Roundup: Scott Roeder is Going to Trial

Amy Dempsey

Scott Roeder is Going to Trial; Abortion is Banned in Nicaragua; Florida Woman Promised Her Unborn Baby to Two Adoption Agencies

Scott Roeder is Going to Trial
At the end of Tuesday’s
hearing, a judge decided that there was enough evidence to try Scott
Roeder, an anti-abortion advocate who is accused of killing abortion
provider Dr. George Tiller. Roeder is charged with first-degree murder,
to which his lawyers entered a not-guilty plea, according to the New York Times.

family was not at the hearing, and neither were members of Operation
Rescue, an anti-abortion group whose national headquarters were moved
to Wichita, KS, which was also the home to Tiller’s clinic, the New York Times reported.

convicted, Roeder could serve a life sentence. Prosecuters say the case
does not meet Kansas’s requirements for the death penalty, which
include killing a law enforcement officer or killing multiple people,
according to the article.

is also charged with two counts of aggravated assault for threatening
two other men serving as ushers that day. One of the men was Gary
Hoepner, who had been talking with Tiller moments before he was shot.

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Hoepner said he followed Mr. Roeder outside toward the parking
lot, but stopped when the man turned and called out, "I’ve got a gun,
and I’ll shoot you." Mr. Martin ran after Mr. Roeder, too, he
testified, and at one point called out to him, "How could you do that?"
The man yelled back something, Mr. Martin said, like, "he was a
murderer" or "he was a killer."

the man reached his car, Mr. Martin was about 10 feet away, blocking
the car’s exit. Mr. Roeder yelled "Move!" Mr. Martin recalled, but he
stayed put. At that, Mr. Martin said, the man pulled out the gun,
pointed it at him, and said, ‘I’ll shoot you.’"


Abortion is Banned in Nicaragua

International called Nicaragua’s abortion ban a "cruel, inhuman
disgrace" and has led to increased maternal deaths, according to The ban includes prohibiting therapeutic abortion-terminating a pregnancy in protection of the mother’s health.

In the article,
Amnesty International’s Executive Deputy Secretary General Kate Gilmore

"Nicaragua’s ban on therapeutic abortion is a disgrace…It is a
human rights scandal that ridicules medical science
and distorts the law into a weapon against the provision of essential
medical care to pregnant girls and women."

Gilmore was part of the Amnesty group that went to Nicaragua to gather
accounts from Nicaraguan women and medical professionals, who receive
prison sentences for getting abortions or provide services linked to
abortions. CNN
reported that Amnesty concluded that doctors are nurses are afraid of
treating pregnant women or girls for illnesses like cancer, malaria
HIV/AIDS or cardiac emergencies, where treatments could injure the
fetus or cause death to the fetus.

Nicaragua is one of few countries worldwide where abortion is illegal
regardless of the circumstances. Other countries include Chile, El
Salvador, Malta, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic, according
to CNN.

Florida Woman Promised Her Unborn Baby to Two Adoption Agencies
In Orlando, FL, Latasha Harlee, 25, was sentenced to six months in jail
for offering her baby to two adoption agencies, and collecting $6,300
before telling the soon-to-be adoptive parents she changed her mind.
She also lied about her due date, according to The Associated Press.


July 28: The Independent: Pro-life zealot on trial over US murder of ‘hated’ doctor

July 28: Examiner: Review of Perspectives on Confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court

July 28: LifeNews: Oakland Still Wants to Stop Pro-Life Pastor Walter Hoye From Protesting Abortion

July 28: Tapestry Health: Early Coital Debut and Associated HIV Risk Factors Among Young Women and Men in South Africa

July 28: Politics Daily:Margaret Sanger: The Other Side of the Story

July 27: Truthout: These Denialogues Don’t Care if Their Own Children End Up With Syphilis

July 28: Tapestry Health: Role of Parents in Adolescent Sexual Activity And Contraceptive Use in Four African Countries

July 28: USA Today: Religious voices stake moral claims on health care reform 

July 28: Michigan Messenger:In health care debate, Stupak gives mixed signals on abortion funding

July 28: NYTimes: Witness Tells of Abortion Provider’s Last Moments

July 28: Moderate Voice: Keep Abortion Funding Out Of Health Reform 

July 28: Feministing: The cost of Nicaragua’s abortion ban

July 28: The Swamp: Healthcare hurdle: Abortion funding    

July 28: Pro-Life Blogs: FRC Action to Host Webcast on the Government Takeover of Health Care

July 28: Creative Minority Report: More Condoms Needed!

July 28: AP: Witness describes shooting of Kan. abortion doctor

July 28: Fort Wayne: Largest abortion provider should not continue to get federal funds  

July 28: LifeSiteNews: Pro-life Gov. Palin Resigns, Thanks Alaska in Farewell Address Sunday

July 28: Human Events: Sotomayor: Fundamental Right To Abortion, Not to Bear Arms  

July 28: CNN: Nicaragua abortion ban ‘cruel and inhuman disgrace’ 

July 28: Cleveland Plain Dealer: Catholic church touts its own natural plan for effective birth control: Healthy Cleveland 

July 28: Ethica: Fighting for "orphans" 

July 28: Experience Project: Trying to Outlaw This Is Ridiculous

28: Metro Catholic: Ribbon-cutting
ceremony moved inside after pro-life activists staged a public witness
during an appearance by the First Lady at a Virginia health clinic.

July 27: Catholic News Agency: Church does not approve of therapeutic abortion, reiterates diocesan official in Nicaragua

July 27: NRC Handelsblad: Dutch abortion boat to sail no more

July 28: STL Today: Stop taxpayer-funded abortion

July 28: AP: Woman promised baby to 2 adoption agencies

July 28: Human Events:Obamacare Pushes Abortion

July 27: Kansas City Star: Letters reveal evolving beliefs of man charged with killing George Tiller  

July 27: KAKE 10: Both Sides Of Abortion Issue Watching Roeder Case Closely   

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

Analysis Law and Policy

Indiana Court of Appeals Tosses Patel Feticide Conviction, Still Defers to Junk Science

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled patients cannot be prosecuted for self-inducing an abortion under the feticide statute, but left open the possibility other criminal charges could apply.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday vacated the feticide conviction of Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman who faced 20 years in prison for what state attorneys argued was a self-induced abortion. The good news is the court decided Patel and others in the state could not be charged and convicted for feticide after experiencing failed pregnancies. The bad news is that the court still deferred to junk science at trial that claimed Patel’s fetus was on the cusp of viability and had taken a breath outside the womb, and largely upheld Patel’s conviction of felony neglect of a dependent. This leaves the door open for similar prosecutions in the state in the future.

As Rewire previously reported, “In July 2013 … Purvi Patel sought treatment at a hospital emergency room for heavy vaginal bleeding, telling doctors she’d had a miscarriage. That set off a chain of events, which eventually led to a jury convicting Patel of one count of feticide and one count of felony neglect of a dependent in February 2015.”

To charge Patel with feticide under Indiana’s law, the state at trial was required to prove she “knowingly or intentionally” terminated her pregnancy “with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus.”

According to the Indiana Court of Appeals, attorneys for the State of Indiana failed to show the legislature had originally passed the feticide statute with the intention of criminally charging patients like Patel for terminating their own pregnancies. Patel’s case, the court said, marked an “abrupt departure” from the normal course of prosecutions under the statute.

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“This is the first case that we are aware of in which the State has used the feticide statute to prosecute a pregnant woman (or anyone else) for performing an illegal abortion, as that term is commonly understood,” the decision reads. “[T]he wording of the statute as a whole indicate[s] that the legislature intended for any criminal liability to be imposed on medical personnel, not on women who perform their own abortions,” the court continued.

“[W]e conclude that the legislature never intended the feticide statute to apply to pregnant women in the first place,” it said.

This is an important holding, because Patel was not actually the first woman Indiana prosecutors tried to jail for a failed pregnancy outcome. In 2011, state prosecutors brought an attempted feticide charge against Bei Bei Shuai, a pregnant Chinese woman suffering from depression who tried to commit suicide. She survived, but the fetus did not.

Shuai was held in prison for a year until a plea agreement was reached in her case.

The Indiana Court of Appeals did not throw out Patel’s conviction entirely, though. Instead, it vacated Patel’s second charge of Class A felony conviction of neglect of a dependent, ruling Patel should have been charged and convicted of a lower Class D felony. The court remanded the case back to the trial court with instructions to enter judgment against Patel for conviction of a Class D felony neglect of a dependent, and to re-sentence Patel accordingly to that drop in classification.

A Class D felony conviction in Indiana carries with it a sentence of six months to three years.

To support Patel’s second charge of felony neglect at trial, prosecutors needed to show that Patel took abortifacients; that she delivered a viable fetus; that said viable fetus was, in fact, born alive; and that Patel abandoned the fetus. According to the Indiana Court of Appeals, the state got close, but not all the way, to meeting this burden.

According to the Indiana Court of Appeals, the state had presented enough evidence to establish “that the baby took at least one breath and that its heart was beating after delivery and continued to beat until all of its blood had drained out of its body.”

Therefore, the Court of Appeals concluded, it was reasonable for the jury to infer that Patel knowingly neglected the fetus after delivery by failing to provide medical care after its birth. The remaining question, according to the court, was what degree of a felony Patel should have been charged with and convicted of.

That is where the State of Indiana fell short on its neglect of a dependent conviction, the court said. Attorneys had failed to sufficiently show that any medical care Patel could have provided would have resulted in the fetus surviving after birth. Without that evidence, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded, state attorneys could not support a Class A conviction. The evidence they presented, though, could support a Class D felony conviction, the court said.

In other words, the Indiana Court of Appeals told prosecutors in the state, make sure your medical experts offer more specific testimony next time you bring a charge like the one at issue in Patel’s case.

The decision is a mixed win for reproductive rights and justice advocates. The ruling from the court that the feticide statute cannot be used to prosecute patients for terminating their own pregnancy is an important victory, especially in a state that has sought not just to curb access to abortion, but to eradicate family planning and reproductive health services almost entirely. Friday’s decision made it clear to prosecutors that they cannot rely on the state’s feticide statute to punish patients who turn to desperate measures to end their pregnancies. This is a critical pushback against the full-scale erosion of reproductive rights and autonomy in the state.

But the fact remains that at both trial and appeal, the court and jury largely accepted the conclusions of the state’s medical experts that Patel delivered a live baby that, at least for a moment, was capable of survival outside the womb. And that is troubling. The state’s experts offered these conclusions, despite existing contradictions on key points of evidence such as the gestational age of the fetus—and thus if it was viable—and whether or not the fetus displayed evidence of life when it was born.

Patel’s attorneys tried, unsuccessfully, to rebut those conclusions. For example, the state’s medical expert used the “lung float test,” also known as the hydrostatic test, to conclude Patel’s fetus had taken a breath outside the womb. The test, developed in the 17th century, posits that if a fetus’ lungs are removed and placed in a container of liquid and the lungs float, it means the fetus drew at least one breath of air before dying. If the lungs sink, the theory holds, the fetus did not take a breath.

Not surprisingly, medical forensics has advanced since the 17th century, and medical researchers widely question the hydrostatic test’s reliability. Yet this is the only medical evidence the state presented of live birth.

Ultimately, the fact that the jury decided to accept the conclusions of the state’s experts over Patel’s is itself not shocking. Weighing the evidence and coming to a conclusion of guilt or innocence based on that evidence is what juries do. But it does suggest that when women of color are dragged before a court for a failed pregnancy, they will rarely, if ever, get the benefit of the doubt.

The jurors could have just as easily believed the evidence put forward by Patel’s attorneys that gestational age, and thus viability, was in doubt, but they didn’t. The jurors could have just as easily concluded the state’s medical testimony that the fetus took “at least one breath” was not sufficient to support convicting Patel of a felony and sending her to prison for 20 years. But they didn’t.

Why was the State of Indiana so intent on criminally prosecuting Patel, despite the many glaring weaknesses in the case against her? Why were the jurors so willing to take the State of Indiana’s word over Patel’s when presented with those weaknesses? And why did it take them less than five hours to convict her?

Patel was ordered in March to serve 20 years in prison for her conviction. Friday’s decision upends that; Patel now faces a sentence of six months to three years. She’s been in jail serving her 20 year sentence since February 2015 while her appeal moved forward. If there’s real justice in this case, Patel will be released immediately.