Abortion

Hmm

The Polish government was on Tuesday accused of having “blood on its hands” after a woman died during pregnancy in the first case believed to have been directly caused by its introduction of the toughest abortion law in Europe.

As opposed to the, what is it, 225,000 abortions a year in the UK. Blood did ye say?

Very weird

America is at a crossroads when it comes to abortion. In 2021, state legislatures have passed an unprecedented 106 anti-abortion bills. State lawmakers in five states are preparing legislation similar to Texas’s SB 8, an effective total abortion ban that enshrines a new kind of vigilantism directed at medical providers and private citizens.

In this dangerous moment, supporters of legal abortion must understand that raising our voices is not going to change anything unless we also push for major, immediate democratic reforms including ending the filibuster, enshrining federal voting rights, expanding the supreme court and establishing fair redistricting.

I understand why those goals may simultaneously seem too wonky to follow and too ambitious to achieve. But we cannot fight for abortion rights without first repairing our democracy, because we will continue to lose.

Abortion isn’t a democratic issue in the US. Roe means it’s a constitutional civil liberties one. That entirely insulates it from democracy and elections.

The weirdness is that those actually inside the system don’t seem to grasp that. For example, this Texas thing. Whether or not it stands will be nothing to do with voters, it’s be the Supremes.

It’s a very cool argument, isn’t it?

This early declaration — along with the First Amendment, which Thomas Jefferson solemnly revered “as building a wall of separation between church and state” — illustrates the unprecedented experiment our founders sought to test: a secular republic ruled by democratic laws, not sectarian faith; a nation whose government based its authority upon “we, the people” and not commandments handed down by distant gods. It is a brilliant endowment, given that in a pluralistic democracy such as ours, with people of many faiths and no faiths at all, we purposefully govern ourselves via secular legislation, not religious decrees.

But today, this bold pillar of American democracy is rotting fast. It is under attack by theocrats, especially those who sit on our Supreme Court. Their recent ruling making it nearly illegal for a woman to get an abortion in Texas is the latest terrifying case in point.

The problem is not religion, or even Catholicism. After all, many of our leaders, such as President Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, are themselves Roman Catholics, and they all affirm reproductive choice as a constitutional right. In fact, 56% of Catholics in the United States support this right.

A;ll of this in support of the insistence that legislatures, those engines of democracy, must not be allowed to pass laws about abortion.

How quickly the demands arrive

Let’s start with the UK. Due to the herculean efforts of activists (and despite the best efforts of a foot-dragging, anti-abortion government), Northern Ireland now has limited access to legal abortion. But Alliance for Choice, the campaign group in Northern Ireland, says that proper access to abortion is still not guaranteed across the country. Women are still waiting for the department of health to commission abortion services, telemedicine and more types of available abortion. Currently, the majority of abortions happen in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and are performed with pills, which carry a small risk of failure. Because there is virtually no provision for abortions after the first trimester, people seeking these services are still forced to travel to England.

Allow me the right to do this is different from you must provide me with this thing, isn’t it?

Roe v Wade

Apparently the Supreme Court is going to overturn Roe v Wade. Well, maybe. So, pro-abortionists muse on what must be done.

Situating abortion rights within the fight for fair access to health care for all is the smart next step. The menu of reforms must provide unhindered contraceptive access, including making the pill available over the counter; address the US’s appalling rates of infant and maternal mortality, which are experienced by Black women in particular; provide gender-inclusive and gender-affirming healthcare for LGBTQ+ people; and provide fertility treatment for all, not just those who can afford it.

Quite what lopping dicks and tits off has to do with abortion isn’t certain. More:

To counter the chill of this ultra-conservative supreme court, we propose a long-term goal: a constitutional amendment providing for gender equity. This super-charged Equal Rights Amendment would guarantee full equality and protection for sexuality and reproductive freedoms for all and without harmful government interference or denial of access to key services because of one’s income, race or geography. Let’s begin this bold action by building the political power necessary to make such an amendment a reality.

That appeal to the Constitution again.

Which does rather seem to miss what happens if Roe is overturned. Abortion becomes a matter for State law. Something that is entirely democratically decided by the voters in each state.

So why not have a campaign which works to get people to vote for abortion being legal in their state?

Presumably the answer is that some number of states would vote against the idea. So much for democracy, eh?

Entirely different, no, really

And the stakes in Whole Woman’s Health stretch far beyond abortion. SB 8 is drafted to frustrate judicial review before the law takes effect. If the Supreme Court embraces this tactic, other states are likely to copy it, potentially allowing states to enact all kinds of unconstitutional practices that can’t be challenged until after an unconstitutional law takes effect.

Entirely and wholly different from Biden’s attempt to extend the CDC’s unconstitutional evictions moratorium. The attempt to extend being justified by insisting that it would take a few months for the courts to rule against it by which time it would have had the desired effect anyway.

But, you know, lefties….

Wait, what?

While a three-judge panel of the same appeals court blocked enforcement of the law last year, the judges in Wednesday’s majority opinion said that viewing the law, ​​known as SB8 in court records, “through a binary framework—that either D&Es can be done only by live dismemberment or else women cannot receive abortions in the second trimester—is to accept a false dichotomy.”

“Instead, the record shows that doctors can safely perform D&Es and comply with SB8 using methods that are already in widespread use,” the judges added.

Abortion advocates have argued that dilation and evacuation is one of the safest abortion methods in the second trimester of pregnancy, and that fetuses are not able to feel pain during the pregnancy period specified in the Texas law.

Have I read that right? Someone actually went to court to argue that killing the fetus first isn’t right, it should be chopped up while alive?

OK, OK, yes, it’s not a full human being, it doesn’t have constitutionally protected rights and all that. But seriously? A court argument “We must be allowed to chop ’em up alive”?

Hmmm

In the UK, at least 5,000 pregnancies a year are terminated after a scan for foetal anomalies. The grief and guilt of parents can endure for years – and they often feel unable to openly discuss their experience
….
Abortions are down to 196,082 carried out in 2011, The figures provide a fascinating insight into women’s lives across the two countries – and for those who come here to have the procedure.

But, but, but……

Brianna McNeal had been recovering from an abortion she had in January last year, when she missed a mandatory drug test from World Athletics two days after the procedure. McNeal, a 2016 Olympic track and field champion, had been in bed, and didn’t hear the anti-doping officials at her front door who had come to carry out the test.

Physically and emotionally recovering from her abortion, among other intense personal struggles, marked one of the most difficult times in McNeal’s life. Yet, where she needed compassion and support, she was met with suspicion, interrogation, and devastating punishment. Following two hearings of her case before World Athletics, which McNeal described to Salon as “insensitive,” “invasive” and “gaslighting,” last month, she was suspended from competing in her sport for five years for allegedly tampering within the results management process.

“In both of my hearings, they didn’t acknowledge my mental health, they tried to discredit it — especially the second time, when they brought in some clinical psychologist to try to tell me what I should have been experiencing,” McNeal said, of a disciplinary hearing in which she tried to explain to World Athletics how recovery from her abortion and her subsequent mental health struggles had affected her. Instead, she was told she hadn’t actually experienced depression, and all the ways she supposedly would have acted if she had.

But, but, getting rid of a few grammes of parasite doesn’t produce emotional distress, let alone depression, does it? It’s a liberation, surely?

To think otherwise would be to agree with those damn conservatives, wouldn’t it?

My word!

The president and chief executive of an international reproductive rights non-profit has warned that the American anti-abortion movement has significantly radicalized and is working to spread its ideology around the world.

You mean people who believe in something are telling it to Johnny Foreigner?

How dare they!

Well, this is actually true

This is discriminatory and could well be thought of as in breach of the Disabilities Act:

Allowing pregnancy terminations up to birth if the foetus has Down’s syndrome is discriminatory and stigmatises disabled people, the high court has heard.

Heidi Crowter, a 26-year-old woman with Down’s syndrome from Coventry, Máire Lea-Wilson, 33, and her son Aidan, who has Down’s syndrome, who both live in Brentford, west London are challenging Sajid Javid over the Abortion Act 1967. The act sets a 24-week time limit for abortions unless there is “substantial risk” of the child being “seriously handicapped”.

The three argue it is discriminatory, interferes with the right to respect for private life in article 8(1) of the European convention on human rights (ECHR), including the decision to become or not to become a parent and “rights to dignity, autonomy and personal development of all three claimants”.

The big question is, well, OK, and so?

There’s a certain moral clarity to that American who said “It’s murder and I say it’s great!” just as there is to the no, nay, never crowd like me. For all the normal peeps we end up with a certain clash here. Yes, the current abortion laws do discriminate against the disabled, we also think that discrimination against the disabled is a bad thing. So, who wins here?

Now now, let’s not be biased

Hundreds of anti-abortion protesters lined blocks along a four-lane thoroughfare called Indian School Road in Phoenix, Arizona, enduring the suck of whooshing cars and blistering late June desert heat to advocate for their cause – effectively, theocracy in America.

Rising temperatures promised a sweaty, nauseous apex of 104F for the protest in front of Camelback Family Planning and abortion clinic. Their ranks were defined by gruesome and bloody signs, some taller than the protesters who held them, a microphone and an amplifier.

“This is a slaughterhouse!” a man’s voice growled. Some protesters leaned into car windows going into the clinic parking lot. “This is unnatural for a mother to do this to a child!” one cried.

Being opposed to abortion may or may not be wrong – leave that aside for a moment – but it’s also not theocracy.

It’s entirely possible to construct humanist, atheist, agnostic and so on arguments against the practice. Heck, we could use Rawls – do you get to pierce the veil of ignorance at all and which society would you choose if there were societies in which you could and you couldn’t?

Crazed argumentation

The bill amounts to a near total ban precisely because of how early it cuts off legal abortion. At that stage in a pregnancy, most women don’t yet know that they are pregnant. Even those who do sometimes can’t access abortion care that early, as providers often prefer to wait until eight or 10 weeks of gestation to perform abortions, for safety reasons. Before that stage, it is difficult to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, an unviable condition that can be fatal.

The answer to an ectopic pregnancy is abortion. There is therefore no reason to wait until an ectopic pregnancy is detected in order to have an abortion. Or rather, if abortion has been decided upon there’s no reason to wait.

If what is meant is that a 6 week ban means that ectopic pregnancies cannot be dealt with then that’s just confusing writing from this Guardian columnist. But then what actually happens is “treatment for an ectopic pregnancy” and assuming that that really is what is done then even the Catholic Church is fine with that.

If only Aaronovitch understood American politics


Regardless of the realities, what do the American people want? No poll that I have seen has suggested that a significant majority desire other than the status quo. They want Roe v Wade upheld but they don’t support the full rights of women to procure terminations that I would advocate. The American majority, however, is not what is now represented on the Supreme Court.

Sigh.

Roe v Wade puts abortion in the rights part of the constitution. If Roe is overturned then abortion becomes a matter for the legislature of each state. At which point the majority get to have their say, right? That being how democracy works?

Correlation is such a difficult thing

Well, for Amanduh at least:

Last week was Black Maternal Health Week, which reproductive justice activists started in 2018 to raise awareness of the grim fact that maternal mortality rates for Black women are up to three times higher than they are for white women.

OK:

It is true that Black women have higher abortion rates than white women,

No, of course she didn’t……

An interesting attempt at abortion ethics

But calling fetuses “innocent” assumes that they are persons: “innocence” implies the potential for guilt, and that’s only true of persons.

Well, yes, but to deny they are persons is not a refutation of the claim that they are persons with the right to life etc. It’s a disagreement with it, sure, but not a refutation.

Sorta missing the point

Reproduction without pregnancy: would it really emancipate women?
Jenny Kleeman
It may sound far-fetched, but a breakthrough in Israel has brought us a step closer to creating artificial wombs for humans

One worry is will women be allowed to have abortions – in the sense of killing, rather than removing the foetus, which is the true meaning – is removal can be done into an artificial womb?

Seems a little odd.

But the bigger mistake is to think that artificial pregnancy would free women from childcare. Not really, no, because we’ve a few million years of evolution pushing that idea. It might even, if we want to say so, not be necessary that women be the ones who do this. But we’re still built as a species that women are more disposed to than men…..

Interesting thought Polly

Shockability is a primal quality. Lose that, and you lose all humanity. Latest figures say there have been 93,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK. I am trying to imagine how high 93,000 stacked coffins would reach, or how deep a plague pit would be to hold 93,000 bodies. Because they are disposed of decorously out of sight, there are no such gruesome pictures to jolt the senses.

Would it be a taller pile, or a deeper pit, than the 8 million abortions since legalisation?