Almost lost amid the sound & fury of news coverage of Rep. Alvin Holmes' remark about race and abortion is the fact that our legislators wasted hours debating & passing a package of bills that will do nothing positive for the state. In fact, they're setting up the state to incur even more legal costs as opponents challenge bills like the "fetal heartbeat" bill that outlaws any abortion after a heartbeat is detected - often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.
The law would allow abortions when prenatal anomalies would end with a stillbirth, but the law makes no exception for victims of rape and incest.
"I just don't think that gives her the right to kill," McClurkin said. [...]
The debate quickly turned to race after McClurkin said that she hoped Roe v. Wade would be overturned and she compared her efforts to that of Brown v. the Board of Education, which ruled segregation of schools unconstitutional.
Ok y'all. We expect Nordgren to say stupid things: she's a malaprop machine and I, for one, love her for it. With every speech, every bill, she gives fodder for blog posts and socks the GOP with another black eye. But Democrats, let's NOT try to match her statement for statement!
Congratulations to Rep. Holmes for handing Republicans a great big issue to whine about - and one that takes the public's focus on the bills that sailed through the House yesterday.
For instance, Rep. Patricia Todd's amendment to HB489 was tabled:
Today I offered an amendment to HB489, which extends the waiting period for an abortion to 48 hours, to provide one million dollars to DHR to promote adoptions in Alabama and one million dollars to the Department of Public Health for comprehensive sex education. This amendment was tabled, but I will continue to work to give real options to women facing an unplanned pregnancy.
First, there's absolutely no medical reason to force a woman to travel to a clinic for an appointment on Monday, then require her to make another trip 2 days later to receive medical care that she's legally entitled to obtain. Newsflash, legislators.... women don't decide on a whim to terminate a pregnancy. Nobody leaves the mall disgruntled because she's gone up a skirt size and impulsively heads straight to the local clinic for an abortion.
The idea that a woman seeking an abortion hasn't already given it serious thought infantalizes women. And the fact that the majority wouldn't even consider an amendment that would make adoptions easier and help prevent unplanned pregnancies in the first place tell us everything we need to know about the real intent of this bill.
Just when you thought it was safe to look away from the uterati trainwreck that's the current Alabama Legislative session, Senator Shadrack McGill strides onto the scene with a "personhood" bill (SB414 - PDF). Hold on to your eyes so they don't roll out of your head. He (or someone literate enough to actually author a bill) defines a zygote as a full person from the moment of fertilization.
This bill would define the term "persons" to include all human beings resulting from the union of the male sperm with the female egg either from sexual intercourse or in the case of in vitro fertilization, the fertilized egg or eggs relied on by a physician for implantation in the uterus.
So that means, from the moment of conception, an egg with fewer than a hundred cells has the same legal and civil rights as... well.... your average male in Alabama. Those cells better enjoy their status, because, at birth, if they have two X chromosomes, they'll find themselves subject to the whims of Alabama Legislators who can barely spell "chromosome," much less legislate effectively on medical matters.
Like your current birth control pills? This law may outlaw them.
Find the IUD to be a reliable, non-hormonal method of birth control? Forget it, sister.
Desperately want to have a child, but stymied by fertility problems of either you or your spouse? Hope you want a litter, because all those eggs need a home, hon.
State Senator Shadrack McGill, himself a graduate of "Quack University," has a long and sordid history with "ladyparts legislation." One of his legislative goals from the 2013 session was to proscribe how infertility doctors could conduct their practice:
Among those goals, said state Sen. Shadrack McGill, is strengthening the state's definition of the beginning of life to state that life begins at conception, even if that conception occurs in a laboratory.
"We need to let physicians know: Any eggs that are fertilized need to be placed in a mother's womb," McGill said. "And another thing: People say it's a woman's body and she has a right to kill the life inside of her womb. But she can't ask the abortionist to kill her, too. Our laws protect you from your own self."
In case this bill sound all-so-dreadfully familiar... it is. The same extremist legislation has been defeated in other states, including MISSISSIPPI! Obviously, McGill has forgotten that Alabama's unofficial state motto is "Thank God for Mississippi," and hopes to take our state where even Mississippians feared to tread.
Cmon... be honest: do you trust this man with your uterus?
This whole, dreadful session can't end soon enough, and campers.... we're only about halfway there!
Hold on to your lady parts, because Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard & his minions think they're better qualified than you - or your doctor - to determine what happens to them. It appears that, when the GOP protests what it calls "putting the government between you and your doctor," they're talking about the federal government. Because they're just a-okay, Jim-dandy fine with wedging a clueless state legislature in the stirrups between you and your OB-GYN.
Four bills passed the Alabama House committee today as a motley cadre of old white guys, assorted hangers-on, & a group of Knights of Columbus men in full regalia cheered the state's latest assault on women's reproductive rights and, by extension, the state budget.
House Bill 490 by Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, would require doctors to check for a fetal heartbeat before abortions and would ban abortions if a heartbeat is detected.
According to the National Institutes of Health, fetal hearbeats can be detected six to seven weeks into a pregnancy. Alabama law currently allows abortions up to 20 weeks.
The GOP says we don't have enough money to expand Medicaid or adequately fund other essential state services, but they have no problem at all passing stupid legislation that will cost the state hundreds of thousands (if not millions) in legal bills.
And they say they're opposed to "frivolous lawsuits!"
As bad as McClurkin's bill is, it isn't the most creepy bill passed today. That award goes to Rep. Kurt Wallace with HB493 - the baby hospice bill:
HB 493 by Rep. Kurt Wallace, R-Maplesville, which would require doctors to give women information about perinatal hospice services before aborting a fetus with a lethal anomaly, a defect reasonably certain to result in death within three months after birth.
Wouldn't that make for a festive baby shower? "Have you decided what you'll do for child care?" "Not yet, we found the most wonderful hospice, but they don't take Medicaid...."
The bill passed the Alabama House on Jan. 21 by a vote of 71-24. It's pending in the Senate. If it passes there, the "rights" of this guy in the video (who is a nurse anesthetist at Huntsville Hospital) will be elevated above your "right" to medical care.
This was filmed at the Women's Clinic in Huntsville yesterday. It sure puts the lie to "sidewalk counseling," doesn't it? Because he clearly says he wants to be heard "inside the building."
All patients deserve to receive the highest quality of care when they seek medical treatment and a health care provider should never deny information or needed care because of his/her personal beliefs. While this bill would not allow a doctor to abandon a woman on her deathbed, it does not provide adequate protections for her health and safety. As medical professionals, we have an ethical duty to ensure that patients have accurate information and are able to make their own medical decisions. The right of a patient to access information and services should always come first.
Unless you want the guy in the video on your surgical team, you better be contacting your senator and talking to everyone you know about the dangers of HB31.
More video of this nurse is on the flip.
NOTE: The original post credited the protestor as working at Crestwood Hospital in Huntsville as well, but our source contacted us to say that they're trying to verify that information. Until they can, we've removed that part of the post. we've confirmed that he does NOT work at Crestwood, but is employed by Huntsville Hospital.
Health care workers take note: Alabama wants you to know that your conscience doesn't matter - unless someone else's uterus is involved. Then, legislators are totally on your side & vow to protect your delicate sensibilities.
So says HB31, sponsored by Rep. Becky Nordgren and passed out of committee yesterday. The bill would allow health care providers to refuse to "perform or participate in any medical health care service" that violates their "moral, religious, or ethical principles," as long as the health care "service" is related to:
Any phase of patient medical care, treatment or procedure that is limited to abortion, human cloning, human embryonic stem cell research, and sterilization, and is related to: Patient referrals, counseling, therapy, testing, diagnosis or prognosis, research, instruction, prescribing, dispensing or administering any device, drug, or medication, surgery, or any other care or treatment rendered or provided by health care providers.
It's pretty clear that Rep. Nordgren is far more worried about ladyparts than she is anyone's conscience. Otherwise, why limit this medical conscience clause to reproductive procedures?
The Jehovah's Witness who doesn't want to work during a blood drive or perform a transfusion will find that that Legislature doesn't care about his/her conscience.But the pharmacist who doesn't want to fill a prescription for Plan B or who thinks unmarried women shouldn't be obtaining birth control is.
So is the white supremacist doctor who can presumably refuse to perform sterilization procedures on white patients or even prescribe birth control pills to white women because he agrees with Pat Buchanan about population trends.
For some reason, the State of Alabama thinks it's fun and easy to pick on women and limit their health care choices, but the wording of this bill, cuts both ways (so to speak). What's going to happen the first time a doctor refuses to prescribe Viagra for an unmarried man or a pharmacist denies his prescription refill based on the "moral" belief that an aging single guy doesn't have any business tomcatting around?
And, for a political party that likes to tout its "business friendly" policies, can you imagine what a nightmare this law would be for hospitals, medical offices, and pharmacies? Imagine trying to draw up a work schedule:
"Let's see, Sally won't fill birth control prescriptions without seeing a marriage license first, but Joe will, so we'll put them on shift together. Bob won't assist with fertility treatments unless the couple is Christian, married, and heterosexual and Kelly is morally opposed to sterilization and refuses to assist with tubal ligations....."
How about this as a solution to the so-called "conscience" problem? If you're opposed to providing health care services that patients need, then don't enter the health care profession. Problem solved. No conscience violated. No stupid law required.
Really, Alabama, let's start applying a variation of Occam's Razor to some of these state "problems." Often, the simplest solution is the best for all concerned.
Anti-choice protestors are increasing in intensity & expanding their presence in the city. For over a year, they've staked out the Alabama Women's Center and provided sidewalk counseling that takes the form of prayers (through a bullhorn), shouting, graphic signs, and songs (like the unforgettable "Happy Birthday, Dead Baby) incident.
In spite of this, the clinic has remained open, aided by a group of local heroes we profiled a few weeks ago:
Twice a week, on a sidewalk near the downtown area, a group of heroes meets in Huntsville, AL. Rain or shine, hot or cold, they gather to support strangers who are making one of the most personal & difficult decisions of their lives. And they do this service for free, as volunteers who work in the face of verbal and even physical harrassment from anti-choice protestors.
So naturally, the antis have moved along to what they consider to be somewhat softer targets: local hospitals and doctors' offices.
Anti-abortion leader James Henderson will hold a "prayer vigil for the unborn" Saturday morning near the main entrance to Crestwood Medical Center.
Henderson, a Morgan County pastor and executive director of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, is inviting "concerned Christians from all church backgrounds" to join him at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of Airport Road and One Hospital Drive in south Huntsville.
He said in a news release that the group will pray for Crestwood to remove from its medical staff two doctors who perform abortions at a Huntsville women's clinic.
Attendance was, well.... limited, as pro-choice organizer Pamela Wills Watters reported:
"The anti-abortion protesters at Crestwood Hospital didn't have a very good turnout at all...maybe 50 or so & they stayed their hour & left. They have more than that at the clinic on Saturday mornings for an hour. We had about 25 pro-choice warriors, plus our big "Pro-choice Y'all" banners. We were much more visible.
Can't help but wonder if they'll be any more "successful" when they demonstrate in front of Ed White Middle School. Anti-choice organizers James Henderson and John Phillip of the Knights of Columbus obtained a permit to picket a local doctor's office. Problem is, there's no sidewalk in front of the office, so they selected the next "best" spot: the sidewalk across the street - that just happens to be directly in front of a public school.
She is a physician at the clinic & Henderson had already threatened to protest her private practice to "shame" her into quitting. Get this.... their permit is from 9-5 Monday - Friday for the sidewalk at Ed White Middle School!! There is no sidewalk on the side of the road that Dr. Robinson's office is on, so they obtained it for across the street. I don't think the parents and faculty are going to appreciate that. I would imagine that the superintendent's office is going to be getting a lot of calls.
I have so much admiration for Watters and the other committed people in her group. It's like they're constantly playing "whack-a-mole" all across the city. But they certainly found a way to "make lemonade." Recently the group began an "adopt-an-anti" fundraiser. You can select your favorite protestor and donate a certain amount each week if he/she shows up. The price goes up if they yell through a bullhorn, cry, or wear a poor copy of a WWII concentration camp outfit (not kidding!). On Wednesday, they earned over $100 in pledged donations.
Why do they do it? A clinic volunteer escort discusses his reasons on the flip.
Twice a week, on a sidewalk near the downtown area, a group of heroes meets in Huntsville, AL. Rain or shine, hot or cold, they gather to support strangers who are making one of the most personal & difficult decisions of their lives. And they do this service for free, as volunteers who work in the face of verbal and even physical harrassment from anti-choice protestors.
This drama plays out twice a week on the days when Alabama Women's Center performs abortions. It's a situation that can get tense, as protestors sing, shout, and otherwise "counsel" women attempting to enter the clinic.
Longtime clinic escort volunteer Melissa Davis described one disturbing incident:
I think the most stressful interaction I've had with any particular anti-abortion person at the clinic was when one woman - who was maybe mentally unstable, or maybe a plant by the regular anti-abortion protestors - threatened to kill me. She did not have any weapons, and at the time it wasn't that scary, but we caught her actions on camera and called the police anyways. This incident was also reported to the FBI as a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances act.
The woman was extremely disturbed and overwhelmingly hateful towards all the volunteers at the clinic that day, but thankfully after the police cited her and she left, we have not seen her again.
Clinic volunteers have a good reason to be cautious and vigilant about their own personal safety as well as the safety and security of patients and the clinic staff.
At least one protestor has already been convicted of violence. In 1984, Father Edward Markley a Catholic priest, already had a history of multiple arrests when he entered the Women's Community Health Center in Huntsville and assaulted two clinic workers. Markley has been spotted multiple times among the protestors outside the Alabama Women's Center.
Protestors - led by soon to be ex-State Senator Shadrack McGill have also taken on local doctors and hospitals that they allege support abortion because... well... just because. A charge that Crestwood Hospital has forcefully pushed back on. Perhaps McGill thinks this is a good way to end what he calls "premeditated abortions."
The issue has spilled over into the Huntsville City Council as well, as the volunteer escorts and protestors vie for sidewalk space in front of the clinic. Anti-abortion leader James Henderson framed the issue in his customary apocalyptic terms:
The executive director of the Christian Coalition of Alabama says "babies may die" if Huntsville amends its rules for sidewalk protests and other public gatherings. [...] Henderson said pro-life "counselors" need to be near the clinic's driveway in order to speak to women going in for abortions.
"We have to have somebody there to offer help to young women, which means standing by the driveway - one or two people on both sides -- plus space for people to pray," Henderson said Monday. "We can't yield on being there for prayer and support.
That sounds warm & fuzzy, doesn't it?
Except that their version of compassionate counseling includes stunts like this:
Pro-choice marchers recalled a particularly painful event last month when a woman whose baby had died en utero was coming to the clinic to have it removed. In an awful coincidence, that was the day, Watters said, when the pro-life demonstrators collected a children’s choir on the sidewalk to sing “Happy Birthday, Dead Baby” to anyone driving in.
That noxious event happened last October, during the anti-choice movement's self-proclaimed "40 Days for Life," an event that draws hundreds of anti-choice protestors to picket, pray, and.... sing.
This year's "40 Days" has just begun and local women and volunteers need your help and support.
Organizer (and nationally-known artist) Pamela Willis Watters is getting creative in the local response. Volunteers kicked the event off in style when they marched to the "Choose Life" fake clinic and exposed the lies they tell women who seek honest medical information (see the photo above). More events and impromptu rallies are planned.
Want to help? Email Pamela: email@example.com
Note... we'll be following this story throughout the 40 days with photos and video. We encourage anyone who joins the volunteer escorts to share their own photos and personal experiences.
The good gals (and guys) one a big one last night in Texas. Led by State Senator Wendy Davis, who led a dramatic 11-hour filibuster - a real one, not the Republican kind - pro-choice Texans blocked a state TRAP bill that was even worse than the one passed in Alabama this session.
Or did they?
The GOP tried an all-too-familiar tactic to push the bill through anyway: "if you can't win under the rules, change them - retroactively, if needed. Or just cheat...."
Initially, Republicans insisted the vote started before the midnight deadline and passed the bill that Democrats spent the day trying to kill. But after official computer records and printouts of the voting record showed the vote took place Wednesday, and then were changed to read Tuesday, senators retreated into a private meeting to reach a conclusion.
At 3 a.m., Dewhurst emerged from the meeting still insisting the 19-10 vote was in time, but said, “with all the ruckus and noise going on, I couldn’t sign the bill” and declared it dead.
He denounced the more than 400 protesters who staged what they called “a people’s filibuster” from 11:45 p.m. to well past midnight. He denied mishandling the debate.
Sound familiar? There must be some instruction manual handed out to every incoming Republican governor that explains how to drain state budgets in order to transfer state assets and tax money to big business.
But "fiscal responsibility" (if you can call it that) goes out the window when we're talking about restricting women's rights and inserting the goverment between doctor and patient. Then, no price tag is too high.
Congrats to pro-choice Texans! Keep up the fight: you're an inspiration to us.
Sunday night's debate was grueling, and the bill's sponsor stopped answering questions after she got into trouble denying Democratic amendments. When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, explained why she felt it was unnecessary.
"In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out," she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. "The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development."
Her apparent confusion about "rape kits" — a phrase generally used to describe the equipment used by medical personnel during forensic examinations to gather physical evidence following allegations of rape or sexual assault — sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.
Now there's a solution! When you don't understand the issue in front of you - even though you're the sponsor of the darn bill - just refuse to answer questions.
Mary Sue McClurkin... are you paying attention?
Let's take Julie's apt framing of the issue for McClurkin from February and update it a bit:
We want to help, MarySue Jody Really. Because you are sitting down in Montgomery Austin writing law. You are sitting down in Montgomery Austin meddling in the physician-patient relationship. You are meddling in things about which you have no knowledge whatsoever, and that means you are a danger to society.
Fortunately, voters also have a way to get things "cleaned out:" elections.
It was a beautiful, sunny day yesterday in Montgomery as pro-choice supporters descended on the Statehouse to rally and lobby against HB57 - the TRAP bill specifically designed to close women's clinics in Alabama.
The group cheered speakers that included Alabama legislators, Planned Parenthood officials, ADP Chair Mark Kennedy, and some awesome young women who help organize pro-choice women on their college campuses.
We also had a cadre of hecklers who seemed to think that shouting epithets at speakers and passers-by is the way to "bring people to the Lord." They were ready when Staci Fox from Planned Parenthood Southeast began speaking. As you can see from the video, she barely got out a sentence before they started up - and were quickly shut down by State Troopers who explained that anyone could stand and watch the rally, but couldn't disrupt it. We were standing right next to them and the Troopers showed admirable restraint as the hecklers argued with them.
Senator Linda Coleman deserves a particular shout-out. She was also nearby and reminded the hecklers: "You were here a few weeks ago and everyone treated your rally with respect. You need to be quiet now."
Remember, that was the rally that featured the guys strutting around in feathered hats and capes, looking like Ru Paul rejects. Funny how they're so concerned with abortion, but haven't felt the need to take to the streets over Medicaid funding, education, or any other issue that affects the lives of children in this state.
Thanks as well to Hank Sanders, Rodger Smitherman, and Priscilla Dunn for their speeches and support. And special thanks to every woman in the Senate: their opposition to this bill was strong and unanimous. In fact, every Senate Democrat but one - Roger Bedford - voted NO. Bedford voted "pass" which means "I'm here in the chamber, but don't want to take a stand."
(Hope to see you in Montgomery tomorrow!! - promoted by countrycat)
It's time to tell the Alabama Legislature that "enough is enough." Women's health advocates will gather at the Statehouse in Montgomery on April 2 for a rally and lobby day. Please make plans to join us!
We can only hope that Alabama legislators will have to courage to actually meet with rally attendees. After last year's rally, our elected "leaders" ran from the Statehouse like it was on fire.
At the time, we were thrilled that SB12 (the vaginal ultrasound bill) had been shelved, but who realized what crap the legislature would throw at women and families this session?
Now, we need your voices more than ever. Get with the program, folks, and speak out. See you in Montgomery on April 2nd!
It seems like only a few weeks ago we were right here, joining together and ready to fight for a better Alabama. Same beautiful spring weather. Last year, we were successful in preventing a great many bad bills from passing—I think we caught Montgomery by surprise.
They weren’t expecting us last year. This year, they were. Now it seems they believe they can just do whatever they want to do. They might even think we will give up, when we see how much power they have. Will we give up? No! Because we’ve learned a few things also. We’ve got power they’ve never even dreamed of.
We won’t give up because we know the truth about their agenda. We won’t give up because we know silence leads to death. We won’t give up because we know we have a duty to stand together, and that when any one of us is threatened by injustice, all of us are called to speak.
This isn't your grandfather's Alabama Democratic Party. Thank goodness. Within the past few weeks, state and local ADP party leaders have taken a firm, public stance and challenged the Alabama GOP supermajority to end the War on Women.
ADP Chair Mark Kennedy spoke to the Madison County Democratic Women on March 7 and led off his speech with this statement:
"No woman in Alabama should ever vote Republican."
It got better from there as he described legislative attempts to limit women's choices and access to health care.
Ten days later on March 17th, Madison County Democratic Party Chair Clete Welti gave a barnburner of a speech at the "Stop the War on Women" rally in Big Spring Park. He brought the cheering crowd to its feet with this:
The Democratic Party supports your right to choose, your right to get paid the same as men, your right to marry who you love, your right to equal opportunities, and the Democratic Party supports the Equal Rights Amendment.
These issues are not strictly partisan, but I will say that while our opposition has been introducing bill after bill to limit your choices, limit your pay, limit your access to healthcare and the voting booth; the Democratic Party is fighting to introduce and pass laws that will move women forward and guarantee that women have an equal voice. The Democratic Party is fighting to expand women’s rights while others are determined to silence your voice.
I know some firmly believe that there's no difference between the parties in this state. But, for the life of me, I can't remember Alabama GOP Chair Bill Armistead or any county GOP leader ever appearing at any pro-choice, pro-health care, or embracing any progressive legislation.
Leaders like Kennedy & Welti give me hope for the state and make me feel even more proud to be a Democrat.
Video clips of both speeches is on the flip and there's also a complete transcript of Welti's speech.
(Promoted from last week as a reminder: we need your voices in this discussion! - promoted by countrycat)
At a time when it seems that nobody in the legislature is listening to facts or reason, here's a chance to make your voice heard. Come one and all to a rally on March 17 at Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville.
Sadly, this will be the second time we gather to protest actions by the Legislature. At the first rally last year, the main issue was Clay Scofield's ultrasound bill. But this year, women's health issues are under assault from all sides:
"Personhood" legislation that would outlaw most forms of birth control and IVF treatments.
Mary Sue McClukin's TRAP bill that Governor Bentley thinks God is telling him to sign.
Governor Bentley's stubborn refusal to expand Medicaid, which will have tremendous impact on the health of many women & children in Alabama.
Last year's speakers included ADP Chair Judge Mark Kennedy and many other articulate, passionate men and women. Bring signs, lawn chairs, and several (dozen) friends.
For more information, contact Pamela Watters at firstname.lastname@example.org. Download a rally flier to print and share.
Let's start with the bad news. After holding over a committee vote on HB57 (the TRAP bill), the Senate Health Committee voted 7-3 to support Mary Sue McClurkin's ill-conceived bill:
The committee turned back an effort by Sen. Linda Coleman, D-Birmingham, to amend the bill. Coleman recommended a number of changes, including a provision to grandfather in the state’s five existing clinics. [...]
Coleman said she was not surprised her amendment was rejected and said she might try again on the Senate floor. She said she did not think the bill was really about health and safety.
“This was an attempt to close these type facilities down because of personal religious beliefs,” Coleman said.
Meanwhile, outside the Statehouse, Governor Robert Bentley was busy acting as ringmaster for the anti-choice circus. Governor ("only Christians are my brothers") Bentley went himself one better with this comment:
“We need to remember we are dealing with human life and this is what God expects us to do,” Republican Gov. Robert Bentley said at a Montgomery rally organized by abortion opponents in Montgomery. The Legislature’s Republican presiding officers, Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey and House Speaker Mike Hubbard, also attended the rally.
This just begs some good journalist to ask the obvious question: Why does God want Bentley to shun the Medicaid expansion that will really protect human life?
The good news - public education advocates had reason to cheer:
Momentum on on the "Dump Common Core" effort has slowed. The Senate Education committee held a public hearing yesterday, but delayed a vote until next week. Note that's only a minor victory: look what happened with HB57!
Speaker Mike Hubbard hit a roadblock in the form of Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price, on the "Alabama Accountability Act:"
“The judge mentioned that not only did they violate their own rules, they also are in violation of the state constitution that says you can’t take a bill and introduce it as a bill and say it’s about one thing and substitute it with a different bill,” said James Anderson, an attorney for the plaintiff.
The judge’s order prevents the House Clerk, Jeff Woodard, from delivering the bill to Governor Bentley for signing.
Hubbard decried the so-called "judicial activism," which the GOP seems to define as "any decision we don't like." He's appealing to the Alabama Supreme Court.
And finally, Governor Bentley showed a tiny piece of common sense and vetoed the first "guns in schools" bill to hit his desk:
Gov. Robert Bentley today sent a note to Franklin County lawmakers saying he is vetoing a bill approved last month by the Legislature to allow teachers and community members there to be trained as reserve police officers and sheriff’s deputies.
In the letter, Bentley said he was concerned primarily with the training because the bill does not provide adequate training requirements.
“Failure to provide for specific, applicable training would create an unacceptable high-risk situation with the possibility of dire consequences, including the injury or death of a child, teacher, or a volunteer member (of the security force),” Bentley said.
WTH? I know we tend to dismiss some members of the Alabama legislative super-majority as "weasels" (with apologies to the actual weasels among us), but what the heck are these guys wearing on their heads? Speaker Mike Hubbard is preening about his involvement in the so-called "pro-life rally" today in Montgomery - so much so that we wouldn't be surprised to see him sporting a peacock tail.
But what's UP with the hats & capes? It's like some kind of reverse skunk outfit. And that can't possibly be Dan Aykroyd in the middle, but maybe a cousin....
Don't you just love the token woman included in this group of men who claim to have the best interest of the ladies at heart?
Long before I entered medical school, physicians in the US were under no professional obligation to be truthful to patients. They prescribed placebos, kept secrets from the dying, and made decisions without expecting or wanting input from patients. The rules have changed—no more Dr. God, and thank goodness for that!
There is still a power imbalance though. We have the almighty power of the prescription, the referral, and the scalpel. Even more, we have the power of knowledge and experience our patients usually don’t possess. That power carries enormous responsibility. No matter how much my non-medical parents and patients read, they are in my exam room because they require my honest, best assessment of their health and my honest, best advice.
It is, therefore, absolutely critical that physicians attempt to avoid using knowledge manipulatively.
A legislator’s job is different. Even the most sincere elected leader must construct convincing reasons for action, depending on what will resonate with voters. Sometimes it’s the only way to get good policy through. Like it or not, that’s politics! HB 360 is an attempt to have physicians play politics, in the exam room, by giving women carefully selected information about abortion and leaving out what our legislators don’t like.
Come one, come all to the "Goat Hill Circus" (also known as the Alabama Legislature) on Wednesday for two public hearings on women's health issues. The gentlemen & ladies there will be discussing how to control the "lady parts" of Alabama women. To be fair, this is probably more entertaining for the clowns in the GOP supermajority than talking about the economic hit awaiting the state when sequestration takes effect.
The Senate public hearing is in the Statehouse at noon in room 304.
HB108: The "Religious Liberty" bill that allows your employer to arbitrarily decide what types of medication (read: contraception since that's the only type of medicine specifically mentioned) violate his/her religious beliefs. I'm betting that a lot of companies will "get religion" pretty quickly if they think it might save a couple of bucks.
The Senate public hearing is in the Statehouse at 11:30am in room 320.
Various pro-women groups are organizing to attend the hearings tomorrow. Some groups are carpooling and renting vans. If your organization is involved in that anywhere in the state, please note the information in the comments.
Alabama Republicans are on an Obsessive Crusade. Top priority is protecting the potential lives of the potential babies of the actual women who live here. Since 2010, Alabama Lawmakers have introduced more than 40* bills that, if signed into Law, would:
1) prevent women from accessing basic reproductive care, birth control, and abortion services;
2) prohibit private companies from covering Ladypart procedures they don’t like; and
3)protect healthcare providers from covering and providing medication/services which "violate their conscience," including the use of birth control pills to treat ovarian cysts.
Bills that restrict women and their families from accessing family-planning services are bad news for (duh) women, families, babies, and children. In case you've been living under a rock, here are a few reasons why:
They restrict access to basic Ladyparts Care, especially for low-income women. Some of these bills prohibit State or Federal funds from going to organizations that provide abortions. So if a clinic provides any abortions (take Planned Parenthood: did you know 97% of services are not related to abortion?), it is not eligible to receive any public funds to provide cancer screenings, pap smears, low cost birth control, breast exams, treatment for vaginal yeast and bacterial infections, or STD tests and treatment.
Also, just in case a clinic scrapes together funds to stay open, the latest bill requires hospital regulations, like making all hallways at least 6 feet wide. Maybe Legislators don’t realize that our biggest organ – the baby organ - still fits inside our bodies? Huntsville’s clinic, Alabama Women’s Center, will probably shut down.
They prohibit private insurance policies from covering birth control or abortion. Because having Ladyparts means never having to say “I’m sorry… but it’s none of your GD business why my doctor prescribed hormone pills.” Recent bills allow employers the right to choose… whether or not their employees’ insurance policies cover “birth control” pills. So not only are potential persons prioritized over actual persons, so are nosey-ass business owners! Surprisingly (just kidding, I’m not surprised), only women’s sexual healthcare is a target; no word on when they’ll introduce a bill to prevent coverage of Erectile Dysfunction and Viagra/Cialis prescriptions.
Additional bills prohibit private health insurance companies from covering elective abortions -unless they require an additional premium for an extra plan with optional coverage of abortion. So in case you’re planning on getting pregnant and having an abortion, better buy that extra coverage! Because having an abortion is always part of the plan, am I right, ladies?
They define embryos and fetuses as Persons, a legal definition that can result in cases of women being arrested and prosecuted after miscarrying. It already has. More than once. Multiple bills refer to the "Personhood" of embryos and fetuses, which sponsors have said they hope will affect using in vitro fertilization because the souls of discarded embryos may burn in Hell forever. (Seriously. Click the link.)
They undermine doctors and women by interfering with treatment and requiring medically unnecessary, costly procedures, such as the Government-mandated Ladypart Probe. Some of the bills require waiting periods and medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions (Side effects include indignation, pain, cost of the Probe, and hopefully, an increased desire to have babies). Other bills require patients to attend a specific number of office visits, and physicians to describe the embryo/fetus and “counsel” patients on alternatives to abortion - just in case OBGYNs and their patients have no idea what they’re doing in the clinic on Abortion Day. How helpful! Unless you’re missing work for the appointments, don’t want to be probed or pay for a probe, or trust your OBGYN is more qualified than an Elected Official Who Allegedly Attended Community College and Thinks He Knows More About Practicing Medicine on Ladyparts Than Actual OBGYNs.
At least Alabama potential babies and children have widespread post-birth access to healthcare, government assistance, and education. Haha! Just kidding. Alabama Lawmakers have introduced bills to cut eligibility for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), food stamps, and Medicaid, while simultaneously cutting Education budgets. Recent bills include eliminating eligibility for public assistance for adults who use drugs. I guess they think kids/babies of crackheads can fill out TANF forms on their own. Best I can tell, Elected Officials hope to increase the number of unwanted babies and prevent the most pitiful among them from accessing public assistance for food, shelter, and medicine. Republicans 1; Crackbabies 0. Hey, at least those kids will have a chance to suffer post-birth!
When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortion: Sometimes they die. Other times theyneed treatment for illegal botched abortions. Better case scenario: they'll live, as will their little unwanted baby, happily ever after, below the poverty level on government assistance – if they can still get it. So restricting women’s access to birth control and abortion may cost women their lives or health, and will probably cost Alabama taxpayers more money, but at least those potential babies were prioritized over actual Alabamians! But once you’re born, you're on your own. Don't worry, little Crackbabies, soon you'll be old enough to go to the privatized prisons.
Lasagna’s Tip of the Day: If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t get one.
* 2010 bills: SB49, HB39, SB335, SB365, SB361, SB457, SB366, SB312; 2011: HB573, HB557, HB558, SB308, SP298, SB281, SB201, HB18, HB178, SB46, SB322, HB41. 2011 bills: SB366, SB312, SB322, HB41; 2012 bills: SB27, HB739, HB418, HB223, SB6, SB12, SB20, SB96, HB112, SB5, SB10, HB375, SB105; 2013: SB205, SB130, HB57. This list does not include ALL bills relating to birth control and abortion, merely all the ones found in a brief online search at www.openbama.org (help yourself to look for more)
** Since 2010, 32 states have placed restrictions on abortion. Elected Officials in Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia (just to name a few) consider themselves entitled to make reproductive decisions on behalf of their constituents.
A Louisiana woman was charged with murder and spent approximately a year in jail before her counsel was able to show that what was deemed a murder of a fetus or newborn was actually a miscarriage that resulted from medication given to her by a health care provider.