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Huntsville Anti-Choice Protesters Get Something Wrong. Again.

by: countrycat

Sat Aug 22, 2015 at 15:57:52 PM CDT

About 75 anti-choice protesters swarmed the Huntsville clinic today to protest Planned Parenthood. Apparently, many of them have failed to notice that the HSV clinic is privately owned and NOT affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Which is odd considering that they've met the owner in court and at city zoning board hearings multiple times." 

They're also unaware of the Alabama state law that prohibits the donation of fetal tissue. Under the Alabama Code:

"All medical waste, except such tissue as is sent to a pathologist and not returned to the facility, shall be disposed of in accordance with procedures set forth in the Rules of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management governing medical waste."  

This is nothing new. These people aren't exactly on the leading edge of the intelligence bell curve. Among other things, they have: 

Bless their dark little hearts.....

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Photo credit: Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates. A sign created by a clinic defender in Huntsville. Follow ARRA on Facebook!

 

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Open Letter to OSA: Thanks for a Great Fundraiser!

by: Stephanie Gilmore

Sun Jul 19, 2015 at 11:01:25 AM CDT

As y'all know, Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates hosted an "adopt an anti" campaign during Operation Save America's anti-choice, anti-woman rally in Alabama last week. I wrote a letter thanking everyone involved in the highly successful web-based campaign. 

I’m not going to bury the lede: Operation Save America turned up in Alabama this past week, and y’all turned out to “Let Reproductive Justice Roll” to the tune of over $3100!!

Over the week, we witnessed street preachers on footstools offering to save our souls; assorted “fetal porn peddlers” holding gruesome and inaccurate signs about aborted zygotes; children in matching “abortion survivor” t-shirts telling us that if we can’t answer to a child about abortion, we can’t answer to God for our sins; known clinic bombers and sex offenders in front of our clinics (with children present and within 2000 feet of schools and child care centers in some places); and folks calling our doctors and clinic administrators sinners, liars, and murderers. In other words, a regular week at Alabama clinics.

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates were prepared and undeterred. Clinic defenders and pro-choice activists worked with clinic administrators, physicians, and staff to protect our clinics and to demonstrate around the state against Operation Save America.

Over the week, WE STOOD PROUD AND TALL for our clinic administrators, doctors, and clinic staff in the face of 741 total protesters. With your pledges, we also raised over $3100 for women in financial need!!! THANK YOU!!

Some of you sponsored picketers for a particular day; some of you sponsored a particular person – and from Bobby to Roy Moore, they all showed up as expected. One of you generous souls must have known how hot it would be in Alabama in July and donated $10 per child for each day it was over 90 degrees. (We did experience some temps at 100 and heat indexes of 110, and every single day was over 90 degrees.) The point is, y’all showed up from everywhere around the country to let OSA know that we won’t back down – and you let Alabama women know that money will not be the determining factor in obtaining an abortion.

We are pro-choice, y’all! And from the deepest parts of our hearts, we thank you!

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates

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HSV Anti-Choice Leader Was Right: Clinics Really Do Draw A Bad Crowd

by: countrycat

Fri Jul 17, 2015 at 17:09:45 PM CDT

It turns out, Huntsville street preacher James Henderson was absolutely correct about the danger of abortion clinics drawing a bunch of unsavory people who shouldn't be near children.  We saw that just this morning at multiple locations in the Rocket City. Henderson and his confused band of misfits were joined early this morning at the Huntsville clinic's old location (one that's now a private OB/GYN office) by the Operation Save America group that drove up from Montgomery for a little fresh air and sidewalk bullying. Later, they turned up at the actual clinic which, to their consternation, had been well-protected by a variety of tarps, moving vans, and RVs that protected patients from the sidewalk shouters.

 

Both of these locations are near schools and child care centers, and that's the rationale that Henderson gave when he tried to convince the city to stop the clinic from moving. Foiled at the local level, he convinced Ed Henry to introduce a bill specifically targeted at the Huntsville clinic.  At the public hearing on the bill, supporters repeatedly cited their own bad behavior as something "school children" shouldn't be exposed to.

Which is pretty amazing when you consider that they regularly show up with children in tow - including today.

One important thing they failed to mention to the media and to the police is that they were planning to host Howard Scott Heldreth, a violent sex offender, at today's protests. Heldreth was at the old clinic location in downtown; he later traveled with the group to the actual clinic on Sparkman Drive.

But surprise! After law enforcement officers were alerted to his presence, Hildreth was informed that he had until 3pm to register with the county as a sex offender or try out the accommodations at the local jail.

Hildreth preferred to beat a path to his car instead of comply, and took a large number of the Montgomery contingent with him.

The protest broke up soon after, but not before wasting a huge amount of taxpayer money:

 

  • Huntsville City Schools had to dispatch security guards to keep, the protesters off school property
  • Three city employees spent their work day monitoring the volume of the protesters bullhorns and mics.
  • At least 16 marked police cars and other unmarked cars, and several dozen police officers (totals for both locations) spent the morning babysitting protesters who insisted on trespassing, jaywalking, breaking noise ordinances, and - oh yes - welcoming a sex offender.

 

Of course, Huntsville's criminal has a record that pales next to the "pro-life" luminary who showed up in Montgomery. They had the dubious pleasure of hosting John Brockhoeft, a violent, unstable individual with a long and sordid history in the movement:

As part of a militant group known as the Army of God, Brockhoeft set fires to two local abortion clinics in 1985 and planted a pipe bomb at the temporary offices of one of them in 1987.

The attacker's identity was a mystery until federal agents arrested Brockhoeft in Florida with bomb-making materials in his car in May 1988.
[...]

Brockhoeft's days of setting fires and planting bombs came to an end in May 1988, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrested him near Pensacola, Fla. Tipped off by his first wife, agents stopped Brockhoeft's car and found steel pipe, explosive chemicals and detonators – which he planned to use to blow up an abortion clinic in Florida.

During a subsequent investigation, Brockhoeft was indicted on five counts of arson and one count of attempted arson for attacks in Cincinnati and Columbus.

To this day, he is coy about whether he was involved with five other attacks at clinics in Cincinnati and around Ohio the late 1970s, all of which remain unsolved.

More photos of today's protests in Huntsville are on the flip.  Review our coverage of Roy Moore's keynote speech to the OSA convention.

Even if you missed the excitement, you can still do your part to support the women of Alabama.  Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA), a statewide advocacy group is hosting a fundraiser called "Adopt an Anti."  It has a devliish premise:

  • You pledge to specific amount for each protester present on any day between July 11 - July 18 (for example, ten cents per protester).  You can decide to donate for one day or multiple days.  (donation form is below)
  • An ARRA member will count the number of protesters present at the clinic or city hall on each day and we will then send you a bill for your day/pledge. The total will be the amount you pledged times the number of protesters present. For example, if you pledge ten cents for Friday in front of the Huntsville Women’s Center and there are 100 protesters present, we'll send you a bill for $10.00.  We are creating multiple creative ways to be sure that the protesters know that you are using their presence to support abortion care and the right to abortion!
  • You can also specify a particular anti-choice protester you wish to sponsor.

Learn more & sign up for "Adopt an Anti." At last count, organizers say they had raised about $2,000.  Thank you, OSA!

 

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Roy Moore Just Can't Stop Talking - To Domestic Terrorists

by: countrycat

Wed Jul 08, 2015 at 09:35:19 AM CDT

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is worried about a "war" over gay marriage.  Not a war of words, it appears, but an all-out shoot 'em up worthy of 1776. At least that's what he told anti-choice extremist (and former used car salesman) Randall Terry. 

 

The idea that a SCOTUS ruling or federal law might touch off a new Civil War is familiar ground for Terry. In 2009, he issued a similar warning about the ACA.

Right Wing Watch posted an video interview that Moore gave Terry after last month's SCOTUS ruling:

Moore told Terry that religious “persecution is just beginning” because Americans will be “forced to accept evil” and “condone sodomy,” which the two agreed will lead to a massive and possibly violent backlash. “I hope we don’t have a war, I hope we don’t have conflicts but we definitely need to recognize that same-sex marriage is something that has not existed on a government level,” Moore added.

[...]

When Terry pushed Moore to reveal whether he believed that there should be an anti-gay revolution, Moore only said that 2015 is just like 1776.

Yes, it is horrible that Moore is spewing that nonsense (it's not the first time, either) and even worse, he's doing it while on the State of Alabama's payroll. 

But the idea of a war between an army of homosexuals and right wing extremists also made me laugh, remembering a passage from the book "A Confederacy of Dunces."  The main character, Ignatius J. Reilly, decides to enter politics by organizing New Orleans' gay community to take over the government and armed forces

“My mentality, uncontrollable and wanton as always, whispered to me a scheme so magnificent and daring that I shrank from the very thought of what I was hearing. "Stop!" I cried imploringly to my god-like mind. "This is madness." But still I listened to the counsel of my brain. It was offering me the opportunity to Save the World Through Degeneracy.”  

Really though, it's no laughing matter that a sitting Chief Justice would consort with these people, and Moore's taking it a step further this weekend.

Not content with merely giving an interview to an extremist, he'll be leading the pep rally in Mongtomery Saturday night as the featured speaker for the Operation Save America weeklong protest event at the city's only women's clinic.

According to media reports, over recent years group members have blockaded clinic entrances, harassed women seeking abortions and stalked doctors and abortion clinic workers and volunteers.

 

In July 2011, the group's former leader, Rev. Phillip "Flip" Benham, was found guilty of stalking a Charlotte, N.C. abortion doctor, the Associated Press reported.

Benham had distributed posters stating "Wanted ... By Christ, to Stop Killing Babies." The posters included the photos and names of several doctors in Charlotte who perform abortions.

OSA members outside invaded the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans and pressed photographs of aborted fetuses against the windows of the church's nursery on July 2014 

OSA members are equal-opportunity haters.  According to the Anti-Defamation League:

Operation Save America (OSA) is an organization with a three-pronged mission to demonize abortion, homosexuality and Islam, declaring that "all three have entered into a pact with death." The group, based in North Carolina and headed by Reverend Flip Benham, is characterized by its leaders as a non-denominational Christian organization. 

Somebody call Sarah Palin immediately!  An elected official with ambitions of higher office is "palling around with terrorists." 

Left in Alabama will be in Montgomery this weekend to cover the SDEC meeting, Alabama Democratic Reform Caucus meeting and the opening days of the protest. We'll also have update coverage through the week from volunteers on the ground at the clinic. 

 

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Spend A Month On James Henderson's Facebook Page & Try To Define "Pro-Life"

by: countrycat

Fri Jun 19, 2015 at 10:19:32 AM CDT

Everyone's least favorite street preacher and member of the Alabama GOP state committee, James Henderson, says he's pro-life and that his little band of fashion- & estrogen-challenged followers are just "sidewalk counselors" who are dreadfully concerned about the safety and well-being of children exposed to clinic protests. (So much so that they bring toddlers to stand on the sidewalk that borders a busy 5-lane thoroughfare.)

People who are really concerned about children tend to take a holistic approach: supporting policies that strengthen families, fight poverty & injustice, boost education levels, and increase access to health care.  You know... all that stuff that Jesus was so interested in....

In statements to the media, Henderson pays lip service to standing up for children who are already born, but a month's worth of posts to his personal Facebook page (which is open to public view) tells a different story.

Henderson: "Jesus would have us stand everywhere for the sanctity of life in all its beautiful phases from conception to natural death."

Death comes a lot more quickly if you don't have enough money to pay for food, shelter, and other necessities, but them's the breaks, right?

HEY KID!  If Jesus wanted you to have food, He'd have thrown you a fish by now!



Buy hey... give him a break. Making food more affordable is fine. As long as it doesn't cost Henderson a dime.



Well, let's try this... wouldn't pregnancy outcomes be better, with healthier famlies and babies if everyone had access to quality medical care? 

Why, stop that "disgraceful" talk right now!

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ARRA Issues Statement On HB-527 Committee Hearing & Vote

by: countrycat

Thu Jun 04, 2015 at 10:25:37 AM CDT

Yesterday, the Senate Health Committee (those who showed up, anyway) gave a favorable report to HB-527, the bill that targets the Alabama Women's Center in Huntsville. As we reported, the Health Committee members did not conduct themselves appropriately during the public hearing.

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates issued this statement in response to the committee vote:

Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA) is deeply disappointed in our state legislature, which continues to target women’s health care in Alabama. Today’s Senate Health and Human Services Committee members' behavior on HB 527 -- a committee that started a meeting with only three members of 11 present -- highlights the ways that legislators disrespect the citizens of Alabama who spoke against this bill.

The vote also signals to all Alabama citizens that maintaining a personal vendetta against a legally operating Black-owned business is more important than passing a budget for our state.

We stand with the ACLU, the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, the National Women’s Law Center, Advocates for Youth, SisterSong, and ALL women and men around the country -- as well as in our state -- who protect the legal and reproductive freedoms of women.

In this particular case, we stand with the Alabama Women's Center. We are appalled that the legislature is poised, once again, to create unnecessary legal battles in federal court. 

We're all appalled by the behavior of not just this particular committee, but by the way the entire Legislature has conducted this session.  With the state facing a huge budget shortfall and in danger of shredding what's left of our mental health and public safety systems, legislators have instead focused on the bright shiny objects of gay marriage and abortion.

They hope voters will be so blinded that we won't notice their fiscal incompetence.  Let's prove them wrong.

 

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HB-527 "Public Hearing" Was A Public Farce

by: countrycat

Wed Jun 03, 2015 at 14:35:00 PM CDT

Senate Health Committee Chair Gerald Dial is infamous for telling his constituents in 2010 that he was "too busy" to meet during the legislative session. After today's farce of a public hearing on HB-527, we know that he runs his committee with the same lack of courtesy and respect for citizen input.

 

Dial scheduled this hearing with scarcely a day's notice and the start time wasn't publicized until early last night. Even with the short notice, people were there to make comments - to a mainly empty room. Dial explained that lawmakers "aren't used to coming to work early." at 8:15 - the official start time - only three committee members were present.

Pro-choice advocate Mike Walker was at the hearing and gave permission to share his thoughts on the hearing:

Today, I'm pissed off. I just spent 30 minutes this morning, sitting in front of the Alabama Senate Health committee, being insulted. So I want to expose the typical Alabama lawmaker....

A group of my pro-choice family were there to speak against a RIDICULOUS bill before the Senate, that would prohibit reproductive health facilities with 2000 feet of a school. The theory behind this bill is that pro-life protestors frequently parade in front of these centers carrying graphic signs and creating an atmosphere that could possibly become violent. They don't want kids to see their signs or be in the vicinity of clinic bombings etc. so their solution? Close down the reproductive health centers! Yes, you read that right.  "We don't like these places so we act like fools in front of them, therefore all these places should be forced to close."

But my rant this morning is about the so called "public hearing" this morning. It is presented as an opportunity for citizens to speak out for or against pending legislation. But is actually a farce. This morning at the scheduled time (8:15), those citizens were seated and ready to begin. The committee (usually made up of 10 members), had only three members present. But the chairperson announced that lawmakers weren't used to coming to work that early, so he was going to start hearing public comments with only three members present. (A couple of others stopped by before all speakers had presented.)

The speakers (allowed only three minutes each) were prepared and amazing. These were people who felt a STRONG moral duty to stand up against an injustice. Some had come hundreds of miles to be heard. Their eloquent remarks where made to an audience of 3-4 people who did nothing to hide their lack of interest in their constituents points of view. They laughed, shared private jokes and drifted in and out of the room while the citizens were speaking.

The secretary of the committee even took a phone call WHILE ONE OF OUR SPEAKERS WAS ADDRESSING THE COMMITTEE. Not only did she take the call, she was talking loudly as she chatted with her phone buddy. The committee chair had to tell her to stop.

By the time five citizens had spoken (all in opposition to the bill and ZERO in support), there were 4 committee members seated at the table. As the chair called for a vote, another member walked in just long enough to have his voice heard in the form of a yea vote, even though he hadn't listened to a single word from members of the public.

The speakers in opposition to the bill, were heavy hitters. The Executive Director of the Alabama ACLU, the President of the Birmingham chapter of NOW, The founder of Montgomery Humanists, a representative of Planned Parenthood, the Legislative Director for Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates, and a private citizen from the Huntsville area.

The final vote? Five "yeas" and NO "nays". What a fucking farce and what an insult to all people of Alabama.

There was some hope that this sort of juvenile behavior would stop when Shadrack McGill made his long-anticipated exit, but his buddy (and HB-527 bill sponsor) Ed Henry is still on Goat Hill and his disrespect towards citizens must be contagious.  Really, when Dale Peterson no less calls you out for being a dick, it's a pretty clear cut case:

Apparently their job was to act like disrespectful jerks. Both did a great job of being jerks."

Henry didn't bother to attend the hearing on his own bill, BTW: he let fellow Senator Paul Sanford speak for him at the committee hearing. Sanford no doubt feels well-qualified to address this issue since he has distributed $10,000 in public money to Choose Life of North Alabama.

The only bright spot of the hearing? Street preacher and professional protester James Henderson arrived late and wasn't allowed to speak.  It would have been fun to have an actual informed and engaged Health Committee asking him questions.

In particular, I'd like to hear him explain why he thinks public school children should be protected from his violent little band of troublemakers - but not children from local religious private schools. His group brought bus loads of them to the previous clinic location (which was within spitting distance of Huntsville Middle School), lined them up on the sidewalk, and had them sing and shout at patients.

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.

At the new location, protesters are often accompanied by kids of all ages - teens to toddlers.  Here was one group last November.


Video of the hearing is on the flip.  Thanks so much to Mia Raven, Legislative Director of Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates, for sharing her video.  And thanks to all those who made the trip to Montgomery, arrived on time, and spoke truth to a bunch of jackasses power.

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HB-527 In Senate Committee Tomorrow, Could Pass Before Session Is Over

by: countrycat

Tue Jun 02, 2015 at 15:46:17 PM CDT

UPDATE: The hearing is tomorrow morning (6/3) at 8:15.  Obviously, to ensure maximum citizen participation, right?

After the "Close the Huntsville Clinic" bill passed the House last week, Senate leaders privately assured opponents that it was "dead" this session. But, big surprise... they lied. Alabama's next PSA (Please Sue Alabama) bill has risen from the grave and the Senate Health Committee will consider it tomorrow.


This bill is nothing but a temper tantrum on the part of anti-choice extremists in North Alabama and their legislative lackeys.  Unable to con the Huntsville City Council, the zoning board, or the local court into blocking the clinic, they've turned to Big Government for help. It's going to be an expensive little hissy fit (for taxpayers) when the state is inevitably dragged back into federal court, but money's no object when we're paying lawyers and shady outside "experts."

The House public hearing on this bill was nothing short of spectacular, as the usual suspects shambled to the microphone to explain that they're too violent and dangerous to be allowed near school children:

  • 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.

  • 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.

There's not much time to stop it. Although traditionally, legislative committees hold a hearing one week and then vote a week later. Bills receiving a favorable report from the committee may - or may not - come to the floor, depending on the whims of the Rules Committee chair and leadership.

However, that's not a real "rule."  Now that the GOP supermajority is running the show, the "rules" are whatever they want to do. Remember that the Alabama Accountability Act passed out of committee one afternoon and was approved by the Senate just a few hours later.

Contact members of the Senate Health Committee ASAP & ask them to oppose HB-527. 

 

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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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