abortion | KUOW News and Information

abortion

Megan Farmer / KUOW

Bill Radke talks with Dr. Willie Parker about how to have an honest disagreement about abortion.

A husband and wife from Port Townsend, Washington, are on their way home after being expelled from Guatemala. The Washingtonians and several other international activists narrowly avoided arrest during a maritime abortion rights protest.

At a conference in Brussels on Thursday, more than a dozen nations and private funders pledged a combined total of $190 million for international family planning charities that stand to lose their U.S. support as a result of President Trump's Jan. 23 executive action to block U.S. foreign aid funding of groups linked to abortion.

Jennifer Fontaine kisses her daughter Morgan in Methuen, Massachusetts on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. After Fontaine's standard prenatal screening suggested her fetus might have Edwards syndrome, a doctor suggested a fetal DNA test, which said she was fine.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Science writer Bonnie Rochman says she likes as much information as she can get — she finds it empowering. But she knows not everyone feels the same way.

KUOW Photo/Kate Walters

Teen birth rates fell by 55 percent in King County between 2008 and 2015, according to officials.

County Executive Dow Constantine credits expanded access to long-lasting birth control and preventive care, as well as greater insurance coverage.

After President Trump blocked U.S. aid money from supporting any group that provides or "promotes" abortion in other countries, The Netherlands announced it would launch a fundraising initiative to support any affected organizations.

Now, several other countries — including Sweden, Finland, Belgium and Canada — have signaled their participation.

Once more, the National Mall has swelled with demonstrators.

Just a week after President Trump's inauguration at the Capitol and six days after the Women's March on Washington, abortion-rights opponents were raising their voices in the nation's capital. The annual rally they call the March for Life attracted demonstrators from across the country Friday.

The abortion rate in the United States fell to its lowest level since the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion nationwide, a new report finds.

The report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports legalized abortion, puts the rate at 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (ages 15-44) in 2014. That's the lowest recorded rate since the Roe decision in 1973. The abortion rate has been declining for decades — down from a peak of 29.3 in 1980 and 1981.

Senator Patty Murray in the KUOW offices, Jan. 2016.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Just days into Congress' new session, major topics are on the table.

Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray says she will fight back against a Republican plan to defund Planned Parenthood. This week House Speaker Paul Ryan said he wants to cut off federal financial support to the health organization.

There's no shortage of speculation about how the incoming Trump administration, whose appointees so far are staunch abortion opponents, might crack down on access to the procedure.

But reproductive rights groups say the big picture is getting lost: Women in large parts of the country already have limited access to abortion, due to hundreds of Republican-backed laws passed by state legislatures over the past half-decade.

Pope Francis has declared that abortion, which remains a "grave sin" in the eyes of the Catholic Church, can be absolved by ordinary priests for the foreseeable future — instead of requiring the intervention of a bishop.

The change was implemented on a temporary basis, for one year only, as part of the Catholic Church's "Year of Mercy," which began last December and ended on Sunday.

In a letter released on Monday, the pope announced that the change was being extended indefinitely.

It's not just national organizations like Planned Parenthood getting a boost in donations over worries about access to reproductive health care.

So is the grassroots Seattle-based CAIR Project. It helps people across the Northwest pay for abortion services and connects them with the closest provider that offers abortion services.


Brian Wahlberg gives daughter Luciena a good view of the proceedings as the crowd sings at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.
KUOW photo/Gil Aegerter

In the liberal bastion that is Seattle, the response to the election was acute. People cried openly on buses and in cafes. Some took time off work to mourn in bed. It wasn't that their candidate had lost, we heard again and again, it was that they feared for the future.

Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Women's Health had been having a banner year. Her organization, based in Charlottesville, Va., operates several abortion clinics around the country and brought a legal challenge that led the Supreme Court to issue a landmark ruling this past summer.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine clarified Sunday that his position on abortion rights is unmoved, despite top Clinton campaign aides' recent assertions otherwise.

"My voting position on abortion hasn't really changed," Kaine told CNN. "I support the Hyde Amendment. I haven't changed that."

A district judge in Texas has dismissed the last remaining criminal charges against two activists who covertly recorded videos of themselves attempting to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood.

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt used fake IDs when they approached the organization. They were indicted for tampering with government records, a felony charge. Those charges have now been dismissed on technical grounds.

An attorney for the pair called it "a huge win for First Amendment rights," NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.

Delegates at the Republican convention in Cleveland have approved the strongest anti-abortion platform in the party's history. But groups that oppose abortion — groups that lobbied for the strong language — are far from unified.

In fact, following last month's Supreme Court decision reaffirming a woman's right to abortion, leaders of a movement known for speaking largely with one voice are showing some surprising disagreement.

When Zika started spreading through Latin America earlier this year, a number of governments issued advisories recommending that women put off getting pregnant because the virus can cause severe birth defects. At the same time these countries kept in place strict laws that would prevent a woman from getting an abortion if she were already pregnant.

Politics Makes Abortion Training In Texas Difficult

Jun 21, 2016

Every year, more than 100 new obstetrician-gynecologists graduate from a Texas residency program and enter the medical workforce. Theoretically, all have had the opportunity during their four years of residency to learn about what's called "induced abortion" — named that to distinguish it from a miscarriage. But the closure of abortion clinics in Texas — more than 20 since 2013 — has made that training increasingly difficult.

It’s been six months since a law went into effect that changes the rules for judicial bypasses – that's when a judge allows a minor to have an abortion without getting consent or notifying an adult. These bypasses are mostly sought by young women who fear abuse or can’t locate a parent or guardian. Advocates say this legal tool is vital to the young women who use it. But, since a law passed last year, it’s been harder than ever to get them.


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a bill on Friday that would have made it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion.

The legislation, which was the first of its kind, as NPR's Jennifer Ludden reported Thursday, would have effectively eliminated abortion in the state. Oklahoma lawmakers passed the bill on Thursday, as the Two-Way reported.

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill that makes performing an abortion a felony.

NPR's Jennifer Ludden told our Newscast unit that the bill is the first of its kind, and an pro-abortion rights group plans to sue if the governor signs the bill into law. Gov. Mary Fallin has not yet indicated what she plans to do. Here's more from Jennifer:

Donald Trump wants the Republicans to alter the party platform on a fundamental issue for many conservative activists — abortion.

The GOP platform, which is formally adopted at the Republican National Convention, has included language every election year since 1984 with support for a human life amendment to the Constitution and a call for "legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

(The 14th Amendment says no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.")

Last month, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law imposing new limitations on abortion.

And since then, women have been sending Pence a message.

Well, a lot of messages — about their menstrual flow, and their cramps, and their birth control, and their tampon discomfort, and their bloating, and their menopause.

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Alex Lee/Reuters

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said women should be punished for having abortions if the procedure is illegal in the US. In El Salvador, women are punished for having abortions.

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Seattleite Amelia Bonow is not the type to whisper about anything. But her abortion was something she kept to herself – until a few days ago.

After hearing oral arguments on what could be one of the most important abortion cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in decades, NPR's Nina Totenberg says that the only thing that is certain is that Justice Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote.

As expected, Nina says, the three conservatives and four liberals on the court stuck to their positions for and against a Texas law that puts restrictions on abortions.

The day David Daleiden turned himself in at the Harris County courthouse, the throng of media there was a good indication of just how much this indictment means to both sides of the abortion debate.

Daleiden's attorney Jared Woodfill took full opportunity to express his indignation.

There is a joke circulating in San Salvador these days: "Instead of using a condom, use a mosquito net! That should at least keep the mosquitoes from biting your privates."

The joke is a dig at the unusual suggestion made by the governments of El Salvador and various other Latin American countries. Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador (as well as Jamaica) have advised that women hold off on getting pregnant. El Salvador went as far as to urge women to hold back on having children until 2018.

A Texas grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood took no action against the abortion provider, but it indicted two anti-abortion activists involved in making covert videos of the organization.

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