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Thread: Reproductive Rights Assaulted

  1. #1

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    April 5, 2004

    Reproductive Rights Assaulted

    At a bill-signing ceremony at the White House, and in federal courtrooms across the country, the Republican campaign against women's basic reproductive and privacy rights reached an ominous new stage last week.

    In Washington on Thursday, President Bush signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which advances the administration's anti-choice agenda under the guise of law enforcement. Like numerous similar state laws, the new federal law makes it a criminal act to harm a fetus, separate from the crime of attacking a pregnant woman.

    Meanwhile, trials opened in New York, Nebraska and California in the cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal ban on so-called partial-birth abortion. Early testimony by doctors powerfully underscored the law's core defects — namely, the glaring absence of an adequate exception to protect a woman's health and its astonishingly broad reach. Although billed as a prohibition on late-term abortions, its actual wording would criminalize common abortion procedures used after the first trimester of pregnancy, but well before fetal viability.

    Dr. LeRoy Carhart, the Nebraska physician who won the Supreme Court decision striking down a similar state ban three years ago, testified that the new law covers "at least 21 different procedures." But he said, "In reality I think this act covers everything after the 12th week" of pregnancy.

    Testifying in the New York case, Dr. Amos Grunebaum of New York Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical College expressed similar concerns. He also noted that the removal of an intact fetus, which the bill supposedly takes aim at, is sometimes the safest procedure, since it is less invasive, thereby reducing the risk of infection and other complications.

    The administration's defense of its "partial birth" ban and the new "unborn victims" law have a common theme: profound disrespect for women.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

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    April 7, 2004

    OP-ED COLUMNIST

    The Abortion Question

    By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

    LISBON — To understand what might happen in America if President Bush gets his way with the Supreme Court, consider recent events in Portugal.

    Seven women were tried this year in the northern Portuguese fishing community of Aveiro for getting abortions. They were prosecuted — facing three-year prison sentences — along with 10 "accomplices," including husbands, boyfriends, parents and a taxi driver who had taken a pregnant woman to a clinic.

    The police staked out gynecological clinics and investigated those who emerged looking as if they might have had abortions because they looked particularly pale, weak or upset. At the trial, the most intimate aspects of their gynecological history were revealed.

    This was the second such mass abortion trial lately in Portugal. The previous one involved 42 defendants, including a girl who had been 16 at the time of the alleged abortion.

    Both trials ended in acquittals, except for a nurse who was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison for performing abortions.

    Portugal, like the U.S., is an industrialized democracy with a conservative religious streak, but the trials have repulsed the Portuguese. A recent opinion poll shows that people here now favor abortion rights, 79 percent to 14 percent. In a sign of the changing mood, Portugal's president recently commuted the remainder of the nurse's sentence. There's a growing sense that while abortion may be wrong, criminalization is worse.

    "It's very embarrassing," said Sandy Gageiro, a Lisbon journalist who covered the trials. "Lots of reporters came and covered Portugal and said it had this medieval process."

    Portugal offers a couple of sobering lessons for Americans who, like Mr. Bush, aim to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    The first is that abortion laws are very difficult to enforce in a world as mobile as ours. Some 20,000 Portuguese women still get abortions each year, mostly by crossing the border into Spain. In the U.S., where an overturn of Roe v. Wade would probably mean bans on abortion only in a patchwork of Bible Belt states, pregnant women would travel to places like New York, California and Illinois for their abortions.

    The second is that if states did criminalize abortion, they would face a backlash as the public focus shifted from the fetus to the woman. "The fundamentalists have lost the debate" in Portugal, said Helena Pinto, president of UMAR, a Portuguese abortion rights group. "Now the debate has shifted to the rights of women. Do we want to live in a country where women can be in jail for abortion?"

    Mr. Bush and other conservatives have chipped away successfully at abortion rights, as Gloria Feldt notes in her new book, "The War on Choice." That's because their strategy has been to focus on procedures like so-called partial-birth abortion and on protecting fetal rights. The strategy succeeds because most Americans share Mr. Bush's aversion to abortion.

    As do I.

    Like most Americans, I find abortion a difficult issue, because a fetus seems much more than a lump of tissue but considerably less than a human being. Most of us are deeply uncomfortable with abortion, especially in the third trimester, but we still don't equate it with murder.

    That's why it makes sense to try to reduce abortions by encouraging sex education and contraception. The conservative impulse to teach abstinence only, without promoting contraception, is probably one reason the U.S. has so many more abortions per capita than Canada or Britain.

    Portugal's experience suggests that while many people are offended by abortion on demand, they might be even more troubled by criminalization of abortion.

    "Forbidding abortion doesn't save anyone or anything," said Sonia Fertuzinhos, a member of the Portuguese Parliament. "It just gets women arrested and humiliated in the public arena."

    The upshot is that many Portuguese seem to be both anti-abortion and pro-choice. They are morally uncomfortable with abortion, especially late in pregnancies, but they don't think the solution is to arrest young women for making agonizing personal choices to end their pregnancies.

    As one sensible woman put it in her autobiography: "For me, abortion is a personal issue — between the mother, father and doctor." She added, "Abortion is not a presidential matter."

    President Bush, listen to your mother.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Bush is listening to his supporters, not his mother.

    If the GOP says he will be voted in because of this, he will do as he is told.

    No big surprise.

    So like that last little bit with the Gay Marriage amendment, Bush did not loose any votes amongst the gay voters (or not enough to be counted) and furthered his support in conservative areas that might be swing votes.

    And he didn't do squat. All he said was his administrations position. He will not be able to get this as an AMENDMENT to the CONSTITUTION, so it was a safe bet.

    So, whatever. We are on a conservative back swing right now, and between that and the terrorisim scare policy pushing, a lot of freedoms have been quietly removed at a time we would be less likely to either notice them or USE them.

  4. #4

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    April 24, 2004

    For Abortion Rights Cause, a New Diversity

    By LYNETTE CLEMETSON

    WASHINGTON, April 23 — When Kalpana Krishnamurthy rallies supporters here this weekend at a march for abortion rights, the first such national gathering in 12 years, she will be doing so as director of the Third Wave Foundation, a nationwide feminist group.

    But Ms. Krishnamurthy's perspective on the issue is shaped by far more than domestic debate. Her parents immigrated to the United States from India, where most of her large extended family still lives and where although abortion is legal, the right to it is intertwined with continuing battles over other women's issues, including domestic violence and economic opportunity.

    And when she marches on Sunday, she said, she will also be representing women across South Asia whose access to social services has been limited by an American policy that bars financing to international organizations that perform or provide information on abortions.

    "The impact of these laws is intensely personal and far-reaching to me," said Ms. Krishnamurthy, 27. "What we need to do is find a way to talk about reproductive rights so it hits as deeply and personally to other young women in the United States."

    As abortion rights advocates prepare for Sunday's event, which they call the March for Women's Lives, veterans of the movement say they have been striving to address a decline in support among women under age 30. But young first-generation Americans and recent immigrants, many of whom maintain connections to countries where reproductive rights are part of a still-burgeoning struggle over women's issues, are bringing new energy and broader perspectives to the cause.

    This weekend Ms. Krishnamurthy will be joined in a youth-focused coalition by other new leaders like Silvia Henriquez, 29, the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants who is now director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Crystal Plati, 30, born in Cyprus, raised in Queens and now director of Choice USA, a multiethnic outreach organization started by Gloria Steinem.

    These young leaders are far from the only newcomers to the movement, however. Of more than 1,400 groups that have signed up to send delegations to the march, dozens are just starting to lend their efforts, among them Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority and South Asians for Choice, an organization founded last month by two recent Brown University graduates who have organized 150 people to participate in this weekend's activities.

    Longtime abortion rights advocates lament what they view as a growing complacency among women who have come of age in the 31 years since the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized the procedure.

    "Women today assume rights," said Kate Michelman, president of Naral Pro-Choice America. "They don't feel a sense of urgency."

    New leaders acknowledge the challenge in mobilizing the post-Roe generation. But they believe that their understanding of issues concerning younger women among a variety of ethnic groups can help the movement expand its reach.

    The word "abortion" is spoken sparingly by the younger advocates, who say it can restrict outreach and allow anti-abortion groups to wage a single-issue debate. Many of these organizers, using terms like "reproductive rights" and "reproductive justice," say their agenda must include issues like comprehensive sex education, emergency contraception, affordable prenatal care for low-income women and, for immigrants, improved access to reproductive health care by providers who speak their patients' native languages.

    The youth-focused coalition in which Ms. Plati, Ms. Henriquez and Ms. Krishnamurthy are participating will sponsor a workshop on Saturday called the 10 in 10 Gathering, a reference, organizers say, to the fact that while not all young women will have to confront a decision about abortion, 10 in 10 will have to deal broadly with their sexual health.

    "When we define choice," Ms. Plati said, "it's about a woman's right to decide if and when she will have sex, if and when she will get pregnant, if and when she will carry a pregnancy to term, and if and when she will raise a child."

    Veteran abortion rights supporters generally welcome the new diversity of thought, though some caution that the movement cannot let down its guard on abortion specifically.

    "These new issues reflect the reality of women's lives," said Ms. Michelman, who has visited dozens of college campuses in recent months to build support for the march. "But the fundamental right to choose, as recognized in Roe, is really at great risk, and that could change the reality very severely and suddenly. We have to maintain focus on that."

    That is an argument not lost on Leila Balali, a software engineer who stopped by Naral Pro-Choice America's organizing center here this week. Ms. Balali, 35, who was born and raised in Iran but has been in the United States since 1986, said that although she would be unable to attend the march, she wanted to help make posters as a show of support.

    "This shouldn't even be an issue in this country," she said. "Women in this country need to realize that if they don't raise their voices, slowly, slowly they may lose their voice."


    April 25, 2004

    Shift in Fight Over Abortion

    By ROBIN TONER

    WASHINGTON — Twelve years ago, the last time abortion rights supporters rallied in the nation's capital, the political struggle was raw and fundamental.

    The Supreme Court was reviewing Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision on the constitutional right to abortion, and nobody knew whether the law would survive. Anti-abortion protesters had been conducting a series of mass demonstrations, blockading clinics in Wichita, Kan., and elsewhere. Abortion rights leaders said they did not have to struggle to build a sense of urgency in their ranks, or to make the case to the more ambivalent voters in the middle that basic reproductive rights were at stake.

    Today, as they assemble on the Washington Mall, the movement faces a far more complicated and in some ways more challenging political landscape. The anti-abortion movement is more confident, more sophisticated and far more ensconced in the government, with allies now in control of the House, the Senate and the White House.

    Its legislative goals are incremental, careful and popular with Americans who would oppose an outright ban on abortion, even if this agenda is considered by its opponents to be a stealthy chipping away of rights. The anti-abortion movement has, in many ways, become part of the establishment.

    Nobody has made a serious effort to push a constitutional ban on abortion through Congress in many years. The Republican Party platform still calls for such a ban, as it has since the ascendancy of the Reaganites, and that plank is expected to be reaffirmed this year.

    But President Bush, who opposes abortion except in cases of rape and incest and to protect the life of the woman, tried to defuse the fears of moderate voters early on. He said that he did not believe the country was ready for a ban, and talks more generally about creating a "culture of life."

    Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster who also works for Naral Pro-Choice America, said her research showed that Mr. Bush rarely even used the word "abortion" for months at a time.

    The current Congressional agenda of the anti-abortion movement is a series of steps aimed at restricting abortion and recognizing the "personhood" of the fetus. Legislation already passed includes the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, aimed at a procedure performed in the second or third trimester, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which makes it a separate offense to harm a fetus in a federal crime committed against a pregnant woman.

    Some say the anti-abortion movement looks so successful because it has essentially ceded defeat on the broader goal of ending legal abortion. When the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in 1992, it upheld the Roe decision, albeit narrowly and allowing for some new restrictions. Bill Clinton was elected president later that year and appointed two additional supporters of abortion rights to the Supreme Court.

    By the mid-1990's, "everyone was recognizing on the pro-life side that the debate was shutting down," said James Davison Hunter, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia and the author of "Before the Shooting Begins: Searching for Democracy in America's Culture War." The prospect of overturning the broad constitutional right had slipped away, he said.

    "The pro-life movement has come to terms with this political reality," Mr. Hunter added, "and having done that, they have adopted a very different strategy, one that is incremental in nature."

    Its leaders say they have simply recognized that they are in a long-term struggle to change hearts and minds - and to reduce the number of abortions along the way. It was clearly a painful epiphany for some.

    "I recognize this incremental strategy is not universally embraced in the pro-life movement," Dr. James C. Dobson wrote last year in a collection of essays, "Back to the Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement." "Our goal must always be to bring about a decisive end to this evil practice, with public policy that matches public sentiment."

    But Dr. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, a conservative group, added, "That time has not yet come." He warned, "If we hold out for only the purest legislative approach, we will be left in the dust."

    Abortion rights leaders argue that these incremental laws are just another means to the same end; they do not see a defeated anti-abortion movement, but a smarter one.

    "There are many different assaults, and it's incredibly important for people to connect the dots and recognize that they are all part of an overarching plan to eliminate reproductive rights," said Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. But they find themselves fighting legislation that, in and of itself, seems unobjectionable to many moderates - among the voters and in Congress.

    David O'Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, asserted, "Fighting things like the partial-birth ban shows an extremism that the American public rejects."

    In fact, many voters who describe themselves as "pro-choice" are still open to restrictions like parental notification laws, or the ban on "partial birth" abortions, known medically as intact dilation and extraction, some analysts say. Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster, said, "The percentage of people who say they're for the woman's right to abortion at all times under any situation is very small, as is the percentage who say women should not have abortions for any reason."

    For the supporters of abortion and reproductive rights, though, each additional restriction - making an abortion harder to get, limiting the type of procedure a doctor can perform, eliminating public funds - renders the fundamental right less meaningful. Ms. Feldt compares it to losing a finger at a time.

    Still, the abortion rights camp might not be able to rouse the American center again until there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The next president may be able to name two or more justices to the court, given that there has not been a vacancy since 1994. The fight could become raw and fundamental again, very quickly.


    OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

    The Issue That Never Went Away

    By WILLIAM SALETAN

    WASHINGTON

    Tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on Washington today for the first major abortion-rights march in more than a decade. With chants and placards, they will warn that Roe v. Wade is at risk. Most Americans have heard this alarm so many times that they've tuned it out. They can't imagine going back to a world in which women's medical records are introduced at trials of doctors to determine whether the abortions they performed were necessary.

    But that world is already upon us. For months, in federal courts in several states, abortion has literally been on trial. The catalyst for these trials is the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which President Bush signed into law last fall. Abortion-rights supporters, citing a four-year-old Supreme Court ruling on a similar statute in Nebraska, argue that some of the procedures banned by the new law may sometimes be medically necessary. The Justice Department, citing Congressional "findings of fact" to the contrary, disagrees.

    To prove its case, the Justice Department says it needs to look at the evidence: women's medical records. It has subpoenaed thousands of records related to abortions at six metropolitan hospital centers and six Planned Parenthood centers around the country. The subpoenas covered all second-trimester abortions involving medical complications or chemical injections into the womb. They also sought the name of every doctor who had performed an abortion at any of the hospitals.

    Aren't such records private? Not according to the Justice Department. Its court filings claim that federal law "does not recognize a physician-patient privilege" and that patients "no longer possess a reasonable expectation that their histories will remain completely confidential." In some of these trials, judges have rejected these arguments. In others, judges have ordered hospitals to hand over the records. Last week, a New York hospital became the first to be fined for refusing to comply.

    Attorney General John Ashcroft says the subpoenas respect patients' privacy by allowing hospitals to black out "identifying characteristics." An assistant United States attorney explained: "The government is not interested certainly in the private names and addresses and Social Security numbers of these patients. That is not the purpose here."

    Indeed, that is not the purpose. The purpose of these inquiries is to try to prove that the so-called partial-birth procedure is never medically necessary, because that's what Congress asserts and the plaintiffs deny. But once this question is resolved, the next round of subpoenas will have a different purpose. It won't be to determine whether partial-birth abortion is ever necessary. It will be to determine whether each partial-birth abortion was necessary.

    If the ban is upheld, any doctor found to have performed the procedure will be subject to a two-year prison term unless he or she can prove that the procedure was "necessary to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury." To settle that question, the court will need details about the patient.

    Alternatively, if the ban is struck down, Congress will have to add to it what the Supreme Court demanded four years ago: a clause allowing the procedure when necessary to protect the woman's health. That, too, will require details about the patient.

    As Mr. Ashcroft puts it, "If the central issue in the case, an issue raised by those who brought the case, is medical necessity, we need to look at medical records to find out if indeed there was medical necessity." That's why the government subpoenaed the records of the doctors who challenged the law. And that's why the government will subpoena the records of any doctor who, having been charged with performing a partial-birth abortion, argues that the procedure was medically necessary. This is what it takes to enforce an abortion ban.

    That's the lesson of these trials. For years, Republicans have used Congress and the White House to showcase the ugliness of late-term abortions. The public, naturally repelled, endorsed the so-called partial-birth ban, and Congress enacted it.

    But an abortion ban isn't just a moral statement. It's a pledge to prosecute, and prosecution introduces a different kind of ugliness: the public investigation of personal tragedies. That's the ugliness that lies ahead. If Americans won't take that warning from today's marchers, maybe they'll take it from John Ashcroft.

    William Saletan, chief political correspondent for Slate, is the author of "Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    April 26, 2004

    Abortion-Rights Marchers Vow to Fight Another Bush Term

    By ROBIN TONER


    Hundreds of thousands of abortion rights supporters listened to speeches at the Mall in Washington.


    Protesters in front of the White House.

    WASHINGTON, April 25 — Hundreds of thousands of abortion rights supporters rallied Sunday in the nation's capital, protesting the policies of the Bush administration and its conservative allies and vowing to fight back in the November election.

    The huge crowd marched slowly past the White House, chanting and waving signs like "My Body Is Not Public Property!" and "It's Your Choice, Not Theirs!," then filled the Mall, turning it into a sea of women, men and children for the first large-scale abortion rights demonstration here in 12 years.

    Organizers asserted that the marchers numbered more than a million, in what they said was a clear demonstration of political clout. There was no official estimate of the crowd size from law enforcement authorities; the United States Park Police stopped providing counts for rallies after bitter disputes over past estimates.

    Speaker after speaker declared that President Bush and his allies in Congress were trying to impose an ideological agenda on abortion and family planning programs, both at home and abroad. The advocates warned that the erosion might be stealthy and incremental — regulations and restrictions rather than outright bans — but asserted that the trend was unmistakable.

    "We are determined to stop this war on women," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, a sponsor of the march. Gloria Steinem, one of many feminist icons who turned out Sunday, said, "We are here to take back our country."

    The day had a decidedly partisan edge, with many in the crowd carrying signs for Senator John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee; several members of his family were among the marchers, as was Howard Dean, who had also sought the Democratic nomination; Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader of the House; and Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party chairman.

    Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, noted that the last time abortion rights supporters rallied in Washington, the nation elected her husband to the presidency just six months later.

    "We didn't have to march for 12 long years because we had a government that respected the rights of women," she said. "The only way we're going to be able to avoid having to march again and again and again is to elect John Kerry president."

    Mr. Bush was at Camp David this weekend, but a White House spokesman, Taylor Gross, said: "The president believes we should work to build a culture of life in America. And regardless of where one stands on the issue of abortion, we can all work together to reduce the number of abortions through promotion of abstinence education programs, support for parental notification laws and support for the ban on partial-birth abortions."

    Administration officials, in fact, have long maintained that the president's policies are solidly in the mainstream of American public opinion; although he opposes abortion except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the woman, he has said the country is not ready for an outright ban.

    But abortion rights advocates countered Sunday that Mr. Bush's policies put the government where it has no business: between doctor and patient. They are challenging the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, for example, arguing that it is so vague that it could outlaw many types of abortions performed after the first trimester and could keep doctors from performing procedures they believe are in the best interest of the woman's health.

    Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, another sponsor of the march, said the Bush administration was engaged in a wide-ranging assault on Americans' privacy. "The government does not belong in our bedrooms," he said. "It does not belong in our doctors' offices."

    June Walker, president of Hadassah, told the audience, "Everywhere, it seems, we have ideology creeping into women's health policy."

    Many abortion rights supporters argued that Mr. Bush's emphasis on programs that promote only abstinence is draining money from family planning programs that rely more on contraception. And they maintained that his restoration of a ban on federal aid to family planning groups that promote or perform abortions abroad is hurting thousands of vulnerable women.

    The march came at a difficult time for the abortion rights movement, after months of legislative setbacks. The movement's leaders hoped to use the march to rouse voters who are sympathetic to their cause, to galvanize younger women and to build support among minorities.

    In fact, there was a changing-of-the-guard tone to much of Sunday's program. Ms. Steinem, noting that she is now 70, declared proudly that by her estimate, "more than a third of the women in this march are women under 25." Kate Michelman, soon leaving her post as president of Naral Pro-Choice America, one of the sponsors of the march, took the stage with her granddaughter and declared, "It's your generation that must take the lead."

    Juleah Swanson, 21, was one of roughly 80 students who arrived on two buses from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me. Ms. Swanson and several young women from the Bowdoin delegation were carrying a giant uterus made of red clothing and stuffing, bearing the slogan "My Body, My Choice."

    "It's a historic moment, and so important in this election year with so much at stake in the courts," said Ms. Swanson, a women's studies major.

    There were many families marching together, wearing signs that declared three or four generations for choice. Melissa Bomes of Los Angeles was marching with her mother and her 7-month-old daughter, all of them dressed in the white of the women's suffrage movement. "We feel it's incredibly important to let the government know how important this is to us."

    Along the march route, a line of anti-abortion protesters prayed, chanted and held up blown-up photographs of aborted fetuses and signs that said, "Have compassion on the little ones!" and "Women Need Love, Not Abortion."

    The abortion rights protesters chanted back, "Pro-life, that's a lie, you don't care if women die," and "Not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate."

    Many of the anti-abortion protesters, though, said they simply wanted to make a statement but not confront the marchers. "I'm here because I want women to know before they have an abortion that there is more to it than ending a pregnancy," said Amy Martin, 37, who said she had an abortion at age 16 that led to depression and a slew of regrets.

    The religious and political fault lines on the abortion issue were apparent. Several speakers took note of the debate within the Roman Catholic hierarchy over how to respond to Catholic elected officials who support abortion rights, including Mr. Kerry. Mrs. Pelosi took the stage and declared, "I am a mother of five, a grandmother of five and a devout Roman Catholic," as well as a supporter of abortion rights.

    Organizers said they were elated by the size of the march, which took more than a year to arrange. But crowd estimates for Washington demonstrations are a source of enduring controversy, particularly since the park police stopped making its own estimates. One of the few hard numbers came from the city's subway, which registered 320,138 riders from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., compared with 133,448 during the same period last week. But many of the marchers did not use the subways.

    Like past abortion rights marches, this one included a large group of actors, including Ashley Judd, Kathleen Turner, Whoopi Goldberg and Cybill Shepherd, as well as other celebrities, like Ted Turner. A large delegation came from Capitol Hill, as well as from the seven sponsors.

    In addition to Naral, the A.C.L.U. and the Feminist Majority, those sponsors were the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the National Organization for Women, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health and the Black Women's Health Imperative.

    At times, the march had the air of a vast reunion. Jackie Ballard, a 78-year-old fashion consultant from Orange County, Calif., came with Lyn Jerry, her college roommate from Wellesley. "I got the announcement and thought, `I've got to be there,' " said Ms. Ballard. "I called my roommate and said we had to go."

    Stephani Tikalsky, 45, from Minneapolis, brought her daughter Libby, who was turning 12 on Monday. "She may not understand this now, but I'm hoping that it'll register years from now," Ms. Tikalsky said. "I hope when people talk about the March of 2004 she'll remember she was there."

    Reporting for this article was contributed by Lynette Clemetson, Julie Bosman, Rhasheema A. Sweeting and Elizabeth Phillips.


    The event was the first large-scale abortion rights demonstration in Washington since 1992.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    My family, despite our Catholic background, have generally supported abortion. My great-grandmother (my maternal grandfather's mother) died giving birth to her third child, a daughter, my great-aunt Mimi and mym other's favorite relative. Back in those days abortion was not illegal, and it was apparent early in her pregnancy that there would be complications. However, her parish priest told her that she must have her baby because of the tenets of the Church—essentially, he told her that her life was not as important as her unborn child's. When she died, my great-grandfather was so enraged that he left the Church forever. He would never step foot inside any house of worship again; for major family events like first holy communions or confirmations he would remain outside. Mimi, too, left the Church (at least I'm pretty sure she did) and often said that her mother should have gone through with the abortion. So instead of one aborted baby and two repentive parents, you had one dead mother and two lost souls.

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    June 5, 2004

    A Victory for Abortion Rights

    At a perilous moment for women's reproductive freedom, it was a heartening development this week when a federal judge in California firmly rejected the 2003 federal ban on what its critics call "partial-birth abortion." With separate suits still pending in New York and Nebraska and the likelihood of appeals right up to the Supreme Court, this will not be the last word from the judiciary on this issue. But the clear and forceful parsing of the statute's myriad constitutional defects by the judge, Phyllis Hamilton, provides a worthy model for decisions to come.

    Judge Hamilton's 117-page ruling duly faults the vagueness and ambiguity of the statute's key terms, especially the term partial-birth abortion, which was invented for political purposes and has, as she wrote, "little if any medical significance." Rather than being a narrow ban on a single late-term-abortion procedure, as its supporters insist, the judge concluded that the law as written would place an impermissably broad restriction on abortion rights in general. It would criminalize common dilation-and-extraction procedures performed long before fetal viability, including those performed as early as 13 weeks, and restrict doctors' options when treating women who have suffered miscarriages. The judge also scored the absence of the constitutionally required exception for medical actions taken to preserve a woman's health.

    These are essentially the same defects that led a closely divided Supreme Court to strike down a remarkably similar state law four years ago. Much of Judge Hamilton's opinion is devoted to a scathing look at Congress's effort to circumvent that decision by, among other things, issuing findings misrepresenting relevant facts, deploying misleading terminology likening the pre-viability procedure dubbed partial-birth abortion by its opponents to the "killing of a newborn infant," and by declaring that such a procedure is never medically necessary.

    It is sad that Congress was so quick to defy the Supreme Court by passing the copycat law. It is sadder still that President Bush signed it, and that lawyers from his Justice Department have endeavored to defend it, in part by stooping to an egregious fishing expedition — for the moment abandoned — to obtain women's private abortion records. The good news is that at least one judge in California has now rejected this brazen exercise in lawlessness.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    It is sad that Congress was so quick to defy the Supreme Court by passing the copycat law. It is sadder still that President Bush signed it, and that lawyers from his Justice Department have endeavored to defend it, in part by stooping to an egregious fishing expedition — for the moment abandoned — to obtain women's private abortion records. The good news is that at least one judge in California has now rejected this brazen exercise in lawlessness.
    Amen to that. :wink:

    Bush is an evil person.

  10. #10

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    Partial birth abortions should not be allowed. In partial birth abortions they deliver the baby feet first and then stick something into its head when that part starts coming out, and they suck out its brains. That is wrong and disgusting. It is murder and it is evil.

    However, if a woman might die from giving birth then an abortion should be allowed, but not partial birth because if the mother would die from giving birth she'd probably also die from giving a partial birth abortion.

    Abortion should be allowed for rapes, HIV/AIDs babies, and for a danger to the mothers life or health.

    However, if there is a only a minor reason for the abortion like an inconvenience to the womans schedule, MURDER should not be allowed. If a woman doesn't want her baby it should be put up for adoption. She should've been more careful in the first place and killing a living thing isnt the solution for making her life less complicated.

    People should wear condoms when they have sex if they dont want a baby, and then if it rips they should take brith control pills, and if neither work then its too bad and the baby should be allowed to live, and if there is no other option put it up for adoption. But it is wrong to kill a baby so your own life will be less interrupted. If you made the decision to have sex then you have to deal with the consequences. Don't murder your child.

  11. #11
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom Tower
    However, if a woman might die from giving birth then an abortion should be allowed, but not partial birth because if the mother would die from giving birth she'd probably also die from giving a partial birth abortion.
    What? You are contradicting yourself here. Make up your mind.

    The law that the president sign is wrong!

    How could they make a woman suffer or die if a baby that hasn't see the light of day (as oppose to a woman) or is deffected is allowed to be born. The woman is more important to the family and friends whom have love her for years than a baby that hasnt been born yet. What if she has other children. Aren't they more important to have a healthy mother or a mother who is alive?

    Partial Birth abortion should be supervised by authorities to see if that is the case. Yes! Besides there are alot of complications (health problems or death) for the woman if she is just doing it to just get rid of the child with no purpose. She might as well have it and then put the child for adoption.

    Now, I believe if a woman wants to have an abortion to not have a child then it should be done before the fetus looks human. Or should protect her self before with protection. But accidents happen.

  12. #12

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    I am not contradicting myself at all. How am i contradicting myself? It is extremely likely that if a woman were giving birth would die from it she would also die from a partial birth abortion. I take it you don't know a partial birth abortion is almost like delivering the baby and killing it? The baby is half delivered, everything but the head, then when the head starts coming out they stick a thing in it to suck out the brains. A woman who would die from complications probably coudln't even have htat type of abortion because it is nearly a birth. How is that contradictory?

  13. #13
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    I guess I have to put your quote back on this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom Tower
    However, if a woman might die from giving birth then an abortion should be allowed,
    Ok...I guess you just said it should be allowed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom Tower
    but not partial birth because if the mother would die from giving birth she'd probably also die from giving a partial birth abortion.
    Then you said here that it should not be allowed.

    You have to be clear in your post. Let me see if I understand what you are trying to say.

    Are you saying that when a woman gets pregnant she is suppose to know already that she is in danger of dying or have any other health complication if she carries the baby. I do not think so. :roll:

    She doesn't know until later (the fetus is human) when she is happy and ready to have the child then the doctors gives her the bad news. You are going to have complication and you might die or the child is going to be deffected when is born. It is your choice lady....either you will have the child or you are dead.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by krulltime
    I guess I have to put your quote back on this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom Tower
    However, if a woman might die from giving birth then an abortion should be allowed,
    Ok...I guess you just said it should be allowed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freedom Tower
    but not partial birth because if the mother would die from giving birth she'd probably also die from giving a partial birth abortion.
    Then you said here that it should not be allowed.

    You have to be clear in your post. Let me see if I understand what you are trying to say.

    Are you saying that when a woman gets pregnant she is suppose to know already that she is in danger of dying or have any other health complication if she carries the baby. I do not think so. :roll:

    She doesn't know until later (the fetus is human) when she is happy and ready to have the child then the doctors gives her the bad news. You are going to have complication and you might die or the child is going to be deffected when is born. It is your choice lady....either you will have the child or you are dead.
    I don't know how many times i have to explain it to you. I don't think you understand the difference between a partial birth abortion and other abortions. If a woman is likely to die from giving birth I agree with an abortion! And if she is likely to die from giving birth, a partial "BIRTH" abortion will probably also kill her! So it is not a contradiction. A partial birth abortion would also kill a woman who cannot give birth. IN PARTIAL BIRTH THE BABY IS NEARLY BORN. Its legs and body comes out and they stop at the head when they jab it to suck out the brains. Im sorry I have to say it so graphically but I think you are not getting the point. A woman who would die from giving birth would probably also die from a "PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION". She will not die from a regular abortion, but a partial birth is just that, partial birth. it would probably still kill the mother. Understand now? Partial birth doesn't just mean the baby is now human but it means the baby is delivered by regular means only feet first. Do I have to explain it again?

  15. #15

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    I'm not saying the woman would know right away, but when she does find out it will be when an abortion other than partial birth can still be done. Partial birth is killing it after it is born really. No different than delivering the baby and then killing it. It is basically giving birth, therefore if giving birth would kill a woman, giving a partial birth would also. Comprende?

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