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The Texas legislature is moving swiftly on a bill that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks and impose new and costly rules on clinics performing the procedures. Yesterday, thousands rallied outside the Texas capital in protest. Last week, Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis blocked the initial effort to pass the bill with a marathon filibuster that garnered national attention. But Texas is clearly on course to join a number of states which have passed legislation reducing women’s access to abortion and reproductive health services.
- Terry O'Neill president, National Organization for Women.
- Marjorie Dannenfelser president, Susan B. Anthony List.
- Wendy Davis state senator, Texas district 10.
- Erik Eckholm national correspondent, The New York Times.
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Yesterday, in Austin, Texas, thousands rallied against a bill very likely to become law that will substantially restrict women's access to abortions. Texas is just one of several Republican-controlled states who imposed new restrictions on access to abortion.
MS. DIANE REHMJoining me to talk about trends and their national implications: Terry O'Neill of the National Organization for Women, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, joining us from a studio at The New York Times in New York, Erik Eckholm, national correspondent. And we do look forward to hearing your comments and questions. Join us, 800-433-8850. Send us your email to email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Good morning and welcome to all of you.
MS. MARJORIE DANNENFELSERGood morning, Diane.
MS. TERRY O'NEILLGood morning.
REHMAnd first, joining us from the Texas Statehouse in Austin, is Wendy Davis. She's the Democratic State Senator who filibustered last week to block passage of the Texas anti-abortion bill. Welcome to you, Sen. Davis.
SEN. WENDY DAVISThank you, Diane.
REHMProcedural tactics are not likely to work this time around. Is that correct?
DAVISIt will be much difficult to block passage of this bill in the way we were able to block passage of it last week. That's correct.
DAVISBecause the last special session calendar, Gov. Perry placed this item on the call until we were almost halfway through that 30-day session, and that really put it on a challenge from the beginning in terms of running out the clock. On both sides of the dome, in both the House and the Senate, Democrats were successful in making that clock work to our advantage. But this time, of course, on the very first day of the session, 30-day session, again, the bill was placed on the calendar, and it will have a much greater chance of success in terms of our ability to run that out.
REHMSo tell us what it means when and if this bill becomes law? What would it mean for the women of Texas?
DAVISWell, there are -- it's an omnibus bill. It includes four different provisions, each one meant to create greater challenges to access. The two greatest problems with the bill in terms of the current rights that women have in the state of Texas today is -- would require all of these clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers. And, yeah, there's no data to demonstrate why the clinical setting that exists in Texas today has presented any harm whatsoever to women's health.
DAVISIf that piece of the bill survives and passes into law, 37 of the 42 clinics in Texas would close. And as you know, Diane, Texas is a huge state. And unfortunately, only our urban centers would continue to provide this access to service, and women in more remote and impoverished rural areas of our state wouldn't have that access anymore.
DAVISThe second piece of it, which makes it challenging even in the urban communities where these clinics could still exist, is a limitation on the doctors who would be able to provide these services, requiring that if they do not have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic, they could not provide the service, again, without any demonstration that somehow that's creating a safer climate for women. And overall, of course, both of those things combined are meant to severely restrict women's access.
REHMI had a feeling that you would also like to see what could be done to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in your state.
DAVISThat's absolutely true, and we've been putting amendments forward. We're filing some independent bills today that have been filed in this session and previous sessions asking us to concentrate and focus on preventing unwanted pregnancy. And if we truly wanted to reduce that number of abortions that are occurring in Texas, that's exactly what we would do.
DAVISUnbelievably, though, Republicans have resisted efforts that actually would do something effective in reducing the abortion rate. We know that unplanned pregnancies are going to continue in Texas at a very high rate. Funding for women's health and family planning services was dramatically cut in 2011. About 150-, 160,000 women lost their access to family planning care.
DAVISAnd at the time, our health and human services commissioner said is if you do this, the Medicaid birth rate will rise, which is a fiscal problem for the state of Texas, but also unplanned pregnancies leading to abortion will likely rise as well. And that's what the statistics have truly demonstrated in Texas. You would think that if this truly were an issue that Republicans were trying to address, they would wholeheartedly embrace the concept of preventing unplanned pregnancy, but they're not.
REHMBefore we move on to the issue of equal pay for equal work in Texas, want to ask you about your reaction to Gov. Perry's comments regarding your filibuster.
DAVISHis comments were personal in nature, and I felt that they demean the high office that he holds. And I know a lot of women felt offended by what he said. I'm a big girl. I'm in politics. I have thick skin. I can take it. But it did bother me on behalf of so many women who takes that as a very insulting, unfeeling comment from the governor.
REHMHe seemed to imply that because you were a single mother born to a single mother, that had abortion been a possibility or something that your mother wanted, you might not even have come in to being.
DAVISWell, what's interesting about his comment is he obviously doesn't really understand my personal history. I was not born to a single mother. I was born to two parents. I have three siblings. My parents divorced when I was 11 years old, and my mother became a single-parent head of household working to try to take care of four children on a salary working in an ice cream and dairy store here in Texas.
DAVISAnd that's just -- that, you know, sort of proves the point. My story is my story. And I had unique challenges and unique choices that were put in front of me and chances that were created by virtue of educational opportunities that I received. And each woman's story in Texas today uniquely belongs to her as well.
DAVISAnd it's really not right for him to use those sorts of arguments in the political framework.
REHMNow, let me ask you about your efforts that were without success to get equal pay for equal work passed in Texas. What happened?
DAVISWell, we actually passed that bill. I won't say it wasn't without a lot of hard work. Rep. Senfronia Thompson on the House side and I on the Senate side had to work quite hard, but we did ultimately gain the bipartisan support that we needed in each of our chambers. We are a vast majority Republican legislature, and I was so pleased and proud that we were able to build the kind of support that we needed for passage of an equal pay for equal work bill in the state of Texas as, I think, 42 other states have done.
DAVISUnfortunately, when it landed on the governor's desk, he vetoed it. And I think it's part and parcel of his perspective and his disengagement from the lives of women and the challenges that women in Texas face. Whether women are single or whether they are married, clearly, our children need parents who can provide for them well. And his veto of the bill showed complete disregard for the challenges that women and their families face economically.
REHMSenator, you have a state in which the governor is a Republican and the legislature is controlled by Republicans. What do the current Senate district lines mean for prospects for more bipartisan efforts in Texas?
DAVISRedistricting in Texas is no different than it has been elsewhere in terms of what is ultimately defined on the political framework here in Texas. And essentially, because of districts being drawn so very strongly Republican or packing of districts so that minority influence can't be spread out very tightly Democrat, what happens here is we don't really have conversations in the election cycle that takes place in the middle. Most Texans are in the middle.
DAVISBut the choices that are being offered to them are happening during primaries where they are choosing, unfortunately, usually between people who are running to the extreme of each side and not really reflective of what they and their families want to see in office.
REHMThere are some who are saying you might run for the governor's office next time. What are you thinking?
DAVISWell, I'm honored that people would be talking about that possibility for me. Right now, we are working so hard on our strategy and our efforts on getting what is now Senate Bill 1 defeated in this special session. And when I pull my head up from that, that'll give me more time to reflect on whether that's the right thing for me and whether it's the right thing for Texas.
REHMWendy Davis, she's the Democratic State senator from Dallas-Fort Worth who filibustered last week to block passage of the Texas anti-abortion bill. Thanks for joining us.
DAVISThank you, Diane.
REHMAnd now to our three guests throughout the hour: Erik Eckholm, he is national correspondent for The New York Times, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List and Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women. Erik Eckholm, you say that what's going on in Texas is a great example of what's happening elsewhere. Tell us what's happening elsewhere.
MR. ERIK ECKHOLMYes, Diane. The Texas proposal brings together several of the major themes of the abortion fights of recent years. First of all, it includes peeling back the time in which abortion is allowed to 20 weeks after conception. And this goes against the Supreme Court findings that women have a right to abortion up to 24 weeks or up to the time that the fetus is viable, which is usually around 24 weeks. And this has been done in 11 other states in the last -- just last couple of years.
MR. ERIK ECKHOLMAnd in three of those, it's been challenged in court and been found unconstitutional. But Texas would be then the 12th state to impose that limit. Now, the other area seems kind of arcane. Usually, it's regulations of clinic safety. But in Texas, at least, that would actually have more consequences, probably, than the 20-week law. Imposing surgery center-style building requirements and other safety equipment requirements, staff training requirements and requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, these are things that sound reasonable.
MR. ERIK ECKHOLMThey have gotten a real boost after the discovery of the squalid conditions and criminal activities of Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania. But many clinic directors say that, quite often, these regulations are really irrelevant to the services they provide, and they don't improve safety. They're really just intended to drive them out of business
REHMTerry O'Neill, tell us about the bill that Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed into law Sunday night that's even more restrictive.
O'NEILLYeah. It was very troubling. He -- women throughout Ohio, really pleaded with the governor to exercise his line-item veto. This was a budget bill, and it was sent to Gov. Kasich's. One of the things that it does is defunds legitimate women's health clinics where a range of reproductive health services are provided and takes that money and funnels it into so-called crisis pregnancy centers.
O'NEILLAnd the concern that we have with these crisis pregnancy centers, they have been investigated, among other things, by a committee -- a subcommittee of the United States Congress, which found that systematically, these clinics do not have trained medical staff on the facilities. But they do provide erroneous medical advice and medical information to women about their current health condition.
O'NEILLThey -- essentially, they are ideological shops that lure vulnerable pregnant women in, and their real focus is to convince the woman not to terminate her pregnancy. There's not a lot of concern about the health condition of the woman. There's not a lot of concern about the woman's own decision-making process or her family or her situation. It's really just to get her to continue the pregnancy.
REHMSo if she decides against that, what happens?
O'NEILLWell, she goes to another facility. One of the investigative reports that I read said that many of the women who got in there and realized what kind of place it was were angry. They felt that they had been duped and that they had wasted their time. And then they went to a legitimate clinic.
REHMBut money does still go to rape crisis centers. Isn't that correct?
O'NEILLRape crisis centers are different from crisis pregnancy centers.
O'NEILLSo this is tax money going to crisis pregnancy centers that are really driven by ideology, not by concern for women.
REHMMarjorie Dannenfelser, tell us about your position regarding these laws that probably will be passed in Texas have already been passed in other states.
DANNENFELSERWell, there's a lot to unwind here that's gone before -- you're asking that question, so I do want to lay the context out. There's a reason that in Texas, women, 2-to-1, are for this bill. There's a reason nationally that the plurality of women are for the 20-week ban that just passed in the House of Representatives.
DANNENFELSERAnd that reason is that the -- these bills are the ones that handle regulation and ones that protect children after a certain point in the gestation of their young lives. Are they -- these two sets of bills protect vulnerable populations, both of them do. This is the perspective that is not shared, you know, by the two previous -- the three previous folks, but that is exactly the intention. And how is it that at this moment in time and this point in history that this is happening?
DANNENFELSERWell, it's not just the shop of horrors, the Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania, it is also the -- witnessed by the Planned Parenthood nurses who left their clinic in Delaware who cited meat market assembly line style-abortions, one every eight to 10 minutes with no sterile equipment, with the exploitation of women occurring all along the way. We see the children being born -- aborted after the legal point where they should be because there's no oversight, and killed in gruesome and horrible ways.
DANNENFELSERThe same is true is Texas in Douglas Karpen's clinic. It makes Kermit Gosnell look like a great guy. And I won't go through all the horrors there, but his were very similar, babies being, you know, accidentally aborted too soon in toilets and flushed down the toilet. I mean, these are horribly gruesome things, and women respond in compassionate ways towards other women who are being exploited and dying in these clinics and in compassionate ways to the vulnerable child who deserves protection.
REHMAll right. And to you, Erik Eckholm, why do you believe these state legislators have taken up these restrictions on abortion now? Where is this all leading?
ECKHOLMWell, it's certainly true that one can find horror stories out there. But I think, you know, the anti-abortion movement has deep roots, and it's been at the state level, gaining strength in recent years. And if you look at the legislative history of some of these laws, they're -- they seem to be driven very much by people. And this includes Texas where Gov. Perry has said he wants an abortion-free state.
ECKHOLMAnd so I think with that attitude, some of the measures that are described as safety measures could be arguable, and I don't have a position one way or another. But when the doctors themselves and major medical groups, like College of Obstetricians, say, you know, some particular thing is just not relevant or necessary, we have to listen to that as well as the real safety concerns.
ECKHOLMI think, overall, the picture painted of gross violations around the country may be somewhat exaggerated. You certainly can find examples. But there are over a million abortions every year, something like 1.2 million. And if things were so bad, you'd have a lot more consequences, I think. And only in the last reported year, there were 10 deaths related to abortion.
ECKHOLMOf course, any one is too many, but in the arena of medicine, that's a very, very good record. So you know, I think many people feel there need to be new kinds of laws in some states or better enforcement of the laws to catch the Gosnell's of the world and stop them from operating. But the question is whether you can craft measures that don't simultaneously interrupt a constitutional right with abortion.
REHMAnd just to follow up on that, Erik, do I understand correctly that in North Dakota in March, an even more restrictive law banning abortions at the sixth week of pregnancy was passed?
ECKHOLMThat's right. That's the most restrictive law anywhere yet. That would...
REHMBut how can a woman know she's pregnant at six weeks? She may not know.
ECKHOLMMany -- yes. Many don't know, and that is -- has just been challenged in court. It has not come into effect yet. Most legal experts think that will surely, very quickly, be found unconstitutional. As Marjorie said, the 20-week ban (unintelligible) in Texas are based on the idea that the fetus feels pain at that point, and that's very hotly disputed in scientific communities.
ECKHOLMBut that is not the Supreme Court's standard of the moment, which is that the woman has the right until the fetus is viable outside the womb. The law in North Dakota and another one in Arkansas, which effectively had a 12-week cutoff, are based on a different theory that as soon as one can detect a fetal heartbeat, abortion should not be allowed. And that's, in this field, a pretty radical notion that is very unlikely to survive court scrutiny, I think.
REHMMarjorie Dannenfelser, how soon do you think one of these cases going to get to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade?
DANNENFELSERWell, I think it's going to take a district judge agreeing with a state law so that it can move ahead to the Supreme Court, and that could -- I mean, it could be quite some time.
REHMWhich state is that most likely to be?
DANNENFELSERI don't know because I can't say. It just depends on district judges who have widely diverging opinions on this. I will say two things about Erik's comments. One is exaggerated. I don't know where there's evidence to say that this is exaggerated. I'd like to hear his evidence. Part of what has happened with these horror stories -- in Illinois, in Virginia, in Delaware, in Ohio, all over the country, Maryland, everywhere -- once these stories started to come out, now more stories are coming out.
DANNENFELSERSo if there's evidence for exaggeration, say so. Back to the court, though, Justice O'Connor said very well and very wisely that Roe is on a collision course with itself because of the viability standard. The viability standard has moved about a week every year for many years. So that is -- and there's one last thing, and that is this.
DANNENFELSERThere is no -- the Supreme Court forces no restriction on abortion after the 24-week point, after viability. It says that you may restrict only to protect the life and health of the mother. There is no point where the court has said at this point -- and so the -- what you just said, Erik, and that will be a big change.
REHMAll right. Erik, do you acknowledge that some of the evidence of the horror stories may actually be true rather than exaggerated?
ECKHOLMWell, no. Many of them are true. How important they are varies. I've seen the last -- there's a case in Texas that if the allegations of former employees are true, it's horrifying. But the -- again, the question is do these examples then require -- how do you respond to these examples? And many of them have -- many of them decided our -- that a state licensing board has de-licensed a doctor because of bad practices.
ECKHOLMIs that an example of the system working or the system failing? I mean -- so in any area of medicine, you have bad actors, and you have them fixed, and the question -- you know, I guess there's no evidence -- what I'm saying is that this is the prevailing standard in the industry. And, yes, there were some problems with Planned Parenthood clinics in Delaware that have fired their director and closed for a short time and have reopened. Does that mean the Planned Parenthood clinic in New York is unsafe? I don't think...
REHMAll right. All right. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." And, Terry O'Neill, that question of viability. As Marjorie has said, some people argue that that needs to be moved back, that a 20-week-old fetus feels pain, and that is a new argument coming from some physicians.
O'NEILLIt's actually some decades old, that argument. It has picked up steam as the political power of the radical right has increased throughout the country. In fact, the scientific basis for it is, as Erik says, hotly disputed. There is -- there simply is no scientific basis to make a conclusion about fetal pain. The fetal heartbeat is another justification for banning abortion that has been around for a very long time.
O'NEILLIt has gained steam politically as the country has moved radically to the right since the 2010 redistricting system, and Citizens United has really fueled, I think, a huge surge in Tea Party extremism, frankly, on the right. The good news, I think, here is that we are all talking about the health care for women, and I think that's where the debate needs to be focused.
O'NEILLWhat we saw before Roe v. Wade was decided was horrific, horrific consequences of predators like Kermit Gosnell. And, by the way, he did not have training. He was not medically trained in abortion or OB-GYN care. This is a classic back-alley butcher who took advantage of the vulnerability of women in crisis and lured them in and then treated them abominably.
REHMAnd those are the kinds of people who were there before Roe v. Wade.
O'NEILLThat's what happens when you restrict women's access to safe, medically appropriate reproductive health care services, including abortion. And let's be clear. In Texas, what they're doing is shutting down health clinics that provide a range of reproductive health services. I have never seen a legislature that has been able to selectively go in and stop only abortion. They always end up restricting the range of services.
REHMAt the same time, Terry, you heard Marjorie say that the majority of women in Texas are in support of Gov. Perry.
O'NEILLThat's just not true. Actually, the majority of men and women in Texas don't want this session to be held, to push through this abortion law. They want jobs. They want a different set of concerns.
REHMHow do you know that? How do you know that what Marjorie says here is not true?
O'NEILLThis is polling data that I've been told about from people in Texas, and it actually is consistent with the polling that over 70 percent of voters in this country want Roe v. Wade to remain the law of the land.
REHMAll right. Erik Eckholm, can you shed any light on polling data in Texas?
ECKHOLMI'm sorry. I haven't studied recent polling in Texas. I would say nationwide, opinions about abortion have been pretty consistent for a long time. You know, it depends -- all depends how you ask the question. If you say, should we be killing fetuses that feel pain, you know, a large share say, no, of course not. But in terms of the basic right to an abortion, you know, something less than half support it with some restrictions, and something below half say, no, we should severely restrict it.
REHMAll right. Erik Eckholm, he's national correspondent with The New York Times. When we come back, it's your turn. We'll open the phones.
REHMAnd it's time to open the phones. First to San Antonio, Texas, and to Catherine. Hi there, you're on the air.
CATHERINEDiane. Thank you for the show. I hope you can hear me. Can you understand me?
REHMI certainly can. Thank you.
CATHERINEI want to first thank Sen. Wendy Davis and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte for their heroic effort. This is a very difficult issue and a tragedy in any woman's life having to face something this difficult. But I need to give you one piece of information and then a statement. I am pro-choice. I received -- this is about polling. I received a telephone survey, a poll, about abortion. I answered every single question pro-choice.
CATHERINEAt the end of the poll, the telephone poll, the person at the end said, thank you for siding with our pro-life, anti-abortion stance. So the information that is being gathered is not necessarily the truth, is not necessarily honest. That was shocking. So I would not believe polls in this matter. That's the first piece of information. The second thing is that Gov. Perry and David Dewhurst are acting like ayatollahs. They're telling women what to do, and these Ayatollahs are turning Texas into the new Iran.
REHMAll right. I think we can probably do away with the name calling. I do understand how strongly you feel. How do you react to that, Terry O'Neill, the idea that women are being polled but then the data taken from that polling is somehow turned around?
O'NEILLSure. There are disreputable polling operations. There is push polls and so forth. But there are good polling organizations as well that are highly transparent. You can tell what they're asking and what kind of information they're getting back. And frankly, you know, I do understand the anger and the fear that goes on.
O'NEILLLook, everybody has a story. My story when I was in my early to mid-20s is that I was convinced I was pregnant, and it would have been at the hands of an extremely violent individual that I was, at the time, trying to extricate myself from a relationship with this person. And so there was no question in my mind that I needed to terminate that pregnancy.
O'NEILLFortunately, the year was 1976, and it would have been legal and safe for me to terminate that pregnancy. But everybody's story is different. And what happens to women who are told by people who don't get their story that you must do this, you must do that, you must be shamed, you must be ashamed of your health condition, you must be ashamed of your family situation, it is just heartbreakingly frightening. So I do understand the comments of the caller.
REHMAll right. To Louisville, Ky. Rozina. (sp?) Hello, you're on the air.
ROZINAHi. I have a question. I just don't understand why abortion cannot be provided by individual OB-GYNs. Why we have to use clinics? Why can it just go back to individual providers that do it? I don't -- it's confusing me greatly.
DANNENFELSERWell, I think it's a good question because that's what these regulations are after. They are after returning -- at least protecting women who are -- who've made this decision to be in a medically safe and competent environment, meaning competency of doctors. And in Texas, it was -- Terry said that the, you know, governor -- couple of things. He wants to shut down all the clinics. Well, no, they fixed the problem. The clinics won't be shut down.
DANNENFELSERAnd when we say fix the problem, we mean make it more like an OB-GYN. Widen up hallways so that the gurney can get down, making sure that there is safe access in and out of clinics. You know, quite a number of years ago, in Virginia, NOW and Virginia Society for Human Life came together to insist on such standards that would protect women from exploitation. And that's certainly we're now ought to be now.
REHMHere's an email from Roger...
REHM...who says, "Studies particularly those done around the time of Roe v. Wade and state efforts to reform abortion laws suggest the most predictable result of severe restrictions on abortion will not be fewer abortions but more dead mothers." Is there any indication that that is a true statement? Erik Eckholm.
ECKHOLMYes, I mean, it's certainly true that there were more dangerous abortions and more deaths pre-Roe. And the procedure as far as any experts can tell has become quite safe in the years of legal abortion. I would say -- I just wanted to correct, I believe, simply Marjorie said I -- maybe it was the question whether -- why can't OBs do this, they do and they can.
ECKHOLMMany of them just don't want to be involved for various reasons, or as an OB, they practice in the center that specializes in abortion. But -- and, in fact, many of late abortions are often performed in hospitals. So I think the caller makes a good point, but it actually is possible.
O'NEILLIt's also true, however, that abortion providers have been vilified, have been attacked, have been murdered, have been -- have had extremists go to the middle school of their children and harass the 12- and 13-year-old children at the middle schools. This happened recently up in Germantown where the landlord of an abortion provider had his children harassed by -- at the school. It's really quite horrific.
O'NEILLSo one of the things that -- one of the tactics of the anti-abortion movement has been to marginalize and intimidate and -- with murder and physical attacks on providers. So that's one of the reasons why although OB-GYNs can perform abortions, not surgical abortions but certainly medical abortions, RU46. Their abortion clinics have evolved to be a place, actually a safer place for providers and patients to come.
REHMAll right. To Dowagiac, Mich. Good morning, Elaine.
ELAINEThank you so much for taking my call. I would like to have the panelists talk about A-L-E-C, ALEC, the American Legal Exchange Operation. And it is – it bothers me very much because it seems that the state legislatures are doing some of the same kinds of laws, and they're learning about these laws and how to do it from this ALEC entity. And it seems that this ALEC is very conservative, very Republican and not necessarily the will of the people at all.
REHMAll right. I'll turn to you, Erik, for an explanation of ALEC.
ECKHOLMWell, I don't know about it. But it's a conservative organization funded by some corporations and others that provides model laws to state legislatures on the conservative side. I'd say in the abortion arena, probably more significant is some of the major anti-abortion groups like Americans United for Life, which has model laws, National Right to Life.
ECKHOLMAnd these are then promoted by groups like Marjorie's Susan B. Anthony in Washington and at the state level. I think these -- some of the proposals in Texas in contention right now are lifted directly from the model laws provided by Americans United for Life.
REHMAnd to you, Marjorie.
DANNENFELSERWell, to her question, ALEC is profitly funded organization. You don't have to agree or disagree, but they don't handle the abortion issue at all. So it's really not relevant to this conversation. I want to make...
REHMI think Terry may disagree to that.
DANNENFELSERI know the organization well and...
O'NEILLThey did. Nearest I can tell, more like 15, 20 years ago, they were providing model legislation that would restrict abortion and women's access to...
DANNENFELSERThey simply don't.
O'NEILLNo. While ago, they did. That's seems to have been handed off now to the organization Americans United for Life, which is the primary purveyor of this model anti-women laws.
REHMAll right. Let's go to San Antonio, Texas. Good morning, Daisy.
DAISYGood morning, Diane. Thank you for taking my call. I just had a quick statement to make about Gov. Rick Perry and the hypocrisy that lies within the statement before the National Right to Life convention. He said that Texans care about life. However, here in Texas, we're facing our 500th execution. And so how is it that we can care about life that this state has the death penalty and fully reinforces it every single year?
DAISYAnd secondly, as well, I wanted to point out how Lt. Dewhurst ran this entire legislative session and how, at the very end, Republicans and Republican leaders changed the timestamp on the official vote to reflect that the vote had passed? And had, you know, the eyes of the nation not been turned upon this legislative session, Texans would have had the wool pulled on their eyes?
REHMDo you want to comment, Marjorie?
DANNENFELSERI would just say this one thing. There is a reason that this debate is going on and legislatures all across the country, why it's being passed in legislatures all across the country, why it just passed the House of Representatives just a few weeks ago with the leadership of Marsha Blackburn. There is a reason, and it is because there are two folks involved in every abortion. There is woman who can be exploited, and there is a child who will die for sure.
DANNENFELSERAnd folks definitely are wondering as days -- as time goes on, and we see these harsh stories coming out of these clinics, and they see sonograms of their siblings from a very early age, what is the difference between the moral standing of a child who is aborted in an abortion clinic at 24 weeks and a child who is born to a wanted couple that is getting surgery so -- to save its life at 24 weeks? Those two people are exactly that.
DANNENFELSERWhat is the difference in their moral standing?
REHMHere's an email from Lee, who says, "No one really wants an abortion." She goes on to say, "Before moving to Texas, I had a DNC at almost 20 weeks, certainly not for fun but because my son who had a heartbeat would never make it. His brain was not developing. So the pro-life camp is not respecting science insofar as I can see.
REHM"It shows neither science-based thinking nor caring for women and their families. And this is not good. I am fortunate that I now have three healthy children." So there is a case where a heartbeat is present, but science indicates that the child is not going to make it. How do you feel about that, Marjorie?
DANNENFELSERI feel that there should be care and compassion to both people going through that situation. A woman needs compassion and love and care, and so does the child, whether it is developing perfectly like you and me or whether it's -- it has a problem.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." How do you react, Terry?
O'NEILLYeah. I think that that is exactly the kind of situation where the women's humanity must be respected and acknowledged, and it's -- and she has a decision to make. You know, your earlier caller talking about rules meant the men, Dewhurst and certainly Senate governor -- Lt. Gov. Dewhurst not seeming to follow the rules in the Senate in that first special session.
O'NEILLI think there is a sense among women that some rules apply to some people, but they don't apply to the others. So, for example, there's no aspect of men's reproductive health that is restricted on ideological or religious grounds, zero, none. So there's one set of rules for men's health and another set of rules for women's health. And I think that that is one of the things that really bothers women in this debate.
REHMAll right. To Toledo, Ohio. Hi there, Jordan.
JORDANHello. Hello? Thank you for taking my call.
JORDANLast week, I had a chance to listen to Ms. Davis the entire time. I actually left work early. And I think she made a phenomenal point on where she said that nobody in that room, whether you were for the legislation or against it, was really for abortion. And kind of like what your -- the lady just wrote in her letter, like nobody is really for abortion, whether you're pro-choice, you're kind of painted by other side as being for abortion.
JORDANAnd -- but what she went on to say is that limiting access does not limit demand. And that just really -- that -- of everything that was said, that really stuck out to me as -- that is the truth. And so I just wanted to give that point.
REHMAll right. Thanks for calling. Marjorie.
DANNENFELSERI don't think anyone I have ever met or known thinks that abortion is, in any way, a public good. It is not a public good. It's -- for people who've had it, who I've known, they considered it all that they could do at that point in time. But I've also known women who have regretted it tremendously. It reshaped and changed their lives in ways that they made them regret what they had gone through.
DANNENFELSERAnd they've gone through a lot of healing and therapy and all sorts of things to try to get back to a place. And why is that? Why is that? Well, we don't restrict men's reproductive health because men don't have children yet. Women are still the ones bearing children, and more and more, our society is reaching out to them both. I don't like how Terry characterized the pregnancy care centers and the good people that are running them all over the country. She cited very controversial evidence that simply fit -- bears out it is a vast minority, at least helping...
REHMAll right. Terry.
DANNENFELSER...people have adoptions is the direction Planned Parenthood will not embrace and these organizations do.
O'NEILLYou know, some people say and I have to say I agree that when a pregnancy becomes tragic, when a pregnancy goes tragically wrong, when it is induced in circumstances that are horrific for women, as in by rape or within the context of a violent intimate partnership or simply is a tragedy for some reason unique to that woman, then abortion -- according to Episcopal priest I know, then abortion can be a blessing. It doesn't mean it's wanted. It does mean that it's the relief you get from the tragic pregnancy.
REHMHow soon do you expect this to get to the Supreme Court, Terry?
O'NEILLI expect it's going to get here -- get there sooner than later. The Supreme Court has already accepted a case involving, I think, a bubble law or a buffer law.
REHMAll right. Terry O'Neill of the National Organization for Women, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, and thanks also to Erik Eckholm, national correspondent for The New York Times. Thanks for listening, all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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