Abortion

Minnesota Planned Parenthood Meets Its New Neighbor

Amie Newman

A crisis pregnancy center in St. Paul, Minn. announces plans to purchase a building next to a Planned Parenthood. Manipulation or calculated anti-choice strategy?

Reproductive freedom fighters beware – there’s a growing anti-choice tactic in town and it’s wrapped in sweetness and light and everything nice. At least on the surface.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) have been the nemesis of reproductive rights advocates for awhile now. We’ve known of them; we’ve analyzed them; there’s even a report about them by Rep. Henry Waxman intent on uncovering the ways in which they manipulate and prey on young women.

And while reproductive justice supporters have been faced with CPCs as they attempt to challenge this particular arm of the anti-choice movement, they are generally not literally face-to-face with CPCs. But that’s slowly changing and St. Paul, Minnesota is a target.

In St. Paul, Highland LifeCare Center – part of a conglomeration of “pregnancy resource centers” as their wont to be called – has just announced plans to purchase a building located two doors down from a Planned Parenthood clinic. Unsurprisingly, the Planned Parenthood center is the only Planned Parenthood in the state that performs abortions.

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Innocently, Patrick Shrake, the president of the center’s board of directors was quoted as saying, “We don’t want to be antagonistic…We want to offer a different choice. I understand that some people might see that as antagonistic, but I can’t do anything about that.” I wonder why some might see an anti-choice center known for their extreme opposition to all forms of reproductive freedom moving in next door to a reproductive health center as “antagonistic”?

The Planned Parenthood in St. Paul has been the target of arson and a bomb in years past. But who will really suffer when this crisis pregnancy center moves in next to the Planned Parenthood? The women of course.

Women who come searching for a pregnancy test and the unbiased ear of a trained health care provider. Women who need medically accurate facts about pregnancy, their health, and a sincere discussion about their options for the future. Women who need medical care and resources. In other words, any woman who believes she is or knows she is pregnant and is looking for help. Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not offer no-strings-attached assistance. CPCs do not employ trained medical staff. And CPCs do not provide a sincere accounting of options if a woman is pregnant and confused.

The center will, however, have “a prayer room, and clients and workers will be able to partake of communion, a plan approved by Catholic Archbishop Harry Flynn.” I guess the Jewish, Buddhist and Sikh women, among many others, who come to the center are encouraged to take their religious practice elsewhere.

Young women are being misled about what these centers do, what they provide and why they operate. If CPCs were straight-forward and upfront about their missions, it may not be a problem. But CPCs offer free ultrasounds and pregnancy testing for a reason – to lure women into their centers so that they can then mislead and manipulate them. And federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers is abhorrent not only because of the religious fundamentalist nature of most centers but because of the outright lying and deceit on which the centers base their dialogue with the women.

While the leaders of the St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic are playing it cautious yet polite, their new neighbors may not be so demure. This has happened before in Minneapolis. An anti-abortion, Christian crisis pregnancy center opened their doors in 1992 in Robbinsdale, Minn. across the street from a women’s reproductive health center that had been providing care for over forty years. And while this strategy shows no signs of slowing down, reproductive justice advocates have made good strides with legislative remedies. Those remedies, however, will be no match for an organized and cohesive CPC network that is well on its way to co-opting the pro-choice approach to outreach and using it to great advantage.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

News Abortion

Parental Notification Law Struck Down in Alaska

Michelle D. Anderson

"The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions," said Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm."

The Alaska Supreme Court has struck down a state law requiring physicians to give the parents, guardians, or custodians of teenage minors a two-day notice before performing an abortion.

The court ruled that the parental notification law, which applies to teenagers younger than 18, violated the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and could not be enforced.

The ruling stems from an Anchorage Superior Court decision that involved the case of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and physicians Dr. Jan Whitefield and Dr. Susan Lemagie against the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors.

In the lower court ruling, a judge denied Planned Parenthood’s requested preliminary injunction against the law as a whole and went on to uphold the majority of the notification law.

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Planned Parenthood and the physicians had appealed that superior court ruling and asked for a reversal on both equal protection and privacy grounds.

Meanwhile, the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors appealed the court’s decision to strike some of its provisions and the court’s ruling.

The notification law came about after an initiative approved by voters in August 2010. The law applied to “unemancipated, unmarried minors” younger than 18 seeking to terminate a pregnancy and only makes exceptions in documented cases of abuse and medical emergencies, such as one in which the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Justice Daniel E. Winfree wrote in the majority opinion that the anti-choice law created “considerable tension between a minor’s fundamental privacy right to reproductive choice and how the State may advance its compelling interests.”

He said the law was discriminatory and that it could unjustifiably burden “the fundamental privacy rights only of minors seeking pregnancy termination, rather than [equally] to all pregnant minors.”

Chief Justice Craig Stowers dissented, arguing that the majority’s opinion “unjustifiably” departed from the Alaska Supreme Court’s prior approval of parental notification.

Stowers said the opinion “misapplies our equal protection case law by comparing two groups that are not similarly situated, and fails to consider how other states have handled similar questions related to parental notification laws.”

Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) officials praised the court’s ruling, saying that Alaska’s vulnerable teenagers will now be relieved of additional burdensome hurdles in accessing abortion care. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, CRR, and Planned Parenthood represented plaintiffs in the case.

Janet Crepps, senior counsel at CRR, said in a statement that the “decision provides important protection to the safety and well-being of young women who need to end a pregnancy.”

“The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions. This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm,” Crepps said.

CRR officials also noted that most young women seeking abortion care involve a parent, but some do not because they live an abusive or unsafe home.

The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have said minors’ access to confidential reproductive health services should be protected, according to CRR.