Roundup: CPCs on the Defensive

Beth Saunders

NARAL has crisis pregnancy centers in California running scared as Baltimore defends its posting requirements for CPCs. And in Utah, young women forget how to eat and seek medical care once they leave home, so they made a website.

NARAL Pro-Choice California has crisis pregnancy centers in a panic over their call for legislation to require the anti-abortion “clinics” to post a sign stating that they do not refer for abortion or birth control.  

“NARAL is really putting pressure” on the crisis pregnancy centers, said Carol Hogan, California Catholic Conference spokeswoman.

LifeNews.com (inadvertently?) makes an excellent case as to why the legislation should pass:

The cover letter to NARAL’s report on the centers, “Unmasking Fake Clinics: The Truth About Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California,” notes that 41 percent of California counties do not have an abortion provider while 91 percent of California counties have at least one crisis pregnancy center.

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“Our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and friends are at risk of unknowingly turning to one of these centers seeking honest and accurate information,” Amy Everitt, NARAL Pro-Choice California state director, said in the letter. “Misleading women, especially those struggling with difficult decisions, is unacceptable.”

Ironically, Vicki Evans, respect life coordinator in the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, says:

“NARAL’s use of ideology to trump science and medicine is bad enough, but its attempt to pass laws silencing those with opposing views is more alarming,” she said.

Wait a second, “ideology trumping science?” And defending “free speech?” Welcome to an alternate universe, where up is down, wet is dry, and cats and dogs are living together!

Meanwhile, in Baltimore, city officials are defending their notification requirements for crisis pregnancy centers in federal court. Last November, the city passed an ordinance the centers to post disclaimers that they do not provide or refer for abortion or birth control. The archdiocese then sued. The Baltimore Sun reports,

Attorneys from the city defended the law during the three-hour hearing, arguing that the signs protect expectant mothers who are seeking pregnancy information from being misled upon entering centers that oppose abortion.

Lawyers for the archdiocese argued that church counselors shouldn’t be forced to talk about procedures they disagree with, because any mention of abortion goes against what the church believes. Attorney David Kinkopf said the church was being targeted because of specific services it does not recognize as options, while other organizations were not mandated to offer alternative services, such as adoption.

But one of the arguments from the church is that they really DO provide birth control:

Sean Caine, Communications Director of the Archdiocese, says the law forces centers to say they don’t provide birth control, when they actually do.

“They provide education on abstinence,” says Caine. “They also provide information about natural family planning, which are both medically recognized as forms of birth control.”

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis is expected to make a ruling in a few months, but he said that “he believes people should know what services pregnancy centers offer and compared the law to the recently passed national legislation requiring credit companies to disclose interest information on long-term minimum payment plans.”

Mini-Roundup: The state of Utah has created a new website for young women’s health, that among other things, tells pre-pregnant women that “smart gals know when to take their vitamins.” Also, alcohol makes you ugly. Tell us, spokesperson, why is such a site necessary?

Many young women, “having relied on their mothers all their lives for maintaining health checkups and eating correctly, they leave home and they’re struggling with being able to assume that responsibility for themselves,” said Lois Bloebaum, who oversees the health department’s Maternal & Infant Health Program.

Our link issue is mostly squared away. Thank you for your patience!

August 4 and 5

Let’s have more nuanced debate on Kenya’s proposed constitution – The Guardian

Women’s groups to Congress: Allow ‘safe and legal abortion’ – GMA news.tv

Teaching our children about the ‘S’ word – The Express Tribune (blog)

Abortion ‘common among teenagers’ – Daily Nation

Keep the faith, Ms. Rice – change the venue – Washington Post (blog

‘Trust Women’ License Place Moves to Production Phase – Sun Gazette

GOP Senate candidate: No abortion in cases of rape or incest – Washington Post (blog)

Rights Group Denounces Illegality of Abortion in Philippines – New York Times

Watchdog rejects abortion ad complaints – Netdoctor

Archdiocese Of Baltimore Sues City Over Pro-Life Abortion Centers – WAMU

Arguments over city pregnancy center law heard in court – Baltimore Sun

Vote in Kenya: Why U.S. Abortion Debate has Become a Factor – ABC News

Elena Kagan twisted abortion statement – Chicago Daily Herald

Charges Dropped Against Man Arrested While Praying Outside Chicago Abortion Clinic – FOXNews

Marino questions Carney’s abortion stand – Wilkes Barre Times-Leader

No apologies for being consistently pro-life – Washington Post (blog)

Free condom plan for students – Herald Sun

Sanjay legacy hurts family planning drive – India Today

NJ Effort To Override Cuts To Family Planning Fades; Ill. Faces Budget Cuts To … – Kaiser Health News

HIV-positive woman again charged with prostitution – Salt Lake Tribune

Texas: Thousands Treated to Free Concert for Knowing Their HIV/AIDS Status – TheBody.com

AIDS activists stage mock funeral in front of Pelosi’s house (VIDEO) – San Francisco Chronicle (blog)

South Carolina Prison Chief: Lawsuit Coming Over HIV Inmates – TheBody.com

AIDS 2010 for Dummies: An Entertaining Review – TheBody.com

China’s Prostitutes Rally For Legalization – Huffington Post (blog)

Into the Breach, Clad in Adolfo – New York Times

January Jones “Sucks It Up” for Emmy – ABC News

Woman shackled during labor ordered deported – Knoxville News Sentinel

Childbirth: Respiratory Distress in Premature Infants – New York Times

Watch Tower: A boon to new born life – Central Chronicle

Pitt County Hosts 2010 World Breastfeeding Celebration – WNCT

Working Moms Are Fine for Kids – New York Times (blog)

Tracing the Roots of Obesity Back to the Womb – TIME

AG to rule on Planned Parenthood funding question – News 8 Austin

Forsyth employees left guessing on abortion coverage – The Progressive Pulse (blog)

New measure allows licensed midwives to work independently – Glens Falls Post-Star

‘Crunchy Moms’ turn to Mother Earth – Dekalb Daily Chronicle

California pro-life pregnancy centers fight moves to regulate speech – The Catholic Review

IVF treatment: regulate, then fertilize – Globe and Mail

State aims to improve women’s reproductive health before pregnancy – Salt Lake Tribune

Program targets younger sisters of teen moms – Longmont Daily Times-Call

MTV reality star sisters to speak at teen summit – The News Journal

Sarah Palin’s daughter to speak at Sept. 28 Right to Life event in Visalia – Visalia Times-Delta

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.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

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“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.