Entries in Abortion (48)


Texas Senate Passes Restrictive Abortion Law

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DALLAS) Late Friday night, the Texas Senate gave final passage to a strict new law that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, require doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions take place in "surgical centers."

Democrats call the law a backdoor ban on abortions and have vowed to take it to court. Republicans contend that the measure protects the health of women and babies.

A 19-11 vote in favor of the new abortion restrictions sends the measure to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry, who has already said that he would sign the proposal into law.

Two weeks ago, Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis managed to delay the proposal with a 13-hour fillibuster. Planned Parenthood helped to organize a post-vote protest march and rally.

According to the Washington Post, just six of Texas' 42 abortion clinics meet the new requirements, which means dozens will likely be closed. Clinics must meet the new standards by September 2014.

Texas Democrats say that they will continue to fight the legislation both in the courts as well as through public voting.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Wendy Davis: I’ll ‘Fight With Every Fiber’ to Stop Abortion Bill

ABC News(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- The Democratic state senator who is leading the fight against significant new restrictions on abortions in Texas said Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans were hypocritical, claiming to support smaller government but actually trying to increase state intrusion in people’s lives.

Wendy Davis, the lawmaker who almost single-handedly overcame and outlasted the Republican majority in the state senate last week, is preparing for another battle on Monday. Armed with her new-found fame in Democratic circles in Texas and across the nation, Davis vowed to fight even harder.

“He’s awfully fond of talking the talk of small government,” Davis told ABC’s This Week, escalating an intense quarrel with Perry. “But this [anti-abortion legislation] is big government intrusion, there is no question about it.”

In an interview to be broadcast Sunday, Davis sat down with This Week inside the Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth, where she worked her way from being a waitress to a Harvard-educated lawyer to a heroine in the eyes of many Democrats.

She offered a window into the secrets of standing and talking for more than 11 straight hours during a legislative filibuster: her dusty running shoes (size 7 Mizuno, narrow); a catheter that allowed her to avoid bathroom breaks (“I came prepared,” she explained); and how she felt the spirit of her hero, the late Gov. Ann Richards, during her marathon session in the Capitol in Austin.

“I was going to wear just some little flat dress shoes. At the last minute, I was running out of my apartment and I thought maybe I might need something with a little more support, so I grabbed these on the way out the door,” Davis said, pointing to her sneakers that have gained Internet fame. “These are actually my running shoes. They’re dusty from the trail around Ladybird Lake.”

In an expansive interview about her life, the state of Texas politics and her future, Davis said she was heartened by the outpouring of support from women and Democrats, which catapulted her from local legislator to one of her party’s prospective rising stars. Asked if she planned to run for governor in 2014, she smiled.

Perry, who has singled out Davis for sharp criticism for her efforts to stop legislation to make Texas one of the most restrictive states in the country to get an abortion, is calling the state senate back Monday for another 30-day special session to try passing the bill.

The measure would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and require abortion clinics to match the requirements of surgical centers. Critics of the legislation say it could force the closure of all but five of the state’s 42 abortion clinics.

“I just refuse to say I believe it will happen. I’m an eternal optimist,” Davis said. “I believe in the power of democracy and I’m going to fight with every fiber I have to keep it from passing.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


North Dakota Voters to Decide Whether Life Begins at Conception

Governor's Office, ND(FARGO, N.D.) -- North Dakota voters will be asked in 2014 to decide whether life begins at the moment of conception, after state legislators passed two abortion bills that pro-choice supporters said could “regulate abortion out of existence.”

As the bills head to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his approval, protests are being planned around the oil-rich state for Monday.

The North Dakota Coalition for Privacy in Health Care has planned “Stand Up for Women” rallies in Bismarck, Fargo and Minot to protest the package of bills that received final approval from legislators on Friday.

One of the measures that passed was a so-called personhood resolution that says a fertilized egg has the same right to life as a person. With the approval by the House, the decision on whether to add the wording to the state’s constitution will be put before North Dakota voters in November 2014.

Along with the personhood resolution that will be put to a public vote next year, legislators agreed to ban abortion at 20 weeks except in the case of a medical emergency and will require all doctors who perform abortions to have admitting rights to a local hospital.

“This deals with the health and safety of women having abortions,” state Rep. Vernon Laning, R-Bismarck said, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

In a state with only one abortion clinic — the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo — the mandate would effectively “regulate abortion out of existence,” according to the clinic’s website.

“Admitting privileges are not easily come by under any circumstances, but more importantly, such a requirement gives hospitals the power to decide whether abortion is even available in the state,” the clinic said in a statement.

Dalrymple, a Republican, has not indicated his stance on the bills, but it is possible that even if he vetoed them, there could be enough support in the legislature to override his decision.

The Arkansas Legislature passed a law banning almost all abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy earlier this month, over the veto of a Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, who called it “unconstitutional.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Activists Will Challenge Arkansas' New Abortion Limit

Comstock/Thinkstock(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- Arkansas' new abortion law, the most restrictive in the nation, has incensed activists, who now plan to file a lawsuit challenging the measure.

Their challenge will come on the heels of a court victory in Idaho, where a less restrictive ban was overturned.

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled state legislature in Arkansas overrode a veto by Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, to enact the nation's strictest state-level abortion restriction. Under the new law, proposed as S.B. 134, abortions will be banned when women have been pregnant for 12 weeks and an abdominal ultrasound shows that the fetus has a heartbeat.

Abortion-rights groups quickly denounced the new law as an assault on reproductive rights.

"We are deeply disappointed that the Arkansas legislature voted to impose the most restrictive ban on safe and legal abortion in the country," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement released to reporters on Wednesday, speaking through her group's political arm.

"The majority of Arkansans -- and the majority of Americans -- don't want politicians involved in a woman's personal medical decisions about her pregnancy," Richards said. "Governor Beebe rightfully vetoed this legislation and the legislature would have been wise to let the veto stand as this bill is clearly unconstitutional."

Abortion-rights groups claim that the law violates federal abortion policy, as laid out in the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case.

Under Roe v. Wade, states can ban abortion after a fetus reaches "viability" -- defined as the point when a fetus could survive outside its mother's womb. Viability is usually reached at 24 to 28 weeks.

In vetoing the bill on Monday, Gov. Beebe issued a statement that S.B.134, "blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court" because it would ban abortions "well before viability."

Anti-abortion activists, meanwhile, have praised the law.

"Unborn children jerk away from painful stimuli, their stress hormones increase, and they require anesthesia before any fetal surgery. With today's override of the governor's veto, Arkansas has become the eighth state to pass legislation protecting unborn children capable of feeling pain from the violence of abortion," Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation for National Right to Life, said last week when the legislature first passed the bill.

The Center for Reproductive Rights announced that, along with the Arkansas American Civil Liberties Union, it would challenge the new law in federal court before it takes effect after the end of Arkansas's legislative session.

"We intend to make it equally clear that no one's constitutional rights are subject to revision by lawmakers intent on scoring political points, and that attempts such as this to turn back the clock on reproductive rights will not stand," Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northrup said in a statement released Wednesday.

The new court case will follow a victory for abortion-rights advocates in Idaho, where a federal district judge overturned the state's 20-week abortion ban, finding that it violated the viability standard laid out in Roe v. Wade.

"Because it appears [the ban] was enacted with the specific purpose of placing an insurmountable obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion after twenty weeks, but before the fetus has attained viability, the section imposing the categorical ban is unconstitutional," District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote in a decision on Wednesday.

Abortion opponents have succeeded in passing several state bans on abortions at 20 weeks or earlier since 2010. Since Nebraska passed a 20-week ban in 2010, nine other states have passed similar bans: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Rebukes Richard Mourdock for Rape Remarks on "Tonight Show"

Kevin Winter/NBCUniversal/Getty Images(LAS ANGELES) – President Obama weighed in on controversial comments about rape made by Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana, calling it an example of why women should vote for him on Nov. 6 but stopping short of explicitly tying his opponent, Mitt Romney, to the same views.

“I don’t know how these guys come up with these ideas,” Obama said in an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno Wednesday. “Let me make a very simple proposition, rape is rape. It is a crime. And so these various distinctions about rape don’t make too much sense to me, don’t make any sense to me.”

During a debate with his anti-abortion Democratic rival Tuesday night, Mourdock said that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” He has stood by the remark as a reflection of his belief that life begins at conception.

Obama, who supports abortion rights, has emphasized the issue in his bid for a second term, warning women that some Republicans would like to see abortion outlawed in all cases.

“This is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s health care decisions,” he told Leno, without mentioning Romney by name. “Women are capable of making these decisions in consultation with their partners, with their doctors, and for politicians to want to intrude in this stuff oftentimes without any information is a huge problem. And this is obviously a part of what’s at stake in this election.”

The Republican nominee opposes abortion, but says he would allow exceptions for rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.

While Obama was more circumspect, top Democrats and Obama campaign officials have overtly tied Romney to Mourdock’s remark and his views on abortion. The GOP presidential nominee has appeared in one TV ad for Republican U.S. Senate candidates this year – an ad for Mourdock. Romney has disavowed the comments but not asked for the ad to be taken down.

“Not surprisingly, Romney is still standing by his endorsement and is refusing to ask that the ad be pulled down,” deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter wrote in an email blast to supporters Wednesday night with a video clip to Mourdock and Romney together.

“It’s a grim reminder of something he’s trying desperately to hide in the final weeks of this election: Romney has campaigned as a severe conservative, supports severely conservative candidates, and would be a severely conservative president — especially on issues important to women,” she wrote.

Obama appeared on the Tonight Show in the midst of his 48-hour, nonstop campaign swing through eight states. It was his third visit with Leno as president and first this year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indiana Senate Candidate: 'God Intended' Pregnancies from Rape

Mourdock for Senate(NEW ALBANY, Ind.) -- Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said pregnancies resulting from rape are part of God’s plan, tearfully explaining that he only supports abortions when a mother’s life is in danger.

“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said during Tuesday’s Senate debate, choking up.  Mourdock’s opponent, Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, opposes abortion except in cases of rape and incest.

After the debate, Mourdock further explained his comment.

“God creates life, and that was my point.  God does not want rape, and by no means was I suggesting that he does.  Rape is a horrible thing, and for anyone to twist my words otherwise is absurd and sick,” he said in a statement.

Democrats wasted no time linking GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Mourdock.  Earlier this week, Romney personally appeared in a TV ad for the Indiana state treasurer, offering his endorsement.

“Richard Mourdock’s rape comments are outrageous and demeaning to women.  Unfortunately, they’ve become part and parcel of the modern Republican Party’s platform toward women’s health, as Congressional Republicans like Paul Ryan have worked to outlaw all abortions and even narrow the definition of rape,” Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

“As Mourdock’s most prominent booster and the star of Mourdock’s current campaign ads, Mitt Romney should immediately denounce these comments and request that the ad featuring him speaking directly to camera on Mourdock’s behalf be taken off the air,” she added

“Mitt’s man Mourdock apes Akin, reflecting a GOP that is way out of mainstream,” Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted.

Missouri Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin said during an interview in August that women’s bodies have ways of preventing pregnancy in cases of what he called “legitimate rape.”  Akin apologized for the comment, but refused to leave the race despite pressure from his own party.

Romney’s campaign distanced itself from Mourdock’s comment.

“Gov. Romney disagrees with Richard Mourdock’s comments, and they do not reflect his views,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rep. Joe Walsh Walks Back Abortion-Without-Exception Comment

US House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- The campaign of Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., on Friday walked back the congressman’s assertion at a debate that medical developments have made it unnecessary for abortion laws to make an exception to protect the life of the mother.

During a debate with Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth on Thursday, Walsh had declared that he was “pro-life without exception,” and said that due to medical advancements, there were no instances in which abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother.

Walsh clarified those comments in a long written statement to the news media Friday afternoon.

“Let me very clear [sic] that when I say I am pro-life, I mean that I am pro-life for the mother and I am pro-life for the unborn child.  For me, there is no distinction between the two,” Walsh said.

But Walsh said he supports a woman’s right to have an abortion in the “very rare” case where “both mother and baby will die if the baby is not aborted.”

As he went on, Walsh seemed to contradict himself.

“While, I do not support abortion, I do of course support medical procedures for women during their pregnancies that might result in the loss of the unborn child.  When such an occurrence takes place, that decision on whether to perform that procedure is a very difficult one and one that should be left up to the mother and her family,” Walsh wrote.

An abortion is generally considered to be a medical procedure that results in the loss of the unborn child.

Duckworth explained her own views on abortion in a statement put out by her campaign Friday.

“I fully support a woman’s right to control her own body,” Duckworth wrote. “I do not support any further restrictions beyond the framework established by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on a woman’s right to choose or her access to safe, affordable reproductive health services. I trust that women will make the right decisions for themselves and their families in consultation with their own medical and religious advisers. I believe that all Americans are afforded a right to privacy and the right to make personal decisions about their health care without coercion.”

Walsh sought to divert attention to Duckworth for comments she made over the summer about sexual assault in the military. Duckworth is the first female double amputee Iraqi war veteran.

“When asked earlier this summer about sexual abuse in the military and her personal experience with it, My opponents [sic] response was, and I quote,  that I was never sexually assaulted because I was a pretty tough chick, and not some weak 18 year old who couldn’t push back.  As a father of two daughters, I found those comments every bit as offensive as Congressman Akin’s offensive comments on rape,” Walsh wrote. “Ms Duckworth’s [sic] comments could not be more offensive and yet they were not covered.  How dare Ms. Duckworth imply that women are only raped because they are too weak to fight back, and if only they were just a little tougher rape would not occur?  How dare she say that?”

The remarks Walsh referred to come from an interview Duckworth did with BuzzFeed’s Anna North, posted July 19. Here is that portion of the interview:

    The documentary The Invisible War has a lot of people talking about sexual assault in the military. What’s your take on this issue?

    TD: It is absolutely unacceptable that there is sexual assault in the military. We should remember it occurs not just with female service members but with males as well. It’s unacceptable and we need more oversight. I think the military is trying hard, but until you have more female high-ranking officers, you’re going to have some issues. I never experienced sexual assault, but I was a pretty tough chick officer, and if anything I was there for lower enlisted females to come to. I wasn’t a scared 18 year old who couldn’t push back. A lot of this stuff is about power. It’s power relationships. The military needs to redouble its efforts, and there should be congressional oversight. And women need to become a bigger percentage of the military -- I think as we do, things will get better.

    Did other women ever come to you to report assault?

    TD: I was usually the only woman in an all-male unit, but sometimes we would get women reporting issues of discrimination. But usually I was the only woman so it didn’t happen that much.

The rest of Walsh’s statement can be found here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Trips Up on Abortion Rhetoric

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney promised Wednesday he would govern as a "pro-life president" less than 24 hours after telling an Iowa newspaper he saw "no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

His earlier comments threatened to put him at odds with segments of his core constituency and box in running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, a staunch opponent of abortion rights who has been careful to keep in line with Romney's less strict approach.

Romney sought to reinforce his anti-abortion credentials Wednesday afternoon, telling reporters he would immediately "remove funding for Planned Parenthood" and "reinstate the Mexico City policy," which bans federal money from being used by private organizations "to pay for the performance of abortions as a method of family planning."

“I’ve said time and time again, I’m a pro-life candidate,” Romney told reporters during a stop at a restaurant in Ohio Wednesday. “I’ll be a pro-life president."

Asked about Romney's Iowa remarks on the trail Wednesday, Ryan told reporters in St. Petersburg, Fla., "Our position's unified. Our position is consistent and hasn't changed."

Romney was prompted to bolster his anti-abortion stance after an interview with the Des Moines Register on Tuesday where he said, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

The comment appeared to be a marked shift for the GOP candidate who has pledged during the campaign to advocate support for specific legislation restricting abortion rights.

President Obama seized on the confusion during an exclusive interview with ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer.

"This is another example of Governor Romney hiding positions he's been campaigning on for a year and a half," Obama said.

"Is it a lie?" Sawyer asked.

"No, I actually think… when it comes to women's rights to control their own health care decisions, you know, what he has been saying is exactly what he believes," the president answered. "[Romney] thinks that it is appropriate for politicians to inject themselves in those decisions."

Romney's comments and the resulting back-and-forth have resulted in an unusual, if unintentional, agreement between the two campaigns, with both sides arguing the Republican presidential nominee was more dedicated to the anti-abortion cause than his remark in Iowa would suggest.

"Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said after the original interview was posted online.

Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter accused Romney not of reversing himself on the abortion issue, but "trying to cover up his beliefs."

In the aftermath of a well-received debate performance, Romney has seen his support among women voters rise. Recent polls show him even with or just behind Obama, who has held a commanding lead for much of the campaign season.

Romney, who supported abortion rights during his time as governor in Massachusetts, has changed his position and earned the backing of anti-abortion groups like the Susan B. Anthony List, which calls his new commitment to the anti-abortion cause "concrete."

As for Ryan, being asked to square his views with Romney's is nothing new. He discussed the gap in their philosophies during a brief discussion aboard his campaign plane late in August.

"I'm proud of my record," Ryan said. "Mitt Romney is going to be president and the president sets policy. His policy is exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. I'm comfortable with it because it's a good step in the right direction."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mitt Romney's Softer Abortion Stance Poses Challenge to Ryan Before Debate

J.D. Pooley/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mitt Romney says he has no plans to push new anti-abortion laws if elected, a position that could put him at odds with parts of his core constituency and his own running mate, Paul Ryan.

"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," the Republican presidential nominee told Iowa's Des Moines Register editorial board Tuesday.

Ryan, who will debate Vice President Biden Thursday Danville, Ky., has been one of the most active anti-abortion members of Congress, co-sponsoring a so-called "personhood" amendment during his last term. Under the proposed law, terminating a pregnancy would become illegal, even in cases of rape.

Romney's comment inspired a unique kind of agreement between the two campaigns Wednesday, with both sides arguing the Republican was more dedicated to the anti-abortion cause than his remark in Iowa would suggest.

"Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said just hours after the comments were posted online. She later added Romney "would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life."

From Chicago, the Obama camp pounced with spokeswoman Lis Smith saying today, "It's troubling that Mitt Romney is so willing to play politics with such important issues. ...Women simply can't trust him."

"We're not saying that he's changed his mind on these issues," deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said. "We're saying he's trying to cover up his beliefs."

In the aftermath of his well-received debate performance, Romney has seen his support among women voters rise. Recent polls show him even with or just behind Obama, who has held a commanding lead for much of the campaign season.

The Susan B. Anthony list, a leading anti-abortion organization, told ABC News it was standing by Romney despite his softened rhetoric.

"He truly holds to the pro-life view in his mind and heart," SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said Wednesday morning. "That's who he is."

In a statement released earlier, Dannenfelser expressed "full confidence that as president, Governor Romney will stand by the pro-life commitments he laid out," which include pledges to defund Planned Parenthood and pursue more stringent late-term abortion bans.

Romney's tack to center could create some complications for his vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, who arrives in Kentucky Wednesday ahead of Thursday's debate at Centre College in Danville.

The Wisconsin congressman has been one of the anti-abortion lobby's most dependable voices in Washington, D.C. Last year, he worked with Missouri Senate candidate and House colleague Todd Akin on a bill stating "the life of each human being begins with fertilization… at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood."

Romney, who supported abortion rights during his time as governor in Massachusetts, has changed his position and earned the backing of groups like the Susan B. Anthony List, which calls his new commitment to the anti-abortion cause "concrete."

But unlike his running mate, Romney would make exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest.

Ryan discussed the gap in their philosophies during a brief discussion aboard his campaign plane late in August.

"I'm proud of my record," Ryan said. "Mitt Romney is going to be president and the president sets policy. His policy is exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother. I'm comfortable with it because it's a good step in the right direction."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Shifts to Center on Abortion Legislation Plans?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats and abortion rights activists have seized on Mitt Romney’s recent comment to the Des Moines Register that he would not pursue any new restrictions on abortion rights as president, an apparent change from what he has said earlier in the campaign and during the Republican presidential primaries.

“There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,” Romney said, according to the paper.

The comments mark a different tone for Romney, who has changed from being a supporter of abortion rights to opposing them during his political career.

During the GOP primary earlier this year, Romney said repeatedly that Roe vs. Wade should be overturned and that all funding for Planned Parenthood should be cut. He has also said he would prefer to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said, “Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president.”

Romney could likely still support anti-abortion rights legislation. But Democrats and Planned Parenthood said Romney’s comments suggest he is trying to moderate his position.

“It’s troubling that Mitt Romney is so willing to play politics with such important issues,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said. “Women simply can’t trust him.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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