Health Care

Reproductive Rights: I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News

(Flickr/WeNews)

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:

Pre-Abortion Sonogram Debate

Obama's Squandered Recovery

In The Escape Artists, Noam Scheiber depicts a White House out of its depth on the financial crisis.

The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery. By Noam Scheiber, Simon & Schuster, 351 pages, $28.00.

Republican Family Planning

It only took about an hour into the 20th Republican debate Wednesday for the candidates to find something they could agree on. After sparring over the fine details of earmarks, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum agreed that it’s all right for women to serve in the military but birth control, well, that’s a slippery slope that leads to the breakdown of society.

Supporting the right of women to serve in the armed forces, itself a completely irrelevant debate considering 167,000 women are active-duty military, while trying to limit access to birth control, betrayed a profound ignorance on the way that women lead their lives.

Personhood Bill Dead in Virginia

Update: Virginia's personhood bill is now dead for the year. The bill, already approved by the state House, passed out of a Senate committee this morning and headed to the floor. But the Republican-dominated Senate voted to send the bill back to committee and carry it over to next year. It's the second big win for pro-choice advocates in Virginia this week, after Governor Bob McDonnell retracted his support for a bill requiring pre-abortion transvaginal sonograms yesterday.

Where Was the Outrage Over Texas's Sonogram Law?

(AP Photo/Richmond Times Dispatch/Bob Brown)

Pro-choice advocates around the country cheered Wednesday, as Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell withdrew support for a pre-abortion sonogram bill. The bill had risen to national attention, even earning a spot on The Daily Show. Critics focused on a particularly disturbing detail of the measure—most women having abortions have them early in the pregnancy, too early for the usual "jelly on the belly" ultrasound.

Luck Not Be a Lady

You know those odd moments in animated cartoons when a character's head seems to be boiling and popping, one eye getting bigger, then smaller, and so on? As a journalist who focuses on gender and sexuality, that's how I feel lately: happy, sad, shocked, celebratory—all at the same time.  

Pre-Abortion Sonograms Make Their Way Into Law

(Flickr/Travis Isaacs)

The Virginia Legislature has been busy passing legislation to limit abortion and promote pro-life agendas. I wrote Tuesday how the state House passed a bill changing the legal definition of "person" to include fetuses starting at conception. But the body also passed a measure requiring women seeking an abortion to first have a sonogram 24 hours ahead of time. The state Senate already passed an identical measure and the state governor has said that he supports the initiative—which means it will almost definitely become law. 

Colbert Explains Contraception And the War On Religion

Stephen Colbert can't say that, can he?!

Stephen Colbert Explains the Catholic Church and Contraceptives

The comedian describes what Obama's birth control plan looks like to conservative Catholics. It involves a banana and a guillotine.

Virginia House Passes Personhood Bill

Republican delegate Bob Marshall says critics are overstating things when it comes to the personhood bill he is sponsoring in Virginia. Opponents of his bill have argued that not only does the measure grant legal protections to all fetuses beginning at conception, but it could also be construed to outlaw birth control. 

The bill is ostensibly less stringent than similar measures that came up in Colorado and Mississippi. As Marshall points out, it does not directly outlaw abortion, but would force the courts to include embryos in definitions of person. "I think I struck a middle ground," says Marshall.

Birth Control Chess

(Flickr/brains the head)

Last week, I argued that it was unlikely that many critics of President Obama's contraceptive coverage requirement would be mollified by a compromise that would allow a religious exemption but still mandate that employees be provided with contraceptive coverage at no extra cost. Apparently, we're about to find out if that’s the case. I was very concerned when I first read that Obama was planning to announce a "compromise," and part of me still wishes he had just stood firm given the that the arguments against the new regulation were so bad.

What the Anti-Contraception Conservatives Really Want

(Flickr/Jenny Lee Silver)

Let's stipulate at the outset that almost everyone on the right you hear talking about the issue of contraception coverage is cynically adopting this position for no other reason than they believe it to be a handy cudgel to bash the Obama administration. (One notable exception is Rick Santorum, who genuinely believes that contraception is wrong, since it unleashes our dirty, dirty thoughts and allows people to have sex without being punished for it.

There's Something Rotten at the Komen Foundation

Karen Handel's exit from the organization reveals the discord surrounding the Planned Parenthood decision.

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, had a placid expression on her face when she assured MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell last week that Karen Handel had nothing much to do with the foundation’s decision to cease funding breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics. Brinker was speaking of Komen’s vice president for public policy, a recent hire who stated during her  2010 Georgia gubernatorial campaign that de-funding Planned Parenthood was a policy priority.

Komen Coverage Makes Ross Douthat Sad

The columnist's assertions of media bias during the Komen controversy rest on shaky ground.

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.

Another Kind of Mandate

While it’s hard to make a bad advertisement with Clint Eastwood, this would be good even without “The Man With No Name.” The basic message is straightforward— it’s “halftime in America.” Yes, the country suffered a major setback four years ago, but we have the strength and reserve to press forward on the current path and succeed.

Friday Miscellany

It's Friday! Time for a little bit of this, a little bit of that: 

  • Barney Frank is engaged! How sweet is that?  Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly put up this

The two have been together since the spring of 2007, according to Frank's office. [Jim] Ready, who is 42 years old, lives in Ogunquit, Maine, where, per Frank's office, he has a small business doing custom awnings, carpentry, painting, welding and other general handyman services. He also is a photographer. 

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