Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Here is what Obama had to say today on the plane about his recent statement about mental distress and partial birth abortion.
http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/pol itics/blog/2008/07/obama_backs_late_abor tions_on.html

"My only point is this -- historically I have been a strong believer in a women's right to choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family. And it is ..I have consistently been saying that you have to have a health exception on many significant restrictions or bans on abortions including late-term abortions. In the past there has been some fear on the part of people who, not only people who are anti-abortion, but people who may be in the middle, that that means that if a woman just doesn't feel good then that is an exception. That's never been the case. I don't think that is how it has been interpreted. My only point is that in an area like partial-birth abortion having a mental, having a health exception can be defined rigorously. It can be defined through physical health, It can be defined by serious clinical mental-health diseases. It is not just a matter of feeling blue. I don't think that's how pro-choice folks have interpreted it. I don't think that's how the courts have interpreted it and I think that's important to emphasize and understand."

Linda Douglass had more: "Mental distress is not an illness. He absolutely believes and has always said there has to be a health exception for serious physical and mental illness."

I thought his statements to that Christian magazine were intended to play the wingnuts with a vague term that was meant to trick them into believing that the health exception for partial-birth abortion did not include a mental health.  A wink wink to the base?  Let's hope so.

[editor's note, by Blazers Edge] UPDATE: Here is the funniest Obama line of the weekend:"I wasn't saying anything that I hadn't said before. That I didn't say a year ago. Or when I was a U.S. senator. If you look at our position, it's been very consistent. The notion that we have to get out carefully has been a consistent position." The key phrase here is "when I was a U.S. senator." You still are a Senator, Senator! http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/05/campaign.wrap/

Tags: abortion, obama (all tags)

Comments

116 Comments

Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Well, mental illness does not mean "down in the dumps". Serious mental illness, the kind that needs to be medicated, means that without it, you would not be sane enough to live within society.

I'm not entirely clear on the kinds of mental illnesses that would necessitate an abortion, though. Can anyone clue me in? What is the major concern in this situation?

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Here is why Obama is wrong. One would hope that making a choice for a woman is not a Pro choice stance.

However,

Woman can miss her period sometimes once or twice in row and it not alarm her. This is in the case of women in late 30's or 40.  That also happens to be an age that they could get pregnant.

So Obama suggest telling those women  ' Hey, I know you figured it out that you were pregnant after 11 weeks but now you are 'stuck' with it because you now have entered the ` late term ` clause' .

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 04:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Obama is talking about late term, though, no? So that would be after 22 weeks or so. So they'd still have another three months to decide.

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Late term is not clearly defined. In fact here is what I found on it online :

A late-term abortion often refers to an induced abortion procedure that occurs after the 20th week of gestation. However, the exact point when a pregnancy becomes late-term is not clearly defined. Some sources define an abortion after 12 completed weeks' gestation as "late".

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

You're being intellectually dishonest here.  We're discussing the phrase "late term" in the context of a partial-birth abortion ban.  That's not in reference to 12 weeks out, and I assume you know that.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 05:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

err what?

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Your quote is irrelevant to the discussion.  No partial-birth abortion ban I've ever seen even discussed sets the line at 12 weeks.  Its way, way later.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Fair enough.

can you show me /us where you have seen the late term defined in weeks by Obama?

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

No.  Nor do I need to.  The context is more than sufficient.  The topic was partial-birth abortion, and we know where that legislation tends to define "late term."

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

No NO we don't, you do sir.

I don't like to leave room for imagination.

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Late-term abortions are abortions which are performed during a later stage of pregnancy. Late-term abortion is more controversial than abortion in general because the fetus is more developed and may even be viable.

A late-term abortion often refers to an induced abortion procedure that occurs after the 20th week of gestation. However, the exact point when a pregnancy becomes late-term is not clearly defined. Some sources define an abortion after 12 completed weeks' gestation as "late.

Canada: During the year 2003, 6.5% of induced abortions were performed between 13 to 16 weeks, 2.2% between 17 to 20 weeks, and 0.8% over 20 weeks. This sample included only those procedures carried out in hospitals. [7]
England and Wales: In 2005, 9% of abortions occurred between 13 to 19 weeks, while 1% occurred at or over 20 weeks. [8]
New Zealand: In 2003, 2.03% of induced abortions were done between weeks 16 to 19, and 0.56% were done over 20 weeks. [9]
Norway: In 2005, 2.28% of induced abortions were performed between 13 to 16 weeks, 1.24% of abortions between 17 and 20 weeks, and 0.20% over 21 weeks. [10]
Scotland: In 2005, 6.1% of abortions were done between 14 to 17 weeks, while 1.6% were performed over 18 weeks. [11]
Sweden: In 2005, 5.6% of abortions were carried out between 12 and 17 weeks, and 0.8% at or greater than 18 weeks. [12]
United States: In 2003, from data collected in those areas that sufficiently reported gestational age, it was found that 6.2% of abortions were conducted from 13 to 15 weeks, 4.2% from 16 to 20 weeks, and 1.4% at or after 21 weeks. [13] Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual study on abortion statistics does not calculate the exact gestational age for abortions performed past the 20th week, there is no exact data for the number of abortions performed after viability. [13] In 1997, the Guttmacher Institute estimated the number of abortions in the U.S. past 24 weeks to be 0.08%, or approximately 1,032 per year

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 06:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Source?  I'm assuming you are linking to an actual or proposed partial birth abortion ban.

Anything else would be completely irrelevant, and fear-mongering.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

The statute in question, 18 U.S. Code 1531, bans the procedure.  It is neutral on the question of when the abortion occurs.  It is the technique itself that was banned.

This procedure is generally used between the 18th and 26th week (though there are outliers in either direction).

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 06:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

fear mongering?

WHAT!

Thats it the conversation ends. Now you're into silly season taunts.

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Late term is defined as third trimester, ie, after 6 months.

by DaveG 2008-07-05 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Again, show us where obama defined late term defined as 3rd trimester. I could not find it but I may have missed it. Could you help show me that?

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Fine. Let's grant you that Obama MAY have meant 12 weeks. He might also have meant 4. Or 3 hours. Or 6 years. We just have no way to know, really.

by vcalzone 2008-07-06 06:21AM | 0 recs
"We have no way to know"

Actually, we do; the interviewer was asking him specifically about third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. (See elsewhere in this thread for the quote.) His use of the term "late-term" was in direct response to that.

by jere7my 2008-07-06 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: "We have no way to know"

Nah, I was making fun of the people who suggested otherwise. Obama COULD have meant anything, but you'd have to be really dense, intentionally or not, to misunderstand what he meant.

by vcalzone 2008-07-06 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

"Obama MAY have meant 12 weeks. He might also have meant 4. Or 3 hours. Or 6 years. We just have no way to know, really."

And therein lies the problem with Obama.  One never knows where he stands.

by William Cooper 2008-07-06 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

I think it's awesome that you took the time out to write that.  It's so awesome that I'm taking time out to tell you how great it is that you posted it.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-06 10:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

The question he was responding to was clear: "...there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions." He's talking specifically about the third trimester when he says "late-term" in his answer; the question provided the context.

by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Can you too show me /us where you read that late term was discussed as 3rd trimester by obama?

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 06:27PM | 0 recs
Sure.

The context comes from the question posed in the original article:

http://relevantmagazine.com/life_article .php?id=7591

Again, "...there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?"

by jere7my 2008-07-05 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Sure.

Excuse me but I don't see the answer to my question in that article . Quite possible I missed it.

Where is 'late term 'defined as 3rd trimester?

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 06:35PM | 0 recs
Did you do a search?
The interviewer asks,
there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?

Then Obama responds:
... I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother.

In other words, the interviewer asked "What's your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions?" and Obama responded "Here's my position on late-term abortions." Basic reading comprehension suggests he's using "late-term" here as a catch-all for both third-trimester and partial-birth, since that's what he was asked about (and since that's one medically accepted use of the term).
by jere7my 2008-07-05 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Did you do a search?


Ahha your right. Yeah my CRTL-F does not work in IE for some reason.

He is talking about 3rd trimester in this interview but he uses the language 'late term' which is defined as can start at 12 weeks (see my block quote above).  

But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he calls 3rd trimester as later term.

Now on partial birth abortions: Partial birth  abortion law speaks only to the method of abortion used. It is a method used before the 3rd trimester or was used since it is banned now.

Not withstanding his 3rd trimester position. I still stand by the statement that you cannot call yourself pro-choice if you don't leave a choice to the woman.  If you restrict that right even in the 3rd trimester you are not Pro -Choice.

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 07:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Did you do a search?

Um, yes you can.

I'm gonna have to write a diary about Casey v. Planned Parenthood, which controls the abortion question (it superceded Roe v. Wade, yet nearly nobody seems to have noticed that).

You have a right to an abortion up until the point of viability, under the Constitution.  Your right is not unfettered.

None of your rights are unfettered.  Every single right you have can be, and is, regulated and restricted at times by your government.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 07:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Did you do a search?

I'm sorry but what does Supreme Court case law have to do with the definition of the term pro-choice?

Have I missed something in this conversation?

by souvarine 2008-07-05 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Did you do a search?

I'll compose the diary and make my point that way.

I can't really do that effectively in the confines of a traditional comment.  I'm not dodging, either.  This isn't an easy topic to wade into, and I would prefer to do it right.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Sure.

While I wait for the answer from you I'll even submit another point I made originally.

PRO CHOICE is a black and white issue. There is no 'Grey'. YOU are either for choice for women or you are about making laws to take that choice away. Even if it's a choice you are forcing upon them in one single case.

You don't have the right to define a choice for women if you are of the pro choice stance. Life is not considered 'human life' till birth among pro choice supporters.

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 06:47PM | 0 recs
Incorrect

That is why there is a federal ban on late term abortions.  Please site a poll where any majority of Americans feel it is absolute. It is not a black and white issue.

by Brandon 2008-07-05 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Incorrect

Hold on did I miss something. LOL and quite possibly.

There is no federal ban on later term abortions. You maybe are confusing it with partial birth abortion, which a 'method' used to perform such abortion.

What poll do you need for me to cite on the word pro-choice?

Go look up NARAL maybe. NO pro-choice organization is anything but against any law restricting a woman's choice to CHOOSE.

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Incorrect

Naral agrees with Obamas position.  Please, show me anyone credible source that believes abortion is an absolute right through delivery.

by Brandon 2008-07-05 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Incorrect

Come on man are you just going to throw it out there and hope it sticks. NARAL is not with Obama on any restrictions. It's against their charter.

NARAL site: "For more than 30 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has been the nation's leading advocate for privacy and a woman's right to choose."

There is no ambiguity in that statement about "we give up the right of a woman in cases of late term abortions under any circumstances".

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Incorrect

Some more information on NARAL:

Lobbying Congress:  NARAL Pro-Choice America fights the relentless onslaught of anti-choice policies and legislation introduced in Congress and works with pro-choice legislators in support of bills to protect a woman's right to choose and expand women's access to reproductive-health care.  Fortune Magazine has described NARAL Pro-Choice America as "one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America."

by roxfoxy 2008-07-05 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Incorrect

Ah, thank you.  I'd been living under a rock and had no idea as to whom NARAL is, and for what they fight.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Incorrect

I misinterpreted your comment.  I should not have posted that.  I apologize.

I should not multitask to that degree, it seems.  I am abjectly sorry.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 08:13PM | 0 recs
I wish he would just SHUT THE F@*^k UP!

"just because a woman doesn't feel good" - GO JOIN BILL FRIST YOU F%^$@#NG ASSHOLE!!! OR ASK HIM TO BE YOUR VP BECAUSE YOU'RE JUST AS STUPID!

by suzieg 2008-07-06 02:42AM | 0 recs
Re: I wish he would just SHUT THE F@*^k UP!

I get hide rated for far worse than this.

by Brandon 2008-07-06 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: I wish he would just SHUT THE F@*^k UP!

Wow. That's quite a response. I feel very sympathetic to your position now.

Obama was asked specifically about smear emails that (as far as I can determine) claimed he was in favor of third-trimester abortions for women who were just "feeling blue". He didn't bring it up out of thin air; he brought up mental distress because he was responding to a smear that mentioned it.

Take two minutes to get the context before you fly off the handle, please.

by jere7my 2008-07-06 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: I wish he would just SHUT THE F@*^k UP!

The funny thing about it is that this is a poster who has supported McCain for a very long time.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-06 10:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"
I would imagine that ones that require heavy medication that would be a danger to the fetus and therefore a danger to the mother.
Or, if the mother were suicidal.
Or, if further extreme stressors (such as child-birth) would exacerbate an existing mental illness.
I'm not a doctor, but I can think of several ways in which serious mental illness could be harmful to the mother's overall health.
by Kysen 2008-07-05 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

was meant as a reply to the first comment by vcalzone.

I'd also like to let you know that I really wanted to type "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV".

;)

by Kysen 2008-07-05 03:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

OK, I can definitely see that. I was just making sure it was talking about something that really did mean health.

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 04:34PM | 0 recs
He should have a discussion with Andrea Yates,

stupid moron! When, please enlighten me, did he become a doctor?

by suzieg 2008-07-06 02:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

also, this is a straw man argument pandering to the extreme right

the majority of women who have late term abortions want their babies.   However, due to health issues, they have to abort.

I suppose that having cancer and having to decide whether to have the treatments & aborting or not to have the treatments and getting worse is mental distress.

and a woman should always have the right to decide that for herself.

by colebiancardi 2008-07-05 03:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

I suppose that having cancer and having to decide whether to have the treatments & aborting or not to have the treatments and getting worse is mental distress.

Please tell me you're aware of the difference between your hypothetical and what Obama is describing. Having cancer and needing physically damaging and draining treatment is completely different from "feeling blue." Yes, "mental distress" is an unavoidable component of ALL serious physical illnesses, but that's now the type of mental distress he means.

He is describing someone in good health who is feeling down about having a baby. Perhaps they changed their mind. Who knows. But considering that even Roe stated that the considerations for late-term abortions to be different, Obama certainly isn't saying anything that hasn't been the norm for years.

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-07-05 06:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

I'm confused then, what qualifies as a not serious clinical mental-health disease? Does he have any idea what he is saying when he talks about choice? At this point I have no idea what he is saying.

by souvarine 2008-07-05 03:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

I imagine it means something capable of diagnosis, so that something akin to ordinary regret would not suffice.

by rfahey22 2008-07-05 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

but again, women who are getting late term abortions aren't doing it for "ordinary regret"

that is the right wing position for outlawing late term abortions.

by colebiancardi 2008-07-05 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Then that is a good thing. If we add that clause, most people who would get them will be able to get them, and the right-wing will be placated to an extent. This is a winner.

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

I think cole is arguing from the position that this is accepting the RW frame of the issue, legitimizing it by including essentially meaningless language to assuage them.

by zerosumgame 2008-07-05 08:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

And it is. But isn't that what everyone does when dealing with this issue as a defense? Except Obama is using it as an offense. Smart!

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 10:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

just clarifying the issue, I have no problem with the language myself now that he has expanded a bit on it.

by zerosumgame 2008-07-06 08:34AM | 0 recs
A winner? you obviously do not have a uterus!

He should leave well alone when it comes to abortion instead of pandering to the hate mongers!

by suzieg 2008-07-06 02:45AM | 0 recs
Re: A winner? you obviously do not have a uterus!

You obviously have no idea what anyone's position on this is.  You've been engaging in Republican boosterism for months now.

Pro-choice Republicans exist.  I'm sure you are one, for example.  There are a few in the Congress.  McCain is not one, however.  He is so emphatically not one that he's ruled out even having a VP who's ever been pro-choice.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-06 10:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Well, if Obama doesn't feel "ordinary regret" is a valid reason for a late-term abortion but no one is actually getting abortions for that reason, then there we go. There's no problem with it.

Personally, I think this is all a clever ruse. Obama is trying to make independents and republicans feel good about a non-existent problem. It's like saying, "I'm not in favor of the government coming in and taking your hunting rifles." Well no kidding--I don't think ANY Democrat is actually calling for that. So he gets at least some pro-life credit, when in reality it doesn't change the actual, everyday results of his policy one iota.

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-07-05 06:16PM | 0 recs
this is what you want for the democratic party?

A panderer to the christian right? You really want these hate mongers in the party? this is the new urban, suburban young party? these are your principles? You can have it! I'm so repulse, it's beyond words! Let him continue on this strategy and he'll have no baby boomers left! He's undoing all of our battles for the votes of the worse of the republican party!

by suzieg 2008-07-06 02:48AM | 0 recs
Re: this is what you want for the democratic party

The 4th of July is over, so your parade of strawmen is a little late.

There are people who are pro-life, or are pro-choice but less so on late-term issues, who are not "the christian right" or "hate mongers."

You must believe that Bob Casey, Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln and others are christian-right hate mongers. Why do you hate other Democrats?

Wow, it is fun and easy to distort other people's positions!

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-07-06 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

So anything in the DSM IV? Cyclothymia? Actually there are tons of things in the DSM IV that untrained people would call "feeling blue", so he can't mean "something capable of diagnosis." Either he has some line in the spectrum of mental health disorders in mind or he is just making things up at this point.

There is a reason pro-choice supporters use the unqualified phrase "a woman's right to choose", politicians have no business making up various exceptions to that right.

by souvarine 2008-07-05 04:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

If it is severe enough to require the sort of medication that could harm the baby or if the baby would keep the medication from working and the condition was severe enough that it was a threat to the woman, then absolutely.

I have bipolar II, I've been taking medication for years. But I've seen SO many people, including friends and family members, start feeling really depressed all the time and decide they might need to see a doctor. And multiple times, the doctor hasn't been that great and has put them on anti-depression medication, and that medication messes them up. Because real, legitimate mental illness means that if you do not stay medicated, you cannot work or go about your normal routine. So I can see a clear distinction between mental illness and mental distress.

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

I'm puzzled as well, but since he has never before sought to inform us with this distinction he sees between mental distress and mental health, I am chalking up it up to pure pandering meant to fool the wingnuts based on his past votes and reputation (I think we've debated the present issue for eternity on this blog, so I'll put that aside).  You would think that Obama would say something about this distinction, if he actually believes in such a distinction, during his 2004 Senate run when Alan Keyes was accusing him of wanting to abort Jesus.

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-05 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Souvarine helpfully linked to this Wikipedia article on mental distress, which says:

Mental distress has a much wider scope than the related term mental illness. Mental illness refers to a specific set of medically defined conditions. A person in mental distress may exhibit some of the symptoms described in psychiatry, such as: anxiety, confused emotions, hallucination, rage, depression and so on without actually being `ill' in a medical sense.

So, mere mental distress has a wider scope -- it can include mental illness, but it can also cover something as simple as anxiety. Obama has now made it clear that he considers mental illness to be exception-worthy, but not "mental distress" as the medical community (apparently) uses it.

Seems pretty straightforward.

by jere7my 2008-07-05 04:22PM | 0 recs
Aren't you assuming though

that what he means by mental distress is equivalent to the wikipedia definition that you posted?  Don't you think it's possible that he's being purposefully vague?

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-05 04:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

Anything is possible, but this clarification seems, well, clear: "Mental distress is not an illness. He absolutely believes and has always said there has to be a health exception for serious physical and mental illness."

Okay, yes, I'm sure he's not going to go check Wikipedia if the issue comes up. But "mental distress" is a real term of art in the medical community, and Douglass spells it out for us: if it's mental illness, it's not mere mental distress. If it's mere mental distress, it's not an illness. That seems unequivocal.

by jere7my 2008-07-05 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

"Mental distress" is not an illness, nor is "feeling suicidal", but many mental illnesses are characterized by mental distress. The only clarification is that Obama intended to refer to "serious mental illnesses" as part of the health exemption, which frankly clarifies nothing. Which mental illnesses are the not serious ones?

by souvarine 2008-07-05 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

Anything is a mental illness if it is severe enough. It's all a matter of degrees. Not everyone has to treat an illness with the same amount of medication, not every illness is equally severe across the board. Because immune systems and organs are different for everyone. My liver is not the same as your liver. Therefore, I can't process alcohol exactly the same way you do.

Just like how everyone is bipolar to a certain degree. We all get high and low. When you're bipolar, it just means that the balance is thrown off. Thrown off to the extent that it is impossible to live a normal life, so you need the assistance of chemicals to bring things closer to normal. That's the difference.

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

I get your point, and that is why the determination of what is "balanced" and when and how much medication is required to achieve it is best left to the person and her doctor.

It would have been clearer if Obama had left the health exemption as it is in Roe v. Wade. Health includes mental health, the determination of what health issue suggests a late-term abortion is up to the woman and her doctor.

by souvarine 2008-07-05 05:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

It would have been clearer if Obama had left the health exemption as it is in Roe v. Wade.

Isn't that what he's doing? He's talking explicitly about how the courts have interpreted Roe v. Wade, and pointing out that "mental distress" was not considered to be sufficient for a late-term partial-birth abortion: "I don't think that's how pro-choice folks have interpreted it. I don't think that's how the courts have interpreted it and I think that's important to emphasize and understand."

If anything, his underlying goal seems to be playing Mythbuster for the religious right: "You have wrong ideas about Roe v. Wade and 'feeling blue'; here's how it's really being interpreted."

by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

I think you're squinting too hard.

"Mental distress is not an illness." That's unequivocal. If it's an illness, it's not mere mental distress. Therefore, if it's an illness, it's not what Obama was referring to in his original comment.

Now, I'm sure there are some mental illnesses which would not be serious enough for an exemption. Mild OCD, for instance, doesn't seem like it would qualify. Shrug. I don't really know -- I'm not a doctor. Neither is Obama. Doctors, right now, are the ones who decide what counts as mental distress and what counts as a mental illness, and presumably the ones who would decide the precise terms of these putative exemptions.

The point is, this is a dandy clarification of the only point that was previously unclear -- whether mental illness was part of what he was talking about when he spoke of real medical problems. And, yes indeedy, it is: mental illness was indeed meant to be covered in his previous interview. I'm not sure how that "clarifies nothing" -- we know something for sure now that was only implied previously.

If you're looking for a detailed point-by-point listing of which mental illnesses would qualify someone for an exemption, I might suggest looking somewhere other than an off-the-cuff plane presser. He's not drafting policy here; he's clarifying his original point (which I'll repeat here: yes, mental illness is also a consideration).

by jere7my 2008-07-05 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

The problem with this clarification is that Obama is pretending to be a doctor, just as you were with your OCD example. If he were pro-choice he would simply state that mental health is health and that the decision to have a late term abortion is between a woman and her doctor. He wouldn't drift into the weeds of "rigorously defining" medical evaluations that are ultimately between a woman and her doctor. The correct clinical response to a medical condition is not subject to rigorous legal definition.

by souvarine 2008-07-05 05:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

"If he were pro-choice"? Really? You're saying our nominee, who has a 100% pro-choice rating from NARAL, is not pro-choice? On a Democratic progressive website?

When did he say that it wouldn't be up to the doctor and the woman? No, wait, gosh -- he did say that: "I have been a strong believer in a women's right to choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family." He's not proposing some new legislative checklist; he's talking about the exceptions that already exist, that are determined by doctors and patients together.

by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:33PM | 0 recs
"...which frankly clarifies nothing."
To put it another way, you said, in the "Ammunition" diary,
...he clearly intended "mental distress" to have its usual, inclusive, meaning covering mental health.

Now we know for sure that, no, mental distress and mental illness are two different things, and that he intended to draw that distinction. You misinterpreted his original statement; now, thanks to this clarification, you know it was a misinterpretation. That's not "clarifying nothing" -- in fact, he clarified a part of his statement that you yourself misunderstood.
by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:12PM | 0 recs
...which frankly clarifies nothing.

I am happy to see that he did not intend to exclude mental health from health, he has made that clear. He saw the need to clarify, and I am glad he did.

What is not clear is what he did intend to exclude. Rather than try to figure out how to insert government into the decisions of a woman and her doctor, he should be saying something like this:

And, therefore, I have concluded, after great, you know, concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, that our task should be in this pluralistic, diverse life of ours in this nation that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society.

by souvarine 2008-07-05 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: ...which frankly clarifies nothing.
It's very clear what he intended to exclude: mental distress. Anxiety. "Feeling blue." And he excluded it because he was asked about it, because a right-winger viral email was going around claiming that them durn libruls want to grant an exemption to anyone who's "feeling blue". His answer was that he didn't think that's how it was being interpreted, and that he didn't think that was how it should be interpreted. The question was
Strang: Based on emails we received, another issue of deep importance to our readers is a candidate's stance on abortion. We largely know your platform, but there seems to be some real confusion about your position on third-trimester and partial-birth abortions. Can you clarify your stance for us?

Obama's first sentence was "please don't believe the emails." He was responding specifically to an email claiming that he thought "mental distress" was sufficient for a partial-birth abortion. He doesn't (nor do I), and he said as much.
by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't you assuming though

I think you're missing the point. You're trying to match his words to a wikipedia entry, for pete's sake.

Forget that he calls it "mental distress"...pretend that he calls it "panda flapjacks" instead and look at what he's actually describing. It's not what wikipedia says, it's "feeling blue" or late regrets or cold feet or whatever--in other words, a non-clinical change of heart.

If he ever needs his HHS to actually write any kind of guidelines, I'm sure they'll be using scientific terminology, not just some common term Obama tossed out there.

by Johnny Gentle Famous Crooner 2008-07-05 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

He said "mental distress" is not justification for an abortion not clinical mental health disease.

by skohayes 2008-07-05 04:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Some harsh reality.

Obama has a real hurdle to jump on this issue. McCain owns it! He needs to stay as far away from Pro-Life issues as possible or he will completely alienate a big group of voters. Remember how the Bush campaign started rumors about McCain's illegitimate black child and ended McCain's run in 2000? Here's the real story:

I mentioned a recent South Carolina advertisement about McCain's pro-life voting record. As good as that record is, the ad contained still more powerful evidence of his pro-life convictions. This part of the ad shows Cindy McCain walking beside a diminutive Catholic nun. Mrs. McCain is holding an infant in her arms. It is (the ad text says) "little Bridget, a baby she and John adopted in 1993 from Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangladesh. Bridget has been a great blessing to the McCain family."

Indeed she has. But there is a little more to the story than is there told. For one thing, there were two babies. Mrs. McCain brought home a second infant from the same orphanage. That baby became the adopted child of the McCain's best friends. Second, Mrs. McCain did not go to the orphanage in order to adopt. While she was touring the facility, Mother Teresa unexpectedly said to her (in so many words): "If you do not take those two babies with you, now, they could die right here. But you can save them." Cindy McCain did.

I believe that there is a profound lesson here about what it means to be pro-life, a lesson which goes beyond the important (but obvious) fact that the McCains live by the same principles which lie behind John's voting record. "Little Bridget" was not sought out by the McCains. She was not expected or planned for. She was an unanticipated gift whom the McCains welcomed, not because she was antecedently "wanted" by them, but because she was a baby, a unique and unrepeatable human being with a right to life because she is a human being and not because some other people's plans include her -- or don't.

by QTG 2008-07-05 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"
Obama's a Democrat, he's not going to stay away from pro-choice issues.
By the way, John McCain isn't "pro-life" by any stretch of the imagination.
A man who claims casually "I'm sorry, but there will be more wars." isn't pro-life.
A man who sings "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" isn't pro-life.
A man who thinks ending the Iraq war and bringing the troops home "isn't that important" isn't pro-life.
by skohayes 2008-07-05 04:30PM | 0 recs
pro choice dems and McCain

www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/ 06/prochoice_democrats_and_john_m.html

June 10, 2008

Pro-Choice Democrats and John McCain
By Froma Harrop

A big sticking point for wavering Democrats will be McCain's position on reproductive rights. Clinton's backers are overwhelmingly pro-choice, and they'll want to know this: Would McCain stock the Supreme Court with foes of Roe v. Wade? The 1973 decision guarantees a right to abortion.

The answer is unclear but probably "no." While McCain has positioned himself as "pro-life" during this campaign, his statements over the years show considerable latitude on the issue.

 In a 1999 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, McCain said, "I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America" to undergo "illegal and dangerous operations."

George W. Bush turned that statement against him in the 2000 race for the GOP nomination. The National Right to Life Committee ran ads denouncing McCain -- one reason he lost the important South Carolina primary to Bush.

read more.....

by suzieg 2008-07-06 05:00AM | 0 recs
I once worked as a counselor in an abortion clinic

One major reason for late abortions is the ultrasound discovery of severe fetal anomalies which are incompatible with life / birth such as anencephaly, which are incompatible with life.

This type of situation occurs in a woman who does not have any physical or mental illness, but it certainly causes emotional distress... "mental distress". It is not a diagnosable mental illness, but a situational emotional crisis which affects the pregnant woman, her partner and her entire family. The choice must be made to terminate the pregnancy or allow it to progress with the knowledge that the end result will be a still-birth or an infant death soon after delivery. NO-ONE who hasn't walked in those shoes can possibly judge or understand that choice.

Clearly, Obama is not thinking of these women and these situations when he made his dismissive and belittling statement to the Christian magazine regarding "mental distress". I cringed when I read his statement... and this clarification is not much better. Disappointing, very disappointing. Obama's team should be educating people to understand how complex these issues can be, not trying to create soften-the-issue soundbites.

My opinion is always that these PRIVATE issues must be left to women, their families, their doctors and a team of caring professionals who understand these situations in their entirety. Obama has said that, for certain, but this recent exchange negates a very important component of that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anencephaly

by twinmom 2008-07-05 04:13PM | 0 recs
I'm with you

But do you think it's possible that he's being purposely dismissive and belittling in trying to peel off some wingbats, who are pretty much dismissive and belittling in many of their beliefs.

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-05 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm with you, too.

I think it's terrible that Obama wants to make women go through the trauma of childbirth even if ultrasound tests show that the baby has anencephaly. I didn't know that...

That's just horrible!

Why isn't the press covering this?

by QTG 2008-07-05 04:38PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm with you, too.

Wow.

You've constructed a scenario of your choosing and you condemn Obama for it.

That's a strawman.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 05:09PM | 0 recs
I don't think that is what Obama wants at all

I'm not accusing him of taking an unfeeling or anti-choice position... but I find his language and his response in this case to be clumsy and ill-informed. Blame him, blame his staff... but no one should be talking about late term abortion and mental distress or anguish without keeping fetal anomalies firmly in mind.

The right-wing does a great job of presenting the most extreme and inflammatory cases when it comes to abortion... and constantly tries to dehumanize the woman and her family in favor of the embryo, fetus. I think that Obama could do a lot of good by speaking about the reality of late term abortion in a compassionate, measured, proactive way... not simply being reactive against the "wingnuts". To start, by acknowledging that MANY late term abortions occur with WANTED pregnancies. The issue of "emotional and mental distress" is simply not confined to mental illness or just not wanting to be pregnant. The grey area is enormous... and the much more common scenario than the far right would have us think.

I really do have faith that a vast majority of Americans could hear that message (and individual, specific stories of choice) with compassion, understanding and an absence of judgment. True dialogue and education is the key. I do believe that Obama can do that... but he is NOT doing that with these recent statements. In my opinion, he should... and I'll keep holding his feet to the fire as he finesses the ways in which he discusses these issues.

by twinmom 2008-07-05 06:41PM | 0 recs
peel off some wingbats

The only wingbats getting peeled off are those looking for any imaginable excuse to dissect and concern troll every triviality and dogamatic irrelevance that can be conjoured up against Obama.

Meanwhile McBush continues to enjoy his free pass at the expense of America's future.

by Beren 2008-07-05 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: peel off some wingbats

sorry that you think reproductive rights are trivial and irrelevant.

it isn't to many people.

by colebiancardi 2008-07-05 04:45PM | 0 recs
Give me a break.

This is just obsessing on your own navels.

Obama isn't going to DO anything to restrict anyone's reproductive rights nor appoint judges who will.

McBush on the other hand......

But he's the one getting virtually no criticism for his completely anti-choice position on this "Democratic" website.

I can only hope he's getting criticized by his own "supporters" on websites that should be his home turf since he isn't on this one that shouldn't.

by Beren 2008-07-05 04:51PM | 0 recs
The reason why nobody

is criticizing McCain is that nobody cares about the tool; everyone here already knows he stinks.  How many McCain sucks diaries do you want?

This blog isn't an echo chamber and that's why it's unique among the 'roots community.

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-05 04:56PM | 0 recs
This blog isn't an echo chamber

It isn't? With so many diaries and comments attacking Obama for every word that can be twisted, it had me fooled.

by Beren 2008-07-05 05:02PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

There are no Mccain sucks diarys here, especially not on the rec list.

by Brandon 2008-07-05 05:12PM | 0 recs
Yeah..."McCain sucks"

is the one kind of diary that is rare around here.

by Beren 2008-07-05 05:15PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

We all agree McCain sucks. What would we discuss? How much he sucks? The magnitude of his suckitude? Who would want to read that?

by souvarine 2008-07-05 05:22PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

You could talk policy,you could talk about republicans, but no, every diary from you is anti Obama, nothing ever positive about anyone but Hillary.  This website is a joke.  Might as well be called No Quarter light.

by Brandon 2008-07-05 05:25PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

You have been pretty disrespectful of other bloggers since you have shown up.  You are entirely negative and have spent much of the time pushing discord.  If the blog is a joke, then why are you here this much.

by Scotch 2008-07-05 09:58PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

I hesitate to speak for another, but:

Jokes are funny.

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-07-05 10:32PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

You could talk about McCain's inconsistent positions, and how best to frame the arguments against him, and message discipline, and his gaffes, and all the thousands of little strategic discussions about talking points that the Right is so good at having. Instead, we're all wasting our time either flying into a righteous fury over the latest manufactured Obama outrage or shrieking at the overreactors to calm down. 90% of our progressive energy is going into giving each other, and our candidate, black eyes.

That's not how you win.

by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

Do you really think this blog and the posters are going to have an impact on the election.  We like to think we do, but it is doubtful and the chances remote.

by Scotch 2008-07-05 09:55PM | 0 recs
Re: This blog isn't an echo chamber

That could be used as a reason not to talk about anything.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-06 10:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Give me a break.

Why don't you do a diary about McCain's stand on abortion rights, or else let other people discuss what they want.

by Scotch 2008-07-05 09:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Give me a break.

I'm obviously not stopping anyone from discussing Republican serving talking points on this Democratic blog.

by Beren 2008-07-06 08:38AM | 0 recs
But...

That's not a mental distress issue, that is an issue with the health of the fetus.

by vcalzone 2008-07-05 04:56PM | 0 recs
Re: But...

Well, it's both.  Can you imagine carrying a baby that you know is in this condition?  One cannot imagine the emotional effects of that knowledge, and the anticipation of the birth or death of it at full term.

by Scotch 2008-07-05 09:53PM | 0 recs
Re: But...

I agree with QTG - I think it's travisty that Obama is going to force women to deliver babies with encephalopathy simply because they're under emotional distress.

by MeganLocke 2008-07-06 10:51PM | 0 recs
This is not hard

He is saying, in his own words, "It is not just a matter of feeling blue." is not a legitimate reason for a late term abortion.  Everything else you guys are doing is grandstanding.  This is simple, lets not make it complected.  

by Brandon 2008-07-05 05:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Senator Obama is digging himself into a hole here with his definitions and re-definitions of what constitutes a health exception. The Supreme Court established many, many years (Doe vs. Bolton, I think)that:

1) There should be NO distinction between "mental" and "physical health" - it's all just "health".

and

2) The definition of what constitutes a "health" threat to a pregnant woman rests with the ATTENDING PHYSICIAN.

All that Senator Obama need do is say that he is in favor of a health exception as determined by a physician and that's the end of it. His talk about "feeling blue" "mental distress" etc. is just condescending claptrap from a politician who is trying to appear "thoughtful" on the issue to those who do not believe that a women's health can be simply left to her and her physician and would like to throw pastors (and politicians)into the mix as well.  
Still, it's good to see that he recognizes the poor initial impression that he made and his recantation is proof that those who support him can change his campaign by voicing dissent.

by Puffin 2008-07-05 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

"It is not just a matter of feeling blue."

That is all, anymore into it is just pure pontificating.

by Brandon 2008-07-05 05:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

Nothing Obama said contradicts anything you said above. He was refuting a right-wing talking point -- that them scary libruls think "mental distress" is a sufficient exemption -- without saying anything new about the decision to abort being between a woman and her doctor, or mental illness being just as valid as physical illness.

by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Abortion "Clarification"

I am so tired of men trying to speak on what women experience.  They have no concept of what goes on in a woman's body and mind during pregnancy, and have no right to make a judgement on it. IMHO.  It is really getting old.

by Scotch 2008-07-05 09:34PM | 0 recs
Well said, I second you!

by suzieg 2008-07-06 05:02AM | 0 recs
feeling blue?

What about feeling so blue you want to kill yourself?

What about feeling so trapped that you want to kill your baby?

These things really happen with pregnant women, women who are not mentally ill but for whatever reason are unreconciled to carrying their babies.

Mental distress is not some trivial thing, like feeling a little blue.  Walk in these women's shoes sometime.

Have you ever been to an abortion clinic?  You can smell the desperation of these women.

by spoot 2008-07-05 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: feeling blue?

8 months in,"I don't feel like it" doesn't cut it.

by Brandon 2008-07-05 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: feeling blue?

That is not what the poster is saying or asking.

by Scotch 2008-07-05 09:29PM | 0 recs
Re: feeling blue?

You're saying suicidal depression doesn't count as a serious mental illness? If not -- if, like me, you think self-harm is, in and of itself, cause for that diagnosis -- then you'll be happy to know Obama considers it exception-worthy.

by jere7my 2008-07-05 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: feeling blue?

I think that those feeling can be grounds for a diagnosis. At least, let's hope so.  

by Scotch 2008-07-05 09:31PM | 0 recs

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