VIDEO: All Abortions Should Take Place in the Public Square

Jodi Jacobson

Lila Rose suggests that abortions be performed "in the public square."

Thanks to our colleagues at Right Wing Watch for this tidbit from the Values Voter Summit:

Lila Rose–the college student whose claim to fame rests on taking surreptitious videos while posing as a pregnant 13-year old at Planned Parenthood clinics and who has become the darling of the conservative movement–suggested in her speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington DC this past weekend that, until they are illegal, abortions should be performed "in the public square…..

until we were so sick and tired of seeing them that we would do away with the injustice altogether….maybe then we would hear angels singing when we ponder the glory of conception."

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Anti-abortion activist Lila Rose tells the Values Voter Summit audience that abortions ought to be performed in public until they are finally outlawed.

Commentary Politics

In Mike Pence, Trump Would Find a Fellow Huckster

Jodi Jacobson

If Donald Trump is looking for someone who, like himself, has problems with the truth, isn't inclined to rely on facts, has little to no concern for the health and welfare of the poorest, doesn't understand health care, and bases his decisions on discriminatory beliefs, then Pence is his guy.

This week, GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump is considering Mike Pence, among other possible contenders, to join his ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

In doing so, Trump would pick the “pro-life” governor of a state with one of the slowest rates of economic growth in the nation, and one of the most egregious records on public health, infant and child survival, and poverty in the country. He also would be choosing one of the GOP governors who has spent more time focused on policies to discriminate against women and girls, LGBTQ communities, and the poor than on addressing economic and health challenges in his state. Meanwhile, despite the evidence, Pence is a governor who seems to be perpetually in denial about the effects of his policies.

Let’s take the economy. From 2014 to 2015, Indiana’s economic growth lagged behind all but seven other states in the nation. During that period, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Indiana’s economy grew by just 0.4 percent, one-third the rate of growth in Illinois and slower than the economies of 43 other states. Per capita gross domestic product in the state ranked 37th among all states.

Income inequality has been a growing problem in the state. As the Indy Star reported, a 2014 report by the United States Conference of Mayors titled “Income and Wage Gaps Across the US” stated that “wage inequality grew twice as rapidly in the Indianapolis metro area as in the rest of the nation since the recession,” largely due to the fact “that jobs recovered in the U.S. since 2008 pay $14,000 less on average than the 8.7 million jobs lost since then.” In a letter to the editor of the Indy Star, Derek Thomas, senior policy analyst for the Indiana Institute for Working Families, cited findings from the Work and Poverty in Marion County report, which found that four out of five of the fastest-growing industries in the county pay at or below a self-sufficient wage for a family of three, and weekly wages had actually declined. “Each year that poverty increases, economic mobility—already a real challenge in Indy—becomes more of a statistical oddity for the affected families and future generations.”

In his letter, Thomas also pointed out:

[T]he minimum wage is less than half of what it takes for a single-mother with an infant to be economically self-sufficient; 47 percent of workers do not have access to a paid sick day from work; and 32 percent are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines ($29,685 for a family of three).

Despite the data and the struggles faced by real people across the state, Pence has consistently claimed the economy of the state is “booming,” and that the state “is strong and growing stronger,” according to the Northwest Indiana Times. When presented with data from various agencies, his spokespeople have dismissed them as “erroneous.” Not exactly a compelling rebuttal.

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As a “pro-life” governor, Pence presides over a state with one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation. Data from the Indiana State Department of Health reveals a “significant disparity” between white and Black infant mortality rates, with Black infants 1.8 times more likely to die than their white counterparts. The 2013 Infant Mortality Summit also revealed that “[a]lmost one-third of pregnant women in Indiana don’t receive prenatal care in their first trimester; almost 17% of pregnant women are smokers, compared to the national rate of 9%; and the state ranks 8th in the number of obese citizens.”

Yet even while he bemoaned the situation, Pence presided over budget cuts to programs that support the health and well-being of pregnant women and infants. Under Pence, 65,000 people have been threatened with the loss of  food stamp benefits which, meager as they already are, are necessary to sustain the caloric and nutritional intake of families and children.

While he does not appear to be effectively managing the economy, Pence has shown a great proclivity to distract from real issues by focusing on passing laws and policies that discriminate against women and LGBTQ persons.

He has, for example, eagerly signed laws aimed at criminalizing abortion, forcing women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, banning coverage for abortion care in private insurance plans, and forcing doctors performing abortions to seek admitting privileges at hospitals (a requirement the Supreme Court recently struck down as medically unnecessary in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case). He signed a “religious freedom” law that would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ persons and only “amended” it after a national outcry. Because Pence has guided public health policy based on his “conservative values,” rather than on evidence and best practices in public health, he presided over one of the fastest growing outbreaks of HIV infection in rural areas in the United States.

These facts are no surprise given that, as a U.S. Congressman, Pence “waged war” on Planned Parenthood. In 2000, he stated that Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexuals and advocated that funding for HIV prevention should be directed toward conversion therapy programs.

He also appears to share Trump’s hatred of and willingness to scapegoat immigrants and refugees. Pence was the first governor to refuse to allow Syrian refugees to relocate in his state. On November 16th 2015, he directed “all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana,” sending a young family that had waited four years in refugee limbo to be resettled in the United States scrambling for another state to call home. That’s a pro-life position for you. To top it all off, Pence is a creationist, and is a climate change denier.

So if Donald Trump is looking for someone who, like himself, has problems with the truth, isn’t inclined to rely on facts, has little to no concern for the health and welfare of the poorest, doesn’t understand health care, and bases his decisions on discriminatory beliefs, then Pence is his guy.

Analysis Politics

Donald Trump’s Murky Abortion Position Keeps Voters in the Dark

Ally Boguhn

Trump refused to say whether he would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, underscoring the business mogul’s murky history of indecision when it comes to his stance on reproductive health.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, while speaking at a campaign stop in New Hampshire last week, refused to say whether he would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, underscoring the business mogul’s murky history of indecision when it comes to his stance on reproductive health.  

Trump, who made headlines again this week over his calls to ban Muslims from entering the United States, was interrogated by an audience member at the campaign event in Waterville Valley about his views on abortion. “You can see how when a bill is enacted as the Roe v. Wade thing, all of these things tend to decay, decay, decay, and just devolve,” the man said, asking, “Will you try to,” before being cut off.

Trump replied saying he would simply “defund,” referring to Planned Parenthood. Unsatisfied, the audience member again prompted the presidential candidate to tell the crowd about his position on Roe. “Defund that, and repeal Roe v. Wade?” he asked.

But Trump still didn’t muster an answer. “Well, the answer is yes, defund,” Trump responded. “The other, you need a lot of Supreme Court justices. But we’re gonna be looking at that also very, very carefully. But you need a lot of Supreme Court judges. But defund, yes, we’re going to be doing that.”

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Trump’s positions on abortion and reproductive health have always been murky at best. The other candidates vying for the Republican nomination, as well as anti-choice activists, have taken notice.

In August, Carly Fiorina attacked Trump during a debate, questioning his anti-choice credentials and noting that he had “changed his mind” on the issue. Looking into the claim, Politifact found Fiorina’s assertion to be “true,” noting that even by his own admission, “Trump changed his mind on abortion” over time, expressing increasingly negative views on reproductive rights.

Speaking with Talking Points Memo, Live Action founder Lila Rose noted the confusion and suspicion anti-choice activists feel as a result of Trump’s record on abortion. “There are a lot of folks that distrust where Trump stands on life because of his track record and even his recent vacillations on Planned Parenthood,” she told the publication.

Trump has indeed gone on the record numerous times as being “pro-choice” over the course of his long-winded contemplation of a presidential bid. During a 1999 appearance on Meet the Press, he told the network, “I am very pro-choice,” adding the caveat, “I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I hear people debating the subject.”

In his 2000 book The America We Deserve, Trump reiterated his pro-choice stance, writing that although he is “uncomfortable with the procedures,” he did “support a woman’s right to choose,” and had “pro-choice instincts.”

Trump had changed his tune by 2011. Speaking that year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he flatly told the crowd, “I am pro-life.”

Trump further explained his “pro-life conversion” during an interview on Christian Broadcasting Network’s Brody File that same year, telling the story of a friend whose wife had wanted to have an abortion but ended up following through with the pregnancy.

“One thing about me, I’m a very honorable guy. I’m pro-life, but I changed my view a number of years ago. One of the reasons I changed—one of the primary reasons—a friend of mine’s wife was pregnant, in this case married,” explained Trump.

“She was pregnant and he didn’t really want the baby. And he was telling me the story. He was crying as he was telling me the story,” he continued. “He ends up having the baby and the baby is the apple of his eye. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. And you know here’s a baby that wasn’t going to be let into life. And I heard this, and some other stories, and I am pro-life.”

Now as the 2016 election cycle heats up, with Trump leading the race for the Republican nomination, the Republican candidate has again gone back and forth on the issue. Although he has consistently called for Planned Parenthood to be defunded, in August he backtracked on his hard-line stance on the topic, telling the crowd at the conservative RedState Gathering that while the government should not pay for Planned Parenthood to provide abortion care, it provides other important services that should be funded. 

“The problem that I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. It is like an abortion factory, frankly. And you can’t have it. And you just shouldn’t be funding it. That should not be funded by the government, and I feel strongly about that,” said Trump, seemingly not realizing the government does not fund abortions due to the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds from paying for the procedure.

Explaining that some of the services provided there are important, Trump went on to call for a closer examination of what Planned Parenthood provides. “What I would do when the time came, I’d look at the individual things they do, and maybe some of the individual things they do are good,” he continued.

“I would look at the good aspects of [Planned Parenthood], and I would also look, because I’m sure they do some things properly and good and that are good for women, and I would look at that, and I would look at other aspects also. But we have to take care of women.”

But Trump seemed to have forgotten the “good” work Planned Parenthood does by the time he told the New Hampshire voters he would uniformly “defund” the provider last week.

As Trump continues to ramp up his rhetoric ahead of the primaries, his anti-choice talking points have continued, leaving voters and activists on both sides of the issue unclear about where he truly stands.

Trump’s inability to offer an answer on Roe v. Wade and his general inconsistency about abortion is made more glaring by his Republican rivals’ almost unequivocal condemnation of reproductive rights. Ben Carson told NBC’s Meet the Press in October that he would “love” to see Roe overturned. According to a Washington Post piece published that same month, “every single Republican candidate for president is in favor of overturning” the Supreme Court case, with the exception of George Pataki. The Post also acknowledged in that piece Trump’s inconclusive history on the subject.

Overall, the anti-choice positions of the GOP candidates are a far cry from what the United States as a whole wants. The majority of the U.S. public—63 percent—say that “they would not like to see the court completely overturn” Roe v. Wade, according to polling conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013. Only about three in ten respondents, by contrast, said they’d support the end of the Court decision.

Likewise, the large majority of Americans don’t want to see Planned Parenthood lose federal funding. An August Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 54 percent of respondents favored the organization’s continued federal funding, and only 26 percent opposed it. Another poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University similarly found that 65 percent of those surveyed were in favor of funding the reproductive health-care provider.


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