News Abortion

Denver Archbishop: Shun Candidates Supporting Planned Parenthood

Jason Salzman

Denver’s Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila urged thousands of people at Denver’s March for Life rally Saturday to make their voices heard in politics, including at Colorado’s March caucuses.

Denver’s Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at Saturday’s “March for Life” rally called on those who “support life” to make their voices heard in the Colorado legislature and at the state’s March caucus meetings, where candidates from across the state are selected to run for office.

“Too many citizens have sat in the back seat, so we are where we are in the state of Colorado,” Aquila told thousands of people assembled in front of the state capitol in frigid weather. “That must come to an end.”

“As we march through the streets of Denver today, I ask you to pray to the father for the conversion of all those who support abortion and for those who support assisted suicide,” Aquila said at the rally. “Pray that their hearts may be changed, that their minds may be convinced on the dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.”

Other speakers echoed Aquila’s call to action and drew attention to Planned Parenthood, the target of anti-choice legislators following the release of a series of discredited and deceptively edited videos produced by a front group called the Center for Medical Progress.

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“Today we are here to remember those children throughout this past year who tragically lost their lives at the centers of destruction, namely Planned Parenthood,” said Biff Gore, president of Colorado Right to Life, an organizer of the event. “I’m going to pick on them, because they are the big dogs.”

“We need to be noisy,” Gore shouted to cheers. “We need to be as loud as we can. We need to be out in those clinics offering those women life and hope and choices. Amen.”

Asked by Rewire if Catholics should vote for candidates who support Planned Parenthood, Aquila said, “No, I believe that we really need to give witness to life, and Planned Parenthood does not give witness to life.”

Aquila’s predecessor, former Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, stirred up controversy in 2004 by suggesting that faithful Catholics should vote against Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, and for eventual President George W. Bush.

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado officials vowed to deliver a strong pro-choice message in the state.

“Voters in Colorado have said repeatedly that they support the Constitutional right to an abortion,” Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, said in an email. “And as the political arm of the pro-choice movement, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado will continue to give loud voice to the majority of Coloradans and protect our rights.”

Denver’s March for Life event was one of many similar events staged around the country to mark the 43rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

In a fiery speech, failed GOP presidential and U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes said the crowd should fight for “babies in the womb.”

“We wouldn’t be standing here if sometime back the Supreme Court hadn’t decided that killing babies is the American thing to do,” he said.

After Keyes finished his remarks, marchers wound through Denver, carrying scores of “Defend Life” placards. Other signs read, “Everyone Happens for a Reason,” “I am the pro-life generation,” and “There Is Life in Your Womb. Abortion Is not the Answer.”

Mark Dilger, a march participant, said he stood against abortion rights because he believes the medical procedure constitutes violence against fetuses. “If you don’t like violence in the world, being pro-life is what it’s all about.”

The anti-choice rally comes about two months after a gunman killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. The alleged shooter, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., reportedly said “no more baby parts” after his November 27 arrest. He said in an interview last week that he chose the Planned Parenthood facility “because it’s murdering little babies.”

Reproductive rights activists have argued that extreme anti-choice rhetoric contributed to the spike in clinic violence over the past year, including the Colorado Springs shooting. Republican leaders in Colorado have vowed to continue investigations into Planned Parenthood in hopes of defunding the health-care provider.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a typo that misidentified Sen. Tim Kaine as a Republican. We regret this error.

News Abortion

Parental Notification Law Struck Down in Alaska

Michelle D. Anderson

"The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions," said Janet Crepps, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm."

The Alaska Supreme Court has struck down a state law requiring physicians to give the parents, guardians, or custodians of teenage minors a two-day notice before performing an abortion.

The court ruled that the parental notification law, which applies to teenagers younger than 18, violated the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection guarantee and could not be enforced.

The ruling stems from an Anchorage Superior Court decision that involved the case of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands and physicians Dr. Jan Whitefield and Dr. Susan Lemagie against the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors.

In the lower court ruling, a judge denied Planned Parenthood’s requested preliminary injunction against the law as a whole and went on to uphold the majority of the notification law.

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Planned Parenthood and the physicians had appealed that superior court ruling and asked for a reversal on both equal protection and privacy grounds.

Meanwhile, the State of Alaska and the notification law’s sponsors appealed the court’s decision to strike some of its provisions and the court’s ruling.

The notification law came about after an initiative approved by voters in August 2010. The law applied to “unemancipated, unmarried minors” younger than 18 seeking to terminate a pregnancy and only makes exceptions in documented cases of abuse and medical emergencies, such as one in which the pregnant person’s life is in danger.

Justice Daniel E. Winfree wrote in the majority opinion that the anti-choice law created “considerable tension between a minor’s fundamental privacy right to reproductive choice and how the State may advance its compelling interests.”

He said the law was discriminatory and that it could unjustifiably burden “the fundamental privacy rights only of minors seeking pregnancy termination, rather than [equally] to all pregnant minors.”

Chief Justice Craig Stowers dissented, arguing that the majority’s opinion “unjustifiably” departed from the Alaska Supreme Court’s prior approval of parental notification.

Stowers said the opinion “misapplies our equal protection case law by comparing two groups that are not similarly situated, and fails to consider how other states have handled similar questions related to parental notification laws.”

Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) officials praised the court’s ruling, saying that Alaska’s vulnerable teenagers will now be relieved of additional burdensome hurdles in accessing abortion care. Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union, CRR, and Planned Parenthood represented plaintiffs in the case.

Janet Crepps, senior counsel at CRR, said in a statement that the “decision provides important protection to the safety and well-being of young women who need to end a pregnancy.”

“The reality is that some young women face desperate circumstances and potentially violent consequences if they are forced to bring their parents into their reproductive health decisions. This law would have deprived these vulnerable women of their constitutional rights and put them at risk of serious harm,” Crepps said.

CRR officials also noted that most young women seeking abortion care involve a parent, but some do not because they live an abusive or unsafe home.

The American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine have said minors’ access to confidential reproductive health services should be protected, according to CRR.