News Abortion

Alabama Files “Personhood” Bill, Florida Kills Their Petition

Robin Marty

More states make headway on pushing fertilized eggs as people bills.

Personhood Florida has decided to end its current petition to try and give full rights to fertilized eggs, due to an underwhelming response. 

Via the Broward News:

Since a Florida group managed to collect only around 20,000 of the 676,811 signatures needed to put the state’s own version of a “personhood” amendment before the voters, they’re ditching that one and starting over again.

Initiative petition laws have now changed, making signatures for such petitions valid for only two years instead of four.

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But Alabama remains undaunted by the fizzling “personhood” movement, and is introducing a legislative bill instead.

The Crimson White reports:

State Sen. Phil Williams (R-Madison) has pre-filed “personhood” legislation for the Feb. 2012 legislative session in a move that could bring the issue of abortion to the front and center of Alabama politics just ahead of the 2012 state legislative session.

Senate Bill 5 looks to legally define humans as persons from the moment of fertilization and implantation. It is similar to Mississippi’s personhood bill, which was defeated 58 percent to 42 percent on Nov. 8.

The local personhood group, however, argues that the bill isn’t good enough, as implantation means that it “would not protect embryonic life when the egg travels down the fallopian tubes.”

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.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Doesn’t Want Tubman on the $20, Cruz Holds Up Anti-Slavery Bill

Ally Boguhn

Speaking at a town hall event on Thursday, Donald Trump said that while Harriet Tubman is “fantastic,” portraying her on the $20 bill was just “pure political correctness.”

Donald Trump couldn’t get behind putting iconic abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill this week, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is reportedly holding up an anti-slavery measure over abortion access.

Trump Upset Tubman Will Be On $20 Bill 

Trump wasn’t thrilled with news that Tubman would replace former President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill.

Speaking at NBC’s TODAY town hall event on Thursday, Trump said that while Tubman is “fantastic,” portraying her on the $20 bill was just “pure political correctness.”

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“Andrew Jackson had a great history … [Jackson] had a history of tremendous success for the country,” Trump said when asked by host Matt Lauer to address the change. “Maybe we can come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill, or we do another bill. I don’t like seeing it.”

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced Wednesday that Tubman would replace Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. An image of Jackson will remain on the back. 

Ben Carson, Trump’s former rival for the Republican nomination turned supporter, also thought it’d be best to put Tubman on the $2 bill. “I love Harriet Tubman,” Carson said Wednesday during an appearance on Fox Business Network’s Cavuto: Coast to Coast. “I love what she did, but we can find another way to honor her. Maybe a $2 bill.”

Carson said that Jackson “was a tremendous president.”

“I mean, Andrew Jackson was the last president who actually balanced the federal budget, where we had no national debt,” he told Cavuto.

Cruz Reportedly Holding up Anti-Slavery Bill Because of Abortion

Cruz is reportedly holding up a bipartisan bill to help end slavery over concerns that it could help fund abortion care.

The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act (EMSI), sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), would “help eliminate slavery and human trafficking around the globe,” according to a press release announcing the bill.

The legislation would establish the End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation, a nonprofit organization to fund grants outside of the United States. Though it would be funded in part by the federal government, 80 percent of the $1.5 billion the organization would hope to have would come from the private sector and foreign governments.

Though it’s “Senate tradition to decline to say who has put such a hold on a bill,” TIME reports that “research suggests that it’s Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas, who is currently running for the GOP presidential nomination. The bill’s supporters say the Senators are holding the bill over a concern that some of the anti-slavery money might be used to pay for abortions.”

A Cruz spokesperson told the publication that while the senator supports the goals of the legislation, “he has some concerns with the EMSI bill, specifically whether it does enough to ensure that the foundation created by the bill would not be able to fund organizations that provide or support abortions.”

The Helms Amendment already ensures that “no foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.”

What Else We’re Reading

Anti-choice groups are gearing up for a showdown with Trump.

Cruz doubled down on his support of bathroom discrimination laws after Trump told NBC: “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go. They use the bathroom they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble.”

The Boston Globe has a long read explaining how Trump’s time in the pageant business “foreshadows a reputation for sexism and misogyny that sticks with him nearly 25 years later, in his presidential bid, in which coarse descriptions of women and perceived sexist comments have left him with extraordinarily high unfavorable ratings among women.”

Cruz refused to meet with a delegation of Muslims on Muslim Advocacy Day.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign says that Clinton would be open to picking a woman as her running mate should she win the nomination. “We’ll start with a broad list [of potential vice presidential candidates] and then begin to narrow it,” Clinton spokesperson John Podesta told the Boston Globe. “But there is no question that there will be women on that list.”

CNN reports that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has reserved nearly $40 million worth of airtime in states with key Senate races, including Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada, in hopes of retaking the Senate majority.

The Huffington Post reports that Google Trends show that “Ted Cruz’s supporters share his weird fixation with soup.” Supporters of candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are more likely to run a Google search for “Vegan Passover recipes” or a recipe for guacamole, while Clinton’s supporters searched for recipes for meat pies and quinoa.

Ohio Republicans are sponsoring a bill that could jeopardize emergency voting extensions in the state. According to ThinkProgress:

If legislation sponsored by Republican State Senator Bill Seitz is approved, anyone petitioning a judge to extend voting hours would have to put up a cash bond to cover the cost, which could range in the tens of thousands of dollars. If a court later finds that the polls should not have remained open, the voter would forfeit all the money. Only those who are so poor they can be certified as indigent would be exempted.

CORRECTION: The headline of this article has been updated to clarify Sen. Ted Cruz’s reported actions on the anti-slavery bill.

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