Opinion | Politicians put abortion politics above people

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I read with dismay the May 7 Metro article “Democrats launch campaign to push Hogan on funding for abortion training,” about Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) using his executive authority to withhold $3.5 million in state funds intended to train nurse midwives, physician assistants and others to perform abortions. Given the reality that Roe v. Wade is likely to be overturned soon, it’s worth noting that Maryland borders one state that has a pre-Roe abortion ban (West Virginia) and is within a day’s drive of Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, all of which have “trigger” laws that will make abortions almost impossible to get if Roe is overturned. We will be facing an influx of patients from those states; having enough trained providers to meet the need is simply a public health no-brainer.

This money was approved by the Maryland General Assembly. As the article noted, an overwhelming majority of Maryland residents think abortion should be legal. It doesn’t take a political scientist to note that Mr. Hogan is in his last year in office and has presidential aspirations. His explanation that he is simply keeping a promise not to change Maryland’s abortion laws is insultingly transparent: This is about training practitioners, not changing Maryland’s abortion law.

We hear a lot these days about the erosion of democratic norms. What Mr. Hogan is doing is profoundly antidemocratic — and it is the action of a man who puts his political ambitions over women’s health.

Putting a bill on the Senate floor to codify women’s bodily autonomy rights without first putting a bill on the floor to get rid of the filibuster rule is just more performative nonsense — and we have had quite enough of that from the “Republican Party” to last us for the next 1,000 years. Put the filibuster bill on the floor first, and once it has passed, put the bill already passed by the House of Representatives on the floor for a vote.

Otherwise, Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) should resign as Senate majority leader so we can put in someone who’s interested in taking the action that is needed. Our lives are at stake here, and we’re not going to put up with it any more.

Deborah Cohen, Midlothian

It’s time to take Dana Milbank’s excellent May 8 Sunday opinion column, “A betrayal of democracy has been rewarded,” a step further. It is time for Democrats to name the culpable party for the draft Supreme Court opinion that promises the reversal of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. As much as we would like to blame former president Donald Trump and 50 years of antiabortion activism or even Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., the responsibility lies directly in the lap of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

In 2016, Mr. McConnell, then the majority leader, prevented President Barack Obama’s legitimate Supreme Court pick from even getting a hearing because it was an election year — although the election was still more than eight months away. Four years later, in an act of extreme hypocrisy (and betrayal), Mr. McConnell pushed through the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett — just eight days before the 2020 election. Democrats need to call out Mr. McConnell and call this court by its rightful name — Mitch McConnell’s court, Mitch McConnell’s Roe-reversing court, Mitch McConnell’s right-to-privacy-smashing court — and rebrand Mr. McConnell to keep him from regaining control of the Senate.

Linda R. Thornburg, Charlottesville

In her May 9 Style column, “Media failed when it used ‘pro-life’ terms,” Margaret Sullivan wrote that journalists should “unpack just what ‘pro-life’ means.”

It should be regularly pointed out that though, like a hair follicle, a fetus is indeed “life” from conception, it is a particular religious belief that a fetus is an actual person from that point, and our laws are not supposed to support particular religious beliefs over others. Though “pro-lifers” support the GOP because of this issue, Republican policies on the coronavirus, climate change, pollution, health care, consumer and workplace safety, unemployment, child safety nets (including support of children from unwanted pregnancies brought to term), gun violence (of which school shootings represent only a tiny part), etc., kill huge numbers of already born Americans. Conversely, though “pro-choice” people insist that abortion should be solely a mother’s choice, should not a fetus, as animal life, have some rights protected by law? Roe actually accomplishes this, while compromising on the religion issue, by restricting abortion beyond the first trimester.

If books such as “Celebrate Your Body 2” by Lisa Klein and Carrie Leff are banned in school libraries [“Our book on puberty got banned. This only puts children at risk.,” Friday Opinion, May 6], how will teenagers learn “the facts of life” and how to make good decisions concerning their bodies? Most likely, the same people who are banning this type of book are against all abortions. Go figure.

Access to reliable information is critical for making wise decisions in all aspects of our health. Banning this information is dangerous. If Roe v. Wade is overturned and books about sexuality are banned, we’ll surely see an increase in illegal abortions.

Regarding Ann Hornaday’s May 8 Style article “Abortion is finally emerging from the cinematic shadows”:

Film festivals are often ahead of the curve when it comes to social justice issues. Independent filmmakers are quick to point out injustice, and film festivals provide a platform for them to tell their stories. In late April, the Washington, DC International Film Festival presented both “Happening” and “The Janes.” Original members of the Janes were acknowledged at the sold-out screenings. The film festival took a stand on the issue of a woman’s right to choose before it became a newspaper headline.

The writer is director of the Washington, DC International Film Festival.

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