Category Archives: Abortion

Talkin’ Bout South Dakota House Bill 1171

Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones:

A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Phil Jensen, a committed foe of abortion rights, alters the state’s legal definition of justifiable homicide by adding language stating that a homicide is permissible if committed by a person “while resisting an attempt to harm” that person’s unborn child or the unborn child of that person’s spouse, partner, parent, or child. If the bill passes, it could in theory allow a woman’s father, mother, son, daughter, or husband to kill anyone who tried to provide that woman an abortion—even if she wanted one.

Greg Sargent:

I just had a spirited conversation with the bill’s chief sponsor, State Representative Phil Jensen, and he defended the bill, arguing that it would not legalize the killing of abortion doctors.

“It would if abortion was illegal,” he told me. “This code only deals with illegal acts. Abortion is legal in this country. This has nothing to do with abortion.”

Jensen’s defense of the bill, however, is unlikely to make abortion rights advocates any happier, since he seemed to dismiss as irrelevant the possibility that the measure could inflame anti-abortion fanatics to violence.

Jensen insisted that the bill’s primary goal is to bring “consistency” to South Dakota criminal code, which already allows people who commit crimes that result in the death of fetuses to be charged with manslaughter. The new measure expands the state’s definition of “justifiable homicide” by adding a clause applying it to someone who is “resisting any attempt” to murder of an unborn child or to harm an unborn child in a way likely to result in its death.

When I asked Jensen what the purpose of the law was, if its target isn’t abortion providers, he provided the following example:

“Say an ex-boyfriend who happens to be father of a baby doesn’t want to pay child support for the next 18 years, and he beats on his ex-girfriend’s abdomen in trying to abort her baby. If she did kill him, it would be justified. She is resisting an effort to murder her unborn child.”

Pushed on whether the new measure could inflame the unhinged to kill abortion doctors, as some critics allege, Jensen scoffed. “You can fantasize all you want, but this is pretty clear cut,” he said. “Never say never, but if some loony did what you’re suggesting, then this law wouldn’t apply to them. It wouldn’t be justifiable homicide.”

Asked whether he was conceding that the law could conceivably encourage such behavior, Jensen pushed back: “You could cross the street and get hit by a car. Could happen, couldn’t it?”

David Weigel:

This is how Jensen has previously characterized it; as Sheppard pointed out, the state’s criminal code does does define murder in the first degree as “perpetrated without authority of law and with a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or of any other human being, including an unborn child.” But there’s that “authority of law” part. It’s legal to perform abortions. And this is why the Jensen bill wouldn’t legalize the killing of abortion doctors. It just looks like it does, right now. It would legalize of abortion doctors if abortion became illegal.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

Miriam Perez at Feministing:

It’s clear this bill likely has the goal of inciting violence–murder–of abortion providers. But I think this logic can actually be taken a step further, to include the murder of a pregnant woman herself.

Often one connection between anti-choice legislation that isn’t talked about is how it affects the rights of pregnant women who do want to parent. I’m talking about the rights of pregnant women to decide what kind of medical treatment they will seek–and not necessarily abortion.

There is an incredible battle going on around the country about the rights of pregnant women to refuse certain types of medical care (as the rest of us are legally entitled to do). In numerous cases, women have been forced against their will to have c-sections or other medical procedures in the name of the protecting the fetus.

This proposed legislation takes that logic to it’s extreme–not only is it okay to super-cede the autonomy and rights of pregnant women in the name of the fetus–you could actually justifiably murder her in pursuit of this as well. In addition, of course, to doctors performing perfectly legal and constitutionally protected abortions.

Amanda Marcotte:

You can smell the rationalization built in to say this isn’t about terrorism, because most people who have successfully killed abortion providers didn’t actually know any patients of theirs.  But obviously, it’s an invitation to kill abortion providers, especially in light of how much the larger anti-choice movement is trying to encourage men who are bitter because an abortion allowed a girlfriend to leave them. In other words, men who are angry because they couldn’t trap a woman with pregnancy.  Let’s be clear that any man who thinks it’s appropriate to trap a woman with pregnancy is a man who deserves to lose his relationship, full stop, but anti-choicers tend to romanticize and celebrate controlling, abusive men. I’ve seen anti-choice websites encourage men who’ve impregnated women to stomp into abortion clinics and try to remove her forcibly (though this is often portrayed in romantic terms, because hey, you’re showing her that you want to keep her around, and any woman should be slobberingly grateful that a man will have her). And of course, there’s the oldie-but-a-goodie of Jill Stanek applauding men beating women to punish them for thinking they can say no to incubating the manly seed. After describing the scene in “Godfather II” where Michael Corleone—a cold-blooded murdering gangster—slaps his wife after she admits an abortion, Stanek said (man, this never gets old):

That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby. Compare that to the modern day cowardly male response, “It’s your choice. Whatever you decide, I’ll support you.”

Straight from the “pro-life” mouth: Real men use violence to control women.  Cowards believe women own themselves.

In the real world, it’s not unknown for abortion clinics to have to go to great lengths to keep domestic abusers from harming their partners or the health professionals in a clinic trying to provide abortions.  Many abortion clinics just don’t let male partners past the waiting room, even though that means that women who want support from loving male partners often have to go it alone.  It’s just a safety precaution, though.  Unfortunately, domestic abusers are just the sorts to wait until the procedure is about to start to start throwing shit and breaking things, in order to get the maximum impact on the victim.  That’s kind of how these things work, and clinics have to work around that.

If this bill passes into law, a wife beater whose wife is trying to abort for the entirely sensible reason that you don’t want babies with a batterer could walk into a clinic, shoot the doctor to prevent the abortion, and plead justifiable homicide, with the blessing of the South Dakota legislature and presumably the anti-choice movement that lobbied them.

Steve Benen:

For all the ridiculous paranoia on the right about creeping “sharia law,” here we see a Republican plan at the state level to make it legal to assassinate medical professionals as part of a larger culture war.

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Filed under Abortion, Legislation Pending

Ring Around The Rosie

Publius at Big Government:

An anti-abortion group Tuesday released undercover video taken in its latest attempt to discredit an organization that provides abortions — footage of operatives posing as a pimp and a prostitute seeking health services at a New Jersey clinic.

The group releasing the video, Live Action, said it depicted a Planned Parenthood clinic employee offering to help cover up a sex ring so that its prostitutes could receive health services.

John Hudson at The Atlantic:

As with a lot Andrew Breitbart does, it’s wise to exercise a healthy dose of skepticism. The conservative media mogul who brought the world the Shirley Sherrod non-scandal, is now hosting a new undercover video about Planned Parenthood. In the video, a Planned Parenthood worker appears disturbingly eager to help two people receive abortions for 14 and 15-year-old girls without going through any legal provisions. When speaking with Planned Parenthood, the couple also suggests that the young girls are prostitutes. Despite that, the worker happily recommends an abortion provider that has less strict “protocols” regarding their age and identification

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner:

Watching this new video that Live Action is releasing this morning, the best-case scenario for understanding what the heck might be motivating this woman is: She knows this goes on and she wants to make these kids as safe as possible. But she could be part of the solution and actually report this crime. The Live Action senario before her presents criminal behavior –  sex trafficking. And yet she meets it with even more. She even calls a colleague an awful name for being more “anal” about the rules. About sex trafficking? About child abuse?

Talking about underage girls at one point, she even offers her philosophy that an underage girl is “still entitled to care without mom knowing what the hell is going on.”

And apparently even if mom is far out of the picture and she’s slaving away for a pimp, birth control should be provided, abortions should be provided.

This particular video was taken of a clinic visit on January 11 in Perth Amboy, N.J. The timing of the video comes as New Jersey governor Chris Christie – who has already said “no” already for some Planned Parenthood funding — has a bill before him he could veto that would be another Planned Parenthood entry for some state and federal funds.

The release of the video this morning has been “expedited” by recent media reports that Planned Parenthood is onto Live Action’s most recent routine and wants the FBI involved. There is nothing Lila Rose would welcome more. (She has yet to receive any notification from Planned Parenthood or the FBI. All she knows she’s read in the media.)

From her undercover work, it is absolutely clear, Rose says, that “the perfect partner for a pimp is Planned Parenthood itself.” This Perth Amboy clinic presents itself “a save haven for sex trafficking.”

She’s confident both in the transparency of her group’s undercover work, and enthusiastic in the prospect of a full review by the Department of Justice about how Planned Parenthood officials flagrantly violate mandatory reporting requirements of the sexual abuse of minors.

Rose believes that the innocent unborn need to be protected, but also has a great love for these women who find themselves in these clinics. “Every prostitute is a victim,” she says.

“Planned Parenthood could be the first line of defense,” Rose says, for an Asian girl smuggled into the country for sex. Instead, in this particular Pert Amboy clinic, a sex trafficker was coached into how to make everything “look as legit as possible.” Coaching. “For the most part, we want as little information as possible,” she explained. The Planned Parenthood worker’s only obstacle to providing him the full “streamlined” services he wants to keep his business running is some auditing details she’s worried they could get caught on for abortions of these girls, in the country illegally, under 14 and 13, needing abortions. Saying – laughing — “You’ve never got this from me. Just to make all our lives easier,” she hands the pimp the name of another, non-Planned Parenthood clinic, which can get away with more. “They’re protocols are not as strict as ours, they get audited differently.”

When asked how long a girl might have to wait to get back to the work of the sex trade after an abortion, two weeks minimum is the answer. He protests, “We’ve still got to make money.” The clinic worker understands his predicament and so advises that the girls can still work “Waist up, or just be that extra action walking by” to advertise the girls who are still at full-body work.

It’s chilling. It’s ridiculous to know that in the wake of catching onto Live Action’s fieldwork, Planned Parenthood has reportedly warned its clinic workers to know there could be cameras on them. Another kind of alert is called for.

Weasel Zippers:

And this woman’s salary is paid with your tax-dollars.

Rachel Slajda at Talking Points Memo:

In a statement, Planned Parenthood said Live Action visited two Central New Jersey clinics on Jan. 13, including the one in the video. A spokesman for Planned Parenthood said that, immediately after the visits, clinic employees told their managers and called local law enforcement. It was not immediately clear, however, whether the woman in the video notified management or police.

The statement says “appropriate action is being taken” into the woman’s actions.

Planned Parenthood insists on the highest standards of care, and safeguards the trusted relationship we have with patients, families and communities. What appears on edited tapes made public today is not consistent with Planned Parenthood’s practices, and is under review. Phyllis Kinsler, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey (PPCNJ), has stated that, “the behavior of our employee, as portrayed on the video, if accurate, violates PPCNJ policies, as well as our core values of protecting the welfare of minors and complying with the law, and appropriate action is being taken.”

Live Action has not returned calls for comment.

The unedited video is not available. Live Action said in a release that it is sending the full footage to the FBI and state investigators.

After eight clinics reported the same strange visit within five days, Planned Parenthood reached out to the FBI, via a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, calling for an investigation into a potential sex trafficking ring. In the letter, Planned Parenthood notes that the visits had all the earmarks of a hoax.

The FBI reportedly opened an investigation, Planned Parenthood said.

A spokeswoman for the organization told TPM that at least some of the individual clinics also called local law enforcement when they received the visits.

At least one of Live Action’s campaigns against Planned Parenthood turned up actual wrongdoing. At a clinic in Indiana in 2009, an employee was fired and another resigned after Live Action released video of them saying they wouldn’t report it when Rose, posing as a 13-year-old, said her 31-year-old boyfriend impregnated her.

Ed Morrissey:

If Planned Parenthood objects to this method of investigative reporting, then perhaps they’ll press for tough inspection regimes.  After all, as we have seen in Pennsylvania, the political activism of the abortion industry has cowed public officials into inaction while the poor and underage get exploited, maimed, and sometimes killed.  Obviously, state agencies that exist to protect women and enforce the law aren’t doing their jobs — especially not when the Amy Woodruffs of the world feel comfortable in telling pimps how to keep their 14-year-old victims secret and working “from the waist up” for two weeks after an abortion.

Congress needs to act to cut off public funding of Planned Parenthood entirely.  They get around $300 million a year from taxpayers, and as Live Action has repeatedly proven, routinely flout laws voters have set for the protection of women and children.  I suspect that subsequent video releases will result in more sanctimony from Planned Parenthood, followed by more firings.

Jed Lewison at Daily Kos:

So another weirdo wingnut James O’Keefe wannabe has released a hoax video targeting “the left.” This one was created by an anti-choice activist named Lila Rose and it targets Planned Parenthood. Rose, who collaborated with O’Keefe in the past, aimed to produce a carbon copy of his ACORN/pimp hoax videos, this time substituting ACORN with Planned Parenthood and O’Keefe’s pimp outfit with actors and actresses claiming to be part of an underage prostitution ring.

Rose is just now releasing the videos in which she claims that Planned Parenthood conspired to cover up the prostitution ring. She only leaves out one detail: Planned Parenthood officials, who instantly realized they were probably being punked, nonetheless went to federal authorities on the off-chance that Rose’s actors weren’t part of another O’Keefe style hoax.

Planned Parenthood, a perennial protest target because of its role in providing abortions, has notified the FBI that at least 12 of its health centers were visited recently by a man purporting to be a sex trafficker but who may instead be part of an attempted ruse to entrap clinic employees.

In each case, according to Planned Parenthood, the man sought to speak privately with a clinic employee and then requested information about health services for sex workers, including some who he said were minors and in the U.S. illegally.

Planned Parenthood’s vice president for communications, Stuart Schear, said the organization has requested an FBI probe of the man’s claims and has already fielded some initial FBI inquiries. However, Schear said Planned Parenthood’s own investigation indicates that the man has links with Live Action, an anti-abortion group that has conducted previous undercover projects aimed at discrediting the nation’s leading abortion provider.

Even though Planned Parenthood went to authorities (despite their confidence that they’d been targeted by an O’Keefe-style fraudster), more than a week later, Rose still released the videos.

Rose isn’t going to get anywhere with her fraud. The only question is which is worse: falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of complicity in a child sex ring or forcing authorities to divert resources from pursuing real crimes while they investigate whether her hoax was, in fact, a hoax. Either way, the only thing her actions accomplish is to further discredit the playbook of clowns like Andrew Breitbart.

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Filed under Abortion, Families, New Media

The Party Of No?

Nick Baumann at Mother Jones:

Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to “forcible rape.” This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith’s spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)

John Cole:

I’m curious if Conor F. will call me shrill or over the top or accuse me of using vile rhetoric if I point out that this makes the GOP objectively pro-rape, to borrow some warblogger terminology from years gone by. That’s right, ladies- the only way you are allowed any say in a pregnancy resulting from rape is if the rapist roughed you up a bit. Otherwise, the fetus rules

Jim Newell at Gawker:

The fact that “forcible rape” has no real meaning as a federal legal term makes this all the more obnoxious.

Oh, and what about the incest exception? “As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18.” You figure out the rationale on that one.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs

Vanessa Valenti at Feministing:

So what’s your damage, guys? Boehner? Smith? Because all this does is make it all the more obvious of exactly how anti-woman your agenda is. Shame on you all.

James Joyner:

While I’m rather queasy about the whole thing, but am not convinced it’s as bad as all that.

First, as Benen acknowledges, this is simply a sop to the social conservative base.  It has zero chance of being passed into law, given that it’s not going to make it through the Senate, much less with enough votes to secure an override of President Obama’s inevitable veto.

Second, the rape exception was never logical but rather a concession to an emotional issue.  That is, if one believes a fetus at a given stage of development is a human life worthy of protection by law, the events leading to the pregnancy are irrelevant.  We don’t, after all, countenance the murder of post-birth children conceived pursuant to rape. But the idea that a woman should be forced to bear the emotional trauma of carrying a constant reminder of a violent, awful crime for nine months — and then be forced to either look at the child every day or bear the alternative trauma of giving up the baby — is just so emotionally wrenching that we’ve carved out an exception.  The fact that rape cases account for an infinitesimal fraction of abortions in this country also helps.

But does this really hold in the case of a statutory rape which, despite the name, frequently isn’t really a rape at all?   Again, this is a queasy subject.   We can all agree that a 9-year-old lacks the emotional maturity to give meaningful consent to sex with an adult and that an adult who violates a child is a rapist.   But we’ve raised the bar on childhood in recent years, extending it well into puberty. Within living memory, it was common, at least in rural areas, for girls to marry and start having children in early puberty.  Generally, with men significantly older than they were. Now, though, most states make it a crime for a 19-year-old to have consensual sex with their 16-year-old girlfriend.

Is a pregnancy arising from that circumstance really comparable to one arising from being jumped in a dark ally by a stranger and violated under threat of death?  Really?

But here’s the thing:  the sponsors of this bill aren’t proposing that we do away with statutory rape laws.  Indeed, they’re in common cause with those who made and enforce those laws. So, they’re in the bizarre position of both supporting the criminalization of teenage sex and yet arguing that the girl who the law says lacks maturity to consent to sex nonetheless has the maturity to have a child arising from said sex.

Furthermore, they’re undermining their own case here.   Abortion is already legal under most circumstances in America, a position that’s not going to change.  And government funding for abortion has been withheld almost as long; that’s also not going to change.    So, why attempt to move the bar ever-so-slightly in a direction that most Americans — including your core supporters — are going to find uncomfortable?   Especially when you know damned well that you can’t actually succeed?

Steve Benen:

In all likelihood, this bill, like the ACA repeal measure, wouldn’t stand much of a chance in the Senate, and would surely draw White House opposition.

But the fact that the bill actually reflects Republican priorities, and will almost certainly pass the House with overwhelming GOP support, speaks volumes.

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Filed under Abortion, Crime, Legislation Pending

Lemonade At Around The Sphere! 10 Cents! Today Only!

Terry Savage at The Chicago Sun Times:

This column is a true story — every word of it. And I think it very appropriate to consider around the Fourth of July, Independence Day spirit.

Last week, I was in a car with my brother and his fiancee, driving through their upscale neighborhood on a hot summer day. At the corner, we all noticed three little girls sitting at a homemade lemonade stand.

We follow the same rules in our family, and one of them is: Always stop to buy lemonade from kids who are entrepreneurial enough to open up a little business.

My brother immediately pulled over to the side of the road and asked about the choices.

The three young girls — under the watchful eye of a nanny, sitting on the grass with them — explained that they had regular lemonade, raspberry lemonade, and small chocolate candy bars.

Then my brother asked how much each item cost.

“Oh, no,” they replied in unison, “they’re all free!”

I sat in the back seat in shock. Free? My brother questioned them again: “But you have to charge something? What should I pay for a lemonade? I’m really thirsty!”

His fiancee smiled and commented, “Isn’t that cute. They have the spirit of giving.”

That really set me off, as my regular readers can imagine.

“No!” I exclaimed from the back seat. “That’s not the spirit of giving. You can only really give when you give something you own. They’re giving away their parents’ things — the lemonade, cups, candy. It’s not theirs to give.”

I pushed the button to roll down the window and stuck my head out to set them straight.

“You must charge something for the lemonade,” I explained. “That’s the whole point of a lemonade stand. You figure out your costs — how much the lemonade costs, and the cups — and then you charge a little more than what it costs you, so you can make money. Then you can buy more stuff, and make more lemonade, and sell it and make more money.”

I was confident I had explained it clearly. Until my brother, breaking the tension, ordered a raspberry lemonade. As they handed it to him, he again asked: “So how much is it?”

And the girls once again replied: “It’s free!” And the nanny looked on contentedly.

No wonder America is getting it all wrong when it comes to government, and taxes, and policy. We all act as if the “lemonade” or benefits we’re “giving away” is free.

And so the voters demand more — more subsidies for mortgages, more bailouts, more loan modification and longer periods of unemployment benefits.

They’re all very nice. But these things aren’t free.

The government only gets the money to pay these benefits by raising taxes, meaning taxpayers pay for the “free lemonade.” Or by printing money — which is essentially a tax on savings, since printing more money devalues the wealth we hold in dollars.

If we can’t teach our kids the basics of running a lemonade stand, how can we ever teach Congress the basics of economics?

Jason Linkins at Huffington Post:

You know, I say, “All hail the cranks of America, who are willing to put almost anything they encounter in the world on trial and find it guilty of destroying society!” But if I could offer a word of advice: maybe stop short of actually yelling at children, to make them feel bad about themselves. But that’s exactly what Chicago Sun-Times columnist Terry Savage has done, and she apparently wants a medal for it.

See, Terry was driving around her “upscale neighborhood” over the holiday weekend, when she encountered some of the upscale neighborhood children at a lemonade stand. And apparently, she has some sort of personal “rule” that compels her to always stop and get some lemonade, because of her unquenchable thirst for citrus or something. But, as it turned out, the three little girls at the stand were just straight up giving away the lemonade for free. And thus began the tirade!

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing:

Get that, kids? The correct thing to do with the stuff you appropriate from others is sell it, not give it away! Sounds about right — companies take over our public aquifers and sell us the water they pump out of them; telcos get our rights of way for their infrastructure, then insist that they be able to tier their pricing without regard to the public interest. Corporatism in a nutshell, really.

Dan Mitchell at Big Money:

I’m truly not interested in how she leaped from little girls having fun in their front yard to the government extending unemployment benefits or bailing out banks. The answer would involve “bootstraps” or something, I presume. Something horrendously simplistic. No matter what her explanation might be, it would still be based on her belief that it’s bad to give away something you got for nothing, but it’s perfectly fine—in fact highly laudable—to sell it. And that this somehow teaches you that (she really used this phrase), “there is no free lunch.”

The irony here is that Savage could have written a good, perfectly sane column about why it’s better for kids to sell lemonade than to give it away. As she notes amid all the nutty John Galt stuff, it would teach them a lot about business—managing costs, pricing, etc.

But maybe they can learn that next summer. This summer, they learned about the satisfaction of giving someone a cold drink on a hot day. They learned about kindness and, yes, the spirit of giving. They learned, perhaps, that though we are economic creatures, we are not only economic creatures—that there is more to life than money, and that believing otherwise makes us shallow and soulless. And less fun.

And maybe they learned to be careful of strangers in the street exhibiting odd behavior.

And onto other subjects involving lemonade. Sam Stein at The Huffington Post:

Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle has moderated a host of policy positions in her transition from a primary candidate to general election contender battling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. One thing she has not backed away from has been her insistence that abortion should be outlawed universally, even in cases of rape and incest.

In a radio interview Angle did in late June, the Tea Party favorite re-affirmed her pro-life sensibilities (rigid, as they are, even within Republican circles), when she insisted that a young girl raped by her father should know that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Much good can come from a horrific situation like that, Angle added. Lemons can be made into lemonade.

Stock: Let me bring up one other topic that I rarely talk about here, because it’s one of those topics that’s a lose-lose, but we’ve got to talk about it because it was brought up in your TV interview and that has to do with the issue of abortion, and whether or not abortion should be available in the case of rape or incest. The question to you at the time by the interviewer was that do you want the government to go and tell a 13 year-old child who has been raped by her father that she has to have that baby. And of course you responded ‘I didn’t say that I always say that I value life.’ Where do you stand on the issue of abortion, a consensual abortion, from a person who is raped or is pregnant as a result of incest?Angle: Well right now our law permits that. My own personal feelings and that is always what I express, my personal feeling is that we need to err on the side of life. There is a plan and a purpose, a value to every life no matter what it’s location, age, gender or disability. So whenever we talk about government and government’s role, government’s role is to protect life and that’s what our Founding Father said, that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Stock: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let’s say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?

Angle: I think that two wrongs don’t make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I’ll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said ‘I know what you did thank you for saving my life.’ So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

Savvy.

It is actually more ideologically consistent for strictly pro-life people to not leave out exceptions for rape or situations where the mother’s life is at risk. If you see abortion as the murder of a human life, then you should not feel compelled to make politically appealing make cop-outs! But you should also not try to spin these things into positives, either, because they’re really hellishly bad.

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Nevada’s Republican, tea-party–backed candidate for Senate, Sharron Angle, is so against abortion, she doesn’t think it should be a legal option even for 13-year-old girls raped by their fathers. Because, after all, that’s just a great opportunity for them to turn “a lemon situation into lemonade.” Harry Reid, you are one lucky bastard.

Digby:

No word on what happened to the incest victim, but that’s really not something anyone should waste much time worrying about.

And anyway it just shows that God provides many good alternatives to abortion for for young girls who are raped by their fathers — perhaps we could just bend the rules a little bit and the little girl could marry her daddy so they could make a new family all their own. Talk about lemonade!

I wonder if Third Way has found a way to accommodate these views inside the Democratic Party. There must be some common ground, here, right?

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Filed under Abortion, Mainstream, Political Figures

That Memo Smokes Three Packs A Day

Shannen Coffin at National Review Online:

The documents involved date from the Clinton White House. They show Miss Kagan’s willingness to manipulate medical science to fit the Democratic party’s political agenda on the hot-button issue of abortion. As such, they reflect poorly on both the author and the president who nominated her to the Supreme Court.

There is no better example of this distortion of science than the language the United States Supreme Court cited in striking down Nebraska’s ban on partial-birth abortion in 2000. This language purported to come from a “select panel” of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a supposedly nonpartisan physicians’ group. ACOG declared that the partial-birth-abortion procedure “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.” The Court relied on the ACOG statement as a key example ofmedical opinion supporting the abortion method.

Years later, when President Bush signed a federal partial-birth-abortion ban (something President Clinton had vetoed), the ACOG official policy statement was front and center in the attack on the legislation. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf, one of the three federal judges that issued orders enjoining the federal ban (later overturned by the Supreme Court), devoted more than 15 pages of his lengthy opinion to ACOG’s policy statement and the integrity of the process that led to it.

Like the Supreme Court majority in the prior dispute over the Nebraska ban, Judge Kopf asserted that the ACOG policy statement was entitled to judicial deference because it was the result of an inscrutable collaborative process among expertmedical professionals. “Before and during the task force meeting,” he concluded, “neither ACOG nor the task force members conversed with other individuals or organizations, including congressmen and doctors who provided congressional testimony, concerning the topics addressed” in the ACOG statement.

In other words, what medical science has pronounced, let no court dare question. The problem is that the critical language of the ACOG statement was not drafted by scientists and doctors. Rather, it was inserted into ACOG’s policy statement at the suggestion of then–Clinton White House policy adviser Elena Kagan.

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

A Smoking Gun in the Kagan Case?

[…]

Here is the shocking part: the ACOG report, as originally drafted, said almost exactly the opposite. The initial draft said that the ACOG panel “could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” That language horrified the rabidly pro-abortion Elena Kagan, then a deputy assistant to President Clinton for domestic policy. This is what Kagan wrote in a memo to her superiors in the Clinton White House:

Todd Stern just discovered that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is thinking about issuing a statement (attached) that includes the following sentence: “[A] select panel convened by ACOG could identify no circumstances under which [the partial-birth] procedure … would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.” This, of course, would be disaster — not the less so (in fact, the more so) because ACOG continues to oppose the legislation. It is unclear whether ACOG will issue the statement; even if it does not, there is obviously a chance that the draft will become public.

So Kagan took matters into her own hands: incredibly, she herself appears to have written the key language that eventually appeared in the ACOG report. Coffin writes:

So Kagan set about solving the problem. Her notes, produced by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee, show that she herself drafted the critical language hedging ACOG’s position. On a document [PDF] captioned “Suggested Options” — which she apparently faxed to the legislative director at ACOG — Kagan proposed that ACOG include the following language: “An intact D&X [the medical term for the procedure], however, may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.”

Kagan’s language was copied verbatim by the ACOG executive board into its final statement, where it then became one of the greatest evidentiary hurdles faced by Justice Department lawyers (of whom I was one) in defending the federal ban. (Kagan’s role was never disclosed to the courts.)

This is an image of Kagan’s “suggested options” note; click to enlarge:

SuggestedOptions10.jpg

The note does appear to be in Kagan’s handwriting; you can see a sample of her writing here.

Unless there is some other interpretation of these documents that does not occur to me, it appears that Elena Kagan participated in a gigantic scientific deception.

Yuval Levin at The Corner:

What’s described in these memos is easily the most serious and flagrant violation of the boundary between scientific expertise and politics I have ever encountered. AWhite House official formulating a substantive policy position for a supposedly impartial physicians’ group, and a position at odds with what that group’s own policy committee had actually concluded?  You have to wonder where all the defenders of science—those intrepid guardians of the freedom of inquiry who throughout the Bush years wailed about the supposed politicization of scientific research and expertise—are now. If the BushWhite House (in which I served as a domestic policy staffer) had ever done anything even close to this it would have been declared a monumental scandal, and rightly so.

Apparently scientific integrity only matters as long as it doesn’t somehow infringe on abortion. That, of course, was always the lesson of the stem-cell debate in the Bush years anyhow. But clearly it started earlier. It’s good to know where Kagan’s priorities are. Let’s hope senators are paying attention.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary:

This, as Yuval points out, is not only a shocking “violation of the boundary between scientific expertise and politics”; it is also an outright deception that was subsequently used in litigation by partial-birth-abortion defenders. The former deputy attorney general who defended the partial-birth-abortion ban during the Bush administration, Shannen Coffin, brought the story to light. He reminds us: “U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf, one of the three federal judges that issued orders enjoining the federal ban (later overturned by the Supreme Court), devoted more than 15 pages of his lengthy opinion to ACOG’s policy statement and the integrity of the process that led to it.” Had the judge known it was not the work of scientific gurus but that of a Clinton staffer (”nothing more than the political scrawling of a White House appointee”), one can imagine he wouldn’t have spent a sentence, let alone 15 pages, on it.

Some senator should have the wherewithal to take this on and require that Kagan explain herself. Not only is it, if accurate, a disqualifying episode for a Supreme Court justice; it is grounds for a solicitor general to step down. And her failure to advise the courts — which believed they were relying on neutral, expert testimony — constitutes a significant ethical breach.

Joseph Lawler at The American Spectator:

Given the memos Coffin provides in his article, it’s hard to see how Kagan could explain away her significant rewriting of the statement, which directly affected policy relating to partial-birth abortion. But maybe she can. A senator should give her the opportunity during the hearings.

Byron York at The Washington Examiner:

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee a short time ago, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan appeared reluctant to admit that she wrote a 1996 Clinton White House memo aimed at altering a key medical group’s opinion of whether partial birth abortion is medically necessary.  The memo, reported yesterday by National Review, has caused a stir in conservative circles because it appeared that Kagan, then a White House policy aide, put words in the medical group’s mouth in order to soften its position on the controversial procedure. But when Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch brought the subject up with Kagan, he had a hard time getting her to admit that she did, in fact, write the document in question.

“Did you write that memo?” Hatch asked.

“Senator, with respect,” Kagan began, “I don’t think that that’s what happened — ”

“Did you write that memo?”

“I’m sorry — the memo which is?”

“The memo that caused them to go back to the language of ‘medically necessary,’ which was the big issue to begin with — ”

“Yes, well, I’ve seen the document — ”

“But did you write it?”

“The document is certainly in my handwriting.”

Although Kagan later explained her thinking in the memo — she said she was only trying to help the medical group express its true opinion — and it was clear that she did write the memo, she looked slippery in her attempt to avoid openly admitting that she did so.  That won’t sit well with skeptical senators.

UPDATE: William Saletan at Slate

UPDATE #2: Ross Douthat

Ann Althouse

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Filed under Abortion, Political Figures, Science, Supreme Court

Red Family, Blue Family, Yellow Family (Wait, That’s Just The Simpsons)

A new book by Naomi Cahn and June Carborne called Red Families v. Blue Families

The authors on Huffington Post:

It is big news that women who go to college, join the workforce, and delay having children don’t lose money when later on they do combine work and family. A recent study by researchers from the University of Maryland and UCLA looked at the economics of women who didn’t have children until they were over the age of 26, and found that their earnings were comparable to women who had never had children. Earlier studies add that women with a college education are much less likely to opt out of the workforce when they have a baby than are women with less education.

This is great news, unless of course you worry that all these older, ambitious working mothers are shortchanging their children, but this turns out not to be true either. As we show in our book, Red Families v. Blue Families, the college educated, who postpone childrearing until the parents achieve a measure of financial self-sufficiency and emotional maturity, have become more likely to marry and less likely to divorce than the rest of the population, with two-parent families that remain intact, replicating the statistics that existed before no-fault divorce, the pill and legalized abortion.

Perhaps more surprisingly, these mothers spend no less time on childcare than similar mothers of earlier generations — it’s housecare, not childcare that’s changed. Indeed, Princeton University sociologist Sara McLanahan observes that “Children who were born to mothers from the most advantaged backgrounds are making substantial gains in resources. Relative to their counterparts 40 years ago, their mothers are more mature and more likely to be working at well-paying jobs. These children were born into stable unions and are spending more time with their fathers.” By contrast, the rest of the country has seen skyrocketing rates of non-marital births, divorce, and single-parent families, magnifying the effects of income inequality on children. And these poorer mothers are the ones more likely to cycle in and out of the workforce, limiting their earnings potential while feeling pressed to adequately care for their children.

How do dual career families manage the juggling act so much better than more traditional families? The well-kept secret is that investments in human capital, in college degrees, specialized training and experience, and workforce stability pay off for employers as well as employees. Employment studies show that the greater a woman’s education and experience the more likely she is to work in a flexible labor environment and to live in a state that mandates greater parental leave and other family benefits. Younger, less educated, and less skilled women find that they bring less to the bargaining table in negotiating with their bosses. When they cannot get sufficient maternity leave to manage the second child, they quit. When their children require more after school time, they may find it easier to switch employers than to switch schedules. They are more likely to return to school after their children complete elementary school than before they are born. As a result, they find work-family balance harder to manage than their better off peers — and their children fall farther behind in the share of society’s resources they enjoy.

Jonathan Rauch in National Journal:

Can it be? One of the oddest paradoxes of modern cultural politics may at last be resolved.

The paradox is this: Cultural conservatives revel in condemning the loose moral values and louche lifestyles of “San Francisco liberals.” But if you want to find two-parent families with stable marriages and coddled kids, your best bet is to bypass Sarah Palin country and go to Nancy Pelosi territory: the liberal, bicoastal, predominantly Democratic places that cultural conservatives love to hate.

The country’s lowest divorce rate belongs to none other than Massachusetts, the original home of same-sex marriage. Palinites might wish that Massachusetts’s enviable marital stability were an anomaly, but it is not. The pattern is robust. States that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in both 2004 and 2008 boast lower average rates of divorce and teenage childbirth than do states that voted for the Republican in both elections. (That is using family data for 2006 and 2007, the latest available.)

Six of the seven states with the lowest divorce rates in 2007, and all seven with the lowest teen birthrates in 2006, voted blue in both elections. Six of the seven states with the highest divorce rates in 2007, and five of the seven with the highest teen birthrates, voted red. It’s as if family strictures undermine family structures.

Naomi Cahn and June Carbone — family law professors at George Washington University and the University of Missouri (Kansas City), respectively — suggest that the apparent paradox is no paradox at all. Rather, it is the natural consequence of a cultural divide that has opened wide over the past few decades and shows no sign of closing. To define the divide in a sentence: In red America, families form adults; in blue America, adults form families.

Cahn and Carbone’s important new book, Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, from Oxford University Press, is too rich with nuance to be encompassed in a short space. But here is the gist.

For generations, American family life was premised on two facts. First, sex makes babies. Second, low-skilled men, if they apply themselves, can expect to get a job, make a living, and support a family.

Fact 1 gave rise to a strong linkage between sexual activity, marriage, and procreation. It was (and still is) difficult for teenagers and young adults to abstain from sex, so one important norm was not to have sex before marriage. If you did have premarital sex and conceived a child, you had to marry.

Under those rules, families formed early, whether by choice or at the point of a shotgun. That was all right, however, because (Fact 2) the man could get a job and support the family, so the woman could probably stay home and raise the kids. Neither member of the couple had to have an extended education in order to succeed as spouse or parent.

[…]

But then along come two game-changers: the global information economy and the birth-control revolution. The postindustrial economy puts a premium on skill and cognitive ability. A high school education or less no longer offers very good prospects. Blue-collar wages fall, so a factory job no longer cuts it — if, that is, you can even find a factory job.

Meanwhile, birth control separates decisions about sex from decisions about parenthood, and the advent of effective female contraception lets men shift the moral responsibility for pregnancy to women, eroding the shotgun marriage. Divorce becomes easy to obtain and sheds its stigma. Women stream into the workforce and become more economically independent — a good thing, but with the side effect of contributing to a much higher divorce rate.

In this very different world, early family formation is often a calamity. It short-circuits skill acquisition by knocking one or both parents out of school. It carries a high penalty for immature marital judgment in the form of likely divorce. It leaves many young mothers, now bearing both the children and the cultural responsibility for pregnancy, without the option of ever marrying at all.

New norms arise for this environment, norms geared to prevent premature family formation. The new paradigm prizes responsible childbearing and child-rearing far above the traditional linkage of sex, marriage, and procreation. Instead of emphasizing abstinence until marriage, it enjoins: Don’t form a family until after you have finished your education and are equipped for responsibility. In other words, adults form families. Family life marks the end of the transition to adulthood, not the beginning.

Red America still prefers the traditional model. In 2008, when news emerged that the 17-year-old daughter of the Republican vice presidential nominee was pregnant, traditionalists were reassured rather than outraged, because Bristol Palin followed the time-honored rules by announcing she would marry the father. They were kids, to be sure, but they would form a family and grow up together, as so many before them had done. Blue America, by contrast, was censorious. Bristol had committed the unforgivable sin of starting a family too young. If red and blue America seemed to be talking past one another about family values, it’s because they were.

When you understand all of that, you also understand why you can do a good job of predicting how a state will vote in national elections by looking at its population’s average age at first marriage and childbirth. In 2007, for example, the states with the lowest median age at marriage in 2007 were all red (Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah). The states with the highest first-marriage age were all blue (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island). The same pattern holds for age at first childbirth. Massachusetts is highest (about 28 years old), Mississippi lowest (about 23 years old).

A further twist makes the story more interesting, and more sobering. Cahn and Carbone find an asymmetry. Blue norms are well adapted to the Information Age. They encourage late family formation and advanced education. They produce prosperous parents with graduate degrees, low divorce rates, and one or two over-protected children.

Eugene Volokh on Rauch

Andrew Sullivan on Rauch, giving us a link to Lexington at The Economist:

I have nothing but respect for Rauch, both as a journalist and as an exemplar of true family values. His recent Atlantic piece on caring for his dying father was incredibly moving. Full disclosure: he’s also a friend.

But I wonder about his headline. First, consider the limitations of the data. A state is a very large unit, and only slightly more than half the people in it have to vote Republican for it to count as “red”. The most socially conservative states are in the South, where the group with the largest problem with family breakdown—African Americans—votes solidly Democratic. So I’d want to unpack the numbers a bit more.

It may be that preaching about family values forces people into premature or shotgun weddings which then fall apart. But it seems equally plausible that this story could be, in large measure, about class. Americans in poor red states are surrounded by family breakdown, so they fear it more, and make it into a political issue. The college-educated classes, who trend blue, have low rates of divorce and single parenthood. They are also better equipped, financially at least, to cope with the consequences of family breakdown should it occur. So they don’t worry about it as much, and are repelled by politicians who wax sanctimonious about it.

I really don’t know the answer, so I’ll have to read the book.

Doug J. on Rauch

David Frum at FrumForum on Rauch

E.D. Kain at The League:

Having children young or before you’ve both finished your degree and found fantastic careers and so forth is much more difficult financially. My wife and I really did have a lot of growing up to do, and the lifestyle change was difficult (though the sleep, or lack thereof, was certainly the hardest change).

Then again, I think it goes quite a ways beyond that. It has a lot to do with your family’s economic situation and level of educational achievement also. If you come from a solidly middle or upper-middle class family and you get married young you also stand a much better chance of getting a helping hand from grandparents and probably have a better chance in the job market due to education and connections and so forth. Certainly it is harder having children young and not having two incomes or not having finished all your education, but for us and for many of the younger couples I know, it is not an insurmountable challenge – if those families come from a stable economic background.

I am lucky to have highly educated parents who are generous and willing to help both with the kids and, should the need arise, financially. Perhaps I would need less help if I had waited seven or eight years to have children, but I can’t say that for sure, nor can I say the quality of my life would be any better. I might have just spent a lot more time going out on the town and playing music with friends and not really getting serious about anything. That’s all fine and good, but it pales in comparison to the joy I experience – the real, fierce, raw joy of having a daughter.

I think in the end you can look at issues like this and you can say – sure, traditional social customs don’t necessarily work in modern times, that they have precisely the opposite of the intended effect. Birth control really can improve the lives of young people, especially in the global economy we live in. Abstinence really is something of a pipe dream for most people. Divorce happens regardless of faith. But you have to also look at the economic and educational starting point of these people and ask yourself – even with birth control, even without marrying young or having kids young, how do people from poorly-educated, lower-class families ever break out of these cycles?

Andrew Koppelman at Balkinization:

The red-state, conservative ethic has always been suspicious of sex education. Evangelical Christians, who are the most militant proponents of the red-state ethic, are three times as likely as non-evangelicals to believe that sex education should not be taught in schools. (108; all page references are to Cahn and Carbone’s book.) Government support for contraception, especially contraception provided to teenage girls without their parents’ knowledge or consent is anathema. Such girls should not be having sex at all. Contraceptive information is likely to encourage them to flout moral norms with impunity. Unwanted pregnancy is unfortunate but valuable as a deterrent to premarital sex.

It was this ethic that produced the move to abstinence-only sex education, which is now the predominant approach in a third of American schools. (110) But there is no evidence that such education makes abstinence until marriage more likely (96% of Americans have sex before they marry, see 175), or produces a decline in teen or nonmarital births, and some evidence that it produces an increase in both, because it is more likely that a girl will not know how to contracept at the time of her first sexual experience. (3, 111) The effect is particularly pronounced with respect to black and Latina girls, who are disproportionately exposed to abstinence-only education. Two-thirds of white women, but fewer than half of black women, have received instruction about contraception before their first sexual encounter. (111)

It is no accident, then, that the United States has the highest rate of unplanned teen pregnancies in the industrialized world. (8) Three in ten teenaged girls become pregnant before they turn 20, and four-fifths of these pregnancies are unplanned. (91) In 2006, half of all pregnancies were unplanned, and these were concentrated below the poverty line. (90) The rate of unintended pregnancy is 69% for African-American women, 54% for Latinas, and only 40% for white women. (173)

Here is where abortion comes in. Among African-Americans, 43% of conceptions end in abortion, compared with 25% of Latinas and 18% of whites. It should be no surprise that the rate of abortion correlates heavily with the rate of unplanned pregnancy. African-American teen births dropped in the 1990s, but this was true in large part because abortion rates, which fell for white teens, remained higher for minority teens (172).

If you want to lower the abortion rate, then, the most obvious way to do it is to provide better information about contraception to the women who now are experiencing high rates of unintended pregnancy, in schools and also by providing comprehensive sex education to women over 18 (173).

The Republican leadership, however, has opposed any such funding. Most recently, they succeeded in pressuring Obama to strip out expanded funding for family-planning services from the stimulus bill. House Minority Leader John Boehner emphasized that any such funding would benefit Planned Parenthood, which delivers abortion services. He did not mention that such funding would lower the rate of abortions.

Republicans worry that sex education will lead to more premarital sex. There’s not much evidence that this is true of any particular sex ed program. The major effect of such programs is to prevent sex that was going to happen anyway from leading to pregnancy and disease. (It is true that the birth control pill helped bring about the sexual revolution of the 1960s, but it’s too late to reverse that.) But even if keeping girls ignorant would reduce the rate of premarital sex to some extent, how many abortions would be too high a price to pay for that?

The argument I’ve just been making is, of course, a classic blue-state argument. I’m not really the one who can make it effectively to pro-lifers, since I’m a strong supporter of abortion rights: I still endorse the much-reviled argument that such rights are required by the Thirteenth Amendment.

But somebody on the religious right ought to be reflecting on the now-obvious fact that the policies that they have been supporting are directly responsible for millions of abortions. If leadership is now going to be exercised in order to reduce the abortion rate, it will have to come from them. Opposing contraceptive education is politically popular in the red states. But how can a politician who sincerely believes that abortion is the killing of a person, and who is aware of the data I’ve just described, ethically take advantage of this opportunity?

Maggie Gallagher at Townhall:

The more you look at this provocative thesis, the more improbable it becomes.

The elephant in the room is the one issue Cahn and Carbone want to avoid because they wish to tone down the culture wars around the family: abortion.

The five states with the highest abortion rates, they note, are all blue family states: New York, Delaware, Washington, New Jersey and Rhode Island. By contrast, the states with the lowest abortion rates are mostly red or at least purple: Utah, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota and Kentucky.

Could attitudes toward abortion be the real source of the red family/blue family divide?

Fueling this suspicion is the data that Cahn and Carbone provide on the out-of-wedlock birthrates. For here, the neat red/blue lines break down, especially once race is taken into account. In 2004, the five states with the highest white out-of-wedlock birthrates were a politically mixed lot: Nevada, Maine, West Virginia, Indiana and Vermont. States with the lowest rates of unwed childbearing were also mixed by party dominance: Utah, New Jersey, Connecticut, Colorado, Idaho and the District of Columbia. The authors note this fact but never integrate it into their theory.

The data that do not fit are usually the most important data.

The blue state/red state family divide appears to be largely driven by different values regarding abortion. Red states have more opposition to abortion politically (which makes them red), which would tend to result in more early childbearing, earlier ages at marriage and a more mixed record with regard to out-of-wedlock births. (More traditional commitment to marriage would drive down the out-of-wedlock birthrate, but greater moral objection to aborting unexpected pregnancies would drive up a state’s out-of-wedlock birthrate.)

The marriage gap has a great deal to do with social class. People with graduate degrees may be more sexually liberal in theory, but end up surprisingly conservative in actual practice. They tend to discount the importance of public moral norms around sex and marriage because they see their families flourishing under postmodern conditions, and because they and their children have the most access to “private” social, human and moral capital.

Nonetheless, in spite of their theoretical imperfections, if Cahn and Carbone can convince progressives that reducing divorce and early unwed childbearing are not traditional family values at all but postmodern blue ones to be embraced as the happy fruit of liberal social values, they will have done a service to our country.

Ross Douthat in NYT:

To Cahn and Carbone’s credit, their book is nuanced enough to complicate this liberal-friendly thesis. They acknowledge, for instance, that there are actually multiple “red family” models, from the Mormon West to the Sunbelt suburbs to the rural South.

More important, Cahn and Carbone also acknowledge one of the more polarizing aspects of the “blue family” model. Conservative states may have more teen births and more divorces, but liberal states have many more abortions.

Liberals sometimes argue that their preferred approach to family life reduces the need for abortion. In reality, it may depend on abortion to succeed. The teen pregnancy rate in blue Connecticut, for instance, is roughly identical to the teen pregnancy rate in red Montana. But in Connecticut, those pregnancies are half as likely to be carried to term. Over all, the abortion rate is twice as high in New York as in Texas and three times as high in Massachusetts as in Utah.

So it isn’t just contraception that delays childbearing in liberal states, and it isn’t just a foolish devotion to abstinence education that leads to teen births and hasty marriages in conservative America. It’s also a matter of how plausible an option abortion seems, both morally and practically, depending on who and where you are.

Whether it’s attainable for most Americans or not, the “blue family” model clearly works: it leads to marital success and material prosperity, and it’s well suited to our mobile, globalized society.

By comparison, the “red family” model can look dysfunctional — an uneasy mix of rigor and permissiveness, whose ideals don’t always match up with the facts of contemporary life.

But it reflects something else as well: an attempt, however compromised, to navigate post-sexual revolution America without relying on abortion.

Via Douthat, Eve Tushnet here and here. Tushnet:

The idea is that families in “blue states” are relatively adept at transmitting some aspects of a marriage culture to their children. Massachusetts, e.g., is home to families where the children mate for life. Meanwhile “red states” produce children (they produce more children, usually, by the way) who marry in haste and repent in somewhat-delayed-haste, lots of divorces and out-of-wedlock births and similar signs of family-values hypocrisy. When I say “this isn’t new,” I mean, “I got 10 cents off my Caribou coffee by knowing that Mississippi has an extraordinarily high rate of out-of-wedlock pregnancies more than a year ago.”

These are facts, and there are a lot of ways of responding to these facts. You can explore ways in which the contemporary economy and culture, by (for example) prioritizing postsecondary education and stigmatizing living with one’s parents, has made it extraordinarily difficult to sustain a culture of more-or-less postponing sex until marriage. You could criticize the notion of marriage as the capper on life’s to-do list, to be sought only once all the other boxes are checked and you’re “stable,” rather than a foundation for a later stable life. You could, in other words, ask why a consumerist culture is so hostile to a communal and marriage-based way of life.

You could maybe talk about Protestantism! Catholic states tend to have very different problems from Protestant ones: They tend to be aging states–whether we’re talking about Massachusetts or Italy–where divorce is rare but birthrates are low. What can the competing Christian cultures teach one another?

You could look for institutions and traditions within so-called “red state” cultures which promote lifelong marriage and serve to more-or-less-okay manage the problem of intercourse. You could find heroes and show how “red state” life works, when it works, and which conditions need to be in place for it to work.

These are all things you could do.

The other really fun thing you could do, though, is blame “red state” families for being Not Our Kind, Dear. It is just so sad that their pathetic religious delusions make them slutty hypocrites. (Yum, by the way; I think hypocrisy makes your breasts bigger.) You could argue that they’re really promoting abortion, ’cause it’s their fault they haven’t adapted to the contracepting, college-educated ways of the elite. It’s not about poverty, or the fatalism it breeds, or the terrifying knowledge of how close you really are to falling off the ladder. It’s about Baptists suck.

You could wage class war, in other words, on the side of the privileged. You could focus on shaming people who are really different from you, and not on figuring out how marriage and family life can be strengthened across a variety of religious and moral beliefs and a variety of class and cultural backgrounds.

Of course, if the (for example) Catholic view of marriage is simply doomed and pathetic, then I guess it’s just ripping off the Band-Aid quickly to say so. But I really think if you spend any time with actual humans actually trying to make decisions about their sexual lives, their unborn children, their religion, and their relationships, you will not sound the way a lot of the “red vs. blue families” commentators sound.

More Douthat

Noli Irritare Leones

UPDATE: Ross Douthat and Naomi Cahn at Bloggingheads

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Filed under Abortion, Books, Families, Politics

In Between Hot Wings And Cold Beer…

Gary Bauer at Human Events:

The most striking aspect of the Tim Tebow Super Bowl ad controversy is that critics of CBS’s decision to run the commercial seem unable to decide exactly why they are so offended.

Some are upset that the ad was sponsored by Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, scourge of cultural liberals. Others are calling it a breach of the so-called separation of politics and Super Bowl. NOW condemned the as-yet-unseen ad as “extraordinarily offensive and demeaning” and “hate masquerading as love.” The Feminist Majority Foundation launched a campaign to get the “anti-choice super bowl ad removed.”

But if the 30-second ad were really as distasteful as the liberal activist groups are making it out to be, it never would have made it past CBS’s Sales Department.

The real reason for their outrage is exactly the opposite: that the commercial is so inoffensive and, in fact, so inspiring that they worry it might actually win hearts and minds for the idea that all human life is sacred.

In the ad, Tebow and his mom, Pam, tell the story of his birth. While pregnant with Tim and in the Philippines doing missionary work, Pam became ill. A physician encouraged her to abort or risk dying or delivering a baby with a disability. Instead, Pam chose to trust God and bring her baby to term.

William Saletan at Slate:

Pam’s story certainly is moving. But as a guide to making abortion decisions, it’s misleading. Doctors are right to worry about continuing pregnancies like hers. Placental abruption has killed thousands of women and fetuses. No doubt some of these women trusted in God and said no to abortion, as she did. But they didn’t end up with Heisman-winning sons. They ended up dead.

Being dead is just the first problem with dying in pregnancy. Another problem is that the fetus you were trying to save dies with you. A third problem is that your existing kids lose their mother. A fourth problem is that if you had aborted the pregnancy, you might have gotten pregnant again and brought a new baby into the world, but now you can’t. And now the Tebows have exposed a fifth problem: You can’t make a TV ad.

On Sunday, we won’t see all the women who chose life and found death. We’ll just see the Tebows, because they’re alive and happy to talk about it. In the business world, this is known as survivor bias: Failed mutual funds disappear, leaving behind the successful ones, which creates the illusion that mutual funds tend to beat market averages. In the Tebows’ case, the survivor bias is literal. If you’re diagnosed with placental abruption, you have the right to choose life. But don’t be so sure that life is what you’ll get.

Placental abruption is rare. The detachment from the uterine wall can range from partial to total. By most accounts, it occurs in fewer than 1 percent of pregnancies. The more broadly it’s diagnosed, the less fatal it is on average, since the subtlest cases are also the least dangerous.

Christine Wicker at Politics Daily:

Those who oppose the ad suspect CBS is playing favorites (Ria has pointed out the hypocrisy of CBS’s position as arbitrator of what we should be allowed to see). Regardless, I like this ad.

Palin gives good advice on her Facebook page: “concentrate on empowering women, help with efforts to prevent unexpected pregnancies, stay consistent with your message that for too long women have been made to feel like sex objects in our ‘modern’ culture and that we can expect better in 2010.”

She’s right, despite some inconsistencies. As the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins notes, the ad shows one side of choice. And Pam Tebow says that Philippine doctors advised her to abort her fetus because it was likely to be stillborn, which might not be accurate, since abortion was against the law in the Philippines. But so what? That’s how she remembers it. Lots of people get mixed up about what doctors are saying. And the Tebows are making a bigger point.

The point is: Many forces push women to abort fetuses, rather than carry them until they develop into lovely, live, wonderful babies. Nonetheless, the Tebows are saying: Have the baby, woman. He might grow up to be a handsome, wonderful young man like Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy-winning University of Florida quarterback, soon to turn pro.

Nothing wrong with saying that. It’s true. Choice has consequences. You gain something and you lose something. Most women who have abortions know that quite well. Those who don’t ought to.

I have one quibble. Palin speaks only to “these groups who are inexplicably offended by a pro-woman, pro-child, pro-life message airing during the Super Bowl.”

Why stop there? Why not address those people who are most likely to be influenced by her opinions? The people who want to outlaw the right to abortion.

Dana Goldstein at The Daily Beast:

The major broadcast networks have avoided political advocacy ads for years, so CBS’s decision to air the Tebow ad caught abortion rights advocates off guard. But Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group founded by Dr. James Dobson, says that it has actually been working closely with CBS executives for months on the ad’s script.

“There were discussions about the specific wording of the spot,” said Gary Schneeberger, spokesperson for Focus on the Family. “And we came to a compromise. To an agreement.” Schneeberger declined to comment on exactly how CBS changed the ad’s message.

CBS has said that in the last year, in an acknowledgment of “industry norms,” it loosened previous restrictions on advocacy advertisements, accepting ads that pushed for health reform and environmental activism.

But pro-choice advocates complain the network didn’t publicize the policy change and hasn’t applied it consistently, citing a rejected Super Bowl ad from gay dating Web site ManCrunch.com. According to Schneeberger, Focus on the Family was not aware of an explicit policy change inside the network, either. “It was only last week that they indicated that they changed any policy,” he said.

“We’ve worked with [CBS] almost since the beginning,” Schneeberger added. “Our senior vice presidents talked to CBS executives throughout the process. It was a very cordial, very professional, fruitful relationship.”

CBS declined to comment on the details of its work with Focus on the Family on the Tebow ad, but said such cooperation is not unusual. Abortion rights advocates see it differently. If CBS did vet scripts for the ad, the cooperation is “appalling,” said Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. “If true, CBS is not just selling ad time for profit, but has been affirmatively working hand-in-glove—in secret—to promote Focus on the Family’s agenda. When you recall that Focus on the Family wants to overturn Roe v. Wade…this revelation is extremely, extremely disturbing.”

Jake Simpson at The Atlantic with a round-up of sports columnists. Here’s two: Mike Bianchi at The Orlando Sentinel:

Tim Tebow will be the President of the United States someday.

Go ahead and laugh if you want. They used to laugh, too, at the notion that another charismatic, conservative former college football player could become president. You might have heard of him.

His name was Ronald Reagan.

“If Tim Tebow wanted to be a political candidate, it’s his for the taking,” says Orlando attorney John Stemberger, who heads Florida Family Policy Council, a politically connected conservative religious organization. “He would be a political rock star. … He’s handsome, he’s humble and he has character and integrity. … This young man could be the next Ronald Reagan or Jack Kemp if he wanted to be.”

Stemberger’s organization is the local affiliate of the national organization – Focus on the Family – that is airing Tebow’s controversial right-to-life commercial. The Super Bowl ad transcends anything Tebow has ever done on the football field. It transforms him from football player to political figure and aligns him with Focus on the Family — the most politically powerful evangelical organization in this country.

Think about it: What better “family values” candidate for Focus on the Family to align itself with in 2028 than Tebow — a charismatic and telegenic former football star; a compassionate missionary who travels to impoverished foreign lands to provide food and medical care to Third World children; a self-described virgin who is saving himself for marriage; an ardent pro-life supporter who was born because his sick mother shunned a doctor’s recommendation to undergo an abortion.

How in the name of James Carville are the liberals going to dig up even a speck of dirt on Tebow? This guy is more wholesome than a glass of buttermilk.

And Jay Mariotti at Fanhouse:

There is a time and a place for serious crusades about life issues. A commercial during the NFL‘s championship game, our national holiday of fun and frolic and heavy drinking and heavier gambling, is not one of them. We’re all impressed by the fascinating story of Pam Tebow, who was advised by a doctor in the Philippines to have an abortion in 1987 because of a life-threatening illness. She had the baby anyway during a mission trip, and, wonders be, her son grew up to become a Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time national football champion and one of the most inspirational collegiate athletes ever. But just as you don’t have a Boy Scout convention in a casino, you do not take sides on a volatile issue — pro-life — during the Super Bowl.

Furthermore, you certainly don’t do it when you’re Tim Tebow and you’re in the process of convincing NFL franchises why to draft you. Much as we crack on high-profile athletes for not expressing strong views on social issues — hello, Tiger Woods, wherever you are — I’m thankful no one else has decided to take a controversial stand and buy a $3 million commercial on Super Bowl Sunday. Tebow is raising eyebrows across the NFL, where league and team executives must be conscious of public relations within their communities. When kept in a proper context and equilibrium, the missionary and humanitarian work done by the Tebow family is breathtaking. But to grandstand on the biggest stage in the world makes me wonder if Tebow is more interested in crusading than playing the game. And if that is the case, doesn’t he risk becoming a civic distraction, especially if he’s drafted by a team in a town where an abortion debate might heat up outside a stadium? It’s one thing to scrawl a religious passage on his eyeblack, quite another to advise women to have babies when they don’t want to be told to have babies.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker at Powerline on the AP’s report of the ad

Ed Morrissey

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