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National Abortion Federation Blog: Saporta Reporter

News about reproductive choice from the President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, Vicki Saporta. photo of Vicki Saporta
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  Remembering an American hero: George Tiller

We continue to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a dedicated physician who provided quality abortion care to women, at great personal sacrifice and risk. He is truly a hero to his fellow abortion providers and his patients. Dr. Tiller’s office is filled with letters from women, thanking him for the excellent, compassionate care he provided. Many of these women say Dr. Tiller saved their lives.

Since his tragic death, we have received messages from some of his patients and from people around the world who are saddened and outraged. We feel it is important to share these words and tributes to our beloved colleague and friend. For the first time, we will enable comments on our blog so that all of you can share your condolences or offer memories of Dr. Tiller. We invite you to join us in honoring a true American hero, Dr. George Tiller.

Post your comments, condolences, and personal memories of Dr. Tiller

Friday, August 07, 2009

Federal Judge Upholds Oakland Bubble Zone Ordinance

Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that a 2008 Oakland city ordinance barring abortion protesters from coming within eight feet of women entering and exiting abortion clinics is constitutional. Anti-abortion protester Walter Hoye challenged the ordinance’s constitutionality, and claimed that police applied it unfairly to anti-abortion protesters after he was cited for violating the ordinance last year. However, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer found the law to be both neutral in content and applied appropriately by police who arrested Hoye.

In February 2008, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed the bubble zone ordinance, which allows patients and providers to enter and leave clinics free from harassment and intimidation while preserving free speech rights.

>Learn more about clinic protection bills.

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very nice and informative blog

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

New York City Council Unveils Clinic Access Bill

Last week, the New York City Council held a hearing on a bill to protect access to reproductive health clinics. The Clinic Access Bill was introduced in September by Speaker Christine Quinn in order to protect both patients and health care providers at local clinics from the harassment they face from anti-abortion protesters. Recent examples of harassment include doctors being knocked to the ground, clinic doors being blocked, and protesters misleading women and instructing them to get into cabs in order to go to the “real” clinic.

The new legislation would allow clinic employees as well as patients to file charges against protesters. The bill also lessens the burden of proof currently required to prosecute the charges.

According to the Women’s Issues Committee chair, “this bill will ensure this right against unlawful harassment and intimidation, and will guarantee that every woman can make the reproductive choices that are best for her."

There has been widespread support for the bill, and it is expected to pass.

>Learn more about clinic protection.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

City Dismisses Complaint Against Illinois Clinic

Last week, the Aurora, IL Building Code Board of Appeals dismissed a complaint filed by anti-abortion groups against NAF member Planned Parenthood Aurora Health Center. The complaint asserted that multiple zoning and building codes were violated during the construction of the clinic and also challenged the final certificate of occupancy issued July 1. Prior to that, the clinic had been operating under a temporary certificate since it opened its doors in October 2007. Last month, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals dismissed a similar complaint brought against the clinic by the same anti-abortion group.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Restrictive Bills Fail in Florida, Kansas

Although access to abortion care continues to be threatened in the states, this week, we celebrated the following defeats of new proposed restrictive legislation:

The Florida Senate failed to pass a bill, which would have required a woman seeking abortion care to have an ultrasound and view the results unless she signed a waiver. After 90 minutes of debate, the bill died on a 20-20 tie. This legislation was medically unnecessary, and an unwarranted intrusion into the relationship between a doctor and patient.

Anti-choice senators in Kansas failed to override the governor's veto of a bill imposing new restrictions on abortion care. Last week, Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) noted in her veto message that the bill, "endangers the health of women and is likely to be found in violation [of] the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Kansas."

>Learn more about abortion rights in the states.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Case Against Over-the-Counter Plan B Sales Dismissed

This week the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit, which challenged the FDA’s approval of Plan B (also known as emergency contraception) for over-the-counter sales to adults. After years of politically-charged debate, the FDA made Plan B available without a prescription in August 2007, but only for adults.

Anti-choice groups were seeking a reversal of this policy, but they failed "to identify a single individual who has been harmed by Plan B's OTC (over-the-counter) availability," according to the ruling.

In a separate case, the Center for Reproductive Rights is also challenging the FDA’s policy concerning over-the-counter access to Plan B; however, their case argues that restricting the drug for girls under 18 was based on politics and not science.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Virginia Senate Takes Action on Abortion Measures

The Education and Health Committee of the Virginia Senate rejected a handful of anti-choice measures today. Several of the bills were examples of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, which single out abortion providers for medically unnecessary, politically motivated regulations. Opponents said the bills would make abortions more expensive and less accessible.

These defeats come just one day after the Virginia Senate voted to stop state funding for Planned Parenthood of Virginia because it offers abortion care. After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) warned that the Senate was setting a bad precedent of singling out organizations because of ideological differences, according to The Washington Post.

>Learn more about TRAP laws.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Senate Questions Anti-Choice Judicial Nominee

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on anti-choice Richard Honaker’s nomination for a lifetime appointment as a federal district judge to the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming.

Throughout his career, Richard Honaker has worked to undermine a woman’s right to access abortion care. While in the Wyoming Legislature, Honaker introduced two bills that would have created a near total-ban on abortion in the state. When the bills failed, Honaker then served as counsel to an organization formed to place the abortion ban on the 1994 Wyoming state-wide ballot. Wyoming voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure.

Honaker has repeatedly stated his view that legal abortion is the equivalent of murder, and has criticized Supreme Court decisions establishing the legal right to an abortion. His statements and writings on the role of religion in the law also raise concerns about whether he would follow established precedent if the resulting decision would be inconsistent with his personal beliefs. Given his extensive history of anti-abortion activism and his extremist legal philosophy, Honaker is clearly an inappropriate judicial candidate and his confirmation to the court would threaten the reproductive rights of women in Wyoming.

Read NAF’s statement opposing Richard Honaker’s nomination.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Celebrating 35 Years of Safe, Legal Abortion Care

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion care in the United States. On this historic anniversary, it is important that we celebrate what we have achieved under the legacy of Roe while also assessing the challenges that lie ahead.

Roe has undoubtedly saved the lives and protected the health of countless women. As we mark this milestone of 35 years of safe, legal abortion care, we must remain vigilant in preserving this freedom so that we never have to return to the days of back-alley abortions when women had to sacrifice their lives and health to end an unwanted pregnancy.

In the 35 years since Roe, many new reproductive health care options have become available to women. These include a variety of safe and effective contraceptive methods, emergency contraception, early medical abortion using mifepristone (RU-486), and safe surgical abortion. Despite these advances in reproductive health care, a woman's fundamental right to make her own reproductive health care decisions continues to be eroded by politicians and the courts.

Women deserve to have access to safe abortion care, free from the interference of politicians. Legislative attacks on Roe and a woman's right to choose are all too common in state legislatures. In 2007 alone, more than 450 anti-choice bills were filed in states across the country. Although the vast majority of these bills were not enacted, several states passed extreme legislation that would ban all safe abortion procedures at all stages of pregnancy if Roe were overturned.

It is critical to the lives and health of millions of women that the protections of Roe not be further weakened. NAF will continue to work to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible to promote health and justice for women.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Senate Defeats Attack on Family Planning Services

Last night, the U.S. Senate rejected an anti-choice amendment by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) to the 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (H.R. 3043). The measure would have restricted federal funding for clinics providing vital health services if they also use their own, private funds to provide abortion care.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

National Abortion Federation Denounces the Appointment of Dr. Orr to Oversee Federal Family Planning Funds

NAF issued this press release today:

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) denounces the appointment of Dr. Susan Orr as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA). DASPA oversees Title X, the nation's family planning program, which provides high-quality family planning and preventive health care services to over five million low-income individuals annually.

This appointment raises serious concerns, as Dr. Orr previously served as the Senior Director for Marriage and Family Care at the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization that has advocated for limited access to contraception. She currently serves on the board of directors for Teen Choice, a nonprofit organization, which advocates for abstinence in lieu of contraception.

During her time at FRC, Dr. Orr spoke out in support of President George W. Bush’s proposed elimination of the contraceptive coverage requirement from federal employees’ health insurance. In 2001 she said to The Washington Post, “We’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease. It’s not a medical necessity that you have [contraception].”

This is not the first time that President Bush has made a controversial appointment to this critical public health post. Last year, Bush appointed anti-birth control advocate Dr. Eric Keroack, who had previously managed Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in Massachusetts, to this position. CPCs are designed to discourage pregnant women from seeking abortion care, and in many instances they misinform and intimidate women to achieve their goal. Dr. Keroack resigned in March 2007 following public outrage.

"This is just another example of the Bush Administration promoting politics over a sound health policy. Dr. Orr should not be entrusted with the oversight of the federal family planning program and the health of millions of Americans," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "For more than 35 years, the Title X program has been a hallmark of quality preventive care, enabling practitioners to provide family planning services to low-income individuals."

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Victory in Aurora!

After weeks of politicization, Planned Parenthood is finally able to open their new clinic in Aurora, IL. Yesterday, the Kane County state's attorney said there was no wrongdoing after reviewing the clinic's development and permit process. The investigation was prompted by the complaints of anti-choice protesters and some members of the City Council. This was the third review to find no problems with the permit process. The city of Aurora then granted Planned Parenthood an occupancy permit and the clinic has opened its doors, two weeks after its scheduled opening.

The 22,000-square-foot, $7.5 million building will serve the growing community outside of Chicago by providing much need reproductive health care services including sexually transmitted disease treatment, breast cancer screening, and abortion care.

"It's always a victory when we can expand access to reproductive health care services, including abortion services," said Steve Trombley, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NAF Staff in the Field: Protecting our Members in Alabama

Update 2

Tuesday morning about 20 OSA demonstrators gathered at Planned Parenthood and about 25 more at the New Woman All Women's clinic, while a group of about 120 traveled to Tuscaloosa to protest at the clinic there. I spent my day monitoring the situation and assisting clinic staff in Tuscaloosa. The group there included numerous children and teenagers. The protesters trespassed onto clinic property, placed fliers containing the doctor's name and photograph on cars in the clinic parking lot and those of the surrounding buildings, and harassed and grabbed patients entering the clinic.

In addition, two protesters went into the clinic waiting room pretending to be patients, and passed out additional flyers. The protesters were eventually moved to the public sidewalk where they continued their demonstration for about two to three hours, despite not having a required permit.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

NAF Staff in the Field: Protecting our Members in Alabama

This week in Birmingham, Alabama, anti-abortion group Operation Save America (OSA) will be protesting at Planned Parenthood and the New Woman All Women clinic. New Woman All Women was the clinic that was bombed by convicted murderer Eric Robert Rudolph in 1998. An off duty police officer, employed as a security guard, was killed and a nurse, Emily Lyons, was brutally and permanently injured.

A staff member from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) is on the ground in Birmingham working with law enforcement and clinic staff in order to ensure that patients have safe access to abortion care and that services are unimpeded. Please visit our blog this week to read our reports “from the field.”


Update 1

Members of OSA began gathering for their annual week-long protest event in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday. This morning was their first day protesting at the city’s two abortion clinics. About 15 people demonstrated at Planned Parenthood, while about 100 gathered at the New Woman All Women clinic. Protesters carried graphic signs and shouted at clinic staff and law enforcement. Trucks, also bearing graphic signs, drove throughout the city, provoking numerous calls from concerned citizens who complained about the trucks. The group then gathered in the 5 Points neighborhood and held a rally and signing of an "emancipation proclamation for the unborn children of our land." There was a visible law enforcement presence at all the venues. Despite the disruption, the clinics both remained open and cared for their patients.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Study Finds No Link Between Abortion and Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

Scientists from Harvard published a study last week that “found no difference in breast cancer incidence between the women who had had spontaneous or induced abortions and those who had not.

According to Karin Michels, the lead author of the study and an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard, “There are still some states that require women to be informed about the risk of breast cancer if they get an abortion. I think that may not be justified based on the current evidence.”

More than 100 of the world’s leading experts on pregnancy and breast cancer have concluded that having an abortion does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer. However, the anti-choice community continues to claim an association between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer in an attempt to scare women away from choosing abortion.

>Learn about other abortion myths

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Abortion Rights Groups Call on New Brunswick to Enact Security Measures to Protect Abortion Providers, Clinics, and their Patients

Here is the press release we issued today:

The National Abortion Federation (NAF), New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women (ACSW) and the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) are calling on Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Thomas J. Burke, Q.C., to introduce legislation to establish an access zone around facilities providing abortion services, residences of doctors and service providers, and doctors’ offices in New Brunswick.

Similar legislation has already been enacted in British Columbia which created an access zone around the boundaries of abortion clinics.

Abortion clinics and providers in Canada have been targeted for violence and harassment by anti-abortion extremists,” said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. “We urge New Brunswick to follow the lead of British Columbia and enact legislation to protect patients, providers and the communities in which they live.”

Establishing an access zone is extremely important for the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, where there is no patient parking on site. Patients must park across the street in a parking lot and walk to the clinic.

“On days abortion services are provided, protestors march outside the clinic carrying signs designed to discourage women from entering. Our patients have made their choice and do not deserve to be intimidated or harassed,“ said Simone Leibovitch, Manager of the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic and member of ARCC. “Volunteer escorts are recruited to assist women as they enter and leave the Clinic.”

Although protesters are not allowed on private property, there was recently an incident with protesters when the police had to be called when protesters have come onto the clinic’s property.

"If New Brunswick had access zone protection, anti-choice demonstrators could not continue their unacceptable interference. Women who access this legal health care service and the staff who provide it must be treated with respect for their dignity and privacy," affirmed Ginette Petitpas-Taylor, ACSW Chairperson.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Alabama Man Sentenced to Probation for Clinic Attack

On Thursday, an Alabama man was sentenced for driving his car into a Tuscaloosa abortion clinic in January 2006. Dalton Ray Skinner was ordered to pay $6,100 in damages, serve five years of probation, and live in an in-house substance abuse center until he successfully completes the treatment program. The judge also ordered Skinner to stay at least 200 feet away from the West Alabama Women’s Center.

Skinner was charged in April with violating the
Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services. He faced a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. It is disappointing that he only received probation. The enforcement of the FACE Act has had a significant impact on the decline in extreme violence against abortion providers in recent years.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Celebrating Reproductive Freedom: Commemorating Roe v. Wade in the Nation’s Capital – Update 2

I wanted to share with you insights from one of our staff members handling violence and security issues:

Anti-abortion protesters from around the country came to Washington, DC to participate in Monday’s “March for Life” as well as numerous other activities that took place over the weekend. The march itself began with a rally on the national mall near the White House where the crowd was addressed by anti-choice legislators. President Bush also addressed the protestors via telephone.

On Saturday, a group of anti-abortion teens and college students protested at abortion clinics in Washington, DC. They held signs, prayed, sang, and attempted to approach patients and staff entering the clinics. Escorts from the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force were on hand to assist women safely into the clinics. On behalf of our members, I went to the clinic protests and the march to monitor the protesters; ensure that no laws were broken; and offer support and assistance. One difference this year at the clinic protests was the noted absence of the older adult male leaders such as Frank Pavone, Pat Mahoney, and Jeff White.

In such an important week for reproductive freedom, another anti-abortion extremist is in federal court. Today the jury found convicted murderer
James Kopp guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and using a firearm to commit a violent act. He was previously convicted on state murder charges for the 1998 shooting death of abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian, and is serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence. This federal conviction could ensure that he would not be eligible for parole. Such prosecutions and convictions have led to the decline in major acts of violence against abortion providers in recent years.

>Learn more about clinic violence.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Celebrating Reproductive Freedom: Commemorating Roe v. Wade in the Nation’s Capital - Update 1

The Supreme Court steps seemed a fitting place to commemorate the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Braving the cold and leftover snow, we joined other activists to celebrate the landmark decision that legalized abortion. As you might expect our celebration was met by anti-choice protestors, but neither their signs nor the weather could dampen our spirits. Roe day is a day for us to celebrate our freedom – and as we stood between the nation’s highest court and the Capitol, we were reminded that we must continue to stand up for our reproductive rights.

After the rally at the Supreme Court, we headed over to an event sponsored by one of our members, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (PPMW). In addition to meeting other activists and members of the pro-choice community, we also got the chance to meet actress Kathleen Turner. Ms. Turner is an advocate for reproductive freedom and spoke about the need for young women to get involved in protecting a woman’s right to choose abortion. She also talked about the obstacles low-income women face in obtaining abortion care. This event raised money for PPMW’s Justice Fund which offers financial assistance to women seeking abortions. Everyday the NAF Hotline helps low-income women struggling to find a way to pay for their abortions.


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Monday, January 22, 2007

On the 34th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion Federation Releases its 2006 Legislative Report

As our nation today commemorates the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) released its 2006 Legislative Report. While abortion rights remained under attack in 2006, there were several notable victories at the federal and state levels that could lay the groundwork for future pro-choice legislative victories.

"Legislative attacks on women's reproductive freedom are all too common," said Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of NAF. "Women deserve to have access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion care. At the same time that we celebrate what Roe v. Wade has done to improve the lives and health of American women, we must remain vigilant in opposing attempts to further restrict abortion access."

The report examines key events in 2006, including the confirmation of Samuel Alito, the introduction of sweeping abortion bans in several states, successful campaigns against restrictive state ballot initiatives, the enactment of protective measures for abortion providers, the defeat of anti-abortion legislation on Capitol Hill, and the 2006 elections.

"NAF will continue to work on the state and federal levels to ensure that abortion is safe, legal, and accessible to promote health and justice for women," said Saporta.

NAF’s 2006 Legislative Report is available at www.prochoice.org.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Pro-Choice License Plates Proposed in Florida

After years of unsuccessful attempts to stop the sale of anti-choice specialty license plates, NOW’s Orlando chapter has designed a Florida license plate which supports abortion rights. The group spent the past year designing the plate and plans to seek legislative approval for the proposed design next year. Thirteen states, including Florida, allow drivers to pay extra for anti-choice vanity plates, but only Hawaii and Montana offer plates that support reproductive freedom.

The revenue from anti-choice license plates often funds Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) and other anti-choice organizations.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Kopp Denied Dismissal

Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara rejected all of the defense motions to dismiss a federal case against convicted murderer James Kopp. Kopp was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a 25-year-to-life state sentence for the 1998 shooting of an abortion provider. He faces a life term if he is found guilty of violating the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in the shooting.

Preparing his own defense, Kopp argued that this latest case should be dismissed because the shooting did not take place in a clinic entrance. Kopp admitted to fatally shooting Dr. Barnett Slepian and had planned to argue that the shooting was justified because it was intended to save the lives of the unborn. Arcara determined Kopp cannot use this defense since his actions attempted to prevent legal behavior. Kopp is also barred from including abortion related photographs or discussion of his anti-choice views in his defense.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Act Now to Stop Congress From Interfering In Private Medical Decisions!

Just weeks ago, voters across the country rejected extremism and elected candidates supportive of reproductive freedom. But as anti-choice politicians in Congress prepare to adjourn for the year, they are attempting to interfere with private health care decisions by requiring doctors to provide women seeking an abortion with misleading information.

Anti-choice advocates are going to bring H.R. 6099, the “Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act” to a vote on Wednesday, December 6. This ill-advised bill would inappropriately interfere with the way doctors provide care to women, advance political agendas over sound science, and would punish doctors for providing responsible patient care.

Women seeking a legal abortion after 20 weeks would be forced to read and sign a statement saying that "there is substantial evidence the process of being killed in an abortion will cause the unborn child pain." Available scientific evidence fails to support the conclusions drawn by this legislation and its required statement.

Doctors already share relevant information about health care options and respect the decisions made by their patients. This legislation intrudes upon the doctor-patient relationship by requiring doctors to provide information that they may not believe is appropriate or accurate for an individual patient. Responsible medicine requires that patients and doctors be able to make treatment decisions together based on each patient’s unique circumstances.

Requiring doctors to share misleading mandated communication with their patients, is a dangerous insertion of Congress into private health care decisions. We urge you to contact your Representative to oppose this legislation so that doctors and patients, not politicians, can continue to determine what constitutes medically appropriate care.

>Read NAF's position statement opposing this legislation

>View NAF's press release

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alabama Man Pleads Guilty in Clinic Attack

Dalton Ray Skinner pleaded guilty Tuesday to a January attack on the West Alabama Women’s Center where he drove his car into the front entrance while the clinic was closed. Skinner was indicted in April on one charge of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which makes it a federal crime to use force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to prevent individuals from obtaining or providing reproductive health care services. He faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine at his February sentencing.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Act Now to Protect Title X, America’s Family Planning Program

For more than 35 years, the Title X program has been a hallmark of quality preventative care, enabling practitioners to provide family planning services to over 5 million low-income individuals annually. However, this program and its mission are now at serious risk. The Bush Administration has just appointed an anti-choice ob-gyn, Dr. Eric Keroack, to the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs, a position which oversees the Title X program.

This appointment raises serious concerns, because Dr. Keroack is currently the Medical Director for A Woman’s Concern (AWC), five crisis pregnancy health centers located in the Greater Boston Area. Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) are designed to dissuade pregnant women from seeking abortions, and in many instances, they misinform and intimidate women to achieve their goal. Dr. Keroack’s support of biased counseling is in direct conflict with Title X’s long-standing requirement that women facing an unintended pregnancy be provided with medically accurate information. In addition, AWC health centers will not distribute, encourage the use of, or offer referrals for contraceptive drugs and devices.

Dr. Keroack should not be entrusted with the oversight of the Title X program and the health of millions of American women. Act now and urge Secretary of Health and Human Services, Michael Leavitt, to reconsider the appointment of Dr. Keroack as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs.

>TAKE ACTION NOW!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Bush Names Anti-choice Advocate to Oversee Family Planning

This week, the Bush Administration appointed Eric Keroack, M.D., as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs (DASPA) within the Department of Health and Human Services. In this post Keroack will oversee the Office of Family Planning and the Title X program, which is the only Federal program designed to fund family planning and reproductive health services.

An anti-choice advocate, Keroack is the Medical Director of six Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Massachusetts, which oppose counseling and education on birth control, and attempt to dissuade women from obtaining abortions.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Voters Reject Abortion Restrictions

Voters in California, Oregon and South Dakota rejected anti-choice ballot initiatives on Election Day.

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on the South Dakota abortion ban

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on Oregon's parental notification ballot initiative

> Read NAF's press release about the vote on California's parental notification initiative

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Monday, November 06, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda – Update 8

Staff members from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) are on the ground in South Dakota campaigning to repeal South Dakota’s abortion ban. Please read our blog this week to read our staff’s reports “from the field” about this closely watched ballot initiative and learn more about the “No on Six” campaign.

We had a rally in front of the federal court house to get voters and the Sioux Falls Community energized. Jan Nicolay, co-chair of the South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families , spoke out against the ban and invited others to do the same. Several community members came forward to express their opposition, including a young pregnant woman, a mother of four, a union leader, a high-school student, and a medical student at a local university. Even the arrival of anti-choice protesters couldn’t dampen the energy of the crowd, which filled the entire sidewalk in front of the courthouse. Afterward, we joined about 30 other volunteers with signs and marched up to the busiest Sioux Falls intersections to wave our signs and cheer against the abortion ban. Our supporters honked and cheered as they drove by in their cars during the busy lunch hour. After two hours outside in the chilly South Dakota wind, our fingers were numb but our spirits were high, and we returned to the office to continue our efforts to get out the vote with phone calls and mailings.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 6

While driving around the Sioux Falls area, we notice that many of the churches have at least one (and usually several) “Vote Yes for Life” yard signs. Their marquees also contain anti-choice messages, along with reminders to vote on November 7th. Many of these churches are also polling locations, where South Dakota citizens will go to vote on Election Day.

It is important to understand that many people of faith oppose the South Dakota ban and religious leaders are speaking out. Pastors for Moral Choices (link: http://www.pastorsformoralchoices.org/), an organization of religious leaders uniting together in South Dakota, has been formed by clergy that are against the comprehensive ban.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

NAF Staff in the Field: South Dakota Abortion Ban Referenda - Update 1


Driving along the flat, dusty stretch of Highway 29 between our hotel and campaign headquarters, we are all struck by the sheer number of yard signs reflecting various issues South Dakotans will be deciding on in a few days. In past elections, it may have been easier to predict the outcome for certain ballot initiatives based on voter history.

However, on November 7, 2006, South Dakotans will vote on repealing the most restrictive abortion ban that outlaws abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with only a limited exception if necessary to save the life of the woman. In talking with one of the “No on Six” organizers at our campaign headquarters, it is clear that repealing the abortion ban is not an issue that will be decided along party lines. Volunteers from every political party and from both sides of the abortion issue have showed up to help spread the word about the importance of repealing the restrictive ban.

Democrats sit alongside Republicans and Independents stuffing voter guides to be mailed out. Self described pro-choice and anti-choice voters stop by to pick up “No on Six” yard signs for their lawns.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Anti-Choice Legislation Stopped From Being Enacted Into Law!

Thank you for contacting your Senators and urging them to oppose the cloture motion and S. 403, the Teen Endangerment Act. Your voices were heard, and in a victory for pro-choice legislators and activists, the cloture motion failed. This means that this harmful bill will not reach President Bush before Congress adjourns.

>Read NAF’s position statement opposing the Teen Endangerment Act

>View our press release "National Abortion Federation Commends Senators for Voting Against the Cloture Motion on the Teen Endangerment Act"

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Help Stop Anti-Choice Legislation From Being Enacted Into Law!

In an eleventh hour maneuver, Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate has announced plans to bring anti-choice legislation, S. 403, to the Senate Floor for debate and vote.

This dangerous and unconstitutional legislation passed the House of Representatives earlier this week, and if it passes in the Senate, it would be signed into law by the President. However, we have an opportunity to protect teens and prevent this law from going in to effect this year. The Senate will be voting tonight on a cloture motion, which must pass with 60 votes in order to allow the Senate to proceed with a vote on S. 403. Therefore, if enough Senators vote “NO” on cloture, we can stop the Teen Endangerment Act from coming to the Floor.

Please call your Senators today and urge them to vote NO on cloture!
The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121

>View talking points and let us know you made calls to your Senators

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

NAF Condemns Passage of the Teen Endangerment Act

Last night NAF issued this press release:


    Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that combines the Child Custody Protection Act, which was passed by the U.S. Senate this past summer, with provisions substantially similar to the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives last year. This callous legislation, more aptly called The Teen Endangerment Act, could endanger teens and violate their constitutional rights. Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, released the following statement condemning this harmful legislation:

    Tonight, Members of the U.S. House of Representatives chose anti-choice politics over protecting the health and safety of our teens with their passage of the Teen Endangerment Act. This legislation would make it a federal crime for a person other than a parent to help a minor from certain states obtain an abortion in another state if the minor has not fulfilled the parental involvement requirements of her home state.

    In many cases where a teen is not comfortable involving her parent, she reaches out to trusted aunts, sisters, grandmothers, or other friends as a resource. However, the Teen Endangerment Act effectively removes this alternative and prohibits anyone except a parent from taking a minor across certain state lines for an abortion if the teen has not already met her home state's parental involvement requirements. As a result, a teen may be compelled to pursue drastic alternatives in order to avoid involving her parents, or she may encounter dangerous delays as she attempts to navigate the legal system and obtain a judicial bypass.

    The Teen Endangerment Act also places burdensome restrictions on doctors, and puts them at risk for criminal and civil liability. On behalf of health care providers, and the teens for whom they care, we condemn the House for passing this dangerous legislation.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Abortion Clinics in Alabama

An Associated Press article examines how it has become increasingly difficult for abortion clinics in Alabama to find backup physicians to work at their clinics, as providers’ face hostility, harassment, and threats of violence.

The article cites our statistics on violence,which we have been compiling against abortion providers since 1977. Our comprehensive database is an invaluable resource that enables us to detect changes in the patterns and trends in anti-abortion activities.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Anti-Choice Protests Anger Michigan Residents

Missionaries to the Preborn, an anti-choice group based in Milwaukee, angered residents of Muskegon by displaying large graphic photos. Yesterday, about 65 adult and children protestors handed out brochures to uncomfortable passers-by. Many residents called in complaints to the local police station. This was one of the many stops on the group's 12 day Great Lakes Tour throughout the Midwest.

>Read the Muskegon Chronicle article

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Anti-Abortion Group Protests in Halifax

An anti-abortion group, Show the Truth, who protested in New Brunswick in recent weeks, continued their anti-abortion campaign in Halifax. The group displayed large pictures of aborted fetuses at a busy intersection. Pro-choice and anti-choice Halifax residents have expressed their disgust with the group’s tactics.

>Read The Chronicle Herald article

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Anti-Choice Group Displays Graphic Photos in Baltimore

On Thursday, June 20, Defend Life, a Baltimore-based anti-choice group, displayed graphic images of aborted fetuses on one of the city’s busiest intersections. Despite negative reactions from motorists and passers-by, the group defended their use of the offensive images.

View the Examiner article

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Anti-Abortion Group is Urged to Leave Canadian Province

New Brunswick residents grew angered by Show The Truth’s anti-abortion demonstration which displayed large photos of aborted fetuses. Hundreds of calls were made to the city mayor and police department requesting the photos be removed. However, local officials can’t take legal action against the Ontario-based anti-choice group.

>Read the CBC News article

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Supreme Court Declines Review of Anti-Choice License Plates

The Washington Post reports that the Supreme Court denied pro-choice groups’ request that states be blocked from offering specialty license plates that say “choose life.” The cases focused on Louisiana and Tennessee, where drivers can pay extra for anti-choice vanity plates, but are not offered alternative plates that support reproductive freedom. Federal judges in Louisiana and Texas found the license plates unconstitutional, but federal appeals’ courts overturned the decisions.

The revenue from “choose life” license plates is often used to fund Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) or other anti-choice organizations.
>View NAF’s report on CPCs


For more information, including a list of states offering anti-choice license plates, read the Guttmacher Institute report State Policies in Brief.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Abortion Policy Report

Stateline.org released an abortion policy report that outlines the history of abortion in the United States. The report, entitled States Probe Limits of Abortion Policy, traces and breaks down states’ past, present and future anti-choice policies. The report explores the various abortion legislation that could potentially threaten the future of choice.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Citizens of South Dakota Will Have a Choice in November

South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson certified this week that the required signatures had been gathered and the restrictive anti-abortion repeal initiative would appear on the ballot in November.

Citizens of South Dakota will have a chance to repeal the state’s extreme ban on abortion. The South Dakota ban outlaws abortion, making it a felony for a doctor to provide an abortion and makes no exception for rape, incest, or to protect the health of the woman.

In March 2006, NAF called the actions by South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds in signing into law the abortion ban, "a direct attack on American women and their reproductive freedoms."

View NAF’s press release

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

ACOG Urges Women to Buy EC Before They Need It

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urged women to get an advanced prescription for emergency contraception as part of a new public education campaign. Read the Associated Press article.

NPR has an interview with the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, who has vowed to open an abortion clinic on the reservation.

The New York Times Magazine reports on anti-choice efforts to reduce access to contraception.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

We're Back from Vacation With Your News Update

Dr. Lester Crawford, who headed the FDA when the agency made its controversial decision to withhold a decision on making emergency contraception available over the counter, is facing a criminal inquiry about making false statements to Congress.

Emily Lyons, a nurse who was injured when anti-choice extremist Eric Rudolf bombed her facility, has still not received compensation for her injuries. Read the Washington Post story.

Gambia’s National Assembly Members ratified a woman’s rights protocol last Tuesday. Among other things, the protocol would allow women to have abortions in cases of rape and incest. Currently, Gambia’s strict abortion laws only have a limited life exception.

Anti-choice advocates in Minnesota are trying to stop public funding of abortion services. Read the Associated Press article.

The Louisiana abortion ban passed the state Senate last Wednesday. The bill would ban almost all abortions in the state, except in circumstances where a woman’s life is threatened.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Personal Choice

Emily White reflects on her decision to terminate a pregnancy as a college student in South Dakota. Read The Stranger article.

Christina Page chronicles how anti-choice restrictions on reproductive freedom have affected the United States. Page is the author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex. Read her article in The Guardian.

The Kentucky Courier Post-Journal published an editorial that urges readers to consider the situation in El Salvador, where abortion is completely illegal, before advocating for state abortion bans in the United States.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

La Times Profiles Pro-Choice Activists in South Dakota

The LA Times has an inspiring story about the success of activists who are gathering signatures to place South Dakota’s abortion ban on the ballot.

Yesterday the FDA declared a death previously reported after the use of mifepristone/misoprostol unrelated to abortion. Read the update.

Anti-choice advocates in South Dakota have set up a legal fund to defend the ban if it is taken to court. But there has been a local controversy over whether donors to the fund can remain anonymous. Read the story in the Aberdeen American News>.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

El Salvador: Where Abortion is Outlawed

What happens when abortion is illegal? The New York Times Magazine investigates that question in a report from El Salvador, a country where abortion is outlawed in every circumstance.

Anti-abortion protestors in Omaha, Nebraska, have started to protest providers and clinic workers at their homes. Read the article in the Sioux City Journal.

A sweeping abortion ban is expected to pass the Louisiana state legislature but even Louisiana lawmakers admit that the ban is unconstitutional.

Several anti-choice bills went unheard as the Oklahoma State legislative session expired on Thursday. Read the Associated Press story.

The Aberdeen American News reports on the controversy surrounding a link to an anti-choice organization on the South Dakota Health Department’s website.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Pro-Choice News From Home and Abroad

NAF was mentioned in a story about the increasingly extreme tactics of anti-choice advocates in the United Kingdom. Read the London Daily Telegraph article.

The New York Times has a story about pro-choice members of the clergy.

The Inter Press Service has a story on how outdated abortion laws force African women to resort to unsafe, illegal abortions.

NPR has an in-depth look at how the South Dakota legislature is responding to the national attention they have received after passing the abortion ban.

Cecelia Fire Thunder, the president of the South Dakota Oglala Sioux Tribe, wishes to open a comprehensive reproductive health care clinic on her reservation. Read the Baltimore Sun story.

The Kenya Obstetrical and Gynecological Society is campaigning to make medical abortion available in Kenya. Read the South African Mail and Guardian story.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

Pro-Choice Activists Fight Back

Pro-choice activists in South Dakota kicked off a campaign today to overturn the state’s abortion ban. Read the Reuters story.

NPR has a story about how bills expanding access to emergency contraception are faring in state legislatures. Listen to the report.

Anti-choice Alabama legislators have introduced two bills that would ban almost all abortions in the state. Fortunately, the Alabama legislative session is nearing a close and the bills are likely to die in committee. Read the local story.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Anti-Choice Search Engine?

The FDA has issued a public health advisory about mifepristone. Read the advisory here.

Is amazon.com’s search engine anti-choice? Pro-choice activists complained after readers who searched the word abortion were asked, “Did you mean adoption?” Read the New York Times story.

Salon.com has an in-depth story about how anti-choice advocates want to ban contraception.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

A New Head of the FDA? But What About Plan B?

President Bush has nominated Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach to head the Food and Drug Administration, but pro-choice senators have vowed not to confirm him until the FDA issues its long awaited decision on whether to allow over-the-counter sales of Plan B, an emergency contraceptive. Read the New York Times story.

The Indianapolis Star has a story about how pro-choice religious leaders are speaking out against anti-choice legislation in Indiana.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

News Roundup on the South Dakota Abortion Ban

Yesterday, the South Dakota governor signed into law a blatantly unconstitutional bill that would ban almost all abortions in the state. We expect this law to be challenged and then immediately enjoined. We issued a press release yesterday condemning the ban.

Read the Associated Press article.

Read the CNN article.

Here’s the local story from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

USA Today is reporting that the South Dakota ban is causing rifts among the anti-choice community.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Urban Planning, and Judicial Thank-You Notes

Mississippi: Following in South Dakota's Footsteps

Now that the South Dakota legislature has passed a widespread abortion ban, other states want to get in on the action. Not to be outdone, Mississippi is also about to pass a sweeping abortion ban that would outlaw most abortions in the state.

The Newest Assault on Choice: Urban Planning

CNN is reporting that Domino’s Pizza founder, Thomas S. Monaghan, wants to build a town in Florida that would run on what he sees as Roman Catholic principles. Not only would it be impossible to obtain an abortion in the town, called Ave Maria, but pharmacies would not be allowed to provide birth control pills or condoms. The ACLU is already looking into the legality of Monahan’s proposed urban-planning policies.

Alito Thanks Focus on the Family

Why did Justice Alito write a thank-you note to anti-choice organization Focus on the Family? James Dobson, the organization’s president, read part of Alito’s thank-you note on his radio broadcast. The Supreme Court Justice wrote that ''the prayers of so many people from around the country were a palpable and powerful force. As long as I serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep in mind the trust that has been placed in me.” Both Alito and Dobson claim that the note is harmless but groups fighting for the separation of church and state disagree.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

NOW v. Scheidler is no Anti-Choice Victory

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Now v. Scheidler, a case that sought to use federal racketeering laws to protect clinics from violent, harassing anti-choice protestors. While the Court ruled against using the Hobbs Act to protect clinics, abortion providers remain protected under the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances (FACE) Act, which Congress passed in 1994. As I said in a news release we issued earlier today, this ruling absolutely should not be interpreted as a victory for anti-choice extremists.

The FACE Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress has ever passed regarding clinic safety. The Scheidler lawsuit was initiated in 1986, before clinics had federal protections from violent protestors. At that time, clinics were under siege from blockades and women were forcibly blocked from clinic entrances by anti-choice protesters. The FACE act made it illegal to use “force or threat of force” to stop women from accessing safe, necessary health care.

Find out more about the FACE Act and how it’s helped keep NAF members safe.

In other news, the New York State Legislature is considering a law that would make it easier for women to obtain emergency contraception (EC). The bill would allow pharmacists to write prescriptions for EC, so women could obtain the medication without having to visit their doctor. Because EC is most effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, it is essential that women can access it as quickly as possible.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Good News to Start the Weekend: Virginia Kills TRAP Bill

Here’s some good news from Virginia to start your weekend:

The Virginia Legislature killed a Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) bill in committee yesterday. The bill would have required abortion providers to follow a series of politically motivated regulations that could have forced some of the state’s clinics to close.

But Senators on the Senate Education and Health Committee recognized the harmful effects of this unnecessary legislation and voted it down 9-6.

As you know, Virginia wasn’t the only state that considered anti-choice legislation this week; South Dakota and Indiana legislatures also took up anti-choice bills. To find out how NAF took action around these pieces of legislation and to sign up on our Action Alert list, visit our Action For Choice Center.

If you want to find out more about abortion-related legislation in the states you can download our most recent report, Reproductive Choice in the States 2005. The report details some of the most common anti-choice and pro-choice legislation that moved through state legislatures in 2005 including biased counseling bills, abortion bans, and TRAP legislation.

Have an excellent weekend and don’t forget to check back on Monday for the latest pro-choice news.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Current Pro-Choice Debate

E. J. Dionne's column in today's Washington Post explores the current pro-choice and anti-choice debate. It's an interesting article and Dionne notes President Bush's political posturing on abortion. Read the entire column.

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