Roundup: US Conference of Catholic Bishops Continue to Press for Denying Women Abortion Coverage

Jodi Jacobson

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to try to legislate Catholic theology as a governing principal of the American health care system, irrespective of public health evidence or the principals of separation of church and state.

Today, Rewire staff are attending day two of a Packard Foundation-sponsored social networking meeting.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to try to legislate Catholic theology as a governing principal of the American health care system, irrespective of public health evidence or the principals of separation of church and state.

The Catholic News Agency reports:

Officials with the U.S. bishops’ conference said that proposed
health care reform legislation remains “deeply flawed” on pro-life
issues, though they praised the bill for making health care more
affordable to at-risk families.

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The USCCB is disappointed that the Senate Finance Committee
rejected "pro-life" amendments proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah),
both of which, if passed, would have deeply discriminated against women in need of abortion care, by requiring, for example, that women buy "supplemental policies" to cover fundamental reproductive health needs.

“The bill remains deeply flawed on these issues and must be
corrected,” Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB’s
Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said in a statement.

At the same time, the USCCB praised efforts to allow coverage for illegal immigrants, an aspect of health reform that is also deeply politicized.  Apart from the human rights dimensions of denying some form of coverage to immigrants, leaving this population of vulnerable people out of the system also raises costs and threatens public health.

The Senate Finance Committee also defeated amendments which would
have placed additional restrictions on health care access for legal
immigrants and their families.

“Legal immigrants, who work hard and pay taxes, should be treated
equally with U.S. citizens,” stated Kevin Appleby, Director of
Migration Policy and Public Affairs for the USCCB. Appleby said it was
“counterproductive” for the public health system to leave immigrants
outside the system and thereby making them dependent upon emergency
care and unable to access preventive treatment.

Analysis of Pew Research Findings

Jodie Allen, former editor of the Washington Post Outlook Section and currently writing the Thomas Jefferson Blog at US News and World Report analyzes the recent findings from the Pew Research Center on public opinion regarding access to abortion. 


October 6th:

Michigan Liberal: Prevention Works and it costs less. There’s no better time to take action!

Feminists for Choice: Is Birth Control Changing My Sex Drive?

Health Behavior News: Combining Health, Contraceptive Education Reduces Teen Pregnancies

LifeSiteNews: Pope Reminds U.S. Ambassador Diaz to Uphold Dignity of All Human Life

Alliance Alert: Pro-life protest planned at Chicago City Hall over proposed abortion facility bubble zones

Optimum Population Blog: Fighting the ‘contraceptive mentality’

RenewAmerica: Attention all pro-life, free-speech advocates…

PR NewsWire: Abortion,
Pro-Life, Healthcare, and ‘Virtual Protests’; Randall Terry Admonishes
Pro-Life Leaders to ‘…Get Off Your Hind Ends and Do Something!’

Nashville Post: There Is A Price To Finding Common Ground On Abortion

Operation Rescue: Ambulance Rushes Third Planned Parenthood Abortion Patient To The Hospital

LifeSiteNews: McGill Student Union Threatens Pro-Life Club with Defunding for Hosting Event

U.S. News & World Report: Behind the Shifting Poll Numbers on Abortion

Pro-Choice Oklahoma: The Costs of Unsafe Abortion in Our World

Catholic News Agency: Health care legislation still ‘deeply flawed’ on pro-life concerns, U.S. bishops’ officials say

Ball State Daily News: Students for Life host anti-abortion speaker

Catholic Exchange: Casualties of Selfishness

Daily Princetonian: Societal ignorance and sexual bliss

ABC News: Bligh out of touch on abortion

Kennebec Journal: Church also would forbid birth control, divorce

October 5th:

The Woonsocket Call: Birth control surgery in jeopardy

News Sexual Health

State with Nation’s Highest Chlamydia Rate Enacts New Restrictions on Sex Ed

Nicole Knight Shine

By requiring sexual education instructors to be certified teachers, the Alaska legislature is targeting Planned Parenthood, which is the largest nonprofit provider of such educational services in the state.

Alaska is imposing a new hurdle on comprehensive sexual health education with a law restricting schools to only hiring certificated school teachers to teach or supervise sex ed classes.

The broad and controversial education bill, HB 156, became law Thursday night without the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican who switched his party affiliation to Independent in 2014. HB 156 requires school boards to vet and approve sex ed materials and instructors, making sex ed the “most scrutinized subject in the state,” according to reproductive health advocates.

Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers of Alaska’s legislature.

Championing the restrictions was state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla), who called sexuality a “new concept” during a Senate Education Committee meeting in April. Dunleavy added the restrictions to HB 156 after the failure of an earlier measure that barred abortion providers—meaning Planned Parenthood—from teaching sex ed.

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Dunleavy has long targeted Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest nonprofit provider of sexual health education, calling its instruction “indoctrination.”

Meanwhile, advocates argue that evidence-based health education is sorely needed in a state that reported 787.5 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 people in 2014—the nation’s highest rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Surveillance Survey for that year.

Alaska’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than the national average.

The governor in a statement described his decision as a “very close call.”

“Given that this bill will have a broad and wide-ranging effect on education statewide, I have decided to allow HB 156 to become law without my signature,” Walker said.

Teachers, parents, and advocates had urged Walker to veto HB 156. Alaska’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Amy Jo Meiners, took to Twitter following Walker’s announcement, writing, as reported by Juneau Empire, “This will cause such a burden on teachers [and] our partners in health education, including parents [and] health [professionals].”

An Anchorage parent and grandparent described her opposition to the bill in an op-ed, writing, “There is no doubt that HB 156 is designed to make it harder to access real sexual health education …. Although our state faces its largest budget crisis in history, certain members of the Legislature spent a lot of time worrying that teenagers are receiving information about their own bodies.”

Jessica Cler, Alaska public affairs manager with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, called Walker’s decision a “crushing blow for comprehensive and medically accurate sexual health education” in a statement.

She added that Walker’s “lack of action today has put the education of thousands of teens in Alaska at risk. This is designed to do one thing: Block students from accessing the sex education they need on safe sex and healthy relationships.”

The law follows the 2016 Legislative Round-up released this week by advocacy group Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The report found that 63 percent of bills this year sought to improve sex ed, but more than a quarter undermined student rights or the quality of instruction by various means, including “promoting misinformation and an anti-abortion agenda.”

News Law and Policy

Court Blocks North Carolina’s ‘Discriminatory’ Voter ID Law

Imani Gandy

“[T]he new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision," Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the court, describing the North Carolina GOP's voter ID law.

A unanimous panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s elections law, holding that the Republican-held legislature had enacted the law with discriminatory intent to burden Black voters and that it therefore violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The ruling marks the latest defeat of voter ID laws passed by GOP-majority legislatures across the country.

“We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” Circuit Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the court.

HB 589 required in-person voters to show certain types of photo ID beginning in 2016, and either curtailed or reduced registration and voting access tools that Black voters disproportionately used, including an early voting period. Black voters also disproportionately lack photo IDs.

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Republicans claimed that the law was intended to protect against voter fraud, which has proven exceedingly rare in Republican-led investigations. But voting rights advocates argue that the law was intended to disenfranchise Black and Latino voters.

The ruling marks a dramatic reversal of fortune for the U.S. Justice Department, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters, which had asked the Fourth Circuit to review a lower court ruling against them.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder in April ruled that plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that the law hindered Black voters’ ability to exercise political power.

The Fourth Circuit disagreed.

“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” Motz wrote. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

The Fourth Circuit noted that the Republican-dominated legislature passed the law in 2013, immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby v. Holder, which struck a key provision in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.

Section 4 is the coverage formula used to determine which states must get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice or the District Court for the District of Columbia before making any changes to election laws.

The day after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Shelby, the Republican chairman of the Senate Rules Committee announced the North Carolina legislature’s intention to enact an “omnibus” election law, the appeals court noted. Before enacting the law, however, the Republican-dominated legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices.

After receipt of the race data, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration, all of which disproportionately burdened Black voters.

“In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its actions, the State offered only meager justifications,” Motz continued. “[T]he new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The ruling comes a day after the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and one of the primary organizers of Moral Mondays, gave a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention that brought convention goers to their feet.

During a protest on the first day of the trial, Barber told a crowd of about 3,500 people, “this is our Selma.”