Roundup: Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Touts Pro-Choice Position

Emily Douglas

Democratic candidate for Virginia governor touts pro-choice position; how a public option really works; religious community supports health care reform.

Democratic Candidate for Virginia Governor Touts Pro-Choice Position
Abortion rights-related rhetoric is heating up in the Virginia gubernatorial race, reports the Washington Post. "Surrounded by female activists and lawmakers, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds
on Monday launched an assault on his opponent’s record of working to
restrict abortions, calling it evidence that the Republican has the
wrong priorities for the state."  The Post observes that Deeds’s
democratic predecessors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, did not elevate
abortion rights as an issue in their campaigns.  Deeds’s Republican
challenger, Robert F. McDonnell, initiated a number of abortion
restrictions while he was a delegate from Virginia Beach; reports the
Post, "While in the General Assembly, McDonnell successfully sponsored
bills
banning late-term abortions, requiring a 24-hour waiting period before
the procedure is performed and requiring that minors receive parental
permission for an abortion."

How a Public Option Really Works

The Des Moines Register offers a clear description of how a public option works, explaining that it would not necessarily cover abortion services:

First, a refresher on how the public option would work. As currently
crafted by Congress, imagine a pool of health-insurance plans
containing private plans, plus a public option. The public option would
be managed by the government. None of the benefits is directly funded
with tax dollars, in contrast with the way Medicare and Medicaid are
funded…

In terms of specifics of coverage:

So what will the plans cover? Current drafts of legislation outline
general guidelines for coverage. For example, plans could not
discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, but the
specific services covered are broadly defined. Plans must cover
emergency care, mental-health services, maternity care and prescription
drugs.

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But the legislation does not require coverage for specific procedures — including abortion.

According
to House legislation, plans in the pool — including the public plan —
will have to meet benefit standards to be determined by a committee
chaired by the U.S. surgeon general. Also on the committee would be
private members appointed by the president and representatives from
federal agencies. Obviously, details have not yet been determined, so
there is no way of knowing whether or not abortion will be covered.


"40 Days for Health Care Reform": Religious Community Supports Health Care Reform

ABC News
reports on a planned "40 Days for Health Reform" conference call held
by the pro-reform religious community, which President Obama will
join.  The calls’ speakers are making it clear that they do not want
funding for abortion to become a stumbling block for reform.  "The key
thing is we don’t want abortion to enter this debate and
sabotage health care reform," said the Rev. Jim Wallis. "Neither side
should try to win
political gains on abortion during the health care debate."

Reuters adds,

"I think that the Democrats were surprised by the strength of the
religious right and the insurance companies and those opposed to
healthcare reform when they got their grass roots efforts going," said
Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in
Dallas.

"So it took awhile for the Religious Left to get their national
campaign going and we’ll see whether or not it has the same emotion and
intensity," he said.

Other News to Note

August 10: Feminists for Choice: The Ethical Debate Behind Abortion

August 10: Creative Minority Report: Gov’t: Catholic College MUST Cover Contraception

August 11: Denver Daily News: NARAL: Address unintended pregnancies

August 11: Trib Today: Ryan: Fewer abortions with law

August 10: Suzy B: Planned Parenthood of Spokane, WA Fined $700,000

August 10: Politics Daily: Euthanasia and Health Care Reform: What is the Truth?

August 11: My SA News: Longoria meets pro-choice resistance

August 11: Express India: Docs sound alarm as pill becomes the preferred contraceptive among girls

August 10: Feminists for Choice: Why I’m a Clinic Escort

August 10: Baptist Press: Obama silent about provisions for abortion

August 10: Feministe: Abortion and Health Care: Is there common ground?

August 9: District Chronicles: All sides weigh in on the pregnancy prevention bill

August 11: Canberra Times: Greater access to abortion drug

August 10: Miami Herald: Kansas eliminates state funding for abortion alternatives

August 10: Optimum Population Blog: Not just pills and condoms

August 10: LifeNews: New Petition Launched to Stop Leroy Carhart Late-Term Abortion Center in Kansas

August 10: Live Mint: No sex education please, we’re Indians

August 10: HuffPo: Why Indie Voters Don’t Make California Purple

News Law and Policy

Wisconsin GOP’s Voter Restriction Law Suffers Another Legal Blow

Imani Gandy

In blocking many of Wisconsin's elections restrictions, the lower court ruled that the state must reform how it deals with voters who have difficulty obtaining the required photo ID to vote.

A federal appeals court yesterday refused to stay a lower court order blocking several Wisconsin voting restrictions, allowing election officials to move forward with early voting in the state next month.

Attorneys on behalf of the state of Wisconsin filed the request for a stay with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court judge last month issued an injunction that blocked parts of Wisconsin’s sweepings elections laws.

The lower court ruled that the justification for the laws did not justify the burden on voting rights that they impose. And this week a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit declined to stay that ruling, without explaining.

The ruling comes days after elections officials in Madison and Milwaukee announced their intention to kick off early voting in late September, a month earlier than would have been allowed had the lower court not struck down the restrictions on early voting, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

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The Republican-backed elections law created state-imposed limitations on the time and location for in-person absentee voting, a provision requiring absentee ballots be sent by mail instead of fax or email, the requirement that dorm lists—a certified list provided by the university of the students living in college housing, which student voters may use as proof of residence—must include citizenship information, a ban on using expired but otherwise qualifying student IDs to establish proof of residency, and a 28-day durational residency requirement.

In blocking many of Wisconsin’s elections restrictions, the lower court ruled that the state must reform how it deals with voters who have difficulty obtaining the required photo ID to vote. Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the GOP-controlled Wisconsin legislature had implemented a system under which people who don’t have birth certificates or who have problems with gathering documentation needed to obtain the proper identification would still be able to vote.

The lower court noted that the Walker administration’s system did not provide a viable long-term solution for those voters who could not obtain their birth certificates because they were destroyed in fires or misplaced by bureaucrats.

The court later stayed that portion of the ruling, stating that the system created by Walker’s administration—which provides people with temporary voting credentials while they await a decision about whether they qualify for an ID—was sufficient to allow people to vote during the upcoming November election and therefore does not need to be immediately reformed.

The ruling comes on the heels of a ruling in another voting rights case in Wisconsin, Frank v. Walker, about the state’s voter ID law. In that case, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit stayed a ruling that would have permitted anyone eligible to vote in Wisconsin to an accommodation that would permit that voter to cast a ballot after signing an affidavit stating that they could not easily obtain an ID.

News Law and Policy

Anti-Choice Group: End Clinic ‘Bubble Zones’ for Chicago Abortion Patients

Michelle D. Anderson

Chicago officials in October 2009 passed the "bubble zone" ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support.

An anti-choice group has announced plans to file a lawsuit and launch a public protest over Chicago’s nearly seven-year-old “bubble zone” ordinance for patients seeking care at local abortion clinics.

The Pro-Life Action League, an anti-choice group based in Chicago, announced on its website that its lawyers at the Thomas More Society would file the lawsuit this week.

City officials in October 2009 passed the ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support. The law makes it illegal to come within eight feet of someone walking toward an abortion clinic once that person is within 50 feet of the entrance, if the person did not give their consent.

Those found violating the ordinance could be fined up to $500.

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Harassment of people seeking abortion care has been well documented. A 2013 survey from the National Abortion Federation found that 92 percent of providers had a patient entering their facility express personal safety concerns.

The ordinance targets people seeking to pass a leaflet or handbill or engaging in “oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person in the public way.” The regulation bans the use of force, threat of force and physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere any person entering or leaving any hospital, medical clinic or health-care facility.

The Pro-Life Action League lamented on its website that the law makes it difficult for anti-choice sidewalk counselors “to reach abortion-bound mothers.” The group suggested that lawmakers created the ordinance to create confusion and that police have repeatedly violated counselors’ First Amendment rights.

“Chicago police have been misapplying it from Day One, and it’s caused endless problems for our faithful sidewalk counselors,” the group said.

The League said it would protest and hold a press conference outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.

Julie Lynn, a Planned Parenthood of Illinois spokesperson, told Rewire in an email that the health-care provider is preparing for the protest.

“We plan to have volunteer escorts at the health center to make sure all patients have safe access to the entrance,” Lynn said.

The anti-choice group has suggested that its lawsuit would be successful because of a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a similar law in Massachusetts unconstitutional.

Pam Sutherland, vice president of public policy and education for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune back then that the health-care provider expected the city’s bubble zone to be challenged following the 2014 decision.

But in an effort to avoid legal challenges, Chicago city officials had based its bubble zone law on a Colorado law that created an eight-foot no-approach zone within 100 feet of all health-care facilities, according to the Tribune. Sidewalk counselor Leila Hill and others challenged that Colorado law, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it in 2000.

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