Roundup: Harrass-a-thon Begins at Clinics, But Never Limited to 40 Days

Rachel Larris

Access to reproductive health clinics may become a lot harder this month because yesterday began the annual anti-choice campaign "40 Days for Life" -- an intense harass-a-thon happening at clinics across the country.

Need a low-cost pap smear? Trying to get some affordable birth
control pills? Getting tested for an STI? Well getting into your local
reproductive healthcare clinic may suddenly become a lot harder because
protesters want to keep you away. Why would anyone want to stop a woman from
going to the doctor you might ask? Well yesterday began the annual anti-choice
campaign "40 Days for Life" — an intense harass-a-thon happening at reproductive healthcare clinics
across the country. And I do mean healthcare
clinics
, because let’s never forget that all of the above are just some of the healthcare services these
local clinics provide besides providing abortions.

There are some reports in the news media but not all that
many:

In Maryland:

Wearing
a button stating "I Regret Lost Fatherhood," Andy Haines said he and his wife,
Jaime, have both experienced the effect abortion can have on a person’s life.

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"We ourselves are both post-abortive," Haines said as the
kickoff rally for 40 Days For Life was getting under way Tuesday night at Faith
Christian Fellowship near Williamsport. He said he was involved in a
relationship that resulted in an abortion years ago and that Jaime had two.

In Naples,
California
:

Char Wendel, the Planned Parenthood
executive, says the protesters cause a disruption.

"We are trying to make services
accessible to people and the people on the sidewalk are choosing to set up a
barrier," said Wendel. "You’re coming in to get your health care…I think
the patients get angry, get frustrated, they don’t understand why its anyone’s
business that they’re coming in for services. And I think for staff, it
strengthens our commitment."

Also there is a brief report in St. Cloud,
Minnesota
. But so far, that’s it in terms of news coverage. For those who
want to provide support for women consider becoming a clinic escort in any of these cities.

Of course let’s not forget that harassment of women at
healthcare clinics isn’t ever regulated to only 40 days a year. Portland, Oregon’s
new clinic is attracting protesters right
from the get-go.

A member of a Romanian Assemblies
of God Church, he joined hundreds of others Sunday as Planned Parenthood held a
grand opening for a building where women will receive health care and get
abortions.

The opening, which included a dozen
Portland police and uniformed security guards, came almost three years after
pro-life groups began protesting a city-backed urban renewal proposal to allow
Planned Parenthood to move into the site at Northeast Martin Luther King
Boulevard and Beech Street. The movement, called Precious Children of Portland,
gained energy as it appealed to city leaders and then contractors in an attempt
to thwart construction. Vigils have taken place near the spot weekly and will
continue.

Of course sometimes the anti-choice activists’ actions don’t
stop at mere protests. Sometimes they up the ante to death threats, which as
Dr. George Tiller’s murder shows, aren’t always idle. Which is why when a man
called a Boulder doctor and threatened to harm his family
, it’s taken
rather seriously.

A man accused of
threatening the family of Boulder abortion doctor Warren Hern wants to go to
trial and fight the charges against him.

Donald Hertz was expected
to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Denver on Tuesday, but changed his
mind just before the hearing began.

Hertz, 70, is a retired
real estate broker and insurance salesman from Spokane, Wash.

He was indicted on two
counts: making a telephone threat to Hern’s office on June 23 and violating the
Free Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE).

Hern said the caller told
his staff that there were two Vietnam War veterans on the way from Spanish
Fork, Utah, to hurt Hern’s family.

Hern has said that his
family was terrified by the telephone threat, and that his elderly mother had
to be moved from her apartment in the middle of the night by federal agents.

Bonus item: In a Senate floor
debate in Missouri about a bill that would require women seeking abortions to
get an ultrasound, a Republican state senator asked the Planned Parenthood
lobbyist "Have
you had an abortion?"

 

February 17, 2010

The Abortion Battle Writ Large: Atlanta Billboard’s
Muddled Message
 Politics Daily

Virginia legislature approves pro-abortion license plate Catholic Culture

Bishop cuts ties to
hospital over birth control
KTVZ

 

February 16, 2010

At any time 350 Mesa County kids up
for adoption
 KKCO-TV

Teaching Safe Sex on TV New York Times

News Hounds’ Defense of Planned Parenthood The New
American

Finally, The Male "Pill"
Is THIS Close
 YourTango

Family planning: Financially, that
is
 Globe and Mail

Agency sets upbeat target for
population
 Jakarta Post

Government warns of baby boom Jakarta Post

Conservative, Pro-Life Leaders to Sign Mount Vernon Statement
of Principles
 LifeNews.com

British Pro-Life Group Chides BBC for Promoting Ray
Gosling Euthanasia Claim
 LifeNews.com

CBS says yes to pro life; no to gay dating Vermont Cynic

Obama Gives Planned Parenthood
Abortion President Frequent White House Access
 LifeNews.com

Pro-Life Billboards Highlight Eugenics The New American

Pro-life billboards in Georgia stir up
controversy
 Hot Air

Poll reveals contraceptive insecurity Austrian Times

1959
conviction still haunts gay man seeking work
Associated Press

Studies
Show Gardasil Could Help Older Women, Gay Men, Merck Says
Wall Street
Journal

‘IM
GAY’ Ruled a License Plate No-No, So Oklahoma Student Sues
Wall Street
Journal

Men to share responsibility with
women in contraception pills
 infocera

Baby born healthy after hospital advised abortion ABC Online

Senators urge educating abortion patients before procedure St. Louis Globe-Democrat

Anthony and abortion Berkshire Eagle

Black History Month: Addressing
Health Disparities
 Huffington Post

Document Reveals More Abortion, Sexual Abuse Violations at
Planned Parenthood
 LifeNews.com

Abortion-rights license plate approved WTOP

Man accused of threatening Boulder abortion provider wants a trial Denver Post

Protesters hold line after abortion clinic opens Catholic Sentinel

Rewriting History on Abortion Town Hall

Nevada Personhood Backers Appeal
Judge’s Ruling Abortion Amdt Too Broad
 LifeNews.com

Utah Man Pleads Guilty to Forced
Miscarriage, Gave Girlfriend Abortion Drug
 LifeNews.com

News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Legislator Confirms Vote on House Conscience Protections (Updated)

Christine Grimaldi

The Conscience Protection Act would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face supposed coercion to provide abortion care or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Act allows providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

UPDATE: July 14, 10 a.m.: The House passed the Conscience Protection Act Wednesday night in a largely party line 245-182 vote. Prior to floor consideration, House Republicans stripped the text of an unrelated Senate-passed bill (S. 304) and replaced it with the Conscience Protection Act. They likely did so to skip the Senate committee referral process, House Democratic aides told Rewire, expediting consideration across the capitol and, in theory, ushering a final bill to the president’s desk. President Barack Obama, however, would veto the Conscience Protection Act, according to a statement of administration policy.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next Wednesday on legislation that would allow a broadened swath of health-care providers to sue if they’re supposedly coerced into providing abortion care, or if they face discrimination for refusing to provide such care, according to a prominent anti-choice lawmaker.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) told Rewire in a Friday morning interview that House leadership confirmed a vote on the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 4828) for July 13, days before the chamber adjourns for the presidential nominating conventions and the August recess. Pitts said he expects the bill to be brought up as a standalone measure, rather than as an amendment to any of the spending bills that have seen Republican amendments attacking a range of reproductive health care and LGBTQ protections.

The office of U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had no immediate comment.

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Pitts’ remarks came during and after he hosted a “Forum on Conscience Protections” in the House Energy and Commerce Committee room to garner support for the bill.

Energy and Commerce Democrats boycotted the forum, a House Democratic aide told Rewire in a subsequent interview.

Legislation Builds on Precedent

Conscience protections are nothing new, the aide said. The latest iteration is a successor to the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (S. 1919/H.R. 940), which remains pending in the House and U.S. Senate. There’s also the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (S. 50) and similarly named bills in both chambers. The fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health, and Human Services funding bill, which guts Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants, includes the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

At the leadership level, Ryan’s recently released health-care plan mimics key provisions in the Conscience Protection Act. Both would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face alleged coercion or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Conscience Protection Act goes a step further, allowing providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

The proposals would also codify and expand the Weldon Amendment, named for former Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), who participated in Pitts’ conscience forum. The Weldon Amendment prohibits states that receive federal family planning funding from discriminating against health-care plans based on whether they cover abortion care. Currently, Congress must pass Weldon every year as an amendment to annual appropriations bills.

Administration Action Provides Impetus

There hadn’t been much public dialogue around conscience protections with the exception of some anti-choice groups that “have really been all over it,” the aide said. The National Right to Life issued an action alert, as did the Susan B. Anthony List, to galvanize support for the Conscience Protection Act.

The relative silence on the issue began to break after the Obama administration took a stand on abortion care in June.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights rejected anti-choice groups’ “right of conscience” complaint against California’s requirement that insurance plans must cover elective abortions under the definition of “basic health-care services.” Anti-choice groups had argued the California law violates the Weldon Amendment, but the administration found otherwise.

The California decision reinvigorated support for the Conscience Protection Act, the aide said. Ryan’s earlier health-care plan also specifically references the decision.

“We think this is going to be a big issue for us throughout the rest of this Congress,” the aide said.

Aide Outlines Additional Consequences

Beyond creating a private right of action and codifying Weldon, the Conscience Protection Act contains additional consequences for abortion care, the aide said.

The legislation would expand the definition of health-care providers to employers, social service organizations, and any other entity that offers insurance coverage, allowing them to raise objections under Weldon, the aide said. The aide characterized the change as a direct response to the California decision.

The legislation also broadens the list of objectionable services to include facilitating or making arrangements for abortion care, according to the aide.

The Republican-dominated House is likely to pass the Conscience Protection Act. But the aide did not expect it to advance in the Senate, which would all but certainly require a 60-vote threshold for such a controversial measure. More than anything, the aide said, the bill seems to be catering to anti-choice groups and long-time proponents of conscience clauses.

“The House oftentimes will pass these kinds of anti-choice proposals, and then they just go nowhere in the Senate,” the aide said.