News Abortion

Anti-Choice Activists Hope to Put 20-Week Abortion Ban on Albuquerque City Ballot

Andrea Grimes

Anti-abortion rights activists have presented a petition to the Albuquerque City Council asking it to put a 20-week abortion ban to a citywide vote this fall.

Anti-abortion rights activists have presented a petition to the Albuquerque City Council asking it to put a 20-week abortion ban to a citywide vote this fall. The proposal mirrors Texas’ 20-week abortion ban, which Gov. Rick Perry signed into law earlier this month and would effectively ban abortion after 20 weeks in New Mexico, as Albuquerque is the only city in the state where abortions are performed at or after that time.

Last week, a group calling itself Project Defending Life submitted nearly 27,000 signatures to the city council, which needs about 13,000 signatures to put the initiative on the city ballot this October. Voter turnout for that election, which includes a vote for Albuquerque mayor, is expected to be high, and reproductive justice activists are already working to counter the proposed ban.

“We are fighting this because we do trust women to make those deeply personal and complex decisions with their families and medical providers and within the context of their faith,” said Micaela Cardenas with a community organizing project called Young Women United. Cardenas’ group is working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, which released a statement last week denouncing the ban.

“We agree with the Albuquerque city attorney that this proposal is an unconstitutional violation of women’s privacy,” said ACLU lawyer Alexandra Freedman Smith in a statement. According to KRQE, the city has said that state law, which allows abortion after 20 weeks, would overrule any municipal ordinance banning abortion in Albuquerque.

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A coalition of anti-abortion rights ministries appear to be behind the proposed ban, but a representative for Voices for Family Values told KRQE that the project was born of a “grassroots effort” among Albuquerque women. Critics of the ban say it is the result of a targeted effort by nationwide anti-abortion rights groups with few ties to New Mexico.

The faces of the petition campaign so far have been two “pro-life missionaries,” named Bud and Tara Shaver, who were sent to Albuquerque in 2010 by Kansas-based Operation Rescue. In a statement made last week via Pro-Life New Mexico, Tara Shaver said, “The people of Albuquerque have let their voices be heard with this initiative.”

But Cardenas says the Shavers and their backers do not represent New Mexicans. “They’re here in our state to bring their agenda into our communities.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Weighs in on Supreme Court Decision, After Pressure From Anti-Choice Leaders

Ally Boguhn

The presumptive Republican nominee’s confirmation that he opposed the decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt came after several days of silence from Trump on the matter—much to the lamentation of anti-choice advocates.

Donald Trump commented on the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion decision this week—but only after days of pressure from anti-choice advocates—and Hillary Clinton wrote an op-ed explaining how one state’s then-pending decision on whether to fund Planned Parenthood illustrates the high stakes of the election for reproductive rights and health.

Following Anti-Choice Pressure, Trump Weighs in on Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision

Trump finally broke his silence Thursday about the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this week, which struck down two provisions of Texas’ HB 2 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

“Now if we had Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that,” Trump claimed of the Court’s decision, evidently not realizing that the Monday ruling was 5 to 3 and one vote would not have made a numerical difference, during an appearance on conservative radio program The Mike Gallagher Show. “It would have been the opposite.” 

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“So just to confirm, under a President Donald Trump-appointed Supreme Court, you wouldn’t see a majority ruling like the one we had with the Texas abortion law this week?” asked host Mike Gallagher.

“No…you wouldn’t see that,” replied Trump, who also noted that the case demonstrated the important role the next president will play in steering the direction of the Court through judicial nominations.

The presumptive Republican nominee’s confirmation that he opposed the decision in Whole Woman’s Health came after several days of silence from Trump on the matter—prompting much lamentation from anti-choice advocates. Despite having promised to nominate anti-choice Supreme Court justices and pass anti-abortion restrictions if elected during a meeting with more than 1,000 faith and anti-choice leaders in New York City last week, Trump made waves among those who oppose abortion when he did not immediately comment on the Court’s Monday decision.

“I think [Trump’s silence] gives all pro-life leaders pause,” said the president of the anti-choice conservative organization The Family Leader, Bob Vander Plaats, prior to Trump’s comments Thursday, according to the Daily Beast. Vander Plaats, who attended last week’s meeting with Trump, went on suggest that Trump’s hesitation to weigh in on the matter “gives all people that are looking for life as their issue, who are looking to support a presidential candidate—it gives them an unnecessary pause. There shouldn’t have to be a pause here.”

“This is the biggest abortion decision that has come down in years and Hillary Clinton was quick to comment—was all over Twitter—and yet we heard crickets from Donald Trump,” Penny Young Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, said in a Tuesday statement to the Daily Beast.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, expressed similar dismay on Wednesday that Trump hadn’t addressed the Court’s ruling. “So where was Mr. Trump, the candidate the pro-life movement is depending upon, when this blow hit?” wrote Hawkins, in an opinion piece for the Washington Post. “He was on Twitter, making fun of Elizabeth Warren and lamenting how CNN has gone negative on him. That’s it. Nothing else.”

“Right now in the pro-life movement people are wondering if Mr. Trump’s staff is uninformed or frankly, if he just doesn’t care about the topic of life,” added Hawkins. “Was that meeting last week just a farce, just another one of his shows?”

Anti-choice leaders, however, were not the only ones to criticize Trump’s response to the ruling. After Trump broke his silence, reproductive rights leaders were quick to condemn the Republican’s comments.

“Donald Trump has been clear from the beginning—he wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, and said he believes a woman should be ‘punished’ if she has an abortion,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which has already endorsed Clinton for the presidency, in a statement on Trump’s comments. 

“Trump’s remarks today should send a shiver down the spine of anyone who believes women should have access to safe, legal abortion. Electing Trump means he will fight to take away the very rights the Supreme Court just ruled this week are constitutional and necessary health care,” continued Laguens.

In contrast to Trump’s delayed reaction, presumptive Democratic nominee Clinton tweeted within minutes of the landmark abortion rights decision, “This fight isn’t over: The next president has to protect women’s health. Women won’t be ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights.”

Clinton Pens Op-Ed Defending Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire

Clinton penned an op-ed for the Concord Monitor Wednesday explaining that New Hampshire’s pending vote on Planned Parenthood funding highlighted “what’s at stake this election.”

“For half a century, Planned Parenthood has been there for people in New Hampshire, no matter what. Every year, it provides care to almost 13,000 people who need access to services like counseling, contraception, and family planning,” wrote Clinton. “Many of these patients cannot afford to go anywhere else. Others choose the organization because it’s the provider they know and trust.”

The former secretary of state went on to contend that New Hampshire’s Executive Council’s discussion of denying funds to the organization was more than “just playing politics—they’re playing with their constituents’ health and well-being.” The council voted later that day to restore Planned Parenthood’s contract.

Praising the Supreme Court’s Monday decision in Whole Woman’s Health, Clinton cautioned in the piece that although it was a “critical victory,” there is still “work to do as long as obstacles” remained to reproductive health-care access.

Vowing to “make sure that a woman’s right to make her own health decisions remains as permanent as all of the other values we hold dear” if elected, Clinton promised to work to protect Planned Parenthood, safeguard legal abortion, and support comprehensive and inclusive sexual education programs.

Reiterating her opposition to the Hyde Amendment, which bans most federal funding for abortion care, Clinton wrote that she would “fight laws on the books” like it that “make it harder for low-income women to get the care they deserve.”

Clinton’s campaign noted the candidate’s support for repealing Hyde while answering a 2008 questionnaire provided by Rewire. During the 2016 election season, the federal ban on abortion funding became a more visible issue, and Clinton noted in a January forum that the ban “is just hard to justify” given that restrictions such as Hyde inhibit many low-income and rural women from accessing care.

What Else We’re Reading

Politico Magazine’s Bill Scher highlighted some of the potential problems Clinton could face should she choose former Virginia governor Tim Kaine as her vice presidential pickincluding his beliefs about abortion.

Foster Friess, a GOP mega-donor who once notoriously said that contraception is “inexpensive … you know, back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly,” is throwing his support behind Trump, comparing the presumptive Republican nominee to biblical figures.

Clinton dropped by the Toast on the publication’s last day, urging readers to follow the site’s example and “look forward and consider how you might make your voice heard in whatever arenas matter most to you.”

Irin Carmon joined the New Republic’s “Primary Concerns” podcast this week to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt on the election.

According to analysis from the Wall Street Journal, the popularity of the Libertarian Party in this year’s election could affect the presidential race, and the most likely outcome is “upsetting a close race—most likely Florida, where the margin of victory is traditionally narrow.”

The Center for Responsive Politics’ Alec Goodwin gave an autopsy of Jeb Bush’s massive Right to Rise super PAC.

Katie McGinty (D), who is running against incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in Pennsylvania, wrote an op-ed this week for the Philly Voice calling to “fight efforts in Pa. to restrict women’s access to health care.”

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled against an attempt to restore voting rights to more than 20,000 residents affected by the state’s law disenfranchising those who previously served time for felonies, ThinkProgress reports.

An organization in Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of the almost 70,000 people there who have previously served time for felonies and are now on probation or parole, alleging that they are being “wrongfully excluded from registering to vote and voting.”

News Abortion

Nurses Can’t Administer Abortion Drug, Anti-Choice Group Charges

Nicole Knight Shine

Planned Parenthood officials said Tuesday they have done nothing illegal or improper, and expect the complaint to be dismissed.

The medication abortion drug mifepristone is at the center of a formal complaint over whether a New Mexico Planned Parenthood employee is unlawfully administering the legal medication.

At issue is whether nurse practitioners may prescribe the medication, which is part of a two-pill regimen commonly taken to end first-trimester pregnancies, and one that is lawfully available in New Mexico.

In a recent complaint filed with the New Mexico Board of Nursing, the anti-choice group Protest ABQ claims a Planned Parenthood nurse practitioner is illegally prescribing mifepristone. Protest ABQ, which has long targeted Planned Parenthood and other abortion care providers, contends that only licensed physicians may perform abortions under state law.

Planned Parenthood officials, however, say that nurse practitioners may prescribe the pill under a series of decisions. They point to a 2005 opinion from the State Board of Nursing, which held that the New Mexico Nurse Practice Act does not prohibit a properly trained and certified nurse practitioner from prescribing mifepristone.

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Following a 2007 lawsuit by Planned Parenthood, a New Mexico state court found that state law does not prohibit a properly trained and certified nurse practitioner from prescribing the drug.

Representatives from the New Mexico Board of Nursing told the Albuquerque Journal that they received the complaint and have referred it to the board’s investigators.

Tara Shaver, co-founder of Protest ABQ, filed the complaint based on state Medicaid billing records obtained from New Mexico’s Human Services Department. The records showed that a certified nurse practitioner employed by Planned Parenthood was reimbursed about $42,000 from 2013 to 2015, primarily for medication-abortion drugs, according to reports in the Albuquerque Journal.

Angelo Artuso, the attorney for Protest ABQ, told the Albuquerque Journal that the 2007 court ruling sets no precedent for nurse practitioners to prescribe the medication.

Planned Parenthood officials said Tuesday they have done nothing illegal or improper, and expect the complaint to be dismissed.

“The current complaint before the State Board of Nursing is yet another baseless attack by a group dedicated to outlawing safe and legal abortion, and is intended to intimidate and harass providers,” Carmen Feldman, general counsel of Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, said in an emailed statement. “This very same group sent graphic and violent images to the homes of families in a City Council race last fall, and equated abortion to the Holocaust when trying to pass an extreme abortion ban in Albuquerque in 2013.”