abortion

A Threshold (Choices)

Detail of frame from "Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor", episode 9, 'They Met One Day, Unexpectedly ...'. L-R, Kiko Kayanuma, July, and Suou Pavlichenko discuss the profitability of a cat café versus more mundane work as a book editor, and Mao (lower right) hides in Suou's satchel.

The exclusive lede from Reuters:

American women are ending pregnancies with medication almost as often as with surgery, marking a turning point for abortion in the United States, data reviewed by Reuters shows.

It has apparently been something of a long time coming. Pharmaceutical terminations won approval sixteen years ago; the report from Jilian Mincer explains, “the method was expected to quickly overtake the surgical option”. Political opposition to abortion slowed the transition:

Although many limitations remain, innovative dispensing efforts in some states, restricted access to surgical abortions in others and greater awareness boosted medication abortions to 43 percent of pregnancy terminations at Planned Parenthood clinics, the nation’s single largest provider, in 2014, up from 35 percent in 2010, according to previously unreported figures from the nonprofit.

The national rate is likely even higher now because of new federal prescribing guidelines that took effect in March. In three states most impacted by that change―Ohio, Texas and North Dakota―demand for medication abortions tripled in the last several months to as much as 30 percent of all procedures in some clinics, according to data gathered by Reuters from clinics, state health departments and Planned Parenthood affiliates.

Among states with few or no restrictions, medication abortions comprise a greater share, up to 55 percent in Michigan and 64 percent in Iowa.

What, really, can we add? It seems somewhat inappropriate to glibly note that Americans do catch up to the rest of the world, now and then, despite our best efforts to the other.

Oh, right.

Damn.

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Mincer, Jilian. “Exclusive: Abortion by prescription now rivals surgery for U.S. women”. Reuters. 31 October 2016.

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The Conservative Lesson

David Daleiden, of Center for Medical Progress.  Detail of photo by Charles Ommanney, ca. 2015.

A question arises: Is self-harm ever funny?

Certes, there are complications to the question; obviously, it is harder to justify self-harm if one also hurts others along the way, but here we’re not talking about going on a slashing spree amid a cutting habit. This one falls more under inspiring terrorists while wrecking your life for the sake of your own stupid masculinity.

Never mind.

Yesterday morning, via USA Today:

The videos show Planned Parenthood’s senior leadership partaking in a widespread and organized violation of state and federal laws forbidding partial-birth abortions and profiteering from the sale of fetal organs and tissues, which is why multiple state and federal investigations, including a select committee in Congress, continue to investigate Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and financial interests in harvesting body parts. Contrary to the liberal shibboleth that the videos were “edited” (by which they mean to insinuate, “doctored”), the Center for Medical Progress has been far more transparent than any major news network in making the unedited conversations available to the public, and forensic analysis verifies their utility as evidence.

David Daleiden penned an op-ed in defense of his Center for Medical Progress, which is perhaps more familiar as the right-wing operation that doctored up some videos that succeeded in causing a ruckus. Congress held hearings, then slated some more because the first round was such a disaster. A terrorist murdered three people, wounded several more. Eleven states have investigated the infamous claims against Planned Parenthood, and all eleven have cleared the organization. In Texas, officials even convened a grand jury.

So Daleiden decided to … what? Pitch his case one last time? Rub it in? Set up for his victory lap?

That was Monday morning. A few hours later, Daleiden and co-conspirator Sandra Merritt got the news:

A Houston jury investigating alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood declined to charge the women’s health provider, announcing instead felony charges for the leaders of the anti-abortion organization that targeted Planned Parenthood with it’s widely debunked series of “sting” videos in 2015.

The grand jury said they did not find evidence of illegal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood after reviewing the covert videos meant to misleadingly implicate the women’s health provider in the illegal trafficking of fetal tissue ....

.... David Daleiden, the 26-year old president of The Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, founder and CEO of the fake tissue procurement company created to misleadingly gain entry into abortion clinics, were indicted for “tampering with a governmental record,” while Daleiden received an additional indictment for “the purchase and sale of human organs.” The first charge is a second degree felony and the second is a Class A misdemeanor. As the Houston Chronicle notes, a second-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison.

(Tesfaye)

They did this to themselves.

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Republican Governance (Aborted)

Corset - Detail of frame from 'Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt'.

This is pretty straightforward:

• In 2013, North Dakota Republicans passed into law a heartbeat abortion bill, which would have set the termination cutoff around six weeks.

• The law never went into effect, and was struck in federal court in April, 2014.

• In July, 2015 a federal appeals court affirmed that ruling; the North Dakota anti-abortion law that never went into effect remained struck.

• Today the Supreme Court said no to the Peace Garden (Roughrider? Flickertail?) State’s last appeal; the law remains dead.

This is the only catch: This was how it was supposed to go.

Republicans knew the law wouldn’t survive; Gov. Jack Dalrymple even said so when he signed the bill into law: “Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade”. Apparently, the governor thought viability was an open question, which would of course be the reason Judge Daniel L. Hovland wrote, in the April, 2014 decision, that, “a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court for more than forty years”, reminded that the highest court in the land “has clearly determined the dispositive issue presented in this lawsuit”, and even found himself explaining to North Dakota, “This court is not free to impose its own view of the law”.

So here’s the thing: When Republicans tell you government doesn’t work, what they mean is that government in their own hands does not work.

No, really, just think about it for a minute. (1) Pass a harsh bill that stands well outside accepted norms; (2) argue the new law is a “legitimate attempt” to “discover the boundaries”; (3) pretend in court the boundaries are unclear and need to be discovered; (4) get reminded quite the opposite; (5) appeal to the Supreme Court; (6) see your appeal denied.

This, according to Gov. Dalrymple, was apparently the plan.

No, really, think about the logic here: The Court says we can only go this far. But they didn’t explicitly say we couldn’t go farther. You might as well fault the speed limit signs for every possible velocity they do not explicitly reject: “It only says, ‘Speed Limit 55’; it doesn’t explicitly say, ‘Thou shalt not drive ninety miles per hour’!”

When Republicans tell us government does not work, it would behoove us to attend the threat.

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Alter, Charlotte. “North Dakota’s Strict Abortion Ban Overturned”. Time. 22 July 2015.

Hassan, Carma and Dana Ford. “Judge overturns North Dakota law banning most abortions”. CNN. 17 April 2014.

Williams, Pete. “US Supreme Court rejects plea to revive North Dakota abortion ban”. msnbc. 25 January 2016.

The Ted Cruz Show (Tell Me You’re Joking)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gestures while addressing the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, Fla., Friday Nov. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

“Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

It seems something of a dubious claim, but this is Ted Cruz, so there is, of course, a hitch.

First, though, ask yourself just how likely it is that anyone can be a career politician from Texas and never meet a fellow conservative who advocates Fertilization-Assigned Personhood, a.k.a., “Life at Conception”.

But here’s the hitch: While FAP would ban oral, intrauterine, and emergency contraception accessible to females, Mr. Cruz doesn’t see that as problematic.

“Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,” Cruz told a crowd in Bettendorf, Iowa, as CNN and other outlets reported. “When I was in college we had a machine in the bathroom; you put 50 cents in and voila!”

Cruz argued that Democrats have conflated Republican opposition to abortion rights with opposition to contraception. “Now listen, I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives,” Cruz said.

(Lesniewski)

See? He doesn’t want to ban contraception. He just wants it to be a man’s decision. In truth, I’m curious how young one must be to not recognize the phrase “taking a shower with a raincoat on”.

No, really. Show of hands. How many people think history would describe men as enthusiastic, adept users of condoms?

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The Marco Rubio Show (Fabulous Retro Chic)

Presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gestures while speaking in Davenport, Iowa on 11 November 2015. (Detail of photo by Charlie Niebergall/AP Photo)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) would like American society to please turn back the clock.

Marriage equality, for example, is already the law of the land in the United States, but Right Wing Watch flagged Rubio’s new interview with Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, where the senator made clear he’s not done fighting against equal marriage rights, calling the status quo “current law,” but “not settled law.”

“If you live in a society where the government creates an avenue and a way for you to peacefully change the law, then you’re called on to participate in that process to try to change it―not ignoring it, but trying to change the law.

“And that’s what we’re endeavoring to do here. I continue to believe that marriage law should be between one man and one woman.”

For most of the country, there’s a realization that there is no credible proposal to turn back the clock. Rubio didn’t elaborate on how, exactly, he wants to “change the law” to prevent same-sex couples from getting married, and if he tried, he’d likely fail.

But the key here is understanding just how far the Florida senator is willing to go with the culture war. For Rubio, it’s still not too late to bring back discriminatory marriage laws.

Steve Benen of msnbc also reminds of Mr. Rubio’s odious regard for women; we are already familiar with the Florida junior’s nonsense, but neither should his absurdity about marriage equality overshadow his desire to forcibly insert the government between women and their doctors.

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Amiable and Approachable Danger

U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO04) speaks at a rally in Littleton, Colorado, 29 September 2014.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Three paragraphs from Stuart Rothenberg to mark the date by. This could be very important:

Though I took notice of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s endorsement of Sen. Marco Rubio for president, I didn’t immediately think about Gardner as a possible running mate for Rubio — until a CQ Roll Call colleague dropped that pearl of wisdom in my lap.

But there are plenty of reasons why Gardner needs to be on any Rubio shortlist of possible running mates, even this early in the 2016 election cycle.

In a party full of elected officials who look and sound angry and bitter, the Colorado Republican invariably is cheerful and optimistic. That doesn’t mean that Gardner is happy with the direction of the country or defends the status quo, but it does mean he is amiable and approachable. Not surprisingly, that makes him appealing to many voters, particularly those who are less ideological and less partisan.

This is an interesting, and even potentially terrifying notion. Sen. Gardner is a proper culture warrior. Amiable and approachable is one thing, but consider the story of how he got to the Senate.

In 2010, Republicans ran a former Weld County prosecutor named Ken Buck for U.S. Senate. Mr. Buck, it turned out, suffered a vital weakness; as prosecutor he refused to charge a confessed rape, telling the victim she bore guilt in her own rape, and telling the public he did not think the good people of Weld County could convict a confessed rape. Democrat Michael Bennet won by a narrow margin.

In 2014, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall faced re-election, and Republicans feared another Ken Buck run. Instead, the Congressman from Colorado’s Fourth stepped up, and Cory Gardner became a Senate candidate. While he was not a rape abettor like Mr. Buck, Mr. Gardner faced exposure for his sponsorship of an anti-abortion bill attempting to curtail the human rights of women. So he denied his support for the bill, but refused to remove his name as a sponsor. This was good enough for the people of Colorado, and in the Fourth Congressional District they sent the rape abettor, Mr. Buck, to fill Mr. Gardner’s seat in the House of Representatives.

Amiable and approachable is one thing, but that speaks nothing to statecraft, or the quality and efficiency thereof.

As a vice presidential nominee, Mr. Gardner would simply be an amiable and approachable face of danger.

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Image note: U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO04) speaks at a rally in Littleton, Colorado, 29 September 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Rothenberg, Stuart. “Cory Gardner for Veep? Don’t Laugh”. Rothenblog. Roll Call. 3 November 2015.

The Ben Carson Show (And Your Mother, Too!)

“They tell you that there’s a war on women. There is no war on women. There may be a war on what’s inside of women, but there is no war on women in this country.” ―Dr. Ben Carson

So, you know, we finally got around to making up a quote image for Dr. Ben Carson’s wonderful war inside women gaffe.

Because, like, you know. You care. Or something.

And, you know, because if people are going to read, they tend to need pictures, too, these days. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to socmed another freaking cat video, why not this?

Because, you know, sure, why not? I mean, look, I’m not going to knock sports fans. But in truth, if most of the sports fans I know paid half as much attention to, you know … er, look, okay? I know. I come from a football family. And I get it. Sports really do affect our lives.

But compared to elections? Yeah, I know, maybe the trade seems inexplicable, giving up prospects when there’s no way it’s going to pay off five years down the road, but I am a father, goddamn it! Yeah, I like championship trophies and hoisting pints to victory as much as the next, but you know what I like even more? A world in which creepy old men aren’t declaring war on my daughter’s insides.

And by the juxtaposition, it is worth pointing out that those of us who have better awareness of the political farm leagues than, say, the baseball version from which we take the term, are slightly awestruck today as more evidence emerges that the Republican establishment is afraid of what might be about to happen. But that also throws the political calculus of what happens when and if Donald Trump actually does crash and burn the way the conventional wisdom once believed he must; Dr. Carson would, given the apparent mood among Republican voters at this moment, be a more likely nominee than, say, Jeb Bush.

And in the time you wasted reading my halfwitted justification for wasting it, you could have grabbed that image and sent it to a friend who probably needs it either for their own benefit, or as something to send to someone they know.

I mean, really. I have a daughter. And, you know, a mother. And lots and lots of friends and neighbors who just happen to be female. And not a one of them needs Ben Carson’s goddamn war inside their bodies.

And, you know, “Some of my friends are women!” hardly makes me special. Indeed, for the most part it makes me just like you.

Admit it. You know someone who needs to be paying attention right about now.

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Image note: Source photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call, 2015.

Johnson, Eliana. “The Establishment Thinks the Unthinkable: Trump Could Win the Nomination”. National Review. 19 October 2015.

The Carly Fiorina Show (See Dick)

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina talks to a restaurant patron during a campaign stop at the Starboard Market, Friday, 14 August 2015, in Clear Lake, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

“There was no major scandal or faux pas to bring Fiorina down. While the impact of her debate performance may have worn off over time, why did she suffer this fate while Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio have continued to gain from their debating styles?”

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Call it a personal weakness: I love me some Dick.

Dick Morris, that is.

It is an eternal question: How does Dick Morris still get work? After all, who the hell still listens to Dick frickin’ Morris? True enough, people like me, but that’s the thing. Check this out:

Fiorina showed an eclectic knowledge of national affairs and fluently recited key facts about our weakened defense posture. She seemed like a nonascorbic, scandal-free alternative to Clinton.

Then, what happened?

There was no major scandal or faux pas to bring Fiorina down. While the impact of her debate performance may have worn off over time, why did she suffer this fate while Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio have continued to gain from their debating styles?

While The New York Times contributed to her fall with a front page article chronicling―and bashing―her record at Hewlett Packard, it was the bloggers who brought Fiorina down. The Times story regaled the saga of how Fiorina had induced HP to buy Compaq despite evidence of its declining clout, and emphasized the 30,000 layoffs under her tenure as CEO.

The bloggers really did a number on Fiorina, explaining her lack of conservative credentials. They quoted her 2010 comment, during her contest with Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer that Roe v. Wade was “settled law” and noted her endorsement of Marco Rubio’s plan for amnesty for immigrants here illegally, her support for Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court and her willingness to weaken Proposition 13, which holds down property taxes in California.

The blogs left Fiorina bleeding.

For Morris and McGann, “the larger story here is the extreme sensitivity of the Republican primary electorate’s evidence of impurity in the presidential candidates”, which itself leads off the sort of petulant paragraph that reminds why we all love us some Dick. The entire article is historical-romantic comedy―hiroco? Gesundheit!―gold. And the thing is that there is plenty of evidence of conservative electoral puritanism, but what of the rest of the Republican Party? It is not just that Morris and McGann omit entirely Ms. Fiorina’s astounding dishonesty about Planned Parenthood, and her stubborn, clumsy retort to the resulting controversy really would not seem encouraging to establishment Republicans who still bear questions of electability in their analyses.

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The Subcommittee (Lipstick and Laughs)

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Something about famous last words might go here, but that still doesn’t sound right. Infamous openings? Let us check in with Emma Dumain of Roll Call:

House Republicans insist their new committee to investigate Planned Parenthood won’t be political.

And if it sounds like a setup, well―

But lawmakers and aides on both sides of the aisle are raising eyebrows at the optics of GOP leaders soliciting buy-in from outside groups as they make decisions about which members will sit on the special committee.

The original plan was to convene a subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee to investigate the women’s health organization and abortion provider, which is under fire after secret film footage seemed to implicate Planned Parenthood officials with illegally selling fetal tissues, a charge the group denied.

Under that initial framework, the select committee would have drawn from in-house resources, including mostly staff. And while membership on both sides of the aisle would still be subject to appointment by their respective party leaders, the pool would be restricted to those members already sitting on Energy and Commerce.

Outside advocates and leaders in the anti-abortion community urged Republican leaders to expand the committee to lawmakers outside Energy and Commerce to include more stalwarts of their movement. GOP leadership agreed and has also listened to outside advice on exactly whom to appoint.

―yeah, this is the House of Representatives, and, yes, Speaker Boehner is, technically, still as in charge as he ever was.

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Called “Family Values”, for Some Strange Reason

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), right, and Dr. Ben Carson, won the 2015 Values Voter Summit poll for presidential and vice-presidential nomination.

Something about Republicans and values and bigotry goes here.

Socially conservative Republicans gathered in Washington this week have their eye on Senator Ted Cruz of Texas for the party’s presidential nod and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson for the Republican vice presidential nominee.

(Reuters)

Yeah. That’ll do.

Family Research Council Action, a Christian lobbying group, said on Saturday that more attendees polled at the Values Voter Summit said Cruz, a leader with the Republican’s Tea Party wing, should be the party’s presidential nominee for the November 2016 election.

Cruz, who also won the group’s so-called “straw poll” the previous two years, took 35 percent of the support among the nearly 2,700 summit-goers, followed by Carson with 18 percent, the group said in a statement. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee got 14 percent and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida 13 percent.

Business tycoon Donald Trump, who has led public opinion polls, came in fifth place with 5 percent.

Carson led among attendees for the vice presidential nod with 25 percent support among those polled, followed by former business executive Carly Fiorina with 21 percent and Cruz with 14 percent, the group said.

Sounds about right.

Anyway, yeah. Just thought you should know. After all, when it comes to family values, this is what Republicans are actually talking about.

You know. Bigotry as a family value, that sort of thing. And it probably isn’t fair to recall the conservative pitch about bigotry as a virtue of citizenship, since that was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who dropped out. But was the previous family-values frontrunner. And, you know, it’s pretty clear it’s not the bigotry wrecking these candidates; in this crowd, they give awards for it.

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Washington Newsroom. “Republican ‘Values’ voters back Cruz-Carson presidential ticket”. Reuters. 26 September 2015.