Shorter Verbatim Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE): Contraception “is unrelated to the basic needs of health care.”
Tag: "reproductive freedom"
For the birthday of Roe v. Wade, allow me to note again that it was a straightforward application (1, 2) of long-entrenched constitutional values, it has already been watered down substantially, and its opponents still doing what they can to ensure that access to safe abortions is limited to the affluent.
Some excellent news from Jessica Arons:
Today, in a huge victory for women’s health, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that most employers will be required to cover contraception in their health plans, along with other preventive services, with no cost-sharing such as co-pays or deductibles. This means that after years of trying to get birth control covered to the same extent that health plans cover Viagra, our country will finally have nearly universal coverage of contraception.
Opponents of contraception had lobbied hard for a broad exemption that would have allowed any religiously-affiliated employer to opt out of providing such coverage. Fortunately, the Obama administration rejected that push and decided to maintain the narrow religious exemption that it initially proposed. Only houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt. Employers covered by the rule will have a year to comply.
This is why I’m supporting Ron Paul.
Someone should forward this to Dana Milbank and try to explain to him which side was fighting to reduce unwanted pregnancies and which side was working to increase them. Anyway, I’m sure that would all change if pro-choice activists would sit down with Focus on the Family and tell them to cut the bullshit.
This account of the Moroccan government’s attempts to past modest reforms of the country’s bad abortion laws provides yet another lesson in how abortion laws are even worse in practice than in theory:
Morocco is one of the more liberal Muslim countries and allows the early termination of pregnancy, with spousal consent, to save the life of the woman or to preserve her physical or mental health. Still, abortion is stigmatized socially, legally and religiously, and abortions for unmarried women are illegal, resulting in high numbers of illegal terminations. A 2008 study, the most recent available, put the number of abortions in Morocco as high as 600 a day.
Last week a leading gynecologist, Chafik Chraibi, put the figure even higher. Dr. Chraibi, a professor of gynecology at Mohammed V University in Rabat, who is an ardent campaigner for legalizing abortion, said the real figure “is probably closer to 900 a day, when you take into account the nonmedical abortions carried out at home.”
“In Morocco, according to the World Health Organization, 13 percent of maternity deaths are from abortions,” he said.
Women coming to him after botched terminations — often carried out in makeshift operating rooms in filthy basements — were frequently “mutilated,” with many suffering from hemorrhaging uteri or perforated abdomens, Dr. Chraibi said.
Forcing women to carry pregnancies to term is terrible idea in any case. But even on its own terms criminalizing abortion does very little to protect fetal life, but is very successful in maiming and killing women. (Whoops — by discussing the actual consequences of bans on abortion I think I’m now guilty of “Borking.”)
This won’t be a surprise to longtime readers, but I agree 100% with Atrios about Perry changing his position to oppose abortion in cases of rape or incest. These exemptions cannot be defended coherently, and they’re almost entirely worthless on the ground. Essentially, Perry’s new position amounts to arguing for the same policy in much less politically effective terms, so I say go right ahead.
Not, of course, that it isn’t barbaric to use state coercion to force a woman to bear her rapist’s child — but it’s barbaric for the state to coerce a woman to bear anyone’s child. That’s the fundamental issue.
Sebelius claims that her reason is that the FDA didn’t show that 11 year old girls, some 10 percent of whom are fertile, understand how to follow the EC directions. Here are the instructions, courtesy of an alert commenter at www.nytimes.com:
“Plan B One-Step dosage consists of a single tablet taken once. A second tablet or dose is not required. The Plan B One-Step tablet should be taken as soon as possible and not more than 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure.”
If a sixth grader can’t understand those elementary, crystal-clear instructions, we should just move back to the caves, because civilization is finished. As has been pointed out, we assume middle-schoolers can handle Tylenol, which is not only easy to overdose on but has been used in suicides. If Sebelius is really worried about what kids can purchase at Duane Reade, she should start with products that actually can be used dangerously.
Barack Obama says that as the father of two daughters, he wants the government to “apply common sense” to rules about over the counter medications. Well, I too have a daughter, and so many many pro-choice women. Who died and made Barack Obama daddy in charge of teenage girls? Would he really rather that Sasha and Malia get pregnant rather than buy Plan B One-Step at CVS? And excuse me, Mr. President, thanks to your HHS, acquiring Plan B is prescription-only not just for 11 year olds but for the 30 percent of teenage girls between 15 and 17 who are sexually active, and is a cumbersome process for all women, who have to ask a pharmacist for it and, as many news stories have reported, be subjected to fundamentalist harangues and objections. Apparently it’s okay with you if Michelle is treated like a sixth-grader. I’m trying to think if there are any laws or regulations affecting only men in which unfounded fears about middle-school boys deny all men normal adult privileges. Needless to say no one suggests that underage boys get a prescription if they want to use condoms, or that grown men have to ask the pharmacist for them and maybe get a lecture about the evils of birth control and promiscuity.
It is important to remember that in addition to requiring teenagers to obtain a prescription during a very narrow time window, adult women will now still have to see a pharmacist to get emergency contraception. This might be OK if we lived in a country without a massive forced-pregnancy lobby and many pharmacists who believe they have a First Amendment right to interpose their religious beliefs between women and the medication they need. But we don’t.
And Obama’s invocation of the (trivial numbers of) 11- and 12-year-olds who get pregnant is such an obvious red herring you wonder who could possibly be gullible enough to take it seriously. Oh wait! As to Althouse’s belief that in order to prevent the sexual assault of young women we should put up arbitrary barriers that make it more likely that they will bear their rapist’s child, I’m going to vote “no.”
Shame on Obama and Sebelius. This isn’t like the compromises on reproductive freedom in the ACA, which were necessary to appease fanatical anti-choicers who were in a position to blow up the legislation. This is an indefensible decision that wasn’t in any sense politically necessary, and indeed might be politically counterproductive. Appalling.
But there is no honest public-health reason to force teenage girls to see a doctor before accessing emergency contraception. There are only political ones. (The morning-after pill will still be available at pharmacies without a prescription for women over 17.)
So what happened? Although it’s hard to believe that conservative voters would be particularly swayed by the president’s capitulation on this front, teen sex has always had a special place in paternalistic and politicized approaches to public health. It doesn’t matter that teenagers can, and do, get pregnant (or contract sexually transmitted diseases) just like women over 17. They still have to be “protected” by parental-notification laws about abortion or from comprehensive, scientifically grounded information about sex. Politically speaking, teenagers aren’t exactly a powerful voting bloc — but their terrified parents are presumed to be.
Irin Carmon’s overview is extremely useful. The real threat under the current Supreme Court configuration isn’t so much the “personhood amendments” that clearly contravene Casey and aren’t popular even in anti-choice outliers, but incremental innovations like “fetal pain” laws that keep expanding the state’s role and pushing the line where abortions are easily available back. Of course, “fetal pain” laws that ban abortion after 18 weeks should also be unconstitutional under Casey, but it’s unlikely the current Court would agree. As one eminent scholar is quoted, “[t]he fetal pain thing is complete bullshit, but Kennedy has already proven that he doesn’t care what the evidence is.” For those who don’t understand the reference, I note this classic quote from his embarrassing-on-every-level opinion in Carhart II:
Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision. While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained.
I particularly like the way the piece emphasizes the fact that the rationale for “centrist” abortion regulations collapses on itself. On the one hand, abortion “centrists” like to focus on regulating late-term abortions, but on the other hand they favor all kinds of arbitrary regulations that make pre-viability abortions much harder to obtain. It’s a nice racket — if you don’t actually care about the reproductive rights of women.