Guest-posting at Nate Silver's 538, Mark Smith makes a point that is not made nearly often enough. Pundits talk about the potential costs of Roe v. Wade and the Democratic Party's embrace of womens' reproductive freedom—lost votes among social conservatives who might otherwise be more sympathetic to Democratic economic policies. But as Smith points out, there's another side to it: relatively affluent states such as Washington that have gone from swing states to solid blue states in large measure because of Republican positions on cultural issues.
Adam Liptak and Allison Kopicki recently had an interesting analysis of public opinion on the Supreme Court. The public reaction to the health-care ruling, NFIB v. Sebelius, shows that the public is closely divided, with 46 percent supporting the decision.
On April 12, Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill making Arizona the eighth state in the union to ban abortions beyond 20 weeks. Like most other laws of its kind, House Bill 2036 had been camouflaged as a measure against suffering, predicated on the notion that a fetus at 20 weeks can feel pain. Every woman who’s ever been pregnant, however, knows what the law really means: Twenty weeks marks a crucial point in a pregnancy, when fetal abnormalities can be detected, often for the first time. Many women confronted with a grim prenatal diagnosis choose to have an abortion. Now, in Arizona, they can’t.
Republicans haven't been quite as eager to moralize against contraception after Rush Limbaugh gave voice to their true feelings, but Democrats aren't ready to let their argument that the GOP is waging a war on women slip by the wayside. Mitt Romney, a candidate who rarely seems comfortable when the discussion strays from the economy, is hoping that the issue will become a non-factor once he officially dismisses Rick Santorum and heads to the general election. Barack Obama clearly has a different view. The president issued a new subtle attack yesterday in a video where he directly addresses supporters of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Lately, I’ve been very Eeyore-ish about women’s lives. There’s plenty of reason for that. Ruth Rosen nicely lays out the backlash against women’s reproductive lives in her article about the current counter-reformation, as she puts it, against women’s bodily autonomy. Of course, any attempt to roll back women’s reproductive rights is an attack on women’s economic independence, since women can only control their educational and financial lives if they can control their fertility.
It's hard to relax these days (though I still haven't tried yoga.) Take the current fight around reproductive rights. Pro-choice advocates of women's health have heard plenty of good news in the past few days. The trouble is, it's almost always been tempered by bad news. See what I mean:
As you might expect, Ross Douthat is unhappy about the backlash against the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's decision to defund Planned Parenthood. His argument rests upon assertions of media bias that are shaky since, as Sarah Kilff notes, it's likely that media bias wouldn't have been a factor in Komen coverage precisely because of the political leanings of the average journalist.
The Food and Drug Administration was on the verge of approving the emergency contraceptive known as "Plan B One Step." Access to emergency contraceptives is important to the reproductive freedom of women, and having to obtain a prescription or get past a pharmacist with reactionary moral beliefs can be a substantial burden on women.
Today, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued its recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on which preventative-care services for women should be free under any health-insurance plan. Given that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment took abortion coverage out of the health-care equation, one would have thought that the guidelines would be uncontroversial. But the increasingly radical anti-abortion movement fought hard against the inclusion of contraception.
Today's IOM report basically repudiates their view:
Texas State Senator Bob Deuell (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck)
Last week, Republicans and Democrats in the Texas Legislature reached an impasse on a five-year-old women's health-care program set to expire in December. Though none of the money went to abortions or abortion referrals, Republicans will not renew the program without an amendment that would prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving any of the funding. Democrats, though, won't vote for the measure. That means 120,000 uninsured women are likely to lose their health care.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
From January to March, state legislatures passed 15 laws restricting abortion rights and introduced more than 900 others. Viewed collectively, this legislation would appear to be at odds with the Supreme Court's recognition in Roe v. Wade in 1973 that women have a fundamental right to choose to have an abortion. "Opponents and supporters of abortion," concludesSlate's Dahlia Lithwick, "appear to have taken the position that Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land." Indeed, many of the proposed laws Lithwick details directly contradict Roe, including laws that would ban pre-viability abortions.