News Abortion

Iowa “Ban Carhart” Bill Solidifying

Robin Marty

The pro-choice members of the Iowa legislature continue to craft a measure that would stop Carhart from opening a later term abortion clinic without banning them outright.

Iowa senators believe they have found a new way to stop Dr. Leroy Carhart from opening a clinic that would provide later term abortions in the state – creating new medical standards for any new abortion clinics in the state that would perform the procedure after 20 weeks.

Via The Iowa Independent:

Senate Study Bill 1212 would use the Certificate of Need process to require that “a new abortion facility which performs abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization is in close proximity to an Iowa hospital, with the appropriate level of perinatal care to protect the life or health of the woman and the fetus,” Bolkcom said.

This bill was drafted in response to a House Republican bill, House File 657, which sought to ban abortions after 20 weeks.

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An explanation attached to the bill states:

This bill provides that a specialized outpatient surgical facility is subject to certificate of need requirements prior to being offered or developed in Iowa. The bill defines “specialized outpatient surgical facility”; requires that, in addition to all other criteria that must be met by such a facility, a certificate of need may only be granted if the facility will be located in close proximity to a hospital that provides the appropriate level of perinatal care for its patients; and directs the department of public health to adopt rules to determine the certificate of need application fee for such facilities. The bill takes effect upon enactment and is applicable to specialized outpatient surgical facilities offered or developed in the state on or after the effective date of the bill.

By legislating additional rules and oversights over new abortion clinics, rather than just forcing an up or down vote on the idea of a 20 week ban in the first place, including its potential legal challenges due to it being unconstitutional, this “compromise” opens the door to the idea that abortion should be stopped simply by regulating clinics out of existence.

I wonder how much pro-choice legislators will regret starting down this path once the TRAP laws begin pouring in during the next legislative session.

News Human Rights

All-Gender Bathroom Bill Breezes Through California Legislature

Nicole Knight

The bill's passage came the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is suing North Carolina, arguing that the state's anti-transgender bathroom discrimination law violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

California lawmakers on Monday moved to institute all-gender bathrooms across the state, as North Carolina legislators defend their recent anti-transgender bathroom discrimination law against a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit.

The legislation passed by the California State Assembly requires all single-stall bathrooms in any business, government agency, or public establishment to be open to all genders. California law already permits students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

“We just sent a powerful message to the nation,” Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the author of AB 1732, said Monday in a statement. “This is a simple, safe, and respectful alternative to the hate being legislated in other states.”

The bill now heads to the state senate, after clearing the Democratic-led Assembly in a 55-19 vote. California NOW, Equality California, and the Transgender Law Center sponsored the legislation. The California Right to Life Committee was the sole organization to oppose it, according to the Sacramento Bee.

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The bill’s passage came the same day that the U.S. Department of Justice announced it is suing North Carolina, arguing that the state’s anti-transgender bathroom discrimination law violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The administration of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) countered by suing the federal government in defense of HB 2, which requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificate.

An analysis prepared for California’s all-gender bathroom measure cites an article published in the Journal of Public Management and Social Policy that backs gender-neutral bathroom policies:

“All people share the real human need for safe restroom facilities when we go to work, go to school, and participate in public life. Since the need is universal, one would think that it would be a priority of our society to make sure restrooms are safe and available for all people. Yet, the way gendered public restrooms are designed and constructed harms transgender and gender non-conforming people, some of whom may not conform to reified expectations of how men and women will look and act.”

Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Austin, Seattle, Santa Fe, and New York City are among the cities that already require businesses and city buildings to designate single-user restrooms as all-gender, according to California’s Transgender Law Center.

News Law and Policy

Kasich, Ohio GOP to End Funding for Program to Curb Infant Mortality

Jenn Stanley

The funds will be redirected to about 200 health-care facilities, but pro-choice advocates don’t think those health centers could fill the gap left by Planned Parenthood’s defunding.

Ohio’s Republican-held house voted Wednesday on a bill that will cut $1.3 million in funding to Planned Parenthood, and Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he would sign it when it got to his desk.

Planned Parenthood officials say the bill, which passed in the state senate for the second time last month, targets funding for the organization’s infant mortality program.

“John Kasich said he supports women and families,” says an ad from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio. “So why does Kasich want to defund Planned Parenthood, cut programs that prevent infant mortality, and end important domestic violence prevention initiatives?”

The bill redirects public funds from entities that promote or perform elective abortions, but will not affect Medicaid funding. Medicaid reimbursements made up about $2.4 million of the $3.7 million that Ohio provided to the state’s 28 Planned Parenthood clinics in the most recent fiscal year. The Republican legislation takes funding from the organization’s “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” initiative, meant to combat the state’s infant mortality rates, one of the highest in the country, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Kasich, while campaigning in Iowa last month, told voters that he would sign a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, and a spokesman for the governor confirmed this in a statement.

“Since taking office, Governor Kasich has worked with legislative leaders to ensure that public dollars are used to their best purpose,” spokesman Joe Andrews said. “The Ohio Department of Health had already stopped awarding state dollars to Planned Parenthood and they were kicked to the back of the line for the federal government’s family planning grants that the department administers. This bill further reinforces Ohio’s policies.”

Many anti-choice lawmakers have made it their mission to defund Planned Parenthood after last year’s release of surreptitiously recorded, highly edited videos made by the anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). CMP officials, who were recently indicted on charges related to their widely discredited recordings, have worked closely with GOP legislators to attack funding for the organization.

Republicans dominate both chambers of the Ohio legislature, holding a 23-10 state senate advantage and a 65-34 house majority.

Kasich, who placed second in Tuesday’s New Hampshire GOP primary, has supported and passed a number of anti-choice policies since taking office in 2011.

Half of Ohio’s outpatient abortion clinics closed after Kasich signed a two-year budget bill in 2013 that included, among other anti-choice measures, stringent licensing regulations for abortion clinics. He also appointed Michael L. Gonidakis, president of the anti-choice organization Ohio Right to Life, to the State of Ohio Medical Board.

“We have the most pro-life governor in this [presidential] race right now,” Gonidakis told the Washington Post. “If the life issue is the number one issue determining who you will support on the Republican presidential ticket, there’s no better candidate than John Kasich.”

Those in favor of the bill say that the funds will be redirected to about 200 health-care facilities, but many opposed to the measure don’t think those health centers could fill the gap left by Planned Parenthood’s defunding.

“If Planned Parenthood goes away as a provider, there will be a void of services in our community,” Kelli Arthur Hykes, the health policy director for the health department in Columbus, said in a statement. “We don’t have the capacity to fill that void.”

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