News Abortion

Anti-Choice Infighting in Ohio Gets Uglier

Robin Marty

As "Right to Life" groups splinter and reform, the battle over how to get Roe V. Wade challenged the fastest is pitting anti against anti.

Ohio Right to Life and Faith2Action have long been fighting each other over the right bill to ban abortion and invoke a Supreme Court challenge that could potentially overturn Roe V. Wade.  But as one group spearheads a national effort to have every women be forced to listen to the fetal heartbeat before an abortion, and the other tries to ban abortion from the moment a heartbeat can be detected, the bad blood between the two is starting to spill further into the public eye.

Julie Busby, a current Ohio Right to Life Board member who is not seeking reelection, has filed a complaint with the attorney general, claiming the Ohio Right to Life board and its chair, Mike Gonidakis, are not releasing records she has requested.  The accusation highlights the escalating issues that anti-choice activists have been having with a group they say is too timid in its approach to attempting to ban abortion, leaving them no choice but to seek more aggressive strategies like the ones Faith2Action is offering.

Via The Republic:

At its heart, it’s a tactical disagreement over how best to limit abortions fastest. Right to Life is viewed as entrenched and too cautious by some within the movement. The tactics of Faith2Action — such as staging public ultrasounds and inviting an “aborted fetus” named Melissa to testify at a legislative committee — alarm those with the goal of bringing the movement into the mainstream.

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[Former Right to Life board memember Jack] Willke was initially close-mouthed about his decision to leave Ohio Right to Life, a group he helped found and where [Faith2Action founder Janet] Porter once served as legislative director. Gonidakis said Willke cited failing health in his resignation letter.

Earlier this month, though, Faith2Action released a statement by Willke indicating he would be joining their new political arm, Ohio ProLife Action.

“A major reason why I’m doing this is because the Ohio Right to Life board no longer represents the pro-life people in Ohio,” the statement said. Faith2Action did not respond to an Associated Press request to interview Willke on the issue.

As the splintering groups fight, will the anti-choice movement in the state become to weak to push for more onerous regulations? 

News Law and Policy

Anti-Choice Group: End Clinic ‘Bubble Zones’ for Chicago Abortion Patients

Michelle D. Anderson

Chicago officials in October 2009 passed the "bubble zone" ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support.

An anti-choice group has announced plans to file a lawsuit and launch a public protest over Chicago’s nearly seven-year-old “bubble zone” ordinance for patients seeking care at local abortion clinics.

The Pro-Life Action League, an anti-choice group based in Chicago, announced on its website that its lawyers at the Thomas More Society would file the lawsuit this week.

City officials in October 2009 passed the ordinance with nearly two-thirds of the city aldermen in support. The law makes it illegal to come within eight feet of someone walking toward an abortion clinic once that person is within 50 feet of the entrance, if the person did not give their consent.

Those found violating the ordinance could be fined up to $500.

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Harassment of people seeking abortion care has been well documented. A 2013 survey from the National Abortion Federation found that 92 percent of providers had a patient entering their facility express personal safety concerns.

The ordinance targets people seeking to pass a leaflet or handbill or engaging in “oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person in the public way.” The regulation bans the use of force, threat of force and physical obstruction to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere any person entering or leaving any hospital, medical clinic or health-care facility.

The Pro-Life Action League lamented on its website that the law makes it difficult for anti-choice sidewalk counselors “to reach abortion-bound mothers.” The group suggested that lawmakers created the ordinance to create confusion and that police have repeatedly violated counselors’ First Amendment rights.

“Chicago police have been misapplying it from Day One, and it’s caused endless problems for our faithful sidewalk counselors,” the group said.

The League said it would protest and hold a press conference outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.

Julie Lynn, a Planned Parenthood of Illinois spokesperson, told Rewire in an email that the health-care provider is preparing for the protest.

“We plan to have volunteer escorts at the health center to make sure all patients have safe access to the entrance,” Lynn said.

The anti-choice group has suggested that its lawsuit would be successful because of a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a similar law in Massachusetts unconstitutional.

Pam Sutherland, vice president of public policy and education for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, told the Chicago Tribune back then that the health-care provider expected the city’s bubble zone to be challenged following the 2014 decision.

But in an effort to avoid legal challenges, Chicago city officials had based its bubble zone law on a Colorado law that created an eight-foot no-approach zone within 100 feet of all health-care facilities, according to the Tribune. Sidewalk counselor Leila Hill and others challenged that Colorado law, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it in 2000.

Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: The Fight Over Voter ID Laws Heats Up in the Courts

Jessica Mason Pieklo & Imani Gandy

Texas and North Carolina both have cases that could bring the constitutionality of Voter ID laws back before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this term.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intends to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the state’s voter ID law.

Meanwhile, according to Politifact, North Carolina attorney general and gubernatorial challenger Roy Cooper is actually saving taxpayers money by refusing to appeal the Fourth Circuit’s ruling on the state’s voter ID law, so Gov. Pat McCrory (R) should stop complaining about it.

And in other North Carolina news, Ian Millhiser writes that the state has hired high-powered conservative attorney Paul Clement to defend its indefensible voter ID law.

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Alex Thompson writes in Vice that the Zika virus is about to hit states with the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. So if you’re pregnant, stay away. No one has yet offered advice for those pregnant people who can’t leave Zika-prone areas.

Robin Marty writes on Care2 about Americans United for Life’s (AUL) latest Mad Lib-style model bill, the “National Abortion Data Reporting Law.” Attacking abortion rights: It’s what AUL does.

The Washington Post profiled Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Given this Congress, that will likely spur another round of hearings. (It did get a response from Richards herself.)

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson writes in Bloomberg BNA that Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan thinks the Supreme Court’s clarification of the undue burden standard in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have ramifications for voting rights cases.

This must-read New York Times piece reminds us that we still have a long way to go in accommodating breastfeeding parents on the job.

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