Tag Archives: pro-life

“Stand With Wendy!”: A Texas Senator’s Inspiring Abortion Filibuster Races Down the Clock

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 12.27.56 PMWendy Davis was just 19-years-old when she gave birth to her first child. She had helped support her single mother and three siblings starting from the time she was 14. After becoming a mother, herself, she went on to pursue further education, first at community college, then at Texas Christian University, and finally as a graduate of Harvard Law School. By these life touchstones, alone, it’s clear Davis is a force to be reckoned with.

Fast forward several decades to 2008 when Davis was elected to state senate as the progressive Democratic leader who yesterday inspired women’s rights activists around the country. The occasion for yesterday’s filibuster – which lasted nearly 13 hours, during which Davis didn’t eat, drink, sit down, lean on anything, or leave for any reason – was the anti-abortion and reproductive rights bill SB-5. If passed, this bill would have prohibited abortions past the 20-week gestation mark and result in the closure of 37 of the state’s 42 abortion clinics, along with a host of other restrictions.

Davis began her filibuster at roughly 11am on Tuesday, and by the evening nearly 200,000 people were watching the livestream on YouTube. Even President Obama tweeted to show his support, ending his tweet with hashtag #StandWithWendy. This viral movement, contained in the space of a whirlwind 13 or so hours, swept social media and shot Wendy Davis to the national stage at unprecedented speed.

But the events of the day were by no means tidy. Davis’ filibuster was cut off by Lt. Governer David Dewhurst, for what reasons are unclear. Other Democrats on the floor jumped in to further stall the final vote, as by now the clock was ticking and the midnight deadline fast approaching. With just 15 minutes to go, Senator Leticia Van De Putte jumped in to demand her voice be heard: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” The question acted as a rallying cry for women’s rights, and the crowd erupted in support, pushing the proceedings over the midnight mark. Thus, despite swift measures by Republicans to contest the final time of the vote, the clock didn’t lie, and the bill would not pass.

Watch Wendy Davis respond to an emotional crowd after her nearly 13-hour filibuster that secured reproductive rights for women in the state of Texas:

With yesterday’s filibuster, as well as Davis’ previous filibuster against Texas public school budget cuts, it is clear that Wendy Davis is a senator worth keeping an eye on. Her energy, drive, and progressive values may make her the strong female politician we’ve all been waiting for (not that there haven’t been many others to inspire us over the years.) What do you think? Would you vote for Wendy Davis to be the first female president? Will yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act make it harder for Davis to get re-elected to the state senate?

Photo credit: Twitter

Denied an Abortion – What Now? A Study on the Effects of Unwanted Motherhood

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 3.05.08 PMIt may have been one spontaneous night with an ex, never to be replicated; or perhaps a traumatic moment of violence and sexual abuse. She could be unemployed, ill, very young, or already a bit creaky in the joints. Maybe she has other kids at home and a partner in active duty, in prison, in the hospital, or deceased. And in the midst of working, paying bills, job hunting, taking care of children, doing homework, or whatever her daily responsibilities include, the tender belly and light periods get pushed to the back of her mind – until it’s too late.

Whatever their reasons, these are the women who discover their pregnancies late in the game, determine their best course of action is abortion, and upon medical inspection are turned away from the procedures they desperately want or need. How do these women, the ones forced into motherhood, fare and what are the effects of their denied abortions?

This question provides the foundation for an ongoing study, called “The Turnaway Study” run by Diana Greene Foster, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. Researching abortion clinics around the country, Foster’s study aims to determine the differing effects, if any, between women who seek late-term abortions and get them versus women who seek late-term abortions but are denied them, most often due to timing. (Individual states’ and clinic’s limits vary, but tend to fall sometime in the second trimester.) Such effects might range from the psychological and emotional, to socioeconomic factors, to long-term physical health. In essence, is there any statistical evidence to prove that women are any better or worse off for keeping a baby, even if they wholeheartedly wanted to terminate the pregnancy?

This study lands in public discourse at a time when pro-life advocates preach the many dangers to women’s mental and physical health resulting from abortion. It isn’t a hard line of reasoning to follow, especially given the hormones that are already being released in early pregnancy. But, as noted in a thorough article published in the New York Times, the psychological and health effects of carrying a pregnancy to term – and then, of course, raising a child – can be just as overwhelming, if not more so.

Based on Foster’s study, women in the turnaway group suffered greater health effects, including increased hypertension rates and chronic pelvic pain, as well as socioeconomic effects that left them below the poverty line three times more often than the women who received abortions. Both groups, however, Lang points out, began with similar life circumstances.

Only 6.6 percent of near-limit patients in the study and 5.6 percent of turnaways finished college (nearly 30 percent of adult American women have a bachelor’s degree). One in 10 were on welfare, and approximately 80 percent reported not having enough money to meet basic living needs. A majority, in both groups, already had at least one child.

These are interesting statistics on several counts. First of all, women seeking abortions later in their terms share a baseline social disadvantage that includes less education, lower income, and, now, pregnancy on top of their other responsibilities. In being forced into motherhood by denial of an abortion, these women experience all the physical strains of pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the often-overwhelming financial burden of another mouth to feed. No one sets out to someday get an abortion, but when it comes down to it, some women feel this is their best option – and the results of Foster’s study might give us cause to concur.

Both Foster and Lang are mindful of the politically-charged nature of this research, though. Foster does not consider herself a pro-choice pioneer, but rather a concerned ob-gyn, interested in determining what is best for women’s health.

The purpose of Foster’s study is not to set policy by suggesting new or uniform gestational limits. She notes, however, that there are ways to reduce the number of women seeking abortion at an advanced gestational age by improving access to reproductive health care. But Foster sees herself as a scientist, not an advocate. She did not set out, she says, to disprove that abortion is harmful. “If abortion hurts women,” she says, “I definitely want to know.”

Truth be told, there is no pro-abortion movement. Nobody “supports” abortion, of course, because ultimately we would hope to live in a world in which people who want to have children do, and those who don’t, don’t. The point is rather that women know what is best for them and their families, and childbearing may not factor into that at the moment.

It’s a delicate topic, though, and one that certainly warrants further discussion. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Todd Akin Refuses to Back Down After Rape Comments

It looks like Senate Republican candidate Todd Akin is still in it to win. For now, at least.

Tuesday would have been the final day for Akin to withdraw from the race without a court order, according to BBC. And despite ample pressure from across the political spectrum, he has chosen to hold his ground.

As Akin told ABC on today’s Good Morning America:

The people of Missouri chose me, and I don’t believe it’s right for party bosses to decide to over-ride those voters. It makes me uncomfortable to think that the party bosses are going to dictate who runs, as opposed to the election process.

Let’s review the facts… Todd Akin has served as a Republican Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2001. He is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, which falls under the Committee on Armed Forces. In addition to armed security, Akin is passionate about abortion issues. He and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan co-sponsored a strict anti-abortion bill that would legally grant zygotes “personhood” and dramatically reduce women’s reproductive rights.

Akin caused a storm on Sunday when he explained his abortion stance in an interview with a St. Louis television station:

If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.

The “that whole thing” part refers to pregnancy. Republicans, Democrats, men, women, Americans, and people all around the world were appalled by Akin’s remarks. He displayed not only great disrespect and insensitivity to rape victims, but also an utter and inexcusable ignorance about the reproductive system. It is frightening to think that, a) Akin, who has served as representative for 10+ years, doesn’t understand how reproduction works, and b) he would then rely on shoddy, pseudo science in formulating a major political decision that could affect thousands of women. And what, pray tell, is a “legitimate rape”?

According to the BBC, the Centers for Disease Control report that more that 32,000 pregnancies result from rape every year. And between 10,000 to 15,000 abortions take place every year as a result of incest or rape. Even after Akin’s swift attempts to save face, his apologies, and his acknowledgement that there is no such thing as “legitimate rape,” it seems a disgrace to our political system to have one so misinformed, negligent, and graceless anywhere near our Senate.

What do you think? Should Akin withdraw from the race?

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