Browsing the archives for the abortion category.


Smoke and Mirrors and Abortion

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abortion, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts, Women's Issues

For years the Fetus People have based their entire movement on falsified framing, and they are still at it. They are particularly lavish with the phrase “late-term abortion,” drizzling it over their rhetoric like syrup over pancakes. Michael Gerson is doing it today, for example. However, to them “late-term” is a mercurial qualifier with no fixed boundaries and little relationship to actual human gestation. It means whatever they want it to mean.

For example, back when the fight was over the intact D&X procedure, or what the FPs kept calling “partial-birth abortion,” The Fetus People did such a good job conflating the terms “Partial birth” and “late term” that when the Supreme Court sided with them that the procedure could be banned, the FPs celebrated the end of late-term abortion. I wrote about this a lot at the time; see “Better Middle Than Late” and “More Late-Term Confusion.”

For example, this person sincerely believed that the “partial-birth” controversy was about aborting potentially viable fetuses, which it wasn’t. He wrote,

If a late term pregnancy was so harmful to the mother’s health, then the mother should just deliver the baby and give the baby a chance to survive. But this procedure wasn’t really about saving the life of the mother. It was about killing an unwanted baby.

But most, if not all, of these procedures were done before the gestational age at which a fetus is viable. So no matter how the pregnancy was terminated, there was no “chance to survive.” And elective post-viability abortion already was, and still is, illegal.

Let’s review:

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The SCOTUS decision in Roe v. Wade allows states to ban elective abortion when the fetus is potentially viable, and it seems all have done so, although I understand that in 9 states the law is not officially in effect because of a pending court challenge. However, per Roe guidelines, after the gestational age at which a fetus might survive, an abortion cannot be performed legally in 41 states by any means unless there is a medically compelling — life & health of the mother — reason to do so.

For the most recent information on the status of abortion law in each state, see the Guttmacher Institute, “State Policies on Later Abortions,” updated July 1, 2013.

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So when Michael Gerson writes in his most recent column:

The national abortion settlement declared by Roe v. Wade — rooting a nearly unrestricted right to abortion in the right to privacy — has been unstable for 40 years. The reason is a tension between the state of the law and a durable public consensus that human life has an increasing claim on our sympathy as it develops. This view does not reflect either pro-life or pro-choice orthodoxy. But it predicts a more sustainable political resolution.

The media have a slothful tendency to place Americans into rigid categories of pro-life and pro-choice. The reality is more complicated. A 2011 Gallup poll found that 79 percent of people who describe themselves as pro-choice support making abortion illegal in the third trimester.

… he is willfully ignoring what he must know, that, for all practical purposes,

elective abortion already is illegal in the third trimester

… and Roe is fine with this. Roe isn’t the problem. The problem is with bleeping stupid pinhead troglodyte righties who form opinions based on abject ignorance of both law and pregnancy.

Here’s what they’re up to: First, the Fetus People are hoping the public, including their own minions, have forgotten their victory over “late-term abortion” back in 2005 so they can recycle the old propaganda about those awful late-term abortions that are going on.

Second, they are trying to close the “life and health” exceptions, because they’d rather see a woman die than willfully refuse to drop her calf, so to speak. Of course, many of them have persuaded themselves that circumstances in which a fetus must be sacrificed to save the mother never happen, just like pregnancy resulting from rape never happens. It’s so much easier to achieve moral clarity if you ignore the messy reality of things.

Third, they are re-defining “third trimester” downward so that it starts sometime in mid-pregnancy. Notice how Gerson goes on about the third trimester when the laws being pushed by the Right these days would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation, which is seven weeks earlier than the third trimester actually starts, and well before the viability threshold.

A full-term human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. Even the math impaired can probably figure that 20 weeks is smack in the middle of the gestation period, not late in the gestation period. And no human fetus has ever survived outside the womb after only 20 weeks’ gestation.

Gerson continues,

But because the Supreme Court imposed a national settlement at odds with natural sentiments, pro-choice advocates are on the defensive. Their political challenge is to prevent the working of politics. Their real opponent is democracy, as state after state considers late-term abortion restrictions.

Pro-choice advocacy organizations have always stood by Roe, which means they are perfectly fine with states passing late-term abortions restrictions as long as (1) late-term bans really are late-term, meaning no sooner than the 24th weeks of gestation (the common viability threshold, which is still three weeks before the third trimester begins); and (2) allow for exceptions for life and health of the mother, giving private physicians reasonable discretion as to what that means without being second guessed by a bunch of pinhead troglodyte legislators.

So, again, Roe isn’t the problem, and reproductive rights advocates are fine with states banning genuinely late-term elective abortions, and have been since Roe was decided in bleeping 1973. But as part of the propaganda effort, shills like Gerson have to paint reproductive rights advocates as the unreasonable ones who don’t understand that late-term abortions are different.

See also Charles Pierce, “Stop Blowing Up Clinics and You’ll Have a Point“; and Tim Murphy, “Texas Lawmakers Too Busy Targeting Abortion Providers to Deal With Exploding Fertilizer Plants.”

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Gov. Cuomo Will Be Re-elected Next Year

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abortion

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo is introducing legislation that will ease restrictions on abortions after 23 weeks’ gestation in New York. The law would, first of all, go beyond the usual “life and health of the mother” clause and specify that a pregnancy may be terminated late in the pregnancy if the fetus is not viable. (My understanding is that late termination of a non-viable fetus is generally considered legal under the “health of the mother” clause, already, so this really is just a clarification more than a change.) It would allow licensed health care practitioners, not just doctors, to perform some abortions. And it would remove abortion entirely from penal law and instead regulate it through the state’s health laws.

I don’t know who the Republicans might run against Cuomo next year, but if they come up with some homophobic gun-totin’ Fetus Person, ol’ Andy’s got it in the bag. And if the New York legislature fights him on this, and the issue makes a big splash, it’s going to be a big bag. And yes, I realize upstate is more conservative than the New York City area, but it’s also less populated. And I suspect even the most conservative county in New York is liberal compared to, say, Mississippi. Social conservatism in particular doesn’t go very far in this state.

The governor has said that his Reproductive Health Act would be one plank of a 10-part Women’s Equality Act that also would include equal pay and anti-discrimination provisions. Conservative groups, still stinging from the willingness of Republican lawmakers to go along with Mr. Cuomo’s push to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011, are mobilizing against the proposal. Seven thousand New Yorkers who oppose the measure have sent messages to Mr. Cuomo and legislators via the Web site of the New York State Catholic Conference.

This could be fun. Bring it on.

I was not much impressed with Cuomo early in his first term, as he started out as Mr. Austerity — balance the budget without raising taxes, etc. I’d like to see him make a stronger argument for public investment. But I won’t have any problem voting for him next year.

Naturally, the Fetus People are screaming that Gov. Cuomo is introducing “abortion on demand,” but in effect the only effective difference would be that it clarifies non-viability of a fetus as part of “life and health of the mother.” (Clue to Fetus People: That means the fetus is already dead or has no hope of survival, so you can stop hollering about killing babies, thanks much.) Currently New York has a law on the books that leaves out “health,” but that is not in effect because it’s been overruled by federal courts.

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Wingnuts: Grapple With Your Own Theodicy and Leave Me Out of It

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abortion, Religion, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Amy Sullivan, truly the David Brooks of religion writing, thinks that liberals are misreading Richard Mourdock’s position on abortion.

Take a look again at Mourdock’s words: “I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And…even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The key word here is “it.” I think it’s pretty clear that Mourdock is referring to a life that is conceived by a rape. He is not arguing that rape is the something that God intended to happen.

I understood him perfectly well and I still think it’s outrageous. This goon is saying that women must be forced to carry a pregnancy to term even in cases of rape. I think that’s barbaric and cruel.

Amy wants this to be about theology —

This is a fairly common theological belief, the understanding of God as an active, interventionist. It’s also not limited to conservative Christians. There are liberal Christians who also argue that things work out the way they’re supposed to. Some of them are in my own family, and I think they’re wrong. But it is one way of grappling with the problem of theodicy, trying to understand why God would allow bad things to happen.

And they can grapple with it all they like; just do the grappling with their own bodies, thanks much.

Sullivan goes on to explain the theological arguments about things being intended by God, as if any of us who were sent to Sunday School at least a dozen times didn’t already know them.

And I say that the next time Richard Mourdock gets pregnant from rape and chooses to carry the baby to term because he thinks it’s god’s will, I’m just peachy with that. Whatever floats his boat. But this theo-idiot is planning to force everyone else to live by his conscience and not our own. And, y’know, to a lot of us that looks like good old-fashion oppression.

Most religion looks ridiculous to outsiders. If Mourdock can somehow reconcile in his own head that God did not intend the rape but did intend the conception, that’s not any of my concern — as long as it stays in his own head.

Despite the assertions of many liberal writers I read and otherwise admire, I don’t think that politicians like Mourdock oppose rape exceptions because they hate women or want to control women. I think they’re totally oblivious and insensitive and can’t for a moment place themselves in the shoes of a woman who becomes pregnant from a rape. I think most don’t particularly care that their policy decisions can impact what control a woman does or doesn’t have over her own body. But if Mourdock believes that God creates all life and that to end a life created by God is murder, then all abortion is murder, regardless of the circumstances in which a pregnancy came about.

In other words, Sullivan is making a distinction between actively hating women and being “oblivious and insensitive” to our individuality and humanity. I don’t really see the difference. A man who is incapable of perceiving women as human beings in their own right, who cannot empathize with them or respect that their perspectives are just as valid as his, is what we call a “misogynist.” There is a spectrum of misogynist attitudes that goes from garden-variety sexist pigs to psychopathic serial killers, but it’s a difference in degree, not in kind.

And I oppose this creep Mourdock not because I disrespect his religion but because he disrespects mine. He also disrespects my humanity. I find that annoying.

As you can see from an old post, Amy Sullivan has a long-standing pattern of finding distinctions with no differences. Her shtick for years has been that liberals are mean to proper religious folk because we misunderstand them. Well, I doubt one fundamentalist in a million understands a dadblamed thing about my religion, and that doesn’t bother me in the least as long as they leave me alone about it.

The real issue is that from the earliest days of our Republic conservative Christians have tried to use government to impose their beliefs on everyone else, establishment clause notwithstanding, and they must be opposed. Period. What their theological rationalizations are is irrelevant to me.

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What the Fetus People Don’t Want You to Know About Abortion and Contraception

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abortion

Here’s a really good video on abortion worldwide from Guttmacher:

This video makes a couple of points I’ve made here a few times.

One, criminalizing abortion doesn’t stop it; where abortion is illegal, it just goes underground. In fact, abortion is mostly illegal in the parts of the world with the highest rates of abortion, and mostly legal where the abortion rate is lowest. What really makes a difference in abortion rate is not criminalization of abortion, but use of contraceptives.

Two, globally, almost all of the women who die from complications of abortion got their abortions where they were illegal. Restricting abortion to “protect” women’s health is like restricting soap to protect cleanliness.

And then there is this:

In a study to be published in the December issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers “recruited more than 9,250 women ages fourteen to forty-five from St. Louis city and county for the five-year project” and educated them on different types of birth control. Seventy-five percent of the women chose implantable methods.

Five years later, the women included in the study had had nearly five times fewer abortions than the national average would have predicted, and and the rate of teenage pregnancies fell by an astounding 82%.

If Republicans get out of the way of public health and allow free contraception to be implemented nationwide, researchers concluded free birth control could prevent over a million unplanned pregnancies and over 800,000 abortions a year.

(The pro-reproduction rights people rarely have used this well documented fact as a counter-argument to criminalizing abortion, and some of them argue that promising to reduce abortion through wider contraception use amounts to admitting that abortion is “bad,” so they won’t do it. Needless to say — I think that’s stupid.)

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The Hits Keep Coming

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abortion

Dennis “women should just have sex with me whether they want to or not because it’s their duty to make me happy” (and here’s part 2) Prager has weighed in on the Akin controversy. He says Akin’s comments should be condemned, but …

While he should not have used the term “legitimate rape,” he could have explained later that, given the expanded definitions of rape, not all claims of “rape” are truly rape. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry for Feminist Perspectives on Rape states, for example, that “we must recognize that, in some cases, ‘yes’ also means no … The man may threaten to sue for custody of their children, to derail her green card application, to evict her, or simply to sulk and make her life miserable for days should she refuse to have sex. …

For Dennis Prager, the paragraph above describes “foreplay.”

Then he says that saying women can’t conceive from rape is stupid, and all good Fetus People should condemn such an idea. Except …

I have spent a good part of my life showing what an intellectual bubble the left lives in.

You may take a few minutes to clean the coffee off your monitor.

Bubbles tend to produce nonsense. When the only people you talk to, read, and socialize with agree with you, it is easy to abandon critical thinking.

And when you are morally right — and those who argue for a right to life of unborn human beings (or human fetuses, if you prefer) are morally and even scientifically right — a bubble can make critical thought even more difficult.

I wonder if that is not the case with Rep. Akin’s comment.

Ya think?

This country is on the verge of an inexorable moral, social and economic decline. The left is doing to America what it has done to almost everything it has deeply influenced — the arts, the university, religion, culture, minorities, Europe: ruining it. It is therefore morally incumbent on conservatives to do everything in their power not to give the left legitimate targets.

And save America by cutting off funding to the National Endowment for the Arts!

And then we’ve got Rep. Steve King, who has revealed his own peculiar notions of human reproduction

King supports the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.” It would ban Federal funding of abortions except in cases of forcible rape. Right now, Medicaid also covers abortions for victims of statutory rape or incest – for example, a 12 year old who gets pregnant.

Congressman King says he’s not aware of any young victims like that.

“Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way, and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter,” he said.

I’m willing to believe that he’s never heard of a pregnant 12-year-old. Considering where he keeps his head, he probably hears very little beside digestion and gas.

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GOP: Blast From the Past

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abortion, Mittens, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Last night Rachel Maddow explained that the “real rape victims don’t get pregnant” theory for years has been pushed by people who want to criminalize abortions without exception for rape. And that’s absolutely true. That way they can claim that if a woman conceived, she wasn’t really raped, and the exception isn’t necessary.

But when men start to talk about “forcible” rape or “legitimate” rape, I think it speaks to something buried even deeper in their lizard brains. Once upon a time conventional wisdom was that rapists couldn’t be convicted unless the victim was a nun who was killed defending herself. Otherwise, if the woman was wearing a short skirt, had ever been spotted in a bar, was sexually active, or didn’t fight back, it was assumed “she wanted it” and the perpetrator was excused.

One of the successes of the second-wave feminist movement in the 1960s was to shine a light on how unfair that was and get some protections for rape victims written into law. I understand rape charges often are still dismissed by sexist judges sometimes, however.

When men talk about “forcible” or “legitimate” rape, I suspect in their minds “rape” is something that can only happen to virtuous and modestly dressed women who were on their way to church when a total stranger abducted and assaulted them, and they fought back to the point of needing either hospitalization or burial. Otherwise, it wasn’t really a rape. Perhaps such men only relate to rape as a kind of violent physical assault, like a really bad mugging. Women who are slipped a roofie at a frat party and raped while they were unconscious, for example, don’t count, and “date rape” is an oxymoron. They cannot perceive of rape as a violation of one’s personhood, of one’s humanity, as women perceive it. (See Dear Mr. Akin, I Want You to Imagine…)

And I say this is only a few degrees different from the thinking that (1) a virtuous woman must stay covered by a burqua and (2) rape is always the woman’s fault, if she survives. In this view, a woman is merely a multipurpose major appliance whose value is determined by how much she has been used.

Republicans who are busily denouncing Akin today are crafting a convention platform containing a “human life amendment.” This would ban all abortions without explicitly excluding rape and incest victims. They’ve been doing this for the past several conventions, but I don’t know that the general public is aware of it. But now they’re going to hear about it loudly and clearly from the Obama campaign.

The point is that the GOP doesn’t really disagree with what Todd Akin said. They’re just pissed at him that he said it in public.

Republicans are frantically trying to get Representative Todd Akin to drop out of the United States Senate race in Missouri after his remark about abortion and rape, but not because it was offensive and ignorant. They’re afraid he might lose and cost them a chance at a Senate majority next year. He would surely be replaced by a Republican who sounds more reasonable but holds similarly extreme views on abortion, immigration, gay rights and the role of government because those are the kinds of candidates the party nominates these days in state after state.

CNN:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan sharply condemned Akin’s remarks and pledged that under a Romney administration, abortion would be allowed in the case of rape.

An exemption for rape, though, is not included in the platform set to be adopted by the party Romney will officially lead when he accepts the Republican nomination next week.

And Ryan, his vice presidential pick, has opposed exceptions for rape and voted alongside Akin in the House, though Ryan now says he defers to Romney’s position on the matter.

Debate over the abortion plank flared four years ago when John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee at the time, said he wanted to add language to the platform to recognize exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

That prompted angry finger-wagging from top social conservatives.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, chided McCain and said it would be “political suicide” for him to add language about exceptions for rape or incest in the abortion platform.

The Family Research Council has issued a statement of support for Todd Akin.

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Reproductive Rights

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abortion

The Obama campaign addresses reproductive rights:

Romney is saying now he supports allowing legal abortion in cases of rape. But at one time or another Romney has held many different opinions on reproductive rights.

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Way to Go, Fetus People

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abortion

I keep hearing about states like Mississippi and Arizona closing abortion clinics and restricting abortion, and I’ve been wondering why we haven’t heard much about back-alley abortions. And now I know why. Women who can’t get an abortion in the U.S. are going to Mexico, where a miscarriage-inducing drug is available over the counter.

The catch is that abortion is illegal in most of Mexico also, so even though the drug — mifepristone — is available over the counter, and everyone knows taking it can terminate a pregnancy, women who purchase it have to pretend its for their ulcers. And the pharmacy workers, who know good and well why all these women are buying mifepristone, cannot give them directions about the correct dosage. So the women either don’t take enough, and stay pregnant; or they take too much and have to be hospitalized for bleeding.

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Let’s Wage a War on Stupid

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abortion

Having milked “partial-birth abortion” dry, the Fetus People* are now whipping up scare stories about a tidal wage of gender-selection abortions being promoted and abetted by their arch-nemesis, Planned Parenthood. And they’ve tied this into a pushback against the “war on women” charge, claiming the real war on women are all those girl babies that are being aborted just for being girls.

Dana Milbank writes that legislation being pushed by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, to prohibit gender-selection abortion could alienate Asian Americans. That’s because as near as anyone can tell, the only gender selection going on in the U.S. is in ethnic Asian communities.

Whether Franks’s law would lose any Asian American votes I cannot say. People are guesstimating that gender selection must be going on in ethnic Asian communities because the ratio of boys versus girls being born among ethnic Asians skews more in favor of boys than nature normally allows. In the population as a whole, however, there is no data suggesting the male-female birth ratio is going out of whack.

There is no question that in some parts of the world, in particular India and China, healthy girl fetuses are often aborted just because they are girls, and I think that’s terribly sad. However, there is no statistical evidence that the practice is growing in the U.S.

That hasn’t stopped Live Action from ginning up hysteria about the “gendercide” being promoted by Planned Parenthood. They’ve got the obligatory, and heavily edited, sting video showing some newbie PP employee mishandling a gender-selection abortion question, which seems to be their entire “proof” that Planned Parenthood is promoting such abortions nationwide. The employee has since been fired. No word on how many “stings” Live Action attempted before they found someone who took the bait.

Amanda Peterson Beadle writes,

After Republicans opposed expanding contraception access and would not back the Violence Against Women Act until it had been watered down, Democrats accused the party of waging a war on women

But ahead of tomorrow’s vote on the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), a bill that would ban physicians from performing abortions based on the fetus’ sex, anti-choice organizations have clumsily attempted to co-opt the “war on women” meme.

This is followed by some quotes. Here are a couple:

– “This is a real war on women. And it is wrong when we turn a blind eye to women being eliminated in the womb simply for being a member of the female sex.” [Americans United for Life letter]

– “Members who recently have embraced contrived political rhetoric asserting they are resisting a ‘war on women’ must reflect on whether they wish to be recorded as being defenders of the escalating war on baby girls.” [National Right to Life Committee letter]

I wrote about gender-selection abortion awhile back:

I take it that several years ago, strategists among pro-criminalizaton activists came up with Asia’s gender selection issue as a way to make western liberals uncomfortable with abortion, or to force us into a debate over whether the right to choose includes gender selection — since girls, presumably, will be the gender targeted for termination. And then, of course, if women don’t have a right to gender-select, then the right to abortion is not absolute and can be picked apart.

However,I also noted that in the U.S., girl babies actually are preferred over boy babies.

Girl babies actually are highly prized in America. Studies from all over the place show that American couples seeking to adopt a baby prefer girls over boys.

Further, when couples attempt to manipulate conception to tilt the odds in favor of one gender over another, they are more likely to try for a girl rather than a boy.

This being so, why would anyone assume that gender selection abortions would always target girls? Hmmm? But maybe we shouldn’t tell them that. The gender selection that appears to be going on among ethnic Asian Americans is a vestige of Asian culture, obviously, and not likely to spill over to non-ethnic Asians anytime soon, if ever.

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Speaking of Domestic Terrorism . . .

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abortion, Terrorism

I mentioned a couple of days ago that obstetric-gyncological clinics in the Atlanta area were being burglarized and set on fire. Arsonists have hit abortion clinics as well as practices that don’t do abortion.

Now some of the obstetricians are saying they fear they are being targeted because they publicly opposed Georgia’s “fetal pain” bill.

“You hate to point fingers, but when you start to see a pattern I think it’s a little more worrisome,” said Dr. Richard Zane, whose Atlanta Women’s Health Group office in Sandy Springs was burglarized March 4.

Act 631, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this month, reduces the time period for when an elective abortion can occur from about 26 weeks to 20 weeks. Some doctors said restricting medical exceptions to abortions between 20 and 26 weeks would prevent them from treating mothers who are having difficult pregnancies.

The crimes began shortly after the January legislative session started. …

… The three physicians who were victims of burglaries and of Sunday’s fire in Lilburn do not perform abortions. However, they had all visited the Georgia Capitol this session to discuss the impact of the legislation on pregnant women and their unborn children, said Dr. David Byck, president of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.

The arsonists have been breaking into doctors’ offices and stealing computers before setting their fires. So far no one has been hurt. However, one fire was set during office hours while the clinic (which does do abortions) was full of staff and patients. Everyone was evacuated safely, but clearly the arsonists aren’t being careful not to kill someone.

The offices of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society were burglarized the night before a Senate committee was to discuss amending the bill to continue to keep private the names of physicians who have to report abortions to the state.

The intruders bypassed three laptops and appeared to make a beeline for two laptop computers in the executive directors office which stored the names and addresses of doctors.

Like that’s a coincidence? The ATF and FBI are investigating, and so far they are not saying for certain that the clinics are being targeted by anti-reproduction rights terrorists. If it turns out that they are, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the shriekers on the Right to condemn the arsonists, though.

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