Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

What Makes Abortion Dangerous.

Yesterday, police charged abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia with the murder of one patient and seven infants. For decades, Mr. Gosnell operated in a clinic that, by the description from the grand-jury report, was strewn with dirt, blood, and fetal remains. According to The New York Times , Dr. Gosnell "performed late-term abortions, after 24 weeks, which are illegal, and employed staff members who were not trained medical professionals." This case will surely generate a lot of interest and, rightly, disgust, but it will also turn up the inevitable anti-abortion, baby-killer rhetoric that already dominates discussions of abortion. If the charges are true, Dr. Gosnell is an unstable man who deserves to spend the rest of his life in jail, but legal abortion is not the cause of this clinic that slipped through the cracks. As Amanda Marcotte already noted , the anti-choice movement does not protect women from shady abortion providers. Instead, they're to blame...

Giffords Shooting Is Evidence of Conservative Policy Failures, Too.

Since Jared Loughner 's attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords , Republicans have united behind the idea that this was an isolated act by a crazy person. They argue that because Loughner was mentally unstable, their political rhetoric, often filled with guns and other violent intimations, is not to blame. Loughner probably was a mentally ill person with no coherent political agenda, but that's actually a good indictment of the conservative policy failures that allowed the shooting to take place. At RH Reality Check, Amanda Marcotte notes that Loughner appears to be an example of someone who needed attention from mental-health professionals but "slipped through the cracks." Of course, cracks exist because we allow them to. Arizona has a poor record for mental-health care, and in 2010 the state cut mental-health services funding by 37 percent for this year. Overall, state spending on mental-health care has gone down year after year; about half that money would be imperiled by the...

Best of TAP 2010: Friedman on Identity Politics.

In TAP 's anniversary issue this summer, Ann Friedman defended identity politics with the simple and compelling argument that seeking justice through politics is what makes being a liberal meaningful. Rather than dismiss the issues that truly matter to the constituencies that form the progressive base -- African Americans, women, Latinos, and members of the LGBT community – as "special interests," Democrats should remember why these groups signed on to the progressive agenda in the first place. This year in particular, that message felt really important. The last two years have seen these groups set their priorities aside for the 'greater good' -- in particular, when it came to passing health-care reform. Women's rights groups and pro-choice members of Congress compromised their commitment to reproductive choice when pro-lifers threatened to derail the health-care bill; now, implementation of reform will surely erode access to abortion. Immigration reform and the DREAM Act,...

When the Elephants Come Marching In

In D.C., national elections have immediate, local consequences.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Not long into George W. Bush's second term, Republican Rep. Henry Bonilla introduced a measure to rename D.C.'s 16th Street -- a major north-south thoroughfare -- "Ronald Reagan Boulevard." Luckily for the heavily Democratic District, even Bonilla's fellow Republicans scoffed at the idea. As one noted, Reagan already has the airport; if Bonilla wants to name anything else after Reagan, "he has to look at his own district in San Antonio." Bonilla's proposal is emblematic of larger ways changes in federal leadership directly affect the nation's capital. Under the Constitution, Congress has the final say on Washington's laws and budget, giving federal legislators the ability to meddle in local affairs. Most proposals of Bonilla's caliber don't catch on. But when it comes to important social policy, congressional rule -- especially under Republicans -- disrupts the ability of the city government to address local problems. Generally, Democratic congresses tend to give D.C. autonomy over...

Will Obama Stand Up for Repro Rights?

Forget the Republican House, ensuring reproductive choice is still in Obama's hands.

Winnie Adler narrates a re-enactment of a major case in the push for women's suffrage in Indiana. (AP Photo/Journal & Courier, Michael Heinz)
Women's rights advocates are already sounding the alarm about Republican control of the House of Representatives. National Organization of Women President Terri O'Neill fired off a press release warning that "under the new Republican leadership, women's issues will be compromised" while an e-mail from Planned Parenthood described a "'Stupak on steroids' abortion ban" agenda. Perhaps comedian Etta Devine articulated it best on Twitter: "Hold on to your vaginas for the next two years or government will try and do it for you." Even more worrisome, Republicans swept many state houses, flipping 11 legislatures and eight governorships from blue to red. That gives Republicans power to enact anti-abortion measures across the country -- a significant blow to abortion rights considering the more than 600 anti-choice state bills already proposed this year. But at the federal level, the buck still stops with the president. Republicans may grandstand and write anti-choice legislation in largely...