New Tapes Reveal, Nixon: Anti-Choice, With a Disturbing Exception

Emily Douglas

Just-released tapes from President Nixon's time in the White House reveal that he feared legal abortion would lead to "permissiveness" but that he felt that it was justified in some cases -- in the case of rape, but also when you have "a black and a white," the New York Times reports.

Just-released tapes from President Nixon’s time in the White House reveal that he feared legal abortion would lead to "permissiveness" but that he felt that it was justified in some cases — in the case of rape, but also when you have "a black and a white," the New York Times reports. The tape, made on January 23, 1973, the day Roe was decided, sheds new light on Nixon’s personal view on abortion, as he made no public statement that day.

"There is something really fishy about people who seem unable to talk about abortion without also talking about race," says Dana Goldstein on TAPPED. "…[W]hen it came to interracial
couples, Nixon fully supported abortion — six years after the Supreme
Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia."

The Launch of ella: A New Way to Prevent Pregnancy, Another Anti-Choice Controversy

Amie Newman

A new form of emergency contraception, ella, is now available to women in the United States. And predictably, the far right is up in arms.

In August of this year, ella, a new form of emergency contraception was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with very little controversy. Unlike it’s predecessor, Plan B, also a form of emergency contraception, ella did not engender the debate, or get caught in the endless political delays characteristic of Plan B under the Bush Administration. Plan B was ultimately approved for over-the-counter sale to women ages 17 years old and older (despite the fact that the FDA’s own expert panel noted that it was perfectly safe for younger women to use EC as well – an issue womens’ health advocates are continuing to challenge).

Today, Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that ella will now be available to women in the United States by presciption, and, according to Watson’s Executive Vice President Fred Watson, “is the first truly new emergency contraceptive option for U.S. women since 1999.”

And while a “controversy” has been fabricated by anti-choice leaders who do not want another method of safe emergency contraception on the market, in reality the pill is just that – one more option for women who have had unwanted or unplanned sex or birth control failure and wish to prevent pregnancy.

What makes ella different than Plan B? Where Plan B works best if taken within 72 hours after sex, ella has a window of up to 5 days following unprotected sex. It’s especially important, of course, given that women around the country are still fighting for access to emergency contraception from pharmacists who believe their “moral opposition” to safe and legal contraception for women trumps a woman’s right to health care and to maintain control over her own life.

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Ella works by preventing or delaying ovulation for five days, which is – the news release for ella notes – the amount of time sperm can live in female genital tract. Women who are, or who suspect they are, pregnant or women who are breastfeeding should not take ella, notes Jodi Jacobson writing on Rewire earlier this year. The pill can be taken anytime, however, in that five day window. Maybe we can finally toss that “morning-after pill” misnomor now?

Ella will not only be available, by prescription, at pharmacies but also immediately available at a licensed, online pharmacy after a woman completes an assessment and consultation with licensed physicians. It will then be delivered overnight to the woman.

Anti-choice leaders who are firmly against contraception at all have been predictably frustrated over ella’s approval from the beginning. As Robin Marty wrote back in July of this year:

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, called ella an unsafe abortion pill that men might slip to unsuspecting women.

“With ella, women will be enticed to buy a poorly tested abortion pill in the guise of a morning-after pill,” she said.

Anti-choice leaders like Wright are using the argument that ella uses a progesterone-like chemical similar to RU-486, which is used for medication abortions, and is therefore essentially an abortifacient. It’s an entirely medically-inaccurate argument though it hasn’t stopped publications like the Washington Post from using quotes which do not contain an iota of fact, from the anti-ella crowd.

Emergency contraceptive pills like Plan B and ella, do not end a pregnancy (which occurs after a fertilized egg has implanted to the uterine wall) but instead delay or inhibit ovulation or, less likely, prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.  This clear medical information from experts, however, has not stopped Wright and others from using a non-medically based, ideological opposition to attempt to prevent access to this  form of contraception.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President, Cecile Richards, said of ella’s launch:

“Preventing unintended pregnancies is one of Planned Parenthood’s top priorities,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Today’s launch of ella in the U.S. gives American women one more option for backup birth control.”

The New Anti-Choice Democrats: Can We Work With Them?

Dana Goldstein

Reassuring Southern voters about core social issues like abortion was likely the only way Democrats could have won recent special elections in Mississippi and Louisiana. So how can reproductive health advocates get newly-elected anti-choice Dems to work with us?

In a campaign TV advertisement, Don Cazayoux, the Louisiana Democrat
who won a hotly contested Congressional seat in a May 3 special election,
introduced voters to his parents, Don Sr. and Ann. "We thought you
should know what he learned growing up," Ann Cazayoux said. As photographs
of Don Jr. with babies flashed across the screen, she continued, "We
taught him every life is precious." The words "Pro-life" appeared
in the bottom left hand corner.

Indeed, trumpeting broad opposition
to abortion rights was a key strategy of Cazayoux’s campaign. His
improbable three-point win occurred in a district where 59 percent of
the electorate had voted for George W. Bush over John Kerry in 2004.
Meanwhile, in north Mississippi, Democrat Travis Childers was making
a similar case. "Keep this in mind," Childers said matter of factly
in one ad. "I’m pro-life and pro-gun."
On May 14, Childers, too, was elected to Congress, in a district where
62 percent of voters had supported Bush’s reelection. Photo by Arthur D. Lauck, The AdvocateCazayoux, Photo by Arthur D. Lauck, The Advocate

Though both candidates ran
primarily on a platform of creating jobs and providing universal health
care, the media was fascinated by their anti-choice stances, calling
them "conservative," "Blue Dog" Democrats, despite their strong
pro-labor, antiwar positions. In part that’s not surprising; the mainstream
media has long identified politicians more by their statements on divisive
social issues than by their records on more complex economic ones.

But it would be naïve to downplay
Cazayoux and Childers’ anti-choice ideologies. As a state legislator,
Cazayoux voted for one of the harshest anti-abortion laws in the country,
outlawing abortion in every case except when the mother’s life is
at stake — including in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s
physical or emotional health is at risk. Cazayoux says he’d support similar legislation
at the federal level.

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Childers, whose previous job was as Prentiss County chancery clerk — a mostly administrative
position — doesn’t have a record on abortion. But when the National
Republican Campaign Committee attacked Childers by linking him to Barack
Obama’s opposition to so-called "partial birth abortion" bans
and support for comprehensive sex-ed, Childers hit back hard, claiming
he "didn’t know" and "had never even met" Obama.

In a reproductive health dream
world, pro-choice Democrats would have been elected in Lousiana’s
eighth district and Mississippi’s first. Given widespread anger with
the Bush administration and its conservative policies, maybe Childers
and Cazayoux could have moderated their abortion positions and still
cruised to victory. But in reality, reassuring conservative Southern
voters about core social issues was likely the only way Nancy Pelosi
could have added these two seats to her total. And by preserving a continued
Democratic majority in the House, Cazayoux and Childers, whatever their
personal opinions on abortion, ensure that bills restraining choice
will largely stay off the legislative docket. The last major Congressional
vote seeking to restrict American women’s reproductive rights occurred
in 2006, when Republicans were still in control.

Of course, pro-choicers want
to do much more than just keep existing reproductive rights from being
rolled back; we want to expand upon those rights and make them more
uniform throughout the country. We want women in cities, suburbs and
rural places to enjoy the full range of reproductive health education, information,
care, and yes, access to abortion, regardless of their ability to pay,
their age, or any other facet of their identity. Can anti-choice Democrats
be allies in those goals?

For some of those goals, the
answer is yes. Since 2005, anti- and mixed-choice Democrats have been
pushing the 95-10 initiative, which seeks to reduce the abortion rate
(which is, in fact, already going down) by 95 percent over the next
decade. While the plan would expand federal support for family planning
and access to contraceptives, it also includes parental notification
laws and a ban on certain later-term abortion procedures. Those aren’t
policies many Democrats who identify as pro-choice will get behind.

But Congressional advocates
for reproductive health, as well as pro-choice interest groups, should
be aggressively reaching out to anti-choice Democrats on issues such
as comprehensive sex education and access to birth control. When it
comes to pharmacists’ responsibility to provide women with The Pill,
for example, even those who support restricting abortion rights can
agree that women have the right not to face discrimination when filling
a prescription.

This year, House Democrats
continued funding President Bush’s abstinence-only program. That should
change during the next Congress, but it won’t be possible without
the support of a core group of socially conservative Democrats and socially
moderate Republicans. These centrists should agree to put aside their
ideology on abortion to ensure that our children’s’ education is
medically and scientifically sound.

On later-term abortions, parental
notification, and federal funding for abortion, pro-choicers may need
to part ways with the Cazayouxs and Childerses of the world. We should
do so respectfully and without alienating them or their supporters.
Just by being Democrats from the South, these politicians are giving
reproductive rights a major lift. By rebuilding progressivism in that
region, they ensure that more Democrats — some of them pro-choice —
will receive a fair hearing when they run for office. Stay tuned, for
example, to Josh Segall, a 29-year old pro-choice Dem running
for Congress in a traditionally Republican Alabama district. Candidates
like Segall have the potential to de-stigmatize pro-choice
politics in the South. But for that to happen, "Democrat" can’t
be a scary word. Guys like Cazayoux and Childers help make that transition
happen.