Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

What's Wrong With Minnesota?

Last November, Republicans gained control of the Minnesota Legislature for the first time in over 30 years. Thanks to the new majority, they are now considering no less than eight bills to restrict access to abortion. Yesterday, a house committee considered Bill 649 to ban abortion at 20 weeks due to a fetus’ unproven ability to feel pain. Sound familiar? They are popping up all over the country, but the hearing yesterday shed some light on the logic behind the bills. The bill is a direct legal challenge to Roe v. Wade (the Minnesota version even contains the creation of a taxpayer-funded defense fund to protect against the inevitable legal challenge), but what is perhaps so extraordinary is the assertion that physical pain is something a legislature should try to prevent. The Republicans thought they scored points when they asked one witness, women’s health expert and ob/gyn Carrie Ann Terrell, whether a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Terrell simply responded that it didn’t matter...

Who Gets Late-Term Abortions?

I received some pushback on my column today concerning my assertion that most women who get late-term abortions (specifically, those who get them after 20 weeks) do so because of a fetal abnormality. This is incorrect; the majority of women who get abortions after 20 weeks do so for other reasons. The point I was trying to make is this: Most women who seek pregnancies after 20 weeks do so because they did not have access to abortion services earlier, and those who indeed have access typically undergo the procedure so late only when there is a medical problem with the pregnancy -- one that affects the mother or the child. It's not the case, as many anti-abortion activists would have you believe, that women sit around for five months unable to make up their minds. Eighty-seven percent of counties in the U.S. do not have clinics that provide abortion services, and limits on public funding for abortion mean that poor women often face the difficult task of paying for an abortion out of...

Radical Fetal-Pain Laws Roll Back <em>Roe</em>

Fetal-pain laws show pro-lifers don't really care about pain -- they just care about abolishing reproductive rights.

Kansas state Rep. Jene Vickrey, a Republican, watches the House's electronic board tally votes on a fetal-pain bill that passed the chamber late last month. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
When Danielle Deaver of Nebraska was 22 weeks into her pregnancy, she learned that the probability of the fetus surviving after birth was close to zero. Deaver decided the most humane thing to do was end her pregnancy. "At what point," she asked her doctor, "do we go from being good parents and doing everything we can to save our baby to being selfish and putting our baby through essentially torture when they were born?" The Des Moines Register reported what happened next: Under the state's new fetal-pain law, Deaver was forced to give birth. Then she watched her baby die in her arms. Last year, Nebraska passed a law banning abortion after 20 weeks based on the unproven claim that at that point, a fetus can feel pain. Now Iowa, Idaho, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, and Kansas are all poised to pass similar laws. "It's part of a trend we're seeing of attacks on women's autonomy and women's health," says Talcott Camp of the ACLU's Reproduction Freedom Project...

Wisconson GOP Takes the Long View

Last night, the Wisconsin GOP decided that rather than compromise with Democrats, it would pass the bill and repeal bargaining rights without them. To do so, they quickly stripped the budget bill of its financial measures which require a 20-member quorum and passed a budget-neutral bill that just repealed union bargaining rights. Many people have speculated on what happens next, and the consensus is a political battle to recall the Republican state senators who voted for the bill alongside a court battle over the bill. David Dayden sees these challenges going all the way to the state Supreme Court, where elections being held next month will determine the majority party on the court. Sadly, the politicization of recall elections and judicial elections is not something progressives should be looking forward to. Both Nate Silver and Matt Yglesias have compared what happened last night to the way in which Democrats passed health-care reform last year. In many ways, this is a telling...

Gov. Walker's Assault on Women

A few weeks ago, Dana Goldstein pointed out that Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to roll back bargaining rights would disproportionately impact women who largely populate the professions whose unions are at stake. But Walker’s budget would impact women – particularly poor women – by taking away several avenues to reproductive care and contraception. First, Walker’s budget would eliminate Title V, the only state-funded family planning program, which provides not just birth control but the gamut of tests and cancer screenings that keep poor people healthy. Generally, conservatives are content with simply stripping care from poor women, but Walker’s budget also repeals Wisconsin’s Contraceptive Equity law, which would allow insurance plans to deny coverage of contraceptive prescriptions. As icing on the cake, Walker’s bill gives the Wisconsin health department – headed by a former Bush Administration official – the power to end a Medicaid-supported program under the new health-care law that...

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