Obama slams states for limits on abortions
WASHINGTON — President Obama vowed on Friday to join Planned Parenthood in fighting against what he says are efforts by states to turn women's health back to the 1950s, before the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
“When you read about some of these laws, you want to check the calendar, you want to make sure you're still living in 2013,” Obama told the crowd.
In the past two months, four states — Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and North Dakota — have adopted some of the most stringent restrictions on abortion in the nation, while Virginia has also imposed new rules on abortion providers by making them comply with hospital-style building standards. Lawmakers in 42 states have introduced legislation this year that would impose some kind of limits on access to abortions.
Obama — the first sitting president to address the group in its nearly 100-year history — took aim at North Dakota's law, which bans abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at around six weeks.
“A woman may not even know that she's pregnant at six weeks,” he said. As long as Planned Parenthood and other groups have to fight to defend women's reproductive rights, he added later, “you've also got a president who will be right there with you, fighting every step of the way.”
More than a year ago in Mississippi, a “personhood” ballot initiative that would have defined life as beginning at fertilization was defeated by 58 percent of voters in November 2011 — the same election in which staunch abortion opponent Phil Bryant, a Republican, was elected governor. Bryant had campaigned for the initiative.
Abortion opponents are expected to begin a signature-drive to get a similar initiative on the ballot in 2014 or 2015.
“Mississippi's a conservative state, but they wanted to make clear there's nothing conservative about the government injecting itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor,” Obama said.
In North Dakota, Republican state Rep. Bette Grande, an abortion opponent from Fargo who introduced the bill banning most abortions based on a fetal heartbeat, said she was happy Obama took notice of her state's stance on the issue.
“He is pointing it out because it's true. We have taken a serious look at the life of a child, and the nation is paying attention to that,” she said. “We are dealing with life in North Dakota and something as basic as a beating heart.”
Laurie Bertram Roberts, Mississippi president of the National Organization for Women, said voters in her state, while conservative, did not misunderstand what “personhood” would have meant for women and families.
“We understand that when you give a fertilized egg the rights of a person, that affects every aspect of pregnancy and reproductive health,” she said.
The Washington Post contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 5 airports to handle all U.S.-bound travelers from Ebola-stricken nations
- American free of virus
- Man confesses to killing 7 women around Gary, Ind.; charges in other slayings possible
- Maryland man set for trial in killing erroneously released
- Ex-NSA chief drops deal with former aide to avoid appearance of conflict
- Wrongful imprisonment case ends in guilty plea
- Wreckage of sunken WWII U-boat found off N.C. coast
- North Korea releases Ohio man detained for 6 months
- Accused head of violent Mexican cartel nabbed
- Governor to form Ferguson Commission to study underlying social issues in shooting
- Justice Department revamps cyber teams