US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Tea Party on the left? (Washington Post)

Liberals can help show that Obama is a centrist, says E. J. Dionne.

2. Watch out for Putin, and Russia (Los Angeles Times)

The country is headed for a dead end, says Leon Aron, as it seems likely Vladimir Putin will regain the presidency. The U.S. should be prepared for that.

3. Florida Republicans for Obama (Wall Street Journal)

Elites try to truncate the presidential primary contests, writes this editorial.

4. Insurers aren't playing fair (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Health insurance companies appear to be ratcheting up premiums to pad their profits before more elements of the federal health-care reform kick in, says this editorial.

5. The University of Wherever (New York Times)

Bill Keller asks: Can technology provide an elite education for the masses?

6. On gay marriage, state is out of step (Star Tribune)

Under the laws that apply to everyone, Minnesota's GLBT couples deserve the same rights as every other American, states this editorial.

7. Health care reforms are working (St. Petersburg Times)

Health insurance security for young adults has markedly increased. The Supreme Court should uphold the law and let the reforms continue, argues this editorial.

8. Adults Dither as Schools, Unions Fail Children (Roll Call)

Dismal news about U.S. public education keeps tumbling in, but Congress seems unable to act, writes Morton M. Kondracke. Republican presidential candidates, too, seem determined to have America keep slipping behind the rest of the world.

9. Public burned by solar loans (Boston Globe)

If private sector funding is available, the government should get out of the way; if not, there's no reason taxpayers should take the risk, argues John E. Sununu.

10. Midwest turns against Obama (Washington Times)

One of the most important facts to remember heading into the election year, says Brett M. Decker, is that President Obama could not even defend his own Senate seat in 2010.

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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