Roundup: Special 2010 Budget Edition

Emily Douglas

2010 budget slashes funding for abstinence-only, leaves abortion funding restrictions in place; Will Saletan on a "safe, legal and early" compromise strategy.

2010 Budget Slashes Funds for Ab-Only, Leaves Abortion Funding Restrictions in Place

All eyes were on President Obama’s newly-released 2010 budget
yesterday.  Rewire offers two pieces analyzing the budget, the first explaining the
reproductive health and family planning provisions
and the second
taking an in-depth look on the move to fund "teen pregnancy prevention"
programs
over abstinence-only-until marriage programs. 

The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler gives a terrific run-down on the funding structure supporting the new teen pregnancy reduction initiatives:

In total, the Obama budget proposes $164 million for teen-pregnancy
prevention. Of that, about 25% would be open to abstinence-only
programs, which would have to compete with other initiatives. The rest
of the money is reserved for programs that have been proved "through
rigorous evaluations" to be successful, the administration proposal
says. 

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But Meckler also reminds us that "like other proposed cuts in the budget, it isn’t clear whether
Congress will go along. Liberals have derided abstinence-only education
as ineffective and even misleading, but the Democratic-controlled
Congress has continued to fund the programs."

And as for the future of abstinence-only funding itself:

Abstinence-only is funded through two pots of money, one that funds
community-based programs directly and must go through the annual
appropriations process ($95 million this year), and one that gives
funding to states and is automatically funded each year ($50 million
this year). The larger program was created amid complaints that states
were skirting the intent of the program by focusing on mentoring and
other activities. In recent years, in fact, nearly half the states have
declined to accept this funding, which required state matching funds,
partly because they didn’t like the restrictions.

Mr. Obama is asking Congress to kill both of those programs. In
their place, he is creating two new programs, both oriented toward the
broader goal of reducing teenaged pregnancy.

The first program, which would be subject to annual appropriations,
would cost $110 million, plus $4 million to evaluate funded programs.
Much like the program it is replacing, community-based programs could
apply directly to the federal government for funding. Seventy-five
percent of the funds would be set aside for programs that have been
proved, through "rigorous evaluation," to delay sexual activity,
increase contraceptive use (without increasing sexual activity) or to
reduce teen pregnancy. An administration official said that no
abstinence-only programs have met those standards.

The rest of the money would be available to develop and test
"innovative strategies" for preventing teen pregnancy. Officials said
abstinence-only programs could qualify for these funds.

The second new program would be $50 million in automatic funding to
the states. An administration official said it would be subject to the
same 75%-25% split.


On Politico,
Ben Smith points out that cutting off abstinence-only funding "will cut
off streams of funding to religiously oriented groups allied with the
Bush White House."

Meanwhile, the Center for Reproductive Rights’s Nancy Northup writes on Huffington Post
that "I am deeply disappointed with President Obama’s failure to strike
government funding restrictions on abortion, particularly the Hyde
Amendment, from his proposed budget for 2010." Northup explains, "The
President’s budget abandons the millions of women who rely on
Medicaid and other federal programs for health services, including
federal employees and their spouses and dependents, women served by
Indian Health Service, women in the Peace Corps and in federal prisons."

And the Washington Times
picked up on the fact that Obama lifted a ban on using public funding
for abortion in the District of Columbia, despite leaving the Hyde
Amendment in place.  "Under his proposal, the District for the first
time in more than a
decade would be allowed to pay for abortions with the money it raises
from its own taxpayers."

And for good measure…
Will Saletan looks at whether the abortion "compromise" strategy Steven Waldman is pushing
— "safe, legal, and early" (wider access to medication abortion, and Medicaid funding for first-trimester abortion) — is workable, politically and practically.  Happy Friday, everyone!

Other News to Note
May 7: CNN: Testosterone gel effects in children spur FDA warning

May 7: YPulse: It Takes Two To Prevent Teen Pregnancy: How To Reach The Guys

May 7: Wonkette: Meghan McCain Reveals Nothing In New Column About Nothing

May 7: LifeNews: Arkansas Man Faces July Trial for Nearly Hitting Pro-Life Advocates With Car

May 7: One News Now: Local police shut down Slovak pro-life demonstration

May 7: Catholic News Agency: Texas bill proposes to punish infanticide with mere two-year maximum in jail

May 7: HuffPost:Tom Ridge On GOP: "We’re Too Doggone Shrill" (VIDEO)

May 7: Feministing: Local St. Louis Company Bans Pro-Choice People

May 7: NARAL: Supreme Court Vacancy and YOU – Share Your Ideas

May 7: St. Louis Dispatch: Minors should need parental consent for contraception

May 7: Feministing: What Your Doctor Might Not Know About Birth Control–And Why It Matters

May 7: Live Science: How Safe Is the Pill?

May 7: AP: Kan. Senate roll call on anti-abortion bill

May 7: LifeNews: Intl Planned Parenthood UN Petition For Making Sex Rights Equal Abortion Lagging

May 7: CBS News: Abortion, The Morning After Pill, And Teens–Where To Draw The Line?

May 7: Talking Points Memo: Feminists: We Have Work To Do

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.

News Law and Policy

Federal Judge Guts Florida GOP’s Omnibus Anti-Choice Law

Teddy Wilson

"For many people, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can turn to,” said Barbara Zdravecky, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “We may be the only place they can go in their community, or the only place that offers the screening or birth control method they need. No one should have their basic health care taken away."

A federal judge on Thursday permanently blocked two provisions of a Florida omnibus anti-choice law that banned Planned Parenthood from receiving state funds and required annual inspections of all clinics that provide abortion services, reported the Associated Press.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an order in June to delay implementation of the law.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that a government cannot prohibit indirectly—by withholding otherwise-available public funds—conduct that the government could not constitutionally prohibit directly,” Hinkle wrote in the 25-page ruling.  

Thursday’s decision came after Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s administration decided not to pursue further legal action to defend the law, and filed a joint motion to end the litigation.

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Hinkle issued a three page decision making the injunction permanent.

HB 1411, sponsored by Rep. Colleen Burton (R-Lakeland), was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature in March.

The judge’s ruling nixed provisions in the law that banned state funding of abortion care and required yearly clinic inspections. Other provisions of the law that remain in effect include additional reporting requirements for abortion providers, redefining “third trimester,” and revising the care of fetal remains.

The GOP-backed anti-choice law has already had a damaging effect in Palm Beach County, where Planned Parenthood was forced to end a program that focused on teen dropout prevention.

Barbara Zdravecky, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said in a statement that the ruling was a “victory for thousands of Floridians” who rely on the organization for reproductive health care.

“For many people, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can turn to,” Zdravecky said. “We may be the only place they can go in their community, or the only place that offers the screening or birth control method they need. No one should have their basic health care taken away.”

A spokesperson for Scott told Reuters that the administration is “reviewing” the decision.

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