Exit polling and early vote counts indicate a majority of Irish voters have backed the repeal of their country's constitutional ban on abortion. Save the 8th, the campaign supporting retention of the amendment prohibiting abortion, conceded defeat Saturday after Friday's vote, calling the decision "a tragedy of historic proportions."
If the ban is lifted, the Irish Parliament is expected to pass a law legalizing abortion through the 12th week of pregnancy, with exceptions for later abortions if the mother's health is at risk or there is a diagnosis of fatal fetal abnormalities.
In Iowa, the state legislature has passed a bill that would make abortion illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is after about six weeks of pregnancy.
Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) has not said if she will sign the law, which was passed by the state House late Tuesday and state Senate early Wednesday. Iowa now allows most abortions up to 20 weeks, but if this new measure is signed into law, the state will have one of the most restrictive bans in the country. Many women do not realize they are pregnant before six weeks, and Iowa Public Radio says the legislation would make some exceptions for rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, and if the mother's life is in danger.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) signed legislation Monday banning abortion in the state after 15 weeks of gestation, joined in the closed-door signing ceremony by lawmakers who pushed through the legislation and other abortion opponents. If it survives court challenge, it will be the nation's strictest abortion law. About an hour after the signing, Mississippi's lone abortion clinic sued to block the law, arguing that it violates Supreme Court precedence by banning abortion before a fetus could survive outside of the uterus. The legislation exempts pregnancies where a fetus has health problems making it "incompatible with life" and in cases where a woman's life or "major bodily function" is threatened, but not for pregnancies from rape or incest. Peter Weber
On Monday night, Ireland's Cabinet gave approval for a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment to the Irish Constitution, which outlaws abortion except when a mother's life is at stake, giving equal legal protection to mother and fetus. Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said after the meeting that the referendum will be held in late May. Ireland approved the eighth amendment in 1983, giving Ireland some of the strictest abortion laws in the developed world.
Varadkar said for the first time that he will campaign in support of the referendum, calling it a personal decision that does not necessarily reflect the stance of his administration. "We already have abortion — unsafe, unregulated, unlawful," he said. "We cannot continue to export our problem and import our solution." Almost 4,000 Irish women — including from Northern Ireland — traveled to England and Wales to obtain an abortion in 2016, according to U.K. government statistics, CNN notes. "I know this will be a difficult decision for the Irish people to make," the prime minister added. "For most of us, it is not a black-and-white issue — it is very grey."
A 56 percent majority of Irish voters support changing the eighth amendment, as do a solid majority of Irish lawmakers, according to a recent Irish Times poll. Anti-abortion and abortion rights advocates said they will study the wording of the referendum very closely. Peter Weber
The House of Representatives is set to vote Tuesday on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, CNN reports. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act — which leaves open exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother's life is at risk — has failed in similar iterations in recent years, although President Trump announced his support of the legislation on Monday:
White House formally endorses the 20-week abortion ban that the House plans to consider this week. pic.twitter.com/fXT5HZBhTz
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 2, 2017
"America's children deserve ... stronger protections," the White House wrote in a statement. During the campaign, Trump additionally vowed "[to sign] into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide."
Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice activists have called the ban unconstitutional:
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) October 2, 2017
If the legislation passes the House, it could stall in the Senate; Republican Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the bill is "not a near-term priority." Jeva Lange
"The time has come to defund America's abortion giant," said a statement from #ProtestPP, the organization that planned the events. "Join us at the Planned Parenthood facility in your community as we protest and pray for an end to Planned Parenthood's massive government subsidy, and an end to abortion in our country."
About 150 counter-demonstrations were scheduled as well, with the size of the combined protests ranging from dozens to thousands of people. "Saturday, and every day, Planned Parenthood advocates and activists show that they refuse to be intimidated and they won't back down," said Kelley Robinson of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Support.
Government funding is Planned Parenthood's single largest source of revenue, mostly via Medicaid, though it also receives corporate and individual donations, as well as clinic revenue. Planned Parenthood supporters note that federal money can fund abortions only in a few circumstances, while critics argue those limits are meaningless because money is fungible. Bonnie Kristian
At a Sunday campaign stop in Iowa, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado "horrific," but also slammed "some vicious rhetoric on the left blaming those who are pro-life," The Texas Tribune reports.
The suspected gunman, Robert Dear, reportedly hinted at a motive after police apprehended him in Colorado Springs on Friday by saying "no more baby parts," according to an anonymous law enforcement official. When a reporter mentioned those reports to Cruz, he pushed back, arguing that we don't know enough about the gunman yet to make a judgment call about his political beliefs.
"It's also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and a transgendered leftist activist," the presidential hopeful said. "If that's what he is, I don't think it's fair to blame on the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer."
Cruz was referring to voting records that show that a Robert Dear with the birth year the same as the suspect was registered to vote as a woman in Hartsel, Colorado, as recently as 2014, according to BuzzFeed News. As for Dear's political beliefs, a New York Times profile described him as "generally conservative but not obsessed with politics," based on an interview with his ex-wife, Pamela Ross.
A campaign spokesman told the Times that Cruz was not making definitive claims about Dear's identity, but rather pointing out that people should not draw conclusions based on a story that's still developing. Julie Kliegman
Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson likened abortion to slavery in a Sunday interview on NBC's Meet the Press.
"Think about this," Carson said. "During slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave. Anything that they chose to do. And, you know, what if the abolitionist had said, you know, 'I don't believe in slavery. I think it's wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do.' Where would we be?"
The retired neurosurgeon also told host Chuck Todd he'd "love to see" Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion — overturned. Carson said he would not support exceptions in cases of rape or incest, but that if a woman's life is in danger, there's "room to discuss that."
"I'm a reasonable person and if people can come up with a reasonable explanation of why they would like to kill a baby, I'll listen," Carson said.
Watch Carson's full interview below. Julie Kliegman