Roundup: GOP Unveils Health Care Plan

Emily Douglas

GOP introduces plan for health care reform; more perspectives on the Gallup poll; Texas sex ed bill fails.

GOP Introduces Plan for Health Care Reform

Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced a plan for health care reform, CBS reports. The plan embraces many of the same principles as Democrats have articulated, the "Republican plan, however, promotes very different policies," Stephanie Condon writes:

"Universal access to affordable health care for all Americans should be guaranteed," a summary
of the legislation reads. "Congress should enact a comprehensive
solution that will make our health care system work for every American
every time."

The bill would also promote the individual health insurance market by
redirecting funds that currently subsidize employer-based funds to
individuals in the form of tax credits. It also focuses on reforming
Medicare and Medicaid, improving preventative medicine, and legal
reforms. The legislation does not include any mandate for individuals
to sign up for health insurance — something Democrats are considering.

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The Wall Street Journal adds, "Karen Davenport, director of health policy at the liberal-leaning
Center for American Progress Action Fund, said the Republican plan’s
tax subsidy wouldn’t cover half of the cost of the average family’s
health-care premiums."

In a statement, Marcia Greenberger, co-president of the the National Women’s Law Center said that "While I commend
Senators Coburn and Burr and Representatives Ryan and Nunes for
recognizing that our current health care system is ‘broken’ and in
major need for reform, unfortunately, for every step forward in this
plan, it takes two steps back."

A prime example of this
is its claim to provide a consistent and fair market so that everyone
can afford coverage, while omitting any protection against insurance premiums rating based on age, gender, health status, or any other factor. For the thousands of women left on their own to buy insurance directly from health insurers – who are often charged more than men for the exact same coverage – this proposed plan will not create
a market that is fair, equitable, or affordable. Instead of ending
these discriminatory practices to level the playing field and make
health care affordable for all Americans, this proposal allows unfair
insurance industry practices to continue in perpetuity.

More Perspectives on the Gallup Poll

AllGov offers an explanation for the uptick in "pro-life" identification in the recent Gallup poll — it over-sampled Republicans: 

it turns out, there is serious reason to question the sampling methods
employed by Gallup for its May 7-10 survey. In eight previous polls
taken by Gallup in 2009, the average party identification had been
Democrats 35.4% and Republicans 27.1%, a difference of more than 8
percent. This includes Gallup’s most recent poll of April 20-21, which
gave Democrats a 9 percent advantage. Yet in the poll with the pro-life
results, the respondents were evenly split, 32%-32%. Because
Republicans are more likely than Democrats to oppose abortion, this
unusual division in party identification would skew the results in
favor of “pro-life.”

MSNBC offers a more comprehensive look at recent polls about abortion, noting that "a new CNN/Opinion Research poll, 69% of Americans do not want the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade."

And of course you want FiveThirtyEight‘s take on the poll: "Although two recent surveys — the Pew poll conducted last month and an
NBC/WSJ poll conducted in September — indicated smaller-than-usual
margins for the legal option, this is countered by a large amount of
data from earlier in 2008 which indicated support for legal abortion at
about its typical levels in the mid-50’s. While it’s possible
that public opinion has shifted more dramatically on this issue since
sometime late last year, it seems highly unlikely. Polls don’t move
without reasons, and abortion hasn’t been particularly in the news of

Texas Sex Ed Bill Fails
The Texas House approved a bill to "strengthen school health advisory councils," the Austin Statesman reports, without a provision to require sex education

Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, proposed amending the bill to
say that if schools teach about contraception, that the curriculum
include “only medically accurate and age-appropriate information.”

His amendment — which he said was an attempt to address Texas’ high teen pregnancy rate — was killed on a point of order.

Other News to Note
May 20: Orlando Sentinel: We asked you: Are you pro-choice or pro-life?

May 19: WSJ: Obama Scored Big at Notre Dame

May 20: Citizen Link: ADF Takes Pro-Life License Plates to Supreme Court

May 20: LifeNews: Fourth Poll This Month Shows U.S. Public Opinion Trending Pro-Life on Abortion

May 20: The Progressive: The Abortion Terms Have Changed

May 20: The Sun (UK): The pill for blokes is a long way off

May 21: Science Daily: Couples To Rely On Male Contraceptive For New Trial

May 20: Jakarta Post: City to give free contraceptive treatment in health posts by 2010

May 20: National Review Online: Chris Matthews Hosts ‘Debate’ on Abortion

May 20: Springfield News-Leader: Birth control better than writer states

May 20: Catholic News Agency: Editor of Vatican newspaper says ‘Obama is not pro-abortion’

May 20: The Oregonian: Abortion still an issue for Republicans

May 19: Christian Science Monitor: Obama’s anger management on abortion

May 20: LifeNews: Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire Says State "Blessed" by Pro-Abortion Group

May 20: Kansas City Star: Reduce abortions, fund Planned Parenthood

News Politics

Anti-Choice Democrats: ‘Open The Big Tent’ for Us

Christine Grimaldi & Ally Boguhn

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America members repeatedly attempted to distance themselves from Republicans, reiterating their support for policies such as Medicaid expansion and paid maternity leave, which they believe could convince people to carry their pregnancies to term.

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Their strategy, however, could have been lifted directly from conservatives’ anti-choice playbook.

The group relies, in part, on data from Marist, a group associated with anti-choice polling, to suggest that many in the party side with them on abortion rights. Executive Director Kristen Day could not explain to Rewire why the group supports a 20-week abortion ban, while Janet Robert, president of the group’s board of directors, trotted out scientifically false claims about fetal pain

Day told Rewire that she is working with pro-choice Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both from New York, on paid maternity leave. Day said she met with DeLauro the day before the group’s event.

Day identifies with Democrats despite a platform that for the first time embraces the repeal of restrictions for federal funding of abortion care. 

“Those are my people,” she said.

Day claimed to have been “kicked out of the pro-life movement” for supporting the Affordable Care Act. She said Democrats for Life of America is “not opposed to contraception,” though the group filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases on contraception. 

Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.

Another alleged ally, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.

Citing his support for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana—which went into effect July 1—Edwards claimed he had run on an otherwise “progressive” platform except for when it came to abortion rights, adding that his policies demonstrate that “there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.”

Edwards later made clear that he was disappointed with news that Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose organization works to elect pro-choice women to office, was being considered to fill the position of party chair in light of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

“It wouldn’t” help elect anti-choice politicians to office, said Edwards when asked about it by a reporter. “I don’t want to be overly critical, I don’t know the person, I just know that the signal that would send to the country—and to Democrats such as myself—would just be another step in the opposite direction of being a big tent party [on abortion].” 

Edwards made no secret of his anti-choice viewpoints during his run for governor in 2015. While on the campaign trail, he released a 30-second ad highlighting his wife’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy after a doctor told the couple their daughter would have spina bifida.

He received a 100 percent rating from anti-choice organization Louisiana Right to Life while running for governor, based off a scorecard asking him questions such as, “Do you support the reversal of Roe v. Wade?”

Though the Democratic Party platform and nominee have voiced the party’s support for abortion rights, Edwards has forged ahead with signing numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation into law, including a ban on the commonly used dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, and an extension of the state’s abortion care waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

News Law and Policy

Three Crisis Pregnancy Centers Served for Breaking California Law

Nicole Knight Shine

The notices of violation issued this month mark the first time authorities anywhere in the state are enforcing the seven-month-old Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act.

The Los Angeles City Attorney is warning three area fake clinics, commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), that they’re breaking a new state reproductive disclosure law and could face fines of $500 if they don’t comply.

The notices of violation issued this month mark the first time authorities anywhere in the state are enforcing the seven-month-old Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act, advocates and the state Attorney General’s office indicate.

The office of City Attorney Mike Feuer served the notices on July 15 and July 18 to two unlicensed and one licensed clinic, a representative from the office told Rewire. The Los Angeles area facilities are Harbor Pregnancy Help Center, Los Angeles Pregnancy Services, and Pregnancy Counseling Center.

The law requires the state’s licensed pregnancy-related centers to display a brief statement with a number to call for access to free and low-cost birth control and abortion care, and for unlicensed centers to disclose that they are not medical facilities.

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“Our investigation revealed,” one of the letters from the city attorney warns, “that your facility failed to post the required onsite notice anywhere at your facility and that your facility failed to distribute the required notice either through a printed document or digitally.”

The centers have 30 days from the date of the letter to comply or face a $500 fine for an initial offense and $1,000 for subsequent violations.

“I think this is the first instance of a city attorney or any other authority enforcing the FACT Act, and we really admire City Attorney Mike Feuer for taking the lead,” Amy Everitt, state director of NARAL Pro-Choice California, told Rewire on Wednesday.

Feuer in May unveiled a campaign to crack down on violators, announcing that his office was “not going to wait” amid reports that some jurisdictions had chosen not to enforce the law while five separate court challenges brought by multiple fake clinics are pending.

Federal and state courts have denied requests to temporarily block the law, although appeals are pending before U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In April, Rebecca Plevin of the local NPR affiliate KPCC found that six of eight area fake clinics were defying the FACT Act.

Although firm numbers are hard to come by, around 25 fake clinics, or CPCs, operate in Los Angeles County, according to estimates from a representative of NARAL Pro-Choice California. There are upwards of 1,200 CPCs across the country, according to their own accounting.

Last week, Rewire paid visits to the three violators: Harbor Pregnancy Help Center, Los Angeles Pregnancy Services, and Pregnancy Counseling Center.

Christie Kwan, a nurse manager at Pregnancy Counseling Center, declined to discuss the clinic’s noncompliance, but described their opposition to the state law as a “First Amendment concern.”

All three centers referred questions to their legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an Arizona-based nonprofit and frequent defender of discriminatory “religious liberty” laws.

Matt Bowman, senior counsel with ADF, said in an email to Rewire that forcing faith-based clinics to “communicate messages or promote ideas they disagree with, especially on life-and-death issues like abortion,” violates their “core beliefs” and threatens their free speech rights.

“The First Amendment protects all Americans, including pro-life people, from being targeted by a government conspiring with pro-abortion activists,” Bowman said.

Rewire found that some clinics are following the law. Claris Health, which was contacted as part of Feuer’s enforcement campaign in May, includes the public notice with patient intake forms, where it’s translated into more than a dozen languages, CEO Talitha Phillips said in an email to Rewire.

Open Arms Pregnancy Center in the San Fernando Valley has posted the public notice in the waiting room.

“To us, it’s a non-issue,” Debi Harvey, the center’s executive director, told Rewire. “We don’t provide abortion, we’re an abortion-alternative organization, we’re very clear on that. But we educate on all options.”

Even so, reports of deceit by 91 percent of fake clinics surveyed by NARAL Pro-Choice California helped spur the passage of the FACT Act last October. Until recently, a person who Googled “abortion clinic” might be directed to a fake clinic, or CPC.

Oakland last week became the second U.S. city to ban false advertising by facilities that city leaders described as “fronts for anti-abortion activists.” San Francisco passed a similar ordinance in 2011.