Roundup: Nebraska Considers Ending “Mental Health” Screening Legal Challenge

Robin Marty

Nebraska reevaluates whether fighting for "mental health" screenings before an abortion is worth the money, and a really, really long waiting period in New Zealand.

Considering the effort that anti-choice groups put into crafting various laws this year that could all take different tactics towards legally assaulting Roe v. Wade, you would think that there’s some serious disappointment in the anti-abortion community over the idea that Nebraska may not continue legally fighting for their new mental health screening rule.  However, the balance between ideology and fiscal responsibility may end up putting the law on the shelf permanently.

From News 5:

Is defending a new Nebraska abortion law worth an expected lengthy and costly legal battle? That is what Attorney General Jon Bruning is considering.

Bruning said he will not exhaust all legal options to support the Nebraska law.

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He said he is considering whether it is worth the time and expense through what could be a lengthy appeals process.

Both sides of the abortion debate agree that further legal wrangling over the law as it is written now is an exercise in futility.  Via the Omaha World Herald:

It might be more prudent to go back to the Legislature, he said, than to appeal a federal judge’s ruling from last week.

“I haven’t made any decision on appeal,” Bruning said. “I’m just trying to decide how to allocate precious state resources.”

He has until the end of the day Monday to decide.

Greg Schleppenbach, a lobbyist for the Nebraska Catholic Conference, which pushed for LB 594, said he has not talked with Bruning.

But he took no issue with Bruning’s hesitation about continuing the court battle.

“Anybody would be a fool to just plow ahead and ignore the direction this case could go,”

Schleppenbach said. “I’d rather go down a path that gets this into law and passes judicial scrutiny.”

The goal is to ensure that women get proper screening and information before going through with an abortion, not to challenge existing abortion laws, Schleppenbach said.

Jill June, president and CEO of the Des Moines-based Planned Parenthood, said dropping the state’s case would be a responsible move.

“It would be a prudent thing to do to conserve his resources and not throw good money after bad,” she said.

One additional benefit that pro-choice advocates may see from this is the lack of copy-cat legislation in other states, according to the Yankton Press:

“Given what the judge has ruled and what the attorney general says, it will certainly chill the prospects of this being adopted by other states,” said Jill June, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. She called Bruning’s consideration of whether or not to appeal a possible ruling striking the law, should such a ruling be made, the responsible thing to do.

Greg Schleppenbach of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, the main lobbyist for the bill, said it came from the Elliot Conference, an Illinois-based group that opposes abortion and crafted the model legislation for any state to use.

The Elliot Institute is the home of Dr. David Reardon, the king of alleged “mental impact of abortion” studies, who has claimed among other things that “Abortion only adds to and accentuates the traumatic feelings associated with sexual assault,” and that “Pregnancy resulting from sexual assault is actually a contraindication for abortion.” 

Mini Roundup: Think our rising multitude of 24 hour waiting periods are bad?  At least we aren’t New Zealand, where women are being forced to wait nearly a month for an abortion.  Then again, the two doctor sign off probably still doesn’t require as much paperwork as this writer’s plan for reducing abortions.

July 23, 2010

Debate over legalising abortion intensifies in Argentina – BBC News

Majority Of Calif. Voters Support Abortion Rights, Poll Finds – Medical News Today

Did Pro-Lifers Err in Their Assertions of ObamaCare Abortion Funding? – The New American

New Zealand Clinics Made Women Wait to Get Abortions Done – TopNews United States

Neb. abortion law may not get full legal fight – KTIV

Personhood Colorado Announces Press Conference with Dr. Alan Keyes to Release … – Christian News Wire

GHANA: Ignorance on abortion law means death –

Both sides of abortion issue at clinic – Charlotte Observer

California Pro-Life Group Disputes Results of Field Poll Showing Abortion Support –

Senate Republican Leadership Now Unanimously Opposes Pro-Abortion Kagan –

House Members Slam Obama Admin’s Promise to Not Fund Abortion in Health Care –

Bruning: Abortion law flawed – Omaha World-Herald

GOP candidates for GA gov clash on abortion, taxes – Washington Examiner

Gov. Christie vetoes bill restoring $7.5M grant for family planning – The Star-Ledger –

Will Abortion Loopholes Stay in US Health Law? – Confirms: Obamacare Dollars Were Set to Fund Abortions before … – Lifesite

HHS Moves to Block Abortion Funding in High-Risk Pools Following Controversy – Lifesite

Feeling Cheap After Buying Obama’s Abortion BS – ColorLines magazine

Bruning reconsiders defending new abortion law – KHAS-TV

‘Friday Night Lights’ Watch: Private Meets Public – New York Times

Anti-abortion rally launches “Pro-Life Freedom Ride” –

Abortion, taxes are issues in House District 29 primary – Kansas City Star

Christians examine morality of birth control –

Survey finds England’s teenage pregnancy rate the highest in Western Europe –

Advocates raise concerns over prosecuting HIV-positive people – Montreal Gazette

AIDS 2010: Obama, Clinton Vow US Support To Global Fight Against HIV/AIDS – Kaiser Family Foundation

New fronts in AIDS war, but funding foe is back – AFP

AIDS Conference Wraps Up in Vienna – Voice of America

July 24, 2010

Fiorina would ordinarily be a long shot in California – Los Angeles Times

The New Abortion Pushers – Human Events

Rep. Chris Smith to Introduce “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” – Lifesite

On ‘Friday Night Lights,’ a brave and honest abortion story – Washington Post

Christie in veto wars over abortion, real estate –

Two Candidates for Governor clash on abortion –

Freedom Ride Tactics to Protest Abortion – FOXNews

HIV cases double among the over-50s – The Guardian

In US cities, HIV linked more to poverty than race – Foster’s Daily Democrat

Maternal, infant mortality rates remain high in sub- Saharan Africa  – Xinhua

Vaginal birth after Caesarean OK for most women, doctors say – Los Angeles Times

July 25, 2010

Abortion fight takes new turn under Obamacare –

Some may lose help – County health coverage may limit abortions – Winston-Salem Journal

Neb. Abortion Law May Be Reworked – Yankton Daily Press

I guess you can’t tell them what to spend that public money on, right? – Hartford Courant

Court Under Roberts Is Most Conservative in Decades – Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Marino is critical of Carney on fund issues – Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

Abortion eliminated, my way – Spartanburg Herald Journal

Friday Night Lights – Emily Bazelon, David Plotz, and Hanna Rosin – Slate Magazine – Slate Magazine

Abortion divides Ga. GOP gubernatorial rivals – Macon Telegraph

Conservative Leaders Sound Off Against Kenya’s ‘Pro-Abortion’ Constitution– Christian Post

Trial begins on alleged extortion of Pitino – Globe and Mail

Confusion Over Taxpayer-Funded Abortions? Check Your Sources! – Health

Family Planning welcomes contraceptive funding – New Zealand Doctor Online

Christians Examine Morality Of Birth Control – Huffington Post

CBCP Official Urges Aquino to Clarify Stance on RH Bill – Vox Bikol

US still has a problem with HIV: US NIAID director – Xinhua

Sharp focus on maternal health – East African

July 26, 2010

Abortion foes lend support to Cahill – Boston Globe

Abortions: Should the father have some say? – Helium

CBCP urges Aquino to drop sex ed program, RH bill – GMA

HIV Vaginal Gel Successful in Deterring HIV Spread – HULIQ

HIV preventative effect too small to justify circumcision, claims new study – Science a Gogo

The rising rate of Caesarian sections by Atty. Rita Linda V. Jimeno – Manila Standard Today

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

Iowa GOP Legislator: Ending Legal Abortion ‘Impossible’ Without ‘Personhood’ Laws

Teddy Wilson

GOP-backed "personhood" laws have been an unmitigated failure. Voters in state after state have rejected by wide margins personhood ballot initiatives, and personhood bills have failed to gain traction in many legislatures.

An Iowa Republican plans to introduce a measure defining life as beginning at conception in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down an anti-choice Texas law, which has limited states’ ability to restrict abortion care access.

State Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) told IowaWatch that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt proves that the anti-choice movement’s attack on abortion rights is not working.

“The Supreme Court decision reinforced that incrementally ending abortion is impossible,” Schultz said. “You either have it or you don’t.”

So-called personhood laws seek to classify fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses as people, and to grant them full legal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

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GOP-backed “personhood” laws have been an unmitigated failure. Voters in state after state have rejected by wide margins personhood ballot initiatives, and personhood bills have failed to gain traction in many legislatures.

Personhood bills were introduced this year by Republican lawmakers in Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, and Rhode Island.

Rachel Lopez, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told IowaWatch that personhood measures are routinely introduced in Iowa but have failed to gain traction in the GOP-dominated legislature.

“Although we have not yet seen the details of this impending effort, we are confident that it also will fail to advance,” Lopez said. “Personhood bills are a waste of both time and taxpayer dollars, as they have failed time and again in Iowa and other states.”

Iowa lawmakers this year introduced SJR 2001, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution specifying that the document does not secure or protect a fundamental right to abortion care.

SJR 2001 was referred to the senate rules and administration committee, but never received a hearing or a vote.

Schultz, who was elected to the state senate in 2014 after serving in the house, has sponsored or co-sponsored several anti-choice bills while in the state legislature, including personhood measures.

SF 478, sponsored by Schultz during the 2015 legislative session, would have defined “person” when referring to the victim of a murder, to mean “an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death.”

Mark Kende, director of Drake University’s Constitutional Law Center, told IowaWatch that Schultz’s proposal would not survive in the courts.

“He can try to pass that legislation but it certainly wouldn’t trump the federal Constitution,” Kende said. “Even if that language got into the state constitution it can’t defy three Supreme Court decisions in the last 40 years.”

Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told IowaWatch that he could not support Schultz’s proposal.

“I’m pro-life and I want to do what I can to encourage things that can protect the lives of unborn children,” Branstad said. “Yet I also recognize that we have to live with the restrictions that have been placed on the states by the courts.”

Branstad signed many of the state’s laws restricting abortion access that came up during the latter part of his first term as governor.