US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. 7 billion thirsts, and not enough drinkable water (Detroit Free Press)

On this threshold day, our greatest global challenge is figuring out how to get more people greater access to the planet's most precious resource, writes this editorial.

2. The battle of military suicides (Boston Globe)

The Veterans Administration estimates that a veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes, Juliette Kayyem reporst -- and the problem is growing.

3. Obama's spooky economy (Washington Times)

GDP may be up 2.5 per cent but consumer uncertainty casts a shadow over news of temporary growth, argues this WT editorial.

4. Flat Taxes and Angry Voters (New York Times)

This editorial reports that more Americans are questioning the Republicans' flat tax plans, which keep rewarding the rich.

5. 10 reasons why Russia still matters (Politico)

According to Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill, Russia is a player whose choices affect our vital interests in nuclear security and energy.

6. Uganda intervention a U.S. worthy cause (San Fransisco Chronicle)

Removing the Lord's Resistance Army seems an obtainable goal and has diplomatic dividends, argues this editorial.

7. Beyond Occupy (New York Times)

Bill Keller writes that in India, Anna Hazare and his team show what protest can accomplish.

8. GOP Not Giving Obama Enough Credit on Libya (Roll Call)

By any objective standard, the Obama approach to Libya has been a huge success, notes Norman Ornstein: not a single American life was lost, the United States worked in concert with the Arab League and in partnership with its NATO allies, and a hated and oppressive regime was toppled.

9. Wedding days are losing their way (USA Today)

Ceremonies should be about commitment and marriage, not mere romance, says Henry G. Brinton.

10. The zombies with six legs (Los Angeles Times)

The human undead have nothing on the creepiness of some insects, writes biologist Marlene Zuk. They routinely do things too grotesque even for horror movies.

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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