We’ve seen a lot of “men’s health” laws get proposed recently as an answer to the ceaseless bills that seek to limit woman’s rights. Now, here is yet another proposal to try to limit unintended pregnancies… and it’s drastic.
The Standard Examinerreports that a local doctor in Utah has written three-page proposal to fine every father who impregnates a woman or girl, saying the fee — and the subsequent penalties — ensures, “No boy would dare have sex without wearing three condoms.”
Restrict elective abortion to the first 16 weeks.
Require DNA testing to determine paternity of all out-of-wedlock children, even aborted.
Require the father to establish a $50,000 trust fund to care for any out-of-wedlock child, even if adopted. If the child is aborted, the fund is used for sex education.
If the father can’t pay, he joins the military and uses his enlistment bonus and salary to pay.
No man can avoid paternity claiming “she seduced me,” or that she claimed she was on the pill, had her tubes tied, whatever.
Man under 18? His parents are responsible.
Pipe dream? Of course. But still fun.
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So far this year, legislators have introduced 1,256 provisions relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. However, states have also enacted 22 measures this year designed to expand access to reproductive health services or protect reproductive rights.
So far this year, legislators have introduced 1,256 provisions relating to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Of these, 35 percent (445 provisions) sought to restrict access to abortion services. By midyear, 17 states had passed 46 new abortion restrictions.
Including these new restrictions, states have adopted 334 abortion restrictions since 2010, constituting 30 percent of all abortion restrictions enacted by states since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. However, states have also enacted 22 measures this year designed to expand access to reproductive health services or protect reproductive rights.
Signs of Progress
The first half of the year ended on a high note, with the U.S. Supreme Court handing down the most significant abortion decision in a generation. The Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedtstruck down abortion restrictions in Texas requiring abortion facilities in the state to convert to the equivalent of ambulatory surgical centers and mandating that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital; these two restrictions had greatly diminished access to services throughout the state (see Lessons from Texas: Widespread Consequences of Assaults on Abortion Access). Five other states (Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia) have similar facility requirements, and the Texas decision makes it less likely that these laws would be able to withstand judicial scrutiny (see Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers). Nineteen other states have abortion facility requirements that are less onerous than the ones in Texas; the fate of these laws in the wake of the Court’s decision remains unclear.
Ten states in addition to Texas had adopted hospital admitting privileges requirements. The day after handing down the Texas decision, the Court declined to review lower court decisions that have kept such requirements in Mississippi and Wisconsin from going into effect, and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) announced that he would not enforce the state’s law. As a result of separate litigation, enforcement of admitting privileges requirements in Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma is currently blocked. That leaves admitting privileges in effect in Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah; as with facility requirements, the Texas decision will clearly make it harder for these laws to survive if challenged.
More broadly, the Court’s decision clarified the legal standard for evaluating abortion restrictions. In its 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, the Court had said that abortion restrictions could not impose an undue burden on a woman seeking to terminate her pregnancy. In Whole Woman’s Health, the Court stressed the importance of using evidence to evaluate the extent to which an abortion restriction imposes a burden on women, and made clear that a restriction’s burdens cannot outweigh its benefits, an analysis that will give the Texas decision a reach well beyond the specific restrictions at issue in the case.
As important as the Whole Woman’s Health decision is and will be going forward, it is far from the only good news so far this year. Legislators in 19 states introduced a bevy of measures aimed at expanding insurance coverage for contraceptive services. In 13 of these states, the proposed measures seek to bolster the existing federal contraceptive coverage requirement by, for example, requiring coverage of all U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved methods and banning the use of techniques such as medical management and prior authorization, through which insurers may limit coverage. But some proposals go further and plow new ground by mandating coverage of sterilization (generally for both men and women), allowing a woman to obtain an extended supply of her contraceptive method (generally up to 12 months), and/or requiring that insurance cover over-the-counter contraceptive methods. By July 1, both Maryland and Vermont had enacted comprehensive measures, and similar legislation was pending before Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). And, in early July, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) signed a measure into law allowing women to obtain a year’s supply of their contraceptive method.
But the Assault Continues
Even as these positive developments unfolded, the long-standing assault on sexual and reproductive health and rights continued apace. Much of this attention focused on the release a year ago of a string of deceptively edited videos designed to discredit Planned Parenthood. The campaign these videos spawned initially focused on defunding Planned Parenthood and has grown into an effort to defund family planning providers more broadly, especially those who have any connection to abortion services. Since last July, 24 states have moved to restrict eligibility for funding in several ways:
Seventeen states have moved to limit family planning providers’ eligibility for reimbursement under Medicaid, the program that accounts for about three-fourths of all public dollars spent on family planning. In some cases, states have tried to exclude Planned Parenthood entirely from such funding. These attacks have come via both administrative and legislative means. For instance, the Florida legislature included a defunding provision in an omnibus abortion bill passed in March. As the controversy grew, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that administers Medicaid, sent a letter to state officials reiterating that federal law prohibits them from discriminating against family planning providers because they either offer abortion services or are affiliated with an abortion provider (see CMS Provides New Clarity For Family Planning Under Medicaid). Most of these state attempts have been blocked through legal challenges. However, a funding ban went into effect in Mississippi on July 1, and similar measures are awaiting implementation in three other states.
Fourteen states have moved to restrict family planning funds controlled by the state, with laws enacted in four states. The law in Kansas limits funding to publicly run programs, while the law in Louisiana bars funding to providers who are associated with abortion services. A law enacted in Wisconsin directs the state to apply for federal Title X funding and specifies that if this funding is obtained, it may not be distributed to family planning providers affiliated with abortion services. (In 2015, New Hampshire moved to deny Title X funds to Planned Parenthood affiliates; the state reversed the decision in 2016.) Finally, the budget adopted in Michigan reenacts a provision that bars the allocation of family planning funds to organizations associated with abortion. Notably, however, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vetoed a similar measure.
Ten states have attempted to bar family planning providers’ eligibility for related funding, including monies for sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, prevention of interpersonal violence, and prevention of breast and cervical cancer. In three of these states, the bans are the result of legislative action; in Utah, the ban resulted from action by the governor. Such a ban is in effect in North Carolina; the Louisiana measure is set to go into effect in August. Implementation of bans in Ohio and Utah has been blocked as a result of legal action.
The first half of 2016 was also noteworthy for a raft of attempts to ban some or all abortions. These measures fell into four distinct categories:
South Carolina and North Dakota both enacted measures banning abortion at or beyond 20 weeks post-fertilization, which is equivalent to 22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period. This brings to 16 the number of states with these laws in effect (see State Policies on Later Abortions).
Indiana and Louisiana adopted provisions banning abortions under specific circumstances. The Louisiana law banned abortions at or after 20 weeks post-fertilization in cases of diagnosed genetic anomaly; the law is slated to go into effect on August 1. Indiana adopted a groundbreaking measure to ban abortion for purposes of race or sex selection, in cases of a genetic anomaly, or because of the fetus’ “color, national origin, or ancestry”; enforcement of the measure is blocked pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
In addition, 14 states (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah) enacted other types of abortion restrictions during the first half of the year, including measures to impose or extend waiting periods, restrict access to medication abortion, and establish regulations on abortion clinics.
Zohra Ansari-Thomas, Olivia Cappello, and Lizamarie Mohammed all contributed to this analysis.
This week on the campaign trail, Ted Cruz released a five-minute-long ad trying to convince voters he is the Republican presidential candidate most opposed to abortion, Ben Carson found a way to fit crisis pregnancy centers into his poverty platform, and John Kasich spoke out against campus sexual assault.
This week on the campaign trail, Ted Cruz released a five-minute-long ad trying to convince voters he is the Republican presidential candidate most opposed to abortion, Ben Carson found a way to fit crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) into his poverty platform, and John Kasich spoke out against campus sexual assault.
Ted Cruz Vows to “Sign Any Legislation” Opposing Abortion, Regardless of Exceptions for Rape and Incest
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) released a video on Tuesday embracing extreme “personhood” legislation in South Carolina and vowing to “sign any” anti-abortion legislation that comes across his desk should he be elected—even if it does not contain exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
“I enthusiastically support that resolution,” Cruz said of the South Carolina bill, which proposes giving fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses full constitutional rights and, among other possible implications, could ban abortion as well as birth control pills, IUDs, and emergency contraception.
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“And as president of the United States, I pledge to you that I will do everything within my power to end the scourge of abortion once and for all. That I will use the full constitutional power and the bully pulpit of the presidency to promote a culture of life. That I will sign any legislation put on my desk to defend the least of these, including legislation that defends the right of all persons, without exception other than the life of the mother from conception to natural death,” Cruz continued before vowing to defund Planned Parenthood.
The video goes on to attack Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, claiming he is “playing games with the sanctity of life.” Pointing to Trump’s shift from pro-choice to anti-choice, Cruz criticized his rival by falsely claiming he would not pledge to defund Planned Parenthood should he be elected. However,Trump asserted in November that he is “very strongly in favor” of doing just that.
Cruz’s allegations that Trump leans to the left when it comes to abortion are just the latest moves in an ongoing feud between the two on the topic. As Trump and Cruz lead in the polls heading into the influential South Carolina primary on Saturday, the candidates have competed to capture the votes of evangelicals in the state by highlighting their conservative stances on abortion and other issues.
John Kasich Discusses Campus Sexual Assault During GOP Town Hall
Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich spoke out against campus sexual assault during Thursday night’s Republican town hall.
During the event, hosted by CNN in South Carolina ahead of the state’s primary, an audience member asked Kasich, “What steps will you take to address the high rates of violence against women in this country.”
Kasich replied by naming both sexual violence on college campuses and human trafficking as major issues he would address should he become president, pointing to his own record tackling the topics during his tenure in Ohio.
“We put a lot of time into those kinds of issues in our state,” Kasich said. “I’ll tell you another thing we worry about, sexual violence on a campus—and I’ve noticed that time ago—and I said, there has got to be a place for young students, young women to be able to go where they can do things in confidentiality, where there can be a rape kit that can last because sometimes women don’t want to move right away, but after a month or two they might want to move forward with some type of a prosecution.”
Suggesting that violence against women would be primarily addressed “at the state level,” Kasich claimed that as president he would “use a bully pulpit” to “speak out” on the topic and push “legislatures to begin to pay attention to these issues.”
Thursday’s statements were not the first time the governor has addressed the issue ofsexual violence on campus. Kasich’s proposed Ohio state budget for fiscal year 2016 included $2 million to prevent and respond to campus sexual assault.
Other Republican presidential candidates have largely failed to engage voters on the issue of campus sexual assault while on the campaign trail. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), however, co-sponsored the Campus Accountability and Safety Act in 2015 to “secure landmark reforms for how colleges and universities address and report incidents of sexual assault that occur on their campuses.”
“Combating sexual assaults on college campuses is fundamental to the goal of ensuring that all Americans have access to higher education in the 21st century,” Rubio said in a statement about the legislation.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) used the Iowa Brown and Black Presidential Forum, hosted by Fusion in January, to addresscampus sexual assault, calling for a “serious national discussion” on the topic. Hillary Clinton has also released her own platform on the issue, calling for increased prevention efforts and resources for survivors.
Ben Carson Plugs Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Anti-Poverty Pitch
During CNN’s series of Republican town halls this week, Republican presidential candidateBen Carson on Wednesday included crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) as part of his platform for addressing poverty.
When asked by an audience member about how he reconciled “the differences between traditional Christian values, specifically caring the least of these and current GOP stances on social issues such as welfare and subsidies for the poor,” Carson pointed to CPCs during part of his pitch for expanding government support for parents after the birth of a child.
“Look at all of the out-of-wedlock births that are going on, particularly in our inner cities,” Carson said. “I have been speaking at a lot of the nonprofit organizations that support organizations that support these women so that they don’t have an abortion, so that they have the baby,” he continued, seemingly pointing to the organizations that regularly misinform and lie to patients in order to persuade them not to obtain an abortion.
The presidential candidate went on to note that these organizations discontinue helping people who seek their services after they give birth, suggesting that adding additional support after birth could help “break the cycle of the dependency.”
Carson is not the first Republican vying for the White House in 2016 to signal their support for CPCs. Last week, Jeb Bush suggested that Congress fund these organizations instead of Planned Parenthood, and he has previously called for the expansion of both state and federal dollars to CPCs.
Prior to dropping out of the race, Carly Fiorina also championed CPCs, going as far as to campaign at one in September.