Roundup: Are Georgia Voters Getting Tired of Abortion Talk?

Robin Marty

Republican candidates for governor are attacking each other on abortion, and voters are getting annoyed.  Plus, Colorado Personhood has a new mascot: a fictitious slave.

The race to be the Republican candidate for governor of Georgia is getting heated, and the primary is becoming more and more focused on reproductive health issues as a way to discern between the two otherwise mostly indistinguishable candidates, Karen Handel and Nathan Deal.  Now the competition is who is the most anti-choice, and voters are watching a fierce battle ensue.

From the Examiner:

The rather ugly discussion focused a lot on social issues, especially abortion. Handel has been attacked by the Georgia Right to Life (GRL) organization for supporting restrictions to her pro-life stance, such as when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, and if it endangers the life of the mother.

GRL attacked Handel personally when, while commenting on Handel’s abortion views, they suggested infertile women are “barren and desperate;” Handel has been outspoken about her struggle to get pregnant.

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Most recently, the organization suggested that Sarah Palin shouldn’t have endorsed Handel, because Handel’s views would have allowed abortion of Palin’s youngest child who has a Down syndrome.

Deal himself has criticized Handel, naming issues such as abortion and support of a gay group Log Cabin Republicans as examples of Handel’s lack of conservative values.

The conversation about who’s a “true” conservative took quite a bit of time during the 30- minute debate. Handel called herself a “lifelong, conservative Republican,” an obvious hint about Deal who became Republican after his first party of choice, Democrats, lost power in U.S. Congress in 1994.

But there is such a thing as too much focus on abortion issues, and some voters are getting so annoyed they are thinking about not voting all together, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Contrary to popular belief, Karen Handel and Nathan Deal actually have discussed more than just abortion in their runoff campaign for the GOP nomination for governor.

But, for some voters, it’s still too much.

“The state has 10 percent unemployment and the worst budget crisis ever, and they want to fight over things that happened in the ’90s,” said James Williams, 42, of DeKalb County, who said he supported Handel in the primary. “It makes me angry enough to skip voting for the first time in my life.”

Theresa Matt, 66, of Athens is strongly against abortion, but she wants to hear the candidates discuss jobs, water and Jekyll Island. A retired attorney who said social issues are “real important to me,” she voted for Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick) in the primary, and if the runoff vote comes down to abortion, she’s not impressed with either Deal or Handel.

“I don’t really trust either one of them,” she said.

It seems like the “who’s the most anti-abortion” game really only goes so far, though, as neither candidate appears to have showed support for the recent “Pro-Life Freedom Ride,” who’s inagural trip recently terminated in Atlanta and was attended by leaders of Georgia Right to Life.  However, their intended prayer vigil at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not to be, according to Lifenews, who reports they were turned away.

After the protest, which went unchallenged except for three pro-abort bike riders who peddled by, the Priests for Life team and the pro-life and civil rights leaders boarded the Freedom Bus and headed to Atlanta, followed by a caravan of some 50 cars and vans. When it became clear en route that they would not be able to assemble at the King, Father Pavone told a King Center employee, “There’s a lot of people here from all over the country and we’re on our way there, so get ready for us.”

Looks like a lot of Atlanta is getting tired of anti-abortion talk.

Mini Roundup: Fertilized eggs are slaves?  Well, that’s what the Colorado Personhood Initiative sponsors are going to claim.  Folks, get ready to meet “George Stevens,” a fictitious slave who is prepared to claim a moral equivilancy between using the pill and owning human property.

June 26, 2010

Youth arrested for forcing girlfriend to undergo abortion  – IBNLive.com

Buffett Secretly Spending Millions On Abortion Med-School Scheme: NY Times – Philadelphia Bulletin

Early abortion may be allowed – JoongAng Daily

NARAL backs DiNapoli » – New York Daily News

First GOP gubernatorial debate takes some ugly turns – Examiner.com

99 Days to Decide: Anti-Abortion PAC Learns Endorsed Candidate Is Pro-Choice – FOXNews

Philippine Bishops on Sex-Ed/Abortion: State Must Obey Moral Law – Lifesite

Former Surgeon General Koop Calls Kagan’s Alteration of ACOG’s Partial Birth … – CNSNews

Bench Memos – National Review Online

Alaska Abortion Advocates Spending Big to Stop Parental Notification Vote – LifeNews.com

Organizers: Pro-Life Freedom Ride a Success Despite Pro-Abortion Opposition – LifeNews.com

Is the Roberts court too conservative? – The Week Magazine

Palin’s Progress – Huffington Post

Handel, Deal focus on abortion; voters want to hear about jobs – Atlanta Journal Constitution

Abortion initiative radio, web ads run afoul of APOC – Alaska Dispatch

Personhood Amendment Backers Announce Strategy –  KUNC

DiNapoli Gets NARAL, Declines to Comment on Indy Party – New York Observer

Why would you want more abortion on TV? – ProLife Blogs

Obama: A Feminist Scorecard – Huffington Post

Gov. Chris Christie Vetoes Health Care, Tax-breaks – The State Column

Permanent Birth Control – WDEF News 12

Jayne Dowle:Teenage mothers are turning the clock back – Yorkshire Post

FDA Approves New Permanent Birth Control – WCCO

Get Permanent Birth Control Without The Operation – cbs4denver.com

Call to recruit women in campaign against HIV/AIDS – AsiaOne

Cash payments lower HIV and STD rates – Sovo.com

Vaccine hopes can’t mask the extent of Russia’s AIDS crisis – The Moscow News

Pregnant teens shun HIV treatment for fear of stigmatization – Myjoyonline.com

International AIDS conference ‘a disappointment’ – Charities Aid Foundation

Coming face to face with maternal, child mortality, Africa’ s death trap – Xinhua

AU Leaders Summit Kicks Off, Focus On Maternal And Child Health – Kaiser Family Foundation

Can Pregnant Women Be Shackled In DC? – Washington City Paper

June 27, 2010

Backers of ‘personhood’ measure regroup – Boston Globe

Measure 2 could put girls’ lives at risk – Anchorage Daily News

Big Abortion Isn’t Having the Recession They Hoped For – National Catholic Register

Are fetuses like slaves? – Denver Daily News

Schools must get permission from parents to teach sex ed – Arizona Daily Star

Abortion provision looms for Dems – Politico

Family planning push for nations – BBC News

Bense, Scott meet in the cover of night – Palm Beach Post

Family planning saves us millions – HeraldNet

Teen births rise in Wyoming – Casper Star-Tribune Online

Popularity of morning-after pills fuels concerns in India – Arab Times

Family planning push for nations – BBC News

More women than men have HIV/AIDS in PNG – Radio Australia

Kerry Continues Push to End Ban on Gay Men Giving Blood – Las Vegas TSG

Lincoln Foundation includes AIDS education in grants of $720000 for learning – News Sentinel

Cervical screening age to be raised in Northern Ireland – BBC News

UN chief calls 2010 a turning point for women’s health – TwoCircles.net

How Nebraska ranks – Lincoln Journal Star

Analysis Human Rights

El Salvador Bill Would Put Those Found Guilty of Abortion Behind Bars for 30 to 50 Years

Kathy Bougher

Under El Salvador’s current law, when women are accused of abortion, prosecutors can—but do not always—increase the charges to aggravated homicide, thereby increasing their prison sentence. This new bill, advocates say, would heighten the likelihood that those charged with abortion will spend decades behind bars.

Abortion has been illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador since 1997, with a penalty of two to eight years in prison. Now, the right-wing ARENA Party has introduced a bill that would increase that penalty to a prison sentence of 30 to 50 years—the same as aggravated homicide.

The bill also lengthens the prison time for physicians who perform abortions to 30 to 50 years and establishes jail terms—of one to three years and six months to two years, respectively—for persons who sell or publicize abortion-causing substances.

The bill’s major sponsor, Rep. Ricardo Andrés Velásquez Parker, explained in a television interview on July 11 that this was simply an administrative matter and “shouldn’t need any further discussion.”

Since the Salvadoran Constitution recognizes “the human being from the moment of conception,” he said, it “is necessary to align the Criminal Code with this principle, and substitute the current penalty for abortion, which is two to eight years in prison, with that of aggravated homicide.”

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The bill has yet to be discussed in the Salvadoran legislature; if it were to pass, it would still have to go to the president for his signature. It could also be referred to committee, and potentially left to die.

Under El Salvador’s current law, when women are accused of abortion, prosecutors can—but do not always—increase the charges to aggravated homicide, thereby increasing their prison sentence. This new bill, advocates say, would worsen the criminalization of women, continue to take away options, and heighten the likelihood that those charged with abortion will spend decades behind bars.

In recent years, local feminist groups have drawn attention to “Las 17 and More,” a group of Salvadoran women who have been incarcerated with prison terms of up to 40 years after obstetrical emergencies. In 2014, the Agrupación Ciudadana por la Despenalización del Aborto (Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) submitted requests for pardons for 17 of the women. Each case wound its way through the legislature and other branches of government; in the end, only one woman received a pardon. Earlier this year, however, a May 2016 court decision overturned the conviction of another one of the women, Maria Teresa Rivera, vacating her 40-year sentence.

Velásquez Parker noted in his July 11 interview that he had not reviewed any of those cases. To do so was not “within his purview” and those cases have been “subjective and philosophical,” he claimed. “I am dealing with Salvadoran constitutional law.”

During a protest outside of the legislature last Thursday, Morena Herrera, president of the Agrupación, addressed Velásquez Parker directly, saying that his bill demonstrated an ignorance of the realities faced by women and girls in El Salvador and demanding its revocation.

“How is it possible that you do not know that last week the United Nations presented a report that shows that in our country a girl or an adolescent gives birth every 20 minutes? You should be obligated to know this. You get paid to know about this,” Herrera told him. Herrera was referring to the United Nations Population Fund and the Salvadoran Ministry of Health’s report, “Map of Pregnancies Among Girls and Adolescents in El Salvador 2015,” which also revealed that 30 percent of all births in the country were by girls ages 10 to 19.

“You say that you know nothing about women unjustly incarcerated, yet we presented to this legislature a group of requests for pardons. With what you earn, you as legislators were obligated to read and know about those,” Herrera continued, speaking about Las 17. “We are not going to discuss this proposal that you have. It is undiscussable. We demand that the ARENA party withdraw this proposed legislation.”

As part of its campaign of resistance to the proposed law, the Agrupación produced and distributed numerous videos with messages such as “They Don’t Represent Me,” which shows the names and faces of the 21 legislators who signed on to the ARENA proposal. Another video, subtitled in English, asks, “30 to 50 Years in Prison?

International groups have also joined in resisting the bill. In a pronouncement shared with legislators, the Agrupación, and the public, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Women (CLADEM) reminded the Salvadoran government of it international commitments and obligations:

[The] United Nations has recognized on repeated occasions that the total criminalization of abortion is a form of torture, that abortion is a human right when carried out with certain assumptions, and it also recommends completely decriminalizing abortion in our region.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights reiterated to the Salvadoran government its concern about the persistence of the total prohibition on abortion … [and] expressly requested that it revise its legislation.

The Committee established in March 2016 that the criminalization of abortion and any obstacles to access to abortion are discriminatory and constitute violations of women’s right to health. Given that El Salvador has ratified [the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights], the country has an obligation to comply with its provisions.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, described the proposal as “scandalous.” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director, emphasized in a statement on the organization’s website, “Parliamentarians in El Salvador are playing a very dangerous game with the lives of millions of women. Banning life-saving abortions in all circumstances is atrocious but seeking to raise jail terms for women who seek an abortion or those who provide support is simply despicable.”

“Instead of continuing to criminalize women, authorities in El Salvador must repeal the outdated anti-abortion law once and for all,” Guevara-Rosas continued.

In the United States, Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) issued a press release on July 19 condemning the proposal in El Salvador. Rep. Torres wrote, “It is terrifying to consider that, if this law passed, a Salvadoran woman who has a miscarriage could go to prison for decades or a woman who is raped and decides to undergo an abortion could be jailed for longer than the man who raped her.”

ARENA’s bill follows a campaign from May orchestrated by the right-wing Fundación Sí a la Vida (Right to Life Foundation) of El Salvador, “El Derecho a la Vida No Se Debate,” or “The Right to Life Is Not Up for Debate,” featuring misleading photos of fetuses and promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion.

The Agrupacion countered with a series of ads and vignettes that have also been applied to the fight against the bill, “The Health and Life of Women Are Well Worth a Debate.”

bien vale un debate-la salud de las mujeres

Mariana Moisa, media coordinator for the Agrupación, told Rewire that the widespread reaction to Velásquez Parker’s proposal indicates some shift in public perception around reproductive rights in the country.

“The public image around abortion is changing. These kinds of ideas and proposals don’t go through the system as easily as they once did. It used to be that a person in power made a couple of phone calls and poof—it was taken care of. Now, people see that Velásquez Parker’s insistence that his proposal doesn’t need any debate is undemocratic. People know that women are in prison because of these laws, and the public is asking more questions,” Moisa said.

At this point, it’s not certain whether ARENA, in coalition with other parties, has the votes to pass the bill, but it is clearly within the realm of possibility. As Sara Garcia, coordinator of the Agrupación, told Rewire, “We know this misogynist proposal has generated serious anger and indignation, and we are working with other groups to pressure the legislature. More and more groups are participating with declarations, images, and videos and a clear call to withdraw the proposal. Stopping this proposed law is what is most important at this point. Then we also have to expose what happens in El Salvador with the criminalization of women.”

Even though there has been extensive exposure of what activists see as the grave problems with such a law, Garcia said, “The risk is still very real that it could pass.”

News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”