News Politics

Synder Vetos Gun Bill. Will Omnibus Anti-Choice Bill Be Next?

Robin Marty

The Republican governor may be hoping to revamp his image as one of the most unpopular governors in the country.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is starting to feel the pressure from constituents when it comes to his support of massively unpopular bills, and the criticism is having its intended effect. In the wake of the tragic shooting in Connecticut, the Republican governor vetoed the state’s new gun law, one that would allow firearms in schools and daycare centers.

Via Detroit News:

Gov. Rick Snyder plans to veto legislation allowing concealed weapons in public schools, according to bill sponsor Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville.

The bill allowing highly trained gun owners to carry concealed weapons inside public schools was delivered to Snyder’s desk Tuesday.

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“He’s not going to sign it,” Green told The Detroit News.

Sen. Green blames the veto on the fact that final legislation ended up “more restrictive” than they had intended. Also more restrictive than many legislators were comfortable with? H.B. 5711, the massive anti-choice omnibus bill that was rejected as being “too extreme” even by some politicians who don’t consider themselves to be pro-choice.

Promises of a veto began to surface just hours after a new poll showed that Snyder had become one of the most unpopular governors in the country. Public Policy Polls released new date showing a 28-point drop in the governor’s popularity, with only 38 percent of the state approving of his performance since the lame duck session concluded.  Snyder is the third least popular governor in the nation, according to their polling, and runs behind all four potential Democratic challengers for 2014.

Does Snyder now recognize that Michigan residents are tired of legislators making health care decisions for women, and inserting themselves into women’s private lives? A veto on H.B. 5711 could be a good start to turning around his approval rating for his reelection campaign.

News Abortion

Pennsylvania Republicans Fast-Track Anti-Choice Bill as Governor Vows Veto

Teddy Wilson

Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia) said during the committee hearing that lawmakers had no place inserting themselves in a conversation between a pregnant person and a doctor. "If we put certain restrictions on a woman's choice, will they start looking for that other option?" Dawkins said.

Republicans in Pennsylvania are hurrying through the legislature a bill that would severely restrict abortion care, passing the bill through committee Monday without a public hearing—three days after its introduction.

HB 1948, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren), would criminalize a common procedure used for second-trimester abortion care and ban abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation. Pennsylvania law today bans abortion care after 24 weeks’ gestation. Rapp, co-chair of the Pennsylvania House Pro-Life Caucus, was the primary sponsor of a failed 2012 bill that would have required those seeking an abortion to undergo a forced transvaginal ultrasound.

Jeff Sheridan, press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf (D), said in a statement Monday that the governor would veto the anti-choice measure should it reach his desk.

Republicans hold dominant majorities in the state house and senate.

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The bill bans so-called dismemberment abortion, targeting the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure that is commonly used after miscarriages and in second-trimester abortion care. The procedure is a method of abortion during which a physician will dilate a woman’s cervix and remove the fetus using forceps, clamps, or other instruments.

There were 32,126 abortions performed in Pennsylvania in 2014, and 2,377 of those (7.4 percent) were performed after the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, according to the state health department’s annual report.

A physician who performs the procedure would be guilty of a third-degree felony, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney at the Women’s Law Project, told Rewire that anti-choice lawmakers are not using medical language, but rather political language, in their attempt to regulate the practice of medicine.

“One of the real difficulties of imprecise or vague statutes is that people who are trying to conform their conduct to be lawful don’t know what they’re supposed to do,” Frietsche said. “When you’re messing in [a] very technical and complex field of medicine and you’re a layperson, and you’re a legislature who is not a doctor, this can be a real hazardous undertaking.”

The bill includes an exception when the D and E procedure is necessary to prevent “either the death of the pregnant woman or the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman.” There is no exception for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.

Frietsche said that the exceptions in the bill are “labyrinthian and very burdensome” for physicians who provide abortion care.

The bill also carries an exception for abortion procedures that take place in a hospital. There were abortions performed at 18 hospitals and 19 non-hospital facilities during 2014, according to the state’s report.

The anti-choice Republican bill also bans the termination of a pregnancy in which the gestational age of the fetus is “at 20 or more weeks.”

The bill is set against the backdrop of a primary election, as state lawmakers campaign ahead of the April 26 vote.

Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia) said during the committee hearing that lawmakers had no place inserting themselves in a conversation between a pregnant person and a doctor. “If we put certain restrictions on a woman’s choice, will they start looking for that other option?” Dawkins said, reported the Associated Press.

The House Health Committee passed the measure with a vote of 16 to 10. The legislation now moves to the full state house for further action.

News Abortion

Indiana’s Omnibus Anti-Choice Law Will Make Pregnant People ‘Suffer’

Teddy Wilson

Some Republican legislators with anti-choice voting records opposed the omnibus anti-abortion bill, but Pence signed it on the last day he could approve or reject legislation this year.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a bill into law Thursday that severely restricts reproductive rights with an assortment of regulations, including banning pregnant people from terminating a pregnancy due to fetal anomalies or the sex or race of a fetus.

The GOP-backed bill would have become law even if Pence had declined to sign it.

Some Republican legislators with anti-choice voting records opposed the omnibus anti-abortion bill, but Pence signed it on the last day he could approve or reject legislation this year.

There is no documentation that sex-selection abortions are a widespread problem in the United States. Proponents of the bans often justify the policy by using cultural stereotypes that target immigrant people of color.

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HB 1337, sponsored by Rep. Casey Cox (R-Ft. Wayne), makes numerous changes to state laws, including requiring forced counseling and mandatory ultrasounds for abortion patients, creating regulations on physicians who provide abortion care, and banning fetal tissue donation that has led to the development of vaccines and other public health benefits.

Physicians are prohibited from providing abortion care if the physician knows that the pregnant person is seeking the procedure because of the “race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus.” Abortion care has also been outlawed if the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or any other disability.

“We know that you’re going to be forcing woman [sic] and families to suffer emotionally because they’re going to be force to carry pregnancies that are not viable,” Kate Connors, director of communications for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the Associated Press. “We’ve been hoping that the resounding chorus of voices would hit home. It obviously did not.”

Indiana joins seven other states that have banned abortion due to the sex of the fetus. Only North Dakota has banned abortion because of genetic abnormalities, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The new law gives the “parent or parents” of a miscarried fetus the right to take possession of the remains of a miscarried or aborted fetus. If that person or those individuals decide not to take possession of the fetal remains, the health-care facility would be required to provide for the final disposition of the miscarried or aborted fetus, which could then only be cremated or interred.

Under the law, anyone who knowingly transports an aborted fetus into or out of Indiana would be committing a class A misdemeanor, unless the aborted fetus was transported for the purpose of final disposition. A class A misdemeanor could result in a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

The omnibus law requires a physician to perform an ultrasound on a pregnant person considering an abortion at least 18 hours prior to the procedure, at the same time “informed consent” is obtained. The pregnant person must be given the opportunity to view the images and hear the auscultation of the fetal heart tone. The pregnant person could choose not view the images or listen to the audio.

It also requires the state department of health to submit copies of admitting privileges and written agreements between physicians to other hospitals in the county and contiguous counties in which abortions are performed.

Pence called the legislation a “comprehensive pro-life measure,” and signed the bill despite protests from reproductive rights advocates in the state and throughout the country. An online petition, organized by Indy Feminists, has gathered more than 5,700 signatures opposing the bill.

While Republicans overwhelmingly supported the bill, there were some who opposed it on the grounds that it is intrusive in the relationship between a doctor and a patient.

Republicans like Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Merrillville) opposed the sweeping anti-choice law on the grounds that it is too punitive. “The bill does nothing to save innocent lives. There’s no education, there’s no funding. It’s just penalties,” Negele told the Chicago Tribune.

The law will take effect in July. Reproductive rights advocates have vowed to bring a legal challenge against the law.

“It is clear that the governor is more comfortable practicing medicine without a license than behaving as a responsible lawyer, as he picks and chooses which constitutional rights are appropriate,” said Betty Cockrum, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is working to request that the law be blocked before it takes effect.

State Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond) told the New York Times that the anti-choice omnibus law is part of an effort by Republican lawmakers to effectively ban abortion care throughout the state.

“They’ve been on a mission, the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly, to make sure that affordable health care and abortion is no longer available for women in the state of Indiana,” Lawson said.

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