TIME Campaign Finance

Ginsburg Says Citizens United Was Supreme Court’s Worst Ruling

"I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be"

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says in a new interview that the Citizens United ruling paving the way for more unfettered campaign spending by corporations was the current court’s worst decision ever.

Ginsburg told The New Republic that she would overturn the 2010 ruling if she could.

I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be,” she said. “I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.”

She also expressed concern that modern feminists take their rights for granted.

“The women of my generation and my daughter’s generation, they were very active in moving along the social change that would result in equal citizenship stature for men and women,” Ginsburg said. “One thing that concerns me is that today’s young women don’t seem to care that we have a fundamental instrument of government that makes no express statement about the equal citizenship stature of men and women. They know there are no closed doors anymore, and they may take for granted the rights that they have.

Read the full interview at The New Republic

TIME 2014 midterm elections

Drugs, Minimum Wage and Gambling: Inside 2014’s $1 Billion-Plus Ballot Initiatives

Demand for marijuana edibles is pushing several Colorado manufacturers to expand their facilities or move to larger quarters.
Steve Herin, Master Grower at Incredibles, works on repotting marijuana plants in the grow facility on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Kent Nishimura—Denver Post via Getty Images

Bored with the midterms? There’s a lot of (expensive) drama on the ballot that doesn’t involve candidates

The 2014 elections are shaping up to be the most expensive in history, not for electoral campaigns, but for ballot initiatives. More than $1 billion has already been spent on them, according to the National Institute of Money in State Politics. And all that money could swing some key races.

Studies have shown controversial ballot initiatives can boost turnout as much as 8% in midterm elections, which typically see lower turnout than polling during presidential elections. Since Oregon first kicked off ballot initiatives in the early 1900’s, the practice has grown steadily — that is, until this year. Despite the increase in spending, 2014 actually has the least number of total initiatives — only 155 in 41 states, down from 188 in 2012—since 1988, reflecting state efforts to limit legislating by ballot.

Some of the millions already spent were intended to keep certain measures off the ballot. In Alaska, for example, oil and gas companies spent $170 per voter to block a bid to raise oil and gas taxes. In Colorado, energy companies also spent millions to keep fracking initiatives off the ticket. Also not making the cut this year: gay marriage and a push to break California into six states that, while strange, gained a lot of attention early on.

Perhaps the main issue on ballots nationwide this cycle is marijuana. Two states — Oregon and Alaska — plus the District of Columbia have initiatives to follow Colorado and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana. But it’s a push to make Florida the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana that could impact an electoral race. Former Democratic Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s bid to get his old gubernatorial seat back could see a boost from the measure, as left-leaning voters tend to support marijuana reform. Crist allies have already spent $4 million on the initiative with opponents, including incumbent Florida Gov. Republican Rick Scott and Sheldon Adelson, spending $2.5 million to defeat it thus far.

Another big issue is minimum wage, with four red states—Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska and South Dakota—considering raising the minimum wage. Since 2002, all 10 ballot initiatives to raise state minimum wages have passed, and polling shows these initiatives look like they have good shots at approval as well. The pushes could help embattled Democratic incumbent Senators Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Mark Begich in Alaska.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, another Democratic incumbent fighting to keep his seat, is hoping that a personhood amendment —which defines life as beginning from the moment of conception — will help him stick around. His opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, also opposes the amendment, but has voiced support for personhood initiatives in the past, creating an opening Udall has been exploiting. North Dakota has a similar initiative on the ballot, and Tennessee has a measure that would allow the state legislature to amend the state constitution to strip out abortion rights.

However, some of the most expensive ballot issues are not national ones. In California, two initiatives — one to increase the limit of non-economic malpractice damages from $250,000 to $1.1 million and another requiring state approval of changes in insurance rates — could see as much as $100 million in combined spending to sway voters. And Oregon and Colorado have controversial initiatives mandating the labeling of certain foods that contain genetically modified organisms. Last year, companies like Pepsi, Coca Cola and Monsanto spent $22 million defeating a similar push in Washington where proponents spent $9 million trying to pass it.

Oregon also has a controversial immigration initiative that would uphold a law allowing four-year driver’s licenses for those who cannot prove legal presence in the U.S. Another big-spending item is a spate of gambling initiatives in seven states expected to draw more than $100 million, including a hard-fought initiative in Massachusetts that would repeal a 2011 law allowing gambling resorts that would halt construction on sites.

A gun rights conundrum could happen in Washington, which looks poised to pass two initiatives that countermand one another. One would require universal background checks for all guns, and another forbids more extensive background checks than those required at the federal level. Officials say such a situation has never happened before, and no one is sure what would happen if both pass. Also on guns, Alabama is also looking to become the third state after Louisiana and Missouri to pass a “fundamental right to bear arms,” making it harder to restrict firearm access.

Alabama is also seeking to become the eighth state to forbid state’s recognition of laws violating its policies, including all foreign law. This measure is a follow up to a bill introduced by state Sen. Gerald Allen last year that specifically references Sharia law.

Missouri and Connecticut are looking to joining 33 other states and the District of Columbia in early voting.

And, finally, Maine is looking to ban bear baiting, trapping or the use of dogs to hunt bears. Long live Smokey.

TIME women

Making Abortions Illegal Doesn’t Make Them Go Away

Abortion Pill Expected To Be Available in Australia Within Year
The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486, is pictured in an abortion clinic February 17, 2006 in Auckland, New Zealand. Phil Walter—Getty Images

Quinn Cummings is a writer of three books, Notes From the Underwire, The Year of Learning Dangerously and Pet Sounds.

Forget Roe v. Wade. The pro-life lobby won the next battle while no one was looking

Imagine this:

You are a parent. Your 16-year-old daughter comes to you. She’s pregnant. You assure her you will support her in whatever decision she makes. She takes a few days to think and comes back to you. She’s not ready for a child; can you take her to a clinic?

The nearest clinic is 75 miles away and the laws of your state require women seeking abortions to first receive counseling and wait 24 hours before returning for the procedure. A first-trimester abortion costs between $300 and $600 on average. You work as an aide at an assisted-living center, and your daughter doesn’t have health insurance. You and your husband share one car. You aren’t in a position to take time off or stay overnight in a motel on top of paying for the abortion.

Jennifer Whalen doesn’t have to imagine this situation; this is her story, as told to Emily Bazelon of the New York Times. Whalen’s initial reaction was to call a local women’s center on her daughter’s behalf but she was told no one there could help. With no options in her community, and hamstrung by a “wait law” specifically legislated to inconvenience women seeking an abortion, Jennifer and her daughter searched online and found a site with misoprostol and mifepristone—medications she had never heard of before—available for $45.

“I read all the information,” Whalen told the Times. “They said these pills would help give a miscarriage, and they were the same ones a doctor would give you.” She had no idea that buying them without a prescription was illegal.

Jennifer’s daughter took the pills as instructed. She began to feel stomach pains, so Jennifer took her to the ER. Because she wanted her daughter to get the best medical care, she told the doctor about the pills. Not long after, Jennifer awoke to a knock at the door; the police officers had a search warrant and found the empty misoprostol and mifepristone boxes.

Rebecca Warren, the Montour County district attorney, charged Whalen with a felony and three misdemeanors in Dec. 2013. In order to be able to work again once she got out of jail (she’d have lost her job at the assisted-living facility had she pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors), she pleaded guilty to the felony and was sentenced to nine-to-18 months in jail. She has just begun serving her sentence. Her youngest child is 11.

Abortion is legal, in theory. In practice, 87% of counties in the United States don’t have a single abortion provider, as of 2012. For those people for whom the fetus is a viable human being whose needs outweigh every other person in the equation, this is a victory. Jennifer, her husband and her three children might disagree. They might also note that these laws disproportionately punish the working class, people for whom “family planning” is more than just a catchphrase. If you can’t afford a night at Motel 6 and two days off work, how exactly are you going to manage the costs associated with an extra child?

Making abortions illegal doesn’t make them go away, and a decade of insidious legislative maneuvering isn’t going to change that. Since there has been an understanding of what pregnancy means on a biological level, human beings have been coming up with methods to end some of these pregnancies and most of these methods are risky, some life-threatening. But when someone is desperate, risk looks different. A stranger telling you to lie on a kitchen table, or drink this bottle of turpentine, or a friend whispering to you to just insert this wire and ––

How far we’ve come.

Quinn Cummings is a writer of three books, Notes From the Underwire, The Year of Learning Dangerously and Pet Sounds. Her articles have been published in, among others, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, TIME, The Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping. She is a passionate animal lover, an indifferent housekeeper and would eat her own hand if you put salsa on it.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Health Care

What Missouri’s New Abortion Law Means for Women

Missouri Abortion
Elizabeth War looks over a gathering of her fellow abortion opponents in the Missouri Capitol rotunda in Jefferson City, Mo. on Sept. 10, 2014. Jeff Roberson—AP

A 72-hour waiting period could have big consequences

A new Missouri law imposing a 72-hour waiting period on women seeking abortions could decrease the abortion rate in the state, increase the abortion rate elsewhere and drive up expenses for women terminating pregnancies.

The Missouri legislature voted late on Sep. 10 to override Democratic Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of the law, which requires women seeking abortions to have an in-person appointment at Missouri’s only abortion clinic, wait three days and return for the procedure itself. Abortion rights advocates say the 72-hour waiting period, which is similar to policies in Utah and South Dakota, makes accessing abortion far too arduous and intrudes into women’s personal health care decisions. Anti-abortion advocates say it gives women time to fully consider their decisions and could reduce the number of terminated pregnancies.

Reliable data on how Missouri’s new law will affect either the abortion rate or when in their pregnancies women choose to have them does not exist, but researchers have found that 24-hour waiting periods, which are law in more than 20 other states, cause women to undergo abortions later in pregnancies and travel to other states instead. This is according to an analysis of existing research compiled by the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. In a 2009 paper, Guttmcher researchers explained that after Mississippi imposed a 24-hour waiting period in 1992, the number of abortions in the state fell 22 percent and the proportion of women who underwent abortions after 12 weeks gestation increased 17 percent. After accounting for women who traveled to other states to access abortion services, the researchers said 11 to 13 percent of women who would have had abortions did not get them due to the 24-hour waiting period law.

In addition to affecting the timing, location and rate of abortions, waiting periods also increase costs for some women who are forced to travel to clinics at least twice. In a state like Missouri, which has a single abortion clinic, some women will have to travel long distances twice or spend three or four days away from home to make time for an initial appointment, the waiting period and abortion itself. In addition to the basic travel expenses, such trips can include additional costs in the form of childcare and time off from work.

One recent study, which has not been published, examined the impact of Utah’s 72-hour waiting period. In a 2013-2014 survey of 500 women who showed up for their initial counseling visits, researchers found that when contacted three weeks later, 85 percent of women had had abortions. Of those who had not, some had miscarried, others were still seeking abortions and some decided to continue their pregnancies. The rate of women who decided against having abortions was similar to the rates in other studies of locations without waiting periods, according to the study’s lead author, Sarah Roberts, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

In addition, Roberts says the study found that the average period of time between the first visit for women in Utah and the abortions was eight days, not three, due to the need to arrange logistics like lodging, transportation and childcare. She says the average additional cost imposed by Utah’s mandatory 72-hour waiting period was $40 to $50, equal to about 2.5 percent of monthly household income for women in the survey. “The costs are not insignificant,” she says, particularly for low-income women. Roberts says the Utah study also found that the three-day waiting period forced women to tell more people about their abortions, in the course of making arrangements.

As for Missouri, Roberts says it’s impossible to accurately predict what the new waiting period will mean for women in the state. But, she says,“based on our data, I would continue to expect that women would face additional financial costs. Making arrangements to go back would probably force women to tell more people about their abortions.” And, she says, “we would expect additional delay.”

TIME Health Care

Missouri Lawmakers Enact 72-Hour Abortion Wait

Abortion Waiting Period
Elizabeth War looks over a gathering of her fellow abortion opponents in the Missouri Capitol rotunda Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Jeff Roberson—AP

Missouri's new law will be the second most stringent in the U.S. behind South Dakota

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) — Missouri lawmakers enacted one of the nation’s most stringent abortion waiting periods Wednesday, overriding a veto of legislation that will require women to wait 72 hours after consulting with a doctor before ending a pregnancy.

The vote by Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature overrules the veto of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who had denounced the measure as “extreme and disrespectful” toward women because it contains no exception for cases of rape or incest.

About half of the states, including Missouri, already have abortion waiting periods of 24 hours.

Missouri’s new law will be the second most-stringent behind South Dakota, where its 72-hour wait can sometimes extend even longer because weekends and holidays are not counted. Utah is the only other state with a 72-hour delay, but it grants exceptions for rape, incest and other circumstances.

Missouri lawmakers specifically rejected an amendment earlier this year that would have granted exceptions for rape and incest. Abortion opponents argued that it would have diminished the value of some lives depending on how they were conceived. Supporters of the legislation describe it as a “reflection period” for women and their families.

If “you get a couple of more days to think about this pregnancy, think about where it’s going, you may change your mind” about having an abortion, said Rep. Kathie Conway, a Republican from St. Charles.

Abortion-rights advocates described the three-day wait as insulting to women who they said have likely already done “soul-searching” before going to an abortion clinic.

“It’s designed to demean and shame a woman in an effort to change her mind,” said Rep. Judy Morgan, a Democrat from Kansas City.

The House voted to override Nixon’s veto by a 117-44 vote. Senators then deployed a rarely used procedural move to shut off a Democratic filibuster and completed the veto override by a 23-7 vote — barely getting the required two-thirds majority.

Missouri’s new waiting period law will take effect 30 days after the veto-override vote.

Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri’s only licensed abortion clinic in St. Louis, has not said whether it will challenge the 72-hour waiting period court. But the organization has said its patients travel an average of nearly 100 miles for an abortion, and an extra delay could force them to either make two trips or spend additional money on hotels.

Women also could travel across the state line in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas to abortion clinics in Illinois and Kansas that don’t require as long of a wait.

Missouri’s current waiting period also lacks an exception for rape or incest. It requires physicians to provide women information about medical risks and alternatives to abortion and offer them an opportunity for an ultrasound of the fetus.

Before lawmakers convened, scores of abortion opponents gathered for a prayer vigil in the Capitol Rotunda, asking that God grant courage and boldness to lawmakers voting to enact the waiting period.

Later in the day, larger crowds gathered for rallies both in support and opposition of the legislation. Abortion-rights activists wore purple shirts while abortion foes wore red. Both sides pointed to the personal experiences of women who had abortions.

Linda Raymond, of St. Louis, said she regrets the abortion she had 38 years ago and might have acted differently if she had been offered information about alternatives, seen an ultrasound of the fetus and been required to take more time to think about her decision.

“A 72-hour time frame is compassionate for women,” Raymond said.

Liz Read-Katz, of Columbia, said she had an abortion after learning the fetus had a severe chromosomal defect.

“Waiting 72 hours wouldn’t have changed my mind, but it most definitely would have caused more pain both mentally and physically,” she said.

Missouri has a history of enacting abortion restrictions. Republican and Democratic lawmakers twice previously joined together to override vetoes of abortion bills — enacting what proponents referred to as a partial-birth abortion ban in 1999 and instituting the 24-hour abortion waiting period in 2003.

Three Missouri clinics have stopped offering abortions in the past decade, and the number performed in the state has declined by one-third to a little over 5,400 last year.

TIME Newsmaker Interview

Wendy Davis on the Filibuster That Mattered to Her Most

Wendy Davis
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis presents her new education policy during a stop at Palo Alto College in San Antonio on Aug. 26, 2014 Eric Gay—AP

It's not the one you think, the Texas gubernatorial candidate tells TIME

In June 2013, Wendy Davis made headlines across the country while standing on the floor of the senate chamber in the Texas legislature.

A member of that chamber’s embattled Democratic minority, Davis donned a pair of pink running sneakers under her otherwise business-as-usual attire and staged an 11-hour filibuster against a bill that included stiff restrictions on abortion across the state.

She ultimately lost that fight — the measure eventually passed and its constitutionality is now being fought over in the courts — but the episode became a viral sensation. Even those running shoes became Internet famous; “Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy” wrote one Amazon.com reviewer of the sneakers.

Davis was propelled to national prominence overnight, and she’s now making a long-shot bid for governor of Texas. But before her 2013 filibuster — which, she tells TIME, is not even the most important filibuster she’s staged — Davis was the daughter of a single mom and a single mom herself, experiences she has written about in her memoir Forgetting to Be Afraid, released this week.

She speaks to TIME about her struggle to get a college degree, her fight for reproductive rights and her favorite ice cream (it’s Rocky Road).

Your memoir is called Forgetting to Be Afraid. What inspired the title?
It was inspired by a Lady Bird Johnson quote. She was asked at least on one occasion by a group of young women how it is that she pushed through fear to do things, because she was inherently a very shy person. She advised them that you have to get so wrapped up in something you forget to be afraid. My whole life story can be captured through that idea. I had to make a way out of no way for myself and my daughter. Due to the fact that I was so wrapped up in trying to do that, I forgot to be afraid of doing it. Along every step of my journey I think that that sentiment really captures how it is that I’ve pushed through fear, put my head down and done what I needed to do.

Are you inherently shy yourself?
I was a very shy child. And I talk in the book about moving from being very shy to being a fighter, and that shift really came from the need to fight first for myself and my daughter and then next in the public-service arena for people who don’t have the same opportunities that I had in a myriad of ways.

In your book you write about your decision to terminate two pregnancies for medical reasons. Did that motivate your filibuster against the Texas abortion bill?
Honestly my personal experience in that regard was part of what I want people to know about me in hopes that it might help people struggling with the same situation. But my stand for reproductive rights in Texas was primarily motivated by my understanding of the harm that would come to women across our state if they were denied access to safe reproductive care. I have always firmly believed that women should be trusted to make decisions for themselves with their family, their faith, their doctor, and that the government has no business intruding in that most private arena. I fought that day for women, and men who love them, whose voices had been cut out of the process. In committee hearings at the state legislature, there were so many people that had signed up to speak and been told after several hours that their testimony was repetitive and they were cut off. I wanted to give voice to the people who felt like they’d not been heard.

But those restrictions were eventually passed. In fact, restrictions on abortion have been tightened across the state.
The first provision, which required that doctors have admitting privileges (to a hospital) within 30 miles of an abortion clinic was implemented right away. It immediately caused 21 of the 40 clinics in Texas to close. The second provision was set to go into effect on [Sept. 1], but a federal judge ruled the law in its entirety unconstitutional. As a consequence of that and while it’s on appeal at the Fifth Circuit I know that some of those health centers are considering reopening, some are waiting to see what the Fifth Circuit will do.

Was the filibuster your defining moment as a politician?
A lot of the people know about my filibuster last summer but as important if not more to me was my filibuster in 2011 to try to stop $5.5 billion from being cut from our public schools and try to stop a dramatic reduction in financial assistance for our students trying to go to a state university. Access to opportunity comes through education, and that is my primary passion and fight. And it’s why I’m running for governor.

You have daughters aged 32 and 25. Do you feel hopeful about their future?
What I see when I look at them is the fact that their mother broke through and got a college degree created a path for them to logically follow. I think about how fortunate they are that they have the ability to do that and I think about all of the other young girls in Texas who are those first-generation college students like me who don’t have the same path available to them. It’s that concern that motivates me most.

According to your book, your mom worked at the ice cream chain Braum’s. I love Braum’s! I grew up in Tulsa.
You did? Well, Texas is all about Whataburger. Oklahoma is all about Braum’s.

But your mom worked at Braum’s! Does this make you a traitor to Braum’s?
No, I still crave a Braum’s hamburger every now and then for sure.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

TIME 2014 Election

‘War on Women’ Motivates Voters for Midterm Election, Poll Finds

Pro-Choice Emily's List
Pro-choice demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Jan. 22, 2014. Susan Walsh—AP

Democrats are betting they can turn out women and minorities to the polls

The “War on Women” seems to be working.

Voters such as women and minorities, who often turn out in smaller numbers during off-year elections, are more motivated to vote when they feel women’s access to birth control and abortion are threatened, and if women and families’ economic security is imperiled, according to a new poll given exclusively to TIME.

“In 2014, women voters have made it clear that they won’t stand for attacks on their economic security or their reproductive healthcare,” said Stephanie Schriock, president EMILY’s List, a group that elects pro-choice women and one of the poll’s sponsors. “The Republican Party’s relentless assault on women’s rights and freedoms is backfiring, and as long as they continue to ignore the real needs of working families, the gulf between them and women voters will only continue to grow.”

Democrats have pegged their hopes this fall to turning out women and minority voters, who tend to drop off during non-presidential election years. To that end, they have introduced and campaigned on a women’s economic agenda that includes raising the minimum wage, which disproportionately affects women, expanding paid medical leave and access to childcare. In 2010, Democrats lost women for the first time in decades, and subsequently lost the House and six Senate seats. Democrats are determined not to repeat that mistake in 2014.

The poll of these drop-off voters in 18 swing states, co-sponsored by EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and American Women, found that 23% of the drop-off voters surveyed ranked their enthusiasm for voting at less than half, but that number plummeted to 12% after hearing motivational messages about women’s health and economic security. Nearly three-quarters, or 74%, called the idea that failing to vote would be sending a message that they endorse the status quo a “very motivating” factor to vote. The same number said “helping working families get ahead” was a “very motivating” factor to vote.

Democrats have been pounding Republicans for their “War on Women,” not just on the economic front—for refusing to vote to increase the minimum wage and for Equal Pay, for example—but on the reproductive front. This strategy was highly effective in 2012, when two GOP Senate candidates made inartful statements about rape and abortion that turned off women voters nationally. The survey found that 70% of drop-off voters said they found reproductive rights and the chance to vote against a pro-life politician a “very motivating” factor to go to the polls in November. And 70% of those polled said allowing an employer to dictate what healthcare coverage a woman gets was a “very motivating” reason to vote.

“This poll confirms what we’re hearing from voters as our supporters knock doors and make phone calls in key states: issues like access to birth control and abortion will get voters to the polls this November,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Republicans, recognizing the problem, have introduced their own Equal Pay legislation and flexible work bills in both chambers, though the bills have yet to see votes. They’ve also made efforts to recruit more women to run for office, a campaign which has seen some progress in the Senate but has fallen short in the House. A recent poll commissioned by two GOP groups, including one backed by Karl Rove, found that female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.”

Still, that may prove more of a problem for Republicans in 2016, when Democrats may have a woman, Hillary Clinton, on the top of the ticket, than in 2014. Drop-off voters are notoriously difficult to motivate and Republicans have had fewer gaffes than they did in 2012 concerning rape and abortion. Much will depend on how Democrats effectively make their closing arguments in the final weeks of the election.

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted the telephone poll of 1,000 drop-off voters in 18 battleground states. It included oversamples of 100 Hispanic drop-off voters and 400 likely 2014 swing voters. Interviews were conducted Aug. 4-13. The margin of error for the sample as a whole is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The battleground states are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

TIME Texas

Wendy Davis: Abortion 17 Years Ago Left Me ‘Forever Changed’

Wendy Davis
Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis presents her new education policy during a stop at Palo Alto College in San Antonio on Aug. 26, 2014. Davis reveals in a new campaign memoir called Forgetting to be Afraid that she terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons in the 1990s, including one where the fetus had developed a severe brain abnormality Eric Gay—AP

“An indescribable blackness followed,” she writes

Texas state senator Wendy Davis, the Democrat running for Texas governor against Republican attorney general Greg Abbott, tells in her upcoming memoir the story of a pregnancy she and her then husband decided to terminate 17 years ago.

In the book Forgetting to Be Afraid, slated for release next week, Davis says multiple doctors offered medical opinions that the fetus suffered from an acute brain abnormality that was likely incompatible with life, reports the San Antonio Express-News. During the procedure, Davis said she felt the baby, who they’d named Tate Elise, “tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her.” A doctor stopped the unborn baby’s heart and the child was delivered by cesarean section.

“An indescribable blackness followed. It was a deep, dark despair and grief, a heavy wave that crushed me, that made me wonder if I would ever surface,” writes Davis. “And when I finally did come through it, I emerged a different person. Changed. Forever changed.”

The abortion debate has been front and center in the Texas governor race that pits Davis, a Democrat who rocketed to national prominence by filibustering passage of strict abortion restrictions in the state, against Abbott, a staunch abortion opponent.

Davis trails Abbott in the polls and faces long odds to win in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office in two decades. Her abortion is not expected to hurt her political fortunes, since only a very small number of hard-liners who were unlikely to support her in any event oppose abortion in the case of fetal abnormality.

[San Antonio Express-News]

TIME Health Care

Louisiana Following Judge’s Order on Abortion Law

Ala. abortion clinic law unconstitutional
Reproductive Health Services is shown in Montgomery, Ala., on July 30, 2014 Brynn Anderson—AP

Clinics in Shreveport, Bossier City and Metairie sued the state, seeking to block the law

(BATON ROUGE, LA.) — The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge’s order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.

U.S. District Judge John deGravelles issued a temporary restraining order late Sunday that blocked enforcement of the new law that took effect Monday. The law requires physicians at all five abortion clinics in Louisiana to obtain privileges to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where the doctor works.

State Department of Health and Hospitals spokeswoman Olivia Watkins told The Associated Press on Monday that the agency won’t take action against any provider who shows he or she has applied for such privileges.

“The department’s policy is in accordance with governing precedent from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and is in line with what the state offered the plaintiffs previously,” Watkins said in an email.

It was not immediately clear whether doctors from all five clinics have applied for hospital privileges.

Clinics in Shreveport, Bossier City and Metairie sued the state, seeking to block the law. The lawsuit claims doctors haven’t had enough time to obtain the privileges and the law likely would close all five clinics. Clinics in New Orleans and Baton Rouge were not plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The judge said he will call a status conference within 30 days to check on the progress of the plaintiffs’ applications and to schedule a hearing to consider a request for an order blocking the law while the case is in court.

Admitting privileges laws have been enacted in several states across the South.

Supporters say the laws are designed to protect women’s safety by providing continuity of care in case a patient is hospitalized. Opponents say complications from abortion are rare, and hospitals are already obligated to treat people seeking emergency care. Opponents also say admitting privileges laws give hospitals the power to decide whether an abortion clinic can stay open.

Some hospitals will not grant the privileges to out-of-state physicians, such as those who work at someabortion clinics in the South. Some religious-affiliated hospitals will not grant privileges to abortionproviders.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Texas admitting privileges law that’s similar to the one in Louisiana. But in July, a different panel of the 5th Circuit voted to block Mississippi’s law, which would have closed the state’s only abortion clinic, saying every state must guarantee the right to anabortion.

The 5th Circuit is one of the most conservative federal appeals courts in the nation. It also handles cases from Louisiana.

TIME Healthcare

Planned Parenthood Appeals Ban on Telehealth Medication Abortions

Planned Parenthood patients, volunteers and supporters rally outside the office of Assembly Speaker-elect John Perez to oppose cuts to family planning funds by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jan. 12, 2010 in Los Angeles.
Planned Parenthood patients, volunteers and supporters rally outside the office of Assembly Speaker-elect John Perez to oppose cuts to family planning funds by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Jan. 12, 2010 in Los Angeles. David McNew—Getty Images

Planned Parenthood is appealing a ban from the Iowa Board of Medicine over their telehealth medication abortion system for rural women

On Thursday, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed an appeal with the Iowa Supreme Court over a ban that outlaws a video-conferencing system Planned Parenthood provides for medication abortions.

The group launched the telemedicine abortion system in Iowa in 2008 so that women living in rural areas could get a medication abortion over video conferencing, a convenience that cuts down on wait time and the 500-mile round-trip drive some Iowa women must take to visit one of the state’s few abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood brought the system to several other states in the Midwest, but the majority of them banned the systems in a wave of abortion restrictions starting in 2011. Currently, 17 states have laws or regulations that specifically ban telemedicine for medication abortion, but both Iowa and North Dakota are appealing these bans. Iowa is now the only state where Planned Parenthood widely uses the system.

The procedure is very similar to an average medication abortion. Before making a decision, the woman speaks with a counselor at length about her options, including having the baby, adoption, and abortion. If the woman decides to terminate the pregnancy, she has a conversation with a physician over a secure videoconferencing system. A Planned Parenthood staff member is in the room to provide support, and the doctor reviews the woman’s medical history and answers her questions. The physician then administers the mifepristone (the first drug taken for medication abortion) by using a computer to remotely open a secure drawer within the health center and instructs the woman to take the medication while the staff member is in the room. The doctor then presents the woman with misoprostol (the second drug taken) and tells her to take it at home within 24 to 48 hours. That medication process is exactly the same as the procedure in the presence of a doctor.

The Iowa Board of Medicine investigated Planned Parenthood’s system in 2010 and deemed it safe. However, when Republican Governor Terry Branstad replaced the board in 2013, the new board reversed the decision, a move that Planned Parenthood and a former board member believe was entirely politically motivated and not based in scientific evidence.

On August 19, a judge ruled that the board was within its authority to ban the use of telehealth systems for medication abortions, and that the board cited concerns that a doctor needs to be present to perform an in-person checkup of the woman before she can take the abortion pills.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health, disagrees with the argument that a doctor is needed for an in-person assessment.”[Our studies have shown] it’s safe, that the prevalence of adverse events and complications was low, and that statistics are not different compared to women at the same affiliate who went through the procedure in person,” he said. In 2012 Grossman and a team of researchers found that remote medication abortions did not increase the number of overall abortions in Iowa and that the number of abortions taking place in the second trimester, when the risk for complications is higher, dropped slightly.

“We also found that women were more likely to recommend it compared to women who underwent an in-person procedure,” said Grossman. “In some of the interviews, women decided to go to a telemedicine site because it meant they could have it done sooner. If they waited, they would have to have a surgical abortion.”

Telemedicine is growing, and it’s long been used in even more invasive procedures, from physical exams to surgeries. Major hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic are developing their own systems to cut costs and reduce readmission rates. In 2011, the Veterans Health Administration conducted more than 300,000 remote consultations using telemedicine, and companies like Doctor on Demand even allow doctors’ appointments over video chat and cell phone.

Recently, The New York Times Magazine highlighted a growing international push to find ways for women to take the abortion pills in the privacy of their own homes, specifically a program called Women on Web which helps women get access to safe abortion pills.

According to Planned Parenthood, if the ban takes effect, only three health centers in the state of Iowa will continue to offer safe and legal abortions. “This rule would jeopardize women’s health and target women who already have the least access to medical care–all in the name of politics,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, wrote in an email to TIME. “What’s happening in Iowa is part of a dangerous national trend–politicians using underhanded tactics to impose their personal beliefs on women and restrict access to safe, legal abortion. It’s unacceptable and unconstitutional to deny safe care to women in need, which is why we are going directly to the state Supreme Court and fighting with everything we’ve got.”

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