Monday, October 27, 2008

South Dakota to reconsider vote on abortion ban

The measure is a version of a 2006 one but has exceptions for rape and incest.
By Nicholas Riccardi
LA Times

October 27, 2008

Two years ago, South Dakota voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed ban on abortions that proponents had hoped would set up a Supreme Court showdown over Roe vs. Wade.

Next month, the state ballot will include another abortion ban with similar goals -- but observers say this one is far more likely to pass.

The new ballot measure would allow for abortions in the case of rape and incest, exceptions that were not in the 2006 version. The absence of such exceptions is believed to have doomed the earlier version to failure.

"They said we'd gone too far, that we had to have exceptions for rape and incest," said Leslee Unruh, an antiabortion activist who has backed both measures.

This year's measure permits abortion in cases of rape -- provided the mother identifies the violator, a DNA test proves it is his child and the procedure occurs in the first 20 weeks -- and incest.

But opponents contend the initiative does not provide as much leeway as advertised.

"They tried to twist it to make it seem like there are exceptions, but there are not exceptions," said Jan Nicolay, a former state legislator who is co-chairwoman of South Dakota for Healthy Families, which opposes the initiative.

Though the initiative allows an abortion to protect the mother's health, abortion rights advocates say the standard is impossibly high: the threat of a major organ failure. They note that a pregnant woman with breast cancer, for example, couldn't seek chemotherapy or other treatment that could cause a miscarriage because an organ was not immediately at risk.

They also have publicized a memo from attorneys for the state's largest hospital chain that warns Measure 11 "will require a physician to choose between possibly committing a felony or subjecting a pregnant woman to a higher degree of medical risk than what would otherwise be clinically desirable."

The attacks frustrate Unruh, who hoped for a straightforward discussion of whether voters wanted unfettered abortion access. "The South Dakota law is a reasonable law," she said.

But the continuing abortion battles in South Dakota show that abortion is not a black and white issue, said Elizabeth T. Smith, a political science professor at the University of South Dakota. "The average citizen doesn't have a straight up or down vote on abortion," Smith said. "There are gradations of support based on different circumstances."

South Dakota already has what are considered the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, including a requirement that doctors warn that abortion can lead to increased risk of suicide and a mandatory 24-hour period between the time a woman requests an abortion and has one.

There is only one abortion clinic in the state, in Sioux Falls, and Planned Parenthood flies in physicians from Minnesota because no doctors in South Dakota will risk regularly performing the procedure.

Unruh said her campaign's polls showed Measure 11 slightly ahead. A poll released Sunday by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader/KELO-TV showed a dead heat, with voters divided 44% to 44%. Both sides agree the tally will be closer than in 2006, when voters rejected, 56% to 44%, an abortion ban signed into law by Republican Gov. Michael Rounds.

In allowing the exceptions, the measure's backers have had to deal with some dissension in the antiabortion movement. Some argue that if abortion is truly murder, there should be no exceptions other than for the life of the mother.

"Our biggest battles are with our own people," Unruh said.

The proposed ban also aggravates a rift among antiabortion groups over strategy. Some groups prefer to incrementally increase restrictions on abortion and appoint more sympathetic judges. Unruh and her backers hope abortion rights groups will sue to overturn the measure if it passes, forcing the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider Roe vs. Wade.

Even if the effort fails again, Unruh said activists would try again at the ballot box in 2010.

"I'm not tired," she said. "We're going to continue. We believe in this."

Monday, October 20, 2008

President Ortega vs. the Feminists

NOTE FROM THE COAT HANGER PROJECT: The Sandinistas, a once liberal, revolutionary party of Nicaragua, have sold out women's rights (including abortion rights) to stay in power.

By Tim Rogers
Time Magazine

President Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's macho and mustachioed Sandinista commandante of the 1970s and '80s, may claim the mantle of revolutionary "new man," but Latin America's feminists insist Ortega is a dirty old man. Throughout the continent, Ortega is being hounded by feminist groups over his alleged sexual abuse of stepdaughter Zoilamerica Narvaez during the 1980s. The allegation first surfaced in 1998, but was eventually dismissed by a Sandinista judge without investigation or trial — despite an investigation by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, which determined that the case had merit. In most democracies, the furor would have been enough to sink any political career. But not in Nicaragua, where Ortega — protected by legal immunity and a judicial system stacked with Sandinista judges — has not only survived but thrived, returning to the presidency in 2007 and amassing more power than ever before. But now that Ortega is trying to reclaim his place in the international pantheon of revolutionary heroes, the feminists are crying foul. Unable to pursue him through Nicaragua's legal system, they are instead subjecting the Sandinista leader to the tribunal of public opinion.

Ortega's accusers are not limited to Nicaragua's small feminist organizations. The minister of women's affairs in Paraguay's new left-wing government, Gloria Rubin, whipped up a media storm in August by calling Ortega a "rapist" and protesting his invitation to President Fernando Lugo's inauguration — an event Ortega eventually skipped to avoid the heat. A week later in Honduras, Selma Estrada, minister of the National Institute of Women, resigned her government post in protest over the official invitation of Ortega to Tegucigalpa. And in El Salvador, feminist leaders are asking their government to declare Ortega persona non grata before he's scheduled to attend a presidential summit there at the end of the month.

Throughout Latin America, the feminist movement has become Ortega's nemesis, challenging his efforts to restore his image as a progressive and revolutionary leader. Although Narvaez last month wrote to the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights asking it to close the books on her case — she did not retract the accusation that Ortega had sexually abused her, but simply said she'd made a decision to "find a solution" and asked for others to respect her privacy — the president's problem with the women of Latin America continues to grow. Last week in Honduras, Ortega had to sneak in through the back door of a Central American presidential summit to avoid feminists who were waiting for him out front holding pictures of his stepdaughter.

"This is Ortega's main vulnerability, which is making it very difficult for him to recapture the image of the great Latin American revolutionary leader like Fidel Castro," said Maria Teresa Blandon, an activist with Nicaragua's Feminist Movement.

Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo, who has long been accused by feminists of being a silent accomplice in her daughter's alleged abuse, are fighting back with a Sandinista inquisition. Ortega has used all his tentacles — Sandinista media outlets, government ministries and fanatical party structures — to investigate, slander and harass Nicaragua's feminist movement, which is being informally accused of everything from money laundering and conspiring with the CIA, to "illegally" promoting abortion, pornography and "assassinating children".

Murillo has even tried to reinvent the feminist movement in her own image by penning an Orwellian essay called "Feminism and Low Intensity War." Murillo's feminist manifesto is intended to change the way Nicaraguan women look at feminism, but her views will hardly be deemed transformative — she lauds the traditional role of a woman as wife and mother, and rails against other feminists as "counterrevolutionaries" who "dress in the clothing of women, but have never known the sensibility of a woman's heart."

Murillo tried to give life to her new feminist vision through the unveiling of a new women's movement, "The Blanca Arauz Movement for the Dignity of Women's Rights," named after the wife of Sandinista namesake Augusto Sandino. The movement, which materialized overnight, is made up of Sandinista activists who profess their solidarity with "our sister, Rosario Murillo" and denounce other feminist groups critical of Ortega. The "Blanca Arauz" movement recently tried to legitimize itself by requesting a meeting with other feminist organizations in El Salvador, but there wasn't interest in networking with Murillo's group.

Now the Sandinista inquisition is escalating from threats to actions. Last Friday, state prosecutors and police raided the central office of the Autonomous Women's Movement (MAM) and another local NGO that has helped finance the feminist movement and removed all the files, computers and bookkeeping from their offices, in what Public Prosecutor Armando Juarez called a raid to "find evidence" to mount a case against them. The local opposition press denounced the raid as a "Gestapo" tactic, and women's rights activists from across Latin America released a joint statement from Guatemala denouncing the Ortega government's "institutionalized misogynism" and "campaign to criminalize feminists."

Nicaraguan journalist and feminist leader Sofia Montenegro, a central target in the government's crackdown, predicts Ortega's "psychologically vulgar and manipulative campaign" will eventually boomerang on him. Montenegro says the personal nature of the attacks against her have been so crass that even the machista element of Nicaraguan society is rejecting what many view as a cowardly persecution of women. "Men think: that could be my sister, or my wife," she said.

The attacks have only served to "throw more wood on the fire" and reinforce Ortega's misogynistic image abroad, Montenegro said. Even now that Narvaez has withdrawn her abuse case, the protests will continue to grow because the movement is now "out of her hands," Montenegro says.

"The case of Nicaragua has become super emblematic in Latin America because there was a revolution here and it was supposed to bring social change," she said. "If this was Pinochet's Chile, no one would expect differently, but with Ortega, it's doubly hard."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Women on Waves sparks controversy in Spain


MADRID (AFP) — A Spanish pro-life group said it plans to protest the arrival on Thursday of a Dutch boat that is offering to provide abortions that circumvent Spain's strict laws.

The boat is due to anchor off the Mediterranean port of Valencia, the Dutch non-profit organisation Women on Waves said on its web site.

From Friday, it will offer abortions on the ship in international waters under the Netherlands' more liberal abortion laws.

This "symbolic initiative" will allow "abortions outside Spanish law for the first time in Spain's recent history, but without violating it," said Spanish gynaecologist Josep Lluis Carbonell, one of the promoters.

But it has already sparked controversy.

Valencia's conservative mayor Rita Barbera termed the plan a "provocation that has sparked indignation."

The anti-abortion group Provida in Valencia said its members plan a protest aboard a smaller vessels when the boat arrives.

Spain decriminalised abortion in 1985 but only for certain cases: up to 12 weeks of pregnancy after a rape; up to 22 weeks in the case of malformation of the foetus; and at any point if the pregnancy represents a threat to the physical or mental health of the woman.

But the Socialist government last month said it plans to introduce a new law that will offer greater legal protection for women who wish to have an abortion and doctors who carry out the procedure.

The Women on Waves ship visited Ireland in 2001, Poland in 2003 and Portugal in 2004, sparking protests in each country.

Plans to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland shelved

UK Telegraph
By Rosa Prince and Martin Beckford

Pro-choice Labour MPs had been planning to back an amendment to the Embryology Bill that would allow terminations in Northern Ireland, the only part of Britain where the procedure remains illegal.

They have changed their minds after being privately warned by ministers that with the Stormont executive close to collapse, the move could tip the province's politicians into withdrawing from negotiations.

The MPs still plan to push ahead with separate plans to make access to abortion easier in the rest of the country by removing the requirement for two doctors' signatures and allowing nurses to carry out early-stage terminations, however.

But they face determined opposition from pro-life MPs, backed by church groups, when the Bill is debated in the Commons on Wednesday.

Mark Pritchard, Conservative MP for The Wrekin, said the decision not to legalise abortion in Northern Ireland was a ``welcome U-turn'' but added: ``The decision appears to be more about extending the political life of the Prime Minister - rather than the Government extending the lives of the unborn.

``It appears ministers are still determined to introduce 'drive-thru' abortions where mothers can bypass the advice of their local GP, drive straight to their local clinic and place an order for an abortion.''

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which also includes measures allowing human-animal hybrid embryo research and the creation of ``saviour siblings'', has already been the cause of some of the most heated exchanges in Parliament in recent years.

A series of amendments to lower the upper time limit for abortions from 24 weeks was defeated after an impassioned debate in May and the Bill had been due to clear the Commons in July.

But it was suddenly halted on the intervention of Harriet Harman, the Leader of the House, who was said to be keen to see the Northern Ireland amendment pass and wanted more time to raise support for it.

Pro-choice MPs had been confident of success when the Bill returns to the Commons next week, particularly given the forthcoming departure from the Cabinet of Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, who as a committed Catholic had forced Gordon Brown to allow ministers a free vote when it was last debated.

But the Ulster political situation has deteriorated recently, with the Executive failing to meet as scheduled as a result of a disagreement between unionists and republicans over the devolution of policing and justice.

While abortion is one area where Northern Ireland's politicians largely concur - with both Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party opposed to legalisation - ministers fear that forcing the amendment through could undermine their attempts to broker an agreement.

As a result, pro-choice Labour MPs have been taken aside and warned not to proceed with their plan.

An amendment has been tabled by Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney north, for but without the full backing of the powerful female Labour pro-choice group, it has little chance of success.

The message was underlined at the ``Ulster Fry'' breakfast meeting at Labour Party Conference, where MPs mingled with Northern Irish politicians - who told them they would consider breaking off communication with the Government over the issue.

Around 1,400 girls and women travel from the province each year to have a termination on the mainland, as the 1967 Act which legalised abortion in the rest of the country was never extended to Northern Ireland.

The Fpa, formerly the Family Planning Association, has now launched an online video campaign aimed at MPs urging them to end the ``discrimination'' that pregnant women in Northern Ireland face if they do not want to have their baby.

Julie Bentley, chief executive of the Fpa, said: ``The leaders of the four main political parties and the leaders of the main church groups in Northern Ireland have all demanded that abortion should remain highly restricted but only 16.6 percent of the Northern Ireland Assembly are women.

``So the situation exists that groups of men are making decisions about women's lives and creating a division of rights and entitlement between women, on the basis that they live in different regions of the UK.''

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lithuanian Abortion Vote Looms Beyond Elections

Women's E-News
Run Date: 10/10/08
By Elisabeth Roy Trudel
WeNews correspondent

(WOMENSENEWS)--A bill currently under review by the parliament in Lithuania--which has one of the lowest abortion rates among Baltic nations--would create one of the most restrictive bans in all of Europe.

The bill--formally called the Draft Act of the Republic of Lithuania on the Protection of Human Life in the Prenatal Stage--is currently pending review by the Health Committee, which is expected to wait until after the Oct. 12 parliamentary elections to present its conclusions and recommendations.

Proponents of the ban have kept it low on the political agenda and have successfully avoided making it a major issue during the election campaign.

Women's rights activists have sought to raise awareness about the bill and its impact as they fear it will be adopted in a rush and without a real and open debate in society if socially conservative parties win the elections.

The draft--strongly backed by the Catholic Church--says "all issues on the protection of life in the prenatal stage should be considered as giving priority to the rights of a child."

Exceptions to the ban would only apply when a pregnancy endangers the life or health of the woman, when a pregnancy is caused by a criminal act or when the fetus has been diagnosed with a severe disability.

Abortion is currently illegal in three of the 27 European Union countries. In Malta abortion is prohibited in all circumstances; specific provisions allowing an abortion to save the woman's life were removed from the criminal code in 1981. Abortion has been illegal in Ireland since 1861 and is only permitted to save the life of the woman. Poland first restricted abortion in 1993 following the end of Communist Party rule and reaffirmed its opposition to abortion in 1997.
Soviet Era Abortion Law

Under existing law a Lithuanian woman can choose to legally terminate an unwanted pregnancy for any reason up to the 12th week, as in most Western countries. The current legislation has been inherited from its status as a republic in the former Soviet Union and has not been changed since the country's independence in 1991.

Among its neighbors, Lithuania has a relatively low abortion rate, spurring the Lithuanian Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which does not support abortion as a pregnancy regulation method, to nonetheless question the purpose of the bill. There were 14 abortions per 1,000 Lithuanian women aged 15 to 45 in 2004, far below neighboring Estonia and Latvia, where the rates, respectively, were 33 and 27 abortions per 1,000 women.

Algimantas Ramonas, chair of the National Families and Parents Association of Lithuania, is one of the bill's strong supporters.

"Every child has the right to be born and to live," he told Women's eNews. "Of course a woman has the right to decide on her sexual life and plan her family, but she also has responsibilities. A pregnant woman has a human being inside her, which is not just another part of her body, and she should be proud of it."

On the other side of the bill, Esmeralda Kuliestyle, director of the Vilnius-based Family Planning and Sexual Health Association, decries it as a violation of women's freedom to make their own decisions.

"This is a very dangerous step for Lithuanian women," says Kuliestyle. "It could lead to serious health complications and even to an increase in the maternal mortality rate because of illegal and unsafe abortions."
Authors Sit on Review Committees

While earlier versions of the draft legislation were judged unconstitutional by the parliament's legal affairs committee, the latest draft has been approved by this committee and, last April, also by the human rights committee. Two of the five original authors of the bill sit on these committees.

The authors justify their proposal, saying the bill "reflects the teaching of the Catholic Church and John Paul II."

Kuliestyle objects to the heavy involvement of the Catholic Church in the matter.

"Priests are everywhere: They appear on television, on the radio, in newspapers and even on the Internet," she says. "They say that using contraceptive methods is immoral and that abortion is a crime. They have too much influence, particularly on politicians."

The Catholic Church has traditionally played an important role in Lithuania. During Soviet occupation, the church's underground activities in support of dissidents were a major asset in the struggle for the country's independence. Since then, its influence on society has remained high.

The draft law has been criticized for its vagueness, as it does not clearly state which criminal sanctions women and doctors involved with illegal abortions would face. Because the bill seeks to amend the criminal code and would therefore establish a criminal link between abortion and murder, judges would have discretion to sentence violators of the law to several years' imprisonment.
70 Percent Opposed to Criminalization

A survey conducted by the Family Planning and Sexual Health Association shows that, while most Lithuanians would personally prefer to avoid terminating pregnancies, more than 70 percent of the population regards abortion as matter of individual choice and opposes criminalization.

Authors of the bill take both a moral and practical stance, arguing that abortion indicates a "low moral level of society and a critical demographic situation" in Lithuania. The population in the country has continuously declined--by an average of half a percentage point annually--since the beginning of the 1990s, and the total fertility rate decreased from two children per woman in 1990 to 1.3 children in 2006. Supporters of the bill say an abortion ban would encourage population growth.

Kuliestyle rejects that, arguing that its main effect will be to discriminate against lower-income women. "No matter if abortion is legal or not, women who decide to abort will do it anyway. Those who can afford it will travel to nearby countries where the law isn't so strict. Others who don't have money will turn to unsafe underground operations and put their health at risk."

Since neighboring Poland, a country looked upon by supporters of the legislation in Lithuania, passed its strict abortion ban in 1993, the total fertility rate fell to 1.23 births per woman in 2006 from a higher rate of 2.04 births per woman in 1990. This situation mirrors a general trend in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.

Earlier this year 110 members of the European Parliament--out of 785--sent a letter to Lithuanian deputies urging them to reject the bill, describing it as a "serious backlash on women's reproductive health rights in Lithuania."

Women's rights advocates worry that the bill will be passed as anti-choice factions gain ground at the expense of progressive women's rights.

In June the Lithuanian parliament redefined "family" exclusively as a married, heterosexual couple and their children. As a result, single mothers or fathers, unmarried partners and grandparents raising children no longer constitute a family or qualify for the same level of government assistance as a "traditional family."

Elisabeth Roy Trudel is a freelance journalist from Montreal, Canada, who frequently writes on human rights and social issues.

Women's eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at

Palin On Abortion: I'd Oppose Even If My Own Daughter Was Raped

The Huffington Post

In November 2006, then gubernatorial candidate Sarah Palin declared that she would not support an abortion for her own daughter even if she had been raped.

Granting exceptions only if the mother's life was in danger, Palin said that when it came to her daughter, "I would choose life."

At the time, her daughter was 14 years old. Moreover, Alaska's rape rate was an abysmal 2.2 times above the national average and 25 percent of all rapes resulted in unwanted pregnancies. But Palin's position was palatable within the state's largely Republican political circles.

Now that she's John McCain's vice presidential candidate, Palin's abortion policy (among others) is undergoing renewed scrutiny. The Alaska Republican has long declared herself pro-life. And her credentials on the topic make her the belle of the ball among religious conservatives. But Democrats and abortion rights advocates say her stance, specifically her unwillingness to grant her own child a choice to end a pregnancy induced by rape, is drastically at odds with public opinion -- even among many Republicans.

"This is absolutely outside the mainstream. Even in South Dakota they rejected [outlawing abortion in cases of rape] in '06 because it has gone too far and everyone can identify that in a case of rape or incest a woman should have the chance to make the decision with their family or doctor," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro Choice America. "Women voters are going to reject both her and John McCain, and I think we see it specifically because we reach out to Republicans and independent pro-choice women. They live in the suburbs and exurbs. They are very much part of the mainstream America. And woman in general will reject that ticket."

Palin makes no secret of her abortion views. A member of the group Feminists for Life, she told the Alaska Right to Life Board in 2002 that she "adamantly supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity of abortion." In an Eagle Forum Alaska questionnaire filled out during the 2006 gubernatorial race, Palin again stated that she is against abortion unless a doctor determined that a mother's life would end due to the pregnancy.

"I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society," she wrote, "we cannot condone ending an innocent's life."

But it's not just abortion policy that has Democrats up in arms over Palin. In that same 2006 questionnaire, the soon-to-be governor said she would fund abstinence-only education programs in schools. "The explicit sex-ed programs," she added, "will not find my support." The stance, which reflected the priorities of the GOP, nevertheless led to an incredulous editorial in the Juneau Empire.

"Abstinence may be a laudable goal, but failing to educate teenagers about how to protect themselves from disease or unintended pregnancy is tragically misguided. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, abstinence-only programs do not reduce sexual activity, teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. Every day 10,000 U.S. teens contract a sexually transmitted disease, 2,400 get pregnant and 55 contract HIV. Unintended pregnancies happen to Republicans, Democrats and people of all faiths."

While Palin's positions have drawn the ire and concern of the pro-choice and progressive community, they are largely -- save abortions in the case of rape -- in line with John McCain's own stances. The Senator is against federal funding of birth control and sex education. He has called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade and received a zero rating from NARAL. Once, aboard the Straight Talk Express, McCain was asked if he supported the use of contraception or President Bush's abstinence-only education program to stem the spreading of AIDS.

"After a long pause, he said, 'I think I support the president's policy.' Does he believe that contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV? After another long pause, he replied, "You've stumped me."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Madonna Talks About Abortion (From 1994 Interview)

I found this while browsing around on YouTube. It's an interview from 1994 with Madonna and a Swedish journalist. The journalist probes into Madonna's life to talk about her abortions.

If Roe Goes, Our State Will Be Worse Than You Think

Washington Post
By Linda Hirshman
Sunday, September 28, 2008; B01

In the 1980s, when abortion was severely limited in then-West Germany, border guards sometimes required German women returning from foreign trips to undergo vaginal examinations to make sure that they hadn't illegally terminated a pregnancy while they were abroad. According to news stories and other accounts, the guards would stop young women and ask them about drugs, then look for evidence of abortion, such as sanitary pads or nightgowns, in their cars, and eventually force them to undergo a medical examination -- as West German law empowered them to do.

Sounds like a nightmare of a police state, doesn't it? Like something that could never happen in this day and age -- and certainly not in the United States? But depending upon the outcome of this presidential election, it could happen here. This is how.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain opposes abortion, believing that life begins at conception. Imagine that he's elected to the White House and, not long after, one of the aging Supreme Court justices dies or resigns. President McCain appoints a suitably conservative replacement, and a complaisant or cowed Senate confirms the nomination. Then, an ambitious district attorney in Alabama, Delaware or any one of more than a dozen other states with old abortion laws still on the books or a new, untested abortion restriction prosecutes a local clinic for performing the procedure. (Legal scholars pretty much agree that laws from before Roe v. Wade can be revived.) The clinic goes to federal court; after appeals, the case goes to the Supreme Court, which votes 5-4 to overturn Roe. And we're back to the '60s .

Well, that wouldn't be so bad, you may think. Some states (or even cities and counties) will offer abortion, and others won't. Women will just have to go to New York or someplace else if they want or need to end a pregnancy. A lot of states had pretty liberal laws in 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade. Even Georgia, one of the two states involved in that case, allowed some abortions for the health of the mother.

But it's not 1972. The climate then was one of growing sympathy for women seeking abortion, triggered in part by stories of those who sought one after realizing that their children would be deformed by the anti-morning-sickness drug thalidomide. Social liberalism was rising; religions weren't much engaged in politics. Today, the politics of abortion have changed. In addition to old laws that would spring back up should Roe be reversed, the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute lists four states -- Louisiana, Missisippi, North and South Dakota -- as having trigger laws explicitly aimed at making abortion criminal upon Roe' s demise, and seven others that have committed to acting to the extent that the court may allow.

The trigger laws are much harsher than the pre- Roe laws; Louisiana's, for instance, would allow abortion only in case of a threat to the mother's life or to a life-sustaining organ. In 1972, roughly 40 percent of the women who got abortions in the United States did so outside their state of residence. There are now more than a million abortions a year. Can you imagine how many women will travel elsewhere if their home states prohibit abortion unless the mother's life is at risk?

The difference today is that some states with criminal abortion laws will almost certainly also forbid their residents to cross state lines to obtain an abortion. Missouri already allows civil litigation against anyone who helps a minor cross state lines to get an abortion without parental consent. Congress was well along to passing a law making it criminal to take a minor from a state requiring parental consent when the Democrats won in 2006 and stopped it.

Is it possible, you ask, that in a post- Roe world, states would be able to pass valid laws stopping women from leaving to obtain an abortion? It seems un-American. But a lot of law professors have looked at this question, and although they're still debating it, many of the best in the business believe that this is something states probably can do. "To speak of the fetus' " home state, and make the home it shares with the mother "a basis" for controlling a woman's ability to get an abortion might "make sense," Columbia law professor Gerald Neuman wrote in 1993 when abortion rights were last in peril.

Under the American constitutional system, a state does have some authority to regulate its citizens' conduct even when they aren't on its territory. The Tenth Amendment and numerous Supreme Court rulings have recognized the broad reach of state sovereignty. In 1792, the Supreme Court approved Virginia's prosecution of a Virginian for stealing a horse from another Virginian, even though the dastardly deed took place entirely in the District of Columbia.

There are, of course, limits to what states can do to stop out-of-state abortions. They have to comply with the restrictions of the federal Constitution, such as the clause saying that no state may deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Courts apply this due-process clause to prohibit states from taking "arbitrary" actions. A state's decision to prosecute a woman for an abortion that it holds to be illegal but that was legal where she got it could be seen as arbitrary -- meddling in behavior that's none of its business -- unless that state shows that it has a legitimate interest in the out-of-state act.

In some indirect -- but ominous -- cases, the Supreme Court has shown itself to be open to the idea that a state has an interest in its citizens' behavior wherever it occurs. In 1985, the court allowed Alabama to prosecute an Alabama defendant for his wife's murder, even though he had already been tried and convicted in Georgia, where the actual murder occurred. In 1993, the court recognized the interest of a state that forbids gambling in upholding a federal law prohibiting broadcasters from tempting its citizens with advertisements for out-of-state lotteries.

There is one case in which the Supreme Court indicated that a state's interest in prohibiting abortion isn't great enough to support reach beyond its borders. In 1975, in Bigelow v. Virginia, the court protected a Virginia newspaper's right to publish ads for a New York abortion-referral service. In its opinion, the court said that "neither could Virginia prevent its residents from traveling to New York to obtain those services, or, as the state concedes, prosecute them for going there."

Sound pretty definitive? It's not, though. The free-speech provisions of the Constitution already protect newspapers in these circumstances, so the court didn't need to make the above determination. Its ruling was essentially what lawyers call a dictum -- meaning that it was just kibitzing, and later courts don't have to pay much attention.

Will the Supreme Court allow a state to prohibit abortion travel? In Bigelow, the court was very anxious to protect its new Roe decision. The seven justices who had voted in favor of Roe were the same ones who protected the newspaper in Bigelow. The losing justices in Bigelow were the same two -- William H. Rehnquist and Byron R. White -- who'd dissented in Roe. But their once-losing position would become the majority position today if a president opposed to abortion appointed a fifth anti-abortion justice. It hardly seems likely that this new majority would feel bound by some kibitzing from the Virginia case.

Moreover, a Supreme Court that reversed Roe could also rule more broadly that the fetus is a person under the Fourteenth Amendment. Such a ruling would be the flip side of Roe, making state support of abortion a constitutional offense. There are barriers to using the Constitution affirmatively to stop abortions nationwide, but such an ambitious ruling would surely encourage the anti-abortion states' most restrictive plans and increase the pressure on Congress to pass a national law restricting abortion. Don't forget that even many Democrats voted in favor of the late-term abortion ban.

Even if the Senate, uncharacteristically, refused to confirm a McCain nominee -- or nominees, if he kept sending up names -- leaving the court at eight justices, women's options would probably erode rapidly. It's easy to imagine the anti-abortion states pushing the envelope with once improbably restrictive laws, such as one requiring clinics to be licensed by the state and prohibiting women from getting abortions in unlicensed clinics, either in- or out-of-state.

If a clinic went to federal court to enjoin such a law, the case would eventually reach one of the 13 federal Courts of Appeal, 11 of which are firmly dominated by Republican appointees and would probably produce a decision either refusing to follow Roe or, more likely, making some transparent distinction between Roe and the new case. In a divided Supreme Court, four justices would probably vote to affirm the lower court, and four to reverse, leaving the appeals court's decision standing. This means that the states that fell within the Circuit in question would come under an anti-abortion umbrella allowing anything up to explicit reversal of Roe.

How would state laws forbidding pregnant women to leave be enforced? The Hope Clinic in Granite City, Ill., is just 10 minutes from the Missouri border. Police from the prohibiting state can just take the license plates of local vehicles at the abortion clinics across the state lines and arrest the women when they re-enter the state. Or a traffic stop can produce a search. Tips from pharmacy workers, disapproving parents or disappointed boyfriends can alert the police to arrest the pregnant woman for intent to seek an abortion out of state. The state law may allow interested parties to seek injunctions to stop her from leaving.

It seems a long way from McCain's bold statement that life begins at conception to police cars waiting on an abortion clinic side street in Granite City. But it's not. If the law were to take this post- Roe course, Americans' lives would be determined by their state citizenship in ways unseen since the Civil War. Professional legal scholars have traced the developments step by step. As constitutional scholar Richard Fallon of Harvard said recently, "If Roe were to go, it would not go gently."

Linda Hirshman, a lawyer and former professor of law and philosophy, is the author, most recently, of "Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World."

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