Roundup: Spanish Panel Recommends Liberalization of Abortion Law

Emily Douglas

Spanish panel recommends liberalization of abortion law; "fetal pain" bill moves forward in Utah; Houston Chronicle calls for comprehensive sex ed; what the Vitter amendment would do; "confusing patchwork of regulation" in wake of octuplet birth; budget "undermines parental control"?

Spanish Panel Recommends Liberalization of Abortion Law
A Spanish "government-appointed" panel has recommended that the country liberalize its abortion laws, the AP reports.  "The current law allows abortion up to 12 weeks in cases of rape and 22 weeks in cases of fetal malformation. It allows abortion at any stage if a doctor certifies a woman’s physical or mental health is at risk.  Abortion
would be allowed on demand up to 14 weeks, and up to 22 weeks if a
doctor certifies a serious threat to the health of the mother or
malformation of the fetus."

"Fetal Pain" Bill Moves Forward in Utah
A bill to require doctors to tell women having late-term abortions the
fetus will feel pain has passed a preliminary vote in the Utah Senate, KCPW reports.  "The bill is based on research indicating fetuses can feel pain, but the
finding is not universally accepted by the medical community. In fact,
several medical groups oppose the bill, saying that administering
anesthesia to a fetus can increase the risk of life-threatening
complications for the mother."  KCPW adds, "Two other abortion bills have already been approved by the Utah
Legislature this year. They include an increased penalty for physicians
who perform illegal late-term abortions, and the creation of a fund to
pay for litigation costs of future challenges to Roe v. Wade."

Houston Chronicle Calls for Comprehensive Sex Ed

A Houston Chronicle editorial
points out that "Texas receives far more federal funding for abstinence
education than
any other state, yet in the latest government survey, it ranks third
highest in the nation in teen birth rates."  As such, the Chronicle
supports the efforts of two Texas lawmakers to pass legislation that
would offer students access to medically-accurate sexuality education. 
"The proposed measure
will not require public schools to teach sex education. (It is not
currently mandated.) But it will require those districts that do so to
provide complete and medically accurate information.  Parents can opt out of
the course, and the measure would require schools teaching sex
education to stress that abstinence is the only absolutely effective
way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, while also
giving instruction on contraception and disease prevention."

What the Vitter Amendment Would Do

What happens when you
defund the largest provider of family planning services, just because
they provide comprehensive reproductive health care?  Access to
services goes down — and if there aren’t competent clinics who can use
the funds, there’s a de facto decrease in funding.  The Weekly Standard claims that Sen. David Vitter’s amendment to the omnibus to prevent family planning funding going to Planned Parenthood wouldn’t actually decrease funding for family planning.  Effectively, there’s wrong.  And let’s
take a step back.  What possible justification could there be for
Vitter’s amendment?  Planned Parenthood provides legal services, and
does so competently.  He wants to defund them just because he doesn’t like them?

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"Confusing Patchwork of Regulations" in Wake of Octuplet Birth
The LA Times reports
that state legislature are showing interest in regulating IVF in the
wake of the octuplets’ birth to California mother Nadya Suleman, which
could result in a "confusing patchwork of regulations."  A Georgia bill
"called ‘The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act,’
defines an embryo as a "biological human being" and prohibits the
destruction of frozen embryos — wading into a loaded debate over
abortion rights and embryonic stem cells."  The Times points out that states can use IVF regulation as cover to enact conservative, anti-choice state law.

Budget "Undermines Parental Control"?
The GOP has ten talking points on Obama’s budget for you.  Here’s number 7: The budget "Undermines Parental Control. 
A proposed expansion of family planning programs through Medicaid would
permit children of any income level to qualify for family planning
services without parental approval."  With help from the Constitutional Law Professors Blog, we just debunked this talking point yesterday!  I quote again:

Legislators on these topics (and parents) may wish to believe that a
person’s constitutional rights begin when that person reaches the age
of majority.  This is simply not true.  Minors have a First Amendment right to engage in free speech.  Minors have a Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches
on school grounds.  The Supreme Court decided that since minors do
possess Constitutional rights in these areas, it would be unfair and
inconsistent to hold that minors do not have a right to privacy under
the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

"Much Work to Be Done" on Rescinding of Conscience Rule
On the Hill’s Congress Blog,
National Reproductive Health and Family Planning Association’s Mary
Jane Gallagher applauds the administration’s move to rescind the HHS
provider conscience expansion, but notes that "there is still much more
work to be done."  "Already conservative ideologues – who claim to
oppose abortion but who
refuse to support common-sense, common-ground solutions like family
planning, which helps prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduces the
need for abortion – are in an uproar about the move to rescind this
The White House’s next step is to publish a new notice of proposed
rulemaking rescinding the Bush rule in the Federal Register, and to
accept comments from ‘people across the ideological spectrum’ during a
30-day public comment period."  That means family planning advocates need to stay vocal, Gallagher says.

Physician Education on EC Needed
A Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia study
finds that when physicians are better educated about emergency
contraception, the frequency with which they offer it to patients
increases.  For example, "Almost 20 percent of the doctors surveyed
incorrectly answered that
ECPs had to be administered within 24 hours of unprotected sex, when in
fact the drug is effective for up to five days. This misinformation may
lead to fewer prescriptions, the authors said…The five biggest concerns cited by the doctors
participating in the internet-based survey were lack of patient
follow-up after receiving the first dose; time constraints during the
hospital visit to properly discuss ECP use; lack of clinical resources;
a belief ECP discourages regular contraceptive use, and concerns about
birth defects, according to the study."

Other News to Note
March 5: KETV: Abortion Bill Sparks Heated Debate: Measure Requires Doctors To Show Ultrasound Images

March 5: Boston Globe: State urged to delay decision on Caritas: Similar program in N.Y. has flaws, rights groups say

March 5: WaPo: Finding Peace in the Culture Wars

March 5: CNA: Obama’s pro-life backers risk usurping bishops, critic says

March 5: CNA: Pro-life experts ask Obama not to push abortion in Latin America

March 5: Birth-control shot linked to weight gain

March 5: Petition site:Don’t Let the Senate Block Family-Planning Programs!

March 4: 40 Days for Choice: Why is Affordable Birth Control important

March 5: Opposing Views: OPINION: Pro-Choice Catholics are ‘Contaminated,’ Harm Church (Judie Brown)

News Politics

Trump Has ‘Never’ Heard of Immigrant Detention Centers That He Mentioned in 2011 Book

Ally Boguhn

"I've never even heard the term," Trump replied when Bill O'Reilly asked about "detention centers." Trump's book, however, used the term "immigrant detention facilities."

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed during an appearance on Fox News that he had never heard of immigrant detention centers and would not use them as part of his immigration plan, despite having mentioned the facilities in one of his books.

“You don’t have to put them in a detention center. Bill, you’re the first one to mention a detention center,” Trump said on The O’Reilly Factor after host Bill O’Reilly brought up the immigrant detention system, which, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, “locks up hundreds of thousands of immigrants unnecessarily every year, exposing detainees to brutal and inhumane conditions of confinement at massive costs to American taxpayers.”

“OK, so you wouldn’t do that. You would keep them in their homes,” O’Reilly said.

“No, I never said—I’ve never even heard the term,” Trump said. “I’m not going to put them in a detention center.”

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O’Reilly pointed out that Trump had said he would model his immigration proposal after President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1954 program “Operation Wetback,” which used detention centers. The policy “plucked Mexican laborers from fields and ranches in targeted raids, bused them to detention centers along the border, and ultimately sent many of them deep into the interior of Mexico, some by airlift, others on cargo boats that typically hauled bananas,” according to CNN.

“No I said it, yeah, I said that is something that has been done in a very strong manner,” Trump interjected. “I don’t agree with that, I’m not talking about detention centers.”

Trump’s 2011 book, Time To Get Tough, referred to immigrant detention centers, as Fusion reported. The book used the term “immigrant detention facilities” and laments that undocumented immigrants at some detention centers may have access to “resort-like accommodations” like a vegetable bar and immigration attorneys.

The immigration proposal posted to Trump’s website calls for a “Detention—not catch-and-release” policy on immigration. “Illegal aliens apprehended crossing the border must be detained until they are sent home, no more catch-and-release,” reads the candidate’s website.

Democratic Party nominee Hillary Clinton’s immigration plan calls to “end family detention for parents and children who arrive at our border in desperate situations and close private immigrant detention centers,” but does not call for the complete end to the immigrant detention system.

Rewire Immigration Fellow Tina Vasquez has reported that Clinton’s plan would instead leave detention up to the government instead of private facilities:

Put plainly, Clinton’s plan is to stop the privatization of detention centers and instead, make them a function solely of the government. In October, Clinton’s campaign spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa released a statement on Clinton’s behalf further outlining her plan, saying Clinton “believes that we should not contract out this core responsibility of the federal government, and when we’re dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don’t need private industry incentives that may contribute—or have the appearance of contributing—to over-incarceration.”

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.


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