BILL MOYERS: This week marked 40 years since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade overturned many federal and state restrictions on a woman’s right to an abortion. You have to be of a certain age to remember how, before abortion became legal, a woman could be tormented by an unwanted pregnancy that she was forced to carry to term by the police powers of the state. In that Dark Age leading up to the Court’s decision, America’s most trusted news man Walter Cronkite of CBS tried to make sense of the debate, and the danger.

WALTER CRONKITE on CBS Evening News: The illegal termination of pregnancy has reached epidemic proportions in this country. The laws which govern abortion are broken an estimated one million times a year, three thousand times a day, for various medical, social and economic reasons the laws do not recognize as valid. The conflict between the law and reality has resulted in a national dilemma. Only recently have our abortion laws been openly questioned, as a dialogue begun among doctors, lawyers and clergymen.

DR. ALAN GUTTMACHER on CBS Evening News: The law’s against you, your colleagues are against you, and it makes a very unhappy feeling. You hate to be a doctor under these conditions. This is simply puritanical punishment, that’s all we’re doing. We’re not thinking this thing through we’re punishing.

DR. ROY HEFFERNAN on CBS Evening News: An abortion is a shock, it’s an abnormal procedure. In my opinion, it’s murder. In my opinion it is a very cowardly form of murder because it’s the murder of an innocent little embryo that has not harmed anyone, that cannot defend itself in any way. […]

WOMAN #1 on CBS Evening News: I believe I’m about 9 weeks pregnant now. I have had dreams for the past two weeks about abortions, of horrible things happening to me. I can’t sleep, and I need help from someone but I just don’t know who to go to. […]

WALTER CRONKITE on CBS Evening News: This married couple felt that they would be unable to adequately raise another child. The wife was criminally aborted in a motel on the west coast.

WIFE on CBS Evening News: The operation was performed in the kitchen of the motel using some of the kitchen equipment, using a telephone book, chairs and so forth. About halfway through he turned to my husband and said, “How can you expect me to take dangers like this myself for such a low fee? Don’t you have some savings that you could utilize and pay me more money?”

HUSBAND on CBS Evening News: He said he wanted twice as much. That is, another $200. It wasn’t clear that he would go ahead and finish the operation if I didn’t pay him the extra money, but I didn’t, at that time, want to argue or even, of course, delay the procedure.

BILL MOYERS: Roe v. Wade only intensified the debate. And forty years later, the forces opposed to abortion – still driven largely by conservative religious beliefs and activists – have never given up. They seem more determined than ever. State by state, they have been winning their fight for new restrictions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research center on reproductive health care, "More than half of all U.S. women of reproductive age… now live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights, whereas fewer than one-third did a decade ago.” Even so, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that seven in ten Americans think the Roe v. Wade decision should stand. And for the first time ever, a majority believes abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

I’ve asked two champions of a woman’s freedom to make her own healthcare decisions to come talk about their resolve in the face of fierce opposition from the right. Jessica González-Rojas is Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. She is an Adjunct Professor of Latino and Latin American Studies at the City University of New York and has taught courses on reproductive rights, gender and sexuality. Lynn Paltrow is Founder and Executive Director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. She has served as a senior staff attorney at the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Project, and recently published this study in the American Journal of Public Health, “Roe v Wade and the New Jane Crow.” Welcome to you both.

LYNN PALTROW: Thank you.


BILL MOYERS: Before we get to what you're up against 40 years after Roe versus Wade, I want to ask you a question from your own experience, long experience in both cases of working with women. What does compulsory childbearing mean to a woman? What are the effects of knowing that you are not free to decide for yourselves whether to become a mother or not?

LYNN PALTROW: Well, we know that when abortion is criminalized before 1973 in the U.S. when abortion providers aren't available, many women will do what they have to do to take control of and responsibility for their reproductive lives. And if that means ending a pregnancy in any way they know how. That might be taking a poison, it might be using a knitting needle, it might be leaving the country, it might be asking somebody to beat them up.

It might be attempting suicide. For women what's true throughout history is that they will do what they need to do.

And if you have a legal system that says the state may prevent you from making key decisions about your health, your life, and your family, then you are really in some other status of personhood. And so for some women, historically, their ability to be full and equal participants in society really depended on whether they could end a pregnancy.

And that was the thing that would keep them from finishing college, having access to all of the things that they might have access to, participation in society. For other women, because of race discrimination or economic disability, they might be able to get an abortion and still not be able to have the children they want, to educate the children they had and keep them safe. So it really has to do with, how do we define women in our society? Are they full and equal participants? And the best way, the seemingly sort of neutral way of undermining their personhood is to focus on the issue of abortion.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: For us, our slogan is "Health, dignity, and justice." And when you think about compulsory pregnancies, it's taking away health, dignity, and justice from a woman. Many of the women, the Latinas that we work with that have experienced abortion are in their twenties, have a child already, and are--

BILL MOYERS: And why do they want an abortion?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: Because they're not in an economic situation they--

BILL MOYERS: They can't afford a second child?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: They perhaps can't afford a second child, they want to go to school, they might be at a point in their career. The reasons range, quite frankly. It's really important that women that we work with, mostly Latina, immigrant, women of color, those are the margins, low income, are able to access their rights in a way without barriers and further bureaucratic obstacles to get the care that they need.

BILL MOYERS: And this union between religion and the state that we know has, you know, for a long time, church and state combined to keep, to make contraceptives obscene. How do you explain this religious determinism on the part of so many opponents of abortion?

LYNN PALTROW: Well, there's sort of two ways of looking at it. I mean, many people don't know that abortion became criminalized in the United States not as a result of merely a religious movement, but as part of the effort of white male doctors to professionalize, to gain control over medicine from midwives and herbalists.

And also, in response to a very similar moment in history that we're in now. It was a point in which there was a great deal of immigration, where native white birth rates were falling, and there was the first beginning of the suffrage and feminist movement, arguing that women shouldn't have to, that women should have a say in whether they have intercourse with their husbands.

And the people who were asking legislature to criminalize abortion were arguing that that had to be done to keep women in their place, to ensure that native white birth rates continued to grow and to maintain control over women.

And it's as if we're in that moment again, where Americans, an America in which it is no longer going to be a white majority, in which it feels like white birth rates are falling, and you see people turn to religion and you see people turn to very old notions about how society should be.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: For us in the Latino community, we know that many of us are Catholic or religious. And we find that it's so out of step with the realities of women's lives today. And many Latinas, in fact 90 percent of married Catholic Latinas use a form of birth control that's banned by the Vatican. And it's just been a battle we've been dealing with for quite a number of years. And it's just been stepping up over the years.

BILL MOYERS: You both are so much younger that I wonder if you can imagine the feeling of relief among so many women when the Supreme Court struck down the power of men, or anyone, to insist that you bear a child before you're ready. Has anybody ever talked to you about that sense of liberation that came?

LYNN PALTROW: Well, I had the privilege, earlier on in my career, there was a campaign by NARAL to collect letters from people, men and women, describing why they had had an abortion, or somebody they knew had an abortion. And I had the privilege of reading hundreds of letters.

And what was so amazing about them is that they wrote that they had abortions not because, "I had a right to choose," or "I was exercising my right to bodily-- you know, my body, my right." They were all talking about the most fundamental aspects of liberty.

You know, "I needed to finish my education." "I had a child with a disability. I wanted to be able to be home and take care of that child and my husband was going to Vietnam, my father-in-law was sick." They were talking about basic, you know, human relationships and responsibility.

And the thing about Roe that's so interesting is that, or, if I may make the comparison, when Brown v. Board of Education was decided, I think it was understood as an incredible affirmation of the humanity and civil rights of African Americans.

BILL MOYERS: Desegregating the public schools.

LYNN PALTROW: Desegregating the public schools, rejecting separate and unequal. But the truth was, it really didn't desegregate the schools even until today. Roe v. Wade, which was won, the whole idea of women's equality under the Constitution was in its infancy. There had been almost no decisions in 1973 recognizing discrimination against women as prohibited by the Constitution.

Roe v. Wade comes down, and it's not understood as an affirmation of women's personhood, that we don't lose our human rights when we become pregnant. But almost overnight, the public health situation dramatically improved, not only because women had access to legal abortion, but they didn't have to carry to term pregnancies when they weren't healthy. And so it was a dramatic change in the practicality. But what we're still very much fighting is an understanding and a respect for the fact that women, whatever their decisions are during pregnancy, remain full persons under the law.

BILL MOYERS: “Time Magazine” recently looked at Roe versus Wade and concluded, "Getting an abortion in America is in some places, harder today than at any point since it became a constitutionally-protected right 40 years ago..." Does that jive with your experience?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: Absolutely. We’ve seen these type of restrictions that are being put in place, and to very clearly and blatantly be an effort to prevent abortions from happening. And what's happening is that women's healthcare is suffering. Their decision making is being threatened. They're losing dignity and self-determination. So this creates many barriers for our women to be healthy and make choices that they want for their families.

BILL MOYERS: And your experience is it harder today than it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago?

LYNN PALTROW: I think something like more than 90 percent of all counties don't have abortion providers. I want to point out that most probably that many counties also don't have birthing centers, where women can go and have an alternative to an over-medicalized birth.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: So when you're targeting clinics that provide abortion care, those clinics are also providing prenatal care, they're providing cervical cancer screenings, they're providing breast screenings, and sexuality education.

So when you're targeting those clinics, and those clinics have to shut down, you're also depriving a whole community from basic, basic health services that are critical.

BILL MOYERS: I wanted to ask you, you talked about this, about economic issues involved in these decisions. How much of this is an issue of class? I ask because the late Congressman Henry Hyde from Illinois, who sponsored the Hyde Amendment way back in 1976, that prevents Medicaid from funding abortion care, he said this, quote, "I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion. A rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the Medicaid bill." Which means that poor women have been affected by the crusade against abortion. How do you see this playing out in your work?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: I think of Rosa Jiménez, who was a 27-year-old college student. She had a five-year-old daughter. She was getting a nursing degree. She really wanted to, you know, succeed in this country. And she faced an unintended pregnancy.

And because she was low income, because she was a recipient of Medicaid, she was denied access to an abortion because of the Henry Hyde. And she sought a back-alley abortion and died as a consequence. So this has real implications. She was the first known victim of the Hyde Amendment. And I'm sure these stories happen many times over. And women are just disproportionately impacted. Particularly, again, those at that margins and who are most vulnerable.

BILL MOYERS: You remind me of some statistics I saw the other day, from the Guttmacher Institute. It reports that among poor women, the rate of unintended pregnancy is five times higher than for higher income women. And four in ten women who have abortions are poor. What do you make of that from your own work?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: That, you know, because women don't have access to some of the basic healthcare to prevent pregnancy, so the fact that contraception is often out of reach. For Latinas, for example, 97 percent of sexually-experienced Latinas have used a form of contraception, but consistent use has been a problem.

So that's when they fall under an unintended pregnancy situation. And they're often scrambling to get abortion care. Often money, borrowing money from friends or trying other avenues. So where some of them are able and successful to get the abortions, there's also so many unintended pregnancies that go term because of these policies.

LYNN PALTROW: Well, it's also a strategy. Until recently, especially, the only Supreme Court successes in eliminating abortions for many years had been when they combined abortion with a vulnerable, less politically-powered group. So the abortion in young women, or abortion in women of color and low-income women.

And they would get restrictions passed there. That clearly isn't enough. And they're expanding it and expanding it. Which is why, suddenly, we recognize the war on women, because it's affecting white women too. But there has always been this war on women--

BILL MOYERS: You think there is a war on women?

LYNN PALTROW: I think there has always been, whether you look at how Native American women were treated from the beginning of this country's origins, to sterilization abuse, or Puerto Rican women and white women who were perceived to have, to be mentally disabled, we have always used reproduction and fought against women's freedom and liberty, whether it was women in slavery, women winning the vote, every inch of our freedom, including our reproductive freedom, has been hard won and there has been a backlash.

And we're in a very big backlash now. I think it's so big that's what's happened is that women are beginning to recognize that what's at stake is more than abortion. It is their personhood. Their ability to be full, equal, constitutional persons in the United States of America.

BILL MOYERS: So given what you both have said, why are abortion rights still an issue of public policy and debate?

LYNN PALTROW: First of all, I mean, it's very clear, there’s a fair amount of history now that says at a point when political organizing on the right was not going to be as successful working on race issues explicitly, there really was this political decision that said, "Look, if we focus on issues like abortion and gay rights, we can rally evangelical Christians and others to advance really our economic agenda, of moving our tax dollars to the few and the wealthy."

And it has just been a very effective political movement, because it has been able, I think, to successfully portray itself as only being attacking abortion, only attacking this decision by certain women to end their pregnancies, and according to them, kill their babies.

And so it's a very popular because it looks like they're just defending some notion of life for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, something that seems very abstract and beautiful to many people, without really exposing what they're really doing, which is creating the basis for removing pregnant women from the community of constitutional persons, for jeopardizing maternal, fetal, and child health, and creating what we're really seeing as a new Jane Crow.

BILL MOYERS: And Jane Crow, not Jim Crow, but Jane Crow meaning?

LYNN PALTROW: Well, you look at the abortion issue, with the so-called personhood measures and anti-abortionhood measures. What they are really doing is creating precedent for a permanent underclass of all women. We have seen that women are being arrested, detained, forcibly subjected to medical intervention disproportionately so, African American women, disproportionately in the South. And again, it's not, it's about, under the guise of being just about abortion. It's really about creating a set of precedents that would allow the state to control, surveil, and punish a woman from the moment she conceives.

BILL MOYERS: And you have been, frankly, losing in state after state, right? I mean, there are now 92 or 94 more provisions on state laws than existed several years ago.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: I think the anti-choice movement's getting creative. What we saw recently in Virginia and we saw it in the federal level, but they are now doing this in the state level are things like the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, which is an effort to ban race-selective or sex-selective abortion.

And this is a policy that is not seeking to protect and advance civil rights. But rather to target women of color, particularly about their reproductive decision. So the grand hypocrisy here is that, where they're trying to protect the fetus, oftentimes it's up until birth, right, because these policy makers are not the ones advocating for healthcare and, you know, care for children and food stamps.

Those policies, which would really help enhance the lives of children, but they're not doing that. What we're seeing is that they're looking to restrict women's rights, and as you said, treat them sub-people. And for us, we work with immigrant women.

And we're seeing efforts to repeal the 14th Amendment, Birthright Citizenship Clause. So it's interesting, so it's saying, "Okay, well, you know, we want to repeal the status of the child born in this country." So they're looking to protect fetuses. Whose fetuses are they looking to protect? So that's the question we ask.

LYNN PALTROW: Sixty-one to 70 percent of all women who have abortions are already mothers. So the women that they're calling murderers, who they're comparing their collective actions to a genocide or a holocaust, are the women they're entrusting to raise their children, to raise our children, the next generation of taxpayers, and with very little support, with little healthcare, with little economic security.

And they're talking about them in a way that ultimately leads down the road to where women are actually getting arrested for murder, who suffer still births and miscarriages. Where they are actually starting to arrest women who have abortions.

And we saw when people were asked to vote on the reality of these laws, when they're exposed through so-called personhood measures, that they were votes on this in Colorado and Mississippi where they come out and they say, "What we're really trying to do is create complete separation of eggs, embryos, and fetuses from the pregnant women, authorize the state to use that as an excuse to control pregnant women," people say, "No way."

BILL MOYERS: But in Alabama, the State Supreme Court in Alabama has interpreted the term "child" to apply to fertilized eggs and embryos. Which means, doesn't it, that women can be prosecuted for endangering the fetuses?

LYNN PALTROW: And that is what it does mean. And that's not-- what that was, and it's very interesting that you should raise that, that was judicial activism. And what they did was they judicially enacted a personhood measure. Had they put it to a vote to the citizens, we trust that, like in Mississippi, people in Alabama would've voted it down. This is rank, judicial abuse of power.

BILL MOYERS: We've seen devastating cuts in state budgets on women's health issues across the country. Most dramatically in my home state of Texas, which is governed, as you probably know, by Tea Party Republicans and the religious right. What are the consequences, the real, live consequences of those cuts?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: We work with a group of women in the Rio Grande Valley, which borders Mexico. And those women are really, truly facing the repercussions of those cuts. Already, the clinics were really far away, they had a lot of challenges for transportation to their clinics.

Well, I was there a couple months ago when they said they drove 45 minutes to a local clinic to get birth control, and they were turned away because the cuts dissipated those programs. And we're hearing story after story, and we recently did a human rights report in Texas where we heard one woman swim back to Mexico, cross the Rio Grande Valley, risk separation from her family, because she was not getting basic healthcare. So the repercussions are very real in our community.

BILL MOYERS: I've actually read, and one of the reasons I was eager to have both of you here, I've read that the pro-freedom movement, pro-choice movement is fragmenting somewhat among generational lines. That your generation, Jessica, sees reproductive issues from the Roe versus Wade generation. Is the movement sort of stuck in the past when choice was the optimal virtue and an end in itself? Or you think that's just a news analysis?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: Well, I think, yeah, I think, I know the young people today are so supportive of reproductive rights and justice. And I say reproductive justice because it broadens the--

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, that's a term I haven't--


BILL MOYERS: --heard very often.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: Yeah. Reproductive justice really broadens the movement to incorporate things like socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity. It's really inclusive and much more holistic than looking to protect just the narrow, legal right to abortion.

But really looks at the full range of reproductive healthcare and bringing women's full identities into their work. So it's really centered in a social justice framework. And that really resonates with young people. So we work with many young people who are tremendous advocates that are writing about this.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: In Texas in particular, we're seeing women again, they're in many different ages, women who are older and have young children, want to protect that right for their children, you know, standing up and saying that "What's happening in Texas is wrong and we need to fight back."

And they're showing up at their legislator's office. These are women who don't speak English, live in the Rio Grande Valley, many of them don't have running water in their homes. I mean, they're very, very marginalized from society in a way. But they're stepping up, they're letting their voice be heard, and they're saying that this is wrong.

LYNN PALTROW: There's a big difference, something that might look to one person like fragmentation might be broadening and really engaging a younger generation. And it won't look exactly the same, but it might be much bigger and much more effective.

There's been a sort of sense of the middle of the country is too fundamentalist, too conservative, too red. But we're working on the third Take Root Reproductive Justice in the Red State Conference in Oklahoma, that's coming up in February. The first year 100 students came, the second year 200. We expect more this year.

And they are everywhere, because you can have all sorts of rhetoric, but you can't deny the actual experience of women. And that is that they have to deal with their reproductive lives as part of their whole lives and their personhood. And they're seeing that these attempts for any of these, many anti-abortion laws, that they're understanding this.

They're really not just about abortion. If you pass a law that says, "A pregnant woman seeking an abortion has to have a transvaginal ultrasound." Well that's a precedent for saying, "As a pregnant woman, you lose your right to consent to what medical tests you're going to be subjected to." Not just in the abortion context, but in every context. And so there's, I think, a rising up and an understanding that this is about their personhood. It's connected to their right to vote and their right to citizenship.

BILL MOYERS: So let's move beyond that a moment and let me ask both of you, what do you think over the last 40 years has been the impact of abortion on issues like dating, marriage, family structure? You say that it's not just about the pregnancy, that it's about some larger phenomenon. So how has abortion changed us culturally and behaviorally?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: Well, I was going to say that, you know, reproductive justice is being able to make the decision if, when and how you create a family. So abortion is an important piece of that decision, or within the spectrum of the decision. So, you know, when I think about my son, what I want for him is to be able to get full, medically-accurate, culturally-competent sexuality education as a young person.

I want him to be able to access contraception if he needs it. I want him to be able to talk to the medical provider, parents, family, friends, in a way that's nonjudgmental. You know, these are the kind of things I want to create that foundation. And then, you know, again, when creating a family, to be able to access the full range of care when deciding to make that decision.

So you know, it's a life spectrum that you're dealing with and at many different stages. And I always remember, you know, a woman spends about 30 years trying not to get pregnant, and then about five years, for those who want to have a family, trying to get pregnant. And that's a big chunk of someone's life. So ensuring that they have access to the care that they need at every stage is so critical.

LYNN PALTROW: So, legal abortion has dramatically improved the lives and health of women and families for the reasons I talked about a little bit earlier. That before Roe, women were dying from illegal abortions, they were hurt as a result of them.

But I think the question ultimately is that, or the issue, ultimately, is that Roe in some ways was this huge step forward in acknowledging the humanity and personhood of women. 84 percent of all women, by the time they're 40, have gotten pregnant and given birth. This is 84 percent of the political base. And their experiences aren't just about having an abortion. They're about having a baby. And having a good kind of birth and a bad kind of birth.

And having a pregnancy loss that was supported or a pregnancy loss that wasn't. About struggling to get pregnant, about struggling not to get pregnant. This is what it means to have, you know, ovaries and a uterus. And we can at least say those things, even vagina on television now. And that makes it more possible to imagine a country where men and women and families are all treated with respect and have access to all the healthcare they need, not divided up by reproductive health or anything else, but because you're a person.

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: I think if we, if the way the country thought of women would change, I think we'd see a radically different country. And we wouldn't see things like legitimate rape or women in binders. I mean, these kinds of comments really speak to how people think about women. And it's so problematic. And I think this election told us a story that we're not going to put up with that, right?

We're going to reject this type of language. We're going to reject these types of policies. Particularly in Florida, was looking to pass an amendment that would further restrict abortion access.

And Florida's a state that has a lot of communities of color, large Latino population. And that measure was defeated, which we wanted it to be, by 54 percent, which was huge. So I think, you know, as we see these policies come down, I think women are seeing what's underneath them, right? And how they're treated, their dignity, and started to rise up and reject them.

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain the sexual ignorance revealed by so many candidates in that campaign? Do you find some men don't get it?

LYNN PALTROW: One thing many people don't know about Roe v. Wade, is that it wasn't just Jane Roe, Norma McCorvey. But there was a married couple that wanted to challenge the Texas anti- law that criminalized abortion. And they appeared as John and Mary Doe. And they said, look, Mary Doe has a health condition that if she becomes pregnant and it continues forward, she might die. And this is very bad for her. There's no 100 percent safe contraceptive. So if we don't have the possibility of legal abortion, it not only risks her health, but it interferes in, I think they called it, "their marital happiness."

And interestingly enough, the Supreme Court threw them out of the case. They said, you don't have standing. Your interest in marital happiness is too distant from what we're talking about here. And which, I think means that in 1973, the Supreme Court hadn't accepted heterosexuality.

But what they really did too, which I think is a shame, is they really had-- I wonder if they had kept that couple in, whether men's role in pregnancy and the outcomes of the intercourse would've played a much healthier and more honest role. Every pregnancy has had a man involved. We live in a country where women are blamed for everything, for having abortions, for having too many children.

But there's a man involved in every one of those situations. And very often we then move to, "Well, then he should have a right to control her or decide for her." But no, just they have to be in the conversation. And I'm very sad that the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade pushed them aside.

BILL MOYERS: Your report on Jane Crow sounds fascinating. Where can my viewers find out more about it?


BILL MOYERS: And where can people go to find out about your work?

JESSICA GONZÁLEZ-ROJAS: And we have a campaign called “Soy Poderosa,” which means "I am powerful" in Spanish. And this is where we're telling the stories of activists throughout the country, women and men and families, about how they support women's decision making.

BILL MOYERS: Lynn Paltrow and Jessica González-Rojas, thank you very much for being with me.


LYNN PALTROW: Thank you for having us.

Jessica González-Rojas and Lynn Paltrow on Abortion Rights Activism

As we note the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Bill discusses the fierce challenges facing the reproductive rights movement with Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and Lynn Paltrow, founder and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Though a majority of Americans now believe abortion should be legal in most cases, anti-abortion forces showing no sign of relenting. A study by the Guttmacher Institute reported that state legislatures passed 92 provisions restricting a woman’s access to reproductive health care in 2011 — a number four times higher than the previous year.

“What’s happened is that women are beginning to recognize that what’s at stake is more than abortion,” Paltrow tells Bill. “It is their personhood — their ability to be full, equal, constitutional persons in the United States of America.”

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    A woman’s right to an abortion should be a sacred right, no question there. The fact that women’s rights are being eroded in state after state is scary–but let’s be perfectly clear–this is not a “war on women.” Bill Moyers had to do a double take on that comment, as well as the “Jane Crow” comment, but of course could not offer any criticism to these crazy metaphors. If it is a “war on women,” it’s strange that women are just as engaged in it as men are. Since women outnumber men, there are probably actually more “pro-life” women than men. For every Rick Santorum, sadly, there may even be two (1.3?) Sarah Palins or Michelle Backmans. Women cast over 50% of the vote–it is difficult to imagine that they would vote to make themselves “Jane Crow” second class citizens. A very intellectually dishonest analogy. Young men commit suicide six times as often as women, old men die eight years younger than women than they did ninety years ago–but no one is suggesting that a “war on men” is afoot. Of course Lynn Paltrow implies that men are to blame for the “war on women,” the classic victimization and paranoia tactics about the “real motives” behind the scenes to make women as a whole (even white women!) the enslaved, the Jane Crow…majority? Please Lynn, stick to the facts–we need to allow women to have free and safe abortions, we need to keep Roe v Wade legal…It would have been nice to hear some deeper analysis about why there has been such a reactionary backlash against abortions by the “pro life” women and men in so many states. I think it’s partly technological (sonograms give more visceral detail) and partly religious fanaticism. Anything would have been better than the victim/paranoia rant. And I have to say also that I hope Bill has something about men’s issues (if one sex suffers–the other sex suffers also) soon. We cannot ignore that men have had a huge problem adjusting these days–more high school drop outs, more sucides, fewer finish college, millions incarcerated, mass shootings (suicidal rages?) so many jobs lost that used to rely on men’s physical strength. Are women actually adjusting better to a highly technological society? In sum, lets be intellectually honest about the way we present both women’s and men’s issues. In the meantime, I’d love to see a show on men’s issues…

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    Your video player must require a very high-speed connection. It’s often halting.

  • Pat Elgee

    “If anyone present objects to this woman’s right to abortion, speak now or forever hold your peace.” If anyone speaks up, let that person be willing to provide support for this child, to death shall you part.

  • susanpub

    People aren’t “pro-life”; they are “anti-abortion”,
    & that is their right, but as one of the women pointed out, they no longer
    support the welfare of those children after they are born – they want no healthcare,
    no Head Start, etc.

  • JHS Pitney

    Much lip-service is given to the person-hood of women, but not to the person-hood of children un-born or born, and we wonder why there is so much devaluation of human life in general. We have more options for birth control than ever. Society is also unwilling forcefully hold men accountable for their part in the birth and subsequent care of children. Few people are opposed to helping those who need it, unless reliance on government becomes a generational lifestyle.

    One sad part of this interview was that these two women used womens’ rights to justify illegal immigration.

    The other and main sad part was that there was no balance or input from the pro-life side of the debate.

    SCIENCE (not religion) shows us that life (and thus constitutional rights) begins at any of 3 events 1) new DNA (conception), 2) heart-beat (eight weeks) or 3) brain waves (20 weeks). DNA is used by law enforcement to determine identity, while heart-beat and brain waves medically determine life or death.

    Legislatures need to step up and define when life begins, and not leave it to the courts.

  • JHS Pitney

    What’s really disgraceful is that it is the personhood of millions of unborn children— their ability to be full, equal, constitutional persons in the United States of America….because they are dead.

  • Anonymous

    Paltrow just made the point that I try to make all the time: 60% of women who have abortions are ALREADY MOTHERS. The far right is so vehement in their quest to devalue women, that they would kill mothers with their laws. They have gotten laws passed, for instance in AZ, that would deny mothers who are experiencing risky pregnancies – to both their health & health of the fetus – life-saving care. This would orphan the children they already have, and, often times, like in the case of Karen Santorum, the fetus cannot live either. this shows that their extremism has poisoned even their own movement, reducing any chance for common sense solutions. The far right are becoming increasing transparent about their view that women are less than equal in status. When you create bills that deny women even basic pre-natal care, you are denying female personhood, like both of these guests are saying.

  • Anonymous

    Ed’s – I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Two points I respond with: The expression “War on Women” does not describe who is conducting the war, but whom it’s ON. Of course other women engage in this war, because most of us were all raised in the patriarchal society in our country (and certainly in Latin countries, which so many of our newer citizens come from). I have sexist attitudes against women, and I’m female, was raised by a feminist and served on a board for reproductive justice. Like racism, it is ingrained. We have never been treated equally, so to think of ourselves that way is to imagine it, not actually experience it.
    2nd point: everything you describe about men is important & in some cases, in crisis proportions. Especially the incarceration rate of males in some communities – over 50%. I feel it’s especially important now, because when men become depressed and/or angry, & feel useless, there is more of a chance of violence from them. However, you did not make the case that all of these problems are created by a systematic effort to remove their rights. In fact, the case could, and has been made that it’s because women have become more successful that men in many arenas – academically, holding higher-paying jobs, etc. – that men have responded by feeling of futility and loss of identity, which has led to an increased push to marginalize women. I believe this is part of our country’s current “scarcity mentality” – that there is not enough to go around for everyone, so groups of people feel the need to take away from others to increase their competitive edge. This, ultimately will be the downfall of our Democracy, so I invite you to not fall into that trap. How about raising the water for all – getting men back to work, and in the meantime, redefining their role in society? If all these unhappy men were volunteering their time to create a better society for their children, etc., instead of acting out about their current plight, maybe we would see less diminishment of women.

  • postinglife

    The TV station was switched after “cumpulsory motherhood” and the reference to knitting needles. Pregnancy is not an airborn illness, it requires a deliberate action. No one has to become a mother. Pregnancy may require taking responsibility for the natural and biological consequence of one’s actions. Really, knitting needles, that is extreme and scary hyperbole. In addition, there was the absence of the PRO-LIFE prespective. With the lack of journalist integrity, Moyer’s show is not worth watching or funding.

  • Barbara R Saunders

    That segment at the beginning is so creepy … the normalcy of “doctors, lawyers, and clergymen,” presumably men, slowly taking up the issue at their leisure.

  • Mike

    I wonder if Bill Moyers will ever have the other side on his show. It’s not difficult to find women with the opposite viewpoint. I doubt we will see that. The WSJ Poll was flawed and also one sided.

  • oba

    I didn’t catch the entire program, but there was only a very brief mention of men’s roles in all this. I would have liked to have heard the question from Bill, “Since you believe it’s solely a woman’s choice to have an abortion regardless of the wishes of the man, should the man also not have to be responsible for 18 years of child support regardless of the choice the woman chooses to make?” My only beef with the abortion issue is that one group (women) want to have it both ways: the man has no say in controlling the woman’s body (which I agree totally with), but the man also has zero say in supporting a baby for which he is essentially “blamed” for being an equal partner. You can’t have it both ways. At some point, there will be litigation to resolve this issue, but for the next decades, until someone can press this piece of the issue, it will linger in the background – ignored and deemed unimportant.

  • Guest

    “this is just puritanical punishment”

  • Jon

    Bill. There is also opposition to unlimited access to abortion on the left and in the middle. Except in cases of rape and incest, isn’t pregancy a choice?

  • Anonymous

    In the past as now when that option was proposed to pro-lifers, the room quickly cleared. Seems their compassion becomes null and void on the day that the unwanted child is born and becomes a ward of taxpayers who are expected to pick up the bill for raising them !

  • Dominick

    Barbara, I couldn’t agree with you more. As a male white 48 year old physician who is for a woman’s reproductive rights, I was very offended by that statement. Believe me, the majority of my colleagues in Ob/Gyn, both male and female are totally for a women’s right to choose.

  • Anonymous

    The case is growing for this and other overtly racist actions being the work of old White Men who fear their predicted eventual move to minority status in this country. These senior members of our society just happen to be wealthy individuals who hold political office and live in states where Abortion has been denied by legislatures controlled by fundamentalist religious groups. Many of these same states have adopted onerous restrictions on immigration that restricts the increase of non-White citizens. For women that live in states that make up the old South, they have long been living under this oppression for a century or more and are well aware of their denial of full citizenship. Much of this activity could be halted by removing the long time tax exclusion given to religious institutions, the IRS has long stated that groups that receive federal tax exclusions may not use any of their funds to conduct political activities in this country. Time for the IRS to end these rubber stamp mass exclusions and require these organizations justify their right to this exclusion annually by providing full financial disclosure that proves they have not used the contributions of their supporters to pay for politically related activities. Yet another case of a privately funded group taking actions that cancel out the votes of average taxpaying citizens !

  • Ron Linton

    Bill, Jessica and Lynn, it was insightful to see your heart and passion for woman’s rights and we are blessed to live in America with all the rights and freedoms we have. In reality all of life and freedom comes from the grace of our Creator God. Why do you talk about the “person hood” of women and ignore the “person hood” of the child that begins at conception? Just because the laws say “person hood’ is only given to a child outside of the womb does not change the fact that the baby is a child created in the image of God. I am brokenhearted that we as a nation have justified and rationalized the destruction of over 54 million babies at the alter of the rights of woman.
    Bill, if you are going to bring Jessica and Lynn on your show to share their ideas and conclusions, it would be wise to have a fare and balanced presentation of the other view with the ladies so that their blind-spots and flawed logic could be exposed.
    May the Lord of the universe, have mercy on us as we as a nation sacrifice 540 football stadiums full of babies on the alter of our personal rights and woman’s health.
    Ron Linton, a concerned citizen and a child of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • James Wendler

    Great segment!

  • David Lupo

    “Reproductive heath” and “reproductive justice” are terms that sound like reproduction is a possibility, or the aim. But it is not. These terms are a new form of “newspeak’. Right out of Orwell’s 1984. How can anyone stand up against “reproductive justice”? “National Advocates for Pregnant Women” is another. Who would stand against pregnant women? But the goal is abortion. Nothing was said about over 55 million abortions in America, since Roe v. Wade. Nothing said about the initiators of the landmark decision wanting it turned around. I agree with a few others here that “the other side” should have been heard. Not all of us are mindless conservatives. Not all of us are Republican. But I guess it is way to easy to generalize. I had to guffaw at Paltrow’s remarks about those of us against abortion being tied to the 1%, and their financial shenanigans, without mentioning the cosmetics industry and their ties to the pro-choice lobby. Clearly a lot of dishonesty here,

  • David Lupo

    Thanks, Mike. Indeed, it is easy to clobber the “straw man”. And certainly, other polls than the Wall Street Journal’s should have been consulted, maybe some without corporate ties!

  • Anonymous

    Bill: We are leaving out the other half of the equation – men. Men are 50% of this issue. It does take two to tango so to speak. If men want to ban abortion does that mean they want to ban their free sex with women? And what if women start saying no, will rape increase? Love to see you address this issue of men “dipping their wicks” yet punishing women for the outcome of their encounter.

  • Ron Barrow

    hard to believe i went to federal prison under clinton’s term for upholding roe,5 yrs,when the ‘pro-life’factions lost any credibility by murdering OBGYNs.enough lies.thx,bill.

  • Linda Dybwad

    CareNet, pregnancy centers, many churches, family shelters across America provide clothing, food, housing, counseling, job training, babysitting, and more for those who choose life, in fact, you will find that these same agencies provide help for those who choose abortion and regret that choice. I have worked with youth who make blankets for the babies, rummage sales that raise money for food and clothes for the baby and mom, money to purchase ultrasound machines so the women can make informed choices. Bottles, formula, transportation to doctor appt.s are provided and more. Look around your community and state. You might find more help for those who keep their babies than for those who don’t. The woman who aborts often goes home alone with no medical recourse offered, no counseling, no help with processing what she has just experienced.

  • Linda Dybwad

    There is blame to go around everywhere, parents who have not parented, teens and adults who are careless in their sexuality, men who satisfy sexual needs without a thought about pregnancy, both women and men who do not use birth control, refusal to use the blessing of adoption, the list goes on. If you look around your community you will find many agencies that help women with unwanted pregnancies. Those who choose life have places like CareNet to go to for clothing, food, transportation, counseling, all for free. They provide education so those who are not ready for child raising know how to prevent pregnancy. That was suppose to be the purpose of Planned Parenthood, help families prevent conception, not kill all the babies after they are conceived. Let us all be well informed about the realities of this issue and look around our communities to truly know the what and why of this issue.

  • Linda Dybwad

    The problem here is that the killing of a baby has been included in the term healthcare. Healthcare means sustaining life, feeding, caring so life continues. Ending a heartbeat, stopping the breathing of a living being is not healthcare. If a pregnancy is at risk and mother or child is in danger, that has always been and remains a choice between the mother/father and doctor. Healthcare has always covered pregnancy and birth. There are a myriad of agencies that do help with unwanted children. Check out your community, you might be surprised.

  • Linda Dybwad

    Have we realized yet that most of this entire issue would be resolved if men and women only engaged in sexual intimacy with their marriage partner and we raised our boys and girls to understand sexual intimacy as a gift for a special person in our lives and not an activity to satisfy a moment’s desire?
    Are we beginning to see where our journey towards ‘I want to do what I want to do without regard for others’ is taking us? Look at the mess we have created!

  • Linda Dybwad

    I would suggest some research be done on the percentage of help given to those whom who deem ‘oppressed’ by faith based agencies and churches. Are you aware of the number of programs that welcome, teach English, feed, provide housing and healthcare, transportation, and education to immigrants that are sponsored and carried out by churches without a penny from taxpayers? CareNet, pregnancy centers, family shelters, all supported by private dollars, volunteer fundraising and hours provide housing, food, clothing, supplies for women with unwanted pregnancies, women and men without jobs. Our food bank welcomes many people who are not citizens and don’t speak English and it is the churches who help keep the food bank open, what comes from the gov’t doesn’t begin to make the food bank possible. Check out the facts, the reality of the poor and oppressed in America and who is really caring for them in meaningful and lasting ways.

  • Linda Dybwad

    Have you checked the facts or are you trusting that what you have heard about AZ is true? Just because the media carries a story does not make it true. Choices are made in hospitals all the time about pregnancies, who is at risk, etc…and lives of both or one are saved everyday. C-sections are done to save the life of both or one…there are so many life saving options today. Early birth is used to save both if needed and many premature babies survive to be awesome people! A quick abortion just in case something may go wrong is taking a life that may be just fine. Consider these in light of hearing all the rant about mother’s dying in childbirth.

  • Anonymous

    “carried out by churches without a penny from taxpayers”.

    But there’s always a cost isn’t there, the federal taxes you don’t pay fall on the backs of average Americans trying to provide for their families with limited resources. Often these average Americans, who may not subscribe to your beliefs, would prefer that their government provide these services without any obligations from the recipients. When the government provides these services they don’t require that the recipients become a captive audience who are forced to listen to endless preaching about who to thank for this gift. Fortunately the government is prohibited from browbeating the recipients of these services, it’s a pity that this restriction can’t be extended to private organizations that are allowed to operate unrestricted. Always an ulterior motive, like any fanatical cult it’s beyond your capability to help your fellow man without proselytizing for a faith based system that has no substantive basis in reality ! A faction that represents a form of tyranny that operates with impunity in this country despite the ‘No Established National Religion’ statement in the U.S. Constitution !

  • David Lupo

    Yes. Linda. We have become a culture of subjectivity: how I feel, what I want…only that matters.

  • Chris M

    I would first like to mention that in general I really love the show. I really liked the first segment’s insight into Amgen and all of the political cronyism related to it.
    However, I thought the segment on abortion totally missed the point. All of the talk for womens’ rights and taking their rightful place in society doesn’t change the biology of a tiny human being growing in the womb of the mother. The argument that life begins at conception is mainly biological and scientific. To borrow some lingo from Al Gore, this is an inconvenient truth for many people. All the evidence shows that a person’s DNA is set almost instantly at conception. At that point, the person’s blood type, shape of the nose, color of their eyes, etc. is already determined. The fetus is not just another body part like a spleen or liver. It is a distinct human life. It is one body inside another body. Early stages of life are so fragile and delicate that they need a safe place for nourishment until they can survive on their own. How ironic it is that the environment that has been designed to protect the early stages of life has become the most dangerous via abortion. The most dangerous environment for a child these days is not from a stranger, a terrorist, a ghetto or back alley; but rather the womb of the person who should care the most for him/her. There is approximately one abortion for every three and half live births.
    While there is no doubt, many women are put in an extremely precarious position when faced with an unwanted pregnancy. I definitely don’t want to make light of that situation. But killing the child can’t be the answer. Once the woman is pregnant it is too late. If the father abandons his family, does the mother then have the right to kill off one of her children to ease the burden? If a parent loses their job can they kill off a child to save some money? Two wrongs don’t make a right.
    Also ironic is the claim that abortion rights will help women. Is a woman any better off having to carry around the rest of her life the guilt that she killed a child of hers? In addition, abortion allows women to be seen more as sex objects. The more sex is separated from procreation, the more women become mere instruments of pleasure for men.
    Women are free to choose. They are free to choose not to have sex if they don’t want a baby. If there is a man pressuring the woman into sex there is a word for that: rape. If rape is the problem then let’s deal with that. Let’s not condone rape, even if it is a subtler form such as “date rape”. Let’s not let abortion be the way to let rapists off the hook.
    Regarding the attack that pro-lifers don’t support the means necessary to raise the child after he/she is born, there were many good points made already. I would like to add another, though. A person can be willing to support the upbringing of children, without the belief that government programs are the way to do it. Just because a person is not supporter of “Head Start” doesn’t mean they are not willing to contribute to the raising of a child.
    Lastly, is the abortion movement saying that social status, prestige, and comforts are rights to be obtained at all costs? If so, then the Nazi’s were OK. If a person has the right to kill anyone who gets in the way of their quest for money and a comfortable life, then should anything be illegal ?

  • carlos

    Mary Riporeo Jobe Ur right!! But if a women is raped i believe its Not wrong to abort..
    23 minutes ago via mobile · Like
    Carlos Martinez please dont say that girl …. i know in my heart that you know that every little baby is a blessing and a perfect example of gods love ……… life its self
    21 minutes ago · Like
    Mary Riporeo Jobe It is a gift To have a baby and to even be blessed to carry a baby.. Im not saying its a good thing to do but thats just a messed up situation all together if the women is forced. Gods creations are the most beautiful things yes they are.. i dont believe in this action but i dont judge ppl who do.
    15 minutes ago via mobile · Like
    Carlos Martinez this has nothing to do with judging any one ……. it has to do with the law ……. thats where the republicans and other conservatives make their biggest mistake …it is not a moral question …it is a legal question
    13 minutes ago · Like
    Nico Las Sanchez I disagree buddy.every one should have a choice. If u call it murder thats ur opinion. And a burden the mother will take to our lord.
    12 minutes ago · Like
    Carlos Martinez americans believe in the rule of law and our rights guaranteed under the constitution ….forming the most perfect form of government based on our desire to improve human existance and freedom
    10 minutes ago · Like
    Carlos Martinez americans are provided a unique system of laws guarenteeing the right to life liberty and the persuit of happiness ……. this includes a right to due process … essence it means you have to ask the child if he wants to be aborted or not ………..See More
    3 minutes ago · Like
    Nico Las Sanchez Freedom to have a choice
    2 minutes ago · Like
    Carlos Martinez exactly nico the choice should be provided to the child of whether he wants to be aborted or not …… remember we are talking about a tiny human being …. not a mole or a tumor …. but an unborn american citizen

  • carlos

    Carlos Martinez
    its hard to believe that the democrats …theones that faught the hardest for civil rights …. are the greatest supporters of ABORTION ….. the right to have your life is the ultimate civil right …

  • David Schnur

    For the first time since I have been following Bill’s
    reports. I am disappointed in his lack of balance in his reporting on an issue. The abortion issue is a VERY complicated one that has never reached a level of
    gender equity in the debate.
    I am the result of a 1958 unplanned pregnancy and I am very grateful for the choice made by both
    my mother and my FATHER to not be selfish and have me removed from the earth!
    The point was raised in the interview that when the court was addressing this issue forty years ago they chose to not take up the case of the married couple seeking similar relief from the court. This raises an interesting point that has never been addressed in these forty years If women insist on having ultimate control on “Their reproductive rights” then in the interest of equity why are not men offered the same entitlement in deciding the fate of an unplanned pregnancy? His decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy (if he had the option of controlling HIS “reproductive rights”) would be based on different factors such as having the courts forcing him to pay for a parental role HE wasn’t ready to assume. Of course
    currently MEN have no such choice.

    It goes without saying that I am grateful that my parents were not offered this complicated, and morally ambiguous choice by our society. Everyone has control over their “reproductive rights” by just making the best responsible choices and then making the best out of the outcome of those choices. if you’re not ready, too poor, or too selfish to be a parent then don’t make a baby. It really ISN’T that complicated.

    I have always been grateful that Bill has been a strong advocate of democracy, Where is the democracy in this issue if you don’t consider the rights of all parties involved in this complicated issue?

  • Carol Ann Huss

    Abortion rights enable and perpetuates the immoral, irresponsible, and disregard for human life. It is one of the many factors that that contributes to the downfall of our civilization. It should be carefully regulated so extreme measures of abortion are not permitted. I’m not against legalized abortion, but there are limits that need to be enforced make it practical.

  • Joan Sutherland

    What’s the difference between a miscarriage and an abortion? A woman’s choice.

  • Connie Williams

    Making abortions illegal does not stop abortions! It just drives women underground. Since a woman’s body is required for the ‘life’ to exist, it is within her right to make that decision according to HER conscience. I don’t belittle human life at all, I have seen,up close and personal, what happens to those children who were born unwanted, or drug addicted. It has to remain a personal choice. If you think it is wrong… don’t have one. You cannot press your morals and beliefs on others.

  • Connie Williams

    Men have no choice because their body is not where the baby resides. Biologically not in a man’s favor. Things aren’t always equal.

  • David Schnur

    That has been the standard response by women to defend this deeply flawed court decision for forty years. It will someday be revealed as selfish. It still does not address the lack of democracy in this complex issue. (Democracy; noun, the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, often practiced by electing representatives of the people by the majority of the people2) the control of an organization by its members, who have a free and equal right to participate in decision-making processes.) What about the other two people that are member of the “oganization” that is a family in this decision making process?

    “Things aren’t always equal”. Ironically, all movements like the abortion movement
    set out at the beginning to achieve “equality” as a response to some received injustice, however, in the end they set out to compensate for this unfairness by going on to achieve supremacy, and becoming fascist in nature, thus being guilty of the same unfairness that motivated the response in the first place and denying democracy.

    This is exactly what has high jacked the entire democratic process in America, and why nothing ever advances beyond toxic, extremist, small minded debate.

  • Deborah Mayer

    It is a sad day that health care providers are now screening for reproductive coercion–women being forced to become pregnant or to have an abortion.

    Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Feb;121(2 Pt 1):411-5. doi: http://10.1097/01.AOG.0000426427.79586.3b.
    Committee opinion no. 554: reproductive and sexual coercion.ABSTRACT:: Reproductive and sexual coercion
    involves behavior intended to maintain power and control in a
    relationship related to reproductive health by someone who is, was, or
    wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an
    adult or adolescent. This behavior includes explicit attempts to
    impregnate a partner against her will, control outcomes of a pregnancy,
    coerce a partner to have unprotected sex, and interfere with
    contraceptive methods. Obstetrician-gynecologists are in a unique
    position to address reproductive and sexual coercion
    and provide screening and clinical interventions to improve health
    outcomes. Because of the known link between reproductive health and
    violence, health care providers should screen women and adolescent girls
    for intimate partner violence and reproductive and sexual coercion
    at periodic intervals such as annual examinations, new patient visits,
    and during obstetric care (at the first prenatal visit, at least once
    per trimester, and at the postpartum checkup). Interventions include
    education on the effect of reproductive and sexual coercion
    and intimate partner violence on patients’ health and choices,
    counseling on harm-reduction strategies, and prevention of unintended
    pregnancies by offering long-acting methods of contraception that are
    less detectable to partners

  • Michelle

    You seem a bit confused, you declare that you are grateful for you life (which is as it should be) but then move on to “equity” with this being achieved by either compelling an abortion or pregnancy to continue irrespective of their medical and other needs. That’s not fair, nor equitable. Great you are grateful, but if your mother had a miscarriage, still birth, or abortion you simply would not exist, you wouldn’t know a thing about it.

    As pointed out, only a woman can be pregnant. She is a person that has rights of medical decision making, what you propose is that others can take control of this, and this can lead to some atrocities where as there are medical risks involved in pregnancy, some life threatening (see the recent case in Ireland for example). We don’t have forced organ donation, nor should someone lose those rights on the arbitrary state of their body at one point in time.

    Secondly, you talk of women having “ultimate control”. They don’t. They cannot walk away from this issue if they find themselves pregnant and must make a decision either way (if there is in fact other options available, that isn’t the case every time), whereas men can and do. Neither can they walk away from the financial and other responsibilities if they have the child, you ignore women may not be that happy with having that forced on them too. Instead I’d say how about stepping up to the plate and realising there is a child, who needs food, clothing and shelter and that should be the primary consideration, not simply resentment that you have to pay your share of this. Men also have control over their fertility and can use methods to prevent pregnancy, so they do have control. True equity would suggest that they take action and equal responsibility by discussing with their partner the issue, and be pro-active in preventing pregnancy if unwanted – including realising that no contraceptive method is 100% reliable, nor do people always have access to good sex education and health care.

  • David Schnur

    I’m confused? The bottom line in this debate is that this deeply flawed court decision has made women very selfish. And your response, as well as this interview proves this to those who are willing to see it. Abortion is now the law of the land, but it has failed the democratic process by ignoring the other two-thirds of the other person’s natural rights. All the lobbying for this issue has brainwashed our culture to accept this as “normal”, but it will never be natural, ethical, or moral.

    This is a non-issue for responsible women who are proactive and responsable about reproduction. This is what I meant by Women having “ultimate control” over their reproductive rights. Once a
    woman consents to sex she knows the potential outcome. If she is promiscuous or not considering this in the heat of the moment, if a pregnancy occurs, she then will have to consider the various options to deal with this reality. Currently consulting with her partner as to his wishes or the rights of the unborn fetes is not a part of this decision making process. This has been the moral hazard to this court decision. If she could masturbate and become pregnant all this would be a non-issue.

    It is an illusion to think that “only a woman gets pregnant”. Unless science is involved, she did not achieve this miracle alone. My parents knew “they” were pregnant and that our family would now be different and may have even had some regrets that this change would affect our family as a whole.

    Unfortunately this issue is only one of many that define the moral and ethical decay our society is experiencing. We may someday rethink these very weighty issues and realize the havoc they have inflicted on the responsible members of our society.

  • Berlin

    I’m very happy the country is addressing this issue head on. However, it worries me that, whenever there is an opportunity to discuss American reproductive rights, childbirth is generally excluded from the discussion in favor of the more familiar contraception and abortion debates.

    We currently have a, largely, medical system driven c-section rate of around 40%, an episiotomy rate of around 90% and an induction rate of around 90%. Birth is not supported in this country so much as it is managed and it is managed in ways that leave women and babies (as we all were once) at short- and long-term risk.

    For instance, women are two to three times more likely to die after a cesarean in comparison with vaginal birth. Babies born cesarean have respiratory problems requiring more medical interventions and the recovery time for women after a c-section can be as long as two years. This may leave women hampered when it comes to childcare and their own health. Once a woman has one c-section she is more likely to be given another (insurance stipulations) for any subsequent children she may have. This only exacerbates the risks already involved in a form of surgery that should, at best, statistically appear in any human culture at a rate of about 8-10%.

    The general wisdom in this country seems to be that medicine is the best way to “treat” the abnormal process of childbirth and that we have it all covered. Why discuss something that has no faults? Yet, our infant and mother mortality rates fall far (far) behind other countries like Holland, Sweden and Japan where birth is supported and not attempted to be “fixed”. It isn’t as high as, but does nearly resemble, countries like Bangladesh where c-sections and other medical birth interventions are almost a matter of course.

    People’s rights are compromised every time they go into a hospital to give birth in America primarily because hospitals are, increasingly, our only choice. In a country where the toothpaste aisle in any drug store has an embarrassment of riches, Americans have two main alternatives for birth — a medicalized vaginal or a medicalized cesarean birth. These are less a difference in choice than they are two sides of the same tarnished coin.

    I greatly appreciated in the segment that Lynn Paltrow valiantly included childbirth as much as she could into the reproductive rights discussion about abortion. It has to be understood that reproductive rights is a broad issue that goes far beyond whether or not one conceives or whether or not one remains pregnant. There needs to be more attention paid to childbirth. There also needs to be more attention paid to men’s roles in reproductive rights. We’re hardly an asexual species. As Paltrow correctly pointed out, included in every reproductive decision is a male as well as a female. A loss of reproductive rights affects us all.

    I hope that Moyers and Company will have Lynn Paltrow back again to elaborate upon childbirth in the reproductive rights discussion here in the U.S. This is an issue that is long overdue for attention.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    It is exactly hysterical responses like this that removes credibility from this issue. Coercion, forced
    pregnancy, etc. – come on? This is pure delusion. Modern women need to grow up and take responsibility for themselves and stop living in a sheltered world of

  • Penny Starr

    Truly….I tried to stay out of this thread. Your response to this video shows that you are not using logic to make your decisions. Your insistence that pregnancy is ultimately in the hands of women is not only insulting, it is patently untrue. Do you contend that no pregnancies occur as result of rape? If so, you are guilty of adding insult to injury to those women who do , indeed, find themselves in this position.. If not, your premise falls apart. I see you do not respond to the idea that men, also, have the means to prevent pregnancy, or that men can and DO walk away. A woman does not have that choice. “It is an illusion to think that “only a woman gets pregnant” which you attempt to prove by a personal, anecdotal story. Can you not conceive (no pun intended) that circumstances are not always the same for everyone? If not, you should probably not be making decisions for or judgment on the health/rights of others. Do you contend that it’s responsible to have a child you know you can’t afford or take care of? That is hardly true.The ability to empathize with others serves a person well, and the refusal to see things from any other position than one based only on your own experiences is arrogance in the highest.

    Bottom line? Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. Don’t like it? Get the law changed. Your haughty disapproval is typical for someone who cannot get pregnant.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    Of course as a man I am using logic not emotion to come to this ethical and democratic point of view.
    You have misunderstood the whole premise of this post, I am not contending that the decisions relating to pregnancy are in the hands of women exclusively, in fact just the opposite. I know my parents viewed my impending, unplanned birth as “a family matter” and not the sole responsibility or burden of only my mother, even though she had the unique role of physical birth. While my example is specific to procreation between consenting adults, would I as a now living person be any less grateful for my life if I had been the result of a rape? Is it inconceivable to you (no pun intended) that there are women that are able to Love a child that resulted from the tragic out come of a rape?
    As a result of this one sided court decision men all over the country are having children THEY cannot afford. Men are rarely able “to walk away” The child support system holds them responsible whether they can afford it or not. Plenty of women “walk away” from their parental responsibility by putting the child up for adoption or burdening extended family members or the child care system with raising their children.
    My original premise stands on its own, of course this is only an issue for irresponsible men and promiscuous women who choose not to want to be held accountable for unwanted pregnancies, granted at the expense of the rest of us.

  • redricochet

    )ur Freedom is guaranteed by what’s left of the Constitution. That is our reference, not the Bible.. I could just as easy say to you , there is no God. That I believe and so your argument fails to impress me. When medicare pays for viagra and not for birth control for women, that says it all. We need to get rid of all those grey headed neanderthals in Congress and elect more intellegent women.

  • lozen

    Only engage in sexual intimacy with a marriage partner? I was married once. I will never be married again. I believe marriage is very good for men and very bad for most woman. So, you think I should never again have sex? Ha, ha, ha.

  • lozen

    What’s truly disgraceful to me is that you would force women to bring every pregnancy to term no matter what her circumstances. You want to force every female who is already a full, equal, constitutional person to have children they don’t want. You do not believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for women!

  • lozen

    Ed, thanks for the support, sort of, anyway. Yes, it is a war on women. Is there anyone, male or female, trying to force you to have a vasectomy if you’re sexually active and you don’t want children?

  • lozen

    I would like to see your response if someone tried to make you have a vasectomy, or prevent you from having one if you wanted it!
    Women have taken responsibility- we fought for the right for legal abortion. We fought before that for the right to use contraception. And before that for the right to vote. And before that… A sheltered world of entitlement? As a man you know far more about that than any woman!

  • lozen

    “If you’re not ready, too poor, or too selfish to be a parent then don’t make a baby”?
    Poor folks, no sex for you! 21 and still have a few years in school? No sex for you. Selfish? Oh, no. No sex for you either! You want to set up a criteria for every other person in the world to follow before they can have an intimate relationship? Just who do you think you are?

  • lozen

    Once a woman consents to sex she knows the potential outcome.(Once a man consents to sex he knows the potential outcome). If she is promiscuous or not considering this in the heat of the moment, if a pregnancy occurs, she then will have to deal with the various options to deal with this reality. (If he is promiscuous or not, …if a pregnancy occurs, sometimes he will have to deal with various options, but many times he will just disappear.)
    Currently consulting with her partner as to his wishes or considering the rights of the unborn fetes(unborn fetus has no rights because it is not a person) is not a part of this decision making process. This has been the moral hazard to this court decision. ”

    What makes you think women in a marriage or committed relationship don’t consult with their partners? I believe they do.
    Oh no! Heaven forbid we ever have a society where women can put their interests above the man’s! Selfish, selfish women!

  • lozen

    Of course, as a man, you are using logic and not emotion! Of course. And since you will never be left alone to rear a child because some man impregnated you and skipped, you have nothing to say, logically, to any woman who faces that emotional dilemma!

  • lozen

    Illegal immigration!
    One man: Well of course my ancestors were immigrants and came from another country. The difference is we came legally!
    Indian man: Who signed their visa? Geronimo or Sitting Bull?

  • The Zen Carpenter

    I am glad we agree, selfish, selfish women. Ending a life, whether it is murdering a women in a dark alley or killing an unborn baby in a woman’s body is a selfish act and certainly not altruistic or benign. It goes without saying that the abortion issue only caters to irresponsible people who haven’t made good choices in the first place. And of course women put their needs before a man’s all the time, what world do you live in?
    As for your contention that “a fetus has no rights because it is not a person” Many disagree on a constitutional basis that “all are created equal with certain inalienable rights, including LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Ironically, in our country as a result of the courts decision in the citizens united case, a corporation has more rights than a fetus.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    I suggest you take responsibility for yourself.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    Who do I think I am? I know who I am, a very grateful man for making good choices in my life. Who are you?

  • The Zen Carpenter

    You seem very bitter towards men. I hope you able to work through that in your life. Good luck.

  • The Zen Carpenter

    Sex with a woman is never free!