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Tag: abortion rights

Radical New Hampshire Republicans Seek To Kill Reproductive Healthcare

New Hampshire has long had a history of supporting abortion rights, but that's changed. Now, clinics that provide abortion in the state are being denied funding, and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu — who claimed to be "pro-choice" when he ran for re-election in 2018 — signed into law the first abortion ban in the state's history last month.

The move to undermine funding for clinics that provide abortions began last year, when New Hampshire's Executive Council, which must approve all state contracts, added an audit provision for clinics that receive money from the state's family planning program. The council alleged, despite much evidence proving otherwise, that state funds were being used for abortions at places like Planned Parenthood, which is illegal in New Hampshire.

There was no question the imposition of an audit provision was designed to delay — or strip — funding to the clinics. The timing of the audit provision requirement ensured that clinics would not receive money before the start of the next fiscal year. At the time, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services warned the Republican-controlled Executive Council that non-abortion care like breast cancer screenings would be severely disrupted by cutting off these funds.

Even though all the clinics have undergone audit proceedings, the Executive Council denied them funding in September, December, and again earlier this week.

In September, while the audits were still in process, the Council refused to approve contracts for clinics despite the state's Health and Human Services Commissioner, Lori Shibinette, saying all state providers were in compliance and none of them used public funds for abortions.

In December, the audits were complete and confirmed no commingling of funds. Indeed, Shibinette explained to the Council that the audit found the state "doesn't even pay enough to fund their regular family planning," much less subsidizing any abortion services. However, the audits did find other minor financial issues, but nothing related to using government funds for abortion.

The clinics then addressed these audit issues and corrected all problems, which the state confirmed. Still, it didn't matter. Earlier this week, the Executive Council voted yet again to deny funding. David Wheeler, who has led the charge against funding the clinics, said there wasn't enough evidence that state money wasn't being used to fund abortions even with an audit. When Shibinette asked Wheeler and the other Republicans on the Executive Council what information would be sufficient to satisfy them, they had no answer.

As Republicans on the Executive Council strangle clinic funding, other anti-choice Republicans in the state have rammed through new laws that restrict access to abortion. Republicans attached the abortion bills to the state budget, which required Sununu to agree to the bills or veto the entire budget mid-pandemic.

As of Jan. 1, 2022, the state has its first gestational ban ever, which bars abortions after 24 weeks and has no exceptions for the pregnant person's health.

Now, providers who perform an abortion after the 24-week mark could face both civil and criminal penalties, including being charged with a felony. If married to the mother, a father can also obtain monetary damages if the pregnant person has an abortion after 24 weeks.

There's also an ultrasound requirement. If people seek abortions in the early stages of their pregnancies, ultrasounds are internal, not external. This means pregnant people have to undergo vaginal penetration with a camera and, if they are uninsured, pay around $400 for the process.

Republicans, who control both legislative chambers in the state, aren't stopping with a 24-week abortion ban or an ultrasound requirement. They've drafted new bills, including a so-called "heartbeat" ban, which functions as a six-week ban on abortion. Another law Republicans are pushing would allow biological fathers to ask a court to prohibit their partners from having abortions.

What all this shows is that abortion access is precarious even in states where there has been a historic commitment to ensuring that abortions remain legal and accessible. If abortion opponents continue to control New Hampshire's Legislature and governorship, the state will likely pass even more laws restricting access.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Forcing Teens To Have Babies Would Not Be Good For Republicans

For nearly 50 years, the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling has protected a woman's right to an abortion. It also protected many politicians' careers. Lawmakers who opposed abortion knew that as long as abortion remained available, pro-choice voters wouldn't care much about their positions on the matter.

That would be especially true of suburban mothers. Once reliable Republican voters, they have moved toward Democrats in recent elections. If the GOP wants them back, forcing their impregnated high schoolers to bear children will not help. If Roe is overturned, more than 20 states are likely to make abortion virtually illegal, as Texas has done.

The Gallup polls show that public support for the right to an abortion has only grown stronger. Some 32 percent of adults surveyed said abortion should be legal under any circumstances, up from 26 percent in 2001. Some 48 percent want it legal only under certain circumstances, which is where the Roe decision (and I) stand. Those wanting abortion totally banned accounted for only 19 percent of the respondents.

Some politicians calling to outlaw abortion play the weasel by offering to make exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. They are total hypocrites. There is no moral difference between an embryo created in love and an embryo resulting from sexual violence.

Our partisan passions have made it fairly impossible to conduct a reasoned discussion of this issue. Many European countries have tighter rules than this country does. Germany, for example, allows abortion on request up to only 12 weeks after conception. In Sweden, it's 18 weeks. The limit here is about 24 weeks. Both Germany and Sweden permit later abortions under special circumstances. In some cases, they also pay for the procedure.

Regardless of what happens to Roe or in the states that seem ready to ban all (or nearly all) abortions, access to abortion will not disappear. Obviously, telemedicine and the abortion pill will let some women bypass local obstacles.

Then again, a bounty hunter in Idaho could hack the computers of women in Texas to find transactions related to the abortion pill. He could then report the delivery guys who dropped the pill envelopes at their doors to the Texas authorities — and collect $10,000 from Lone Star taxpayers.

Of course, there's always travel. Texas women seeking abortions have reportedly been flying thousands of miles to other states to obtain one. Maryland, Ohio and Washington are among the destinations. A reason for this long-distance travel is that clinics in bordering states, such as Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico, are overloaded with patients from Texas.

With the added hassle and expense, women who are poor or dysfunctional will be the least able to end their unwanted pregnancies. In 2014, some 75 percent of abortion patients were poor or low-income, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks these things.

To sum up, about four of every five Americans want to keep abortion legal. Roe has given anti-abortion politicians the ability to placate "pro-life" voters while not inconveniencing the others. But make one's daughter, one's wife, or oneself fly from Mobile, Texas, to Seattle, Washington, for a procedure that once was locally available, and there are going to be repercussions at the polls.

There's a silent majority here. Suburban mothers are not marching around with signs saying they want their daughters to get an abortion, but they want one if it's needed.

In recent elections, this important voting bloc has been swinging between the parties. A decision upending Roe that leads to bans on abortion could tip the scales in favor of candidates who vow to protect the right to one. That would be the Democrats, and the party's leaders know it.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

#EndorseThis: An Ominous Glimpse Of Women's 'Handmaid' Future -- If Trump Wins

With the Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, women's equality and reproductive rights are under a greater threat than at any time in the past 50 years. As the producers at MeidasTouch suggest, the future under a Trumpist regime -- authoritarian, brutal, and misogynist -- could be even worse than the bad old days.

"Traffic Stop" shows what could happen to young women in our society when Barrett and her far-right cohort gain the power to impose their religious views on all Americans. It's short but extremely disturbing. Share it.




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Profiling The Politics Of Trump’s Potential Court Nominees

As the nation grieves the death of women's rights champion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Donald Trump has vowed — in the teeth of public outcry — to choose her replacement. Trump is likely to choose a woman to fill Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat, but his two top picks for the vacancy, Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Judge Barbara Lagoa, are under fire for troubling judicial track records. (A third is Allison Jones Rushing, a conservative federal appeals judge in North Carolina.)

Barrett, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, is a Catholic conservative and mentee of Antonin Scalia with a record of conservative rulings on cases ranging from abortion rights to gun control. Before her brief stint on the bench, she was a law professor for nearly 20 years at the University of Notre Dame.

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Sen. Collins Was Wrong On Kavanaugh And Abortion Rights

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh voted against abortion rights precedent the court had set just four years earlier — breaking a promise Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said he had made in order to gain her confirmation vote.

During the confirmation process, Collins said she decided to vote in favor of Kavanaugh because he told her he believed "the concept of precedent is rooted in Article III of the Constitution" — and she said that meant he wouldn't vote to overturn abortion rights.

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No More Lies About ‘Late-Term Abortion’

Joi and her husband wanted a baby.

“We wanted to be pregnant in the worst way,” she says.

For more than a decade, they tried. So many tests, and then more tests. Blood draws and injections. In 2002, it happened.

They were expecting a daughter. They would call her Jordan.

Joi was in her early 40s with a high-risk pregnancy, but everything seemed to be fine until the 20th week, when she underwent amniocentesis. The test revealed no genetic abnormalities, but something wasn’t right. Their baby’s abdomen was swelling.

“I was in a panic, but I was laser-focused on figuring out the problem,” Joi says. “I’m a physical therapist by training. I believe the science. I also over-research.”

She called her sister to postpone the baby shower. She and her husband quit going to work. This was the next two weeks of their lives, as described by Joi in a letter to her congressman, 15 years later:

“Fearing something was dreadfully wrong, we began the gut-wrenching quest to determine what the future held for our child. Specialist after specialist, test after test, bloodwork, ultrasounds — both vaginal and transdermal — palpation, measurements of every one of her body parts, scan after scan, doctor visits from Morristown to Manhattan, and towns in between to final out all of the answers.”

In the 22nd week of Joi’s pregnancy, a doctor sat them down. “There is nothing we can do to save your baby,” he said.

Joi’s options, as described by one parent in their bereavement group, were horrible and terrible.

“Do I let that child disintegrate inside me, and any time it could fall out? On a floor? While I’m driving? Did I want to fish her out of the toilet? What if I’m home alone when it happens? It’s unfathomable.”

The other option broke their hearts, but felt more humane. She and her husband agreed to a process to induce early labor.

“I didn’t know the abortion restrictions in my state at that time,” she says. “I knew I was having a medical emergency. This is what a ‘late-term abortion’ — I hate that term — is. It’s not a ‘choice.’ You have no choice.

“I wanted to deliver her and meet her. You know, you get that one chance to meet them and hold them, and then in the same minute, almost, you have to say goodbye.”

She went into the hospital on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. It would take 12 hours, they were told. “It didn’t work out that way,” she says. “Everything that could go wrong, went wrong.” She was in labor for 45 hours.

Jordan was born on the morning of Memorial Day. They held her, and then handed her over for an autopsy and cremation.

“I was in a black hole for a long time,” Joi says. “My eyes never stopped crying for weeks. Sometimes, I was sobbing. Other times, I was sitting and tears were just streaming down my face.”

I have never met Joi, who has asked that I not use her full name in syndication because she fears harassment from anti-abortion extremists. I heard from her after I shared a story quoting Pope Francis, who said last Saturday that abortion is unacceptable, even when the fetus is fatally ill.

“Is it legitimate to take out a human life to solve a problem?” the pope said at a Vatican conference on the issue. “Is it permissible to contract a hitman to solve a problem?”

“A hitman,” Joi says in a phone interview. “This procedure is so rare. And to equate devastated parents who get this medical diagnosis, who face this medical emergency in the hope that they can save this baby…” Her voice trailed off.

It reminded her of Donald Trump, who lied about abortion at a Wisconsin rally in late April.

“The baby is born,” Trump said. “The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby; they wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

If a lie can be evil, this is it. There is no bottom to Trump’s desire to demonize women, and too many people willing to believe him. That is why Joi is increasingly speaking out. “Donald Trump knows how to speak to an emotional trigger in people, and they do his bidding.”

She saw this in some of her friends. Some of them are “fundamental Christians,” she says, “and they started posting this garbage. They knew about my experience, but I was not their first thought.”

She started sending them private messages, but it didn’t feel like enough. She had to do more. She shared “a helluva status update on my Facebook wall.” She has been writing more often to legislators, too. And now she’s talking to a columnist.

“For a lot of years, I couldn’t talk about this,” she says. “It’s very isolating. It’s in the shadows.”

Joi and her husband have a 14-year-old daughter now. “We’re lucky,” she says. “We have a family. That doesn’t always happen for couples who go through this.”

Had Jordan lived, she would have turned 17 this past Memorial Day. “It feels like yesterday,” Joi says, “and forever ago.”

Each year, she remembers Jordan in her own way. “I try to plant things,” Joi says. “I try to make things grow.”

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

The Dark Logic Behind Alabama’s Abortion Ban

A gaffe is not when a politician tells a lie, according to a famous adage by journalist Michael Kinsley. “A gaffe,” he explained, “is when a politician tells the truth — some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

When Alabama, Ohio and Missouri enacted broad abortion bans with no exception for cases of rape and incest, they made the same sort of mistake. Their measures gave the public an accurate but alarming picture of how many “pro-life” advocates see the issue. By showing how far they would take their logic, they dramatized the weakness of their case.

In signing the bill, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey cited “Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious & that every life is a sacred gift from God.” If every life is a sacred gift from God, how it came into being — by consensual sex or by rape — shouldn’t matter. In either case, the fetus is not to blame and is entitled to protection.

This may sound like a radical position. But it’s more common than you might realize. Last year, a Gallup Poll found that 43 percent of Americans who call themselves “pro-life” don’t favor exceptions for rape or incest.

The Republican Party’s national 2016 platform asserts, “The unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed,” with no mention of exceptions. The Texas Republican Party leaves no wiggle room when it says it wants to “completely abolish legal abortion.” Officials of several organizations have signed a letter urging the Republican Party to ban all abortions.

The absolutists have a point. If the life of the fetus is the sole consideration, other factors don’t matter. What matters least of all are the interests of pregnant women. By rejecting any exceptions, anti-abortion advocates starkly reveal their belief that each uterus belongs to everyone except the person in whom it resides.

If a fetus conceived in rape were granted all the rights of personhood at conception, the pregnant woman would forfeit control over her body, compelled to carry a fetus created without her consent. A vicious criminal could enslave her to bear his offspring — and to endure the lasting consequences of becoming a mother.

Or suppose that a child needs a liver transplant. “Even if, because of tissue type, only her father can provide a segment of liver that her body will not reject, our laws have never required any such sacrifice of him,” wrote Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe in his book, “Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes.”

The fact that the father chose to conceive the child makes no difference. His willingness to engage in behavior that leads to a pregnancy and birth does not obligate him to make such a sacrifice.

The logic of “pro-lifers,” however, would justify even greater violations. Thirteen people die every day in this country awaiting kidney transplants, according to the National Kidney Foundation. We could prevent those deaths by requiring kidney donations to those in need, from anyone whose organs would be suitable. But we don’t.

And we’d all agree that if someone needing a kidney tried to extract one from someone without her consent, she would be justified in using force in self-defense, including deadly force.

That’s not because we put no value on the lives of those who would be saved. It’s because we put a higher value on the personal freedom and bodily integrity of those who would be compelled to save them.

Someone impregnated through consensual sex, of course, would be subject to the same constraints. The difference, significant to some, is that she can be said to have incurred the obligation by her own choices.

But compulsory birth in the case of rape is only slightly more objectionable than in other cases. In either, the woman has to surrender her basic physical autonomy for the benefit of someone else, against her own will.

Under other comparable circumstances we would never impose such onerous obligations. Suppose that a man has defective sperm that are certain to produce only fetuses with horrific conditions that will cause death in utero. We could avert these grim outcomes by forcing him to get a vasectomy. But the intrusion on his body and the burden on his freedom would be too radical to accept.

To force women to go through pregnancy and give birth is a violation of the most severe and intimate kind. It’s not an affirmation of life. It’s a denial of the humanity of women.