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Jane Roe of ‘Roe vs Wade’ Decision Legalising Abortion Dies Age 69

  • February 24, 2017
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The enigmatic matriarch of almost a half century of global abortion versus pro-life debate, Jane Roe AKA Norma McCorvey, has passed away at 69 years of age. Best known for the landmark Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade, McCorvey was a larger than life figure to say the least, she went from the plaintiff in the famous court case that established a constitutional right to abortion to a fervent opponent of the very same ruling. Although she was known as Jane Roe for many years during and after her court case, McCorvey later went public with her identity.

Jane Roe brought her abortion case to court in Texas in 1970 when she was 22 years old. At the time, Texas law prohibited abortion unless the mother’s life was in jeopardy. McCorvey did not set out to become an activist when she initially brought her case to court — she simply wanted to terminate her pregnancy. Given those circumstances — and given the fact that McCorvey could not legally obtain an abortion at the time — it makes sense that she would want to protect her identity. She went by the pseudonym “Jane Roe.” This has to do with the fact that “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” (the former being male, the latter being female) are placeholder names used to designate a person whose identity is unknown; the pseudonymous surnames “Roe” and “Poe” are also used to identify parties in lawsuits who wish to remain anonymous.

Although it is commonly believed that McCorvey initially wished to live in anonymity following the outcome of Roe v. Wade, widespread reports assert that this claim is false. McCorvey publicly identified herself four days after the verdict when she spoke to the Nashville-based Baptist Press; a follow-up story for the Associated Press ran the next day with the headline “Abortion Reformer Sheds ‘Jane Roe.'” However, although her true identity may have not been a secret, McCorvey led a relatively private life in the years immediately following Roe v. Wade. It wasn’t until a decade later that McCorvey began lending her name to activist causes.

McCorvey became more public with her identity in the 1980s and wrote a book, I Am Roe, which was originally published in 1994. McCorvey attended women’s marches and worked in abortion clinics, but her views changed in 1995, when she struck up a correspondence with the head of an anti-abortion clinic that had moved in next door to the abortion clinic at which she worked. After being baptized in 1995, McCorvey became an anti-abortion activist and dedicated her life to reversing Roe v. Wade.

Although she published two memoirs, much about McCorvey’s life remains a mystery. Even after shedding the “Jane Roe” pseudonym, McCorvey remained a much talked about and wholly controversial figure.

 

The Archbishop vs The Politician: Abortion a Volatile Issue in Queensland

  • February 24, 2017
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The Archbishop vs The Politician: Abortion a Volatile Issue in Queensland

The long running and heated debate over proposed decriminalisation of abortion in Queensland, a state with the most restrictive abortion legislation in Australia, takes an unexpected turn as the Archbishop of Brisbane offers of counsel are unceremoniously rejected by Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad. “I would have thought the archbishop had more important things to focus on, like the inquiry into institutional abuse and the findings that are coming out of that inquiry than what is before the Queensland parliament,” Ms Trad told reporters.

In a year of rising household debt amid a national culture of stagnating wage premiums this is yet another slap in the face to the Australian family household battling to stay afloat in a turbulent sea of bankrupt sentiment and plainly outdated tradition. Lack of access to clinics is a major barrier Queensland women face when it comes to accessing safe and legal abortion services, in a state where the law still considers abortion to be illegal except in cases where the mother’s health is deemed critically at risk.

Remote and rural access are two of the sunshine state’s biggest impediments when it comes to abortion. Women in the state have just ten abortion clinics to service their needs, seven of those are in the south-east corner, around Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The others situated in Rockhampton and Townsville flying doctors in from Brisbane for just one day a week to perform surgical terminations. For women who live north of Gympie and west of Brisbane, there is a grand total of zero abortion clinics within close distance.

Homeless women, women who are experiencing family violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are further disadvantaged when it comes to abortion access. Current abortion laws most impact the state’s neediest. For those who do not live near or cannot afford the services of an abortion clinic, some GPs are able to administer medication abortions until nine weeks’ gestation. However, there is no publicly available list (if any) of how many GP clinics offer the service, or where they are based.

While there are no standardised data collection around unplanned pregnancy and abortions in Australia, it is generally accepted that somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000 abortions take place each year in Queensland. Last year, just 295 terminations were performed in Queensland’s public hospitals as recorded by Queensland Public Health. It is not known how many hospitals this figure is spread across, but experts believe very few. It seems the majority of abortions are carried out by private clinics.

The medical community remains divided over abortion. Women who live in Brisbane’s south may be actively excluded from abortion access within the public health system. Queensland Health said that Logan Hospital performs abortions in accordance with the current legal framework. A small percentage of those have to travel interstate to do so. Because state laws around gestational limits vary, it is cheaper in some cases to travel to Sydney or Victoria than undergo the procedure in Queensland. Clinic terminations at 19 weeks can cost as much as $4000. Those at nine weeks are about $500, with the price rising steeply the later in pregnancy the abortion is performed.

Australia has a relatively low uptake of the most effective long-acting reversible contraceptives compared to other countries and so has more unwanted pregnancies. As is, the law is not protecting women from unsafe abortions and at-home attempts to terminate. Unsafe abortion was one of the leading causes of death and disability among Australian women of reproductive age until legislation experienced gradual change throughout the 1970’s.

Donald Trump Strips Women of Abortion Rights

In one of his first actions in the White House, US President Donald Trump has signed an order that could restrict women across the world access to safe abortion.

American money helps 27 million women access contraceptives, with the US Government spending about $600 million a year on international assistance for family planning and reproductive health.

The new President reinstated the Mexico City policy as one of his first moves in the White House.

The policy enforces a ban on providing federal money to international groups that perform abortions or promote the option.

That means any US federally-funded aid group or other non-government organisation can’t assist with, recommend, give advice or provide any information when it comes to the emergency termination method.

The decision to reinstate — and significantly expand — the Republican policy known as the “Mexico City policy,” or the “global gag rule,” was delivered a day after the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and two days after the Women’s March on Washington and similar events across the country drew crowds to rally for reproductive rights, among other issues.

The new policy would prohibit any federal aid to foreign organizations that provide or promote abortion. In the past, the policy only applied to organizations that got family planning funding. Now, it will apply to organizations that get global health money, potentially including maternal health programs, anti-Zika efforts and the expansive PEPFAR program to stop HIV/AIDS.

“The intent is to extend the policy to apply not just to family planning assistance but to global health, including PEPFAR and maternal health,” said Jennifer Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, who added that the full scope of the policy isn’t yet known. She estimated that when the policy has been applied in the past, it covered about $600 million in foreign aid spending. The new policy could potentially cover up to $8 billion.

“Not only has President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy, he’s modernized it by applying it to all foreign health assistance programs,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, a leading anti-abortion group.

The policy has been instituted by every Republican president since Ronald Reagan and rescinded by Democratic presidents. It prohibits NGOs that receive federal funding — including health care providers or organizations — from providing or promoting abortion or from advocating for abortion laws abroad.

The move was cheered by abortion foes and decried by supporters of abortion rights.

“President Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule ignores decades of research, instead favoring ideological politics over women and families,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). “We know that when family planning services and contraceptives are easily accessible, there are fewer unplanned pregnancies, maternal deaths, and abortions.”

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, warned that the move makes “clear that women will be the first casualty of his administration.”

But anti-abortion groups and lawmakers say their federal tax dollars shouldn’t be used to pay for or to provide information about a procedure they disagree with.

“President Trump’s immediate action to promote respect for all human life, including vulnerable unborn children abroad, as well as conscience rights, sends a strong signal about his Administration’s pro-life priorities,” said Dannensfelser.

Even without the ban in place, US-funded programs and health clinics don’t perform abortions — that’s already ruled out — but they can provide information about the option. Now with the ban, if they really want to do that, no matter who pays for it, the US government will cut them off.

The policy also prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalise abortion or promote it as a family planning method.

President Donald Trump shows off a signed executive order to reinstitute a policy barring any recipient of US assistance from performing or promoting abortions abroad.

The ban is a blow to reproductive rights but it’s one that’s been seen before. It’s become something of a political football, ruled in and out by successive Republic and Democratic administrations since 1984.

But the setting in which the new President chose to stage its reinstatement has abortion activists outraged.

Mr Trump signed the executive order in the Oval Office, surrounded by men.

With his Vice President and staff looking on, the President sealed the deal on the “global gag rule” — there didn’t appear to be any women alongside the president when he did so.

The timing was also significant. Mr Trump signed the order after the January 22 anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision that legalised abortion in the United States. The date is traditionally when presidents take action on the policy.

The policy has been instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since it was first introduced in 1984 by Ronald Reagan.
Most recently, former president Barack Obama ended the ban in 2009, and Mr Trump of course made it a priority to move against it.

The ban isn’t expected to decrease the number of abortions completed in developing countries, but health and activist groups say it is expected to restrict access to safe abortions and undermine the viability of groups that provide contraception and family planning options.

The World Health Organisation estimates 21.6 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries, accounting for 13 per cent of all maternal deaths.

Millions of women around the world marched for women’s rights against Donald Trump at the weekend.

The decision follows marches staged around the world that saw millions of women gather to protest Mr Trump’s election.

One of the primary concerns of women who were marching was the threat to their reproductive and abortion rights that arrived with the new administration.

Mr Trump has not moved on abortion rights within the US since arriving in the White House on Friday, but he previewed his views on the subject in the lead-up to the election.

In an interview in March last year when he was yet to be officially granted presidential candidacy, Mr Trump suggested there should be “some sort of punishment” for women who obtain abortions.

In a letter to pro-life organisations in September 2016, Mr Trump outlined his views on abortion including “nominating to pro-life justices to the US Supreme Court” and “defunding Planned Parenthood”.

His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, campaigned on “defending women’s rights to make their own health care decisions”.

During debates, her pro-choice view was ridiculed by Mr Trump, using graphic language to describe late-term abortion rights which he argued his opponent would advocate for.

“If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby,” he said.

Ms Clinton slammed Mr Trump’s “scare rhetoric” and said what he described was “not what happens in these cases”.

Critics suggested the statement showed Mr Trump had a misunderstanding of how abortion works in the US.

Locally, advocacy groups are expecting an “all-out assault on family planning and abortion” this year as rolling back women’s rights has been put back on the agenda of conservative American leaders.

As news.com.au reported recently, the US has seen a spread of “fake” abortion clinics, which advertise the service only to lure pregnant women into their doors and convince them not to go through with it. In extreme cases, women are beginning to turn to “self-abortion” as a last resort.

In the US, legislation around abortion rights are controlled at a state level rather than federally.

Abortion Access in Queensland About to Get Even Harder

  • January 14, 2017
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Abortion access in Queensland is about to get even harder

Queensland has the most restrictive abortion legislation in Australia, and the situation is about to get worse.

Marie Stopes International will cease surgical terminations in two of its north Queensland clinics, making abortions even harder to access for a remote population already heavily disadvantaged by geography and socio-economy

The news, exclusive to Daily Life, is a blow to women in a state where most abortions are still unlawful according to its 1899 criminal code.

Despite approaching the state government for funding, the Townsville and Rockhampton Dr Marie clinics have incurred massive financial losses and will be forced to drastically scale back from February.

Women in Queensland are resorting to knitting needles to induce miscarriage, says Children by Choice.

Chief executive of Marie Stopes, Alexis Apostolellis, said “that the decision to cease the surgical termination procedure at the clinics was our very last option.”

Lack of access to clinics is a major barrier Queensland women face when it comes to accessing safe and legal abortion services, in a state where the law still considers abortion to be illegal except in cases where the mother’s health is deemed critically at risk.

Queensland women, should they attempt to seek an abortion:

Remote and rural access are two of the sunshine state’s biggest impediments when it comes to abortion. Women in the state have just ten abortion clinics to service their needs, according to Children by Choice. Seven of those are in the south east corner, around Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The remaining three are on the coast, with Dr Marie clinics in Rockhampton and Townsville flying doctors in from Brisbane for just one day a week to perform surgical terminations. For women who live north of Gympie and west of Brisbane, there is a grand total of zero abortion clinics in close proximity.

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters gathered outside Brisbane’s Parliament House in May. Two of those clinics, in Rockhampton and Townsville, will cease surgical terminations from February. The move comes after Dr Marie made massive financial losses in its attempt to support women who otherwise have no access to abortions. Homeless women, women who are experiencing family violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are further disadvantaged when it comes to abortion access. Current abortion laws most impact the state’s neediest.

Women march in Washington D.C. in 2004, in defence of abortion rights. 12 years on, the issue is still debated in Queensland. For those who do not live near or cannot afford the services of an abortion clinic, some GPs are able to administer medication abortions until nine weeks’ gestation. However, Children by Choice points out there is no publicly available list (if any) of how many GP clinics offer the service, or where they are based.

Standardised Data Collection:

While there are no standardised data collection around unplanned pregnancy and abortions in Australia, it is generally accepted that somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000 abortions take place each year in Queensland. Last year, just 295 terminations were performed in Queensland’s public hospitals, according to Queensland Health. It is not known how many hospitals this figure is spread across, but experts including those at Children by Choice believe very few. The majority of abortions are carried out by private clinics.

The medical community remains divided over abortion. Children by Choice is aware of one non-Catholic public hospital that refused to take a patient who had been referred for an abortion by a GP after a sexual assault. “The GP was disgusted and confused and trying to support the patient,” says Kate Marsh, of Children by Choice. “Good people are getting the run around, wasting time and resources and energy.”

Children By Choice:

Children by Choice – 70 per cent of which is funded by the Queensland government, “ironically”, says Marsh – financially supports 300 women a year to access terminations. A small percentage of those have to travel interstate to do so. Because state laws around gestational limits vary, it is cheaper in some cases to travel to Sydney or Victoria than undergo the procedure in Queensland. Clinic terminations at 19 weeks can cost as much as $4000. Those at nine weeks are about $500, with the price rising steeply the later in pregnancy the abortion is performed.

Children by Choice is contacted by girls aged 12 to women in their 50s. Abortion can impact anybody and no contraception is 100 per cent effective. Australia has a relatively low uptake of the most effective long-acting reversible contraceptives compared to other countries and so has more unwanted pregnancies.

As is, the law is not protecting women from unsafe abortions and at-home attempts to terminate. Unsafe abortion was one of the leading causes of death and disability amongst Australian women of reproductive age until laws changed in 1970s, the charity says.

 

Pope Francis Grants Priests Authority To Absolve Abortions

  • December 11, 2016
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Pope Francis Grants All Priests The Authority To Absolve Abortions

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.

“I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life,” the pope wrote in the letter. “In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.”

“Because the Roman Catholic Church holds abortion to be such a serious sin, it had long put the matter of granting forgiveness for it in the hands of a bishop, who could either hear the woman’s confession himself or delegate that to a priest who was expert in such situations,” The Associated Press explains.

In the U.S., Catholic News Service reports, most bishops have routinely granted the faculty to their priests, but the Year of Mercy made the permission universal.

In the letter, the pope indicated he was extending the ability to absolve abortions “lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness.”

Back in January 2014, Pope Francis, criticised by some conservative Catholics as not speaking out forcefully against abortion, said Monday that the practice is “horrific” and evidence of “the throwaway culture.”

In an annual speech known as the pontiff’s “State of the World” address, Francis told diplomats and journalists gathered at the Holy See that it “is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day.”

Hunger, he said, is a threat to world peace, noting that food, like human life, is being discarded as unnecessary.

“We cannot be indifferent to those suffering from hunger, especially children, when we think of how much food is wasted every day in many parts of the world immersed in what I have often termed ‘the throwaway culture,’ ” Francis said.

“Our life, with its joys and sorrows, is something unique and unrepeatable that takes place under the merciful gaze of God,” he said. In counseling couples priests must use “a careful, profound and far-sighted spiritual discernment, so that everyone, none excluded, can feel accepted by God, participate actively in the life of the community and be part of that People of God which journeys tirelessly toward the fullness of his kingdom of justice, love, forgiveness and mercy.”

“Nothing of what a repentant sinner places before God’s mercy can be excluded from the embrace of his forgiveness,” the pope wrote. “For this reason, none of us has the right to make forgiveness conditional.”

Some conservative Catholics were alarmed when Francis said in September that the church must end its “obsession” with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality or risk falling “like a house of cards.”

As the Two-Way reported last year, when the change for the Year of Mercy was announced, allowing priests to grant absolution for abortion does not constitute a “doctrinal shift” for the church.

“Forgiveness has always been available — albeit through more formal channels,” Candida R. Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, told NPR at the time. “That message wasn’t out there because the rhetoric that accompanies abortion is so elevated that it eclipses the Church’s teaching on forgiveness and mercy.”

The Pressure to Abort: Real or Imagined?

Abortion is a highly emotive and, sometimes, controversial topic; many people have very strong opinions about it. I think too, that your viewpoint changes once you have had your own children. Going through the miracle of birth, and I use that term non-religiously, makes you feel differently forever about your place in the human chain. The very fact that we grow from these tiny cells into great big human beings is literally amazing.

Of course, there are times in our lives when having children is not the best option. When we are very young, as adolescents, we may have the sexual maturity to conceive a child but usually not the emotional maturity to raise a child. Having babies is only the first step, nurturing them and parenting them is when the real work starts and that lasts a lifetime. It is unfair to saddle both an immature mother with a child and it is unfair on that child, himself or herself.

What about when the parents, or parent, is older and are more in a position to consider raising a child, are there still viable concerns to consider an abortion? For some, it may involve an unplanned conception with an unwanted or unsuitable partner. Fine for sex but not for a lifetime commitment of shared parenting; situations like these are all part of modern life. Timing, everything comes down to timing in the end; is it the right time in my life to have a child?

Is there a pressure to abort in certain situations? From parents with great expectations for your future; or from a career and those who you work for; or from a partner you adulterously wronged – all of these circumstances can exert real pressure on a pregnant woman. This is why counselling is available from all abortion clinics and must be recommended by your local GP before you can book into a clinic. Talking to a dispassionate professional counsellor can be a relief after the, often, highly emotional encounters with partners, family and others with vested interests in your decision.

The pressure to abort: real or imagined? I would say that it is very real in many of these situations. We live in a highly individualistic age, where gender equality is very important, and many women wish to pursue a career at the expense of having a family until the last possible minute; sometimes with disappointing outcomes. Once you do have children, family becomes very important and doing your own thing fades into the background. There are no wrongs and rights when it comes to making this decision; but it is best to be ready if you can. Having children is a blessing if you are able to subsume your own life into the service and nurture of theirs.