Roundup: Ross Douthat on 08 Republican Electoral Losses; Obama and the Federal Courts

Emily Douglas

Debate over abortion shifts to debate over rights of health care workers; anti-choice movement not to blame for 2008 Republican electoral losses?; Obama can reshape federal courts; Indian ashram rejects woman living with HIV.

Debate Over Abortion Shifts to Rights of Health Care Workers

In Newsweek,
Dalia Lithwick links the proposed HHS provider conscience regulations (broader
protections for health care providers who oppose abortion) to the South Dakota law that requires doctors to read a medically-inaccurate script to women seeking to terminate a pregnancy
(more restrictions for doctors who provide abortion).  Lithwick writes, "[O]ur solicitude for the beliefs of medical
workers is selective: abortion opponents will soon enjoy broader legal
protections than ever. Those willing to provide abortions, on the other hand,
will enjoy far fewer."  She asks,

What does it tell us about the state of the abortion wars, that battles once waged over the dignity and autonomy of pregnant women have morphed into disputes over the dignity and autonomy of their health-care providers?

Anti-Choice Movement Not to Blame for 2008 Republican Election Losses?

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Says conservative commentator Ross Douthat on the New York Times op-ed page: "why should abortion opponents, of all conservative factions, take the
blame for the financial meltdown, or the bungled occupation of Iraq, or
the handling of Hurricane Katrina?" Douthat claims that the anti-choice movement has already taken the advice it’s often given:

Their movement should focus on changing hearts and minds, rather than
the law. It should be more consistently pro-life, by helping human
beings outside the womb as well as those within it. It should cease
trying to roll back the sexual revolution and standing athwart science
yelling “stop!” And above all, it should be less absolutist, and more
amenable to compromise.

But in Douthat’s book, anti-choicers are already comprising:

But pro-lifers have already taken much of it to heart. Compromise,
rather than absolutism, has been the watchword of anti-abortion efforts
for some time now. Since the early 1990s, advocates have focused on
pushing largely modest state-level restrictions, from parental
notification laws to waiting periods to bans on what we see as the
grisliest forms of abortion.

Obama Has Chance to Reshape Federal Courts

President-Elect Obama has the opportunity to reshape federal district
courts, reports
Jerry Markon in the Washington Post
.  Writes Markon,

The new judges might gradually
reshape what many see as a conservative drift in the courts under the Bush
administration and issue more moderate-to-liberal rulings in the ideologically
charged cases that have fueled the struggle for control of the judiciary. Many
judges are independent, and party affiliation is not a perfect predictor of
their behavior. Still, studies have shown that Democratic and Republican
nominees vote differently on such cultural issues as abortion and gay rights,
along with civil rights, environmental law and capital punishment. 

Obama will likely be able to reduce the percentage of Republican appointees to 42 percent and "boost Democrats from
the 36 percent to 58 percent during his first term," says Markon.

New Book Discusses Self-Induced Abortion Methods

At Feministe, a review
of a new book
by the Sage Femme! Collective, Natural Liberty: Rediscovering Self-Induced Abortion
Reviewer Julie lauds the collective for
sharing information about a variety of abortion methods, but strongly cautions
against using any of them.

Indian Ashram Rejects Woman Living with HIV

Minati Ray (not her real name) had been homeless and was taken in by an
ashram in India;
when it turned out she was HIV-positive, the ashram turned her out.  Writes The Times of India,

"They started feeling uncomfortable about it but didn’t initially turn her
out. We stepped in and arranged for her treatment. It was difficult since she
had lost her mental balance and refused medicines. But now, they have refused to
take her back and there’s no other place where we can keep her. It seems she
will have to die on the road," said Biswajit Das of the Bengal Network of
Positive People (BNPP) an organisation that assists Aids patients. 

The Times
of India reports
that "frantic" housing requests are being made to NGOs and
charitable organizations.

Mammograms Less Accessible to American Women

It can take over a year to get a mammogram, reports
Abby Christopher on Alternet
.  "Most
radiologists don’t choose mammography as a subspecialty for a number of reasons
— the repetitive nature of the job, narrow focus, the stress of missing a
diagnosis — but two are cited most often: money loss and malpractice."

Ab-Only Spending: Just a Drop in the Bucket?

American Spectator
tries to play down abstinence-only spending: "Abstinence
education block grants are a microbe on the federal budget juggernaut — just
$50 million per year divided between participating states. School districts
must use the funds to teach students that abstinence is the "expected
standard for all school age children" and that a "mutually faithful
monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of
human sexual activity."  Memo to the author: abstinence-only programs amount to a misuse of over $1 billion in taxpayer funds. In today’s economic climate, it’s even more ludicrous to call for continued public funding for a program that’s been proven ineffective.

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