US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers

1. The Lost Decade? (New York Times)

Insular thinking and rigid ideas are holding the United States back from productive engagement with its most important problems, says David Brooks.

2. Immigration rhetoric ignores trends (USA Today)

The crackdown on illegal immigration is disconnected from reality and already producing unintended consequences, argues this editorial.

3. Republicans playing politics with disaster relief (St. Petersburg Times)

Providing fellow citizens with a safe place to sleep, clean water and other basics should not be held hostage to a political circus, says this editorial.

4. A bear of a problem for Obama (Los Angeles Times)

Obama has angered America's silent majority, says Jonah Goldberg, and his base is not happy with him either.

5. Even the Muppets know America needs science (Chicago Sun Times)

With Bachmann's latest comments on medical vaccines, Sesame Street's science agenda couldn't come at a better time, says this editorial.

6. Why Christie should run for President (Washington Post)

Rick Perry's recent stumbles have re-started speculation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might re-think his "no-go" decision. Chris Cillizza lists the three reasons for him -- and three against.

7. Everyone's a Little Bit Racist (Wall Street Journal)

Even the first black president, says James Taranto -- to hear Maxine Waters tell it.

8. The genius of Vladimir Putin (Washington Post)

He is a great czar, if not a great man, argues Ralph Peters.

9. The Chris Christie infatuation (Washington Times)

Fundraising tour stokes hope that N.J. governor will run for president, writes Emily Miller.

10. Rick Perry is making me swoon (New York Daily News)

Richard Cohen explains why he can't help liking the "big Texas lug".

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Listen up, Enda Kenny: why two Irish women are livetweeting their trip for an abortion

With abortion illegal in the Republic of Ireland, many women must travel to Britain to obtain the procedure. One woman, and her friend, are documenting the journey.

An Irish woman and her friend are live-tweeting their journey to Manchester to procure an abortion.

Using the handle @twowomentravel, the pair are documenting each stage of their trip online, from an early flight to the clinic waiting room. Each tweet includes the handle @endakennyTD, tagging in the Taoiseach.

The 8th amendment of the Irish constitution criminalises abortion in the Republic of Ireland, including in cases of rape. Women who wish to access the procedure must either do so illegally – using, for instance, pills acquired online or by post – or travel to a country where abortion is legal.

As the 1967 Abortion Act is not in place in Northern Ireland, Irish women often travel to the UK mainland, especially if seeking a surgical abortion. Figures show that in 2014, an average of ten women a day made the trip. The same year, 1017 abortion pills were seized by Irish customs.

Women who undertake the journey do so at a substantial cost. Aside from the cost of travel, they must pay for the procedure itself: a private abortion in England can cost over £500, and Irish women, including those born and resident in Northern Ireland, are not eligible for NHS treatment. Overnight accommodation may also need to be arranged.

The earlier an abortion is obtained, the easier the procedure. Yet many women are forced to delay while they obtain funds, or borrow money to pay for the trip. 

Women’s charity and abortion providers Marie Stopes provide specific advice for the flight back which reveals the increased health risks Irish women are exposed to. The stigma surrounding termination may also dissuade women from seeking help if complications arise once they have arrived home.

Abortion is a relatively minor procedure in medical terms. A recent survey quoted in Time magazine suggests that 95% of women who have had an abortion say they do not regret it.

It is not surprising, then, that calls to repeal the 8th amendment are increasing in volume. Campaigns like the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the 8th (to which this author is a signatory) as well as the Abortion Rights Campaign and REPEAL have mobilised to lobby for a change in the law, and in some cases help fund women forced to travel.

Women’s testimony is an important part of campaigning. Abortion is stigmatised across these isles, but the criminal aspect in Ireland makes the experience of abortion particularly difficult to discuss. Actions like @twowomentravel and groups such as the X-ile Project, which photographs women who have had the procedure, help to normalise abortion, showing a part of life often hidden from view (but which plenty of women experience).

The hope is that Irish women will soon be able to access abortions which are like those available to women in England: free, safe, and legal.

The Abortion Support Network help pay for women from the island of Ireland access abortion. Their fundraising page is here.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland