yourself.

Planned Parenthood: classic political football

Oh, how I wish there were more U.S. Senate Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine. Or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

These two GOP moderate lawmakers are standing firm in their desire to see Planned Parenthood retain its federal government support. They dislike the Senate Republicans’ draft of a bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act because it cuts money for Planned Parenthood for a year.

You see, we now have the makings of a political football game, with Planned Parenthood being the ball and competing forces within the Republican Party — not to mention the Democratic Party — kicking it all over the proverbial field.

Debate will get heated.

“There are already longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion, so this is not what this debate is about. And Planned Parenthood is an important provider of healthcare services, including family planning and cancer screenings for millions of Americans, particularly women,” Collins said.

Abortion, that’s the kicker. Which means that abortion is at the epicenter of this particular discussion.

Senate and House conservatives detest Planned Parenthood because it does provide abortion referrals to women seeking to end their pregnancies. Last time I looked, it’s a legal activity. According to the “true believers,” though, Planned Parenthood is sanctioning the “murder of unborn children” and therefore its mission is steeped in evil intent.

Collins, though, is correct to point out two things about Planned Parenthood. One is that Congress already has written into law restrictions on federal funding for abortion; two is that Planned Parenthood provides a number of vital health care services for Americans.

But the organization is going to get kicked around, mauled, chewed up and spit out as competing legislative factions argue over whether the new health care legislation should use taxpayer money to keep it functioning.

I’m on Sen. Collins’s side.

One last hope for Justice Gorsuch

I am going to reveal my own bias — once again — but here goes anyway.

Neil Gorsuch is going to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice on Monday. The U.S. Senate confirmed him in a mostly partisan vote.

Donald Trump promised to select a conservative justice for the court and he delivered on his promise.

Fine. Trump is the president and he has the right to select anyone he wants.

Gorsuch’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was filled with the usual stuff that court nominees say, which is they cannot comment on issues that might come before the court. His reticence satisfied Senate Republicans and frustrated Senate Democrats.

He did, though, suggest that Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion — essentially is “settled law.” He also said the president never asked him if he’d vote to overturn the ruling, adding that had Trump done so, that he (Gorsuch) would “have walked out of the room.”

My hope for the new justice is that he becomes more of an independent thinker than his critics believe he’ll be. There’s plenty of precedent on the Supreme Court for justices becoming something other than the presidents who appoint them had hoped.

President Eisenhower selected Chief Justice Earl Warren and William Brennan, both of whom became liberal stalwarts on the court; President Nixon selected Justice Harry Blackmun, who then wrote the Roe opinion in January 1973; President Ford selected Justice John Paul Stevens, who then joined the liberal ranks on the high court; President George W. Bush selected Chief Justice John Roberts, who then voted to preserve the Affordable Care Act.

No one should seek to predict how the new justice will comport himself on the court. Some, though, have done so. I am not nearly learned enough in matters of law to make such a prediction.

I do have my hope … and my bias that drives it.

Planned Parenthood … crossing many lines

You’ve got to connect a lot of dots with this item, but once you do you might find the symmetry fascinating in the extreme.

It involves Planned Parenthood, the bogeyman of those on the political right and, yes, the far right.

A U.S. District judge has just ruled that Texas cannot ban Planned Parenthood health services from being covered by Medicaid assistance.

Now we hear that Barbara Pierce Bush, one of former President George W. Bush’s two daughters, is going to be the keynote speaker next week at Planned Parenthood’s annual luncheon in Fort Worth. President Bush was an avid foe of abortion while serving as Texas governor and then as president.

His daughter, though, is a supporter of Planned Parenthood, which has been targeted by right-wingers because of the referrals it gives to women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

But as the Texas Tribune reports, Barbara’s mother, Laura, doesn’t share the former president’s disdain for Planned Parenthood. Neither does Barbara’s grandmother, another former first lady.

The Tribune reported: “The younger Bush, the CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps, called Planned Parenthood an ‘exceptional organization’ in a June New York Times interview, and attended a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Paris in October.”

Then there’s Cecile Richards, daughter of the late former Gov. Ann Richards, who now runs the national Planned Parenthood operation. George W. Bush defeated Ann Richards in 1994, although abortion wasn’t an issue in that contentious campaign.

This story is circuitous, indeed. But there’s another interesting catch to it.

Young Barbara’s grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, was a noted supporter of organizations just like Planned Parenthood when he served in Congress in the 1960s. Then he agreed to toss aside his pro-choice views when he agreed to join the Republican presidential ticket led in 1980 by Ronald W. Reagan.

I guess you could say that this entire issue of reproductive rights, the pro-life movement, the pro-choice movement and all that they entail crosses many lines … even in the midst of the most high profile of political families.

As one who opposes laws that would criminalize abortion, I am glad to see that a well-known former first daughter is standing tall, speaking her own mind.

Planned Parenthood scores needed court victory

Planned Parenthood is back in the Medicaid game in Texas, thanks to a ruling by a U.S. district judge.

This is good news for low-income patients who need state help in obtaining care such as cancer screenings or birth-control consultations.

Of course, the ruling by Judge Sam Sparks reignites the debate over whether Planned Parenthood operates with a callous disregard for human life by peddling “fetal tissue.”

Judge Sparks, who was appointed to the federal bench by fervently pro-life President George H.W. Bush in 1991, said his decision restores Planned Parenthood ability to participate in the state’s Medicaid program which offers health care at heavily reduced prices for those who request it.

At issue — as always — are those heavily edited video recordings of Planned Parenthood staffers discussing what to do with the remains of fetuses. No one has been charged with any illegal activity, I should add. Yet the state attorney general’s office has maintained that the video reveals callous and cavalier attitudes from Planned Parenthood staffers toward the rights of unborn children.

“After reviewing the evidence currently in the record, the Court finds the Inspector General, and thus [the Texas Health and Human Services Commission], likely acted to disenroll qualified health care providers from Medicaid without cause,” Sparks’ ruling read. “Such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider.”

“No taxpayer in Texas should have to subsidize this repugnant and illegal conduct,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “We should never lose sight of the fact that, as long as abortion is legal in the United States, the potential for these types of horrors will continue.”

Illegal conduct? No one has determined definitively that anything “illegal” has occurred, Mr. Attorney General.

The state keeps playing politics with the health care needs of Texans. Judge Sparks’ ruling no doubt will be appealed, as Paxton has promised. Fine. Take it all the way.

My own view is that Planned Parenthood performs valuable and wide-ranging health-related services to those who need it, but who cannot afford it without state assistance.

As for abortions, it remains legal in this country for a woman to terminate a pregnancy — no matter how fervently many Americans believe the law should be changed.

I also should add that Congress long ago prohibited the use of federal money to pay for an abortion. Therefore, this highly charged issue has become a giant distraction in the overall issue of the health care needs that Planned Parenthood fulfills.

Women need not be shamed over abortion

Abortion law

Texas is seeking to shame women who make the most difficult decision any human being ever can make.

It is whether to terminate a pregnancy.

How is the state seeking to lay shame on the women who make that decision? Effective on Dec. 19, hospitals, abortion clinics and other health facilities will be required to bury or cremate the remains of aborted fetuses.

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/2016/12/01/latest-rules-one-effort-texas-shame-women-choose-abortion

The initial proposal sent shock through the abortion-rights community. Many in that camp feared that the state would require death certificates for these fetal remains. The state re-thought some of its initial provisions and decided to go with what is about to become law.

One of the initial provisions would have covered women who suffer miscarriages at home.

As the Dallas Morning News commented in an editorial: “The Department of State Health Services proposed the rule change in July. Its first draft sent tremors among both abortion-rights advocates and the state’s medical community. Would the remains now be required to have a death certificate? Would women who suffer miscarriages at home be required to see to the burial of their fetus?

“Thankfully, the department heard some of these concerns and acted to make clear that the new rule will not apply to miscarriages or abortions that occur at home, for example. Hospitals or clinics, not the women themselves, will be charged with seeing to the eventual burial of the remains. … Those changes are welcome. Requiring mothers suffering a miscarriage at home to see to the burial of the remains of what they had been carrying in their wombs would have been beyond cruel.”

If you check out the link attached to this blog post, you’ll see a letter that Gov. Greg Abbott issued. It contains some fascinating language in which it declares that fetal remains should be treated as human remains and not as “medical waste.” He calls pro-choice advocates “anti-life” proponents.

Oh, my.

The rule that will take effect, in my view, is unduly harsh toward women. It seeks to shame them for making a decision only they can make in consultation with God, their family, their conscience. As the Morning News notes: “It will require facilities to treat fetal remains as if they were bodies of the dead, no matter how or why the pregnancy was ended …”

There is no way on Earth either side is going to persuade the other side of the rightness of their argument — or the wrongness of the opposing view.

I am just sickened in the extreme by government’s continual effort to intercede in decisions that only women can make.

 

Gay marriage is ‘settled law’ … how about abortion?

blackmun

Donald J. Trump says the U.S. Supreme Court has settled the issue of gay marriage, ruling that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides “equal protection” under the law to gay couples, thus allowing them to marry legally.

The president-elect made the right call there.

But wait a second!

What about abortion? The High Court also has ruled that women have a constitutional right to make decisions regarding their own bodies, that they are allowed to terminate a pregnancy. They cited the same 14th Amendment’s “right of privacy” provision, as noted in Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion.

Is it settled law? One would think so.

Trump, though, has said he’s going to find someone to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court who opposes abortion, who would help overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.

Isn’t the Roe v. Wade decision “settled law” as well, just as much as the gay marriage decision of just a couple of years ago?

I should note, I suppose, that Trump once was adamantly pro-choice on the abortion issue. Now he is just as adamantly pro-life on the matter.

Trump now plans to apply the abortion litmus test to whomever he selects to the court post vacated by the death earlier this year of longtime conservative icon Justice Antonin Scalia.

Presidents normally say they don’t set up such tests for potential Supreme Court nominees … but of course they do. I’ll give Trump credit at least for all but admitting out loud he has established one critical benchmark for whomever he chooses to fill the court vacancy.

The credit, though, must be tempered by the “settled law” notion that the president-elect applies to one key social issue of our time while refusing to apply it to another.