Mercy Abortions: What Dr. Tiller Did

Ann Rose

The number one reason for abortions past 24 weeks is the late discovery of a fetal anomaly incompatible with life.

Editor’s Note: AnnRose first posted this piece last July on Huffington Post. She has reposted it now because of its relevant to the current conversation about late-term abortion care.

Fewer than 2200/year or 0.2% of the 1.3 million abortions
performed yearly are past 24 weeks.  But, the anti-abortion
propagandists have successfully maligned procedures at this stage of
pregnancy by calling them "Partial Birth Abortions" (not a medical
term, but a political one).  Even pro-choice Democrats don’t understand
the reality of late abortion.

I call abortions past 24 weeks Mercy Abortions…and I’ll tell you why.

For 14 years, I worked at Midtown Hospital in
Atlanta, a woman’s hospital specializing in late abortion.  The
hospital opened in 1977 because at that time, Georgia law mandated that
an abortion past 12 weeks had to be performed in a hospital.  Abortion
had just been made legal in 1973 and it became the first procedure to
be widely performed on an outpatient basis.

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Let me repeat that:  Early abortion was the first medical procedure to be widely performed on an outpatient basis.  That means that medical professionals performing abortions invented outpatient health care in this country.

But, abortions past 12 weeks were still rare and very few hospitals would allow them to be performed.

At that time, there were 2 types of procedures for abortions:

  • Vacuum aspiration performed from about 7 weeks until 12 weeks.
  • Saline induction abortions performed from about 16 weeks to 24 weeks.

 

So, you can see that there was a gap where women couldn’t get
abortions from 12 weeks until 16 weeks.  That meant that a woman who
was 13 weeks pregnant had to wait 3 weeks before she could get an
abortion.  Then she had to undergo what is essentially a medically
induced miscarriage.

As abortion medical professionals matured and were able to openly
discuss options and medical procedures and medicines and investigate
problems, procedures became more refined.  Now, induction type
abortions have been pretty much eliminated, and more sophisticated
procedures involving instrumentation and general anesthesia and
abortifacent drugs have made abortion even more safe and accessible and
comfortable for women throughout all stages of pregnancy…early to
late.

And, let me add a few more things about the evolution of abortion in this country.

  • Abortion was the first widely performed outpatient procedure.Abortion procedures have barely tripled in price
    from the early 70’s.  In the 70’s an early abortion was about $150.
    Now they are about $400.  Name any other medical procedure that’s only
    tripled in cost in the past 35 years.  You can’t.
  • Abortion clinics were some of the first medical
    providers to mandate informed consent.  And the consent is very
    detailed, unlike the general consent you sign in a hospital.
  • Abortion clinics were some of the first medical providers to openly advertise directly to consumers.
  • Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures
    performed.  It’s 8-12 times safer than childbirth.  The mortality rate
    is very low.

I could go on and on, but want to now focus on Mercy Abortions. These are abortions past 24 weeks.

Who are the women who delay into the second and third trimester?  There are several characteristics:

  • In general, they are younger.
  • They are less educated.
  • They are more rural, where healthcare is more inaccessible.
  • They tend to be poorer than women who get early abortions.
  • And they have more lifestyle and emotional issues.
    Oftentimes, the unintended pregnancy is the easiest of their problems
    to solve.

 

Now, I’m sure your first concern is Why.  Why would a woman wait so long?  Here’s a few of the many reasons why women delay getting abortions:

  • Money.  Many women don’t have $400 sitting around
    in a savings account to pay for an early abortion.  Delay happens in
    raising the money, borrowing it, pawning stuff for it, etc.
  • Denial.  Many young women especially so want not to
    be pregnant that they deny their obvious symptoms of pregnancy and
    attribute them to other causes.  They’re missing their period because
    they’re irregular. They’re gaining wait because they’ve been eating
    too much.  They’ve got the flu.  Many young women even hide their
    pregnancies from their parents with big baggy shirts, fake periods,
    etc.  
  • Fetal anomalies.  

 

I’m going to discuss fetal anomalies in detail because this is the number one reason women get abortions past 24 weeks.

That’s why I call them Mercy Abortions.  

One of the largest providers of late abortions, Dr. George Tiller
in Wichita, KS, has been the object of harassing investigations by
Kansas authorities, culminating in an unprecedented Grand Jury trial
prompted by anti-abortionists.  He was just recently vindicated and the
Grand Jury refused to bring charges.  But, his detractors won’t stop, and more harassment is anticipated.

Another major provider of late abortions is Dr. Warren Hern in Boulder CO.

Both of these doctors are extremely compassionate and committed
medical professionals.  I’ve been to both clinics and have known them
personally and can attest to their credibility as both doctors and
humane individuals.

Without a doubt, the number one reason for abortions past 24 weeks
is the late discovery of a fetal anomaly incompatible with life.  I’ve
talked with many women who find themselves in this situation and it is
always an extremely difficult and heart-wrenching situation.  Many
women even underwent infertility treatments to become pregnant.  But,
when the pregnancy goes horribly awry, a Mercy Abortion
is the best solution in a no-win situation.  These are women who need
abortion more than many others.  Therefore, it’s ironic that they are
the ones being punished by focusing on the procedures that are life-saving for them.

One of the reasons for this is that many of these anomalies aren’t
apparent in pregnancy until the later stages.  Also, most women get a
sonogram paid for by insurance in the early weeks of pregnancy, but
don’t get another one until well after 20-22 weeks.  

Imagine if you can that you are happily carrying a baby that you’ve
wanted all your life.  You’ve had the baby showers and decorated the
room already.  Then comes the devastating news that the baby is
anencephalic.  That means that the baby has no brain and will die a
horrible death shortly after birth.  

The Prognosis:

There is no cure or standard treatment for anencephaly and the
prognosis for affected individuals is poor. Most anencephalic babies do
not survive birth, accounting for 55% of non-aborted cases. If the
infant is not stillborn, then he or she will usually die within a few
hours or days after birth from cardiorespiratory arrest.

In almost all cases anencephalic infants are not aggressively
resuscitated since there is no chance of the infant ever achieving a
conscious existence. Instead, the usual clinical practice is to offer
hydration, nutrition and comfort measures and to "let nature take its
course". Artificial ventilation, surgery (to fix any co-existing
congenital defects), and drug therapy (such as antibiotics) are usually
regarded as futile efforts. Clinicians and medical ethicists may view
the provision of nutrition and hydration as medically futile.
Occasionally some may even go one step further to argue that euthanasia
is morally and clinically appropriate in such cases.

You’re 28 weeks along and the OB/GYN that’s been caring for you
can’t help you out.  You see, the hospital where he practices will
gladly take your money and let you give birth there, but they won’t let
your OB/GYN perform a Mercy Abortion on you so that
you can maintain your fertility for future pregnancies and lessen the
devastation on you and your family by ending the pregnancy now.  

Oh no.  The powers that be want you to carry that anencephalic baby
for 10 more weeks, then give birth, then slowly watch it die right in
front of your eyes.  Now, if that’s how you want to handle the
situation, fine.  But, if you’d like a more merciful ending to this
tragic situation, a trip to Dr. Tiller or Dr. Hern might be in order.
For now, that is.

You say.  "This is just an isolated instance."  Oh no
this scenario is played out every day.  And many of the families that
this happens to are anti-abortion.  But, at that moment where they are
told that the pregnancy is flawed, many choose the Mercy Abortion to alleviate their suffering and the suffering of their child.

Mercy Abortions are also extremely necessary in maintaining the woman’s fertility so that a successful pregnancy can be possible in the future.

So, as Democrats committed to pro-choice values, let’s not jump into
the Rovian trap that the anti-abortion framing has given us on late
abortions. They demonized a procedure that mercifully saves women and
promotes healthy families.  It may be you or someone in your family
that needs a Mercy Abortion in the future.

Analysis Law and Policy

Do Counselors-in-Training Have the Right to Discriminate Against LGBTQ People?

Greg Lipper

Doctors can't treat their patients with leeches; counselors can't impose their beliefs on patients or harm them using discredited methods. Whatever their views, medical professionals have to treat their clients competently.

Whether they’re bakers, florists, or government clerks, those claiming the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people have repeatedly sought to transform professional services into constitutionally protected religious speech. They have grabbed headlines for refusing, for example, to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples or to make cakes for same-sex couples’ weddings-all in the name of “religious freedom.”

A bit more quietly, however, a handful of counseling students at public universities have challenged their schools’ nondiscrimination and treatment requirements governing clinical placements. In some cases, they have sought a constitutional right to withhold treatment from LGBTQ clients; in others, they have argued for the right to directly impose their religious and anti-gay views on their clients.

There has been some state legislative maneuvering on this front: Tennessee, for instance, recently enacted a thinly veiled anti-LGBTQ measure that would allow counselors to deny service on account of their “sincerely held principles.” But when it comes to the federal Constitution, providing medical treatment—whether bypass surgery, root canal, or mental-health counseling—isn’t advocacy (religious or otherwise) protected by the First Amendment. Counselors are medical professionals; they are hired to help their clients, no matter their race, religion, or sexual orientation, and no matter the counselors’ beliefs. The government, moreover, may lawfully prevent counselors from harming their clients, and universities in particular have an interest, recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, in preventing discrimination in school activities and in training their students to work with diverse populations.

The plaintiffs in these cases have nonetheless argued that their schools are unfairly and unconstitutionally targeting them for their religious beliefs. But these students are not being targeted, any more than are business owners who must comply with civil rights laws. Instead, their universities, informed by the rules of the American Counseling Association (ACA)—the leading organization of American professional counselors—merely ask that all students learn to treat diverse populations and to do so in accordance with the standard of care. These plaintiffs, as a result, have yet to win a constitutional right to discriminate against or impose anti-LGBTQ views on actual or prospective clients. But cases persist, and the possibility of conflicting court decisions looms.

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Keeton v. Anderson-Wiley

The first major challenge to university counseling requirements came from Jennifer Keeton, who hoped to receive a master’s degree in school counseling from Augusta State University. As detailed in the 2011 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision considering her case, Keeton entered her professional training believing that (1) “sexual behavior is the result of personal choice for which individuals are accountable, not inevitable deterministic forces”; (2) “gender is fixed and binary (i.e., male or female), not a social construct or personal choice subject to individual change”; and “homosexuality is a ‘lifestyle,’ not a ‘state of being.'”

It wasn’t those views alone, however, that sunk her educational plans. The problem, rather, was that Keeton wanted to impose her views on her patients. Keeton had told both her classmates and professors about her clinical approach at a university-run clinic, and it wasn’t pretty:

  • She would try to change the sexual orientation of gay clients;
  • If she were counseling a sophomore student in crisis questioning his sexual orientation, she would respond by telling the student that it was not OK to be gay.
  • If a client disclosed that he was gay, she would tell him that his behavior was wrong and try to change it; if she were unsuccessful, she would refer the client to someone who practices “conversion therapy.”

Unsurprisingly, Keeton also told school officials that it would be difficult for her to work with LGBTQ clients.

Keeton’s approach to counseling not only would have flouted the university’s curricular guidelines, but also would have violated the ACA’s Code of Ethics.

Her conduct would have harmed her patients as well. As a school counselor, Keeton would inevitably have to counsel LGBTQ clients: 57 percent of LGBTQ students have sought help from a school professional and 42 percent have sought help from a school counselor. Suicide is the leading cause of death for LGBTQ adolescents; that’s twice or three times the suicide rate afflicting their heterosexual counterparts. And Keeton’s preferred approach to counseling LGBTQ students would harm them: LGBTQ students rejected by trusted authority figures are even more likely to attempt suicide, and anti-gay “conversion therapy” at best doesn’t work and at worst harms patients too.

Seeking to protect the university’s clinical patients and train her to be a licensed mental health professional, university officials asked Keeton to complete a remediation plan before she counseled students in her required clinical practicum. She refused; the university expelled her. In response, the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom sued on her behalf, claiming that the university violated her First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

The courts disagreed. The trial court ruled against Keeton, and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit unanimously upheld the trial court’s ruling. The 11th Circuit explained that Keeton was expelled not because of her religious beliefs, but rather because of her “own statements that she intended to impose her personal religious beliefs on clients and refer clients to conversion therapy, and her own admissions that it would be difficult for her to work with the GLBTQ population and separate her own views from those of the client.” It was Keeton, not the university, who could not separate her personal beliefs from the professional counseling that she provided: “[F]ar from compelling Keeton to profess a belief or change her own beliefs about the morality of homosexuality, [the university] instructs her not to express her personal beliefs regarding the client’s moral values.”

Keeton, in other words, crossed the line between beliefs and conduct. She may believe whatever she likes, but she may not ignore academic and professional requirements designed to protect her clients—especially when serving clients at a university-run clinic.

As the court explained, the First Amendment would not prohibit a medical school from requiring students to perform blood transfusions in their clinical placements, nor would it prohibit a law school from requiring extra ethics training for a student who “expressed an intent to indiscriminately disclose her client’s secrets or violate another of the state bar’s rules.” Doctors can’t treat their patients with leeches; counselors can’t impose their beliefs on patients or harm them using discredited methods. Whatever their views, medical professionals have to treat their clients competently.

Ward v. Polite

The Alliance Defending Freedom’s follow-up case, Ward v. Polite, sought to give counseling students the right to withhold service from LGBTQ patients and also to practice anti-gay “conversion therapy” on those patients. The case’s facts were a bit murkier, and this led the appeals court to send it to trial; as a result, the student ultimately extracted only a modest settlement from the university. But as in Keeton’s case, the court rejected in a 2012 decision the attempt to give counseling students the right to impose their religious views on their clients.

Julea Ward studied counseling at Eastern Michigan University; like Keeton, she was training to be a school counselor. When she reviewed the file for her third client in the required clinical practicum, she realized that he was seeking counseling about a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex. As the Court of Appeals recounted, Ward did not want to counsel the client about this topic, and asked her faculty supervisor “(1) whether she should meet with the client and refer him [to a different counselor] only if it became necessary—only if the counseling session required Ward to affirm the client’s same-sex relationship—or (2) whether the school should reassign the client from the outset.” Although her supervisor reassigned the client, it was the first time in 20 years that one of her students had made such a request. So Ward’s supervisor scheduled a meeting with her.

Then things went off the rails. Ward, explained the court, “reiterated her religious objection to affirming same-sex relationships.” She told university officials that while she had “no problem counseling gay and lesbian clients,” she would counsel them only if “the university did not require her to affirm their sexual orientation.” She also refused to counsel “heterosexual clients about extra-marital sex and adultery in a values-affirming way.” As for the professional rules governing counselors, Ward said, “who’s the [American Counseling Association] to tell me what to do. I answer to a higher power and I’m not selling out God.”

All this led the university to expel Ward, and she sued. She claimed that the university violated her free speech and free exercise rights, and that she had a constitutional right to withhold affirming therapy relating to any same-sex relationships or different-sex relationships outside of marriage. Like Keeton, Ward also argued that the First Amendment prohibited the university from requiring “gay-affirmative therapy” while prohibiting “reparative therapy.” After factual discovery, the trial court dismissed her case.

On appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Ward eked out a narrow and temporary win: The court held that the case should go to a jury. Because the university did not have a written policy prohibiting referrals, and based on a few troubling faculty statements during Ward’s review, the court ruled that a reasonable jury could potentially find that the university invoked a no-referrals policy “as a pretext for punishing Ward’s religious views and speech.” At the same time, the court recognized that a jury could view the facts less favorably to Ward and rule for the university.

And although the decision appeared to sympathize with Ward’s desire to withhold service from certain types of clients, the court flatly rejected Ward’s sweeping arguments that she had the right to stray from the school curriculum, refuse to counsel LGBTQ clients, or practice anti-gay “conversion therapy.” For one, it said, “Curriculum choices are a form of school speech, giving schools considerable flexibility in designing courses and policies and in enforcing them so long as they amount to reasonable means of furthering legitimate educational ends.” Thus, the problem was “not the adoption of this anti-discrimination policy, the existence of the practicum class or even the values-affirming message the school wants students to understand and practice.” On the contrary, the court emphasized “the [legal] latitude educational institutions—at any level—must have to further legitimate curricular objectives.”

Indeed, the university had good reason to require counseling students—especially those studying to be school counselors—to treat diverse populations. A school counselor who refuses to counsel anyone with regard to nonmarital, nonheterosexual relationships will struggle to find clients: Nearly four in five Americans have had sex by age 21; more than half have done so by the time they turn 18, while only 6 percent of women and 2 percent of men are married by that age.

In any event, withholding service from entire classes of people violates professional ethical rules even for nonschool counselors. Although the ACA permits client referrals in certain circumstances, the agency’s brief in Ward’s case emphasized that counselors may not refuse to treat entire groups. Ward, in sum, “violated the ACA Code of Ethics by refusing to counsel clients who may wish to discuss homosexual relationships, as well as others who fail to comport with her religious teachings, e.g., persons who engage in ‘fornication.'”

But Ward’s approach would have been unethical even if, in theory, she were permitted to withhold service from each and every client seeking counseling related to nonmarital sex (or even marital sex by same-sex couples). Because in many cases, the need for referral would arise well into the counseling relationship. And as the trial court explained, “a client may seek counseling for depression, or issues with their parents, and end up discussing a homosexual relationship.” No matter what the reason, mid-counseling referrals harm clients, and such referrals are even more harmful if they happen because the counselor disapproves of the client.

Fortunately, Ward did not win the sweeping right to harm her clients or otherwise upend professional counseling standards. Rather, the court explained that “the even-handed enforcement of a neutral policy”—such as the ACA’s ethical rules—”is likely to steer clear of the First Amendment’s free-speech and free-exercise protections.” (Full disclosure: I worked on an amicus brief in support of the university when at Americans United.)

Ward’s lawyers pretended that she won the case, but she ended up settling it for relatively little. She received only $75,000; and although the expulsion was removed from her record, she was not reinstated. Without a graduate counseling degree, she cannot become a licensed counselor.

Cash v. Hofherr

The latest anti-gay counseling salvo comes from Andrew Cash, whose April 2016 lawsuit against Missouri State University attempts to rely on yet murkier facts and could wind up, on appeal, in front of the more conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. In addition to his range of constitutional claims (freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, equal protection of law), he has added a claim under the Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The complaint describes Cash as “a Christian with sincerely-held beliefs”—as opposed to insincere ones, apparently—”on issues of morality.” Cash started his graduate counseling program at Missouri State University in September 2007. The program requires a clinical internship, which includes 240 hours of in-person client contact. Cash decided to do his clinical internship at Springfield Marriage and Family Institute, which appeared on the counseling department’s list of approved sites. Far from holding anti-Christian bias, Cash’s instructor agreed that his proposed class presentation on “Christian counseling and its unique approach and value to the Counseling profession” was an “excellent” idea.

But the presentation itself revealed that Cash intended to discriminate against LGBTQ patients. In response to a question during the presentation, the head of the Marriage and Family Institute stated that “he would counsel gay persons as individuals, but not as couples, because of his religious beliefs,” and that he would “refer the couple for counseling to other counselors he knew who did not share his religious views.” Because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates ACA guidelines, the university determined that Cash should not continue counseling at the Marriage and Family Institute and that it would be removed from the approved list of placements. Cash suggested, however, that he should be able to withhold treatment from same-sex couples.

All this took place in 2011. The complaint (both the original and amended versions) evades precisely what happened between 2012 and 2014, when Cash was finally expelled. You get the sense that Cash’s lawyers at the Thomas More Society are trying to yadda-yadda-yadda the most important facts of the case.

In any event, the complaint does acknowledge that when Cash applied for a new internship, he both ignored the university’s instructions that the previous hours were not supposed to count toward his requirement, and appeared to be “still very much defend[ing] his previous internship stating that there was nothing wrong with it”—thus suggesting that he would continue to refuse to counsel same-sex couples. He continued to defend his position in later meetings with school officials; by November 2014, the university removed him from the program.

Yet in challenging this expulsion, Cash’s complaint says that he was merely “expressing his Christian worldview regarding a hypothetical situation concerning whether he would provide counseling services to a gay/homosexual couple.”

That’s more than just a worldview, though. It also reflects his intent to discriminate against a class of people—in a manner that violates his program’s requirements and the ACA guidelines. Whether hypothetically or otherwise, Cash stated and reiterated that he would withhold treatment from same-sex couples. A law student who stated, as part of his clinic, that he would refuse to represent Christian clients would be announcing his intent to violate the rules of professional responsibility, and the law school could and would remove him from the school’s legal clinic. And they could and would do so even if a Christian client had yet to walk in the door.

But maybe this was just a big misunderstanding, and Cash would, in practice, be willing and able to counsel same-sex couples? Not so, said Cash’s lawyer from the Thomas More Society, speaking about the case to Christian news outlet WORLD: “I think Christians have to go on the offensive, or it’s going to be a situation like Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible, where you aren’t safe to have a guest in your home, with the demands of the gay mob.” Yikes.

Although Cash seems to want a maximalist decision allowing counselors and counseling students to withhold service from LGBTQ couples, it remains to be seen how the case will turn out. The complaint appears to elide two years’ worth of key facts in order to present Cash’s claims as sympathetically as possible; even if the trial court were to rule in favor of the university after more factual development, Cash would have the opportunity to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, one of the country’s most conservative federal appeals courts.

More generally, we’re still early in the legal battles over attempts to use religious freedom rights as grounds to discriminate; only a few courts across the country have weighed in. So no matter how extreme Cash or his lawyers may seem, it’s too early to count them out.

* * *

The cases brought by Keeton, Ward, and Cash not only attempt to undermine anti-discrimination policies. They also seek to change the nature of the counselor-client relationship. Current norms provide that a counselor is a professional who provides a service to a client. But the plaintiffs in these cases seem to think that counseling a patient is no different than lecturing a passerby in the town square, in that counseling a patient necessarily involves expressing the counselor’s personal and religious beliefs. Courts have thus far rejected these attempts to redefine the counselor-patient relationship, just as they have turned away attempts to challenge bans on “reparative therapy.”

The principles underlying the courts’ decisions protect more than just LGBTQ clients. As the 11th Circuit explained in Keeton, the university trains students to “be competent to work with all populations, and that all students not impose their personal religious values on their clients, whether, for instance, they believe that persons ought to be Christians rather than Muslims, Jews or atheists, or that homosexuality is moral or immoral.” Licensed professionals are supposed to help their clients, not treat them as prospective converts.

News Politics

Democratic Party Platform: Repeal Bans on Federal Funding for Abortion Care

Ally Boguhn

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde Amendment.”

Democrats voted on their party platform Monday, codifying for the first time the party’s stated commitment to repealing restrictions on federal funding for abortion care.

The platform includes a call to repeal the Hyde Amendment, an appropriations ban on federal funding for abortion reimplemented on a yearly basis. The amendment disproportionately affects people of color and those with low incomes.

“We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured,” states the Democratic Party platform. “We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.”

The platform also calls for an end to the Helms Amendment, which ensures that “no foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.”

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Though Helms allows funding for abortion care in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment, the Obama administration has failed to enforce those guarantees.

Despite the platform’s opposition to the restrictions on abortion care funding, it makes no mention of how the anti-choice measures would be rolled back.

Both presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have promised to address Hyde and Helms if elected. Clinton has said she would “fix the Helms Amendment.”

Speaking at the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum in January, Clinton said that the Hyde Amendment “is just hard to justify because … certainly the full range of reproductive health rights that women should have includes access to safe and legal abortion.” In 2008, Clinton’s campaign told Rewire that she “does not support the Hyde amendment.”

When asked this month about the platform’s opposition to Hyde, Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said in an interview with the Weekly Standard that he had not “been informed of that” change to the platform though he has “traditionally been a supporter of the Hyde amendment.”

“The Hyde amendment and Helms amendment have prevented countless low-income women from being able to make their own decisions about health, family, and future,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement, addressing an early draft of the platform. “These amendments have ensured that a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion is a right that’s easier to access if you have the resources to afford it. That’s wrong and stands directly in contrast with the Democratic Party’s principles, and we applaud the Party for reaffirming this in the platform.”