Roundup: Women Line Up to Donate Eggs; Kansas Supreme Court Slams Phill Kline

Emily Douglas

Women line up to donate eggs; more on what FOCA would do; Kansas Supreme Court finds Phill Kline in contempt of court; after vetoing abortion legalization, Uruguayan President offers to resign as head of his party; Obama can be "feminist-in-chief."

Women Line Up to Donate Eggs

In hard economic times, women are lining up to donate eggs, which can fetch
anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000, reports the Wall
Street Journal
.  The Journal profiles a clinic near Chicago which has seen a 30% increase in "inquiries from would-be egg donors." Writing of potential
risks to donor women, the Journal reports:

There are some risks to the donor
— including possible bleeding and infection at the injection sites, and, in
rare cases, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which several dozen eggs
ripen at once and the ovaries become dangerously swollen. But careful monitoring
can avoid that. "If egg donation is done in an experienced clinic, that
complication rate is very, very low and the success rates are quite high,"
says Zev Rosenwaks, director of reproductive medicine at New
York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, which performs about 200 egg
transfers per year, more than half of which result in live births.

What Would FOCA Do?

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What effect would the Freedom of Choice Act have? asks
Deborah Kotz, women’s health blogger for US News & World Report
.  Kotz writes that while on the campaign trail,
President-Elect Obama pledged to support FOCA, which would codify Roe in
statutory law.  Kotz talks to constitutional law scholar William Eskridge about whether FOCA would force doctors to perform
abortions (no), whether it might block public funding for hospitals that don’t
provide abortions (maybe, although other legal experts I’ve spoken to say no), and
whether FOCA would strengthen abortion access for women in the military (yes).

Kansas Supreme Court Finds Phill Kline in Contempt of Court

Phill Kline, Kansas district attorney who collected women’s
medical records in an effort to prove that a local Planned Parenthood was providing
illegal late-term abortions, was "slammed" by the Kansas Supreme Court for his
handling of an ongoing abortion case, report McClatchy
newspapers
.  The Court wrote that Kline’s
"attitude and behavior are inexcusable, particularly for someone who
purports to be a professional prosecutor…It is plain that he is interested in
the pursuit of justice only as he chooses to define it." However, though Kline
was sanctioned, he gets to keep the records he collected, and is required only
to hand over copies to the court.

Wrote Planned Parenthood in a statement,

"We are very pleased by the Court’s decision," said Peter
Brownlie, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas
and Mid-Missouri. "The Court confirms what Planned Parenthood has said all
along: Phill Kline is a zealot pursuing a lawless prosecution and misusing the
people’s trust to advance a radical anti-choice political agenda…." 

For more than four years, Planned Parenthood has fended off legal assaults
by Phill Kline, which began when he was Kansas
Attorney General.  Mr. Kline continued his witch hunt after the voters
threw him out of the Attorney General’s office, when he was appointed Johnson
County District Attorney.  The reasons Kline cited for
"investigating" Planned Parenthood never masked his true intent-to
wage an ideological battle from his elected position of power at the expense of
Kansas
taxpayers.

After Vetoing Abortion Legalization Bill, Uruguayan President Offers to Resign as Head of His Party

Reuters reports
that just weeks after vetoing a law that would have legalized abortion in Uruguay
through 12 weeks of pregnancy, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez has offered
to resign as head of the ruling Socialist Party.  The Uruguayan Congress, which is under Socialist
Party rule, "denounced his veto and vowed to present another bill in next
year’s session."

Obama: "Feminist-in-Chief?"

Obama could make "gender equality a keystone of his administration," writes
Katha Pollitt in a column for The Nation.  Women have made progress over the past 30 years, writes Pollitt, but a lingering frustration with the speed remains. 

Obama needs to meet that longing for a big
leap forward. He needs to become a truly feminist president. That means more
than protecting reproductive rights and appointing lots of women to significant
positions in his administration, important as those things are…If women are to move forward, we need to move beyond a
piecemeal approach.

There are plenty of pieces of legislation Obama can support, writes Pollitt, but even better would be a comprehensive approach that examined existing public support structures that disadvantage women:

For example, he can set up a task force to review law and policy on welfare,
Social Security, unemployment and tax policy to rectify outmoded assumptions
that disadvantage women. Did you know, for example, that most working wives do
better if they take their husbands’ Social Security benefit over their own, so
in effect they pay into the system and get nothing back? That a stay-home wife
whose husband made $50,000 a year gets more in Social Security benefits than a
working wife in a couple where each made $25,000? That welfare reform keeps
low-income single mothers from getting an education?

 

News Law and Policy

Supreme Court Declines Request to Review Former Kansas AG Phill Kline’s Case

Teddy Wilson

The high court denied a request to review the suspension of the former Kansas attorney general’s law license.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a request to review the suspension of former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline’s law license.

The justices did not comment in declining to hear the case, according to the Associated Press. 

Kline’s law license was suspended by the Kansas Supreme Court in October 2013; the court found that Kline had committed “significant and numerous” violations while serving as AG and as the district attorney of Johnson County. 

After being elected Kansas AG in 2002, Kline began a crusade against Planned Parenthood and the late Dr. George Tiller. Kline’s suspension was due to violating 11 rules of professional conduct while conducting investigations, such as “repeatedly [having] misled or allowed subordinates to mislead others, including a Kansas City-area grand jury, to further his investigations.”

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Samantha Gordon, director of Public Affairs for NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Rewire that the U.S. Supreme Court made the right decision. “Kline broke the law when he turned the Kansas attorney general office into a bully pulpit to harass and intimidate doctors who provide critical health services to women,” said Gordon. “Kline wasted the taxpayers money when he used his public office to drive his personal agenda.”

Analysis Abortion

How Will Egg-as-Person Legislation Fare in Kansas?

Kari Ann Rinker

How will a so-called personhood amendment fare in Kansas?  We're going to find out. Kansans for Life is already publicly skeptical, saying they are "afraid of pushing the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court."

While the normal and expected initial reaction to hearing about any attempt at personhood legislation should be met with a certain amount of alarm by women and reproductive rights supporters, those of us on the ground fighting such attempts must push past the initial alarm, stop and partake in some careful analysis.  This is especially important in Kansas, where the assaults are numerous and resources are thin.  Best practice is to stop, breathe, take stock and prioritize.  This step of course follows the part where I’ve packed my tornado shelter full with tampons, maxi pads, oral contraception, condoms and whatever other items associated with women’s reproductive capacities that I believe might be legislatively stripped from me next.

When the news of Kansas personhood broke on Friday and I was scrambling around in tornado shelter mode, answering press calls and cursing a lot, I knew that this was to be taken seriously.  This is Kansas and in sessions past, especially since last session, under the leadership of Governor Brownback, the anti-choice crowd has pretty much gotten anything and everything on their legislative plate that they could possibly want.  They have gone back for seconds, even thirds… their gluttonous appetite for eliminating reproductive choice and access simply cannot be suppressed.

Even when the top dogs in leadership have attempted to restrain them, they have found a way to be fed by their respective legislative abortion kitchen compatriots.  Last session, the abortion insurance ban was pushed through in conference committee in violation of the joint rules stating that language must have passed at least one chamber.  Neither chamber had a hearing on the insurance ban of abortion.

Senator David Haley had this to say about the rules violation:

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MR. PRESIDENT: I vote “NO” on the conference committee report to HB 2075,
time-honored rules of the Kansas Legislature; specifically Joint Rule 3, Section F, of the Joint Rules of the House and Senate to, in this instance, insert new language (on abortion based insurance policy riders) which has never passed either chamber is foul…..and cheats our honor. Sure, twenty-one of us can make a new rule here as we go along. But the eyes and ears of all law-abiding Kansans are watching and listening. Perverting the rules of the Senate to subsidize any political agenda or issue cheapens the respect that each of us should demand of this body and this process. A “YES” vote on this measure dims the light in the chamber; tarnishes the gild.

In spite of Senator Haley’s poignant words, it was brought to the House floor at 4:00 in the morning.  Evidently, this legislative abortion kitchen serves its customers 24 hours, like Denny’s.  How would you like your eggs?  Fertilized of course, with some toast on the side… please?

So, back to Kansas personhood.  After the pacing and cursing, I began reading what was being reported in the press and imagine my surprise when I read this in the Kansas City Star:

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said she’s afraid of pushing the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. She feared the court could reaffirm the legality of abortion given its current makeup. Culp said abortion foes already have won a number of legislative victories that she thinks are effective and will ultimately be upheld in court.

“Therefore, we do not and cannot recommend a Kansas Personhood Initiative, nor a similar provision known as the Heartbeat Bill, nor do we consider support or opposition of these initiatives as an indication that an individual or a candidate is pro-life,” Culp said in a statement issued late Friday.

What we had been hearing about the strategic divide in the anti-choice camp is most certainly true and this quote confirms the extent of that divide.  Kansans for Life calls the shots in Kansas abortion politics.  We have a plethora of groups eager to strip away the right to legal and safe abortion and even birth control, Operation Rescue, The Catholic Conference, Kansas Coalition for Life, Mark Holick with the Spirit One Church, Concerned and Women for America are some of the groups that exist to harass women either legislatively or through grassroots terroristic actions. 

However, Kansans for Life doles out the cash and many in the statehouse value an endorsement from Kansans for Life.  So, for this group to come out and say, “This one’s a freebee, no negative points will be assigned, you will not receive harassing phone calls, go ahead and vote Nea and we’ll just look the other way.”  Well, that is a very big deal. 

See, Kansans for Life knows that its strategy has been effective for them thus far.  Kansans for Life has had their plate filled up whenever they have rung the supper bell. They may have seen what went down with personhood in Mississippi, and it has caused uncertainty.  They are afraid that the outrage over the extreme nature of this legislation will turn some people off and they might not be fed to their liking. 

Beyond that analysis, a ballot initiative requires an approval of a two-thirds majority from both chambers.  They may have those votes in the House, but the Senate has moderate, thinking Republicans.  That body has successfully sustained the vetoes of former Democratic Governors Kathleen Sebellius and Mark Parkinson in legislative sessions past. 

Those sustaining Democrats and moderate Republicans are representative of the values of most Kansans.  They are the same Kansans that elected Kathleen Sebellius twice and booted Attorney General Phil Kline out after one term of his abortion witch-hunt. 

As Robin Marty reported, this vote would take place during the primaries.  Primaries are fertile ground for the conservative element of the Republican Party.  Many conservative Republcian gains in electing extremists have been made here.  The conservatives are hoping for the primary edge.  Almost every moderate Republican has a conservative primary challenger.  Conservatives have great hopes of overtaking the Senate, providing them with full reign in both chambers and the Governor’s office. 

Placing a personhood initiative on the August ballot adds a level of uncertainty to this primary process.  Will the voters come out in droves to vote Yea or will the voters come out in droves to vote Nea?  That is a gamble that the conservative wing of the party may not be willing to make, in spite of all of the excitement that taking away birth control and eliminating abortion would bring. 

The personhood pushers do have one last trick under their sleeve.  They have put forth the following explainer for their bill:

A vote against this proposition would not amend the constitution, in which case the current federally mandated legal status of preborn humans would remain that of a class of human beings that can intentionally be killed.

Read: Vote for this bill or you will be a supporter of killing people. 

Now that ought to serve as an appeal of reason to the moderates, shouldn’t it?