“Imagine my shock when I found a sensitive and balanced portrayal of pro-life counselors in the New York Times (“Some Abortion Foes Forgo Politics“). Too often, all we hear are the political arms of the movements of life and choice, and we forget that at its core these movements are both about women. Aside from lobbying for life, pro-life centers also provide counseling and health services for women, and even help pick up the pieces for women who have had abortions. Although some would characterize their efforts as sinister, I think they’re less sinister than “clinics” that offer abortions as one-size-fits-all solutions for women and girls who find themselves pregnant. Abortion has a real, documented psychological cost for many women. Ideology aside, I’m glad there are people out there to help support women. Supporting women, after all, doesn’t necessarily mean abortion on demand, but a real and sensitive understanding of a woman’s choices”. — Paloma Zepeda, a Harvard University student blogging over at Bikini Politics
Archive for the 'Abortion' Category
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WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito turned aside Democratic attacks on his judicial record and credibility at contentious confirmation hearings Wednesday that left his wife in tears. …
Under persistent questioning, Alito also declined for a second straight day to say whether he believes, as he did in 1985, that the Constitution contains no right to an abortion. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to speak about issues that could realistically come up” before the courts, he said.
Alito, 55, was unflappable for hours on end in marathon questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee. But his wife, Martha-Ann Bomgardner, grew emotional near the end of the day and left the hearing room weeping.
Update: More on this here.
While the judicial interrogation also included insinuations that Alito might be a racist, or a sexist, or a homophobe, most of us would agree that the main issue here is abortion and specifically how Alito feels regarding Roe vs. Wade.
I ask specifically my liberal readers, is all of this really worth it? What message do you think this sends to other potential judicial nominees? Don’t you agree that this will do alot to discourage them from even accepting what used to be an honor and duty to work as a federal judge? What do you think this does to the whole judicial process itself, and more importantly, to the future of this country?
Before answering this, it is important to remind yourself that, as I have said repeatedly before, overturning Roe vs. Wade will NOT OUTLAW ABORTION, all it would do is kick the issue back to the States where each individual State can decide the issue on its own terms, something that may even have no effect on the actual number of abortions anyway.
It is also important to remember that a reasonable non-partisan judge can disagree with Roe Vs. Wade. That ruling has its critics on both sides of the political aisle and is in no way one of the Supreme Courts stronger cases.
Isn’t it better to just let Roe vs. Wade die and allow this contentious issue to be decided by the voters instead of the courts? Is what has become of the judiciary really worth Roe?
It is times like this where Supreme Court justice Scalia’s words become almost prophetic,
“The worst thing about the Living Constitution is that it will destroy the Constitution. You heard in the introduction that I was confirmed, close to 19 years ago now, by a vote of 98 to nothing. The two missing were Barry Goldwater and Jake Garnes, so make it 100. I was known at that time to be, in my political and social views, fairly conservative. But still, I was known to be a good lawyer, an honest man — somebody who could read a text and give it its fair meaning — had judicial impartiality and so forth. And so I was unanimously confirmed. Today, barely 20 years later, it is difficult to get someone confirmed to the Court of Appeals. What has happened? The American people have figured out what is going on. If we are selecting lawyers, if we are selecting people to read a text and give it the fair meaning it had when it was adopted, yes, the most important thing to do is to get a good lawyer. If on the other hand, we’re picking people to draw out of their own conscience and experience a new constitution with all sorts of new values to govern our society, then we should not look principally for good lawyers. We should look principally for people who agree with us, the majority, as to whether there ought to be this right, that right and the other right. We want to pick people that would write the new constitution that we would want.
And that is why you hear in the discourse on this subject, people talking about moderate, we want moderate judges. What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you’d like it to mean? There is no such thing as a moderate interpretation of the text. Would you ask a lawyer, “Draw me a moderate contract?” The only way the word has any meaning is if you are looking for someone to write a law, to write a constitution, rather than to interpret one. The moderate judge is the one who will devise the new constitution that most people would approve of. So, for example, we had a suicide case some terms ago, and the Court refused to hold that there is a constitutional right to assisted suicide. We said, “We’re not yet ready to say that. Stay tuned, in a few years, the time may come, but we’re not yet ready.” And that was a moderate decision, because I think most people would not want — if we had gone, looked into that and created a national right to assisted suicide, that would have been an immoderate and extremist decision.
I think the very terminology suggests where we have arrived — at the point of selecting people to write a constitution, rather than people to give us the fair meaning of one that has been democratically adopted. And when that happens, when the Senate interrogates nominees to the Supreme Court, or to the lower courts — you know, “Judge so-and-so, do you think there is a right to this in the Constitution? You don’t? Well, my constituents think there ought to be, and I’m not going to appoint to the court someone who is not going to find that” — when we are in that mode, you realize, we have rendered the Constitution useless, because the Constitution will mean what the majority wants it to mean. The senators are representing the majority, and they will be selecting justices who will devise a constitution that the majority wants. And that, of course, deprives the Constitution of its principle utility. The Bill of Rights is devised to protect you and me against, who do you think? The majority. My most important function on the Supreme Court is to tell the majority to take a walk. And the notion that the justices ought to be selected because of the positions that they will take, that are favored by the majority, is a recipe for destruction of what we have had for 200 years”.
Update: The Wall Street Journal has more.
“In other words, the post seems to suffer from the view of abortion that pro-choicers like to sell themselves: that it is the province of desperate women unfairly singled out by fate. Let me offer an alternative, and in my view much more plausible view: abortions are obtained by women largely because they, or their partners, were careless. Either they used their birth control wrong, or they ran out at an inconvenient time and decided to risk pregnancy for a moment’s pleasure. Improperly discounting future risks against current gains is a vice not confined to executives of large corporations.
For evidence, I offer Steve Levitt’s contention that when abortion became legal, the number of pregnancies rose, even as the number of live births dropped. In other words, women became more willing to risk pregnancy when they knew that they could terminate it. That does not look to me like women getting caught out by circumstances beyond their control; it looks to me like women rationally (or irrationally) taking on the risk of pregnancy”. –Jane Galt, Asymmetrical Information
Cartoon brought to you by Michael Ramirez, soon to be kicked off of the LA Times staff.
Thomas Stratmann, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and Jonathan Klick, Professor of Law at Florida State University, came out with a study that states:
Incentives matter. They matter even in activities as primal as sex, and they matter even among teenagers, who are conventionally thought to be relatively myopic. If the expected costs of risky sex are raised, teens will substitute toward less risky activities such as protected sex or abstinence. In addition to modeling the decision making processes of teenagers, this insight is important in other contexts as well. Many public policies can be improved by recognizing the sensitivity of teenage sexual decisions to costs and benefits.
We study one set of policies in this paper. We show that increasing the cost of abortion for teens lowers the insurance value of abortion. This induces teenage girls to avoid risky sex, which will likely have the effect of lowering pregnancy rates, abortion rates, and birth rates among this group of individuals. While these positive effects alone might not justify parental involvement laws, they presumably should not be ignored in the debate. Behavior is not static, and claims based on the assumption of static behavior are flawed.
Radley Balko, writing in Fox News, discusses a compromise on abortion I would accept:
While it’s unlikely that the Founding Fathers anticipated the abortion debate, they did give us a framework around which to govern on issues just like it — highly emotional, high-stakes issues that go to the core of one’s personal values and beliefs. They rightly recognized that the federal government is far too unwieldy and clumsy to deal with such delicate matters. These issues are best legislated by the states — or, better, by cities or counties. We can then choose to live under laws that most reflect our values. We vote with our feet.
Line-drawing is a police power. And the Constitution’s framers correctly concluded that police powers ought to be reserved for the states, not the federal government (note: several more recent Supreme Court justices seem, sadly, to disagree). The best solution to the abortion debate, then, isn’t Roe, which even many abortion-rights advocates will concede is bad law. But it isn’t a pro-life amendment or a federal ban on abortion, either.
The best solution is robust federalism. Forgo Roe, and let each state set its own policies on abortion. Those for whom abortion is an important fundamental right can live in areas where abortions are widely available. Those adamantly opposed to any and all abortions can live in jurisdictions that ban the procedure. People like me could live in communities where our tax dollars won’t be funding abortions.
Contrary to claims from abortion-rights advocates, overturning Roe wouldn’t make abortion illegal. In fact, it wouldn’t change much at all. Abortions are already difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in many communities. This is in part because of the restrictions the Supreme Court has allowed states to impose after Roe, but also simply because there are not always doctors willing to perform them. But even under a Roe reversal, states would still be free to make their own laws pertaining to the procedure in ways that align with their own values.
Federalism allows people with divergent beliefs to hold on to those beliefs, but at a minimal cost to those who disagree. In today’s mobile society, a politic more amenable to your values and beliefs could be but a tank of gas away.
This solution isn’t perfect. Many people don’t have much choice in where they live, and many don’t have the means to leave. But then, that’s especially true when the federal government is making the laws. It’s much easier to leave a town, county or state than it is to leave the country. Likewise, the Supreme Court would need to word its decision in such a way so that it was very clear on the point that not only isn’t the federal government authorized by the Constitution to guarantee an abortion, but that it isn’t authorized to prohibit abortion either.
Perhaps the most pertinent criticism of the federalist solution is that people with strong beliefs about an issue like abortion aren’t content with applying those beliefs only to themselves and their immediate communities. Pro-lifers want it inscribed into federal law that life begins at conception, with no exceptions. Abortion-rights advocates want federal tax dollars to pay for abortions for the poor, despite the fact that some of those tax dollars come from citizens with moral objections to the procedure.
True believers, then, would never accept a federalist solution on a volatile issue like abortion. They’d rather impose their own values on everyone else. But after three decades of poisonous abortion politics, perhaps it’s time the rest of us considered it.
Jane Galt has more.
There are some great propositions coming up on the November 8th ballot. Here are my favorites,
WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINOR’S PREGNANCY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
That’s right my friends, here in the state of California, there are some people who believe that 40 year old adults are too stupid to know what to do with their own money when it comes to social security, yet 14 year old kids should be trusted to make the right decision on whether or not to have an abortion, all without the parents permission. This bill would change that by requiring parental notification before the abortion is performed, and in extreme cases, allowing a judge to stand in the parents place.
PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS. WAITING PERIOD FOR PERMANENT STATUS. DISMISSAL. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This bill has two important parts, first, it “[i]ncreases length of time required before a teacher may become a permanent employee from two complete consecutive school years to five complete consecutive school years”, and secondly, it “[m]odifies the process by which school boards can dismiss a permanent teaching employee who receives two consecutive unsatisfactory performance evaluations”.
Contrary to popular opinion, there are good schools that operate in poor areas. These schools operate with overall the same funding, with overall the same racial and poverty make up, and in overall the same areas. Well, what makes them different you say? Why aren’t all public schools like this, you ask? Well, these schools do differ from traditional public schools in a few different yet fundamentally important aspects, but one of the most critical is the ability to hire and fire teachers of their choosing. All of these schools were public schools who chose to become charter schools primary because of the bureaucracy. Once they were released from the bureaucracy and the unions, they had the freedom to institute real change, dramatic change, and in doing so, many minorities that otherwise would have been robbed of a chance at the American dream, now have that opportunity. The schools serve as roll models to other schools in the area, and Arnold is trying to move us more in that direction (For more information on those schools, read this book).
Those of you that were also part of the Los Angeles Unified School District know what I am talking about, we have all seen the teachers that just want the hour to go by, and see teaching more as a pay check than as a calling. Reducing tenure and giving greater power in firing teachers is only a problem for bad teachers, not for good teachers whose primary duty is the education of the students.
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION DUES. RESTRICTIONS ON POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS. EMPLOYEE CONSENT REQUIREMENT. INITIATIVE STATUTE
This is a really important one as well, for it shows just how powerful the unions are in California, not only do they force employees to pay union dues, but they want to deny the employee a say in where those union dues go. What if the union member is a die hard Democrat, should she have no say in whether her money goes to a Republican cause? This proposition strikes twice; it limits the all to powerful public employee union, and puts more power in the hands of the employee. For more on this, see Betsy’s Page.
STATE SPENDING AND SCHOOL FUNDING LIMITS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
There is no better way to describe this, than to quote from Arnold himself, “Proposition 76 will force our government to balance the budget and live within its means. Proposition 76 will prevent state expenditures from growing faster than revenues while also stabilizing education funding. Proposition 76 will fix Sacramento’s broken system of deficits and out-of-control autopilot spending”.
Predictably, there are those who are going to complain about the ‘larger concern’ of a reduced funding for public school education. But those who make that argument have the difficult burden of proof to show that more funding is actually good for education. In fact, evidence shows that more funding for education has very little, to no improvement in education at all (This picture says it all).
REDISTRICTING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT.
Currently, district lines are drawn by those in Sacramento, creating a situation where those in power create their own district lines, which in turn results in a district line that guarantees their election victory, and in doing so, removes politicians accountability to the citizens. As Governor Schwarzenegger’s Analysis states, “It used to be that voters picked their politicians – now politicians pick their voters”.
To combat this, proposition 77 will let a panel of retired judges draw new districts, which in turn would have to be approved by the voters. I am not sure this system will work, but compared to the alternative, I am willing to try different solutions, and if it does prove to be a success, I would support the same system to be implemented at the federal level.
So please, California voters, do your part in bringing a thriving economy back to California, and vote yes on the propositions above.
Given to us by the LA Times:
Roe Ruling: More Than Its Author Intended
By David G. Savage Times Staff Writer
Wed Sep 14, 7:55 AM ET
WASHINGTON — In mid-1971, the Supreme Court agreed for the first time to hear a constitutional challenge to the long-standing state laws limiting abortion. Its decision to do so reverberates today.
At that time, Texas and 30 other states had laws, dating from the 19th century, that made an abortion a crime unless it was performed to save the mother’s life.
Georgia, like California, had revised its laws in the late 1960s to permit abortion in specific circumstances: if the mother’s health was endangered, if the pregnancy was caused by rape or if the fetus had a severe defect.
The newest member of the Supreme Court, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, saw much to like in the revised abortion laws. A lawyer who greatly admired doctors, he had been general counsel for the Mayo Clinic in his home state of Minnesota before becoming a federal appellate judge.
He believed that doctors needed to have leeway to do medically necessary abortions. In the court’s first private conference on the issue, he described Georgia’s law as “a fine statute [that] strikes a balance that is fair.”
Yet, a year later, Blackmun wrote an opinion for the court that struck down all of the nation’s abortion laws. Equally important, his opinion made virtually all abortions legal as a matter of a constitutional right.
That opinion, in the case of Roe vs. Wade, remains the court’s most disputed decision of recent decades. By abruptly voiding all laws against abortion, it galvanized a powerful antiabortion movement that has transformed American politics.
It also dominates public debate over the court and its future. The Senate confirmation hearing for Judge John G. Roberts Jr., like those of all recent nominees, is focusing on one question: Will he vote to uphold or to reverse Roe vs. Wade?
“I am not Kos, he of the “abortion is horrible, but I guess it should be legal” chant. I’m not one of those moderates who thinks that abortion should be somehow restricted depending upon the choices of the woman in question. I’m not one of those people who thinks that reassuring women that gosh, yes, abortion when the woman’s life is in danger/raped/a victim of incest is okay, so you girls don’t have to worry because you’re not sluts who deserve punishment. I’m not one of those people who decry abortion as a necessary evil. I’m not one of those self-righteous misogynists who would pass judgement on pro-choicers, pregnant women, or women who chose to abort. I don’t hate abortion.
I think it’s wonderful”.–Pinko Feminist Hellcat, an ardent pro-choice supporter
Laura Vanderkam, writing in USA Today has a great article explaining exactly what would happen if Roe vs. Wade was overturned:
On both sides, people talk broadly about wanting to know Roberts’ views because the next judge will shape the “direction” of the country, but let’s not mince words. Most of this angst is about one issue: abortion. Liberal groups are terrified that Roberts will bring the court one vote closer to overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that overturned state laws banning abortion. Pro-life groups hope, fervently, that he will.
I don’t know whether the Supreme Court, with Roberts, will overturn Roe. I do know it won’t matter much if it does.
You see, for all the rights rhetoric, abortion is not an abstract concept. It’s a medical procedure requiring a doctor willing to perform it. In states where abortion is frowned upon — the states likely to ban abortion if Roe is overturned — abortion providers are already more rare than purple Volkswagen Beetles. Most abortion providers, understandably, prefer to practice in states where people support them, i.e., states where abortion won’t be banned.
This reality means that however much energy is spent on Supreme Court nominee battles, a Roe reversal wouldn’t change the country’s total number of abortion providers much. In fact, a year after Roe is overturned, it would be the rare woman who would notice any difference in her life at all.
Update: The Wall Street Journal has more.
“Many of these people have moral objections and resent the Supreme Court’s presumption in its Roe v. Wade decision, but they’re also pragmatic enough to realize that a ban couldn’t be enforced and would create a new set of problems. If Roe v. Wade were overturned and abortion policy left up to the states, these pragmatists would start to matter more than the ideologues on the left and right who now dominate the debate”. –John Tierney, columnist for the New York Times
“You know, that is something I must say that bothers me a lot. I am more sympathetic on the abortion issue than I am on most right wing socially conservative issues, because you know, you don’t have to be religious to be against abortion. I do sort of understand what they’re saying. If you’ve ever seen a sonogram, you know, you could see something that’s emerging as a human being in there. And we are sort of reaching in and killing it….I’m a board member of PETA. And this [caller] is exactly right, and I’m glad he raised the issue. It’s despicable the way we treat animals in this country. And it’s part and parcel to our general lack of compassion for things that don’t affect us directly”. –Bill Maher, HBO talk show host, last week on CNN’s Larry King Live.
…not the conservatives.
Chicago Tribune Columnist Steve Chapman writes:
The evidence that the nominee is a right-wing nut stems from positions he took during his years in the White House under Ronald Reagan and in the Justice Department under George H.W. Bush. In one 1990 case, Roberts signed a brief arguing, “The court’s conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion … finds no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution.” Another time, he noted a “serious problem in the current exercise of judicial power,” as illustrated “by what is broadly perceived to be the unprincipled jurisprudence of Roe vs. Wade.”
We are told that only an ultraconservative, anti-feminist zealot could say things like that. In fact, you don’t have to venture into the right-wing fever swamps to encounter such criticism. You can find plenty of it without leaving impeccably liberal precincts.
Former Watergate prosecutor and Harvard law professor Archibald Cox once wrote, “Neither historian, nor layman, nor lawyer will be persuaded that all the prescriptions of Justice [Harry] Blackmun are part of the Constitution.” The late Stanford law school dean John Hart Ely said the opinion “is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be.”
Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, who argued Al Gore’s post-election case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000, has said of Roe that “behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.” Even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by President Bill Clinton, criticized Roe vs. Wade before joining the court. In 1985, she called it an act of “heavy-handed judicial intervention” that “ventured too far.”
What’s striking is how many supporters of legal abortion have trouble justifying the way the court addressed the issue. So when Roberts faults the court for its overbearing presumption and lame reasoning, he’s not on the fringes of the debate–he’s smack in the middle.
The same can’t be said of abortion-rights advocates. They not only insist that Roe is sacrosanct but pretend the public agrees with them. NARAL Pro-Choice America asserts that “surveys show that 65 percent of Americans support upholding Roe vs. Wade.”
That statement manages to be factual without exactly being true. If you ask people whether they would like to see the decision overturned, a majority says no. But the main conclusion you can draw from that finding is that a lot of citizens are hazy on what the court did in that ruling.
Most people equate overturning Roe with banning all abortions. In fact, a reversal of the decision would simply allow states to decide for themselves whether to ban all abortions, some abortions, or no abortions.
At the same time they indicate support for Roe, Americans favor definite limits on this procedure–including some the Supreme Court has forbidden. “They don’t want all abortions to be illegal,” says public opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute, “but they’re still willing to add considerable restrictions.”
Most Americans, for example, favor waiting periods and parental consent for minors–which abortion-rights groups cannot tolerate. More important, most Americans think abortion should be banned after the first trimester.
In a 2003 Gallup Poll, 68 percent of Americans said abortion “should be generally illegal” in the second trimester, and 84 percent said it should be barred in the third trimester. Under Roe, however, the government has to permit almost all abortions, no matter when they occur.
Steve Chapman than goes on to make the case for overturning Roe vs. Wade:
There’s no way to know if Roberts would vote to junk the 1973 decision. If the court were to do that, though, it would merely let the electorate put its conflicting feelings about abortion into law in a way citizens can live with. Allowing the American people to have their way on a subject that is not mentioned in the Constitution is not extremism. It’s democracy.
For those of you that don’t know, shortly after the 2004 election, I was asked to be a guest on a liberal blog. The owner of the blog, Oso, was disappointed by the results of the election and felt more dialogue between the two sides was needed. The idea was to open up communication between liberals and conservatives, and hopefully help reduce the misunderstandings that are so common in liberal/conservative discussions.
The plan was simple, I was to give my side of a conservative belief, and in the comments section, answer any questions or disagreements any of his readers (mostly liberals) might have. Than, after that post died down a bit, Oso would present his side and give me a chance to address it. That way both sides are presented in their own words, and hopefully some agreement or at least understanding would follow.
I must admit, I have learned a lot from my participation there, and more importantly, I have made a lot of new friends. I comment so regularly on that blog now that I don’t consider myself to be the ‘Republican guest blogger‘ anymore but an accepted member of that blog community. In addition, because Oso lives in the same city as I do, we have been able to go out for drinks and have thoughtful discussions in person, as well as online (he also happened to be in Monterrey, Mexico when I visited, so we met up and he helped me (actually, he did all the work) upgrade my website while I was there).
So back to my main point, I wanted to give readers of my blog a chance to see how liberals react to conservative beliefs, and to see how conservatives (mostly myself, but there is the occasional conservative blogger as well) react to liberal beliefs. What better topic to do that on, than our (somewhat) recently finished discussion on gay marriage. If you’re interested, take a look at how (my version) of the conservative side against gay marriage was presented and defended, and his version of the liberal case for gay marriage was also presented and defended.
In addition, if you are also interested, you might want to check out our previous topic, on abortion.
Oh yeah, one more thing, Oso has also written about minority conservatives that generated some interesting comments. You might want to check those out as well.
“Similarly in upholding Roe v. Wade. As the swing vote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, O’Connor did not want to create yet another social revolution by overturning the blanket abortion right that had been in place for two decades. This is a reasonable social assessment. But equally reasonable is the contrary assessment, offered by Ginsburg (before she ascended to the Supreme Court) that Roe “halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby … deferred stable settlement of the issue.” –Charles Krauthammer
“Why don’t we resign ourselves to the fact that we lost that battle and dedicate our energies instead to projects where we can find greater social consensus? Recognizing the sacred nature of human life and its inviolability without any exceptions is not a small problem or something that can be considered part of the pluralism of opinions in modern society. There is no such thing as ‘small murders’. Respect for every single life is an essential condition for anything worthy of being called social life.” — “The Europe of Benedict — In the Crisis of Cultures,” is a compilation of three major addresses he gave between 1992 and 2005, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and headed the Vatican department that safeguards doctrinal orthodoxy.