Roundup: Abortion and Health Reform, Common Ground, Same Sex Adoption

Jodi Jacobson

Three themes repeated in today's news: abortion and health reform, reactions to the Ryan-DeLauro bill and calls for "common ground," and same sex adoption.

Three themes repeated in today’s news: abortion and health reform, reactions to the Ryan-DeLauro bill and calls for "common ground," and same sex adoption.

Abortion and health reform:

Is the President’s support for choice only rhetoric-deep? Bonnie Erbe argues it is in her post today at US News and World Report:

Rich and even middle-class women can always get [an abortion] from ob-gyn’s
or private hospitals that provide them. But poor women are denied
abortions by a combination of economics and the Christian right. Now,
our supposedly pro-choice president is signaling that federal funds for abortion is not the kind of issue over which he’s willing to wage a fight:

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In an interview with Katie Couric, the president said, "I’m
pro-choice, but I also think we have a tradition in this town,
historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded

Actually, President Obama
is about as pro-choice as he is anti-war, pro-environment, and
pro-women’s rights, which is to say, not so much or hardly at all when
it comes to action versus rhetoric.

Of course, as noted in Jonathan Allen’s column in CQ Politics, others, such as the National Right to Life Committee, want to prevent even private insurance companies from covering elective abortion, which would be a step backward as they already do today.

Ryan-DeLauro and Common Ground:

Bob Allen, reporting for Associated Baptist Press, writes that a number of religious leaders have lent their support to the revised and recently re-introduced Ryan-DeLauro bill.

More than three dozen faith leaders and organizations from across the
political spectrum announced support for the bill, which seeks to
redirect decades of debate away from abortion rights and toward the
reasons women have abortions.

"It emphasizes not the 10 percent of the issue, where we continue to
differ, but the 90 percent where we all agree," DeLauro said at a
Washington press conference announcing the bill July 23.

Supporters range from NARAL Pro-Choice America to Florida Pastor Joel Hunter, a one-time president-elect of the Christian Coalition.

Several Baptists submitted statements of support, including Frank Page,
former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who told the Associated Press he has concerns about the bill but that he tentatively supports it.

Same-sex Adoption: 

In the United Kingdom, according to BBC News, a pediatrician was asked to resign from a county council after voting against same-sex adoption.  The Northampshire County Council recently reinstated the doctor, though will prevent her from exercising voting rights on adoption issues.

Northamptonshire County Council said she can continue as a medical adviser.

But Dr Matthews will no longer be allowed to be a full voting member of the panel because of her views.  

Dr Matthews is a community paediatrician with more than 18 years’ experience advising parents and children in Northamptonshire.

She had worked on the adoption panel for five years, before she was removed from it earlier this month.

Matthews said: "As a Christian and a paediatrician I believe that
children do best with a mother and father in a committed, long-term

"Therefore, I cannot recommend a same-sex household to be in the best interest of a child."

At least one group has protested:

Andrea Minichiello Williams, from the Christian Legal Centre, has supported the 50-year-old in her fight to get her job back.

said: "It is entirely unsatisfactory that she is unable to remain a
panel member and vote on the adoption panel on cases where placement
with a heterosexual couple is the proposed outcome.

"We are
hoping the council will see further sense and allow Dr Matthews to
remain a voting panel member, giving advice on health matters but with
the freedom to abstain on the rare occasions where placement is
proposed with a same sex couple."

But according to a spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council:

We have told
Dr Matthews that the county council has no objection to her continuing
to provide medical advice to the adoption panel.

However we
have told Dr Matthews that she cannot continue to act as a full member
of the adoption panel with voting rights as she is not fulfilling the
full duties by refusing to vote on adoption issues regarding same sex

More links:

July 27: Slate: A Pro-Life Culture of Death

July 27: Herald-Mail: Anti-abortion rally attracts some, offends others

July 27: LA Times: Healthcare debate’s next hurdle: abortion,0,583114.story

July 27: Village Soup: Maine high court rules adult same sex adoption is valid

July 27: Your 4 State: Pro-Life Supporters Rally Across Four-State Region

July 27: Tulsa World: Kansas abortion killing has ties to earlier shooting

July 27: CQ Politics: Abortions for Federal Employees: National Right to Life Weighs In

July 27: Democrashield: WHAT COMMON GROUND?

July 27: Alliance Alert: Matt Bowman: “Should pro-lifers just care for women and stop trying to make abortion illegal?”

July 27: Commonweal: Rorschach test on abortion

July 27: Jezebel: How The Anti-Abortion Movement Demonized George Tiller

July 27: Choice USA: His Right to Choose…

July 27: U.S. News & World Report: Poll: Should the Public Healthcare Option Cover Abortion?

July 27: NYTimes: (Letter) Effective Contraception?

July 27: Opposing Views: Catholics Say "Let’s Defeat the DeLauro-Ryan Scam Bill!"

July 27: U.S. News & World Report: Is Obama’s Abortion-as-Distraction Remark a Bigger Threat to the Left or Right?

July 27: Associated Baptist Press: Religious leaders back common ground on abortion

July 27: Pro-Life Blogs: Reflections on the Term

July 24: LifeNews: Media Dismisses Concern of Taxpayer-Funded Abortions for Federal Employees

July 27: CQ Politics: Anti-Abortion Leader Stanek Offers Rebuttal

July 24: LifeNews: Number of Abortion Centers Nationwide Falling, Pro-Abortion Legal Group Says

July 24: LifeNews: Pro-Life Group Gives Florida Pro-Abortion Congressman Meek Sarcastic "Award"

July 27: U.S. News & World Report: Obama Abortion Backtrack Shows He’s All Rhetoric, No Fight

July 27: Vivian Paige: Deeds garners NARAL Pro-Choice VA endorsement

July 27: Guardian: Nicaragua’s ban on abortion ‘compels rape and incest victims to give birth’

July 27: BBC News: Same-sex adoption rebel to return

July 27: U.S. News & World Report: Obama: Why Government Shouldn’t Fund Abortion

July 27: Town Hall: Abortion Is Not Health Care

July 27: Christian NewsWire: Grassroots Initiative Calls for Clarification of Common Ground Through On-line Petition: Contraception, Root of Abortion



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

Purvi Patel Could Be Released From Jail by September

Jessica Mason Pieklo

In 2013, investigators charged Patel with both feticide and felony neglect of a dependent, based on the theory that Patel had self-induced an abortion and delivered a live infant, which then almost immediately died post-delivery.

The State of Indiana will not appeal a decision vacating the feticide conviction of Purvi Patel, the Granger woman who had previously faced 20 years in prison for what state attorneys described as an illegal self-induced abortion.

Patel was arrested in 2013 after she sought treatment at a hospital emergency room for heavy vaginal bleeding. While being examined by medical personnel, Patel told doctors she’d had a miscarriage and had disposed of the remains. Investigators located those remains and eventually charged Patel with both feticide and felony neglect of a dependent, based on the theory that Patel had self-induced an abortion and delivered a live infant, which then almost immediately died post-delivery. In February 2015, a jury convicted Patel of both counts.

But in July, the Indiana Court of Appeals vacated Patel’s feticide conviction, holding the statute was not designed to be used to criminally charge people for their own failed pregnancies. However, the court largely upheld Patel’s felony neglect of a dependent conviction, deferring to controversial medical testimony offered by the state that claimed Patel’s fetus was on the cusp of viability and had taken a breath outside her post-delivery.

Patel had initially been sentenced to serve a total of 20 years. But because attorneys for the state failed to appeal the July decision, she could be available for re-sentencing as soon as the court can schedule a hearing—which could mean a possible release as early as September, depending on her new sentence and credit for time served.

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