Roundup: More on Obama and Abortion, McCain Adviser Slips on Birth Control

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Roundup: More on Obama and Abortion, McCain Adviser Slips on Birth Control

Brady Swenson

Obama answers tough questions on abortion, McCain adviser Carly Fiorina advocates better insurance coverage for birth control, Microbicides and HIV drug resistance, PA refuses ab-only funds.

More on Obama and Abortion … The Christian Defense Coalition’s abortion campaign against Barack Obama has gained coverage in the mainstream media, as has Obama’s recent
to Christian magazine Relevant that he thinks the ‘mental
distress’ is a too loosely worded health exception for women seeking
abortion care.  ABC and CBS have covered both stories, citing them together as evidence that Obama is receiving heat on the abortion issue from both sides.  There is evidence that the Obama campaign is making an effort to clarify the mental health messaging slip that worried and angered pro-choicers.  On Saturday, four days after the "mental distress" comment was published in Relevant, Obama clarified what he meant by "mental distress":

Historically I have been a strong believer in a women’s right to
choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family…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.

And an Obama campaign spokesperson added:

Senator Obama believes that while ‘mental distress’ should not be covered by a
health exception, there will be cases where carrying to term a pregnancy may
seriously damage a woman’s mental health and those cases should be covered.

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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So Obama clearly believes that the mental health exception should exist but seems to think it may need to be more "rigoriously" defined to disallow late term abortions for the sake of "feeling blue."  

The CBS story indicates that the Obama campaign is staying on the pro-choice message in response to the launch of the CDC’s "abortion president" campaign:

In response to Mahoney’s charge, the Obama campaign released a statement saying
the candidate "understands that the best way to reduce the need for abortions is
to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies."

Added spokesman Nick
Shapiro, echoing an earlier statement from the campaign: "He is committed to
commonsense solutions to achieve that objective and to changing the tone of the
discourse which for too long has devolved into false and negative attacks such
as this that do nothing to accomplish that goal."

Prospective McCain VP Candidate, Carly Fiorina, Trumpets Insurance Coverage for Birth Control … During a breakfast with reporters Tuesday, top McCain adviser and possible VP candidate Carly Fiorina talked up John
McCain’s preferred approach to health care by saying that “there are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won’t cover birth-control medication“:

Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief who is now the Republican National Committee’s “Victory Chairman,” was discussing
consumer-driven health insurance at a breakfast with reporters when she
proposed “a real, live example which I’ve been hearing a lot about from
women: There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but
won’t cover birth-control medication. Those women would like a choice.”
For effect, the woman frequently mentioned as a possible McCain running mate repeated: “Those women would like a choice.”

As Think Progress points out, Fiorina must have forgotten (or did she?) that in 2003 McCain voted against an amendment that would have required insurance coverage of prescription birth control.

Current Microbicides May Hasten HIV’s Drug Resistance … Results of a computer model of microbicide studies has indicated that expiraments with microbicides may hide the potential risk that they’ll create drug-resistant forms of the virus in

Some gels contain a dose of a single antiviral drug that may kill the AIDS
virus, called HIV, before it can begin its attack on the body. Trials that
remove infected women probably won’t show the risk that a microbicide will
contribute to resistance, said Sally Blower, a professor of biomathematics at
the UCLA, Geffen School of Medicine, who helped write the

"Ethically, it’s a good strategy to take infected women out of the
microbicide trials," Blower said in a telephone interview. "But when you use
microbicides as a public health intervention, some women will get infected
without being diagnosed, and will probably develop resistance to the drug in the

Scientists may switch to experimenting with microbicides containing drug
combinations that won’t encourage the development of resistant strains.

Contraception Clash … The Pope will be visiting Sydney, Australia next week to celebrate World Youth Day and in protest of the Catholic church’s anti-contraception stance, demonstrators will be handing out condoms to visiting Catholics.  Catholics are prepared to counter the protest by handing out pamphlets that promote the sympto-thermal method of family planning, the questionably effective method by which I was unintentionally born.

Pennsylvania Refuses Federal Ab-only Funds for Seventh Straight Year … Pennsylvania joined 21 other states in refusing federal abstinence-only funds this year:

Since 2003, the state has turned down millions of dollars in grants
for abstinence-only sexual education, claiming the rules were overly
restrictive on a program that failed to produce results. In fact,
Pennsylvania is one of 22 states that don’t participate in the $50
million annual federal program that aims to reform sexual education to
reduce teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Evaluations by the Pennsylvania Department of Health showed "that
[abstinence] programs are largely ineffective in reducing sexual onset
and in promoting attitudes and skills consisting in sexual abstinence,"
said Phyllis Welborn from the Bureau of Family Health and state health