Wednesday, March 09, 2005

State of Reproductive Rights: Newsday, A Winding Road, The Third Estate Sunday Review, MyDD and the LA Times

Eric e-mails an AP article by David Espo that appears in Newsday. It's entitled "Senate GOP Gain Victory on Abortion Vote:"

Abortion rights forces lost their first test of the new Congress on Tuesday, a skirmish over the rights of protesters in bankruptcy court, in a vote that reflected last fall's election results and portended fiercer battles ahead.
"Clearly, with the freshman class that came in this year you gained a number of pro-life votes," said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, one of seven conservative Republicans who won their seats last fall. "I think the culture of the Senate has changed on that issue to the right."
Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee placed the shift at three seats. Democrats and their allies, girding for a possible Supreme Court nomination fight later this year, disagreed only with the estimated size of the shift.
"We're seeing a net gain of two anti-choice votes in the Senate, for a split of 51-49," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation.
"Both houses have an anti-choice majority. You have an anti-choice White House," she said. "So it's very difficult for us to be able to prevail on issues pertaining to upholding a woman's right to choose."

Erika notes Folding Star's coverage (at A Winding Road) on the Senate's bankruptcy bill:

Another amendment to the bankruptcy Bill was put forward today, this one by Senator Schumer of New York.
Now, we've seen that the Republicans and a handful of dedicated, Credit Company lovin' DINOs have said no to protections for the elderly, for increased protections for members of the Military and Veterans, to those who are in financial difficulties because the company they worked for pulled an Enron, and for those with medical debts from serious illness or caring for a family member with a serious illness.
They've said Hell No, in fact.
But today, they said yes to protections for those who use Bankruptcy to get out of paying court fines or penalties for their actions against abortion clinics!!!
You have to hand it to the Republicans, they have their priorities in order and on view for all to see- Yes to protecting a fetus, No to protecting the working classes. Voters need to realize that, unless they themselves are in fact a fetus, the Republicans are NOT going to be there for them in any way.
Schumer's amendment would have barred violent protestors from using bankruptcy to get out of paying those fines and penalties. The Senate said no to this by a 53-46 vote, with two Republicans- Senator Chafee of Rhode Island and Senator Snowe of Maine- joining the Democrats and Senator Jeffords in voting Yes (one Democrat, Senator Corzine of New Jersey, was not present to vote) while every other Republican in Congress voted No.
In other words, with two noble exceptions, every Republican in Congress voted that it was okay for violent anti-abortion activists to escape from paying for their crimes via the Bankruptcy laws when they've said no to protections for those who actually have serious need of them.
It's disgusting. It's unconscionable. It's a Senate- and a Government- controlled by Republicans. Welcome to our national nightmare.
It's up to us to make voters aware of just what is going on, to just what the Republicans have said yes and no to. The media certainly doesn't dwell on these matters. Not when there are so many celebrity trials to cover!

And this at a time when, as Rob notes, the Democratic party is pushing anti-choice candidates. From The Third Estate Sunday Review, "Robert Casey Junior Doing Pop Proud:"

But Junior's got a campaign strategy down pat (didn't help with the governor's race but . . .):
The elder Casey died in 2000 and Casey often mentions his father's death during campaign stops, especially when he speaks to senior citizens and other older voters who remember his father. He invokes his father's name and accomplishments when speaking to certain audiences. The memory of the Casey name helps him connect with voters who, he hopes, will vote for him because of the connection.
Junior's apparently not his own man, just a pale copy of Daddy. So what's so wrong with that?Well Robert Casey is infamous for his attacks on Planned Parenthood (anyone remember Planned Parenthood v. Casey -- a Supreme Court case) and of course he was often greeted by the members of Act-Up (not warmly). Junior's singing "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and we think you might need to be concerned.
[. . .]
Didn't "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" play well? Won't it this time?
No. And no.
See, when they report these polls they're saying, "Hey Rube! Believe what we tell you!"And what's not stressed. How about a margin of error? 2.8% is the margin of error for Quinnipiac's poll. 46% to 41%. Wow, five points difference! But if the 2.8% splits [Senator Rick] Santorum's way, we're looking at 43.8% for Santorum and 43.2% for Junior.
Hey guys, Junior trails Santorum by .6%!!!!
And this is supposed to news to cheer over?
Same poll has Santorum sitting pretty with a 52% approval rating.
[. . .]
But soft-minded Dems are just convinced that in order to win Santorum's seat, what they really, really need is an anti-choice candidate.
Let us repeat, [Governor Ed] Rendell and [Senator Arlen] Specter are pro-choice. Rendell's a Democrat, Specter's a Republican.
What are soft-minded Dems not understanding?
The vicious Republican primary of 2004 demonstrated that Pennslyvania isn't going to turn against an elected senator just because some anti-choice candidate shows up. So why in the world do soft-minded Dems think that there's support for an anti-choice Democrat in what's a largely pro-choice state?
Junior and Santorum both reject public schools for their children. They both are anti-choice.
Does someone have some photos of Santorum engaging in man-on-dog sex? If not, why are they so sure that a carbon copy of Santorum can trump the original?
Santorum's the incumbent. That alone means he'll have access to huge funding. Junior?
Well let's just note that Emily's List and others won't be rushing to contribute to his campaign.(Nor will we.)
This is one of the most idiotic decisions soft-minded Dems have made in recent days (a tough call, granted). "We're going to run someone just like Santorum and we'll win!" Say what you want about Santorum, but he has a superficial physical attractiveness. (Janeane Garofalo has compared his looks to those of a gay porn star.) Is Junior with his receding hairline and near uni-brow really going to be able to stand on stage opposite him and look "Senatorial?" We're puzzled that notion as well.
What was Rendell's charge against Junior in their primary race? Something about Junior"doesn't understand education, lacks experience, never created a job, cut a tax or prosecuted a criminal." It's a long list. One doubts Santorum's campaign won't be using those talking points.
The [New York] Times story tells you that Rendell's endorsing Junior. It also tells you:
"The governor has asked me to step aside and allow Treasurer Casey [Junior] to run unopposed for U.S. Senate," Ms. [Barbara] Hafter said in a statement. "After some consideration, I have decided to agree to the governor's request."
This has created the situation that MyDD warned about on February 28th:
In other words, the events of the past week demonstrated what was previously demonstrated with Ginny Schrader's campaign: grassroots and netroots Democratic activism is alive and well within Pennsylvania. We did all of this ourselves, without any help from the party leadership or elected officials. Politicians and party leaders should take notice of this, for they fail to take us seriously at their own peril. This is why the ongoing movement to stop the Pennsylvania Democratic Senatorial primary before it starts is utterly unacceptable, and I promise will be met with strong resistance.[. . .]
This article is not the entire story. Many people with connections on this issue have insisted to me that the state and party leadership are in fact trying to clear the field for Casey and preempt the primary. This must not be allowed. As Democrats who are working hard, and succeeding, in damaging Santorum's re-election hopes, we deserve to be included in the selection of the candidate who will oppose and defeat Santorum. If, after the primary, that candidate ends up being Casey, then he would immediately find me among his biggest supporters. However, if the Democratic Party wants to continue to build its extremely fragile bridge with the Pennsylvania netroots and grassroots, it cannot shut its members out of the selection process, period. Many of us here in Pennsylvania are already suspicious of the machine-like tendencies and backroom-heavy characteristics of the state party, and something like this could very easily become the straw that broke the camel's back in that relationship.
I also fail to see how a contested primary, no matter what combination of Casey, Hafer, Hoeffel, and Pennacchio it contained, would be damaging to our chances to defeat Santorum. Sure, it would cost money, but that money would also be spent on bashing Santorum, raising name ID for all candidates, and giving the party a wider profile across the state. Rendell and Specter both had hotly contested primary battles in their recent statewide campaigns, and both went on to comfortable victories (8-10%) afterward. The same can be said for many Republican Senate candidates this year. I just don't buy that tons of free media exposure for Pennsylvania Democrats will somehow hurt Pennsylvania Democrats. By contrast, I can see very clearly how pre-empting the primary would go a long way toward hurting Pennsylvania Democrats.
MyDD closed with this hope: "Let the primary run its course. It will be to the benefit of us all."
We couldn't have agreed more. Sadly, that's apparently not even an option now.

In this morning's LA Times note Henry Weinstein "Man Whose Wife Was Sterilized in China Wins Asylum A federal appeals court decision could open the door for more men affected by coercive Chinese birth policies to seek refuge in the U.S."

Men whose wives were forcibly sterilized under China's coercive population control policies are entitled to political asylum in the United States, the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Tuesday.The groundbreaking ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could greatly expand the number of people able to stay in the United States on the grounds that they were persecuted by China's population policies. It applies to cases in California and eight other Western states.
"Involuntary sterilization irrevocably strips persons of one of the important liberties we possess as humans: our reproductive freedom," Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter appointee, wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.

Get it? No? It's a privacy right. You don't give government the final word in reproductive rights. If it's too hard for increasingly weak Democrats to support reproductive rights for any other reason, they should at least be able to support it as a privacy right. Once it leaves the area of privacy right, it's the government's right and they can impose whatever they want.