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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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84 Responses

  1. ThickRedGlasses
    ThickRedGlasses July 5, 2008 at 4:22 pm |

    Amazing post, Jill. I’m disappointed in the turn to the right that Obama has taken since becoming the Democratic nominee. I’m pro-choice, and for me, that doesn’t just mean supporting legal abortion. At this point, I don’t think women actually choose to have an abortion (or remain pregnant, for that matter) because of all of the social influences telling women to go one way or the other. I’m all for making those choices easier with accurate sexuality education, equal pay, and universal healthcare, like you said.

    Anti-choicers like to say things like “Does having an abortion make anything better?” The question that should be asked is “Does making a decision about your own life, even in a time in your life where things are going horribly, make anything better?” The answer is absolutely. Whether or not to have a kid after an unwanted pregnancy (or to have an abortion after a wanted pregnancy that goes wrong) is a very difficult decision, and I compare it with choosing the coffin that your mother will be buried in. Does choosing a pine casket make anything better? No. After all, your mother will still be dead no matter what you bury her in, right? But being able to choose which casket she gets buried in without having some salesperson try to sell you a more expensive stainless steel one makes a world of difference. Choices let you know that you still have some control over your world when things are most chaotic.

    To put it eloquently, choices make life less shitty when things are at their shittiest.

  2. Obama doesn’t mentally stress about abortion « Cellar Door

    [...] Feministe In reality, third-trimester abortions count for about one-half of one percent of all abortions. [...]

  3. bekabot
    bekabot July 5, 2008 at 4:38 pm |

    Typical politician’s description of the Acceptable Abortion (short version): “The acceptable abortion is the abortion my wife or girlfriend needs.”*

    Typical politician’s description of the Unacceptable Abortion (short version): “The unacceptable abortion is the abortion which might have eliminated me.”

    Oh well. Though I’m not as enthusiastic about Obama’s candidacy as I Yousta Bee, I suppose worse things could be said of a man than that he runs true to type.

    * Or: “The acceptable abortion is the abortion my daughter needs.” Obama (not to his discredit, IMO) has already said words to that effect.

  4. Rose
    Rose July 5, 2008 at 4:42 pm |

    As well as the abortion issue, what really bothers me here is that mental issues are contrasted with “real” health issues. That’s very alarming.

  5. Cara
    Cara July 5, 2008 at 4:49 pm |

    Sigh. Yeah, the mental health thing upsets me. And though I’m unsurprised by the “sacredness of sex” crap, it still grates at me every time I hear it.

    And the adoption crap is such a cop-out piece of bullshit. It doesn’t even remotely address the real problems, which are unwanted pregnancies by women who have absolutely no interest in having a child at that point, and unwanted pregnancies by women who would otherwise carry pregnancies to term feeling unable to raise those children for various, generally economic, reasons. The answer to the first problem is more education, access to contraception, and safe and legal abortion. The answer to the second problem is to create more options and support for women so that more feel as though they CAN carry their pregnancies to term if they want to — and safe and legal abortion for those who weigh up the options and decide that it’s still the best choice for them. The “let’s promote adoption” shit doesn’t do a damn thing, but gee doesn’t it sound good to the people who don’t care as much about women (who are much more likely to suffer from psychological trauma from adoption than from abortion) as they do about fetuses.

  6. KevinQ
    KevinQ July 5, 2008 at 4:55 pm |

    Jill said,

    The question “How can we reduce the abortion rate?” is an easy gimme for any pro-choice candidate. You say: “Education, health care and contraception access are the most effective ways to decrease the need for abortion.</blockquote

    That’s the answer if Obama were trying to win your vote. But he’s not. He’s got your vote, and he knows it. Right now, he’s trying to win the votes of people for whom birth control is the devil’s work. Giving a good, common-sense answer won’t work in this situation. He has to talk in the language they have been conditioned to accept. Hence, “sacredness of sexual behavior,” “adoption,” et c.

    It’s a shame, but Obama knows that he’s got your vote sewn up. He doesn’t need to talk to you right now. But neither candidate feels like they have the “evangelical” vote. These are people who feel like McCain is too liberal. So both candidates are going to do what they can to woo those voters. It’s going to be ugly, but both sides are going to be pandering to these people until the end of the election. But I have no doubt that when Obama wins, he’ll be the president we need him to be. And should McCain win, he’ll be the president we fear he will be.

    K

  7. KevinQ
    KevinQ July 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm |

    Stupid close tags mumble mumble mumble…

    K

  8. HelenaHandbasket666
    HelenaHandbasket666 July 5, 2008 at 5:22 pm |

    “I have no doubt that when Obama wins, he’ll be the president we need him to be. ”

    I wish I had your confidence.

  9. fuzzit
    fuzzit July 5, 2008 at 5:35 pm |

    How is it that Mental health issues arent Real….? Thats like saying Diabetes isnt real…
    Just him saying mental health issues arent as real makes me doubt..”he’ll be the president we need him to be”.

  10. exholt
    exholt July 5, 2008 at 5:57 pm |

    But I really don’t think that’s true. The people who are so fanatically anti-choice that they’re against birth control aren’t going to vote for Obama in the first place; there’s no need to try to court their votes, because it’s useless.

    I’m not really sure he is trying to really win their vote so much as trying to make it seem like it is so he can show he is attempting to reach out to “all” Americans rather than play only to his political base or reaching out to moderates. Even if he never sways any of the extremist evangelical right, he can at least argue he made the attempt to show he is trying to be a President for ALL Americans…something he can use to contrast his campaign with McCain’s who is not even making a pretense of reaching out beyond his main GOP powerbase.

  11. DLF
    DLF July 5, 2008 at 5:59 pm |

    I’m not American, but I have spent the past few weeks realizing that Barack Obama is to Liberalism as Arnold Schwartzenegger is to Conservativism. Neither of them are quite there.

    Obama is still the better hope for all of America. But he’s not a “progressive” because he can’t be radical. He’s used up the American tolerance of “radical” by just being black.

    He’s still a good choice. He’s still got the potential to be the best president ever. Choice is but one issue in this election, and personally, I’d rather see all y’all get some universal health care, some rights for same sex couples (never mind if it’s called marriage or not), some decent public transit, and get your men and women in uniform out of Iraq, so we in Canada can get our men and women out of Afghanistan.

    Obama is the world’s only hope of getting some international issues under control, and if some American women have to put up with not being able to get an abortion after 30 weeks, then so be it.

    Perspective people, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk.

  12. shah8
    shah8 July 5, 2008 at 6:02 pm |

    I read the article. I get a strong impression that he was trying to reach out to younger evangelicals.

    I’m not sure just how much space he actually has to be progressive spoken in tht sphere. He was fending off chain emails again in that interviews again.

    He did the most important thing I figured a guy like him could do, which was to center the woman as the primary agent of interest in the abortion debate, not the fetus or anyone else. Also, I thought it was interesting the choice he made in choosing a defensive framework around abortion. In the light of of the S Dakota resolution and the efforts of other political drives to leave out exceptions for the mother’s heath when it comes to late-term abortions, I’m not sure anyone could be very sure he could drive to the left on this issue. Late term abortion bans has far too much public support than it should, since it heightens much of the uglines and dirtyness (impurity) of life.

    As for the mental health crew? Have you dealt with religious (especially those more political) people on the matter of mental health care? For far too many of them, the concept of mental health is contrary to what their beliefs are about regarding the soul and personality. Any sophistication about mental health is wasted on US religious types. I had no problems with Obama using “mental distress”, because to me it seems that he is primarily focused on avoiding the trope of willful women who have no regard for baaaaaayyyybbeeees, and who aborts them just for fun! I think it’s appropriate to emphasis to *this crew* that the medical exception means a *medical issue* and not really a matter of “I don’t want it anymores. I understand if others think otherwise though.

    Also, I made a big stink about this at Pandagon at various points, and I’ll make this point again here. George Lakoff is a charlatan, and framing is an utter distraction from the broader goals of public argumentation. Framing only works if you get the microphone, and most of the people playing games will not allow someone to get the microphone if that person threatens the range of discourse. If you think Obama has free range on this issue, just check out the events of two days ago when Obama talks about iraq withdrawal in the same way that he’s always talked about it, and the AP drove a media narrative focusing on the idea (from republicans), that Obama might support keeping the troops in Iraq. There is no way that the people involved didn’t know how crazy what they were writing was, and it’s hard for me to not come to the conclusion that there was an intent to injure the motivation of people who are leaning Obama.

  13. Cara
    Cara July 5, 2008 at 6:05 pm |

    DLF, I don’t think that Jill was saying “OMG, Obama said some stuff to appease anti-choicers, we’re all doomed, go vote for Nader!!!” She’s saying, accurately, that these statements suck. I do get annoyed when anytime a liberal person criticizes Obama without arguing against voting for him, they get a response as though they did. We know Obama’s other good qualities. We know that he’s absolutely, without a doubt, the best hope for the country at the moment. But these statements still suck. I don’t think that those of us criticizing these statements are lacking perspective so much as we’re lacking the willingness to let Obama do whatever the hell he wants without any accountability to his liberal base.

  14. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne July 5, 2008 at 6:07 pm |

    I really hope that Obama is making this turn to the right based on polling and actual knowledge and not just because all of the Democratic advisors “know” that’s what he needs to do because that’s what all of the other (losing) Democratic candidates have done, because otherwise they’re going to manage to piss away the election.

    I will give this one (1) defense even though I’m pissed off: I think that most non-crazy people who dislike the idea of late-term abortion think that the fetus’ inability to survive outside the womb (or to only survive for a few hours at best) is a good reason to abort the pregnancy. As far as they’re concerned, that kind of abortion has nothing to do with the mother’s mental health — it’s because the fetus is non-viable.

    I think that what Obama is very clumsily trying to reference is back in the pre-legal days when you could get a doctor to certify that your otherwise healthy pregnancy and fetus were so detrimental to your mental health that you could have an abortion. It’s a bugaboo that lives on in the minds of certain pro-lifers.

  15. Cara
    Cara July 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm |

    I had no problems with Obama using “mental distress”, because to me it seems that he is primarily focused on avoiding the trope of willful women who have no regard for baaaaaayyyybbeeees, and who aborts them just for fun! I think it’s appropriate to emphasis to *this crew* that the medical exception means a *medical issue* and not really a matter of “I don’t want it anymores. I understand if others think otherwise though.

    But by specifically bringing up those non-existent women, he reinforces the idea that they do exist. I agree that it’s a good idea to emphasis the meaning of medical exceptions, but this is definitely not the way to do it.

  16. Toast
    Toast July 5, 2008 at 6:16 pm |

    Jill, while I agree with virtually every sentiment you’ve expressed here, I still think you need to put a sock in it. And I mean that in a happy, friendly way. ;-) Obama right now is trying to walk the sharpest razor’s edge in the history of American politics, and while there are perfectly legitimate criticisms to be made of his recent stumbles, I don’t see how airing them at this time serves a progressive agenda in the slightest.

    Look, the guy is Pro-Choice, and ol’ Straight Talk? Not so much. Are we going to ding our guy and piss off, well, a good part of the Feminosphere? Probably not a great plan. It fucking kills me to say this — my slogan being “Fetuses aren’t people so Abortion isn’t murder so fuck you” — but I just think we’ve got to cede this little bit of rhetorical ground. Give the man some space to work in.

  17. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos July 5, 2008 at 6:26 pm |

    Toast: Obama right now is trying to walk the sharpest razor’s edge in the history of American politics, and while there are perfectly legitimate criticisms to be made of his recent stumbles, I don’t see how airing them at this time serves a progressive agenda in the slightest.

    *bangs head against wall repeatedly*

    The problem of course is that there is never going to be a good season to call him on it. We discovered that with Clinton. There will always be some reason or another to present a united partisan front and give him a free pass.

  18. DLF
    DLF July 5, 2008 at 6:27 pm |

    Cara, I was addressing the “I don’t think he’ll be the president we need him to be” rather than suggesting that anyone said they wouldn’t vote for him. He’ll be the best president that you folks have had in a long time, and my Ohio-born, Baptist-raised husband (who’s the only Obama supporter in his family) is TERRIFIED that Americans are going to let him down again.

    What I was suggesting by perspective is that the US is pretty much the only country with a (real or perceived) right to abortion at any time. Here abortion is legal, paid for by universal health care, and restricted to 12 to 16 weeks depending on the level of emergency care that can be offered by the facility. (A clinic is 12 weeks and a hospital is 16, generally) You can get an abortion before 23 weeks if you can find a doctor who will perform it, but that’s unlikely. There’s no requirement because we don’t have a law, The guidelines are set by the medical associations of the provinces where they take place. It’s up to the choice of the person who practices.

    If the mother is in distress after 23 weeks, they just deliver the baby. If the mother is crazy, they put her in the hospital. If you had universal health care, 99% of the issues around this would go away. That’s where I’m trying ask for some perspective. You’ve got better things to worry about.

  19. DLF
    DLF July 5, 2008 at 6:31 pm |

    Oh, and another thought…

    To say that to put any restrictions on abortion is to begin the slippery slope toward having no legal abortions is to use the NRA defence.

    You can all do better than that.

  20. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos July 5, 2008 at 6:39 pm |

    Sure, I’ll vote with my ballot for Obama, but I’ll vote with my pocketbook for Planned Parenthood.

  21. shah8
    shah8 July 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm |

    Cara, those “nonexistant women” are treated as if they exist by the group that Obama is speaking to. He would *have* to mention *something*. If one wants to deny something, one has to bring up the topic.

    Okay, so these statement suck.

    Cara, Jill…Would you…

    a) Speak to them. Maybe it just isn’t worth it to make any effort at outreach to these guys.

    b) If so, how would you word an affirmative support for reproductive health care to this group? Remember, these guys don’t tend to trust women or their doctors about much regarding what is best for them. They are also a rather intensely patriarchal lot, with many suspicions about what a woman canidate would tell them. Can you do a better job than “Barry”?

  22. Cara
    Cara July 5, 2008 at 6:54 pm |

    Can you do a better job than “Barry”?

    Nope, which is why I’m not running for president.

    What group are you referring to, shah8? The group of rabid anti-choicers, or the more reasonable group of “I personally think that abortion is bad, but I’m not sure if we should outlaw it” people? The first isn’t worth our time talking to. With the second, I loved Jill’s suggestion up thread of hammering the issue of birth control and prevention, while emphasizing that abortion needs to be legal if for no other reason than if it weren’t, women would die.

    Yes, they are treated like they exist by the group that Obama is speaking to. That doesn’t mean he has to bring them up on his own. What the hell is the point of preemptively denying? Or, if you think that it was implicit in the question asked, wouldn’t it have been better to say “women do not have late term abortions for fun but for valid medical reasons” than to deny that mental health concerns should be a reason for which women can obtain late term abortions?

  23. CScarlet
    CScarlet July 5, 2008 at 7:15 pm |

    DLF, we do not have universal health care, and even if we did, abortion would still be an important issue! Abortion isn’t required to be covered under the government-provided healthcare we DO have, for low-income women under Medicaid, thanks to the Hyde amendment. And considering this country, I’m not entirely positive that we could get it covered under any national plan we MIGHT eventually get. So it is an issue now, for the U.S., and opposing restrictions on abortion is nothing like a “slippery slope” argument, it is a valid argument. There are forces in this country that have been chipping away at abortion rights and access for decades. Women die when abortion isn’t an option, and I’m sorry, but “better things to worry about” I can’t really think of. Also, I don’t think any of us have only a finite amount of issues we can care about, and it doesn’t take away from issues like access to health care and foreign policy to care about pro-choice issues.

    And just because I’m voting for Obama in November, although I am not a Democrat, and just because he is a much better option than McCain, does not mean I have to shut up and take it when he presents views we disagree with. In fact, I think as the people who are supporting him we have the duty to voice our dissent.

  24. shah8
    shah8 July 5, 2008 at 7:25 pm |

    Cara, I was referring to the email chains that brought up the issue. It wasn’t exactly a “preemptive denial”. Obama didn’t even get the chance at avoiding the topic.

    Jill, I completely agree with what you wrote, and I think we should act on those suggestions. However, how salient is all this to the religiously-centered person who is open to the idea of voting for a woman? Isn’t the concentration of focus on policy concerns to the absolute neglect of spiritual concerns going to be taken as a sort of “talking down” to them, even if you didn’t intend to? Furthermore, I think the bigger problem with your approach is that it was something of a laundry list, with many things for people to attack, fairly or unfairly.

    Your approach has led me to think again, perhaps more clearly, about Barack Obama’s aproach here. I think what he is doing was to try and give people who *want* to vote for him for reasons other than wedge issues shelter. They can say I’m voting for Obama because he’s better for the economy! If challenged on the basis of email chain letters or something else wedge-like, the Obama Christians can point to this interview to show that Obama isn’t as bad as all that.

  25. sonia
    sonia July 5, 2008 at 7:28 pm |

    Toast:
    Voicing dissent and not placing presidential candidates on pedestals are good ideas. This is something I learned from the Bush administration. I hope we don’t forget these basic lessons. One of the things that I LOVE about Obama is that for the first time in a long time, I feel like my voice matters. Which was completely silenced under Bush, regardless of how many rallies I went to, how many petitions I signed. I LOVE that Dissent against Obama’s FISA decision is the largest group in Obama’s website. And that he was forced to re-issue a solid statement. He is accountable. It is what makes him so invigorating, so inspiring. So please lets Not engage in stifling diversity of opinions and voices. It doesn’t help ANYONE.

    Everyone is aware that if you care about reproductive health, you do not vote for McCain. Especially, I hope in this blog.

  26. sonia
    sonia July 5, 2008 at 7:35 pm |

    shah8

    If a person is pro-life, Obama’s statement does nothing to help you see him in a different light. Obama’s statement on partial-born abortion is solid.

  27. DLF
    DLF July 5, 2008 at 9:02 pm |

    So, essentially, women in the US are not willing to negotiate rights granted under Rowe?

    IF (and this is a big if) President Obama were going to say “Okay, no abortions after 20 weeks, and I will make it my life’s work to remove the question of choice from public discourse.” That means by compromising abortions on demand at any stage and going through the endless bullshit you do you get guaranteed access to the procedure without question and the president just treats it as a closed subject. He instructs the Democratic led Senate and House to do the same. The media (except for Fox) just decides that the subject is closed.

    Would you make that trade? Defined limits, no fear of having them removed.

  28. shah8
    shah8 July 5, 2008 at 9:08 pm |

    Sonia, my point is more that this politicing stuff is harder than it looks.

    It’s why I, like Cara, would never even think I would make a good canidate or even want the job.

    So you would chose (a)? No amount of talking to would be worth it/They want things that would be against your values.

  29. Sniper
    Sniper July 5, 2008 at 10:02 pm |

    Defined limits, no fear of having them removed.

    And fuck the admittedly few women who die as a result.

  30. Cara
    Cara July 5, 2008 at 10:20 pm |

    And we’ve ALREADY compromised “abortions on demand” at any stage. So I don’t know what the point is here. And yes, as Sniper says, a blanket ban would indeed kill and irreparably injure women. It’s not a huge number of women, but they’re still, you know, people who have a right to note die because the medical care they need to live is illegal.

    Also, seeing as how the scenario you’ve laid out will never, ever exist, because what the anti-choice people want is a hell of a lot more than ban on late-term abortions, all of this is a ridiculous conversation to even have.

  31. skippy
    skippy July 5, 2008 at 10:43 pm |

    speaking of obama’s flip flops…and now it’s time for another episode of badly drawn political cartoons theater.

  32. EoL
    EoL July 5, 2008 at 11:28 pm |

    Obama is the world’s only hope of getting some international issues under control, and if some American women have to put up with not being able to get an abortion after 30 weeks, then so be it.

    You know, this reminds me of that very common mindset that everything a woman does should be for others and never for herself. Screw her right to health and happiness if Barack might maybe possibly almost be able to make the world a better place! Somehow a better place where women die because they can’t get abortions at 31 weeks, but better nonetheless!

    I keep being told that I need to sacrifice my rights for the “big picture.” Isn’t the health and life of 51% of the population in any way part of the “big picture??” No? Oh, okay then.

  33. urbanaratiste
    urbanaratiste July 6, 2008 at 12:01 am |

    All I know is that he is courting conservative and independent voters more than Hillary supporters. Obama statement on abortion fits nicely with the changes in his platform lately – FISA, religious funding, the war. And he had the nerve during the primary to say he was a better candidate for women than Hillary! What a lie! I believe Bill Clinton vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortion. And I am sure Hillary would have done the same.

  34. J.
    J. July 6, 2008 at 12:02 am |

    Yes, sigh. I agree with whoever said “sigh.”

    I also like to think Obama will give the spastic religious righters what’s coming to them, but it’s just two-party politics as usual. If I wasn’t so afraid of how bad McCain could fuck things up, it would almost make me vote third-party.

  35. Stentor
    Stentor July 6, 2008 at 12:08 am |

    People keep saying this is a move to the right, but is it? Is there evidence that he actually espoused a more expansive view of abortion rights than he is now? My impression is that he’s always preferred to use right-wing framings of this issue and make concessions about not allowing some abortions, and at most he kept his mouth shut about it during the primaries.

  36. sonia
    sonia July 6, 2008 at 12:26 am |

    “Sonia, my point is more that this politicing stuff is harder than it looks.”

    Obviously. It doesn’t look easy. I never suggested it was. MY point is that this qualifying statement doesn’t win Obama any supporters from either side of the abortion debate. So why make it when it has such little impact overall.

    And EOL: Obama is AGAINST banning partial-born abortions. AGAINST. So what are you talking about?

    Stentor: It requires a massive stretch of the imagination to qualify Obama’s views of abortion debates as “right-wing framings”. How nice would it be if “right wing framework” meant being opposed to bans on partial birth abortions. The evidence that you are asking for is linked right there in the post that you are commenting on. It has his position on abortion quite clearly laid out.

  37. BAC
    BAC July 6, 2008 at 1:46 am |

    Obama hasn’t yet won me over, and this kind of comment just pushes me further away. I may do something I’ve never done in the 37 years I’ve been voting … and that is to not vote for a presidential candidate.

    There are some excellent women running for Congress, and if they are elected — and do their job — we can be protected against things like bad Supreme Court nominations. Keep in mind that we got Justice Harry Blackmun (who wrote the Roe v Wade decision) because Congress rejected the two previous Nixon nominees.

    BAC

  38. Cecca
    Cecca July 6, 2008 at 1:59 am |

    While I’m not happy with the way he phrased it, I understand why he had to do it. I’m from a big honking red state with a church on every corner of my hometown; you can’t talk contraception to people who believe wholeheartedly that God forbids it. It. Doesn’t. Work. And I agree with everyone who’s said that this is not the right time to call his statements into question. If you think he’s the right man for the job, then do him a favor and keep quiet while he tries to convince others of the same. Picking him apart now accomplishes absolutely nothing except giving his more radical supporters a reason to leave the camp. He’s trying to win an election, and anyone who thinks that can be done without reaching out to the religious Right on their terms hasn’t been living in this country for the past eight years. They are a large voting block. Not all of them are crazy and not all of them are immune to reason, so long as that reason is couched in terms that show respect for their values.

    You don’t pick on your guy in an election year; it’s bad form if you still want to see him in office. The conservatives are going to be taking shots at him every chance they get. He can’t give them more ammunition by saying anything too liberal about hot-button issues; there’ll be cartoons of him eating babies for breakfast before he’s finished talking. Right now, ideology is going to have to take a backseat to winning. Shaping him into the perfect feminist candidate doesn’t do any of us a bit of good if it keeps people from voting for him.

  39. southern students for choice-athens
    southern students for choice-athens July 6, 2008 at 2:10 am |

    Obama quote:

    “I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.”

    One has to wonder how Obama might consider “mental health” to be a health issue. If he doesn’t support abortion for women for mental health reasons — and my GOD how far we’ve come down to evaluating candidates on the contexts in which they’d permit abortion, rather than restrict it or subject it to greater scrutiny, a la Roe and similar precedents from the late 60s/early 70s — if he doesn’t support abortion for mental health reasons, he’s potentially — maybe unknowingly — supporting laws FAR more restrictive in some senses than were on the books PRE-Roe.

    Students of abortion rights history will know that pre-Roe abortions were often permitted for mental health reasons, and often one of the two or three doctors signing off on a therapeutic abortion were psychiatrists — and many psychs were VERY sympathetic, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other social scientists as well as ACOG (American College of Ob-Gyns) played important roles in helping drive professional medical and mental health professionals to support abortion law reform.

    If a trend develops to disallowing or not appropriately supporting women who seek abortion for mental health reasons, what would that bode for so many young women who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders, and so many more today are diagnosed with mild to moderate disorders than a generation or two ago, who are on psychoactive medication, who may not get adequate therapy or support for their disorders (real or mistakenly diagnosed)?

    Hey, we’re not saying don’t vote for Obama based on his comment — back in the primaries we said we’d expect to see any of the Democratic candidates endorse legalizing marijuana before they’d openly support any number of pro-choice policy positions which readers of professional journals would be familiar with, like say collaborative pharmacy programs at the state level which would make EC available OTC to minors — no, just try to set aside the Presidential race for a moment and think about this — if Obama’s thoughts here about “mental health” exceptions became a part of law, wouldn’t that put young and poor women — ESPECIALLY today’s young and poor women — at a great disadvantage, maybe greater than some ways than the way the laws were written and enforced pre-Roe?

  40. akeeyu
    akeeyu July 6, 2008 at 2:12 am |

    BAC–Yes, but congress didn’t reject the last couple of nitwits Bush put up, did they? So clearly, we can’t count on that anymore.

  41. southern students for choice-athens
    southern students for choice-athens July 6, 2008 at 2:39 am |

    ps…yes, Obama did clarify his position in some press availability in the last couple days. Namely by allowing exceptions for women seeking so-called partial-birth abortion for “serious clinical mental-health diseases”.

    Right.

    Somehow that seems as unsettling as his first remark.

    Almost as unsettling — and as medically inappropriate — as Dan Quayle’s remark back in the ’88 presidential race that rape victims needn’t have to choose abortion because “immediately after a rape that is reported, that a woman normally, in fact, can go to the hospital and have a D and C”

    Well, if it’s any reassurance, even after saying that, Dan Quayle (as VP, and George HW Bush as prez) were elected. So, Obama’s remark probably won’t affect him. Still, we wish there was more critical press about his remark.

  42. Miss Sarajevo
    Miss Sarajevo July 6, 2008 at 3:11 am |

    It’s pretty awful when the best you can really get yourself to hope for is less torture and no third war.

  43. Neko Onna
    Neko Onna July 6, 2008 at 3:47 am |

    Obama is the world’s only hope of getting some international issues under control, and if some American women have to put up with not being able to get an abortion after 30 weeks, then so be it.

    Sorry, but no. I’m so tired of the whole idea that criticism is bad.

    Why has the GOP trended so solidly towards right-wing conservatism?

    Because those folks are loud, and they vote.

    I’m loud, and I vote. I don’t want Obama to ever take the left-wing liberals for granted. At this point, my vote is a HELL of a lot more important to Obama than the vote of some evangelical who’s pastor is telling him Obama is a cryptofacist/Muslim Christ-hater/scary black man/baybee killer/the Antichrist. Why is that? Because my vote is actually winnable, that’s why. But it isn’t guaranteed. No one’s should be. A candidate should earn the votes of the electorate. Jill laid out a fabulous way for Obama to win the liberal and moderate voters who think rationally about the abortion issue.

    I hope Obama was listening.

  44. Obama Clarifies Late Term Abortion Comment « Moue Magazine

    [...] Jill at Feministe has a fantastic post about the problems with Obama’s initial comment. [...]

  45. Obama, no flip flop; It’s a Triple Lundy: « Riggword Weblog

    [...] From Femeniste [...]

  46. Daughter of the Ring of Fire » Blog Archive » But, really, who cares about reproductive rights?

    [...] further left than the Democratic party. Recent comments from Barack Obama about mental distress and third-trimester abortions (despite some weak backpedaling) show, however, prominent Democrats often care very little about [...]

  47. Lauren
    Lauren July 6, 2008 at 10:57 am |

    On the quote: As I understand it, Obama very carefully used the term “mental distress” rather than “mental illness,” meaning that he’s only proposing restricting late-term abortions for those women who are feeling anxiety/worry/insecurity/whatever- women who wouldn’t want an abortion anyway and probably couldn’t get one if they did.

    On the issue of criticizing our nominee: We must do it. Absolutely. We have to hold him accountable for who he has promised us he will be. Don’t want to take my word for it? In the statement he released responding to the group on his campaign website that criticized him for his FISA stance, he specifically said he was glad that his supporters were using his site to organize and get their voices heard. But we do need to be very careful to keep our criticism to his policies and politics- that means no ad hominems, no threats not to vote, etc.

    On “Barry”: I’ve seen this a lot on various feminist websites and it always, always strikes me as racist. Yes, I understand it’s the name he once went by. But I think we should think very, very hard before using a diminutive to refer to a black man. It’s just a little to close to “boy” for comfort, I think.

  48. shah8
    shah8 July 6, 2008 at 12:00 pm |

    Preface: I’m not telling people to not be upset or telling people to shut up…

    All me to offer a perspective…

    Waaaaaay back in 1992, black people had a few choices about where to put their votes for the presidency. They had choices like Bush Sr, Perot, Buchanon, Harkin, Tsongas, and Clinton available. This was after yet another one of those “shallow” recessions had started, after a major riot in LA, after twelve years of Republican governance that actively hated black people. For instance, Reagan’s first FEMA chief was a militarist with a firm conviction that the next war will be the Race War between whites and blacks. These were the years of welfare queens, of white hands crumpling job rejection letters, and of putting forth front and center, the angry dark man.

    So we realized that we had to make a choice among a set of candidates that don’t really have a great deal of interest in African American affairs. We wound up choosing Bill Clinton, not least because it seemed that he was the most engaged in the issues that affect us–trying to play Banana Hotel on Arsenio Hall’s show, for example. We also believed that Bill Clinton would be the most effective at fixing the economy.

    However, there were problems. Never mind that Bill Clinton doesn’t seem to have a very high level of genuine and native respect for many women, including his own wife…Think about this: He publicly and vocally denied a mentally disabled black man clemency for political gains (much of it among the “security moms” set). He trashed a progressive and activist young woman who was a hip hop artist and excluded her and anyone who was like her from the main body of the party. Made him look good to the personally conservative union guys, among others. He swung very far right in terms of things like “welfare reform”. While in general, he did not treat many of his female (potential) appointees well, he did treat both Lani Guineer and Jocelyn Elders remarkably poorly for saying things that were absolutely correct in favor of southern politicians who were “offended”. The list goes on…

    Why did Black America support him for so long and so hard? Simple, he didn’t hate us. When the economy got better, blacks and other minorities actually got to make up ground in pay disparities. Sure, we had to sacrifice an armed robber/killer whose mental incompetency was as a result of a failed suicide attempt. We sacrificed some women’s reputations. Among other things. We *did* something back. Some concern about African American issues, much less antipathy towards African American from the feds, and we did well in his economy, as others have.

    It is in this cultural back-light that I see so many women being upset at comments he made to a *Christian magazine* in which he had to respond to rumors, again, and in which he pandered *less* to that segment than Bill Clinton would have, or many other so-called progressives would have. I have always liked the way he handled abortion questions–no mentions about no fetuses, everything is grounded into the needs of women, with the *expectation* that women will need this service. “Safe, Legal, and Rare”, despite some appearances, is NOT a liberal or progressive sentiment. It makes no effort at availability, it retains the after-image that women should not get abortions, and it has a loophole sentiment in “rare” that anti-abortion people have been driving a MAC truck through, as you can see the interviewer does in his question to Obama. It makes me think that the problematic parts, such as “mental distress”, and dropping sex before education in “through education and abstinence education giving good education to teenagers” as small potatoes.

    I feel that you are getting a more woman friendly candidate than we blacks ever thought we could get in a black friendly candidate. I’m not sure Bill Clinton ever really understood that fact. We never thought that an Obama ever could happen, and we had good reason to think so. It’s alright to lobby and pressure and do what you have to get Obama to be more friendly to the things that you care about. I just think that people should be highly aware that, conservative elements in political and media circles have apparently made a decision to emphasize women’s discontent with Obama, through the likes of PUMA. They are making a great deal of effort to increase cynicism, beyond what is warranted, in an effort to suppress the committed vote, with the misrepresentation of Obama’s Iraq withdrawal attitude being a classic example.

    No one needs to get used, like Reverent Wright was, in his attempt to boost his name, or Ted Kennedy in 1980. *Press* for greater liberalism/progressivism, do not *demand* greater liberalism/progressivism. Obama has definitely decided that he’s going to try to get all the votes he could get, but just compare him to Bill Clinton in 1992…Obama is chasing after votes with a vastly greater integrity and less nasty pandering.

  49. zuzu
    zuzu July 6, 2008 at 1:34 pm |

    Obama’s comments about mental health are squarely at odds with the settled law of the past 35 years, specifically Doe v. Bolton:

    This has been a central battleground issue in the Supreme Court going back 35 years, to Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, when the Court ruled a woman had a constitutional right to abortion. The decisions said state’s can ban all abortions after the fetus is viable — but that any restrictions must include exceptions to protect a woman’s physical and emotional health.

    In the years since, anti-abortion groups have fought hard against mental health exceptions, arguing that they create giant loopholes that make abortion bans meaningless. Doctors, they argue, can always find a “mental health” exception. But abortion rights groups just as strongly argue the mental health exception is critical to preserving a woman’s right to an abortion—and that the woman and her doctor must be allowed to make those decisions about her health without government interference.

    In 1973, when the Court issued Roe and Doe — on the same day — it sided with the abortion rights groups and said states could not interfere with a doctor’s medical judgment on whether an abortion was necessary.

    “[M]edical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors–physical, emotional , psychological, familial, and the woman’s age–relevant to the well- being of the patient,” said the Supreme Court in Doe, which was a companion case to Roe. “All these factors may relate to health . This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment.”

    Obama’s comments that he does not support mental health exceptions in so-called post-viability abortions (after 22 weeks) is squarely at odds with that holding, which remains the law of the land today.

    Has he taken the trouble to find out what hes talking about?

  50. Watching the Angst in Bemusement at PunkAssBlog.com

    [...] Aw, Barry, say it ain’t so– [...]

  51. Late Term Abortions & the Mental Health Exception: Obama's Clarification

    [...] Jill at Feministe identifies some circumstances in which reasonable people might agree that ‘mental health concerns’ might justify a late-term abortion. [M]ental health underlies many of actual reasons women have late-term abortions. Take severe fetal abnormalities — where a wanted pregnancy goes wrong, and the problem isn’t discovered until relatively late. In many situations — anencephaly, for example — carrying the pregnancy to term might not be any more dangerous than carrying a healthy fetus to term…..[M]any fetal abnormalities don’t pose the kind of physical harm to the pregnant woman that would seem to pass anti-choice…muster. (To be clear, many fetal abnormalities do pose significant health risks — it’s just not the rule. Which is precisely why this issue should be evaluated case-by-case between a woman and her doctor, and politicians should butt out). [...]

  52. Toast
    Toast July 6, 2008 at 2:46 pm |

    I don’t believe in waiting for a more convenient time; my point also isn’t that Obama is failing pro-choicers, but that he’s framing the entire issue poorly.

    You know what? You’re right. I retract my previous statement. It’s been bugging me all day.

  53. DLF
    DLF July 6, 2008 at 3:10 pm |

    This thread is indicative of why no one outside of the US can speak to US women about feminism or the issues surrounding them.

    The writers of Feministe, Feministing and what not go on and on about women of colour, poor women and the egregious nature of what goes on in developing nations. But if a women (a white, privileged woman from another developed nation) suggests that American women will have an easier time gaining what they want by changing the nature of public discourse RATHER than sabre rattling and decrying the falling of the sky at the mere mention of compromise, then you people get what you deserve.

    Next time my husband asks to move back the US I’ll show him this thread as reason #85 why I won’t move to your forsaken country.

  54. Emily
    Emily July 6, 2008 at 3:19 pm |

    Haven’t read all the comments but specifically toward DFL – maintaining a legal right to abortion is WAY more politically feasible than single payer universal health care in contemporary American politics. You may think we could solve this with universal health care but there is NO WAY the insurance companies are going to let that happen in any way that makes sense and costs less than the current system. So thank you very much I’ll keep my priorities where they are.

  55. Ashley
    Ashley July 6, 2008 at 3:50 pm |

    I do get annoyed when anytime a liberal person criticizes Obama without arguing against voting for him, they get a response as though they did. We know Obama’s other good qualities. We know that he’s absolutely, without a doubt, the best hope for the country at the moment.

    Cara, I totally hear what you’re saying, but I can also see the other side of the argument… Just down the thread, I saw this:

    Obama hasn’t yet won me over, and this kind of comment just pushes me further away. I may do something I’ve never done in the 37 years I’ve been voting … and that is to not vote for a presidential candidate.

    *hair spontaneously turns gray*

    I agree that we should be able to hold Obama accountable to his base. Then I hear someone “in the base” saying that the criticism they’ve heard from other progressives is giving them second thoughts about voting for Obama. That really scares me.

    I don’t think there’s a “right” answer to this… Is it more strategic to give Obama hell now, so he knows he can’t take us for granted? Or does it make more sense to hold our tongues, work like crazy to get him elected, and then give him hell? There are pros and cons for each option.

    Anyway, I see your point and I don’t think it makes sense to come down on other progressives just for putting some pressure on Obama, but I also understand when people get freaked out about criticizing the more progressive candidate in the middle of the election cycle. It’s a really scary time and we all want to win so badly, sometimes people get defensive.

  56. Oh, the generalized liberal thang
    Oh, the generalized liberal thang July 6, 2008 at 4:09 pm |

    KevinQ
    I am a woman, I am not white
    and Obama does not have my vote “sewn up”.
    No one does.
    I wont vote Republican, but, that doesn’t mean I’ll automatically vote for Obama.

  57. Mr. J
    Mr. J July 6, 2008 at 4:31 pm |

    Booo! I’ve got my angry pants on now.

  58. Diane
    Diane July 6, 2008 at 5:15 pm |

    “DLF, I don’t think that Jill was saying “OMG, Obama said some stuff to appease anti-choicers, we’re all doomed, go vote for Nader!!!’”

    Yes, well, that would be rather stupid, anyway, wouldn’t it? Nader is the one who, just a few years ago, said that no one will ever attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade and it isn’t an issue. Then he became very angry because Gloria Steinem suggested he didn’t get it and women shouldn’t vote for him. That was in between telling us to “stop talking about ‘the patriarchy’” and announcing that yes, he really did care about women–he led the movement for safer child car seats.

  59. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne July 6, 2008 at 6:30 pm |

    If a person is pro-life, Obama’s statement does nothing to help you see him in a different light.

    I’m not sure I agree with this. As other people have said, having him come out and say he doesn’t support abortion on demand like the e-mail rumors say could actually help him with at least some pro-life voters.

    There is a huge middle ground between people who want abortion banned entirely and people who think it should be legal throughout the entire pregnancy. Most Americans are pro-abortion within limits. If Obama can reassure those people that he’s not the crazy man from the e-mail that their brother/friend/uncle sent them, they may on balance decide to vote for him.

    I have no problem criticizing Obama on substantive issues (like FISA or the death penalty for child molesters) but pulling one quote from an interview where he’s specifically responding to a rumor and trying to quash the rumor? As Ashley said, my big fear is that things like this will convince liberal fence-sitters that Obama is anti-choice (despite his 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood), so we may as well vote for McCain and know what we’re getting into up front.

  60. sonia
    sonia July 6, 2008 at 7:34 pm |

    Mnemosyne,

    The problem is not that I now believe Obama is anti-choice or that a lot of fence-sitters will believe this. Frankly, if any of these fence-sitters comes to such conclusions, they were leaning against him (either towards mccain or no vote) anyway. Obama is against banning partial birth abortion and he voted against the “Born Alive” bill that proposes to save aborted fetuses. His stance continues to be this, and anyone who believes Obama is anti-choice lacks reading skills and believe anything.

    I don’t believe criticizing Obama on his positioning on mental health is “non-substantive” at all as you suggest. His position on mental health specifically undermines his reasons for taking the stance on partial-birth that he does take.

    We all have different takes on which position Obama takes is “center’ or “troublesome”. I was not bothered at all by his stance on the death penalty for child molesters. I am completely in line with his position on the same. But I don’t buy at all that we cannot engage in discussion and criticize his positions. I simply refuse to. We have had 8 years of an administration where doing so was considered unpatriotic and just plain wrong. I am weary of anything resembling the same. That is what I LOVE about Obama. He listens. He responds. And I have no desire to undercut the very thing that inspires me about his candidacy by glossing over criticisms. I have real hope that he will win come November, and I have faith that he will be the one of the best presidents that we have seen in a long time. But it doesn’t help anyone to have this hope with our blinders in place.

  61. undecided liberal voter
    undecided liberal voter July 6, 2008 at 7:53 pm |

    A pro choice politician is not EVER going to get the anti-choicer’s vote. Pandering to them will only hurt him and that party.

  62. Oh no he didn’t. « The Feminist Texican

    [...] of a woman’s mental health as a factor in terminating a pregnancy.  As Jill from Feministe points out: That’s a talking point that you hear a lot from anti-choicers: That mental health is a [...]

  63. Dianne
    Dianne July 7, 2008 at 6:00 am |

    So, if we are continuing what has been a promising trend in the reduction of teen pregnancies, through education and abstinence education giving good information to teenagers.

    Oddly enough, given that I’m a rabid pro-choicer, it is this sentence that bothers me the most about what Obama said. It is wrong on so many different levels. Abstinence education doesn’t work. Even on its own terms. Controlled studies have shown that teens receiving abstinence education are no less likely than those receiving no sex ed to have sex but are less likely to use condoms. Furthermore, these are studies that are biased toward finding an effect, making the negative result even stronger.

    I am disturbed that Obama would promote something that so obviously doesn’t work and does harm. I am particularly disturbed because I thought he was a fairly smart person who could evalutate evidence properly. But between this and his babbling on about the dangers of vaccines, I’m not so sure any more. Well, I always knew that he was a politician. I’m still going to vote for him on the lesser evil ticket, but really…

  64. zippy
    zippy July 7, 2008 at 8:49 am |

    Jill, fantastic post. My head has been spinning from Obama’s comments and NARAL’s asinine defense thereof, leaving me quite incapable of responding nearly so well.

    Also, I want to add my voice to those that are ardent that it’s ok to criticize the candidate without undermining his entire campaign. In fact, NARAL should have been the first to do so – they could have provided the leadership on this issue when their guy stumbled.

    I think it is entirely appropriate that we discuss his positions here, as well as on the campaign site. There is an ongoing discussion (http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/marystange/gGxdxW, not as robust as this one, natch!), and I would also suggest responding to the campaign directly. If they don’t hear from pro-choice voters, then they don’t have to care what we think.

  65. Happy Phantom
    Happy Phantom July 7, 2008 at 10:45 am |

    This just gives another reason for the Hillary die-hards to back off Obama. What happened to uniting the party?

  66. Joe
    Joe July 7, 2008 at 10:59 am |

    And though I’m unsurprised by the “sacredness of sex” crap, it still grates at me every time I hear it.

    Obama is religious, albeit left-wing. In fact, one of the reasons I voted for him if because he can prove to America that religion is not inherently a right-wing institution! Yet, the reference to the “sacredness of sex” immediately triggered the ring-wing bullshit part of your brain. That’s the problem.

  67. Sara Anderson
    Sara Anderson July 7, 2008 at 11:52 am |

    Is it really accurate to equate mental distress with mental illness?

  68. Rose
    Rose July 7, 2008 at 12:21 pm |

    I don’t have anything interesting to say other than that I agree 100%.

    It’s sad that people are still trying to legislate a choice that a woman should be making with her doctor – not her legislator!

  69. Margalis
    Margalis July 7, 2008 at 12:57 pm |

    This just gives another reason for the Hillary die-hards to back off Obama. What happened to uniting the party?

    The die-hard Hillary supporters claimed for months that reproductive rights don’t matter to them because they are all either too old to have children or don’t have sex with men or getting an abortion is already hard so it doesn’t really matter any more blah blah blah.

    So I find this mock outrage (among those Hillary die-hards) more than a little silly and incoherent. Reproductive rights don’t matter until they can be used to attack Obama, then they’re suddenly super-important again. It’s so utterly transparent, the people on Shakes who are “shaking with anger” now are literally the exact same people who last month claimed that reproductive rights were an irrelevant red-herring.

    Aw, Barry, say it ain’t so…

    Blech. Please stop with the right-wing “Barry” shit. Great post minus the first line.

    We’re adopting the right-wing frame and rhetoric, and speaking in their terms

    Et tu?

  70. Sniper
    Sniper July 7, 2008 at 2:49 pm |

    The die-hard Hillary supporters claimed for months that reproductive rights don’t matter to them because they are all either too old to have children or don’t have sex with men or getting an abortion is already hard so it doesn’t really matter any more blah blah blah.

    This is the very epitome of a complete load of crap.

  71. roses
    roses July 7, 2008 at 3:33 pm |

    The die-hard Hillary supporters claimed for months that reproductive rights don’t matter to them because they are all either too old to have children or don’t have sex with men or getting an abortion is already hard so it doesn’t really matter any more blah blah blah.

    Ummm, no. The die-hard Clinton supporters (or at least those on Shakes that you’re claiming are so transparent) have been saying that having a President who supports Roe vs. Wade doesn’t mean shit unless the Democratic party is willing to stand up against the gradual erosion of abortion rights throughout the country. This is just more proof that no, they are not – Obama’s statements if taken at face value indicate that he would be willing to stand by and watch those rights continue to be eroded (by removing a provision for mental distress as a reason to have a late term abortion).

  72. scamps
    scamps July 7, 2008 at 3:57 pm |

    I personally see this as another example of the lack of understanding of and compassion for mental health. And a few comments here hammer that in. For example:

    “As I understand it, Obama very carefully used the term “mental distress” rather than “mental illness,” meaning that he’s only proposing restricting late-term abortions for those women who are feeling anxiety/worry/insecurity/whatever- women who wouldn’t want an abortion anyway and probably couldn’t get one if they did.”

    “Is it really accurate to equate mental distress with mental illness?”

    Despite what many believe, mental distress and mental illness can be linked in many ways. Distress is often a sign of illness. Distress can CAUSE illness (did we all forget about PTSD?). And even if mental distress isn’t part of mental illness, it still is affecting your mental health. Just like how being exhausted isn’t an illness, but it still affects your physical health.

    I have been mentally and neurologically ill my entire life. When you deal with it on a daily basis, the ignorance and stigma get glaringly obvious.

  73. charlotte
    charlotte July 7, 2008 at 6:42 pm |

    Ok, could there be a difference between “mental distress” and “mental health” in his statement? “Mental health,” and I’m thinking of clinical depression, bipolar depression, etc., is demonstrably a brain-chemistry issue and therefore falls into the “significant physical reason” portion of his argument. Nobody’s as dumb any more than to categorize serious mental health issues as temporary “distress.” Or, at least, nobody should be.

    Now, where’d I put my Prozac …

  74. Caitlin Borgmann
    Caitlin Borgmann July 7, 2008 at 9:26 pm |

    This post makes a lot of important points. But your anencephaly example raises a common confusion. Although Obama used vague and unfortunate phrases like “late term” and “partial-birth abortion,” he presumably meant to refer to post-viability abortions. Roe v. Wade’s “trimester” framework does not actually align neatly with the trimesters of pregnancy: its recognition that the state may ban abortions (with life and health exceptions) kicks in after viability. That means that a woman who is carrying a nonviable fetus can terminate her pregnancy at any time. Viability is an incredibly thorny concept, but in general the Supreme Court has described a viable fetus as one capable of “sustained survival” outside of the woman’s body, “with or without artificial aid.” In Roe, the Court even suggested that the fetus must be capable of “meaningful life,” whatever that means. The Court has continued to adhere to viability as the point at which abortion, with appropriate exceptions, can be banned. So, if Obama’s remarks assumed that this framework still holds, and only addressed how narrow or broad the required health exception should be, then the woman you describe, with the anencephalic fetus that “cannot possibly survive,” could get a 3rd trimester abortion without even needing to invoke a health exception. The trickier cases arise when a fetus with grave fetal anomalies is nevertheless viable; cases in which it uncertain whether the fetus may survive (for example because of its prematurity); and cases in which a fetus might survive for weeks or even a few years, but in a very compromised state (is this “sustained survival”; is it “meaningful life”?).

  75. prairielily
    prairielily July 7, 2008 at 10:59 pm |

    But if a women (a white, privileged woman from another developed nation) suggests that American women will have an easier time gaining what they want by changing the nature of public discourse RATHER than sabre rattling and decrying the falling of the sky at the mere mention of compromise, then you people get what you deserve.

    No. Just no. Please don’t act like this is the reasonable view of a Canadian who just knows better than those hysterical American feminists, or even just a Canadian who knows better than Americans, period.

    Compromise often doesn’t work. You mentioned in your first comment that it didn’t matter whether gay unions were called marriage or not, but we can all see very clearly from what’s happening in New Jersey with civil unions instead of marriage.

    We are not talking about women who can go without the option of late-term abortions. We are talking about women who NEED that option. The brunt of decisions like this always falls on the poorest WOC – you know, the ones you said that the big American feminist blogs go on and on about – and it’s extremely dismissive to suggest that it’s not a big deal.

    It is not ok to say that a few dead women is just collateral damage for the benefit of the rest of the world. It is not ok to insult feminists for over-reacting and insisting that universal health care will solve the problem when you do not live in the same country and the people familiar with the political climate and who have to deal with the consequences are telling you that although universal health care is extremely important, it will not fix this issue. The Hyde amendment guarantees that.

    There is nothing wrong with taking a hard-line stand and refusing to compromise when you and your group are the ones most passionate about the issue. There is something extremely wrong with feminists saying that it’s ok for any women to die for the greater good. We fight for all women, no matter how much people call us hysterical and irrational. We don’t leave anyone behind. Anything less doesn’t deserve to call itself feminism.

  76. Diane
    Diane July 7, 2008 at 11:29 pm |

    Well, I’m a Hillary supporter who doesn’t fit any of those categories. I look around me and see that American women have–for the most part–allowed every imaginable type of oppression against them, including having religious pharmacists and clergy to tell them what type of reproductive medicine they can have, so it’s hard for me to imagine they would care whether Roe v. Wade is overturned.

  77. S.H.
    S.H. July 8, 2008 at 11:53 am |

    “Well, I’m a Hillary supporter who doesn’t fit any of those categories. I look around me and see that American women have–for the most part–allowed every imaginable type of oppression against them, including having religious pharmacists and clergy to tell them what type of reproductive medicine they can have”

    Victim blaming 101.

  78. Suzanne
    Suzanne July 8, 2008 at 4:47 pm |

    Thanks for the important post on this. What scares me about it most is how 3rd trimester abortions – which are an extremely small number of the abortions that take place, and pretty much done exclusively for medical reasons – are referred to as “later-term,” which I think can be confusing. In reading his answer, I forgot that the question was specifically about 3rd trimester abortions, and started freaking out that he was also OK with banning 2nd trimester abortions, which is not the case. This question was very wisely phrased because, again, women don’t get 3rd trimester abortions without a medical reason. I think that such imprecise language and terminology in Obama’s response is what leads to the slippery slope.

  79. Planned Parenthood Endorses Obama : The Curvature

    [...] Obama has said some admittedly sketchy stuff regarding abortion this week.  And while I don’t believe in giving him free passes, it seems [...]

  80. Pam
    Pam October 9, 2008 at 12:18 pm |

    Hmmmm, it seems to me that the majority, including Obama, simply ignore morality issues. Civilizations fall who stop valuing human life. We’re already on the decline.

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