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George Tiller, MD: "I Am a Woman-Educated Physician"

In this 2001 interview, George Tiller, MD, explains why he became an abortion provider. In 2009, he was murdered for performing abortions. The video is an outtake from Voices of Choice, a documentary by Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. For more information about Dr. Tiller, visit our website, prch.org.

George Tiller, MD: "Abortion Services Are a Heart Issue"

In this 2001 interview, George Tiller, MD, explains why he provides abortions despite being a target for violence and harassment. He was murdered in 2009 for performing abortions. This video is an outtake from Voices of Choice, a documentary by Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health. For more information about Dr. Tiller, visit our website, prch.org.
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The words would be some thing like this...

My tax dollars, which I worked my ass off for, should damn well PAY FOR ABORTIONS!
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LAte Abortion Care will return to Kansas

Now, against the odds, it turns out that another brave abortion provider is stepping in to take Dr. Tiller’s place, and provide late abortions in Kansas (h/t):
A Nebraska doctor said Wednesday that he will perform third-term abortions in Kansas after the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller, but would not say whether he will open a new facility or offer the procedure at an existing practice.
Dr. LeRoy Carhart declined to discuss his plans in detail during a telephone interview with The Associated Press, but insisted “there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon.”
“I just think that until everything is in place, it’s something that doesn’t need to be talked about” in detail, Carhart said a day after Tiller’s family announced his Wichita clinic was permanently shutting its doors.
Tiller’s clinic was one of the only facilities in the country that performed third-trimester abortions. Carhart has run his own clinic in Bellevue, Neb., since 1985, but had performed late-term abortions at Tiller’s clinic because of Nebraska’s more restrictive abortion laws.
Dr. Carhart was a long-term friend and colleague of Dr. Tiller, and had worked with him on past occasions. He had also previously been a part of plans to reopen Dr. Tiller’s clinic and provide services there along with two other doctors, before Dr. Tiller’s family ultimately decided that the facility would not reopen. Apparently determined to ensure that late abortions are still available in the state (which has significantly less restrictive late abortion laws than many others), he has now developed alternate plans.
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Late-term Abortions: Facts, Stories, and Ways to Help

In all the extensive coverage of the assassination in his church of Dr. George Tiller by a murderer affiliated with extremist right-wing groups, little has been said to shed light on what late-term abortions are, who has them and why.

Instead, much of the media and talking heads pontificating on this subject have constantly focused on Tiller's being "one of the very few doctors who perform late-term abortions," without providing any context as to why he did so and under what circumstances.

As a result, the dominant narrative is one which perpetuates an assumption that people are electing to have late-term abortions for the sake of convenience.

So here are some facts:
Late-term abortions are very rare. About one percent of all abortions performed in the United States occur after 21 weeks. There are different definitions of what constitutes a "late term abortion," but most definitions refer to abortions at or after 24 weeks or in the third trimester.
Late-term abortions are severely restricted by law.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the constitutional right to privacy extends to the decision of a woman, in consultation with her physician, to terminate a pregnancy.
The Court also determined, however, that this right is not absolute and it must be balanced against the state's legitimate interest in protecting both the health of the pregnant woman and the developing human life. Therefore, according to Roe, the state's interest in protecting potential life becomes compelling at the point of fetal viability (when the fetus has the capacity for sustained survival outside the uterus). States are allowed to, and indeed have, severely restricted access to abortion in the third-trimester, except, as the Supreme Court has ruled, when necessary to preserve the woman's life or health. In subsequent cases, the Court made clear that viability is a medical determination, which varies with each pregnancy, and that it is the responsibility of the attending physician to make that determination.
As the Guttmacher Institute points out in a brief on this issue, the Supreme Court has held that:
  • even after fetal viability, states may not prohibit abortions “necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother;”
  • “health” in this context includes both physical and mental health;
  • only the physician, in the course of evaluating the specific circumstances of an individual case, can define what constitutes “health” and when a fetus is viable; and
  • states cannot require additional physicians to confirm the physician’s judgment that the woman’s life or health is at risk.

A Brief history of "Pro-Life Terrorism
Controlling the Means of Reproduction: An Interview with Michelle Goldberg

MVD: Most wouldn't immediately draw a connection between the War on Terror and reproductive rights. What does the demonization of Muslim regimes have to do with reproductive rights?

MG: Although it is true that conservatives have used their very selective outrage over the abuse of women in the Muslim world to garner support for their foreign policy, what's tremendously ironic is the way that, even as Bush railed against [abuses against women in] countries like Iran and Sudan, his administration was working with both of them to thwart or roll back international agreements on women's rights and health. Parts of the American Christian right did the same thing, even as they demonized Muslims in front of domestic audiences. It was an amazing axis of hypocrisy. And as the book shows, there's a long precedent for this sort of thing. The Vatican once offered to help Libya reconcile with the West after the Lockerbie bombing in exchange for supporting its stand against the global reproductive rights movement. Read more and get her book here

Read more... )
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from [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political
Randall Terry, Operation Rescue Founder,
Says He's More Concerned About Obama's Reaction Than Tiller's Murder
Randall Terry, the founder of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue who led protests against George Tiller's clinic in Wichita, Kansas in 1991, issued a statement about today's killing of the abortion doctor.

In his comments, Terry does not grieve for Tiller or denounce the murder but seems more concerned about President Obama's reaction and what it bodes for the pro-life movement.

"George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller's killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches."

An article on what Operation Rescue put Dr. Tillman and his staff through

Newman and his small staff of zealous pro-lifers are buzzing with the news that the clinic's office manager has quit -- a result, they believe, of their name-and-shame campaign. The manager had been accosted by a neighbor in a grocery store who recognized her from an Operation Rescue flier that featured her photo. "You're that baby killer!" the neighbor screamed at her. Then Newman, through investigative methods he'd rather not reveal, discovered where the woman's husband works. "We think that's what clinched it," he says. "He probably realized we were going to picket his workplace. I imagine he's the major breadwinner in the family, and he didn't want to risk his job."" If you read the whole story, you can find out how Newman threatened the Tillers' dry cleaner and a cab company that sometimes took patients to and from the clinic:
"Newman then tells him, in the most courteous tone imaginable, that he might see a few people outside the company holding signs. Just to let everybody know what he's participating in. "It's not personal," Newman says gently."
They also go through employees' trash, and offer rewards for incriminating information. They stop children on sidewalks and tell them their neighbors kill little babies.

Mark Kleinman points out

Remember how Repubicans in Congress were all in a dither about the DHS report on right-wing extremist organizations as potential terrorist threats? The Tiller gunman was affiliated with at least two of those organizations. In addition to his connection with Operation Rescue, he was a tax protester, a "sovereign citizen," and a member of the Freemen. Maybe someone should ask Rep. Peter King of New York (ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee) and John Hinderaker of PowerLine whether they still consider the threat of right-wing terrorism to be mere Obama Administration fantasy. (That's beside the fact that the report was ordered up during the Bush Administration.)
And I wonder, now that someone labeled a "baby killer" by people like Bill O'Reilly has been murdered, whether the official McCain-for-President website might want to take down a post calling the President a "baby killer."
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The fuck is it that every goddamn time I leave the internets for teh weekend I come back to blood and gore and fuckitude? DAMN you people for being so goddamn intolerant and fucked up that you have to KILL people who are providing a service that your murderous version of God don't like. You goddamn zealots and fanatical assholes! Time to call it what it is: Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism. And its funny as hell how the right wing media, blogs and Fox News, won't betaking ANY responsibility for this shit that they have helped to incite. Fuck you all.

Oh yes. Remember that report conducted about Right Wing Terrorists in these here United States? Rememebr how the right wing screamed discrimination? Well?
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Blog for Choice Day: Pro-Choice Hope for a New Administration

2. Repeal the Hyde amendment. This is a domestic law that forbids federal funds from getting used on abortion services. Although many may not want "their" tax dollars used for abortions, abortions, like other kinds of health care to poor people, are extremely difficult to fund privately and repealing this amendment would do more to increase access to family planning to poor women than almost any other action.

3. Fully fund Title X. Family planning funds have remained roughly stagnant since the beginning of the Bush administration. Just to get the funds to where they were, adjusted for inflation, in 2000, the Obama administration must allocate more than $700 million (the previous administration allocated $300 million), and even that number doesn't do enough to hire translators or bilingual staff at family planning clinics, increase the service to women who might require more attention, or allow family planning clinics to open in states where there may be so few.

4. Restore U.S. funding to the UNFPA. As Michelle Goldberg outlines in her forthcoming book, antichoice activists used false allegations of UNFPA officials using coercive abortion practices in China to de-fund the United Nations Population Fund. By restoring funding to the organization, it would show the world that the United States is willing to become a leader on family planning again.MORE
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via Shakesville

Obama Reverses Bush ‘Gag’ Curbing Funds for Family Counseling

Roe vs Wade

As Clarkson points out, increased access to abortion services isn't part of any of the healthcare plans floating around DC. It isn't in the Religious Industrial Complex's policy agenda. Thirty-six years later, women's right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare is the elephant. Either the white elephant it's clear some Democrats would love to get rid of, or the pink elephant they pretend not to see.

And that's a shame. Literally. It reinforces the idea that reproductive healthcare is shameful, something we should be afraid to talk about unless we're saying something negative. Whereas, all aspects of reproductive healthcare need to be recognized as necessary and normal. Even if some procedures are more like a triple bypass surgery or hip replacement, in that you hope they aren't needed but recognize that they must be available for those who require them.MORE
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WHat she said

It seems to me they may be a little confused about the terms "maverick" and "reformer." That's not surprising, since they're also confused about the term "domestic terrorist:"

In her interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said that Bill Ayers is “no question” a terrorist because he sought to destroy the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon. Palin, however, refused to apply the same label to abortion clinic bombers:

Q: Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist, under this definition, governor?
PALIN: (Sigh). There’s no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our U.S. Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that uh, it would be unacceptable. I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there.

Steve Benen helps them out:

I was curious about the dictionary definition of the word: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons." Sounds about right.

Given this, we have an organized group of activists who feel justified killing American physicians and bombing hundreds of doctors' offices on U.S. soil because they don't like a legal, medical procedure. "I don't know if you're gonna use the word 'terrorist' there." Why, pray tell, not? And does John McCain, who sat silently during the exchange, agree with this?

Actually, he might. ThinkProgress noted a couple of weeks ago that McCain has "repeatedly voted against protecting Americans from domestic terrorists carrying out violence at abortion clinics."

There's a striking disconnect here. Obama has denounced Ayers' crimes, and labeled Ayers' acts "terrorism." The Republican ticket, however, is reluctant to do the same when it comes to a different kind of domestic terrorism.

Of course. Republicons believe that terrorists either must be brown or leftist. Right-wing white people cannot possibly be terrorists. Neither would William Ayers, if he'd donated to the McCain campaign.
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Why no one with a uterus should vote for John McCain

For purposes of my argument, it doesn't matter how you feel about abortion. Forget your own feelings about abortion. My own are rather liberal, offputtingly so to many people, so forget those, too. Forget your disappointment, if you feel it as I do, in hearing Senator Obama use the anti-choice movement's buzzwords, "partial-birth abortion," without busting out an angry McCainish sneer.

Focus instead on the air quotes McCain used, the belittling wiggle of his fingers as he summarily dismissed women facing what's possibly the ultimate lose-lose situation: your baby or your life.

Your baby. Your life. If you're reading this blog, chances are good that you're a mother, a pregnant woman, a woman who plans to become pregnant, or a woman who's trying. He means you. He means us when he holds up his hands and says with that single scornful gesture that we don't matter. That we are a figment of the "pro-abortion movement's" imagination. That — what, we're making this whole "staying pregnant might kill me" thing up? (That he did this on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is, of course, coincidental, but the irony, it is not lost.)MORE
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What [livejournal.com profile] vee_ecks says with regard to school vouchers

And if McCain expects me to believe that he will not apply a litmus test to Supreme Court Justices? He is probably smoking some high grade. And I want some to help me relax after hearing him dismiss the health of the mother exception on partial abortions.
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The post you should read if you think you don't care about FISA

Can anyone differentiate legally or logically for me between the President making the claim that he's the last word on the law when it comes to domestic spying, and the next Republican President making the claim that he's the last word on the law when it comes to any of the agenda items we hope to see signed into law by Barack Obama?

That's really the issue here. Not FISA by itself. But the foundation of our system of law and government that says the President doesn't get to rewrite the law on his say-so.

If you want Obama to win because you want to see new policies implemented that will change life for the better, then guess what? You're interested in the principle that lies at the heart of why we fight on FISA.

Still not in your top ten?

Meantime, Obama shows how much of an blinkered, IDIOTIC Fucktard he can be

Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate's stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?

Obama: I absolutely can, so please don't believe the emails. I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that "mental distress" qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.

Digby links to some great takedowns of his fuckery...

There's a lot of talk this week-end about Obama's comments on late term abortion to a Christian magazine in which he said that the didn't think "mental distress" was an acceptable exception to the prohibition against them. I don't have lot of time to delve into this in depth today, but others are making the arguments quite well.

For the legal argument, click here. (It's a bad headline, but a good article.) The fact is that the pro-choice position on this is well founded in the law. The health of the mother has always been the exception to the prohibitions allowed under Roe vs Wade and that includes mental health. I don't know who Obama thinks is going to decide that a girl or woman isn't "mentally distressed" enough not to give birth against her will, but I can't see that it can logically be anyone other than the woman herself and the people in her life who know the state of her health. Perhaps we can have a bunch of congressmen, senators and judges taking turns making that decision on a case by case basis? It worked for Bill Frist in the Schiavo case.

The medical argument is made quite passionately, here. Just read it. These are real people with real problems, not just spoiled girls who deserve to be punished with forced pregnancy.

I'm not surprised about this. There has been a movement afoot in Democratic circles to jettison a woman's right to choose for some time and Obama has always shown some squishiness on it, going back to before he was a candidate:...

and excerpts a bit from a book that really needs to be bought as quickly as possible... Kingdom Come, that deconstructs the Abortion Myth:

In the 1980s, in order to solidify their shift from divorce to abortion, the Religious Right constructed an abortion myth, one accepted by most Americans as true. Simply put, the abortion myth is this: Leaders of the Religious Right would have us believe that their movement began in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Politically conservative evangelical leaders were so morally outraged by the ruling that they instantly shed their apolitical stupor in order to mobilize politically in defense of the sanctity of life. Most of these leaders did so reluctantly and at great personal sacrifice, risking the obloquy of their congregants and the contempt of liberals and "secular humanists," who were trying their best to ruin America. But these selfless, courageous leaders of the Religious Right, inspired by the opponents of slavery in the nineteenth century, trudged dutifully into battle in order to defend those innocent unborn children, newly endangered by the Supreme Court's misguided Roe decision.

It's a compelling story, no question about it. Except for one thing: It isn't true.

Although various Roman Catholic groups denounced the ruling, and Christianity Today complained that the Roe decision "runs counter to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people," the vast majority of evangelical leaders said virtually nothing about it; many of those who did comment actually applauded the decision. W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, "Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision." Indeed, even before the Roe decision, the messengers (delegates) to the 1971 Southern Baptist Convention gathering in St. Louis, Missouri, adopted a resolution that stated, "we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother." W.A. Criswell, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, expressed his satisfaction with the Roe v. Wade ruling. "I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person," the redoubtable fundamentalist declared, "and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed."


The Religious Right's self-portrayal as mobilizing in response to the Roe decision was so pervasive among evangelicals that few questioned it. But my attendance at an unusual gathering in Washington, D.C., finally alerted me to the abortion myth.

In November 1990, for reasons that I still don't entirely understand, I was invited to attend a conference in Washington sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Religious Right organization (though I didn't realize it at the time). I soon found myself in a conference room with a couple of dozen people, including Ralph Reed, then head of the Christian Coalition; Carl F. H. Henry, an evangelical theologian; Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family; Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association; Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Edward G. Dobson, pastor of an evangelical church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and formerly one of Jerry Falwell's acolytes at Moral Majority. Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime conservative activist, head of what is now called the Free Congress Foundation, and one of the architects of the Religious Right in the late 1970s, was also there.

In the course of one of the sessions, Weyrich tried to make a point to his Religious Right brethren (no women attended the conference, as I recall). Let's remember, he said animatedly, that the Religious Right did not come together in response to the Roe decision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got us going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies.

Again, GO read the Whole thing

Shakesville does some really good writing and linking on the subject of Master Obama's blinkers and stupidity:

My favorite linkage is here
There is a certain brand of Democrat who wants to flee whenever the topic of abortion comes up. They aren't comfortable with the debate for one reason or another and have a hard time sticking up for a simple fundamental premise -- that the decision to have an abortion is a private matter best decided by the pregnant woman and those she chooses to involve in the decision. Period. Full Stop.

The anti-abortion rights movement has been effective at playing on the weaknesses of this group, focusing incessantly on marginal issues like so-called "partial birth abortion" a term that they invented for Dilation and Extraction abortions ("D&X") and then immediately conflated with late term abortion, late term abortions themselves, parental consent laws, etc. Data compiled in 2000 by the Alan Guttmacher Institute ("AGI") show that 88% of abortions are performed within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, about 10% are performed in weeks 13-20, and about 1% after 21 weeks. Most D&X abortions were performed in the second trimester, and all such abortions constituted .17% of those performed in the U.S.


Third Way's Cultural Commissar Director of the Culture Program regularly produces memos that suggest that if we will just say how icky abortion is and also that we are uncomfortable with contraception (and that women who choose either are slutty slut sluts) we will then win the right to capitulate more in the future (that can't be right, can it?).

Third Way has recently been promoting "abortion reduction" as its goal and as an electoral strategy. To which I say "bollocks." The number of abortions that should be performed in America is the number that women, for whatever circumstances, find that they need. (A-FUCKING-MEN!!!) I am all in favor of expanding the use, availability and knowledge of contraception. (If only Third Way would unabashedly push this line.) But in the end, for any number of reasons, there will be unwanted pregnancies and I am rather clear about who should make the decision on whether these should be carried to term -- hint, not the government.

Jeff Fecke uses that post as a jumpoff for some really pointed insights

There was a time when I bought into the "Third Way" thinking on abortion. (There was a time I sort of supported the Iraq war. I've never said I was perfect, only that I can learn from my own stupidity.) I could say things like, "Well, I could understand a flat ban on third-trimester abortions, as long as first- and second-trimester abortions were flatly legal under all circumstances." It was very bipartisan of me, very work-across-the-aisle. I got an official membership card in the "sensible liberal" group and 50 Saletan points to redeem for moderate cred. It was awesome.

But then one day I woke up and realized something. I said to myself, "Self, third-trimester abortion represents a vanishingly small percentage of all abortions in this country, and they're almost always due to some sort of life/health of the mother issue that everyone with an ounce of sanity supports. So why are the pro-lifers so dead-set on winning that battle, when it really won't affect all that much?" And that's when I realized that it wasn't about third-tri abortions, or the D&X procedure, or any of that. It was about moving the frame.

Pro-lifers don't care about third trimester abortions, not really. Indeed, they care far less about reducing abortion than they do punishing women for having sex. Their goal in the D&X ban was not to stop abortion -- it doesn't -- or to make it less safe -- though they weren't upset about that development. No, their goal was to make third-trimester abortions more morally questionable, and thus, easier to ban.

Why do they want a ban? Well, right now, the third trimester is the morally ambiguous territory on abortion. Most Americans don't want to see an outright ban on first- or second-tri abortions, but get squeamish when we get to the third. But what happens if all third-trimester abortion is outlawed? Suddenly, the third trimester isn't questionable anymore. It's the second that we have to debate. It moves the frame. It moves the debatable territory. It makes it easier to ban abortion, step by step by step. When I realized this blindingly obvious truth, it was a true epiphany, and it told me that there was a very valuable lesson: on abortion, we cannot yield the pro-lifers an inch, not a millimeter. Because they will try to take a mile.

Zuzu thinks that Obama simply doesn't know what the hell he's talking about

I've often thought, whenever I hear Barack Obama talking about choice, abortion, women's bodily autonomy and abstinence, that he doesn't really know what he's talking about. The answer to such criticism is usually, "But he has a great record on choice!" or, "He has a 100% NARAL rating!" (Like that's worth much.)

I've long had the feeling that Obama just doesn't know how to talk about these issues in a way that makes it clear that he strongly supports womens' rights to bodily autonomy but also communicates that he understands the moral qualms some people have. That's what "safe, legal and rare" did, after all. And he usually votes the right way (those "present" votes in Illinois notwithstanding), and certainly, his written positions are fine. But written statements are usually put together by staff, and crafted carefully.

Which leaves us with Obama's public statements on choice. And whenever he opens his mouth, something garbled comes out. It's as if he doesn't really know what he's talking about. He manages to come out against settled law and in favor of anti-choice positions, using language that seems designed to appeal to evangelicals. Let's just take his comments to Relevant magazine:


There's no way to reconcile Obama's comments to Relevant with support of Roe v. Wade (and Doe v. Bolton, which was decided the same day). So either he's making a disingenuous pitch to evangelical voters, or he hasn't taken the trouble to study the issue and the actual cases (kind of a big failing in a Constitutional Law prof, no?). This is clearly explained by Jan Crawford Greenburg, ABC's legal correspondent, in this article passed on by Shakers sassysenora and lola in comments (emphasis mine):

In a recent interview, Obama appears to back away from his long-stated positions on abortion (and a proposed federal abortion rights law he had co-sponsored), repudiate 35 years of accepted Supreme Court rulings on the issue and embrace a view on abortion restrictions that has been expressed on the Court only by Justices Thomas and Scalia.

Obama's remarks are printed verbatim in the interview, published yesterday in Relevant Magazine. Read them — there's no mistaking that Obama says he no longer will support what's long been a cornerstone of the abortion rights debate: The Court's insistence that laws banning abortions after the fetus is viable (now about 22 weeks) contain an exception to allow doctors to perform them if necessary to protect a pregnant woman's mental health.

'I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother," Obama said. "I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions."


This has been a central battleground issue in the Supreme Court going back 35 years, to Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, when the Court ruled a woman had a constitutional right to abortion. The decisions said state's can ban all abortions after the fetus is viable -- but that any restrictions must include exceptions to protect a woman's physical and emotional health.

In the years since, anti-abortion groups have fought hard against mental health exceptions, arguing that they create giant loopholes that make abortion bans meaningless. Doctors, they argue, can always find a "mental health" exception. But abortion rights groups just as strongly argue the mental health exception is critical to preserving a woman's right to an abortion—and that the woman and her doctor must be allowed to make those decisions about her health without government interference.

In 1973, when the Court issued Roe and Doe — on the same day — it sided with the abortion rights groups and said states could not interfere with a doctor's medical judgment on whether an abortion was necessary.

"[M]edical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors--physical, emotional , psychological, familial, and the woman's age--relevant to the well- being of the patient," said the Supreme Court in Doe, which was a companion case to Roe. "All these factors may relate to health . This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment."

Obama's comments that he does not support mental health exceptions in so-called post-viability abortions (after 22 weeks) is squarely at odds with that holding, which remains the law of the land today.

But wait, he's even more wrong on the law

So, what should Democrats ACTUALLY BE DOING?

Are Democrats backpedaling on abortion rights?

As two strong feminist Obama supporters, we know women are well aware that Democratic policies, as well as Democratic leaders, are far less sexist and far more likely to empower women than the policies and leaders of the GOP. For those reasons, we believe, even the most frustrated Hillary Clinton supporters will come around. But telling women that the Democrats' commitment to abortion rights is what should drive their vote, while simultaneously suggesting, as Wallis and his allies do, that given the choice, having a baby is a more moral choice than abortion, will be understood for what it is: condescending and sexist. It is likely to stoke, not slake, the flames of anger, since women are well aware of the moral dimensions of pregnancy; they were not a novel discovery made circa 2004.

Let us be clear: Reducing the need for abortion is sound policy, and we have both worked in our careers to do so. The pro-choice movement has been promoting such an agenda for the better part of two decades -- often, and ironically, over the opposition of the very people who now claim to espouse it. In fact, Sojourners, the organization headed by Wallis, does not include contraception as part of its abortion reduction strategy, and Democrats for Life, the political group most vocal about abortion reduction, refused to endorse the family-planning provisions of the bill it initiated, "Reducing the Need for Abortion Initiative," also known as the Ryan-DeLauro bill.

Why should the Democratic Party platform be framed by such groups, who also seem ignorant of the fact that the platform already contains all the elements necessary to reduce the need for abortion? The platform supports access to family planning, the single most important factor in preventing pregnancy, and promotes an economic program, heathcare reform and protections for women's equality that would, if enacted, make it more possible for women who become pregnant and wish to continue those pregnancies to keep and raise their children in a secure environment.

What more could be meaningfully proposed? Going further down the path of moral pandering on abortion is only likely to erase the gender gap advantage that Democratic nominees had enjoyed among women in three straight presidential elections -- which plummeted in the Kerry-Bush contest, resulting in George W. Bush's second term and the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.


What then should Democrats and Sen. Obama do?

We need not wait for either the Democratic convention or the election to move forward on reducing the need for abortion. Two perfectly good bills are languishing in Congress. One, the Prevention First Act, was introduced by Sen. Clinton; the other, the Reducing the Need for Abortion Initiative by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and Rep. Tim Ryan, a pro-life Democrat. These bills need to move forward and perhaps be consolidated. (The Clinton bill does more for family planning, and the Ryan-DeLauro bill more for women who want to continue pregnancies.) Sen. Clinton is in a perfect position to make that happen, and we will work with her on that goal. Moving these bills before the election will give us a yardstick by which to measure members of Congress' commitments to meeting women's needs while recognizing their rights.

Finally, Master Obama ended up having to clarify his remarks:

Reporter: You said that mental distress shouldn't be a reason for late-term abortion?

Obama: "My only point is this -- historically I have been a strong believer in a women's right to choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family. And it is ..I have consistently been saying that you have to have a health exception on many significant restrictions or bans on abortions including late-term abortions.

In the past there has been some fear on the part of people who, not only people who are anti-abortion, but people who may be in the middle, that that means that if a woman just doesn't feel good then that is an exception. That's never been the case.

I don't think that is how it has been interpreted. My only point is that in an area like partial-birth abortion having a mental, having a health exception can be defined rigorously. It can be defined through physical health, It can be defined by serious clinical mental-health diseases. It is not just a matter of feeling blue. I don't think that's how pro-choice folks have interpreted it. I don't think that's how the courts have interpreted it and I think that's important to emphasize and understand.

Uh, yeah. Does he think we are idiots?

As Jeff Fecke comments in the same article:

And all that is true, and all would have been nice for you to say in the first place.

I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, Barack, but I'm having trouble with it. You seem to have to clarify and revise and extend on women's issues far too much. And on this, your clarification does boil down to, "Well, I didn't say what I said." But you did say what you said. I guess I'd rather you were clarifying in this direction than the opposite, but frankly, I'd rather clarifications didn't have to be issued at all.
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Dear fucking Pope,

You march about in holy rage, condemning at us women who dare to want to control our uterus and our sex lives. Based on the pontifications of a book that was not only written by poor shepherds several thousand years, but has been translated into several languages over the years, and whose current form was decided by committee a couple hundred years ago, you claim that God wants us women to not have sex til marriage, to have children whether we like it or not and to submit to our husbands' without a murmur. But have you seen the real life cost of your policies? Have you been confronted with the downright misery that is the result of your absurd, misogynist, selfish and bloody evil edicts! Behold the plight of Phillipine Women oh holy priest. They have followed your rulings. There are no contraceptives, no abortions. Their husbands have complete control over women's bodies. All is as it should be, according to your edicts. So, since they are serving the Lord in all His ways, WHY THE HELL IS THERE SUCH HORRFIC SUFFERING? Consider this paragraph:

The policy has hit poorest people the hardest, they say, forcing people to choose between a packet of pills or food for their families.

President Arroyo says that natural family planning is best for Filipinos

Several of the petitioners have had many more children than they wanted - some at the expense of their health - because they could not afford to pay for contraception.

The policy also exposed women to violence from husbands who did not want to abstain from sex, the rights groups found in an earlier report, and meant more women were resorting to illegal and unsafe abortions.

Mr Atienza is no longer mayor - he is now secretary for the Department of Environment - and his replacement Alfredo Lim is currently looking at the issue.

Oh Pope, this is specifically YOUR mess. YOUR religion has 80% of the population as adherents. YOUR bibilical interpretations have affected these people's lives in this manner. YOU are the one who is responsible for the suffering and misery these people face. AND you dare to speak to me of God? Is this what God thinks of women, that they should be placed in such an intolerable situation? For what? So that they can go to heaven when they are dead? Milk and fucking honey in the afterlife singing glory hallejuah around for some white guy in a beard on a fucking throne? While you, conveniently, can get to experience heaven on earth in your Prada clothing and shoes, in your richly appointed palace (furnished with the spoils stolen from soooo many lands); and grow fat by eating luxurious food, with soft, clean white hands, smoothed by expensive lotion, while your fucking flock starves and gets beaten up and worn down and sick and fucking die of having too many children that they cannot take care of (to say nothing of abusive husbands? All because your corrupt, power-hungry ass cannot conceive of women as anything but baby incubators? What is your plan? That people will be so tired of this life that they will eagerly turn to the church and its hollow promises to give themselves something to hold on to? While you laugh and get richer and bask in fame and power and fortune?

Is this the example of your Messiah? Is this wisdom? Is this compassion? Is this helping the poor? Is this BLOODY MORAL? While you preside over human misery, tell me again how wicked atheists are? tell me again that we are the biggest threats, that atheism is responsible for the Greatest Cruelties in the history of the world, pontificate grandly and at length, O my corpulent and hypocritical pontiff, about the injustices of the world. For lo, the cameras are on you, and your words carry weight, because you are the light of the world. You are the representative of God, a descendant of that bastard Paul, if I remember correctly. Oh yes, now that I think about it. You are the descendant of Paul, that ignorant, judgemental, misogynist, homophobic ignoramus. The only thing is, he had an excuse. He lived 2000 years ago, and didn't know better. But you, oh you! You were educated.You have access to knowledge that your idiot precedessor could only dream of. And what do you do/ Do you help the poor and fight for the rights of the defenceless? Do you recognise us all, women and gays and men as human and worthy of being loved and respected? Do you come up with any policy that will substantially help the poor? Of course not. All the ills of the world are neatly blamed on atheism and secularism and occasionally,those of other denominations and faiths. And then you wonder off to bless a fleet of Ferraris wearing brand name sunglasses. You goddamn Pharisee! FUCK YOU! All that blood, all that suffering, all that death is on your lily white hands. And may karma visit on you a 10th of the troubles, trials, tribulations and pain that you and your thrice damned church have visited on others.
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Don't look now, but the front lines of the abortion battle are shifting. The decades-long face-down between insanely brave Planned Parenthood clinic workers (who accepted bodyguards and stalkers and phone harassment and the possibility that they'd be blown up at their desks or taken out by a sniper while sitting at their dinner tables as just another part of the job) and earnestly sincere raving crazies who drive around town with gruesome and bloody pictures taped all over their cars and derive their greatest satisfaction in life from howling public "murder" accusations at women who are, far more often than not, simply trying to see a doctor for a yeast infection -- well, that little piece of urban guerilla warfare, which has been ravaging lives and careers for decades in an American small town or suburb near you, is finally heading into a new phase of engagement.

And this new round looks like it may find the screeching mob of would-be fetus rescuers all dressed up -- with nowhere left to go, and nobody left to terrorize.

Or...it may not.

Christian fundamentalist trolls are fond of insisting that they're nothing at all like the Muslim fundamentalists. After all, they declare proudly, heads drawn back and chins jutting forward in quivering self-righteousness, they don't engage in acts of terrorism. Which is beyond crazy. I mean, just imagine what those same denial-mongers would have to say if radical Islamic terrorists had pulled off a 30-year campaign of violence against US and Canadian medical clinics that ended up with this kind of casualty list:

7 murders, including three doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, and an escort
17 attempted murders
383 death threats
153 incidents of assault and battery
3 kidnappings
41 bombings
173 arsons
91 attempted bombings or arsons
619 bomb threats
655 bioterror attacks (all hoaxes), 554 of which were committed by one man
1630 incidents of trespassing
1264 incidents of vandalism
100 attacks with butyric acid stink bombs
One-third of all abortion clinics in 1981 were gone by 2005.

If Islamic jihadists had done even a tenth this much damage, every last Muslim in America would be doing stress-position calisthenics in a concentration camp somewhere in the Nevada desert right now. But since this impressive achievement in domestic terrorism was almost entirely accomplished by white Christian men -- well, y'see, it's Not Terrorism when we do it. And, as we all know by now, it's especially Not Terrorism when the targets aren't white, Christian, or male.


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