Politics

Basic Equality for Women–Denied

JAC

The old saw that all politics is local is gaining traction as state legislators pass law after law violating women’s constitutional rights to privacy and reproductive choice.

The old saw that all politics is local is gaining traction as state legislators pass law after law violating women’s constitutional rights to privacy and reproductive choice. According to a recent article in AlterNet, 916 new restrictive laws were introduced by state legislators in the first quarter of 2011. The laws are the most creative, restrictive laws passed since Roe vs Wade became law of the land. 

The common core is:

  • The Gestational limits on abortion– they have plucked 20 weeks as the standard though viability is not assured at that time.
  • Wait time – often women are subjected to (often medically inaccurate) propaganda by religious zealots while required to wait for their procedure.
  • Mandatory ultrasounds
  • Curtailing insurance coverage in state exchanges
  • Mandatory visits to crisis pregnancy centers

The common denominator is to render abortion impossible. The goal is to render women powerless.

The reverberations from Nebraska’s 20 weeks limit on abortion were felt when Danielle Deaver was forced to continue a pregnancy with a nonviable fetus. Her family had to suffer watching their baby die.  When lawmakers subvert both a legal procedure and medical science, it is time for them to leave the legislatures. Medical privacy and medical conditions are rights that are guaranteed to women as well as men. Similar scenarios can be expected to occur as more women have medical problems beyond 20 weeks.

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South Dakota has the unique distinction of introducing and passing the most restrictive laws regarding wait time and pregnancy crisis centers.  Beginning in July, a woman must wait 72 hours after consulting with a physician about an abortion. She also has to visit a registered pregnancy crisis center and listen to these volunteer, non-certified, non-medical personnel give incorrect information about abortions.  These clinics are not subject to privacy laws so a woman’s medical record is no longer private.  She also has to be read a statement written by the legislators about abortion.

Abortion is difficult enough without these new laws. There is one clinic in the state that has an abortion provider flown in once a week. How the women are to meet with the provider, wait 72 hours, meet with the pregnancy crisis center and have the procedure in a timely fashion has not been worked out.  Most of the women are financially unable to pay for hotels or childcare so this is an undue financial burden.  Additionally, the pregnancy crisis centers have not signed on to participate in this new program, so it is unclear if the women will be denied abortions because no centers are involved. Could this be any worse?  This is a state where voters have twice voted not to ban abortion, but the legislature believes it knows better.

The ultrasound ploy is a favorite of many states. Women are forced to undergo a procedure that they do not want, and which is many times not medically necessary. Depending on the state, they must either watch the ultrasound or listen to a graphic description.  Women, many of whom have limited funds, must also pay for this state-mandated procedure. Isn’t there an argument by conservatives about mandatory payments? Hmmm, just not for women when they have abortions.

Insurance is the latest weapon in the war on women’s health in both the states and the federal government. In the US House, HR 3 passed with unanimous consent of the Republicans. This bill would tax insurance plans that cover abortions. It would tax health credits. It would tax people who use them. It would allow the IRS to audit a woman’s abortion. This is all from the no tax, no government in private affairs folks. They will not tax oil companies, but women’s health is fair game.

In the states there is an attempt to restrict abortion coverage in state exchanges. The degree varies but 23 states have already considered such legislation.

While all these laws are aimed at overturning Roe vs Wade, there is the additional attack on the born children. Programs for nutritional programs and child health care are being slashed. Contraception is no longer covered by some states. How does this promote a culture of life?

The Republican-controlled House is railing against the deficit and slashing social programs while refusing to raise taxes.  But its microfocus is on depriving women of their basic equality – the right to privacy, the right to control their own lives and the right to make their own decisions without help from the government.  Contribute your energy and money to electing pro-choice legislators.  The attacks will continue until women mobilize in town halls, in voting booths and in the halls of Congress.

Gail Yamner

JAC President

originally posted at JACblog!

Do you know what abortion laws your state has passed since May 2009?

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

News Abortion

Parental Notification Law Struck Down in Alaska

Michelle D. Anderson

"The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions," said Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm."

The Alaska Supreme Court has struck down a state law requiring physicians to give the parents, guardians, or custodians of teenage minors a two-day notice before performing an abortion.

The court ruled that the parental notification law, which applies to teenagers younger than 18, violated the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and could not be enforced.

The ruling stems from an Anchorage Superior Court decision that involved the case of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and physicians Dr. Jan Whitefield and Dr. Susan Lemagie against the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors.

In the lower court ruling, a judge denied Planned Parenthood’s requested preliminary injunction against the law as a whole and went on to uphold the majority of the notification law.

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Planned Parenthood and the physicians had appealed that superior court ruling and asked for a reversal on both equal protection and privacy grounds.

Meanwhile, the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors appealed the court’s decision to strike some of its provisions and the court’s ruling.

The notification law came about after an initiative approved by voters in August 2010. The law applied to “unemancipated, unmarried minors” younger than 18 seeking to terminate a pregnancy and only makes exceptions in documented cases of abuse and medical emergencies, such as one in which the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Justice Daniel E. Winfree wrote in the majority opinion that the anti-choice law created “considerable tension between a minor’s fundamental privacy right to reproductive choice and how the State may advance its compelling interests.”

He said the law was discriminatory and that it could unjustifiably burden “the fundamental privacy rights only of minors seeking pregnancy termination, rather than [equally] to all pregnant minors.”

Chief Justice Craig Stowers dissented, arguing that the majority’s opinion “unjustifiably” departed from the Alaska Supreme Court’s prior approval of parental notification.

Stowers said the opinion “misapplies our equal protection case law by comparing two groups that are not similarly situated, and fails to consider how other states have handled similar questions related to parental notification laws.”

Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) officials praised the court’s ruling, saying that Alaska’s vulnerable teenagers will now be relieved of additional burdensome hurdles in accessing abortion care. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, CRR, and Planned Parenthood represented plaintiffs in the case.

Janet Crepps, senior counsel at CRR, said in a statement that the “decision provides important protection to the safety and well-being of young women who need to end a pregnancy.”

“The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions. This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm,” Crepps said.

CRR officials also noted that most young women seeking abortion care involve a parent, but some do not because they live an abusive or unsafe home.

The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have said minors’ access to confidential reproductive health services should be protected, according to CRR.