Politics & Society
Last Friday (April 26, ed), Barack Obama became the first president of the United States to offer an address at Planned Parenthood’s National Conference. While his appearance at the event and the rousing welcome of the organization is historically and culturally significant, his address proved to be out of sync with current trends in health care, the pro-life sentiment of Americans, and contemporary feminism. During his address, Obama promised his fidelity to the group in the “fight against the war on women” that he and Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, have staunchly opposed. This supposed campaign against women’s rights and equality is largely characterized by the passage of state-level restrictions on abortion, as well as legislative proposals that challenge particular requirements of the Affordable Health Care Act. Obama fervently opposed these laws, calling them “absurd.” By implication, he called into question the moral, legal, and scientific soundness of the laws when he said, “When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar. You want to make sure you’re still living in 2013.” He also rallied his supporters by saying: “As long as we’ve got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, as long as we’ve got to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you’ve also got a president who’s right there with you, fighting every step of the way.” His inaccuracies were numerous, given scientific and cultural shifts in this generation. But more troublesome are the assertion that quality health care includes unrestricted access to abortion, the sweeping statements about the moral pulse of the nation on the issue of abortion, and the assumption that all persons who advocate for women’s interests, health, and flourishing support the services that Planned Parenthood supplies and the government funds. “The thing that’s incredible to me—North Dakota being case in point—is the thought that ... there are now states where it’s not safe to be a woman,” Cecile Richards recently claimed. Richards was responding to the passage of laws in North Dakota, which have proposed to restrict abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, in the case of gender preference, and in the case of certain genetic conditions. Arkansas has passed a similar fetal heartbeat law, while other states continue to enact restrictions including waiting periods, mandatory sonograms, parental notification, and banning abortion after 20-24 weeks (since science and top neonatal care can now gauge viability much more accurately). In direct contrast to Richards’s pontification, it’s never been clearer that women’s safety is actually advanced by banning late-term abortions. The trial of Kermit Gosnell, the late-term abortionist in Philadelphia who is being prosecuted for four counts of first-degree murder of babies who survived late-term abortions, and one count of third-degree murder of a woman fatally injured at his abortion clinic, shows that abortion after twenty weeks simply cannot be sweepingly labeled “quality health care.”
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