Roundup: LA Times Says No on Prop 4, UK Makes Sex Ed Mandatory

Brady Swenson

LA Times counters parental notification proponent's two central arguments; UK makes sex and relationship education mandatory in primary and secondary schools; British lawmakers leave Northern Ireland's women suffering; How the religious right drove Colin Powell to endorse Obama; Baptist minister says birth control is "murder."

Los Angeles Times Argues Against Proposition 4

California’s Proposition 4 would require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion is nearly identical to two previous versions that were defeated.  The Los Angeles Times does not endorse the proposition.  It notes that there are two new provisions that those arguing for the proposition are centering its campaign around and may explain why the proposition has a slight lead in the most recent Public Policy Institute of California poll, 46 to 44.  The first is that it will give those who justifiably fear telling their parents an ‘out’
by allowing them to notify another adult relative instead:

This would indeed give the measure more credence, if it were true. But
in order to use it, the girl would have to accuse her parents, in
writing, of child abuse, with the accusation to be forwarded to law
enforcement authorities. It’s the equivalent of telling girls they can
get an abortion by walking into a police station and having their
parents arrested.

Proponents also argue that the new law would protect girls from sexual predators, that informed parents would be able to pu a stop to sex crimes:

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But a study released in September by UC San Francisco
found that few girls have relationships with significantly older males
and that the percentage of those who do does not appear to change with
notification laws.

In fact, notification laws don’t achieve most
of the supposedly desired results, according to the report. A
comparison of Minnesota, which has a notification law, and Wisconsin,
which doesn’t, showed that girls who went to abortion clinics were just
about equally likely to tell a parent. Pregnancy rates do not fall in
states with notification laws; in some states, abortion rates fall but
teen birthrates rise, and many more girls report leaving the state for
an abortion.

The LA Times questions that the primary purpose of the proposition is to protect girls: 

Perhaps because they put off telling a parent, or go to court to avoid
doing so, girls in states with such laws are likelier to get an
abortion later, during the second trimester of pregnancy, which
increases the chance of complications. Clearly, protecting the health
and safety of girls isn’t the key consideration here. Proposition 4 is
a first step toward reversing hard-won and increasingly threatened
reproductive rights. Californians, with their strong record of
upholding such rights, should see through the ruses and vote no on
Proposition 4.

 

The UK Makes Sex Education Mandatory in All Schools

Sex education is to be made a compulsory part of the Britain’s national
curriculum
in primary and secondary schools under government plans to
cut its high teen pregnancy rates and lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases:

A new personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum,
expected by 2010, will include compulsory sex and relationships
education as well as better advice warning children against drugs and
alcohol.

Children will learn about body parts and the fact that
animals reproduce from the age of five, puberty and intercourse from
the age of seven and contraception and abortion from the age of 11.

All schools, including faith-based schools, will be required to teach the curriculum:

Schools will not be allowed to opt out of the rules but the
government is promising separate guidance to faith schools, which could
find elements of the new curriculum at odds with their spiritual
beliefs.

The schools minister, Jim Knight, said they would
still have to teach the curriculum – which includes contraception,
abortion and homosexuality – but will separately be allowed to continue
to teach religious beliefs about sex.

Knight said he wanted all schools to teach children more about sex in
the context of relationships, including marriage and civil
partnerships, and to promote abstinence.

The schools minister, Jim Knight, the government official in charge of the new program said that it is important to present sex education within the context of healthy relationships and emotional management:

"We are not talking about five-year-old kids being taught sex. What
we’re talking about for key stage 1 is children knowing about
themselves, their differences, their friendships and how to manage
their feelings," he said.

Secondary schools have so far had to
teach the mechanics of sex in biology classes, but not in conjunction
with relationships and sexual health. The new lessons will be part of
wider lifestyle classes that will include drugs and alcohol.

UNICEF UK, a United Nations affiliated organization that focuses on education, has endorsed the move.  Alison Marshall, the organization’s director, said:

Young people have the right to know how to protect
their sexual health and it is essential that information is given in a
way that responds to young people’s needs and lives. Last year research
conducted by the UK Youth Parliament found that nationally 40% of young
people between the ages of 11 and 18 thought that their Sex and
Relationship Education was either poor or very poor.

 

British Lawmakers Park Abortion Issue, Leave Women in Northern Ireland Without Resolved Abortion Law

The law regulating abortion in Northern Ireland is murky at best.  Yesterday British lawmakers could have greatly clarified the law by voting to extend limited abortion rights under the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act to women in Northern Ireland, who have been exempted from the Abortion Act since its inception.  In a political move the MPs did not vote on the amendment to extend the Act to Northern Irelanders and now the legal authority to pass such legislation will ‘devolve’ to the murky legal waers of Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly.  Eamon McCann of the Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story. 

 

The Religion Right Helped Drive Powell Away from His Party

Sarah Palin appeared on right-wing social conservative James Dobson’s radio show yesterday and Max Blumenthal writes that Colin Powell’s "endorsement and Palin’s appearance on Dobson’s show are not entirely unconnected." 

Dobson has long been one of the banes of Powell’s political lifeand the right’s warm embrace of Palin is part of what drove Powell away from McCain.

When Powell endorsed Obama, he offered a litany of factors, from
Obama’s “transformational” potential to “steadiness.” But Powell, a
military man and self-described “Rockefeller Republican,” also declared
his disappointment with the “rightward shift” in the Republican Party.

Blumenthal takes a thorough look at the contentious history of these two men who represent opposite sides of their party.  He concludes with the final straw that broke Powell’s commitment to the GOP, the selection right-wing social conservative of Sarah Palin as McCain’s Vice Presidential nominee:

Powell might well have supported McCain’s bid for the presidency had
things turned out differently. McCain yearned to select his friend, the
turncoat Democrat, Senator Joseph Lieberman, as his running mate.
Lieberman, who shared Powell’s positions on domestic policy, would have
made the Republican ticket the most moderate since the pre-Goldwater
era. But opposition from the Christian rightespecially from Dobsonthreatened
a fight on the floor of the Republican convention, rendering the
Lieberman option impossible. And so McCain chose Sarah Palin.

Dobson was finally ready to complete his 180-degree reversal. “I am moving closer and closer to being able toI’ll say it now,” Dobson declared. “If I went into the polling booth today, I would pull the lever for John McCain.”

Powell cited it as a principal motivation for endorsing Obama. “It’s
not what the American people are looking for,” Powell said. “And the
party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has
indicated a further rightward shift.”

 

The Secret Swift Boaters

The Daily Beast’s Big Fat Story today is entitled "Dirty Campaigning" and among the several attacks they list, one is Born Alive.  Once again we see the most egregious and regularly debunked anti-choice campaign tactics repudiated as "dirty campaigning."

 

Baptist Preacher Says Contraception is Murder

The FamilyPlanIt blog reports on grave misinformation spouted by a Baptist preacher earlier this month by Dr. Thomas White who said that asking birth control pills is "murder" and a "sin."  FamilyPlanIt corrects the record:

So, does using contraception mean that that you’ve committed murder? I don’t think so. The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
don’t think so. Since they support access to contraception, I doubt
they would support access to murder. And, fortunately, at least one
other Baptist pastor, Dwight McKissic, of Cornerstone Baptist Church,
has been willing to speak out against White and say unequivocally that
no, birth control is not murder and it is not sinful.

For more reality checking of Dr. Thomas, check our short video on the subject:

 

Roundups Politics

Trump Taps Extremists, Anti-Choice Advocates in Effort to Woo Evangelicals

Ally Boguhn

Representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to its shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the organization's president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance at a question-and-answer event on Tuesday.

Making a play to win over the evangelical community, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump met with more than 1,000 faith and anti-choice leaders on Tuesday for a question-and-answer event in New York City and launched an “evangelical advisory board” to weigh in on how he should approach key issues for the voting bloc.

The meeting was meant to be “a guided discussion between Trump and diverse conservative Christian leaders to better understand him as a person, his position on important issues and his vision for America’s future,” according to a press release from the event’s organizers. As Rewire previously reported, numerous anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ leaders—many of them extremists—were slated to attend.

Though the event was closed to the media, Trump reportedly promised to lift a ban on tax-exempt organizations from politicking and discussed his commitment to defending religious liberties. Trump’s pitch to conservatives also included a resolution that upon his election, “the first thing we will do is support Supreme Court justices who are talented men and women, and pro-life,” according to a press release from United in Purpose, which helped organize the event.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-choice Susan B. Anthony List, told the New York Times that the business mogul also reiterated promises to defund Planned Parenthood and to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a 20-week abortion ban based on the medically unsupported claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy.

In a post to its website, representatives from radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue praised Trump’s commitment to their shared values during the event. “I’m very impressed that Mr. Trump would sit with conservative leaders for multiple questions, and then give direct answers,” said the group’s president, Troy Newman, who was in attendance. “I don’t believe anything like this has ever happened.” The post went on to note that Trump had also said he would appoint anti-choice justices to federal courts, and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Just after the event, Trump’s campaign announced the formation of an evangelical advisory board. The group was “convened to provide advisory support to Mr. Trump on those issues important to Evangelicals and other people of faith in America,” according to a press release from the campaign. Though members of the board, which will lead Trump’s “much larger Faith and Cultural Advisory Committee to be announced later this month,” were not asked to endorse Trump, the campaign went on to note that “the formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of those diverse issues important to Evangelicals and other Christians, and his desire to have access to the wise counsel of such leaders as needed.”

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Much like the group that met with Trump on Tuesday, the presumptive Republican nominee’s advisory board roster reads like a who’s-who of conservatives with radical opposition to abortion and LGBTQ equality. Here are some of the group’s most notable members:

Michele Bachmann

Though former Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann once claimed that “women don’t need anyone to tell them what to do on health care” while arguing against the ACA during a 2012 appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, her views on the government’s role in restricting reproductive health and rights don’t square away with that position.

During a December 2011 “tele-town hall” event hosted by anti-choice organization Personhood USA, Bachmann reportedly falsely referred to emergency contraception as “abortion pills” and joined other Republican then-presidential candidates to advocate for making abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. During the event, Bachmann touted her support of the anti-choice group’s “personhood pledge,” which required presidential candidates to agree that:

I stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,” and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I “support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.

Such a policy, if enacted by lawmakers, could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception. A source from Personhood USA told the Huffington Post that Bachmann “signed the pledge and returned it within twenty minutes, which was an extraordinarily short amount of time.”

Bachmann has also claimed that God told her to introduce a measure to block marriage equality in her home state, that being an LGBTQ person is “ part of Satan,” and that same-sex marriage is a “radical experiment that will have “profound consequences.”

Mark Burns

Televangelist Mark Burns has been an ardent supporter of Trump, even appearing on behalf of the presidential candidate at February’s Faith and Family Forum, hosted by the conservative Palmetto Family Council, to deliver an anti-abortion speech.

In March, Burns also claimed that he supported Donald Trump because Democrats like Hillary Clinton supported Black “genocide” (a frequently invoked conservative myth) during an appearance on the fringe-conspiracy program, the Alex Jones show. “That’s really one of my major platforms behind Donald Trump,” said Burns, according to the Daily Beast. “He loves babies. Donald Trump is a pro-baby candidate, and it saddens me how we as African Americans are rallying behind … a party that is okay with the genocide of Black people through abortion.”

Burns’ support of Trump extended to the candidate’s suggestion that if abortion was made illegal, those who have abortions should be punished—an issue on which Trump has repeatedly shifted stances. “If the state made it illegal and said the premature death of an unborn child constituted murder, anyone connected to that crime should be held liable,” Burns told the Wall Street Journal in April. “If you break the law there should be punishment.”

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland founded Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM), which, according to its mission statement, exists to “teach Christians worldwide who they are in Christ Jesus and how to live a victorious life in their covenant rights and privileges.” Outlining their opposition to abortion in a post this month on the organization’s website, the couple wrote that abortion is wrong even in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. “As the author of life, God considers an unborn child to be an eternal being from the moment of its conception,” explained the post. “To deliberately destroy that life before birth would be as much premeditated murder as taking the life of any other innocent person.”

The article went on to say that though it may “seem more difficult in cases such as those involving rape or incest” not to choose abortion, “God has a plan for the unborn child,” falsely claiming that the threat of life endangerment has “been almost completely alleviated through modern medicine.”

The ministries’ website also features Pregnancy Options Centre, a crisis pregnancy center (CPC) in Vancouver, Canada, that receives “financial and spiritual support” from KCM and “its Partners.” The vast majority of CPCs  regularly lie to women in order to persuade them not to have an abortion.

Kenneth Copeland, in a June 2013 sermon, tied pedophilia to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, going on to falsely claim that the ruling did not actually legalize abortion and that the decision was “the seed to murder our seed.” Copeland blamed legal abortion for the country’s economic woes, reasoning that there are “several million taxpayers that are not alive.”

Copeland, a televangelist, originally supported former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) in the 2016 Republican primary, claiming that the candidate had been “called and appointed” by God to be the next president. His ministry has previously faced scrutiny about its tax-exempt status under an investigation led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) into six ministries “whose television preaching bankrolled leaders’ lavish lifestyles.” This investigation concluded in 2011, according to the New York Times.

James Dobson

James Dobson, founder and chairman emeritus of Focus on the Family (FoF), previously supported Cruz in the Republican primary, releasing an ad for the campaign in February praising Cruz for defending “the sanctity of human life and traditional marriage.” As Rewire previously reported, both Dobson and his organization hold numerous extreme views:

Dobson’s FoF has spent millions promoting its anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ extremism, even dropping an estimated $2.5 million in 2010 to fund an anti-choice Super Bowl ad featuring conservative football player Tim Tebow. Dobson also founded the … Family Research Council, now headed by Tony Perkins.

Dobson’s own personal rhetoric is just as extreme as the causes his organization pushes. As extensively documented by Right Wing Watch,

Dobson has:

Robert Jeffress

A Fox News contributor and senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Jeffress once suggested that the 9/11 attacks took place because of legal abortion. “All you have to do is look in history to see what God does with a nation that sanctions the killing of its own children,” said Jeffress at Liberty University’s March 2015 convocation, according to Right Wing Watch. “God will not allow sin to go unpunished and he certainly won’t allow the sacrifice of children to go unpunished.”

Jeffress spoke about the importance of electing Trump during a campaign rally in February, citing Democrats’ positions on abortion rights and Trump’s belief “in protecting the unborn.” He went on to claim that if Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Hillary Clinton were elected, “there is no doubt you’re going to have the most pro-abortion president in history.”

After Trump claimed women who have abortions should be punished should it become illegal, Jeffres rushed to defend the Republican candidate from bipartisan criticism, tweeting: “Conservatives’ outrage over @realDonaldTrump abortion comments hypocritical. Maybe they don’t really believe abortion is murder.”

As documented by Media Matters, Jeffress has frequently spoken out against those of other religions and denominations, claiming that Islam is “evil” and Catholicism is “what Satan does with counterfeit religion.” The pastor has also demonstrated extreme opposition to LGBTQ equality, even claiming that same-sex marriage is a sign of the apocalypse.

Richard Land

Richard Land, now president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary, was named one of Time Magazine‘s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in 2005 for his close ties with the Republican party. While George W. Bush was president, Land participated in the administration’s “weekly teleconference with other Christian conservatives, to plot strategy on such issues as gay marriage and abortion.” Bush also appointed Land to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2002.

According to a 2002 article from the Associated Press, during his early academic career in Texas, “Land earned a reputation as a leader among abortion opponents and in 1987 became an administrative assistant to then-Texas Gov. Bill Clements, who fought for laws to restrict a woman’s right to an abortion” in the state.

Land had previously expressed “dismay” that some evangelicals were supporting Trump, claiming in October that he “take[s] that [support] as a failure on our part to adequately disciple our people.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Campaign Says Glitch Led to Selection of White Nationalist Leader As Delegate

Ally Boguhn

The prominent white supremacist has since resigned. And on the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders registered their objections to the Obama administration's immigration raids.

A “database error” this week supposedly led Donald Trump’s campaign to select a white nationalist leader to its California delegate list, and the Democratic presidential candidates are speaking out about the Obama administration’s planned immigration raids.

Trump Campaign: Picking White Nationalist Who Wrote Book Calling For Deportation of All People of Color as Delegate was a “Database Error”

Trump’s campaign added William Johnson, leader of white nationalist group the American Freedom Party, to his California delegate list after a supposed computer glitch.

Johnson applied to the Trump campaign and was chosen from a list of the presumptive Republican nominee’s delegates submitted to the California secretary of state’s office. In California, presidential candidates choose Republican delegatesnot the party.

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Johnson, in an email to Mother Jones on Tuesday, confirmed that he had been chosen by the Trump campaign, expressing excitement about the opportunity. “I just hope to show how I can be mainstream and have these views,” Johnson told the publication. “I can be a white nationalist and be a strong supporter of Donald Trump and be a good example to everybody.”

Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks claimed that the inclusion of Williams was no more than a glitch after the campaign had rejected the white nationalist leader. “Yesterday the Trump campaign submitted its list of California delegates to be certified by the Secretary of State of California,” Hicks said in a statement to the Washington Post. “A database error led to the inclusion of a potential delegate that had been rejected and removed from the campaign’s list in February 2016.”

Johnson on Wednesday told the Associated Press he had resigned from his role as a delegate. “I was naive,” Johnson told AP about his application. “I thought people wouldn’t notice, and if they did notice I didn’t think it would be a big deal.”

He noted that Trump’s policy positions lined up with those he supported.

“[Trump] wants to build the wall [along the border with Mexico]. He wants to cut off illegal immigration, and he wants to cut back on foreign trade, bring jobs back to America,” Johnson said. “We believe Donald Trump will help lead the country in a proper direction.”

Johnson gained notoriety as a self-identified “white nationalist” whose PAC, American National Super PAC, was responsible for robocalls this year in Iowa featuring another white nationalist, Jared Taylor. “I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America,” Taylor said in the robocall according to Talking Points Memo. “We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”

Johnson wrote a book in 1985, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, calling “to deport all nonwhites as soon as possible” from the the United States:

In 1985, under the pseudonym James O. Pace, Johnson wrote the book Amendment to the Constitution: Averting the Decline and Fall of America. In it, he advocates the repeal of the 14th and 15th amendments and the deportation of almost all nonwhite citizens to other countries. Johnson further claimed that racial mixing and diversity caused social and cultural degeneration in the United States. He wrote: “We lose our effectiveness as leaders when no one relies on us or can trust us because of our nonwhite and fractionalized nature. … [R]acial diversity has given us strife and conflict and is enormously counterproductive.”

Johnson’s solution to this problem was to deport all nonwhites as soon as possible. Anybody with any “ascertainable trace of Negro blood” or more than one-eighth “Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood” would be deported under the Pace Amendment.

As late as Monday, Trump’s campaign had expressed confidence about their delegate selection before controversy broke out over the addition of Williams. “We believe that our delegation represents the economic and grassroots community diversity of California. We feel very good about it,” Tim Clark, Trump’s California strategist, told the Sacramento Bee that day.

The campaign reportedly corresponded with Johnson on Monday.

Other notable figures selected as delegates for Trump include House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal.   

Democratic Presidential Candidates Speak Out Against Obama Administration’s Immigration Raids

Both Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), condemned the Obama administration’s coming immigration raids after news broke this week of an upcoming sweep.

U.S. immigration officials will conduct a monthlong series of deportation raids targeting undocumented families from Central America, Reuters reported on Thursday, in what will likely be “the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families” by the Obama administration this year.

“I oppose the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence in Central America and other countries. Sending these people back into harm’s way is wrong,” Sanders said in a statement posted to his campaign’s website Thursday. “I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America.”

Clinton said she was “against large scale raids that tear families apart and sow fear in communities” and that “we should not be taking kids and families from their homes in the middle of the night.”

The candidates have spoken out against the Obama administration’s ongoing raids, showing particular concern for the deportation of children. Advocates, however, say that the presidential candidates have not done enough to tackle the issue.

What Else We’re Reading

Priests for Life President Frank Pavone compared the presidential election to a choice between killing ten people and killing 100 people. 

Clinton proposed allowing “people 55 or 50 and up” buy in to Medicare.

Trump supporter Sarah Palin spoke out against Trump’s assertion that he would change the GOP’s abortion platform while speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “I don’t want the platform to change,” said Palin, adding that she “respect[s] the “culture of life that will be built upon the pro-life views the majority of Republicans hold.” 

The Nation’s Ari Berman wrote that “voter suppression is the only way Donald Trump can win” the White House.

Leaders from extremist groups such as the Family Research Council, National Right to Life, and the National Organization for Marriage are reportedly still unsure about whether they will back Trump now that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has left the race for the Republican nomination.

The Washington Post examined how the rise of Donald Trump may jeopardize the Congressional seats of other Republicans running down the ballot. One of those legislators could be Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) who notoriously introduced the failed “Blunt Amendment” to exempt any employer with a moral objection from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit.

Former KKK leader David Duke tweeted that Donald Trump should ask him to join his ticket as vice president, claiming the move would be good “life insurance.”

Minnesota Republicans endorsed a candidate for the state’s 2nd congressional district seat who once claimed that women are “simply ignorant … of the important issues in life” because they are concerned about their reproductive health.

Don’t miss The Black Belt, a short film from the Intercept. It highlights voting rights in Alabama—which requires a photo ID at the polls—after the state closed 31 DMV locations that were primarily located in communities with large Black populations.