Sandstede wins House 6A DFL primary


Julie Sandstede talks to parade-goers at the Keewatin Fourth of July parade. (PHOTO via Sandstede campaign FB page)

Julie Sandstede pulled off a major upset in the House 6A DFL primary on Aug. 9, 2016. (PHOTO via Sandstede campaign FB page)

As we reported last night, music teacher and union leader Julie Sandstede (DFL-Hibbing) advances to the Nov. 8 general election in Minnesota House District 6A.

She’ll face Republican special education teacher Rob Farnsworth of Hibbing and active write-in candidate and union equipment operator Steven Hakly of Cherry.

Sandstede’s win surprised many, including me. But looking at the vote totals provides a simple set of reasons why Sandstede shocked the Iron Range DFL.

Steelworkers, teachers deliver

Every once in a while people forget that labor unions are still highly effective GOTV and persuasion organizations in Iron Range politics. Even as unions wane in membership and strength, they matter here. And no union mobilizes on the Range like the United Steelworkers.

Sandstede surprised many by winning Steelworkers’ backing earlier in the campaign. And over time it paid off. Further, the other union that backed Sandstede was Education Minnesota, her own union in which she was a local leader. Teachers seemed enthused for Sandstede, and the Steelworkers gave her broad credibility. In a very low-turnout election, this was crucial for Sandstede.

Range DFL still has Pro-Life caucus

There weren’t many policy differences among the candidates, except for one. Sandstede was the only candidate who opposed legal abortions. She argued that she still supports reproductive health care for women, but the Pro-Choice/Pro-Life battle is a political black and white.

The Iron Range still has a sizable contingent of Pro-Life Democrats. (As a heavily Catholic area, most DFLers were Pro-Life just two or three decades ago). They had a good reason to turn out here and they did. Statewide organizations like Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL) hailed Sandstede’s victory Tuesday night.

Voters chose experience

Tom Whiteside was the favorite, I thought, because he was the one following the campaign model used by former Rep. Tony Sertich and outgoing Rep. Carly Melin. Young DFLer in their 20s. Backing of party elders. Fresh, future-looking rhetoric. Both Sertich and Melin beat more experienced candidates in their campaigns.

But in Tuesday’s 6A race, voters went with a candidate who has years of real life experience. Sandstede is an established teacher and community leader. She’s not old by any means, and she’s a political newcomer, but she’s been “adulting” for a while now.

Further, Whiteside’s most prominent political experience was working as an aide to U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan. That’s legitimate experience, but voters might not have liked the idea of “anointed” candidates, particularly as Nolan faces another tight re-election bid.

Bump and Run

I thought Whiteside would easily endure his connections to Iron Range superlobbyist Gary Cerkvenik and a dedicated core of Iron Range political elders. After all, most Iron Range candidates do. When fourth-place candidate Mike Thompson threw a haymaker on the topic weeks ago, something must have stuck. No, Thompson wasn’t going to win. He was too far behind. But I think there was a cohort of voters who looked for a new candidate at this point. They chose Sandstede. And she didn’t have to hit Whiteside very hard to get the benefit. Bump and Run.

Moving Forward

Looking ahead, Sandstede is the favorite going into the Nov. 8 election between her, Farnsworth and, to a much lesser extent, Hakly. It feels to me that Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District is more volatile than the rest of the state, particularly outside Duluth. There will be ticket splitters all over the place, and Farnsworth has an opportunity to at least close the gap, even if a win would be unlikely.

For Whiteside, a reset. A run for local office or other community involvement would easily give him another chance at elected office. Building his network beyond Range DFL regulars and Team Nolan would let him use his talents with more independence. I like the guy. I don’t think he’s done.

For DeNucci, he falls short of the goal, but he showed great strength in Itasca County. Interestingly, the areas he carried by large margins almost perfectly overlap with the Itasca County Board’s District 5, now held by Mark Mandich. He’d be a natural fit for that office, which could be a springboard after redistricting agains savages the map in 2022.

For Thompson, some experience and perspective. He’s another guy who could build a bigger network with more community involvement. He seems like a guy who would be a good city councilor or township supervisor.

Regardless, we move forward toward a November election that will come quickly.


  1. I’m always bemused when people sophisticated in communications obediently use terms like “Pro-life” (=”anti abortion”) and “moderate Democrat” (= really a Republican). Allow one side of a debate to define the terms of the discussion and you have half given up….

    • I deal in clear, concise words when possible. It’s true that “pro-life” is the term chosen by anti-abortion politicians, but at this point in 2016 we all know what it means. I didn’t use the words “moderate Democrat” in this piece, but I disagree that moderation is the same as being a member of the opposite party. Frankly, I view that as a big part of the reason we have ineffective government right now. That’s not to dismiss the views of more adamant liberals or conservatives, just to point out that not everyone agrees with them line by line.

    • Some people in both parties have major problems with the fact that both parties are coalitions, not parades of lock step true believers.

      The Democrats are a coalition of unions, leftist intellectuals, environmentalists, people of color, women, young people, and social and religious progressives.

      The Republicans are a coalition of large and small business interests, right wing intellectuals, libertarians, anti-abortion people, right wing religious people, and neoconservative foreign policy people.

      DFL politicians run the gamut from Tom Bakk to Keith Ellison, and the GOP from Michelle Bachman to Lindsey Graham.

      The problem comes when people discover that “you can’t always get what you want.” Members of both parties are stuck with the choice of deciding between wanting to hold power and wanting purity of essence.

      In 2000 the Democrats discovered, to their great and lasting discomfort, what happens when a wing of the party decides to take their football and go home. The GOP may be heading toward the same experience this year.

      As Aaron says in his reply, rejection of moderation and compromise is the major source of our current failure to be able to take steps needed to make our government work on both the state and the federal level. I would just add that refusal to accept the notion that your party contains large numbers of people who do not agree with you entirely but who you still have to work with if you want to not turn the country over to people you agree with even less. That goes for both parties and their true believers.

    • David Gray says

      Sure and “pro-choice” means pro-abortion. We know the code words.

      This area had a DFL rep for 30 years, Steve Wenzel. He was pro-life. He felt he was driven from the party over the abortion issues and now this area has a Republican rep instead. The DFL used to have a large pro-life caucus. Rudy Perpich was pro-life and I remember going to the polls with my grandfather to vote for him. The DFL is a smaller tent than it once was.

      • Oberstar was anti-abortion also. In fact, he used that as a major point in his primary against Tony Perpich when he won the DFL nomination for the first time. He continued to be anti-aboriton throughout his career, and no one ever called him a Republican. His demise as a Representative demonstrates part of the reason it is getting harder to find Democrats who are anti-abortion when, after years of faithful service and a 100% voting record on abortion issues by Oberstar, the prospect of a GOP win proved too enticing to pro-life forces and they endorsed his opponent. In the end, the pro-life forces realize that their future lies with the GOP, and in a choice between a pro-life Democrat and a pro-life Republican they will back the Republican every time.

        David is right about the “tent” issue. Both parties have shrunk their “tent” considerably in the last few years, with the GOP in many states purging candidates who do not meet the standards of some of their members, up to and including Senators and Representatives with near-perfect conservative records. It was amusing to listen to GOP presidential candidates forcing themselves to endorse creationism this last year, for fear that it could make the difference between winning and losing if they lost the votes of the most conservative right wing religious voters. There is a candidate for office in Duluth who had to change from a pro-abortion to an anti-abortion stance to secure the GOP endorsement.

        Many DFLers would probably love to enforce the same levels of ideologic purity if they could. Unfortunately and infamously, the Democrats are not an organized party.

  2. Gerald , what is your definition of a “religious” progressive? The anti/ abortion/ pro-life faction is about as regressive as can be , no matter how their arguments are couched.

    • Perhaps I misread your question, and you are asking if someone can be anti-abortion and still be a progressive.

      This trenches on the major point of my initial post, the notion that political parties and movements at a statewide or nationwide level must be coalitions in order to be effective, and that demands for rigid ideological purity almost invariably lead to losing power.

      Can a person who is pro-union, backs universal health care, supports environmentalism, backs efforts to erase the impact of racism, supports women’s public health issues, wants to see universal pre-K, but opposes abortion be a progressive? How about if the phrase following the “but” is “supports international trade systems because of believing that they are one of the most important tools for world peace?” Or “drives an SUV or a pick-up and lives over 5 miles from where they work?”

      My answer to all of those questions is “yes.”

      Movements that want to achieve their goals need to welcome members who do not necessarily agree with every single thing that some of their members believe strongly in. There are not enough people — voters — for that kind of exclusivity to succeed.

      That said, it is also true that many people have a litmus test of some sort for politicians because one issue or another is so important to them that it can be a deal breaker. Personally, I would have a great deal of trouble supporting a politician who did not believe that health care was a basic human right and that it was part of the job of government to see that everyone got that right. However, I can conceive a situation in which I might vote for someone who did not, based on a preponderance of other issues.

      In the end life is messy, and politics is even messier.

  3. Father Daniel Berrigan, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., and Bishop Desmond Tutu would be classic examples of religious progressives, or perhaps even religious radicals.

    Today there are any number of religious progressives in the Northland. Many members, including ministers, in the establishment protestant denominations — Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, and others — are progressive to radical politically. Reformed and some Conservative Jewish people and their rabbis are often progressive. Unitarians are usually progressive. For the most part, among other things, the members of these groups are pro-choice and are definitely supporters of women’s health issues, of scientific knowledge, and of human rights as a center pole of their beliefs.

    The Society of Friends (Quakers) are playing in a whole different league, with a history of being essentially the inventors and the leaders in the fight for abolition of slavery and for religious tolerance. They served as many of the main operators of the underground railroad, leaders in prison reform, mental illness treatment reform, and were consistent opponents of war and heavily involved in relief efforts for refugees and other victims of war. They are almost always at the forefront of any social reform movement, from rights for women to opposition to capital punishment. In 1947 the American Friends Service Committee and the British Friends Service Council became the first religious based organizations to win the Nobel Peace Prize, based on their long term dedication to healing rifts and opposing war, and on extensive work in saving Jewish children in Europe as well as their work in the Japanese Internment Camps in the US.

    As to the definition, I would say that religious progressives place an emphasis on traditions within religious thought that emphasize love of fellow man, charity and good works, and recognition of the rights of all humans. These traditions exist in Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and are the core of the religious faith of many people around the world. This tradition, what I would call religious humanism, can be traced in a through line through most major religious traditions, and probably arose from crossing Chinese ethical thought and Hindu ethical traditions, then passed linearly to the Rabbinical Tradition in Judaism to Christianity and Islam and on to the leaders of both enlightenment thought and social reform dialectics. There is no rational argument to suggest that this tradition is not at the core of Western humanistic thought, and from there to the core values of progressive politics, even among people who have broken with all other aspects of religious traditions.

  4. A couple simpleton inputs – strictly my opinion:

    Ben carried areas that are familiar with him. He went to school in the Nashwauk/Keewatin school district. He carried areas that know the Denucci name be it his or his greater family.

    I believe Julie gained an undeniable bump from conservatives and possibly Republicans who realize this district would go DFL in November and wanted to vote in the best Primary candidate from that side of the aisle. Be it her stance on the rights of unborn children or her support and understanding of our local bread and butter, she was a candidate reaching out to the rest of us in the Iron Range political minority.

    Good article, Aaron!

  5. Julie Sandstede’s position on legal abortion and the large turnout of “pro-life” voters smells like a quid pro quo to me.

  6. Apparently David’s idea of democracy does not include women’s reproductive rights. What a surprise .

    • David Gray says

      Democracy certainly ought not include the murder of the unborn.

      • …and there it is.

        Look guys, we can talk about murdering babies or enslaving women, or we can talk about real politics in a country whose constitution forbids people from forcing their religious beliefs on others, and separate the personal from the politics.

        Your choice.

        • David Gray says

          I tend to think that life and death issues are “real politics.” Last time I checked the constitution doesn’t ban anyone from understanding basic biology (although personal emotional commitments obviously get in the way for some folk). I kind of liked it when Martin Luther King Jr. forced his personal religious beliefs on the Jim Crow establishment. But that’s just me.

        • David Gray says

          One thing to keep in mind is this; our presuppositions shape our argument. I thoroughly understand that for a variety of reasons there is a significant body of people who do not regard the human beings growing in the womb as human beings. On the other hand you should understand that for those of us who accept the biological truth of the humanity of children in the womb willfully killing them is morally reprehensible and brings genuine blood guilt. If someone recognizes the blood guilt of this nation in its mass killing of unborn children they are not going to be discouraged from their position by talk of “single issue” politics or the like. If it is understood that innocent human beings are being willfully killed you cannot just set that aside. It doesn’t mean you can’t address other issues but an understanding of what is done in abortion does not permit the issue to be taken off the table. Ever.

          • As you say yourself, the idea is not a scientific fact, but a personal opinion. There is no “biologic” standard for what is a human being and what is not — something we are likely to confront more directly as computer science progresses, and something that the more extreme PETA types are already trying to address.

            It is certainly fair to vote based on your personal beliefs, It is extremely boring and unproductive to try to argue about personal beliefs in politics, since no matter what is said, you will obviously continue to believe what you believe and Jackie will continue to believe what she believes. There is no real room for argument. Consequently veering off into that approach is a waste.

            What we were discussing here — whether a candidate who shares your opinion on this issue is an appropriate candidate for office for a party that as a matter of national and state policy does not share that opinion and should be supported by the voters of that party — is way different than yelling “it’s murder” and “it’s slavery” in a reprise of the old Miller Lite commercials. Best avoid the latter if you want intelligent discussion of the former.

  7. Certainly there may have been better candidates on that issue, but it is very important to note that women’s reproductive rights will be much more secure in MN if Sandstede wins and the DFL retakes the House than if the House remains in the hands of Daubt and his GOP cohorts.

    Plus Sandstede will be a reliable voice for passing bonding needed to sustain important projects in Northeastern MN and stop throwing away free federal funds, for passing a sustainable transportation bill that finances the state needs for the next decade and does not put transportation in competition with schools, health care, and economic development, for passing a tax bill that protects working families and not high earners and out of state corporations, for universal pre-K and stable funding for schools on the Range and elsewhere, for quality affordable higher ed that makes the path to success open for kids from working families, for funding that sustains the research that has sustained mining, health care technology, and the other innovations that propel MN to the best economy in the Midwest, etc. etc.

    Litmus tests are fine in their place, but there is too much at stake here for single issue politics. The voters have spoken, Julie won, and needs to win in November. Send money to womenwinning or other pro-choice players elsewhere in the state, but vote for Sandstede.

  8. Hello Mr. David Gray – I have read Aaron’s blog for a long time and understand your position about abortion. I know you are pretty articulate about it, so I am hoping you can be my understanding of that group of people / voters. This is not meant to be against your position at all, but is about trying to better understand. I am generally a democrat, but leaning a little more 3rd party as I get older. I am 46 and have a 30 year old son, so do the math and figure out if I’m “pro-life” or “pro-choice” for myself. Here’s my questions: How can people be OK with telling young women they have to have babies if they’re pregnant, but then not OK in helping support that young mom or new life with day-care help, housing help, education help, general welfare, financial, and life-support type help? (It’s super tough being a very young mom, especially if you’re by yourself!) It’s like the baby is important before it’s born, but the life the baby actually lives after he or she can breath on its own doesn’t seem to matter. I understand that “no abortion” is very important to you, but am wondering how you balance that political reality within your own self regarding the positions of the party you seem most to support. How can life within the mom matter so very much, but real-life after just so not matter, even of small babies and children? Thank you in advance for any input! (Sorry to Aaron for taking up blog space here, as I know this post was about the 6A primary. Don’t know if Mr. Gray will see this or even reply, but I’ve been wanting to ask these questions for a long time of someone who might take the time to answer without yelling. Thank you!)

    • David Gray says

      >>>>Here’s my questions: How can people be OK with telling young women they have to have babies if they’re pregnant, but then not OK in helping support that young mom or new life with day-care help, housing help, education help, general welfare, financial, and life-support type help?

      A couple of points. I don’t want to permit anyone to take an innocent life outside the womb either. Yet I do not see that this requires me to provide the potential victims of murder with all their financial requirements. If I don’t want you to kill my neighbor across the street, who has done nothing worthy of death, it doesn’t follow that I have to provide support for him and his family. Having said that lots of pro-life groups provide support for pregnant women and their children and it is a noble and worthy endeavor. Whether the state should be providing these things, and at what level, is an entirely different discussion.

      >>>>It’s like the baby is important before it’s born, but the life the baby actually lives after he or she can breath on its own doesn’t seem to matter.

      It matters a great deal however one of the most basic duties of the state is to prevent the willful taking of innocent life.

      >>>> I understand that “no abortion” is very important to you, but am wondering how you balance that political reality within your own self regarding the positions of the party you seem most to support. How can life within the mom matter so very much, but real-life after just so not matter, even of small babies and children?

      I guess actually this is one extended question. 🙂 See above.

      • Now that is curious.

        Does this really mean what you say — that you would regard George Bush a murderer because of his killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or do you see “collateral damage” as somehow forgivable? Do you oppose capital punishment because it clearly sometimes results in the death of innocent people? Or is that OK if the preponderance of those executed are guilty?

        The essence of the abortion problem is the question of the rights of the embryo/fetus versus the rights of the woman. Anti-abortion people in general believe that the rights of the fetus are paramount over the rights of the woman, and that it is her responsibility, once the zygote becomes diploid, to carry the pregnancy to term regardless of her personal needs or desires. Some extremists — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio version 3.7.17, for example — believe that responsibility includes pregnancies that result from rape or incest or endanger the health of the mother, excepting only pregnancies that endanger the life of the mother. However, the vast majority of anti-abortion people — around 80% in most polls — believe that exceptions should be made for rape, incest, or the health of the mother, although some quibble quite a bit about defining those exceptions.

        Pro-abortion people tend to see that approach as a reprise of the notion that women are chattel, with they and their bodies subject to the whims of outsiders. They tend to argue that until the fetus can live viably outside the womb it does not attain the right to force itself on the mother, so that abortion before the end of the second trimester is not murder, since there is no viable life to end. They would tend to focus on the fact that no hospital in the country would resuscitate a fetus from a miscarriage before at least 21 weeks as an argument supporting their position.

        As to the notion of whether an embryo or fetus is a human being, the whole notion of a human being is a philosophical or religious question, not a biologic or scientific one, since there is no clear definition based on science. Even if that question is answered, most people, especially most conservatives, do not really believe that there is a prohibition against causing the death of innocent people, whether it is through war, executions, neglect of medical care or other needs. They also certainly reserve the right to decide who is deserving of life and not. They simply have one set of beliefs that affect some situations and not others, which is also true for liberals.

  9. Thank you , Amy. My questions, too, along with the pro-life groups who oppose funding for contraceptives and sex education for teens, low-income women. Just what is that all really about? Seems to me preventing pregnancy will certainly decrease abortions. Isn’t that the goal?
    I vote in 6B , and am very glad Tom Anzelc is my representative. Yes, Julie’s vote will be needed for important bills, but the fact a large number of pro-lifers supported her, indicates she needs to be carefully watched.
    I am 82 , have 4 adult daughters,3 grandchildren, and 6 great grandchildren. I lived through the years when birth control was really a game of chance. I have supported Planned Parenthood for years. We cannot let women go back to the dark ages because some religions still think a women’s place is in the home, barefoot and pregnant.

  10. And thank you, Gerald.
    It infuriates me that men , who cannot become pregnant, are so eager to force women into the position of being basically incubators. As activist Florynce Kennedy said in 1971,”If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”.

    • David Gray says

      Your reading comprehension is curiously absent today.

      If you can point to where Bush willfully took innocent life in Iraq let me know. Hint: you can’t. We killed far fewer noncombatants in Iraq than we did in France in WWII. If you’re willing to argue against liberating Europe from the National Socialists then you have the credentials to try and raise that argument. Otherwise it is all hand waving.

      Nobody, regardless of sex, has the right to willfully take innocent life to facilitate their own lives.

      • I assume the statement about Iraq is sourced from Fox or something even worse. Read the UN report on the bombing and early days of Iraq.

        It is ridiculous to suggest that someone who engages in an activity that clearly will result in the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians is not responsible for their deaths, and somehow was ignorant of what would happen when he began bombardment of civilian targets. I do agree that Bush was likely ignorant of the cascade of civil war and ethnic cleansing his little expedition caused, but that was because he chose to ignore any intelligence from people who actually knew what they were talking about and listen to only his own echo chamber prattle about non-existent weapons, about the war self financing with Iraqi oil, about rejecting estimates by his own military as to the time and number of troops needed in Iraq, and about crowds of Iraqi Shiites throwing roses to welcome our troops.

        If Jackie were to claim that abortion does not really kill the fetus, but rather the fetus just dies as an accidental result of being expelled from the uterus, it would be identical to what you are claiming to believe about Bush. Bush “willfully” engaged in activity he knew would kill at least tens of thousands of civilians. He called it “shock and awe.”

    • David Gray says

      That’s like arguing that you can’t be against Klansmen committing murder unless you are a southern white Jackie. Well done.

  11. Hi Mr. Gray –

    Thank you very much for your above response. I really do appreciate you taking time. Again, any responses here are not meant to minimize your views.

    To me, a newborn, a toddler, or even a teenager needs care and protection, just as much, if not more than an unborn baby. I understood your example of not wanting your neighbor murdered, but not feeling financially or otherwise obligated to protect him. I guess I feel that we, as a society, are ethically, financially, or otherwise obligated for protecting babies and children – our own, our family’s, our nation’s, and even our world’s children. Children are innocent and don’t choose to be born into the situations that some of them are, and it seems we could all do a better job of caring for them when needed.

    Early in this thread you said something about “genuine blood guilt” and I thought that was interesting. I guess I myself would have genuine guilt if our laws told a young person “I don’t care if you are 16 and live in a filthy apartment with your alcoholic mom and have a horrible life … you bring that baby into the world so I don’t have to feel blood guilt.” I would also feel guilty if I was so worried about my own financial security and money situation that I was politically against any of my resources been given to the young mom who I just told to have that baby.

    Strangely enough, maybe it’s sort of all about our own guilt…

    “Pro-life” people seem to feel guilt about the death of the unborn baby, with little or no concern to its actual life, even its childhood life. “Pro-choice” people seem to feel guilt about the life the baby actually ends up living, even its entire life, with little or no concern about the death that may occur in abortion. Goodness … no wonder we’re all sort of messed up!

    Thank you again for sharing your views with me.

  12. Also meant to say thanks to Jackie for your above note. (From your posts, I would have never thought you were a 82-year old great-grandma!!!) Thanks for your comment on my initial post and for sharing your views on other subjects. I always enjoy reading your comments.

  13. “Actually “pro-life” people do far more for pregnant women than “pro-choice” people do.”
    A few dozen diapers , misinformation and the terrorism of pro-life groups do not fit my definition of being helpful . Maybe you missed the part about prochice people / agencies educating on birth control, family planning , and sex prevent pregnancies in the first place. I realize that is a difficult concept when some are so focused on making damn sure the woman pays for sexual activity.

  14. In 2011, there was a flood of conservative legislators introducing anti-abortion legislation, an astonishing 1000 bills. From 2011 to 2015, enacted restrictions on abortion numbered 288, largest increase in a 5 year period since Roe v Wade. In 2016, 90% of the bills were written by white Republicans, 63% white male Republicans. While some of those legislators do ideologically want to overturn Roe v Wade in some fashion or other, I have no doubt that many are also cynically responding to the increasing conservative makeup of their districts for votes to keep their seats.

    It’s stunning to me that there are so many white Republican males and some females in office writing these bills that are utterly ignorant about basic human reproduction, women’s health issues as well as giving no thought about other consequences of those bills. Some of the many examples:
    The “legitimate” rape exemption bill. Abortion only for “forcible” rape. How does one define rape forcible “enough”? Measure the bruises? Does statutory rape of a minor count as forcible?
    Ban abortion after 6 weeks when many women don’t even know they are pregnant. Proposed in AZ, time pregnancy from last period when most woman aren’t even pregnant yet!
    GA legislator supported bill banning abortion after twenty weeks even if the fetus has died in the womb saying a woman should carry a dead fetus to term because cows and pigs do. I guess he’s never heard of women dying from carrying a dead fetus.
    TN Life Defense Act 2012 would have publicly revealed online the names of women who had abortions, abortion location, age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, how many times pregnant and doctor who performed abortion. Massively intrusive and bullying.
    A woman in TX, 14 weeks pregnant, had an embolism and was declared brain dead. Doctors said her fetus which also been without oxygen for an hour was badly damaged and could not survive. The hospital, however, said she must be kept on a ventilator for the duration of her pregnancy. Her husband and family went through this senseless hell with the hospital room smelling of death against the woman’s and family’s wishes.
    FL Rep objected to another Rep using the word uterus on the floor as language inappropriate for children and other guests. Oh my, proper terms for body parts make delicate adult males uncomfortable!
    Republican Rep actually said a woman’s body has a way of “shutting down” when raped so she doesn’t get pregnant. Clueless.

    I’ve only heard this question asked a few times on tv news shows in all these years of debate and every conservative politico asked had a hard time answering. If abortion was against the law across the country, what should the punishment be for the woman having an illegal abortion, a felony? How much jail time? El Salvador has a total abortion ban and women who the government arbitrarily decides had abortions are put into prison for 25 to 30 years. I say ‘government decides’ because even miscarriages in El Salvador are under extreme suspicion. There is also the case of a woman who unexpectedly had a stillborn baby at home but she was sent to prison. Even girls as young as nine, not fully physically mature yet, who are impregnated by a rapist or through incest must carry the fetus. There’s no doubt El Salvador girls, teens and women are being physically damaged, becoming infertile or dying from dangerous pregnancies.

    Inexplicably, conservatives are also fighting against comprehensive sex education in public schools, health insurance covering contraceptives and cutting funding to women’s health care clinics providing pre-natal care, reproductive health care and screenings for cancer, STD’s, etc. States where abstinence only education in schools is much more prevalent than sensible sex education have higher pregnancy rates and STD rates among teens. It should be no surprise that states that have sharply cut funding to clinics that provide free or low cost reproductive and pre-natal care, HPV vaccines, STD and cancer screening to poor and middle class women who can’t afford to pay for those services are showing alarming health outcomes for them.

    A stunning study reported in Sept issue of the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal this week showed that the maternal mortality rate in US increased between 2000 and 2014 while the rest of the world reduced it’s rate. Exception was Calif which improved and Texas where it surged with an est maternal mortality rate that doubled. In 2011 Republican-led 2/3 budget cut to family planning clinics forced more than 80 clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics open to provide low-cost birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams have struggled, reaching only half has women as before. At the same time TX eliminated all Planned Parenthood Clinics which provide preventive maternal healthcare. TX is one state where there is risk of a Zika outbreak but about half the state lacks ready access to OBGYN care.

    If the goal is to reduce abortions and ensure that women have healthy pregnancies and babies, the anti-abortion, anti comprehensive sex education and anti reproductive health care for women agendas are doing the exact opposite. I was in college before Roe v Wade passed and well remember that era of coat hanger stories. Wealthy families had the money and the connections to get their daughters safe abortions. Not the same story for young women from poor or middle class families especially if they didn’t want their families to know in the unwed pregnant woman shaming 60’s and 70’s. It’s the same today. Women who have enough money and a car to travel for hours, out of state, take time off from their jobs will always be able to get an abortion. It’s the poor and lower middle class women who don’t have the means to do that. I have always been puzzled by the paradox of the belief there are too many “lazy” and unmotivated people getting assistance, too many people getting food stamps, having too many kids they can’t afford without help, etc. and they will be forced to get a job that will support a family if we just cut the “free” stuff, the “gravy train” while at the same time hold the belief that they should be denied access to birth control, pre-natal care, well baby and mom care and safe abortions which just results in more dire outcomes for families. It’s illogical to “care” so much about the fetus but then just walk away once the baby is born. To be blunt, I read, see and hear deep resentment and anger toward people under or near the poverty level who get any kind of government help yet those same critics want to increase the number of people who need government assistance (no free or low cost birth control, no abortion), increase their health problems and decrease their chances climbing out of poverty.

  15. Bravo, Kissa, bravo !

  16. Jackie, I forgot to say I’m glad you quoted Kennedy’s remark. It’s just as true today as it was in 1971. If men had to do the carrying and birthing the babies, we wouldn’t even be having these debates.

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