TAG | abortion
Here’s yet another bossy, patronizing (and, I imagine, eventually taxpayer-funded) idea from the UK’s frequently lamentable Conservative-led government:
[Britain’s] Department of Health is to announce plans for a new system of independent counseling for women before they finally commit to terminating a pregnancy. The move is designed to give women more “breathing space”… The plan would introduce a mandatory obligation on abortion clinics to offer women access to independent counseling, to be run on separate premises by a group which does not itself carry out abortions.
The idea that enough women might require a state-supplied “breathing space” (as if they have had not already had time to think about what they are planning) and “independent” (define that term) counseling to need a change of government policy shows a sense of condescension that would be remarkable were it not coming from Britain’s political class, a group that has long made condescension something of a specialty.
One important thing to note, however: Unlike in certain US states this “independent” counseling will neither be mandatory, nor will some of its contents be dictated by politicians.
That’s something, I suppose.
Via the Daily Telegraph:
The Prime Minister and Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will vote against the proposals put forward by pro-life groups and campaigning MPs, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. Their opposition follows claims that ministers were preparing to change long-established rules on advice given to pregnant women.The matter will still be debated in the Commons, but No 10 made it clear for the first time that Mr Cameron would vote against the amendments to the Health Bill tabled by Nadine Dorries, a backbench Tory MP. Downing Street sources said that the proposed amendments would “exclude proper choice”.
Comments off · Posted by Andrew Stuttaford in politics
Yes, there should be rules against fraudulent counsel, but the idea of politicians dictating what can (or cannot) be said at a pregnancy advice center purely on the basis of their own views on abortion is less than attractive, so this looks like good news:
A federal judge blocked a controversial New York City law requiring emergency-pregnancy centers to disclose that they don’t offer abortion services. The new law, scheduled to take effect Thursday, poses a significant threat to abortion opponents’ First Amendment rights, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said in a sweeping 22-page ruling Wednesday that imposed a preliminary injunction.
On the same basis, one can only hope that examples of big government overreach such as the one being litigated here are overturned:
Today Federal District Court Judge Same Sparks is scheduled to hear arguments in a case filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on behalf of Texas medical providers challenging Texas’ new abortion ultrasound law. The law, scheduled to take effect September 1, requires that women seeking abortion services forced to obtain and view an ultrasound.
The Center for Reproductive Rights claims that the law violates patients’ and doctors’ First Amendment Rights by requiring “physicians to violate basic standards of medical ethics by compelling them to disregard the wishes of patients who do not want to receive this information.” Bebe Anderson, lead attorney from CRR stated that the law is “most definitely the most extreme of this kind in the country. [It is] an intrusive hijacking of the doctor-patient relationship.”
The law requires that doctors show the woman the ultrasound. If the woman refuses to view the image, the doctor must describe it in detail and play the sound of the fetal heartbeat, if a heartbeat is present. Following the ultrasound, the woman must then wait a 24 hour period before obtaining an abortion.
Comments off · Posted by Andrew Stuttaford in politics
Poor Iowans would be prohibited from having a taxpayer-paid abortion in cases of rape or incest under an amendment to a budget bill approved by a House committee this week.
Time reports on a new law from South Dakota:
In an ongoing effort to push legislation to reduce abortion rates — in part by restricting women’s access to the procedure — South Dakota’s Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, signed into law on Tuesday the most stringent such bill yet.
The new law requires women who seek abortions to first undergo a consultation at a “pregnancy help center,” centers whose counselors oppose abortion. The law also requires women to wait three days after meeting with an abortion provider before she can receive the procedure.
And what sort of qualifications do the people who work at these centers possess?
The centers themselves — which are also known as crisis pregnancy centers, and have been increasing in number nationwide — are not regulated by any medical authority.
So is this, as some like to claim, just a matter of ensuring that these women are “fully informed”, albeit by people with no obvious qualification to do so?
According to the new law, pregnancy help center staff may control who should be allowed in the room during counseling sessions (such as spouses, parents and religious counselors), independent of the woman’s wishes.
Nope, it seems not.
And then there’s this, via the New York Times:
[The law] makes exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.
This story comes from Mother Jones, and it comes with plenty of ‘coulds’, so some caution is called for. Nevertheless it doesn’t make pretty reading. Here’s a key extract:
Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?
In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans’ “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they’d have to determine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion
The proposed law, also known as H.R. 3, extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment—which bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake—into many parts of the federal tax code. In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits—like credits or deductions—to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.
“Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest,” says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. “If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it.”
A hideous story from Nebraska (via NTV):
It’s the story you may have seen, but the side you’ve never heard. A grieving Grand Island couple spoke out to NTV News, after newspapers across the country report they wanted an abortion to end a non-viable pregnancy — only to be denied.
Danielle and Robb Deaver [are] setting the record straight…In reality, they wanted a healthy baby girl, but instead medical complications forced them to make what they call the hardest decision — one that was denied by a new abortion law.
“She was so wanted,” said Danielle Deaver, as she choked back tears. It’s the emotional pain no doctor can ever take away, after learning she could not avoid the physical pain her daughter was experiencing.
Elizabeth Deaver, 22 weeks old, was dying inside her. Without amniotic fluid, she would not develop, Danielle’s uterus was slowly crushing her, and because of a new abortion law on the books, Danielle was told there was nothing she could do.
“People are hearing that we wanted an abortion and that was never the case,” she said. “We want to be very clear that’s not what we wanted, that’s not what we were looking for and that’s not what we were denied.”
What the Deaver’s asked for and were denied, was the option to induce labor. “It wasn’t an easy, frivolous thing that we decided it,” she said, and then added through tears, “It was an awful, horrible, gut wrenching thing that we had to decide.”
It was a decision that was not their own, even after all the options to save their daughter were exhausted.
“We asked every scenario every outcome anything we could do to make it OK, there was nothing we could do to make it OK,” she said.
Her husband Robb added that inducing labor, when they wanted, would not have prevented the inevitable. “We were going to hold her and watch her die and what was horrible was the terrible and agonizing wait that we had to go through before that happened which was unnecessary,” he said. It’s now the same situation they’re trying to prevent other families from having to face.
“They make these laws and paint with a very large brush and people fall into these gray areas because it’s not as black and white,” said Danielle of Nebraska’s 20-week abortion ban.
One can only have sympathy for the Deavers: both for their terrible loss and for the additional agony they were put through. As for the politicians who drew up that law in the way they did, well…
Wherever you stand on the abortion debate, the idea that access to contraception does not reduce the number of abortions ought to seem, to say the least, counter-intuitive, yet that’s what Kirsten Powers ends up arguing in this Daily Beast piece. Here’s an extract:
A January 2011 fact sheet by the pro-abortion rights Guttmacher Institute listed all the reasons that women who have had an abortion give for their unexpected pregnancy, and not one of them is lack of access to contraception. In fact, 54 percent of women who had abortions had used a contraceptive method, if incorrectly, in the month they got pregnant. For the 46 percent who had not used contraception, 33 percent had perceived themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy; 32 percent had had concerns about contraceptive methods; 26 percent had had unexpected sex, and 1 percent had been forced to have sex. Not one fraction of 1 percent said they got pregnant because they lacked access to contraception. Some described having unexpected sex, but all that can be said about them is that they are irresponsible, not that they felt they lacked access to contraception.
Writing over at Big Think, Lindsay Beyerstein queries the “not one fraction of one percent” number (the original 2001 study gives a figure of 12 percent) and then stresses a bigger problem on using this data in the way that Ms. Powers is doing:
If you only look at women seeking abortions, you’re only going to see cases in which contraception failed, or wasn’t used. If you want to measure the power of prevention, you have to look at the millions of sexually active people who use birth control and don’t get pregnant.
Indeed you do.
If you want a rough analogy to this, take a look at the anti-Second Amendment crowd. In attacking the menace that guns supposedly pose to their owners, they tend to stress what happens after the gun is fired, a point when matters have by definition already turned very dangerous. The numerous occasions when the weapon has worked as a successful deterrent without ever being fired tend not to be mentioned…inconvenient truths and all that.
A Catholic priest who traveled the country performing exorcisms and launching fierce attacks against anyone he viewed as insufficiently tough on abortion — he once suggested Fox News host Sean Hannity was a “heretic” for saying birth control could be a better option than abortion — has been removed from ministry for sexually exploiting at least one woman he was treating for demonic possession.
The surprising revelations about Father Thomas Euteneuer, who was for a decade the charismatic leader of Human Life International (HLI), a Catholic anti-abortion lobby, have not only stunned his many fans among church conservatives but have also left them sharply divided.
Some of Euteneuer’s avid disciples continue to praise him as a prophet who confessed to a single and very human failing, while others feel betrayed and say the priest and his organization are so hypocritical they have hurt the sacred cause of protecting the unborn. Critics also say that the full story of Euteneuer’s misdeeds has still not been told, and that policies on exorcism must be tightened to prevent further abuses…Exorcism is enjoying something of a renaissance both in popular culture and in the Catholic Church…[J]ust last November, 66 priests and 56 bishops turned out for a two-day seminar sponsored by the American hierarchy to teach clerics about exorcisms and hopefully ease the shortage of priests authorized to formally cast out demons; reports of demonic possession are overwhelming the handful of exorcists in the United States, church officials say.
Euteneuer was one of those few priests with a mandate to conduct exorcisms, and that job, along with his campaign against abortion for HLI (based in Front Royal, Va.), kept him traveling around the country and in demand in conservative Catholic circles…Questions about Euteneuer, a handsome, square-jawed 48-year-old, first arose last August when he abruptly resigned as president of HLI. He had been living in Virginia while heading up the organization, but as a priest of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., he was subject to the authority of Bishop Gerald Barbarito, who ordered him back to Florida.
Euteneuer portrayed the move as a return to the life of a parish priest that he had always wanted, and as a much-needed respite from his labors…Fellow conservatives like Deacon Keith Fournier praised him as a “heroic priest” and the board of directors of Human Life International released a statement on Aug. 27 effusively praising Euteneuer for 10 years “of meritorious service to HLI” and for “his leadership, hard work and dedication.”
In reality, however, Euteneuer had been forced to resign after being accused of inappropriate relations with a “young adult woman” on whom he was performing an exorcism.
An interesting story, at many levels. Read the whole thing.
The just-negotiated Senate health care bill contains a big new pot of money to make it easier for pregnant teens to raise a child:
The federal government would provide $25 million a year for a “pregnancy assistance fund.” The money could be used for “maternity and baby clothing, baby food, baby furniture and similar items.”
The fund is supposed to encourage more teens to bring their children to term, rather than have an abortion. I am not convinced that increasing the number of children raised by teen mothers represents a win for society. But if pro-lifers want to make sure that every pregnant teen gives birth to a child–a moral position that I understand if not share–they would be far better off trying to revalorize adoption as a solution to pregnancies for which the mother is wholly unprepared. (Of course this “pregnancy assistance fund” may be purely a Democratic ploy to expand both government and dependency, with no support among the Lifers. But the goal of persuading teens to give birth is unquestionably a Lifer one.) Public policy should not be enabling teen motherhood, it should be doing everything it can to discourage it, starting with turning off the money spigot that subsidizes it. Teen motherhood should be made more, not less, onerous, since the evidence is indisputable that being raised by a single mother (regardless of her age) is a high-risk proposition both for the child and for society. As Barack Obama himself noted in 2008, “children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.”
Obviously, this “pregnancy assistance fund” is hardly the first taxpayer subsidy to single-parenthood; garden-variety welfare, despite the 1996 welfare reform bill, still pumps massive sums into single-parenthood, treating it as a sort of unforeseeable act of nature deserving of social safety-net protection.
Teen mothers don’t need more taxpayer-funded “maternity clothing and baby furniture.” They need to learn that having a child at their age is an irresponsible act for which they are emotionally unfit, however much saying so flies in the face of feminist “strong women” propaganda. Adoption has virtually disappeared in the inner city as a response to teen pregnancy, gone into the same black hole as stigma. Pro-lifers would do the country a service by bringing it back.