(Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Abortion is a top issue in many statehouses this year. Recently, lawmakers have passed legislation restricting abortions in Texas, Wisconsin, and Arkansas, to name a few. Federal judges have blocked some of the new rules, but since 2010 more than 170 abortion laws in 30 states have hit the books. Studies have shown that attitudes towards abortion haven’t changed much since Roe v. Wade, so why the flurry of new laws? We look at abortion politics across the country.

Guests:
Sarah Kliff, health policy reporter for the Washington Post
David Masci, senior researcher for the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project
Jennifer Popik, legislative counsel for the National Right to Life Committee
Amy Everitt, state director for NARAL Pro Choice California

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    It seems so odd that one twenty week old fetus with correctable medical issues can have in utero surgery to correct the problem, while another twenty week old fetus that isn’t wanted can have its life ended.

    • amyj1276

      It’s so odd that lawmakers–who coincidentally campaign on the idea of “small” government and who aren’t doctors–want to be able to make decisions for women and their families and doctors. And it’s so odd that any thinking, self-respecting person would vote for these people.

      • Blaine Johnson

        Is it so odd that some feel this is a woman’s health issue that men should stay out of, yet those same people expect men to be socially and financially responsible for what was clearly a womans decision.

        • amyj1276

          I actually believe that comprehensive reproductive rights and women’s health and well-being is not solely a women’s issue. In fact, most men I know are equally fighting for women’s rights over their own health, well-being, and family planning. When a woman does, in fact, decide to give birth to a baby, of course that baby is the social and financial responsibility of both parents. One things has nothing to do with the other. It would be wonderful for people to get out of their black and white thinking about this. Critical, abstract thought is a good thing.

          • Blaine Johnson

            I do essentially agree with your post above. However, abortion is nearly always a result of NO planning, and no consensus between the two people involved. You also proved my point by saying “when a woman does, in fact, decide to give birth…”. A joint decision to have, or not have, a child actually has no place or factor in the discussion.

          • amyj1276

            Actually, most abortions are a result of failed birth control or lack of access to birth control. And nearly 100% of late abortions are made after painful discussions with doctors after learning of a life-threatening or life-altering abnormality. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how or why a woman gets pregnant. If a woman finds herself pregnant and doesn’t want to have a child for whatever reason, she has the right to terminate. The idea that people don’t support abortion because “women got themselves into it” (phrased in many ways) just reinforces the idea that anti-choice people are simply punishing sex. I think the problem with anti-choice thinking is that people like to lump all abortions into one type. I suppose it’s easier to demonize people that way.

          • Blaine Johnson

            Actually, most abortions are the result of NO birth control, but you can state it, and the many reasons for that, any way you like. All abortions are not alike, and should be an last option for some. I believe in proactive decisions, actions, and reductions of doctor assisted murder. Nothing will ever change that, but I am just a man that will live with it.

          • Curious

            “Actually, most abortions are a result of failed birth control or lack of access to birth control. ”

            Absolutely false. Total lie.

  • Blaine Johnson

    I have an idea that could end the need for nearly all abortions. But nobody will listen objectively. Politics today is about standing your ground instead of doing what is reasonable.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      And what is you idea that could end the need for nearly all abortions?

      • Blaine Johnson

        Try to think about it with a completely open mind. A program of free, temporary, sterilization. No births until they are wanted and planned.

  • Mare Bear

    Women have the right to their own self determination for reproduction choices. Focus instead on the millions of unwanted, uncared for babies that need love and care.

    • Blaine Johnson

      Women also should have the unilateral responsibility for a unilateral decision. Do not make the rest of us pay for it.

  • Jon Gold

    This is such a contentious topic…however, I believe every woman has a right to have an abortion for any reason. On the other side of life, I also believe in euthanasia for those living with pain or reduced quality of life…

  • Joe

    Question for Sarah Kliff: Who is Kermit Gosnell, and can you use the phrase “local crime story” in your description?

  • Jason S.

    My question is, since we know that people will have abortions whether or not they are legal (there are many cultures around the world where abortion is illegal, yet abortions are still obtained illegally), what alternatives are being offered to protect the lives of mothers who obtain illegal abortions? Statistics suggest that in places were abortion is illegal, the death rate among mothers who obtain illegal abortions is higher than in places were abortions are legal. Since criminalizing abortion doesn’t prevent it, but simply makes it more dangerous, what are the advocates for restricting abortion access offering as an alternative that would protect the lives of women who stand a much higher likelihood of being killed or seriously injured by an illegal abortion?

  • Bob Fry

    After decades of changing my mind on this, I’ve decided Bill Clinton is right, abortion should be legal but rare. Rare, because something is being killed. Legal to make that killing safe.

    To those who believe “if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one”, try this on: “if you don’t like slavery, don’t own one.” Pro-lifers sincerely believe an abortion at any time takes a human life. Can we at least understand their point of view?

    All that said, I’ve finally concluded that the USA is very far from a homogeneous population in anything, and think that states should have far more rights to set laws, including abortion, labor, and environmental law. Might be handier to have a 3rd-world cheap labor force in the South than half-way around the world.

    • Chris OConnell

      I don’t see what Bill Clinton has to do with it. It is odd to pull him out of the hat.

      It would be very hard to find pro-choice people who support the right to abortion and think this practice should be widely and enthusiastically engaged in. In other words, every one wants it to be rare. Planned Parenthood – PLANNED – wants to prevent abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place!

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        Bill Clintons quote was used my Mr Fry to show that as a liberal he believed in safe legal abortion at least in the first trimester but that abortion should be rare, simply because unlike pre Roe v Wade days we now have so many ways of preventing unwanted pregnancies.

        • Chris OConnell

          Where did the 1st trimester come from? You must have just made that up. But my point is, so what if Bill Clinton believes it when virtually every pro-choice person believes the same. By singling him out, it implies he holds some unique or rare position which is not true.

      • Bob Fry

        Bill Clinton is who comes to mind when I think of that phrase (“rare but legal”).

        As for “very hard to find pro-choice people who support the right to abortion and think this practice should be widely and enthusiastically engaged in”, well BS. Their down-to-the-mat defense of partial birth abortions puts the lie to that.

        Neither side is willing to show the slightest compromise.

        • Chris OConnell

          No it does not put the lie to it at all. These later term procedures are rare and, as I remember, only occur in cases where the mother was intent on delivering the baby. Even the “partial birth” term itself is fully loaded and a myth.

          You reject my claim but then SHOW ME SOMEONE WHO THINKS EVERY WOMAN SHOULD GET AN ABORTION AND THAT THEY SHOULD BE ENTHUSIASTICALLY ENGAGED IN.

  • Lawrence

    Humans are so full of themselves. They slaughter lower animals without a second thought, even higher animals like monkeys (in Africa) and dolphins (in Japan), never shedding a tear but when an unborn human is killed they cry a river, and even kill one another to stop it. Humans are killing machines, especially the religious kind of humans. They’re the worst kind of mammal and pathetic hypocrites!

    • Blaine Johnson

      Animals are not humans. Period.

      • Beth Grant DeRoos

        Humans are referred to in science as human animals. And when talking about non human animals most learned people refer to the species.

        • Blaine Johnson

          Learned people also realize when a philosophical and or scientific argument is being used. The statement does not infer that humans are not an animal. The inference, if any, is that they are not necessarily equal in their respective states of being.

      • Lawrence

        Humans belong to the Animalia kingdom. We are animals. We are genetically related to monkeys, dolphins, cows, and mice.
        Your statement is a bit like saying “Cars are not Toyotas.” It makes no sense.

        • Blaine Johnson

          Again, wrong philosophical and/or scientific thinking. The statement in no way infers that humans are not animals, as you seem to think it does. “Cars are not Toyotas” is not the same thing as I stated but is actually a plausible (philosophical) statement because not all cars ARE (some are) Toyotas even though all Toyotas can be identified as cars. By your rebuttal/example, only certain humans would be animals.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Lawerence some of us who decry abortion are also vegan or at least vegetarian, who strive darily to prevent the death of non human animals by human animals.

      And some of us are also anti death penalty either because of our faith/religious teachings or because we believe in life. Period.

  • Chris OConnell

    How is it NOT taking a position by refusing to use language such as “abortion rights?” Obviously NOT using that language is as much taking a position AS using that language.

    And a reminder, the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, does recognize the right of a woman to have an abortion. Abortion rights DO exist under the Constitution! That is not a position, but a fact.

    • Beth Grant DeRoos

      Actually the Supreme Court ruled that a woman has a right to privacy not abortion per se.

      • Chris OConnell

        Wrong, Counselor.

        • George Watson

          Chris,

          The “Right To Privacy” was read into the
          Constitution by the Supreme Court just
          as the alleged right to have an Abortion.

          Neither are in the Constitution proper.

          • Mrs. Eccentric

            The right to privacy is in the California constitution. Just sayin’. steph

          • George Watson

            Chris –

            Sometimes the sky is blue and most of the times it is not.

            Should 5 Supreme Court justices say that there is no Right to Privacy – your view

            fails.

            Mrs. Eccentric

            Does the California Constitution explicitly

            provide a right to an abortion ?

          • Chris OConnell

            RECAP: I did not express a view. I made a factual statement and I quote it here: “[T]he Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, does recognize the right of a woman to have an abortion.”

            Beth chimed in to say they did not recognize a right to abortion per se and I replied by noting that this is false, they most certainly did recognize it. Then you felt the need to tell me that these rights are not explicit in the Constitution. And I effectively said, “Duh.”

          • Chris OConnell

            The sky is blue, too. I have read the Constitution, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Griswold v. Connecticut to boot.

  • George Watson

    Why are we not simply honest and admit that when an abortion takes place – a human being is killed ?

    We, as a society:

    Wage War, allow the police to shoot to kill, execute criminals guilty of capital crimes, let the poor die slowly on the vine, demand that people drive at 65 mph on the freeway – which increases the fatality
    rate when accidents occur, let Bars stay open until 2:00 AM
    thus increasing the likelihood of Drunk Drivers killing someone…

    I am against Abortions and in favour of Adoptions.

    I have taken care of abandoned children and children who
    have major disabilities. We as a society can do the same
    if we would just open our hearts to these children.

    • Bob Fry

      The moment after conception, only a few extremists would insist the zygote is a human.

      The moment before birth, only a few extremists would insist the unborn baby is not human and can be killed at will.

      The middle ground is difficult. And some hypocrisy is needed by both sides. Without hypocrisy, human activity would halt. Hypocrisy is a necessary attitude to continue functioning with our old evolutionary feelings and added intellectual knowledge.

    • Lawrence

      If a person had a genetic predisposition for extreme violence and low IQ, would you really want them to breed?

      • George Watson

        Lawrence,

        Unless you develop genetic test to tell whether or not a Babe in the womb has such ‘genetic predispositions” you are going to have a wide range
        of human dispositions.

        Personally I rather have more of what you do not
        rather than money hungry Wall Street Hyenas who
        devour everyone’s pensions.

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