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March 6, 2014 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Last Day for Last Abortion Clinic in the Rio Grande. “Honestly, I think they’ll go south of the border, if they have to,” said a 23-year-old woman who was one of the last patients to be seen at the clinic and who traveled to San Antonio for her abortion last month. “It’s cheaper and it’s closer. To go to San Antonio is so much more of a hassle and costs a lot more.”
posted by four panels (81 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's weird how quickly we move forward in some ways (same-sex marriage) and zoom backwards in others.
posted by rtha at 5:58 PM on March 6 [20 favorites]


I just walked past some men standing in protest with the typical signage of Planned Parenthood protesters outside of Planned Parenthood in Beaverton, OR. One of them smiled and attempted to engage me and I had an emotionally visceral reaction of disgust.

"I am giving you more respect than you deserve, or are offering anyone who may be in need of Planned Parenthood services during a difficult period in their life when I simply ignore you and walk away." I said.
posted by mediocre at 6:03 PM on March 6 [39 favorites]


I'm really worried about what's happening with reproductive rights in the U.S.
posted by aka burlap at 6:04 PM on March 6 [18 favorites]


“We are pleased that women will never again receive substandard care from either of these abortion facilities,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.

Right, you'd rather they just not be able to seek care, period.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 6:09 PM on March 6 [18 favorites]


Texas Tribune story on clinic closings.

It's really ugly trying to get an abortion in Texas. I used to do clinic defense when I lived in Houston ten years ago, and even then it was running a gauntlet. Now they've shut down almost half the clinics that were operating in Texas about two years ago, making it that much easier to target and harass providers and patients (many of whom are there for other reproductive health reasons).

At the same time, our governor has struggled to keep kids off CHIP (children's medicaid), refused to expand Medicaid and fought Obamacare, defunded schools, etc. So basically you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I love my state, but I hate the politicians in charge of it, and this kind of thing is why.
posted by immlass at 6:11 PM on March 6 [19 favorites]


That recent case here where the woman was declared legally dead but they kept her body going because she was pregnant with a fetus was was probably dead as well was actually a perfect demonstration of the way they think. Your body is literally nothing more than a womb for the carrying of babies and even in death the State will make you carry that baby.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:11 PM on March 6 [35 favorites]


I do not understand how anyone thinks that women who are self-inducing their abortions are better off. I don't care what you believe about when life begins or when it should be ended, the reality is that women and their unborn fetuses are both going to die.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:12 PM on March 6 [13 favorites]


Ughhh.... It is disheartening that the Texas politico machine has made this law. The valley is a wonderful place, and women will go to Mexico. Hell, they already do. Here's hoping that the Rick Perry era fades and Texas can become more than what a bunch of old school crackpots define Texans to the rest of the world.... I only hope.
posted by Benway at 6:16 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


It's weird how quickly we move forward in some ways (same-sex marriage) and zoom backwards in others.

Abortion is an issue that, for lots of reasons, crosses typical ideological lines. I knew a girl in college, who on most issues is leftward enough to make most mefites look like republican bankers. But in her dorm room she had an anti-abortion poster so graphic it actually made me gag. FWIW.

/pro-choice myself, just telling a story
posted by jonmc at 6:18 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


Abortion is a visceral issue, and will continue to be an issue until 1) women gain more power; 2) more facile and non-surgical solutions to abortion appear; 3) we get better sex and parenting education; we make a large dent on poverty in America; 4) we expose those who are using the "pro-life agenda as a cover for controlling women, and sexuality in general. Ignorance on both sides plays a role in the abortion debate. It's sad, and pathetic, because there are many things that could be done help to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. I think both sides want that, but one side does everything to keep that from happening. It's called hypocrisy.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:28 PM on March 6 [11 favorites]


God, how can this shit be constitutional? These disingenuous fucks just make me so goddamned mad.
posted by klangklangston at 6:29 PM on March 6 [10 favorites]


Abortion is an issue that, for lots of reasons, crosses typical ideological lines.

Yeah, that has been my experience, too.

I knew a girl in college, who on most issues is leftward enough to make most mefites look like republican bankers. But in her dorm room she had an anti-abortion poster so graphic it actually made me gag.

... although this is the exact opposite of where I thought you were going. I found that many of my college friends (mostly women) who were pretty vocally conservative about debt, the military, gay marriage, even gun control were actually for safe, legal abortions when we talked about it. I have a hard time understanding how someone could lean left on pretty much any other hot-button issue and not this one. It seems more dissonant to me, somehow.
posted by Austenite at 6:34 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


God, how can this shit be constitutional? These disingenuous fucks just make me so goddamned mad.

We just have to channel the anger and keep fighting, with all legal means at our disposal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:34 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


.

(because I'm not going to be emotionally able to enter the thread we have when some rural woman dies from this.)
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:41 PM on March 6 [9 favorites]


Abortion is an issue that, for lots of reasons, crosses typical ideological lines. I knew a girl in college, who on most issues is leftward enough to make most mefites look like republican bankers. But in her dorm room she had an anti-abortion poster so graphic it actually made me gag. FWIW.

/pro-choice myself, just telling a story

Yeah, I'm about as leftward as they come across the board, and consider myself a staunch feminist, but out of my stances on almost any hot-button political issue, abortion feels the most personally shaky, in terms of my ability to feel that the other side actually has a strong argument. Or rather, maybe, I generally feel like I have a strong, well-reasoned logical foundation to my beliefs, but abortion leans the most uncomfortably close to "people I respect say this is incontrovertible, so I'm just going to have to trust them." I would accompany a friend, lover, or relative to an abortion clinic in a heartbeat, and I would go to bat for reproductive rights politically and personally, but there's just something about the underpinnings there that feels shaky for me. Then again, my concerns lean more towards the philosophical-- regarding policy, I believe strongly in harm reduction and realism.

I'm surprised neither NYT article particularly emphasized the fact that a large swath of the Rio Grande Valley is really, really, really, really, really, REALLY fucking poor. This is absolutely an attack on poor women's safety and health.
posted by threeants at 6:42 PM on March 6 [8 favorites]


I have a hard time understanding how someone could lean left on pretty much any other hot-button issue and not this one.

Well, Catholicism is one way. It was in high school, but I knew a girl who, like jonmc's friend, was probably to the left of most people in the school on most issues, and a crunchy granola hippie to boot, but came from a huge Catholic family and was vehemently pro-life.
posted by LionIndex at 6:43 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


Your body is literally nothing more than a womb for the carrying of babies and even in death the State will make you carry that baby.

That baby is a potential consumer, I'll have you know. We need more of them; that's how the economy keeps growing. The State is just looking out for the people who own it, and you can hardly fault them. Unless you're a Communist. And you're not, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:52 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


"Then again, my concerns lean more towards the philosophical-- regarding policy, I believe strongly in harm reduction and realism."

Even philosophically, the arguments against it have to assume a universal morality, as well as a fair dollop of metaphysical magic to justify the claims. It's almost all emotional appeals — deep emotional appeals, I'll totally grant — but philosophically the argument is just not strong at all.
posted by klangklangston at 6:53 PM on March 6 [5 favorites]


FWIW, I've met people who were pro-life and came from very religious backgrounds, but the woman I described wasn't. I grew up in a fairly serious Catholic family, but my parents were decidedly pro-choice when all was said and done.
posted by jonmc at 6:54 PM on March 6


I mean, if someone believes wholeheartedly that fetuses are individual human people, it's hard to justify abortion. And that philosophical belief doesn't contradict any lefty beliefs, really, and you could come by it any number of ways (such as Catholicism).

What confuses me is the number of people who think abortion should be "illegal except in cases of rape or incest". I'm wondering, historically, what the justifications for this stance have been. It's a very common one that many state laws reflected before Roe v. Wade. The "sanctity of life" argument can't really apply, because clearly this position is saying that some fetuses don't count. (It seems, to me, that at this point it's entirely about controlling and punishing women for having sex, maybe with a side of eugenics, but I'm wondering if there's a more charitable perspective or at least a rationalization.)

Wrt these laws skirting around Roe v. Wade by putting onerous requirements on clinics -- could a legislature pass a law with requirements so ridiculous as to be effectively impossible? (Like, all clinics must be in their own 50-story building, or have gold-plated floors, or whatever.) Would it stand up in the courts? Does there have to be a fig leaf of a public interest or health and safety concern?
posted by vogon_poet at 6:59 PM on March 6 [9 favorites]


Many industrialized nations have lower abortion rates than the U.S. They seem to do this with a combination of having very little religion in their health policy; universal health care; science-based sex education in schools; and easy and inexpensive access to birth control.
posted by rtha at 7:02 PM on March 6 [53 favorites]


The two provisions, mandating local hospital admitting privileges for doctors and surgical specifications for the facilities, are the most effective of all the many strategies used by the anti-choice contingent in reducing the number of places an abortion can be performed. These measures are manifestly unnecessary and are meant precisely to achieve the effect of closing clinics. Anyone who has been admitted to the hospital straight from the emergency room has probably had the experience I have had in that the emergency room doctor admits emergency room patients and the patient wears that doctor's name coupled with her own on the hospital armband for the duration, even when one's own doctor instructed one to go to the emergency room. Local admitting privileges are simply not necessary for every doctor one uses. Construction specifications for surgery clinics are also unnecessary and are meant to be prohibitively expensive.

Adding to the snowball effect of these decades of pushback is the fact that conservative opposition to choice has greatly influenced medical school curricula. Even though a physician might well need to know how to perform procedures identical with surgical abortion many students and teachers are opting out of this training in med school. So much so that societies of students pledging to learn the procedures have formed to compensate for this neglect in their education and are doing it based on their feminist principles and solidarity with women.

Always, always, poor women and poor children suffer the most. I commented a year ago about this long, steady pushback against reproductive rights for women. This keeps on breaking my heart.
posted by Anitanola at 7:04 PM on March 6 [17 favorites]


If you favor women having a legal right to abortion, please do not use the right's framing of their side as "pro-life". Pro-choice, anti-choice. If anything, the right, through their callous disregard of what happens to children once born, is closer to "anti-life" than abortion-rights supporters.
posted by maxwelton at 7:04 PM on March 6 [27 favorites]


I have a hard time understanding how someone could lean left on pretty much any other hot-button issue and not this one.

For the pro-life liberals I know, it is essentially because their driving motivation is protecting the marginalized and oppressed, and they consider unborn babies to be in that category. There's really nothing about a general liberal outlook to keep someone from assuming that fetuses have moral claims from the time of conception, and letting that trump even a significant concern for women's equality.

(I'm not inclined to defend this position here, just reporting how I've seen it play out.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:05 PM on March 6


What is amazing is how some states, like California, have enacted laws to make access to abortions easier (especially those in rural areas) but in the same country states like Arizona and Texas make it next to impossible for poor and/or rural to have access.

If anti-choice people really cared about life so much, they'd do more to stop the need for abortion. That is, educate people about contraception and encourage its use. Like Bill Clinton said, safe, legal and rare. But nooooooo, they'd rather stick with owning teaching abstinence only and making abortion go back to back alleys.
posted by birdherder at 7:05 PM on March 6 [4 favorites]


Even philosophically, the arguments against it have to assume a universal morality, as well as a fair dollop of metaphysical magic to justify the claims. It's almost all emotional appeals — deep emotional appeals, I'll totally grant — but philosophically the argument is just not strong at all.

I diagree, I guess. For me the issue hinges entirely on whether a fetus falls on the "person" or "not a person" side of wherever that peg lies. If a fetus does deserve the rights of personhood, I don't believe the concept of "my body my choice", while politically important and emotionally powerful, would be logically compelling. I'm a vegetarian, for example, so I do find it ethically...complex, at the least, to realize that I feel comfortable extending rights to arthropods that I don't to human fetuses.

Anyway, I'm not sure this argument belongs in this venue and I apologize if my initial post was a derail. I feel that people should have widespread and easy access to abortions regardless of income level, and that the situation described in the OP is awful, inequitable, and should be rectified.
posted by threeants at 7:09 PM on March 6


If anti-choice people really cared about life so much, they'd do more to stop the need for abortion.

The most head-scratching part is that they're generally (though not exclusively) the same people who are against social spending. Barney Frank described those people very quotably: "They think that life begins at conception and ends at birth."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:10 PM on March 6 [26 favorites]


Abortion is a visceral issue, and will continue to be an issue until 1) women gain more power; 2) more facile and non-surgical solutions to abortion appear; 3) we get better sex and parenting education; we make a large dent on poverty in America; 4) we expose those who are using the "pro-life agenda as a cover for controlling women, and sexuality in general.

The 90s already came and went though.
posted by fshgrl at 7:18 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


(I do also question the idea that anti-choice precepts hold inherent undue emotional sway for everyone. I grew up in a secular family for whom the closest thing to a family business was literally a nonprofit reproductive clinic that provided abortions [of which I remain proud]. My snap emotional reaction to abortion is to viscerally feel concern for women who don't want to carry a fetus to term; the fetus as an entity doesn't carry much symbolic or emotional resonance for me. I respectfully submit that my slight ambivalence around abortion is based around logical unease [even if that logic may prove flawed], not cultural influence.)
posted by threeants at 7:27 PM on March 6


If you favor women having a legal right to abortion, please do not use the right's framing of their side as "pro-life". Pro-choice, anti-choice. If anything, the right, through their callous disregard of what happens to children once born, is closer to "anti-life" than abortion-rights supporters

I'm avidly pro-choice, but know well several Evangelical Christians who are virulently anti-abortion. Every one of them is heavily involved in adoption agencies; helping the poor at soup kitchens, etc. etc. From their side, they perceive that they are doing good. Mostly, they are good people, even though I disagree with their fundamental stance on some issues. They completely buy into the "abortion is murder" meme and it's almost impossible to have a rational discussion about it with them. Thus, a massive divide exists on this issue - one that goes along religious lines as well as more fundamental cognitive style preferences.

Here's a good way to help anyone drill down to more effective ways to deal with this issue, and get into the cognitive space of someone who holds countervailing political views. If you want to get a really good view into how cognitive science can help you "get into the mind" of someone who is virulently anti-abortion, a good read (somewhat dry, but informative) is "The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist's Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics" by George Lakoff. Be aware that the knowledge in this book, and others like it are currently being used by those on both sides at the forefront of this battle (and many others). It will be a long battle, in spite of what someone said about the primary battle already having been fought in the 90's, it really wasn't. Changing social mores can be a multi-generational undertaking.
posted by Vibrissae at 7:31 PM on March 6 [1 favorite]


What is amazing is how some states, like California, have enacted laws to make access to abortions easier (especially those in rural areas) but in the same country states like Arizona and Texas make it next to impossible for poor and/or rural to have access.

Last month I went to Planned Parenthood for some routine medical stuff, and as I was leaving I stopped at the nurses station to thank them for being there. I told them how fortunate I felt to live somewhere where women had such easy access to Planned Parenthood and other healthcare clinics, and how I know it's not like this most everywhere else, and how I thought they were all heroes and dammit we all started crying.

This year my (very limited) charitable donations go to PP.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:34 PM on March 6 [17 favorites]


My maternal grandmother worked for Planned Parenthood Center of San Antonio in the 1960's and '70's.

She took a lot of heat from the local ladies' auxiliary, and eventually refused to go with grandpa to officers' club functions. Her garden thrived as her social circle withered.

It was a church thing for her. Hers was a much different generation, and what might strike us as condescension was to her a sense of duty and obligation to charity. "These are all people who need help. We have experience, we have science, we have access to doctors and clinics. We have federal grants, and the law is on our side. Refusing to help would be unamerican, and more to the point, unchristian."

After she died grandpa fell under the sway of one of those megachurch pastors who narrowed his mind and lightened his wallet. She would have locked him out of the house for the grandstanding and casually racist pro-lifery of his dotage.

"You'll wipe your feet and respect all women before you cross this threshold." She wasn't loud or threatening but she was right and convinced of it, gracious and firm.

I would apologize for the digression but I'm afraid my entire comment has been barely tangential to the topic at hand.

I have quite a few personal heroes. Of my maternal grandmother I am most proud.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:50 PM on March 6 [42 favorites]


It's weird how quickly we move forward in some ways (same-sex marriage) and zoom backwards in others.

Those aren't contradictory at all. One of the really effective strategies for advancing gay marriage has been emphasizing it in terms of "traditional family values," based in monogamy and having kids. It's been working, which is why we are seeing more states all the time with marriage equality.

But that also means that someone can be converted to support marriage equality without in the slightest needing to question (and perhaps even strengthening) their opposition to abortion. You can also support marriage equality without thinking that women deserve access to safe and comprehensive medical care, including contraception.

I am rock solid certain that we will see marriage equality coast to coast decades before we will see all women having access to affordable and accessible contraception, abortion, and other basic medical care.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:32 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


Vibrissae: "Abortion is a visceral issue, and will continue to be an issue until 1) women gain more power; 2) more facile and non-surgical solutions to abortion appear; 3) we get better sex and parenting education; we make a large dent on poverty in America; 4) we expose those who are using the "pro-life agenda as a cover for controlling women, and sexuality in general."

1,2 and 4 aren't much different than in Canada where abortion is much more available. 3 and anti abortion efforts though are different and are heavily influenced by the dominate churches in the US that don't have nearly as much power in Canada. Pushing science and fighting superstition is the only long term way out of both these issues that I see.
posted by Mitheral at 8:43 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


This is absolutely an attack on poor women's safety and health.

Bans on legal abortion always are. Rich women have generally always had access to safe abortions through being able to travel to other countries where it's legal and discreet. Either their conservative friends and family don't even know, or they figure it's OK as long as those irresponsible poor people don;t have the same privilege. You know those dumbasses would just abuse it, amirite? 'Cause if they were smart and responsible, they wouldn't be poor in the first place!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:17 PM on March 6 [10 favorites]


Fucking Republicans.

That is all.
posted by jwest at 9:35 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


"I diagree, I guess. For me the issue hinges entirely on whether a fetus falls on the "person" or "not a person" side of wherever that peg lies."

Right, so how do you define "person" in a meaningful way? There's no clear impetus to grant that from conception, and beyond that, no clear requirement to make that determination universal. If any argument fails on either count, it is not an argument for restricting abortion.

If a fetus does deserve the rights of personhood, I don't believe the concept of "my body my choice", while politically important and emotionally powerful, would be logically compelling."

Right. If you beg the question, you've answered your own contention, but you haven't provided an argument.

I'm a vegetarian, for example, so I do find it ethically...complex, at the least, to realize that I feel comfortable extending rights to arthropods that I don't to human fetuses. "

I'm a lifelong vegetarian. I stay that way because of habit (foremost, if I'm honest), but also because there's no compelling reasons outside of hedonism to eat meat if you don't already. I don't particularly believe that arthropods have a lot of rights (I'm dubious on rights theory in general) and I have no problem eating chicken eggs.

Anyway, I'm not sure this argument belongs in this venue and I apologize if my initial post was a derail. I feel that people should have widespread and easy access to abortions regardless of income level, and that the situation described in the OP is awful, inequitable, and should be rectified.

Yeah, totally with you there. I just wanted to push back against the idea that there's a legitimate philosophical case for restricting abortion. There's not, really, not without being so circular as to be useless. It's an emotional appeal all the way through, but one that withers pretty quickly in the light of both practicality and reason.
posted by klangklangston at 10:21 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


In fact, eating meat, to a vegetarian, is a pretty good analogy. I don't eat meat, but honestly, for me just, "Because I enjoy it," is pretty much good enough for other people to eat it. I support some regulations on livestock agriculture, but those are pretty much aimed at reducing suffering for the animals and reducing the cost of externalities to the public (e.g. hog waste poison lagoons in the midwest).

People who don't believe in abortion have the remedy of not getting one. Past that, they have to grant that other people can come to legitimate moral decisions that differ from their own, which boils down to allowing people to choose the course of their own life. If abortions had a hugely deleterious effect on the public, I could see restricting them.
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 PM on March 6 [2 favorites]


I think the problem is that it's been a full generation since we've known first-hand the horrors of back-alley abortions. We forget our history quickly and it always comes back to bite us in the ass.

The same root cause lies behind the weakening of Glass-Steagall, the rise in fascism, and the cutbacks to social services. We had huge problems, effective solutions were implemented, years pass, lose track, and natural human behaviours drag us back into the muck.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:50 PM on March 6 [3 favorites]


My mother was a lifelong Catholic, with a strong and rather superstitious faith inculcated by the (terrifying) nuns of her youth. In the mid-50s, before her marriage, she worked as a nurse in the OB-gyn ward at a major NYC hospital.

They saw a lot of women who had tried to end their pregnancies, and ended up hemorrhaging or worse. (Mom and the other Catholic nurses would sprinkle holy water on the fetuses, which I find both endearing and creepy.)

Mom was never a particularly political woman, and her social conscience was pretty constrained to what she'd been taught when she young. But she was pro-choice until she died: she'd seen the cost in lives of making abortion illegal.
posted by suelac at 10:52 PM on March 6 [17 favorites]


I mean, if someone believes wholeheartedly that fetuses are individual human people, it's hard to justify abortion.

I think you would still have to justify banning abortion. Even if we all agreed that fetuses are individual human people with the same rights as anyone else, you would still need to have an argument for why a fetus should have the right to use a woman's body against her will in order to prolong her life. We don't grant similar rights to born children - for example, a parent doesn't legally have to donate bone marrow to their child, as much as we might judge them for not doing so.

So, banning abortion doesn't come for free with the assumption of fetal personhood. You have to make a case that pregnancy is special. It has almost always been treated that way, but that is precisely what is at issue.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:25 PM on March 6 [9 favorites]


In fact, eating meat, to a vegetarian, is a pretty good analogy. I don't eat meat, but honestly, for me just, "Because I enjoy it," is pretty much good enough for other people to eat it. I support some regulations on livestock agriculture, but those are pretty much aimed at reducing suffering for the animals and reducing the cost of externalities to the public (e.g. hog waste poison lagoons in the midwest).

I see this as a pretty gross, and even offensive derail actually. I mean i get you were just trying to make an analogy in good faith, but... eugh. Your second paragraph is reasonable and i agree with it, but people arguing for or against veg* have perfectly reasonable arguments of animal welfare, environmental and global warming concerns, etc on their side. Anti choicers basically have "god says it's wrong, and it's murder!" and regularly prove themselves to be completely disingenuous as to their motives. People are going to fucking die over this, directly. Not just issues caused by factory farming and watersheds and animal cruelty or whatever. People will die from this like they were shoved off a bridge.

The "if they don't like it, then don't get one" is a perfectly good argument. But yea, the vegetarian vs omnivore thing is a pretty gross analogy that squicked me out. I hope it doesn't pop up again in this thread, and i'm sorry if i caused any kind derail here.
posted by emptythought at 12:18 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I had to get in some nice Christian guy's face about abortion. I said to him 'Look women really don't want to have an abortion but what about ectopic pregnancy?' I told him about the medical consequences to a woman in Morocco who went to term and had a 'stone baby' in her body, from when she was something like 20 until she was 70.
She really should have had an abortion. I can't even imagine the suffering.
I told him 'it isn't even Biblical' and gave him the benefit of how the discussion changed within my own life-time.
So many anti-abortion young people aren't in on the history of changes.
They aren't equipped to think critically about it.
Then you throw this outright evil politicians into the mix.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:31 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


The Stealth War on Abortion: While more Americans support upholding 'Roe v. Wade' than ever, the Tea Party and the Christian right have teamed up to pass hundreds of restrictions eviscerating abortion rights in GOP-controlled state legislatures across the country
posted by homunculus at 12:52 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Anti-abortion is pro-coathanger.
posted by bz at 1:31 AM on March 7 [11 favorites]


Always, always, poor women and poor children suffer the most. I commented a year ago about this long, steady pushback against reproductive rights for women. This keeps on breaking my heart.

Wow, i just wanted to say that this was one of the most powerful posts i've read on this entire site. Just, wow.
posted by emptythought at 2:06 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


homunculus has posted a link to a fine article explaining why the republican strategy includes the 1% and the religious right, who seem unlikely bedfellows, and how they are succeeding.
posted by Anitanola at 2:11 AM on March 7


If anti-choice people really cared about life so much, they'd do more to stop the need for abortion. That is, educate people about contraception and encourage its use. Like Bill Clinton said, safe, legal and rare. But nooooooo, they'd rather stick with owning teaching abstinence only and making abortion go back to back alleys.
posted by birdherder at 7:05 PM on March 6


Made a last ditch effort to explain this to a white Christian middle-class (nope) friend of my mother's (double trouble nope) on Facebook (triple threat nope) for some reason. Laid out every conversation equation I could think of.

Abstinence only education =/= widespread majority abstinence.
Abstinence only education x sexual curiosity = unsafe/unprotected sex = babies.
And how teenagers are curious about sex and isn't it better to just cover all your bases, teach them safe sex as the "look, that's life; things happen!" view, and hopefully prevent young mothers and fathers from having shitty lives?

She just kept bringing up "well, my kids/the kids we know were taught right and they know better (+ blah blah God says blah)". All she could focus on was "why give them that option if it's wrong and will surely result in sex?"

If I could talk to her now, I'd like to say that as a 25 year old former Christian who's lived on 2 college campuses, attended 3 community colleges, and been stationed in the barracks of 4 separate bases (most often populated by Republicans btw!*), your kids are having sex. SO MUCH SEX.
And there's also a SCARY amount of diseases that get passed around. Also, a fair number of pregnancies definitely occur. And that's just in my little petri dish! Young adults are going to have sex whether or not you teach them the right way, so Teach. Them. The. Right. Way.

*How do I know? Test conversations that I start off like, "Maybe we should follow in Japan's footsteps and have less guns and stricter gun policies in the US."
Like shootin' fish in a barrel.
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:42 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


God, how can this shit be constitutional?

It's not meant to be constitutional. They are provoking challenges that can be moved up to the Supreme Court so that they can overturn Roe v. Wade. The scary part is, they might be winning.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:44 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I don't want to live on this planet anymore
posted by deathpanels at 4:47 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was sufficiently comfortable with the rules to vacate on an emergency basis the District Court decision striking down most of the restrictions.

However, I'd be very surprised if there were five votes on the Supreme Court upholding these rules against what will be a very high stack of friend of the court briefs asserting that they are inconsistent with national medical standards, and even state standards applied to office procedures of comparable invasiveness and risk of complications requiring hospitalization. More likely that the vote is 6-3 or even 7-2 as Roberts or Roberts and Alito take the view that even if Roe, even if wrongly decided, has to be obeyed until it is reversed.
posted by MattD at 6:23 AM on March 7


By the time this gets to SCOTUS, having no clinics that perform abortions will be the new normal. And it certainly won't matter to the women who need abortions and other reproductive health services in that time; they will go to Mexico, or they will have babies they can't support and didn't want to have, they will get sick and not get better, they will suffer. Texas does not seem to be in a rush to provide underserved areas with clinics that serve the health needs of the men, women, and children who live there.
posted by rtha at 6:28 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Honestly I have a problem with the terms 'pro life' and 'pro choice'. Shouldn't we* be talking about 'pro abortion rights' and 'anti abortion rights'? Isn't that the whole point?

'Pro life' is rubbish if you're also in favour of the death penalty; moreover it's vague. Most of us think life is a pretty good thing, I mean, yay life, right? And who could be against choices? Don't we all love to have choices?

Anyway, this is a pretty horrific situation women in the US are dealing with. And it seems to be getting progressively worse. The sad thing is that it's not even actually causing low abortion rates.
I wish pro- and anti-abortion rights folks could find common ground in wanting to reduce the need for abortions, by making decent sex ed and contraception commonly available.

A propos decent sex ed: Scarleteen is in acute financial trouble and may need to close shop, if you're interested read Heather's blog post here.

*by which I, as a non-native speaker of English, mean y'all
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:31 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Honestly I have a problem with the terms 'pro life' and 'pro choice'. Shouldn't we* be talking about 'pro abortion rights' and 'anti abortion rights'?
Those who are anti-abortion also tend to oppose preventative measures like sex ed and contraception.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:37 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Yes, and that is pretty counterproductive in my eyes.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:39 AM on March 7


Honestly I have a problem with the terms 'pro life' and 'pro choice'. Shouldn't we* be talking about 'pro abortion rights' and 'anti abortion rights'? Isn't that the whole point?

I use pro-choice and anti-choice.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:42 AM on March 7


I was a clinic defender in the late 80's/early 90's in Southern California when Operation Rescue was hitting clinics throughout the L.A. and Orange County areas. At one point, when a bunch of the leaders got together, there was a time that we were thinking about becoming midwives so that we could perform abortions if need be.

I feel like this is a moment in which heroic people leave their suburbs in Burbank and go do tours of duty in the Rio Grande Valley to provide underground health services to underserved women....

Fuck.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:52 AM on March 7


Can someone please explain to me why abortions need special clinics? Why this isn't done by regular doctors/gynecologists at regular clinics/hospitals?
posted by alona at 6:53 AM on March 7


The women's health program area at my work posted an issue brief a yesterday about the upcoming Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Woods SCOTUS hearing, and the wider implications for that case. Lots of good links in it to amicus briefs and such.
posted by rtha at 7:12 AM on March 7


Can someone please explain to me why abortions need special clinics?

They don't need to be performed in special clinics, but, for the most part hospitals have stopped providing abortion services for non-emergency abortions. This article is a good place to start.

Also, if a woman doesn't have health insurance, going into any hospital and asking for an abortion, is most often, not an option, therefore, abortion clinics.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:19 AM on March 7


I have a fairly lefty friend who's anti-abortion. She's not religious, but is part of a movement of non-religious people who oppose it. She's all for better sex ed and widespread access to contraception and women's healthcare (really, better access to healthcare for all people), but she can't get past the "fetus is a person" thing. She's very frustrated with how the religious right has co-opted the issue. I find it curious to talk to her about it and have trouble pushing back sometimes with my own pro-choice views since so much of the public discourse on this concerns religion.
posted by bluefly at 7:22 AM on March 7


tl,dr from the article:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that while 97% of ob-gyn doctors in the U.S. have met with a patient who wants an abortion, just 14% actually perform the procedure.

Hospitals provide just 4% of abortions in the U.S., according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit sexual-health-research organization, and many facilities limit the procedure to rare cases, like fetal abnormalities or when the life of the woman is at risk. The majority of hospitals perform fewer than 30 abortions per year. Others refuse to provide the procedure at all.

posted by Sophie1 at 7:24 AM on March 7


One of the things that doesn't get talked about in terms of abortion practice in hospitals is that many of them are controlled by religious corporations (see St This and St That) and with the consolidation of healthcare corporations, that means healthcare in the US, including abortions, is seriously influenced by religious groups. Ditto abortion training in medical schools. Abortion is the loudest point of contention, but I suspect there are a lot of other places like end-of-life practice that putting religious corporations in charge of a large part of our healthcare system is going to tell.

This legislation wouldn't be as much of an issue if you could go into a hospital facility and have an abortion there under care of a doctor like other sorts of day surgeries.

have trouble pushing back sometimes with my own pro-choice views

I find that expressing it in libertarian terms (I own my own body and the rights of a fetus that can't survive outside my body don't trump mine) is pretty good at expressing it even when the other person doesn't agree. Frequently this approach does expose the way society programs people to expect pregnancy as a punishment on women for unauthorized sex whether or not the other party is actually religious, though.
posted by immlass at 7:55 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


have trouble pushing back sometimes with my own pro-choice views

I tend to go with an appeal not to ideology or philosophy but to realism and outcomes. What happens when you outlaw abortion isn't that people don't get abortions, it's that women die getting back-alley or self-induced abortions. I ask the person what they think would happen if all abortion were illegal - do they want women who try to get an abortion anyway to go to jail? Do they want them to die trying to get an abortion? What outcome do they want? And usually the answer is, they have some foggy idea that everybody would give birth and give the child up for adoption and everything would be fine, so I try to get them to think about the real world where that doesn't actually happen. I tell them about my Mom working in a hospital before abortion was decriminalized in Canada, and all the women who came in with horrible infections or bleeding they couldn't stop from botched abortions who ended up sterile or who died because they couldn't get a safe abortion. I think if you focus on outcomes it's more productive than focusing on philosophy.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:27 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


I use pro-choice and anti-choice.

For even more fun, try "pro forced childbirth" and "anti forced childbirth."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:43 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


have trouble pushing back sometimes with my own pro-choice views

Ask if she knows about Savita Halappanavar, who died in a hospital in Ireland from sepsis, because they would not give her an abortion following an incomplete and septic miscarriage.
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Sophie1: "Hospitals provide just 4% of abortions in the U.S."

On the face of it this shouldn't be a problem; many out patient procedures are performed in single purpose clinics. It's only the special restrictions on abortion that make this a worrying statistic. IE: no one cares that LASIK is performed in clinics rather than hospitals because LASIK clinics haven't been weighted down with a bunch of useless regulation aimed at making running a LASIK clinic impossible.
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I want to get together a bunch of progressives and have an "anti-abortion" protest outside a bunch of religious high schools, handing out condoms, science-based sex education pamphlets, and free rides to planned parenthood.
posted by crayz at 9:36 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


In general, I take a utilitarian approach to pro-choice when I discuss it with non-pro-choice people. Statistics overwhelmingly show that the best way to reduce abortions is easy availability of healthcare, contraception, domestic violence assistance (since abusers often use pregnancy as a method of control and keep victims from using contraception) and support for pregnant women and families (so that poverty doesn't force a woman to abort a fetus she would otherwise want).

Such practices save far more lives, even fetal "lives," (mostly by preventing unwanted ones from existing at all) than any abortion restriction ever could. If life-saving is what you believe in, simply restricting abortion or making it illegal is not only futile, it's immoral. You are in effect dooming many more fetuses to extinction, along with the women who face the risks of carrying or trying to get rid of them.

(this discussion is also a useful springboard into the fact that arguments against abortion are always tied to arguments against contraception by those pushing for restrictions, illustrating that both are rooted in an extreme religious viewpoint, not in a simple moral desire to protect babies).

Only then do I take it farther, into the realm of women's rights and autonomy, and how much the ability to chose matters in order to allow women to be full persons. Because, sadly, in a sexist society, that's a harder argument to make. Many people are still not willing to concede that what a woman wants to happen to her own body is more important than what other people think she should be allowed to do or not do with her body.
posted by emjaybee at 9:45 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


Tomorrow (Tuesday the 11th), my work is hosting a discussion/panel that will be webcast live on the implications of the upcoming SCOTUS hearings on the corporations that don't want to pay for their employees' contraceptive coverage. It starts at 9:30 am Eastern (or you can watch later, like I will!).
posted by rtha at 2:42 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


The majority of hospitals perform fewer than 30 abortions per year. Others refuse to provide the procedure at all.

There's another side to this even in "liberal" states that just like, legalized weed and gay marriage maaaan. The church "partnering" with hospitals.

This is sneaky, and shady. The hospitals don't change names or put up any signs really, and they don't announce until it's way too late that they won't provide certain services or wont perform abortions.

There have already been cases of people who medically needed one being denied. There's also huge areas of the state where the only 3 hospitals you could reasonably get to are all part of this.

That is some backwoods shit, to me. Really scummy and shady too. It's like not officially banning liquor in a circle of counties, but just defacto getting every store to agree to only sell beer under 4% abv and nothing else, and not changing any signs or anything. Except you know, that people will die.

It blows my mind that this includes hospitals in seattle, like right in the middle of town. There is definitely a defined war going on right now.
posted by emptythought at 2:52 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


"If you favor women having a legal right to abortion, please do not use the right's framing of their side as "pro-life". Pro-choice, anti-choice. If anything, the right, through their callous disregard of what happens to children once born, is closer to "anti-life" than abortion-rights supporters."

"For even more fun, try "pro forced childbirth" and "anti forced childbirth.""
The words we use do matter, but the things we mean by them matter a hell of a lot more. We should be thinking about language and how it shapes conversations but when I hear the semantic games played by each of the various sides of this 'debate' it leads me to think that at least those of us who want to be involved should all be doing a lot more listening as well as a lot more thinking about common values and community than word play. By the time you get to describing someone with words they would not use to describe themselves, that stops being conversation and starts being an exercise in talking at someone that is incapable of communicating anything other than self-righteousness and plugged ears. I'd like to suggest that this attitude doesn't do anything productive for abortion rights when directed towards people with any of the various perspectives that don't align with the metafilter consensus, but also that the virulently frothy effects it has when directed at people whose perspectives do align with the metafilter consensus are if anything even more counter-productive.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:42 AM on March 11


We should be thinking about language and how it shapes conversations but when I hear the semantic games played by each of the various sides of this 'debate' it leads me to think that at least those of us who want to be involved should all be doing a lot more listening as well as a lot more thinking about common values and community than word play.

My point was that you will never win "hearts and minds" when the "other side" gets their inaccurate, "virtuous" label for their view accepted.

If you simply weighed things by the labels without regard to scientific fact or individual rights, and without knowing anything about the subject, why, yes, "life" seems more important than a "choice." But that's not the actual debate, it's not the facts, it's just way it's framed to pander to the low-information voter.

I can say with some assurance that I don't share many "common values" with people who want to deny women human rights. As has been endlessly pointed out and shown by study, the easiest way to stop abortions is to provide accurate sex ed and access to inexpensive or free reproductive healthcare.

That the anti-choice crowd instead spews sanctimonious hate, blows up clinics, shoots doctors, and concentrates on codifying "slut shaming" into law tells me they're not "pro baby" but "anti-woman". Who needs that bullshit?
posted by maxwelton at 4:39 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


That there is, for most everyone willing to enter into this debate, a 'them' and an 'us' is exactly the reason we will all lose it.

For the most part, at least when you define both 'sides' of this debate in genuinely meaningful ways, even combined they make up a vanishingly small portion of the American electorate. When we're really honest with ourselves the goal of all of this absurd semantic wiggling is to hide the base fact that most of us understand abortion through both and neither pro-life and pro-choice models. You may just be a zealot who sees a fetus as occupying a moral position similar to a pinky finger, or abortion as a viable form of birth control, but that would make you politically and ethically irrelevant. It may seem as if insisting on using pro-choice models exclusively in conversation as loudly and conspicuously as possible would be an effective way to get others to use them, and I can see how that would be convincing internally, but it is going to necessarily make it such that you can only condescendingly talk at people rather than to them in ways that are going to be painfully obvious to everyone but you.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:51 AM on March 11


Blasdelb, could you please clarify what you just posted? I don't mean in a "Imma debate you, rar!" fighty manner. I mean, I'm curious as to what you're saying, but I have read that 5 times very slowly and I can't quite understand what you're getting at.

My brain keeps sliding off of it like oil but my dear mother always told me I was smart (nyuck nyuck nyuck). Thanks much.
posted by DisreputableDog at 8:57 AM on March 11


most of us understand abortion through both and neither pro-life and pro-choice models.

Yeah, but I sort of can't get past the fact that the middle-of-the-road models basically make me less of a person because I can get pregnant, because they tell me that what I can do with my body is determined by how other people feel about it. I guess it's cool for dudes to be objective about this kind of thing, but it's my body and my life I'm talking about, so I find it a lot less negotiable. And when we're talking about enshrining into law rules that say I can't get medical care because it makes the squishy middle feel ooky, I'm really not that interested. A lot of things in the past that have made the squishy middle of American politics feel ooky are considered part of bedrock American culture now.

But wandering back from the broader debate to the actual subject of the post: lawmakers want to outlaw abortion and they can't do it, so instead they're pussyfooting around with these extra laws like mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds and forcing clinics to take special and costly measures in the name of protecting women. First, everybody knows that this is a backdoor way of forcing women not to seek out abortion-related healthcare; second, it's pretty damn patronizing to women to believe they can't make decisions about appropriateness and safety of health care on their own. And that's not even getting into the nannies who want to protect us from the moral evils of birth control!

The consistent message is that men should tell women how to run the most intimate parts of their lives and health (and by the way, if you get raped or are an underaged but physically mature woman who gets pregnant through incest, tough titties!) and that's bullshit, and I'm okay with being a little offensive to the squishy middle in saying so. Not every message has to be immediately politically appropriate to the mass of the undecided.
posted by immlass at 9:30 AM on March 11 [6 favorites]


Even most people who don’t consider themselves “pro-choice,” except for the real extremists, say they believe in circumstances where exceptions should be made.

What I’d ask them is – what’s the practical way to determine who gets one of your exceptions? A court hearing? They can take forever, especially in our overcrowded system. Lots of people believe in exceptions for rape, but what’s the standard there? Does there have to be a conviction first? Because those are notoriously hard to get, and take a long time when they can be gotten. Is an arrest enough? A grand jury? Every hoop you make the woman or girl seeking an exception go through delays the procedure and makes it riskier.

So, the question is, do these folks REALLY believe there are exceptional cases? Because if they do, they would support the pregnant person and her doctor making those determinations themselves instead of creating the delays that would inevitably follow any external selection process.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:59 AM on March 11


Women lose health options with new Texas law: Rachel Maddow reports on how a new round of regulations in the new Texas anti-abortion law will further reduce the number of women’s health clinics.
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on March 11


That there is, for most everyone willing to enter into this debate, a 'them' and an 'us' is exactly the reason we will all lose it.

You lost me, sorry. And yes, i read your entire post and it parsed perfectly fine to me.

This is a really crooked, crappy argument that is often used to disenfranchise people on the left.

If presenting a unified front is such a bad idea, then why does it consistently work so goddamn well for the antichoicers and the right in general? They've been scoring repeated victories presenting things as "US vs THEM" that are actually nuanced issues.

Countering a person presenting it as a two sided battle with "Well there's more than that" just makes you look mealy mouthed and lose, in my experience. Fighting an us vs them battle as well, an us vs them battle is the only way to win in the court of public opinion. Not doing so looks like you're being squirrely and don't have a good, solid one-shot answer to a question.

This is a serious problem i've seen in left wing circles from sorta-left democratic stuff, to extremely left occupy type stuff. Everyone is more obsessed with respecting nuance than actually getting things done. And the bad guys fuck them over constantly by a few people dictatorially deciding "This is our message, go out there and repeat it until it drowns everything else out".

Honestly i think the way to appeal to the "middle" would be to just make massive national ad campaigns going "This is what this is really doing, this court decision is being worked around in extremely weasely ways in multiple states, people are dying". Fuck, attack the other part of it to with some kind of "I'm an adult, can't i make my own decisions?" type of ads. Stick women who are veterans in there, have them going "You trusted me to defend your country, you can't trust me to make my own decisions?" kind of shit that is really a low blow. Get dirty.

The hesitance to present a unified front is what's losing this, not the instinct to make it us vs them.
posted by emptythought at 4:05 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Judge strikes down Arkansas law banning most abortions after 12 weeks
posted by homunculus at 12:38 PM on March 15


Targeted by Firebombing, Legislation, and Now Vandalism, Montana Abortion Provider Shutters Clinic
posted by homunculus at 9:13 AM on March 27 [1 favorite]


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