#AMainstreamMessage: The Importance of Reproductive Freedom

Reproductive freedom means ensuring that the women of America maintain their right to make decisions about their bodies on their own without influence from the government. The American Civil Liberties Union is working towards helping women keep this right while informing the public about the true facts about abortion. Abortion is one of the most common medical procedures performed. Also, abortion is 99 percent safe to perform, but only thirteen states actually accept the procedure. Despite the amount of safety involved in abortions, the majority of the country do not accept it which means abortion access has diminished. There are laws that make it difficult for some women, specifically low-income or poor women.

There is a divide in congress on the issue of abortion. There are some political officials that support the woman’s right to choose, but there still are “extremist” politicians that get laws passed that restrict access to reproductive health care. These laws shut down reproductive health centers and lessen birth control access. The worst part of the restrictions is the shame they place upon the women who receive abortions. ACLU is trying to eradicate this by focusing on protecting access to affordable birth control and the woman’s right to choose.

On the online news media outlet, the Rolling Stones  Republicans reportedly have been attempting to rid women of their reproductive rights.

The Guardian writes Clinton is the only choice if you care about women’s rights. If Trump becomes president, he has said he would take away reproductive rights this would affect millions of women. The article highlights Clinton’s defense of reproductive rights during the final presidential debate when she promised to protect Planned Parenthood and the ruling of Roe v. Wade. The Democratic candidate believes the government should not be able to intervene in women’s lives when they are trying to make this personal decision. 7 out of 10 Americans support Roe v. Wade and even half of Trump supporters disagree with the Republican candidates plan to defund Planned Parenthood.

Clinton is the best choice to ensure the protection of reproductive rights because she believes women are capable of making this decision themselves. If Clinton becomes president, reproductive rights advocates will be pleased because they will have an ally in their president.

 

by Rodesha Washington

 

The legal abortion rate continues to drop, but will this be the case with more restrictions?

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In 2011, the Guttmacher Institute reported that the “U.S. abortion rate declined to 16.9 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 in 2011, well below the 1981 peak of 29.3 per 1,000 and the lowest since 1973 (16.3 per 1,000)”. This is a 13% drop since 2008.

In more recent years, the CDC reported that the U.S. abortion rate declined again with “12.5 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 200 abortions per 1,000 live births”. It is important to note however that “from 2004–2013, the number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions decreased 20%, 21%, and 17%, respectively. In 2013, all three measures reached their lowest level for the entire period of analysis (2004-2013).”

So then in 2008, why did then presidential-candidate Barack Obama claim that abortion rates had not gone down?

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It turns out that “Obama made his comments to Warren in the context of cutting the number of abortions. He said he wanted to find ‘ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions.’ In that context, his comment about abortions made sense. Guttmacher data showed that 49 percent of pregnancies were unintended in 2001, unchanged from 1994.”

Knowing this, what is really causing the abortion rate to decrease in the United States? The Guttmacher Institute did not provide a full explanation in addition to their reported findings, however they suggested that “the decline in abortions coincided with a steep national drop in overall pregnancy and birth rates. Contraceptive use improved during this period, as more women and couples were using highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods, such as the IUD. Moreover, the recent recession led many women and couples to want to avoid or delay pregnancy and childbearing.”

With this, we are left to ask the question: what will happen to the abortion rate if we see the GOP nominee make his way to the White House?

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Some of his policy positions listed above from NARAL suggest that women will not have the same access to contraception use as they did under the former Republican presidency. The issue always seems to come back to access and limiting those who are disadvantaged by way of money, transportation, and schedules, in whatever way possible. Something to worry about come election day? It does not seem to be however this is a point that must be considered when looking at both the state and federal levels of government.

And that’s your #ExpertOpinionoftheWeek

Written by: Lauren King

Political Polarization and Reproductive Rights under a Clinton Presidency

According to a recent article on Politico, there are only a small handful of members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, who break with their party’s position on reproductive rights. Rather than following their party line, people like Reps Bob Dold (R-IL) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) choose to support pro-choice and pro-Planned Parenthood policies, while others like Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) were elected on pro-life platforms. However, some of these aisle-crossing Congressmen (and women) are in danger of losing their seats, especially Kirk and Dold who are both running for reelection in the very traditionally Democratic state of Illinois.

This is due to the increasing polarization of Congress, where Senators or Representatives who do not fall in lockstep with the party are becoming increasingly rare, as they could lose precious endorsements or money, especially over an issue as contentious as reproductive rights. However, the ideological polarization of Congress also poses a threat to potential future Presidents.

Imagine if Rep. Dold does lose his seat, while Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens and Democrats do not retake the House of Representatives, which they are not likely to do, then there will be a Republican majority regardless of if Dold is there or not. Where an issue could arise is if a bill concerning reproductive rights is introduced into the House and there is either not enough Republican supporters or detractors now, because of Dold and his ideological peers’ absence. An anti-Planned Parenthood bill could still pass the House even without Rep. Dold, but if he was there, that give the Democrats, and other pro-Planned Parenthood Republicans, more support. Therefore it is important to consider the impact that political polarization in Congress could have on the legislative future of reproductive rights.

Ethan Flanagan

 

Planned Parenthood Tweets “Pink Out the Vote!”

With Election Day in less than a week, Planned Parenthood is reminding their Twitter followers to vote on Tuesday and to tweet them a selfie with their “I Voted” sticker.

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People responded already by tweeting selfies after they had voted early. Tweets that ask for the public to respond also encourage political participation and public discussion. Using the #PinkOutTheVote creates a space for women to have a conversation about women’s issues on Twitter.

We discussed in class how interest groups all have stakes in the election, and work to either promote a specific candidate or donate money to their campaign. Planned Parenthood has been in support of Hillary Clinton throughout the election. We also talked about how they use strategies to encourage people to vote, when they know that they will vote for their candidate.

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I related this to the Polsby reading about PACs, because he wrote about why groups have interest in elections. I also related this to our discussion in class about how the Democratic party asks people how and when they plan to vote in an attempt to make them commit to voting. When people are asked to take selfies with their “I Voted” stickers, they are forced to imagine themselves having voted, which makes them more committed to going to the polls.

 

Sara Leonetti

 

 

Clinton and Trump Are Outliers on Abortion

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have publicly staked out definite positions on abortions, as was evident in last week’s debate. However, neither candidate’s stance on abortion actually reflects how the American people feel about the issue. Hillary Clinton, by fully supporting the whole spectrum of reproductive rights issues, finds herself to the left of the population, while Donald Trump is somewhere center-right, depending on which day he is asked what his stance on the issue actually is.

According to a Gallup poll, 50 percent of all Americans believe that abortion should be legal only in some circumstances, with 29 percent believing it should be legal in all circumstances, and 19 percent believing it should be illegal in all circumstances. Interestingly enough, these percentages have remained relatively unchanged since 1975, reflecting a consistent consensus about abortion in the United States.

With her statements supporting abortion, Hillary Clinton has positioned herself t0 the left of the American majority, as she has believes a woman’s right choose should be, for the most part, unrestricted by the government. Donald Trump has positioned himself all over the map, however his comments in the last debate and his suggestion that women or doctors be punished for abortions are not in lockstep with the American people either.

A CNN/ORC poll breaks down public opinion even further, where Clinton and Trump fall on the ends of the spectrum of public opinion again.

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Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump are fully with the majority of Americans, although a majority do now say that they are pro-choice. The disconnect on this one issue is probably not likely a deciding factor for many voters, however it could possibly be a point of contention when discussing potential Supreme Court Justices.

Ethan Flanagan

#AMainstreamMessage: Celebrities get “Nasty” to Defend Abortion and Bash Trumps Comments

The Rolling Stones reported, John Oliver spoke at the Center for Reproductive Rights 2016 Gala and opened his speech with a “dig” at Trump when he used the word “nasty” to address the women of the audience. Oliver began his speech in this way because he wanted to express how offending and “egregious” Trump’s comments on abortion were during the final debate. The ‘Tonight’ show host discussed during his speech that the Republican nominee does not have the proper understanding of abortion rights or the biology of women. Oliver, also, slammed Trump’s knowledge of grammar. In the rest of his speech, Oliver acknowledged the restrictions that impose on abortion clinics in Texas and the recent Supreme Court ruling that relieved those restrictions. The Center of Reproductive rights was responsible for the report that led to the repeal of these restrictions. Oliver insisted that despite this recent Supreme Court ruling, reproductive health will continue to be an issue in America.

In other news, the Huffington Post released an article that highlighted Samantha Bee, from Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, dedicating ten minutes of her show to blast Trump for his insensitive remarks during the final presidential debate. The comedian used a megaphone to get her point across that partial-birth abortions are not real things. Trump continuously bashes Clinton for supporting partial birth abortions, but the term is not medically defined. The term was first heard during the ninety’s by the National Right to Life committee. Bee thinks Trump is confused about abortions and their true meaning.

Another article from the Huffington Post focused on the misconceptions about abortion believed by Trump. Donald Trump has made people believe that partial birth abortions are procedures done in the final month of pregnancy and the baby is completely healthy or unharming to the mother. Nine-month abortions are not real procedures, and the American Congress of OB/GYN does not accept the term. The article notes how the anti-choice movement tries to keep partial-birth abortions an issue even though women have expressed how the procedures helped them. This anti-choice movement continues to promote this false procedure to further their pro-life agendas while dehumanizing women.

Instead of partial-birth abortion the correct term, used by many doctors, is dilation and extraction, D & X. This procedure is when the smallest part of the fetus is delivered and then the cranium is decompressed, if necessary. The women that do decide to get induced prematurely do so because the fetus may have a birth defect. For example, Potter Syndrome where the unborn fetus suffers from kidney failure or lack of amniotic fluid, the liquid that surrounds the fetus. So, before Trump comments again on abortion and reproductive rights maybe he should read this post to understand the issue better.

Comedians Criticize Trump’s Abortion Comments on Twitter

This week both Samantha Bee and John Oliver, hosts of Full Frontal and Last Week Tonight respectively, have publicly made fun of Trump for his comments about late term abortion at the final Presidential debate. While Samantha Bee made her criticisms on her show Full Frontal, and  John Oliver made his in a speech that he gave for the Center for Reproductive Rights ( which he started by addressing the audience as “gentlemen and nasty women”), both of their comments were brought to Twitter for the public to weigh in on.

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Both comedians are known for their witty political and social commentary, and like many comedians they also both support the left (neither Bee nor Oliver are originally from the United States and I am unaware of their citizenship status or eligibility to vote). Needless to say they both support the right to choose, and had less than positive things to say about Trump’s comments on abortion. Obviously, twitter users had their own things to say about it on both sides.

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I connected this to the article we read at the beginning of the semester about The Daily Show and its impact on the way the public views the political environment. While the article questions whether these shows are positive for democracy, I think it is necessary for democracy that public figures be questioning and raising conversations about the political sphere because this encourages the public to engage in these conversations as well.

 

Sara Leonetti