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HB-527 On Tuesday's Legislative Calendar - Budget? No. Abortion? Yes.

by: countrycat

Sun May 24, 2015 at 09:33:15 AM CDT

With just 5 legislative days left in one of the Worst Sessions Ever, the Alabama House has a PSA bill on the Special Order calendar.  It's HB-257, the "close the Huntsville clinic because protesters are too violent and dangerous to be allowed near schools" bill.

 

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates posted this request:

HB 527, the "2000 foot rule" to shut down the Huntsville clinic (and potentially every clinic in the state if a charter school moves near an existing clinic), is on the special order calendar in the House of Representatives on Tuesday at 1PM. It is #7 on the calendar.

We need people to get to Montgomery if you can. ARRA needs to have a good group of people sitting right in the front row of the House gallery with ARRA shirts, the yellow clinic shirts, Planned Parenthood shirts, basically ANY pro-choice shirts and buttons you can wear. They DO look up there & see you if you are in the front row. Please remember, no signs, just your bodies & all the pro-choice/pro woman gear you can wear on your body.

The House Gallery is located on the 6th floor of the Alabama State House at 11 South Union Street in Montgomery. Try to get there early to get a seat in the front row(s). I expect a lot of arguing on the floor since it's 5 days until Sine Die (last day of the legislature) and they STILL haven't passed a budget.

If the floor debate is anything like the public hearing testimony in committee, hang on to your hat. At the hearing, veteran clinic protesters explained that their own activities make them a danger to schoolchildren.  Some choice tidbits:

  • It's just a bad idea to have an abortion clinic, with all that goes on there, across the street in front of a public school.

  • One of the providers said that they worried for their own children because they're abortion providers. So my question is if these abortion providers fear for their safety and safety of their own children, should we not also fear for the safety of our public school children?

  • In the previous location, I drove by the clinic on my way to and from work, every day and I've seen the signs that are held up - the pictures of aborted fetuses and I've seen the confrontations.

  • There have been bombings, as Judge Myron Thompson has said; there have been shootings, mayhem around the clinic - violent protests.  Our children should not be exposed to that.

But this journey into anti-choice bizarro world really took the cake. Somehow, the clinic (which is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood in any way) will benefit from a public school health clinic funded by the ACA, which will become a revolving door funneling young women to the Huntsville clinic and Planned Parenthood will profit... somehow?

There's also the issue of the Affordable Care Act and wanting to place health clinics in public schools, and to have a revolving door from a clinic in a public school as a referral system to a private business who makes not only financial profit as a private business from the ending of human life but also huge - Planned Parenthood has received $587 million a year annually in federal tax dollars - our money and yet they're still claiming to be non-profit in that regard of getting that money, but they claim to be for profit when it comes to this type of action.

So I strongly support this legislation ask you to protect our children from this could-be predatory business.

In spite of this nonsense, the House committee tripped over each other to give it a favorable report, and now it's going to the House floor.  Yes, there are just 5 legislative days remaining, but that's plenty of time to get it through the house and the Senate.

These jokers will do anything to appease the base and avoid having to make hard choices on the budget.

Tuesday is a big day in Montgomery. The full House session begins at 1pm - as does the committee hearing on SB-502. That's Gerald Dial's bill to use education money to bail out the General Fund.

 

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With No Budget In Sight, Legislature Rushes To Pass More Unconstitutional Bills

by: countrycat

Fri May 22, 2015 at 09:57:10 AM CDT

"Damn the legal bills!  Full speed ahead!" seems to be the guiding principle of the 2015 legislative session, and multiple speakers at Wednesday's Rally for Women's Lives touched on that topic. It's amazing really: the legislature's chief responsibility is to pass state budgets, but with just five meeting days left in the session, there's no consensus in sight.

 

This is in spite of the constitutional amendment  approved overwhelmingly by voters in 1984. It requires the Legislature to pass budgets before indulging in stupid stuff like taking the state out of the marriage business, making things that are already legal even more legal, and passing legislation that we know is illegal and will cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars that we don't have.

Mobile attorney Amy Andrews addressed this very issue when she listed the legal bills that other states have run up while defending their own anti-abortion bills:

  •  In 2011, Kansas spent nearly $400k in six months.  Since 2011, Kansas has spent $1.2 million to defend anti-abortion legislation. A law signed last month is expected to cost an additional $350-450k.  You think it's a coincidence that Kansas public schools are closing early this year due to lack of money?
  • As of January 2014, North Dakota has spent $200k defending anti-abortion laws.
  • Arizona spent $297k.
  • South Dakota spent $378k.
  • Texas spent $650k.
  • Idaho has spent over $1 million.

"Alabama does not have that kind of money to be throwing around," Andrews noted.

But throw it around we will if the pending package of anti-choice bills passes, promised Randall Marshall. He's the Legal Director of the ACLU of Alabama and has quite the track record of facing off in court (successfully!) against our Attorney General's office.  (Refer to our coverage of the TRAP lawsuit for some delicious tidbits.)

Marshall wrapped up the rally with a warning for state legislators. Referring to the huge legal bills taxpayers in other states are stuck paying, he promised:

It's going to be the same for Alabama. We are not yet done with previous lawsuits with the State of Alabama, but it will cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars - and it will continue to cost the state that kind of money if they pass more unconstitutional restrictions on women's right to choose.

Here's more information about the package of pending legislation:

Video of both speeches in their entirety is below.

 

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"Vote Like Your Life Depends On It - Because In Alabama It Does!"

by: countrycat

Fri May 22, 2015 at 08:32:16 AM CDT

As we watch this dreadful session of the Alabama Legislature stagger to a merciful end, many people are shaking their heads and asking: "how did we get to this point?" At Wednesday's Rally for Women's Lives, Jeni Tanner-Jordan provided one answer: too few of us turned out to vote.

Pointing to the Statehouse, she said:

"The men in that building have made it obvious that they don't care about us. You've heard about the bills; you've listened to the stories. Our current representatives are shouting from the rooftops that, as long as they're in charge, women don't stand a chance."

Rallying, walking the halls, talking to legislators, making phone calls, etc. are all important and empowering, she continued, but the most important thing the people of Alabama can do is VOTE. "But we're kidding ourselves if we think the majority of our current legislators will suddenly change their misogynistic views."

Here's where real change will come from:

"If they refuse to represent our views, we'll elect people who will.   Today, I'm standing here to remind you to cast your vote in all elections and at all levels. Our representatives might ignore a phone call or an email, but they can't ignore our votes.  They have to listen.
[...]
Speak out about why voting matters. If someone you know isn't registered to vote, help them get registered. Voting is the most powerful statement you can make.

Vote like your life depends on it, because in Alabama it does!"

Tanner-Jordan is the president of Greater Birmingham NOW, and she's right - up to a point.

During last year's primary, the Democratic primary ballot for most races was empty. The general election ballot wasn't much better: it was filled with Republican candidates running unopposed at all levels of government.

How can we call on people to vote the GOP supermajority out of office if our state and county Democratic parties aren't able to field candidates?  It's a problem at all levels: at the August 2014 meeting, SDEC leadership even shut down efforts to fill the more than 50 vacancies on the committee.

Want to know more? Review our five-part series from February: Alabama Democratic Party - Dead or Just Resting?

If this legislative session hasn't taught us a lesson, nothing will. Democrats have to start fielding candidates for every office, at every level. There's not much time either. The 2016 primary elections are in March 2016 and candidates have to qualify to run this November.

I applaud the work that Ms. Tanner-Jordan is doing to remind everyone of the importance of voting and the power it gives us to change the state. But we need candidates.

Unlike many party regulars, I'm not afraid of contested primaries.  Indeed, I welcome them because they bring attention to the candidates, the party, and stimulate discussion of the issues. A primary campaign doesn't have to be a mud-fight - leave that to the GOP presidential candidates

Without contested races in the primary, we don't give Democrats any reason to turn out and vote.  Those who do go to the polls and see a virtually empty Democratic ballot instead vote in the Republican primary.  It makes the Democratic Party look weak, discourages great candidates from spending the time and money to run, and helps Republicans nominate more mainstream candidates.

Remember when Bradley Byrne was in a runoff with Dean Young for 1st Congressional seat? We had a people here on the blog trying to drum up votes for Byrne because he "didn't really mean" all the right-wing stuff he was spouting. Oh really?  The first bill he introduced was to repeal the ACA

So yes, voting is incredibly important. We need to be registering voters as fast as we can and making sure that they have a real choice when they do show up at the polls.

Here's the video of Tanner-Jordan's entire speech.

 

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Physicians Call On Alabama Legislators To Stay Out Of Doctor/Patient Relationship

by: countrycat

Thu May 21, 2015 at 12:53:20 PM CDT

One major theme of yesterday's Rally For Women's Lives was that politicians have no business legislating medical decisions. Two OB/GYNs hit that issue hard yesterday in Montgomery. Dr. Didi St. Louis, the Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Southeast, was specific on that point: "politicians need to step out of the exam room!" Dr. St. Louis is also an Assistant Professor of OB/GYN at Morehouse School of Medicine.

 

Dr. Willie Parker gave a moving speech about the importance of conscience and serving others. He described the personal ethical and philosophical journey that made him willing to begin performing abortions. In short, he realized that he needed to return home to Alabama because "it's my job to take care of my sisters." Women can count on him, he says,  but "can they count on you?"

Left in Alabama was there for the rally, and we be posting video from all the speakers.  But, in light of the three anti-choice bills pending in the legislature, it seemed best to lead off with the words of actual medical personnel as they refute the mis-statements and outright lies of the politicians who think their place is between a woman and her doctor.

Here's more information about the package of pending legislation:

Video of both speeches is on the flip.

 

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Rally For Womens Lives - Wednesday May 20th At Alabama Statehouse

by: countrycat

Fri May 08, 2015 at 11:24:24 AM CDT

Planned Parenthood Southeast hopes to pack the Alabama Statehouse with pro-choice citizen lobbyists on Wednesday, May 20.  Not up to the long drive to Montgomery by yourself?  No problem! Meet new friends and travel in style on a bus provided by Planned Parenthood.  You'll even get a t-shirt!

Rally for Womens Lives Alabama 

More information from the Facebook event page:

Join Alabamians from across the state for Planned Parenthood Southeast's Rally for Women's Lives! If you're sick and tired of politicians sticking their noses where they don't belong, then you need to be here on May 20th and bring your friends.

There are three pieces of bad legislation for women being bandied about in our legislature and we're here to fight every one of them! There's The Abortion Ban Bill that would ban abortions as early as 4-6 weeks into a pregnancy before a woman may even know she's pregnant, The Abortion Clinic Closure Bill which would close every abortion clinic in the state with one exception because of their distance from public schools, and The Health Care Discrimination Bill which would make it legal for health care professionals to deny care to individuals whose morals they disagree with.

Following the rally, our citizen lobbying program, Women in The Halls, will go inside the State House building to speak with legislators. Our lives are too important to sit this one out!

Please RSVP for the rally at:
http://www.ppaction.org/site/Calendar?id=122697&view=Detail
 
Sign up for the rally buses at these links:
 

A bus, a t-shirt, and good company.  Lobbying doesn't get any easier than this.

Traveling on your own?  Here are the details:

Rally outside at the Alabama State House (11 South Union St. Montgomery, AL 36140) then lobbying inside the Statehouse. Wear track shoes in case you need to give chase to reluctant legislators (just kidding).

 

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Legislative Committee Victories For Anti-Choice Bills Equals Big Losses For Alabama Taxpayers

by: countrycat

Wed May 06, 2015 at 09:50:19 AM CDT

We knew it was going to happen, but one can always hope. Less than an hour ago, the House Health Committee gave favorable reports to all three anti-choice bills from last week's committee hearing.  More PSA bills mean more tax dollars going to fund lawsuits....

All three bills, if they become law, could possibly tie the state up in federal court for years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  You have to wonder if the legislature is now looking favorably at a lottery because we could use the proceeds to pay the state's legal bills.  For sure, my chance of winning a jackpot is better than the state's chance of prevailing in court.
 
Our intrepid legislative reporter, Mia, was on the scene this morning & noted that there were some "interesting comments" from some of the committee members.  Stay tuned  to find out who said what!
 

 

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HB-491 "Conscience Bill" Author: "We Don't Want Any Frankenstein Stuff Around Here!"

by: countrycat

Fri May 01, 2015 at 09:53:59 AM CDT

Alabama's new test for health care services is to ask "What would Dr. Frankenstein do?" and make laws to stop him.  So says Eric Johnston, who authored HB-491. After Wednesday's hearing, perhaps we should call it the "Protect Igor's Job" act.

Alabama health care conscience

 

"Abortion, embryonic stem cell resarch, human cloning, and sterilization. Those are all "Frankenstinian" kinds of things. Like Dr. Frankenstein, he didn't mind doing what he did, but there are those of us who do mind doing certain things."

If the "choices made by fictional characters" is going to be a new state standard for lawmaking, then here are some other important issues that Mr. Johnston needs to get moving on:

  • Train safety: Look at what happened to Anna Karenina!
  • Defense against the dark arts instruction in the public schools: We don't want any child to suffer the way Harry Potter did.
  • Principles of household budgeting and credit management for wives. Emma Bovary spent Charles into the poorhouse.

If you recall, HB-491 is the bill that allows health care workers to refuse to perform certain duties associated with the position they applied for - but still get paid. If they get fired for non-performance, they get to sue their employer! Nice work if you can get it - and not do it, right?

It's hardly the "employer-friendly" legislation we've come to expect from the legislature, but apparently it's necessary because fictional characters tend to misbehave and act unethically.  We don't want that happening around here!

This sort of nonsensical reasoning is par for the course with Eric Johnston-inspired legislation.

It there's a lifetime limit on the amount of stupid legislation one person is allowed to draft and submit to the Alabama legislature, then he has surely exceeded it.

Are you starting to see a pattern here? He's against imposing any sort of "foreign" religious law, but that doesn't apply to Christianity, because.... why?  Perhaps he has Bethlehem, PA mixed up with the original or something.

This legislative session surely can't end soon enough.

Here's the video, courtesy of Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates:

 

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HB-527 HSV Clinic Opponents To Legislators: "We're Too Dangerous To Be Allowed Near Public Schools"

by: countrycat

Thu Apr 30, 2015 at 11:05:38 AM CDT

There were two entertaining themes from yesterday's House Committee hearing on HB-527. First is that opponents of the clinic apparently believe that the anti-choice protesters are an unstable, violent group of sociopaths capable of shooting, bombing, and causing untold injury and emotional suffering to the children exposed to their antics. Second is that Judge Myron Thompson, the federal judge who struck down most of the state's TRAP laws and scathingly criticized the protesters, has entered the canon of anti-choice rhetoric.

Dangerous clinic protesters 

The threat of violence and mayhem is a valid concern: three of their regular attendees have been convicted of violence against clinics, including a particularly violent Huntsville incident:

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.

An Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA) member was on hand for yesterday's public hearing on HB-527, the "Shut Down the Huntsville Clinic Act," and graciously shared the video with LIA.

First up was a Chris Horn, a failed legislative candidate who tried to hitch his political wagon to the clinic controversy and disappeared from view after the opponents lost their fight with the Huntsville Zoning Board. Horn basically told the committee that the current anti-choice protesters can't be trusted NOT to bomb or shoot up the neighborhood during one of their "violent protests." 

Geez Henderson.... with friends like these.... Horn also seemed confused about the nature of the civil rights movement: was it really to ensure that all children had a "safe school environment?"

"... according to Judge Myron Thompson, that has had a history of violence. If you're pro-life or pro-abortion, you may have been a part of that violent situation. There have been bombings, as Judge Myron Thompson has said; there have been shootings, mayhem around the clinic - violent protests.  Our children should not be exposed to that. I'm not asking you to make a decision about abortion. I'm asking you to support children.

Many people have marched for those rights of equal opportunity for our children to be able to have a safe education.

The City of Huntsville is still under desegregation and applying for unitary status so that kids who don't live in environments that are harmful get the same type of quality environment as others. (editors note: that sentence is not a misprint). 

In the sad legal tradition of Alabama, a Madison County ADA, Bob Becher,  stood up, asked that a blatantly unconstitutional, punitive bill be "pushed through", and presented himself as a "spokesman" for an entire school. Or did he?

I'm here as a parent of a child at AAA (the Academy for Academics and the Arts). Over the years, people have come to me as kind of an unofficial spokesperson for the school. So I'm here representing teachers and parents who can't take off work.

Note that these hardworking opponents must work double shifts because they weren't able to show up at the Huntsville zoning board hearing to protest either.

In the previous location, I drove by the clinic on my way to and from work, every day and I've seen the signs that are held up - the pictures of aborted fetuses and I've seen the confrontations.

You don't have to take Judge Thompson's word for it, when he talked about the antagonistic behavior between these two groups, and it's never going to end. It's not going to go away and kids can look out the window and see this happening. And they can't turn away because they drive by there every morning and every afternoon.  From 4 1/2 year olds to fourteen year olds.

I'm asking you to push this through so they can have their abortion clinic somewhere else, but not right across the street from a school that serves children.

It's important to note here that the previous location of the clinic was just a stone's throw from Huntsville Middle School and Becher wasn't upset about those children being exposed to the commotion. Why is that? Because they weren't his children perhaps?  Let's give him the day's NIMBY award and send him on his way.

The third speaker, Cindy Adams, seemed to be warning the committee that, if left unchecked, anti-choice protesters might lose it one day and storm the public school, terrorizing the students in the same way they harass and intimidate the people who work at and visit the clinic.

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Public Hearings On 3 Anti-Choice Bills On Wednesday 4/29 - More PSA Bills; Less Real Work

by: countrycat

Sun Apr 26, 2015 at 16:04:26 PM CDT

It's a triple threat to women's reproductive rights on Wednesday in the Alabama Legislature with public hearings scheduled on three anti-choice bills. It's PSA (Please Sue Alabama) heaven for lawyers as the  House Health Committee meets at 8:30am at the Statehouse:

 

Alabama potentially faces catastrophic budget cuts next year: drastic cuts to law enforcement, closing most state parks, closing National Guard armories and even more veterans' service offices. Local governments are already in dire straits: Fairfield's jail released all inmates last week because it couldn't afford to feed them.

So naturally, lawmakers in Montgomery plan to spend Wednesday exploring ways to restrict womens' access to reproductive health services. We may not have the money to maintain parks and pay state troopers, but there's always extra cash available to waste paying lawyers and consultants to fight lawsuits that any first-year law student knows the state will lose.

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA) is asking for a big crowd to turn out on Wednesday.  You don't have to speak; just show your opposition to the bills.  No signs or banners are allowed in the Statehouse, but you can wear your pro-choice buttons and t-shirts.

Details about the hearing:

Public committee hearings will be held on 4/29 at 8:30AM in the Alabama State House in the big room on the 8th floor next to the gallery.

The hearing room is on the 8th floor. It's the big room to the right of the Senate gallery door. You'll have to go to the 7th floor, get off the elevator, walk straight, then turn left. To the left to the House's gallery door, get in that elevator to the 8th floor. When you get off on the 8th floor, the room is right in front of you. It says "Joint Briefing Room" by the door,

The hearing meeting starts at 8:30.  Arrive early to get through security and snag a good seat!

Can't make the trip to Montgomery?  You can still contact your legislator and voice your opposition to yet more stupid, money-wasting legislation.

 

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HB-527 - Anti-Choice Leaders Hang Sponsor Rep. Ed Henry Out To Dry

by: countrycat

Fri Apr 24, 2015 at 16:45:20 PM CDT

When Hartselle Rep. Ed Henry introduced HB-527, (yet another PSA bill) which would allow the Department of Public Health to refuse to renew the license of any "reproductive health clinic" within 2,000 feet of a public school, he really didn't think it through.  The bill is poorly written enough that it could apply even to private doctor's offices and hospitals that provide "reproductive health" care.

But it gets worse!


 

Anybody who's followed the travails of North Alabama's lone clinic that provides abortions knows that this bill is designed to close the Alabama Women's Center in Huntsville.  It's across the street from a closed public school that's being refurbished.

But what's obvious to others seemed elusive to the bill's sponsor. When interviewed, Henry tried to play dumb:

 House Bill 527, filed Tuesday, says the state health department “may not issue or renew a health center license to an abortion clinic or reproductive health center” within 2,000 feet of a school.

“It’s a very simple bill,” sponsor Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, said Wednesday. He also said he was unaware the bill would shutter any clinics.

“I did not know it would impact closing (a clinic),” he said. “(This bill had) been asked for by several of the pro-life groups around the state.

“To me, the whole atmosphere around abortion clinics is very unsettling, with protesters on both sides, and to me not something we need to have the children of Alabama subjected to. We regulate how close liquor stores can be to schools and churches.”

But then James Henderson, a street preacher and professional protester who got his knickers in a twist when the clinic opened in a new location, weighed in:

James Henderson, the former leader of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, said his anti-abortion group drafted the legislation that Henry introduced with the purpose of shutting down the Huntsville clinic.

"What prompted the action is the abortion clinic in downtown Huntsville that was forced to close and then relocated across from a public school," he said.

"You have the spectacle of an abortion clinic across from a school," Henderson continued. "We were advised counsel that a good approach was to use the same standard of keeping sex offenders from public schools, which is 2,000 feet. That is what the bill is based on."

There you go!  Supposedly, in Henderson's warped view of the world, a women's health clinic is also some sort of "sex offender community center," so we need to protect school children from it.  Crikey... that's even more bizarre than trying to get the clinic closed because protesters disrupt the neighborhood waving signs and yelling at patients through bullhorns.

So does Rep. Henry open his email and then print off any piece of crap legislation that anyone send him?  Or - as in more likely - was he lying when he said that he was "unaware" that the bill would shutter any clinics?

Lying is one of the "Big Ten," and Henry touts his religious beliefs on a regular basis.  Maybe Henry needs to remove the log that Henderson inserted in his eye before going after imagined "sex offenders" at abortion clinics.

 

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HB-527 Another Attempt To Shut Down Huntsville's Women's Clinic

by: countrycat

Wed Apr 22, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM CDT

In August 2014, anti-choice activists attempted to convince the Huntsville Zoning Board that the Alabama Women's Center presented a danger to the neighborhood.  In particular, they cited their own protests as a reason to stop the clinic from opening at its new location.

The "faces of anti-choice Huntsville" swarmed the city zoning board hearing last night in a last ditch attempt to keep North Alabama's lone women's clinic from reopening in a new location.  In a breathtaking display of chutzpah, speaker after speaker - some of whom live more than 50 miles from the proposed location - went concern trolling.  They cited concerns about "the neighborhood" and "disruptions" caused by protests at the previous clinic location.

In fairness, they do have a point.  I wouldn't want my child hanging out with these people.

Not surprisingly, they lost that fight and the clinic has been open for months.  But now, Rep. Ed Henry (HD-9, Morgan & Cullman Counties) has a solution: HB527.  It would stop the Department of Public Health from renewing the licenses of clinics located within 2,000 feet of public schools.

How is a clinic a threat to schoolchildren? 

Rep. Henry doesn't mention his bill on his Facebook page, so I went to his Twitter feed.  Nothing there either: Henry's too busy obsessing about Hillary Clinton. Between 4/17 and 4/21, he tweeted about her 11 times.

But we can turn to street preacher James Henderson for an explanation.  He's the guy who told a federal judge to "mind his own business:"

Judge Thompson's opinion (PDF) specifically called out Huntsville clinic protesters for creating a hostile, violent atmosphere outside the clinics, outlined the state's "history of violence & threats against abortion doctors," and noted that the "protests in Huntsville go beyond run-of-the-mill political protests."

Huntsville's protesters are not strangers to irony. They have regularly appeared at City Council meetings, in court, and in front of the zoning board to complain about the disruptions caused by clinic protests.   Except that there wouldn't be any disruptions were it not for their clinic protests.

Henry's bill is a back door attempt to close Huntsville's clinic - and yet another PSA (Please Sue Alabama) bill.  It's actually a twofer: a PSA bill and another "we don't care about local control" bill because it removes local involvement in zoning and business regulations.

 

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HB-491 How To Succeed In Health Care Without Really Working

by: countrycat

Wed Apr 15, 2015 at 11:52:03 AM CDT

The Alabama legislature may have abandoned their anti-GLBT efforts, but dagnabit, somebody better get their civil rights restricted or the session just won't be a success!  So naturally, their next stop is birth control and abortion.

We already have the fetal heartbeat bill pounding away in committee, but that's not nearly enough distraction from pressing issues like the state budgets, infrastructure problems, education, and amending the Alabama Accountability Act to bail out Bob Riley

Alabama's next PSA (Please Sue Alabama) bill is HB-491, this session's incarnation of last year's "Health Care Worker Conscience Bill" aka the "I don't want to do the job you hired me to do and there's nothing you can do about it" bill.

As we noted in 2014:

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.  Then there's Andrew, the Christian Scientist, who doesn't do anything but sit all day but I can't fire him....."

HB-491 has the same guidelines, exceptions, and gives any employee the ability to sue their employer if the business, for some bizarre reason, expects them to do the job they're getting paid for.

It's an odd position for the "party against frivolous lawsuits" to hold, isn't it? A far simpler, cheaper solution is for people who have "religious objections" to health care to not pursue a career in health care.  So simple.  No bill required, no lawsuits to follow.

But when do our legislators ever take the easy path?

 

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HB-405 Fetal Heartbeat: Rep. Terri Collins Offers Another PSA Bill

by: countrycat

Sat Apr 11, 2015 at 15:51:32 PM CDT

Federal court rulings be damned, Decatur Rep. Terri Collins has introduced HB-405, a "fetal heartbeat bill," that will outlaw the vast majority of abortions in Alabama if a heartbeat is detected. It's yet another time and money-wasting PSA bill that the GOP supermajority is famous for.

Please Sue Alabama 

PSA you ask?  Public service announcement?  No: Please Sue Alabama.

Because at a time when even a Republican Governor is begging for tax increases and threatening to house state prisoners in our basements if he doesn't get them, our main priority is getting on our trusty legislative horse and going out to tilt at windmills.

Collins, a former board member of Decatur Sav-A-Life Pregnancy Center, said that of all the anti-abortion legislation, this one makes the most sense to her. If no heartbeat is a sign of no life, then a heartbeat is a sign of life, she said.

Similar legislation has been challenged in other states. Collins said she is aware of that, but thinks the legislation is important and educational.

“My concern right now is to move the legislation through the House,” Collins said Tuesday. “I believe that education is always a good thing. So when you talk about life, to understand that baby in the womb that you can’t see really does have a heartbeat is great education to have circulating around the state.”

Yeah, because no pregnant woman in the past 30 years has ever been offered the opportunity to hear the heartbeat during a pre-natal visit.  Can you imagine the shock if this bill passes?

"What? There's something in there with a heartbeat? How did that happen?  Thank goodness you told me, doctor: I thought I just needed to spend more time at the gym or buy some bigger pants."

Either the majority of our rabidly anti-choice legislators are actually stupid or they think women in Alabama are.

  • Waiting periods: So that women have a chance to reflect on their choice before choosing an abortion.  Yeah, there was such a problem with women passing by a clinic and making a spur-of-the-moment decision to have an abortion. 
  • Trans-vaginal ultrasounds: So a pregnant woman who wants an abortion will understand that "there's a baby in there." Is there another reason to get an abortion that I'm not aware of?
  • Fetal personhood: Former Senator Shadrack McGill's contribution to the dumbing down of the debate was a bill that would have given full civil liberties on a group of cells smaller than a pencil eraser. To be fair, a lot of those cells are probably smarter than he is.

The Times Daily says that similar legislation has been challenged, but fails to note that it has also been struck down as unconstitutional.  That taste of forbidden constitutional fruit is well night irresistible to some members of the Alabama Legislature - and our Attorney General.

From North Dakota:

"The North Dakota strict ban on abortions at the time when a 'heartbeat' has been detected -- essentially banning all abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy -- cannot withstand a constitutional challenge," U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland wrote in his decision.

"A woman's constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court for more than 40 years. The United States Supreme Court has clearly determined the dispositive issue presented in this lawsuit. This court is not free to impose its own view of the law."

Of course, that never stopped Alabma before!  Previous PSA laws include:

And now, thanks to Terri Collins and her 42 co-sponsors - including indicted Speaker Mike Hubbard - we'll probably be funding the folly of yet another PSA bill.

 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Pro-Life Action League Sends Out Free Chinese Handcuffs - & Veiled Threats

by: countrycat

Tue Jan 27, 2015 at 17:00:00 PM CST

LOL... Nothing says "I'm opposed to abortion" more than sending money to Chinese companies, right? That's what one radical anti-choice group did with its extra cash. Certainly, they won't help struggling families feed & clothe their children. No, the Pro-Life Action League bought 500 CHINESE-made handcuffs & sent them to women's clinics across the country. The clinics in Huntsville & Montgomery report getting a set along with a note encouraging them to "get out of the abortion business." 

 

Look! It even includes a number to call! Although I have to note that offering counseling by mail (not to mention the free toys) is preferable to screaming at women from the sidewalk, but it's not really a good use of donors tax-deductible contributions. Do you suppose those donors realize that the organization is sending money to China - the "Great Satan" of forced abortion?

Speaking of money... the Alabama Reproductive Rights Association (ARRA) is looking for donations to its Financial Assistance Fund. The all-volunteer group of Alabama heroes & heroines helps provide emotional support, transportation, & partial payment of expenses to women who need help paying for an abortion. Remember that in Alabama, some women must travel hours each way and pay for a hotel room - not that the state thinks that's in any way burdensome.

The group recently received a moving thank you note from a young women they helped.  She had no one to turn to but strangers.  Matt Osborne did a wonderful story about this recently at Breitbart Unmasked:

An ARRA volunteer drove College Girl up to the state capital, where she arrived 14 weeks pregnant at the home of another volunteer who hosted her while she was in town. Although she’d already had the state-mandated ‘counseling’ at her local Planned Parenthood clinic, she still needed to have a state-mandated ultrasound, and there was necessary lab work to be done. Her procedure was also more expensive than most because of a medical complication, but the volunteers raised every penny needed to take care of her.
[...]
If you need help accessing your reproductive RIGHTS in Alabama, or know someone who does, do not hesitate to contact ARRA. Their website is here and their Facebook page is here. You can also find them on Twitter here.

ARRA's financial aid fund is running low; they're hoping to collect $5,000 to replenish the fund. The goal is 500 $10 contributions in honor of the handcuff stunt.

Use the donation link on the ARRA page (top left) to donate via PayPal. Every dollar is appreciated. There are so many women who need help and they feel alone and desperate:

Because I had no help nor support from any of my family or friends on my decision. - See more at: http://www.breitbartunmasked.com/2015/01/26/arra-alabamas-underground-railroad-for-reproductive-freedom/#sthash.Ei81oV0a.dpuf

Because I had no help nor support from any of my family or friends on my decision.

How would you rather your tax-deductible donations be used?  To help women who have nowhere else to turn or to subsidize the activities of the handcuff charity?.  Go figure - the handcuff folks get just 2 stars from Charity Navigator.  ARRA doesn't have a ranking yet, but none of these volunteers are in it for the money.

See a close-up of the Chinese handcuffs on the flip.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 6 words in story)

House Republicans Know Better Than You What Insurance Coverage You Need

by: countrycat

Thu Jan 22, 2015 at 16:48:47 PM CST

Alabama's Big Daddies in the House - Aderholdt, Brooks, Byrne, Palmer, Rogers, & Roby - are better at making health care choices than American women. At least that's how they voted today. If, by some miracle, this becomes law, thank your Republican Congressional parents when you can't buy the insurance coverage with your own money that you think is best for you and your family.

Mind your own business 

And this is the party that railed about "putting government between you and your doctor" and "government takeover of healthcare?"  You betcha.

Taking a page from the Alabama Legislature's book of "outlawing things that are already illegal," the House decided to make federal funding for abortions (the Hyde Amendment) even more illegal! In fact, they took it a bit farther. In their view, not only can the federal government decide how federal funds will be spent - they're going to decide how you can spend your own money. This isn't new. We've been fighting some version of this silliness for years.  From 2011, for example:

You know when the GOP says "it's your money?"  What they really mean is that it is your money - unless it's part of a government tax break.  If you don't have to pay taxes on the money, then Boehner and company - including Alabama co-sponsors Mo Brooks and Joe Bonner - think they get to decide how you spend it.

That's the case with HR-3: under the GOP's bill, if you pay for an abortion with your "own money" - out of your own HSA or cafeteria plan - then be prepared to provide the proof that you needed it.  Not proof that you were pregnant, but actual written proof that you meet the right-wing test: rape or incest.

They're all for state's rights, but screw your family's right to decide what insurance coverage you need.

It's disappointing, but we in Alabama aren't surprised. In Alabama, our own legislators (even Democrats!) have set themselves up as judge, jury, and gynecologist in deciding what sort of insurance coverage grown women can buy.

Remember the 2012 legislative session:

It wasn't exactly a "Profiles in Courage" moment in the Alabama State Senate on Tuesday.  Senators voted 30-2 to pass Greg (Ultrasound Salesman) Reed's bill (SB10) to prohibit elective abortion coverage from the state health insurance exchange. They know better than you what health coverage you need and how you should be spending your own money.

That's right campers - this isn't employer-sponsored insurance. This isn't Medicare or Medicaid.  This is you writing a check to a private health insurance company each month and Greg Reed and the Alabama legislature telling you what you can buy.  And what you can't.

So much for the party of personal responsibility & freedom from regulation.

What's especially shocking are the votes of Alabama's Democratic Senators - some of whom spoke at the anti-SB12 rally held in Montgomery last month.

This is happening on the national level now.  The House leadership got smacked down by some of its own Republican women members for their 20-week "almost no exceptions" anti-abortion bill.  But not because it was stupid you understand: because they didn't like how the wording "looked."  Apparently, it's ok to be extremist as long as you don't look extremist on choice.  Kind of like a "pro-choice Spanx" vote.  "I may be anti-choice, but this bill makes me look extreme, so I'll complain about it to leadership."

So what's the "Spanx alternative" vote?  The House voted to make federal funding for abortion even more illegal!  They're so set on restricting women's choices that they're willing to raise taxes on small businesses:

The House bill would also restrict small businesses from getting an Affordable Care Act tax credit if they purchase employee health plans that include abortion coverage on the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP exchange.

Screw "states rights" and "burdensome government regulation!" We need to penalize women and businesses if they purchase the insurance policies that House members don't like.  After all, that group of non-physicians certainly knows better than we do what sort of health coverage we need, right?

 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Huntsville Anti-Abortion Rally Speaker: Public Schools Are A Fate Worse Than Abortion

by: countrycat

Sat Jan 17, 2015 at 13:34:04 PM CST

A featured speaker at Friday's "Stand for Life" anti-abortion rally shared a personal list with the 40 or so people assembled. According to Daniel Bearden, there are fates worse than abortion: attending public schools, learning about "secular humanism," voting for the wrong candidates, and joining the Roman Catholic church. Seriously. A triumph of ecumenism and tolerance, it wasn't.



Street preacher James Henderson began the proceedings by instructing the crowd on "what the Lord would have us do here."  Not surprisingly, his list included "continue our work of sidewalk counseling." Struggling to be heard over the roar of passing cars and buses, Henderson continued with his list:

  • Rededicate ourselves to the goal of closing all abortion clinics.
  • Make Huntsville "abortion free."
  • "Most of all, the Lord has called each of us to be Christian witnesses in the same way as our Lord, Jesus Christ."
  • Not listed: Offer legal advice to federal judges.

At that point, a lone heckler raised a salient point: "If you want that, why don't you act like it? If you want to stop abortion, why don't you learn how to treat people?" Henderson called for the police - even though that pesky First Amendment does give a person the right to stand on a public sidewalk and yell. It's rude, but not illegal - kind of like using bullhorns to shout at women going into medical clinics.

She left the group, but it gave Henderson the perfect opportunity to play the victim card and start whining about the treatment his "pro-life heroes" have received from clinic escorts. In his description, his group peacefully stood, prayed, and counseled (often at ear-splitting volume with bullhorns, but he left that part out) "in spite of smoke pots, duck calls, verbal abuse, and false charges that could have led to arrest."  Except, oops! they DID lead to arrest and resulted in this fetching mug shot of Joyce Fecteau, who attended the rally in street clothes instead of her preferred "concentration camp inmate" costume.  Henderson called her arrest "the result of false charges," but the arresting police officer might disagree.

"Nothing will stop this group from standing uncompromisingly for life against every abortion, for any reason."

Things got really weird when the son of an anti-choice activist (who passed away last year & was honored at the rally) got up, thanked the group for the "kind words about my father" and then started a wide-ranging condemnation of everything from public schools to the IRS to the... ahem... Roman Catholic Church.  Given that an official from the Knights of Columbus was about to tee up and accuse pro-choice supporters of "wanting abortion on demand all the way through 9 months" and that at least half of the small crowd appeared to be Catholic (the rosary beads are a giveaway), this moment was more than a little AWKWARD!

"As terrible as abortion is in every case, there are worse things that can happen to a person. Even Jesus said that it would have been better for Judas if he hadn't been born. What is our goal for children after they're spared an abortion? Do you want them to be brainwashed in public schools in the church of secular humanism? Do we want them to grow up to vote for leaders who take away our freedoms? To vote for IRS agents who will take money away from us to favor Socialism? Do we want them to be spared an abortion so they can be baptized in a worthless effort to wash away their sins and take part in a Mass which shamefully crucifies Christ over again or be saved by their own works? 

No, these children need to know the gospel! That Jesus Christ lived a perfect life and it is his righteousness imputed to us by grace that saves us - not our works that are potentially improved up on by Christ's efforts. That's why my father is in Heaven today, because of God's grace."

A later speaker segued into another topic - evolution.   Major Fecteau (husband of Joyce) proclaimed himself a "creation scientist," which is certainly listed somewhere as the prime example of an oxymoron.  Fecteau read Bible verses that warned about "believing in myths and fables," And I'm not sure, but I think he also quoted from "The Princess Bride."

It's "inconceivable" that this crew has and credibility in the community or in the legislature, but at least two local elected officials - Rep. Mike Ball & Rep. Mac McCutcheon - were on hand, spoke, and are eager to carry water for Henderson & company as they seek to enact a "2,000 buffer zone between schools & women's clinics" because, well... just because it's another way to make it more difficult to open & operate clinics.

Look for this bill to be front and center in the legislative priority list.  It's specifically targeted at Huntsville's clinic and the supporters are delusional enough to think that the legislature can pass a bill that will retroactively close the clinic that opened (across the street from a closed public school) in 2014. 

But pass it they will.  Alabama may have a shortfall of almost $300 million in the General Fund this year, we may not have the money to operate state mental hospitals, but we darn sure have money to waste fighting for unconstitutional bills passed by our legislators. 

Video from the rally is on the flip, along with some photos.  Kay Campbell's Al.com article as more quotes and photos.

 

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 34 words in story)

Huntsville City Schools Create Buffer Zone - Protesters' Parking Lot Is Closed

by: countrycat

Sat Dec 06, 2014 at 11:50:30 AM CST

The battle over the location of the Alabama's Women's Center took another turn this past week when the Huntsville City School system barricaded the driveway of the protesters' favorite parking lot - the empty school across the street from the clinic.  This is just the latest twist in what has been termed "the most interesting abortion fight in America."

 

Author Matt Osborne (a former LIA regular!) wrote about it at Breitbart Unmasked:

This ‘buffer zone’ hypocrisy has already spilled into the school parking lot. When the city got tired of forced-birth activists treating it as their rally point, workers blocked off the lot with a plastic orange net. But as you can see in the animated .GIF below, which I made with pictures taken by a clinic volunteer this past Saturday, they don’t let pesky things like traffic control devices get in the way of their weird hobby.

You'll have to go to Osborne's article to view his GIF, but it's worth the trip!

Anyway, the school system finally got tired of this nonsense and dispensed with the ineffective orange barricade.  There are now actual locked gates at every entrance with "No Trespassing" signs attached to each gate.  While I'd love to say this was the school system taking a stand on the issue of choice, it's more likely due to concerns about liability.  The school building is being refurbished and is a construction site.

And if we know anything for sure about street preacher Henderson it's that he likes to file frivolous lawsuits!

But still, this is good for the clinic because now this sprightly group of ne'er-do-wells will have to haul their chairs, bizarre signs, and large collection of bullhorns from parking places farther away.


It's ok, guys! Exercise is good for you.

 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

HSV Clinic Protesters Still Can't Figure Out Who The Doctor Is... NOT

by: countrycat

Sat Nov 22, 2014 at 14:01:11 PM CST

In the wake of Judge Mann's scathing decision that dismissed "Rev." James Henderson's zoning lawsuit against the City of Huntsville, Henderson has been MIA from clinic protests. But that hasn't stopped a small group of "regulars" from protesting at the clinic's new location and - more bizarrely - at the previous location as well.

We wrote about the activity at the closed clinic location previously here at LIA, noting the rather misleading sign that one protester was displaying:


This poor, confused woman (who doesn't like to show her face) was trying to brand the pro-choice, female OB-GYN - Dr. Robinson-White - who moved her practice into the building formerly occupied by the Alabama Women's Center, an "abortionist." Since the practice opened, the antis show up regularly to harass women patients arriving for pap smears, pre-natal care, etc.

Just. Because.

Something big happened this week though!  It was some hereto unknown physiological change that we only thought was possible in science fiction and fantasy novels - Dr. Robinson-White seems to have split in half and each half is now a practicing physician - and abortionist.  Or maybe just one doctor is, because the sign says "abortionist," (singular) not "abortionists."  Was this some sort of Jekyll & Hyde situation where the "good half" of the doctor split away from the bad half?  It's impossible to tell from this poorly-worded sign.

 

Grammar matters, people!  Who exactly are we supposed to be outraged at?

  • Dr. Robinson-White who has an OB-GYN practice.
  • Dr. Robinson, miracle of science/nature, who's an abortionist in practice with good Dr. White - also a miracle of science/nature.
  • Good Dr. Robinson, miracle of science/nature, who's in practice with Dr. White, an abortionist who's also a miracle of science/nature.
  • Dr. Robinson AND Dr. White are miracles of science/nature AND abortionists.

Inquiring minds want to know.  Except that few are curious enough to approach these products of the gene pool's shallow end and ask for clarification.

 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Heck Yeah! Lawsuit Dismissed: Huntsville Clinic Stays OPEN

by: countrycat

Fri Nov 14, 2014 at 17:32:29 PM CST

Judge Alan Mann today dismissed "with prejudice" a lawsuit filed by anti-choice activists against the City of Huntsville. The suit alleged that the city was violating its own zoning ordinances when it allowed the Alabama Women's Center to open at its new location. The judge saw it differently, and the clinic (which reopened in late October) is now free to continue to provide reproductive health services to the women of Alabama - and soon, possibly women from Tennessee.

Huntsville women's clinic is open for business

It's the second bit of good news pro-choice advocates have had in the past few weeks.  One bright spot in a otherwise dismal mid-term election was the defeat of local political opportunist Chris Horn, who tried to turn the clinic's location in a majority-minority neighborhood into an election issue that would get him to the Alabama Legislature.  Voters saw through that charade though and elected Anthony Daniels instead.  Really: all you had to do was drive by the clinic and see that the "neighborhood" wasn't protesting - only this crew of regular faces of anti-choice Huntsville.

faces of anti-choice huntsville

The dismissal of this lawsuit is no small victory for the clinic owner.  Remember what he has been through.  Not just having to relocate his business due to the TRAP laws, he's had to put up with this sort of clapTRAP:

This has to be galling for head protester & pseudo-preacher James Henderson, who told the judge in this case that he was sure he was "more qualified" to interpret zoning regulations than the city's long-time zoning board administrator, James McGuffey.  Henderson was also recorded giving legal advice to a federal judge who called out the Huntsville protesters' bad behavior: "Mind your own business and stay out of ours."

Well, Mr. Henderson... take that advice to heart. Mind your own damn business and let the women who visit the clinic make their own medical decisions. 

Kudos again to the brave men and women of the Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates who volunteer at clinics across Alabama, track legislation, lobby, and advocate for women's reproductive health issues. They're on the front lines in this battle and they're true heroes for justice.  Why not join them?

 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

AL-GOV Hopeful Kevin Bass Pumps Up The Volume & Dumps On His Supporters

by: countrycat

Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 18:24:55 PM CST

Dang.  This Facebook thread is pretty hard to share on a "family blog," but methinks Alabama Democratic Governor hopeful Kevin Bass needs to keep his mouth - or keyboard - or whatever - ZIPPED instead of attempting to discuss women's reproductive choices. After failing to "pump" the vote, Bass decided to "dump" on the people who supported him in the primary.

Unfortunately, this resulted in a rather "sticky" debate with his former supporters. 

Members of the Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates(ARRA) endorsed Bass in the primary & were shocked when he went rouge this week with a strongly anti-choice post on his campaign Facebook page. Not surprisingly, many of his astonished supporters called him out on it. But what's more astonishing is the explanation that Bass pulled out to explain his new favorite position.  Was it Bass posting or a 12-year-old demon that temporarily possessed his spirit? You review these comments and decide.

In any case, it pretty much assures us that Bass has little interest in pursuing elected office in Alabama again.

Here's Bass earlier this year:

Kevin Bass pro-choice 

And here's the candidate "unleased" - or "unzipped" - or simply unaware that he's totally trashed any future political prospects.

Kevin Bass Pump & Dump 

Thanks to dismal recruiting efforts by the Alabama Democratic Party, our choice was between turncoat Parker Griffith and Kevin "pump & dump" Bass. And people wonder why Alabama Democrats weren't enthusiastic about voting last week. 

 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)
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