Come one, come all to the "Goat Hill Circus" (also known as the Alabama Legislature) on Wednesday for two public hearings on women's health issues. The gentlemen & ladies there will be discussing how to control the "lady parts" of Alabama women. To be fair, this is probably more entertaining for the clowns in the GOP supermajority than talking about the economic hit awaiting the state when sequestration takes effect.
The Senate public hearing is in the Statehouse at noon in room 304.
HB108: The "Religious Liberty" bill that allows your employer to arbitrarily decide what types of medication (read: contraception since that's the only type of medicine specifically mentioned) violate his/her religious beliefs. I'm betting that a lot of companies will "get religion" pretty quickly if they think it might save a couple of bucks.
The Senate public hearing is in the Statehouse at 11:30am in room 320.
Various pro-women groups are organizing to attend the hearings tomorrow. Some groups are carpooling and renting vans. If your organization is involved in that anywhere in the state, please note the information in the comments.
Alabama Republicans are on an Obsessive Crusade. Top priority is protecting the potential lives of the potential babies of the actual women who live here. Since 2010, Alabama Lawmakers have introduced more than 40* bills that, if signed into Law, would:
1) prevent women from accessing basic reproductive care, birth control, and abortion services;
2) prohibit private companies from covering Ladypart procedures they don’t like; and
3)protect healthcare providers from covering and providing medication/services which "violate their conscience," including the use of birth control pills to treat ovarian cysts.
Bills that restrict women and their families from accessing family-planning services are bad news for (duh) women, families, babies, and children. In case you've been living under a rock, here are a few reasons why:
They restrict access to basic Ladyparts Care, especially for low-income women. Some of these bills prohibit State or Federal funds from going to organizations that provide abortions. So if a clinic provides any abortions (take Planned Parenthood: did you know 97% of services are not related to abortion?), it is not eligible to receive any public funds to provide cancer screenings, pap smears, low cost birth control, breast exams, treatment for vaginal yeast and bacterial infections, or STD tests and treatment.
Also, just in case a clinic scrapes together funds to stay open, the latest bill requires hospital regulations, like making all hallways at least 6 feet wide. Maybe Legislators don’t realize that our biggest organ – the baby organ - still fits inside our bodies? Huntsville’s clinic, Alabama Women’s Center, will probably shut down.
They prohibit private insurance policies from covering birth control or abortion. Because having Ladyparts means never having to say “I’m sorry… but it’s none of your GD business why my doctor prescribed hormone pills.” Recent bills allow employers the right to choose… whether or not their employees’ insurance policies cover “birth control” pills. So not only are potential persons prioritized over actual persons, so are nosey-ass business owners! Surprisingly (just kidding, I’m not surprised), only women’s sexual healthcare is a target; no word on when they’ll introduce a bill to prevent coverage of Erectile Dysfunction and Viagra/Cialis prescriptions.
Additional bills prohibit private health insurance companies from covering elective abortions -unless they require an additional premium for an extra plan with optional coverage of abortion. So in case you’re planning on getting pregnant and having an abortion, better buy that extra coverage! Because having an abortion is always part of the plan, am I right, ladies?
They define embryos and fetuses as Persons, a legal definition that can result in cases of women being arrested and prosecuted after miscarrying. It already has. More than once. Multiple bills refer to the "Personhood" of embryos and fetuses, which sponsors have said they hope will affect using in vitro fertilization because the souls of discarded embryos may burn in Hell forever. (Seriously. Click the link.)
They undermine doctors and women by interfering with treatment and requiring medically unnecessary, costly procedures, such as the Government-mandated Ladypart Probe. Some of the bills require waiting periods and medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions (Side effects include indignation, pain, cost of the Probe, and hopefully, an increased desire to have babies). Other bills require patients to attend a specific number of office visits, and physicians to describe the embryo/fetus and “counsel” patients on alternatives to abortion - just in case OBGYNs and their patients have no idea what they’re doing in the clinic on Abortion Day. How helpful! Unless you’re missing work for the appointments, don’t want to be probed or pay for a probe, or trust your OBGYN is more qualified than an Elected Official Who Allegedly Attended Community College and Thinks He Knows More About Practicing Medicine on Ladyparts Than Actual OBGYNs.
At least Alabama potential babies and children have widespread post-birth access to healthcare, government assistance, and education. Haha! Just kidding. Alabama Lawmakers have introduced bills to cut eligibility for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), food stamps, and Medicaid, while simultaneously cutting Education budgets. Recent bills include eliminating eligibility for public assistance for adults who use drugs. I guess they think kids/babies of crackheads can fill out TANF forms on their own. Best I can tell, Elected Officials hope to increase the number of unwanted babies and prevent the most pitiful among them from accessing public assistance for food, shelter, and medicine. Republicans 1; Crackbabies 0. Hey, at least those kids will have a chance to suffer post-birth!
When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortion: Sometimes they die. Other times theyneed treatment for illegal botched abortions. Better case scenario: they'll live, as will their little unwanted baby, happily ever after, below the poverty level on government assistance – if they can still get it. So restricting women’s access to birth control and abortion may cost women their lives or health, and will probably cost Alabama taxpayers more money, but at least those potential babies were prioritized over actual Alabamians! But once you’re born, you're on your own. Don't worry, little Crackbabies, soon you'll be old enough to go to the privatized prisons.
Lasagna’s Tip of the Day: If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t get one.
* 2010 bills: SB49, HB39, SB335, SB365, SB361, SB457, SB366, SB312; 2011: HB573, HB557, HB558, SB308, SP298, SB281, SB201, HB18, HB178, SB46, SB322, HB41. 2011 bills: SB366, SB312, SB322, HB41; 2012 bills: SB27, HB739, HB418, HB223, SB6, SB12, SB20, SB96, HB112, SB5, SB10, HB375, SB105; 2013: SB205, SB130, HB57. This list does not include ALL bills relating to birth control and abortion, merely all the ones found in a brief online search at www.openbama.org (help yourself to look for more)
** Since 2010, 32 states have placed restrictions on abortion. Elected Officials in Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia (just to name a few) consider themselves entitled to make reproductive decisions on behalf of their constituents.
Everything you thought about our legislature and women’s health is wrong. Not only do our legislators plan to make abortion “safer”, they want to increase demand! They want to make it hard for women to get birth control, so they will have more unwanted pregnancies and seek abortion more often. Since the “safer” clinics under HB 57/SB 130 will be imaginary, having been shut down, these abortions may be done by unlicensed providers or DIY methods. That’s great, because it gets them a twofer, a dead fetus AND a dead momma. I wonder if they’ve considered another benefit—an increased arrest rate for women who are addicted to drugs, get pregnant, and don’t abort—a boon to our burgeoning prison industry. A winner, all around, right? Pro-choicers, rejoice!
Except they’ve misunderstood us a bit. Pro-choice does NOT mean pro-unplanned pregnancy or pro-abortion. Women don’t yearn to have abortions any more than men want to have prostate procedures or open-heart surgery. We know the best option is prevention—safe, accessible contraception with good public education about safe sex.
Let’s read HB 108. We have a new category of employers created—religiously affiliated or motivated employers. Under the definition section, it turns out that any “entity that has 10 or less shareholders, members, or partners who have religious beliefs which oppose contraceptive or abortifacient drugs, devices, or methods” is included. 10 or less—that means 0 to 10, right? So a business with 100 shareholders, all atheists, is religiously motivated but one with 100% anti-contraception shareholders is not. Interesting twist!
Businesses meeting the criteria can refuse to provide insurance coverage for any form of birth control. Let’s say they fix their typo, and it becomes 10 or more shareholders, members or partners. A business with 1000 shareholders, 990 of whom have no religious objection to birth control, could refuse to cover contraception for its employees. Considering where we live, how many businesses would fall into that category?
My favorite Tweet from last night was "The Rape guy lost" "Which one?" Your party has serious issues if people have to ask "Which one?" Exit polls prove the truth of this rather commonsense statement: women voted for Democrats by 10 points nationally and in many swing states, the margin was even wider.
Those margins were totally bad news for GOP crew of mysognist all-stars led by Todd (magic ladyparts) Akin and Richard (gift from God) Murdoch. It's depressing that Paul Ryan retained his House seat, but he lost the big prize.
Bye, bye guys.... don't let the door hit you on your way to fame & fortune at Fox News.
Contraception is a big issue for women ... and a winning issue for Democrats.
How do I know it's a good issue for our side? Well, common sense for starters ... but just as telling is the fact that Republicans are trying so hard to make Democrats afraid to talk about their support for access to contraception this year by falselyframing it as an attack on religion -- or even an attack on America:
Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) likened the requirement that private insurance plans provide contraception coverage to two of the most devastating attacks on American soil.
"I know in your mind, you can think of the times America was attacked," he said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "One is Dec. 7, that's Pearl Harbor Day. The other is Sept. 11, and that's the day the terrorists attacked. I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates."
In the warped Republican universe, requiring insurers to cover contraception is just exactly like foreign attacks that killed thousands of Americans. Those little pill containers are seriously scary, huh?
Fortunately, GOP scare tactics haven't succeeded in scaring Democrats away from the birth control issue. Here's the latest Obama ad featuring women talking about contraception.
"I think Mitt Romney's really out of touch with the average woman's health issues."
"This is not the 1950's ... contraception is so important to women. It's about a woman being able to make decisions."
"I don't think Mitt Romney can even understand the mindset of someone who has to go to Planned Parenthood."
"I think Mitt Romney would definitely drag us back."
Republicans started this war, but women VOTERS will finish it. Democrats -- even in places like Alabama -- should take note of this fact, summon the courage to refute the ridiculous fearmongers and stand for what's right.
Ok, I'm the first person to admit that there are Democrats out there who don't always make sense & who make truly dumb statements. But only in the Republican Party is that sort of behavior not only expected, but celebrated. Let's review some recent news stories - most of which focus on the GOP's rather creepy, unnatural fixation with the sex lives of strangers....
Cut it out sluts, birth control is irresponsible! North Carolina County Commissioners vote to refuse a state family planning grant, that included contraceptive coverage. One commissioner defended his vote by saying that he opposes "using taxpayer funding to fund someone's irresponsibility."
Chairman Ted Davis said he thought it was a sad day when “taxpayers are asked to pay money to buy for contraceptives” for women having sex without planning responsibly.
“If these young women were responsible people and didn’t have the sex to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Davis said.
Abortion is more palatable if men sign for it. I can't describe this better than the Mudflats blog:
And if you’re not fully convinced yet that Alaska is the next front in the GOP’s war on women, you just have to listen to State Rep. Alan Dick. He said in a House Health and Social Services Committee Hearing last week that he doesn’t believe that when a woman is pregnant, it’s really “her pregnancy.” As a matter of fact, he would advocate for criminalizing women who have an abortion without the permission via written signature from the man who impregnated her. He stated, “If I thought that the man’s signature was required… required, in order for a woman to have an abortion, I’d have a little more peace about it…” He didn’t say whether a rapist would be able to send his signature by fax from prison, or not. But he’ll have “peace” and women will require a permission slip for their own bodies.
“How can anybody call this offensive?’’ Swindell said. “Who doesn’t love an ultrasound image of a baby?’’ [...] For an hour and a half, Swindell guided the women lying on a table shielded from the crowd by a bamboo divider. [...] “Does this feel invasive at all?’’ she asked.
“No, I’d do this every day, if I could,’’ at least two of them replied. [...] The ultrasounds were done on the women’s abdomens, not using the more-invasive vaginal ultrasound equipment employed by many doctors for women whose fetuses are less than 10 weeks old.
Um... it didn't feel invasive because it wasn't.....
Hon, just why do you need those birth control pills? Arizona is considering a bill that would allow your employer to determine if a woman needs contraception for "legitimate" medical reasons or if she's just a wanton hussy:
Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.
“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union,” Lesko said. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”
No, we live in a land of freedom with a right to personal privacy.... some exclusions may apply.
Sweetie, your husband can't be all that bad! Meanwhile in Alabama, State Senator Phil Williams is still pushing his "Covenant Marriage" bill to keep married couples from rushing into either a marriage or a divorce without paying marriage counselors first.
So girlfriends... no matter where you go or what you do in this country, the GOP thinks your private life is public business. What are you gonna do when there's an elephant all up in your uterus?
Roy Blunt's health care loophole amendment (co-sponsored by Alabama's own Sen. Richard Shelby) went down to defeat in the US Senate this morning by a razor-thin 51-48 margin. One Republican (Olympia Snow of Maine) voted against the amendment; 3 Democrats (Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin of W. Va. and Bill Casey of Penn.) voted for it.
Folks like Blunt and Shelby maintain that this amendment was about respecting religious freedom, something most of us care deeply about. Various religions preach against some health care treatments, such as:
If you add "moral conviction" to this can of worms, it get's really complicated. There are groups who don't believe in plenty of other forms of health care ... like chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis, blood pressure medication, and some who oppose virtually any kind of medical procedure. Should your boss be able to say your health plan doesn't cover medical treatment because he or she is morally convicted against it?
This proposal isn't limited to contraception nor is it limited to any preventive service. Any employer could restrict access to any service they say they object to. This is dangerous and wrong.
The Obama administration believes that decisions about medical care should be made by a woman and her doctor, not a woman and her boss.
Most reasonable people would agree that if people object to a drug or medical procedure on religious or moral grounds, they certainly shouldn't be forced to have it. However, allowing them to deny those drugs or procedures to their employees as well goes way to far. That is beyond protecting religious freedom for employers and would harm employees and their families.
All this would be a non-issue if we had a single-payer system like Medicare for All.
(Secondarily, why can't I read Carl Hiaasen in my local paper?)
If you’re mystified, you’re not alone. Ignoring years of public-opinion polls, the GOP is boldly marching backwards into the 1960s to question whether contraception is a legitimate health-care benefit.
As political miscalculations go, this one could be epic. If you’re looking for a sure way to galvanize female voters against your own party, attack birth control.
Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/02/23/139386/commentary-gop-goes-back-to-the.html#storylink=cpy
The Republican victory in 2010 was due to their focus on the economy -- where are the jobs -- so why are they now all fringey social issues, all the time? Bill Maher* explains the obvious -- the economy got better!
Holy Cow. So far this week, we've seen a Catholic food bank refuse donations from Planned Parenthood, Rick Santorum's spokeswoman criticized President Obama's "radical Islamic" policies, and a Republican Indiana legislator is condemning the Girl Scouts.
Stay tuned, campers... we have the first GOP debate in a month scheduled in Arizona on Wednesday night! In the meantime, dip a finger into the "shallow end of the gene pool" but be sure to wash it (with Clorox) afterwards!
If this song makes you think of Madison County Commission candidate, Wayne Parker, well.... welcome to the club.
Yesterday, Republican frontrunner Rick Santorum said the president subscribes to a "phony theology." His spokeswoman Alice Stewart took to MSNBC today to clarify: Santorum was referring to Obama's "radical Islamic policies." She herself later called MSNBC to clarify her clarification: she mean to say "radical environmental policies." It's a common mistake — haven't we all mistakenly called it the Islamic Protection Agency?
So environmenal protection is a religion? Is she saying that President Obama is a druid?
A lawmaker has sent a letter to fellow Republican members of the Indiana House saying he will not support a resolution celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts because he believes it is a "radicalized organization" that supports abortion and promotes homosexuality.
The former GOP presidential hopeful, campaigning on behalf of former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), told a crowd at Collins Hill High School here that when it came to voters, “50 percent of the American people do fall in the category of either stupid or ignorant as to what’s going on in this country.” [...] “Some people don’t like me because I tell the truth like it is,” Cain said. “Those of us who are informed outnumber the stupid people, but not if we stay home.”
Ok... I admit to being math-impaired... but if 50% is "stupid" how do the "informed" outnumber them?
The crazy just kept on coming last night at State Senator Shadrack McGill's (SD-08) meeting in Gurley, AL. Apparently believing that his legislative post also renders him "God's Prophet From Woodville," McGill lectured pro-choice questioners about morality, explained that the Constitution stems from the "Word of God," and described his "compromise" plan on IVF that essentially legislates the treatment that infertility doctors can give patients.
And no, McGill's not a doctor. Of anything. Not even theology. That's a subject he's happy to lecture about but when pressed for specifics, he tries to dance the sidestep. "I'll be glad to talk with you about that after the meeting... or on the phone..." or somewhere - anywhere - but in front of TV cameras is the implication.
But he was out of luck last night. Numerous members of the audience insisted that he explain his legislation and be specific about the intended consequences. That rambling answer is when he dropped the gem of a phrase: stopping "premeditated abortions."
Both McGill & the audience had a lot to say on the issue, so I broke it into two different video clips - each with a different questioner.
Perception is reality, Conservative columnist (and former Bush II speechwriter) David Frum notes. All week, the GOP has been busy reassuring itself (and all those birth control using gals) that the current fight is about supporting "religious freedom," not opposing birth control. They might want to refine that message, Frum says, because the facts don't support it:
If the audience is paying attention, for example, it will notice that Republicans are not proposing to allow employers and plans to refuse to cover blood transfusions if they conscientiously object to them (although there are religious groups that do). Or vaccinations (although there are individuals who conscientiously object to those as well). Or medicines derived from animal experimentation. (Ditto.)
Which means it will be very hard if not impossible to persuade the target audience that this debate is not in fact about contraception. Everybody quite sure that's a wise debate to have?
This whole issue has annoyed me for quite some time. Why do Catholic bishops think they get special dispensation when it comes to issues involving women's health? This fixation on controlling women's reproduction is just creepy. Jennifer Johnson noted on Twitter that the bishops might feel differently if altar boys could get pregnant.
One of my closest high school friends was a Jehovah's Witness who was quite prepared to refuse a blood transfusion - even in an emergency situation. Suppose Regina became a doctor or nurse. Should she have the right to refuse to provide that life-saving treatment to a patient?
And Christian Scientists really get taken when you look at how their tax money is spent! Look at the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, medical research, support for medical schools, etc. Why aren't we debating the ethics of requiring them to support activities that go against their religious beliefs?
We all know the answer. There are a heck of a lot more Catholic voters than Jehovah's Witnesses (who don't vote at all) or Christian Scientists.
That means removing the provision from the health care law altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and their insurers. He cited the problem that would create for "good Catholic business people who can't in good conscience cooperate with this."
Good heavens, it's like negotiating with the House GOP. Give a little and they always want more.
Personhood bills are popping up in legislatures across the country. Here in Alabama Sen. Phil Williams (R) is back with his one page personhood bill, SB5, providing that the term "persons" in Alabama law "includes all humans from the moment of fertilization and implantation in the womb." Yeah, if we had any carpool lanes, Williams' bill would let a woman legally drive in them the morning after -- by herself!
Perhaps noting that almost these bills meddling with what's happening in the wombs of American women are usually introduced by men, State Senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City has hit upon a response that may jar some of these men out of their self-righteousness regarding fertilized eggs: Outlaw spilled seed as well. She proposed this amendment:
However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.
In other words, outlaw oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, and even wet dreams.
Unconstitutional? Yes. An unwarranted invasion of privacy? Yes. Ridiculous? Yes. That's exactly the point. So are the personhood bills ... including the one in Alabama.
This ruling includes the "morning after" pill and the implantable devices that work for months.
"These historic guidelines are based on science and existing (medical) literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The new requirements will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases. Over time, they are expected to apply to most employer-based insurance plans, as well as coverage purchased individually.
That last part is the only downside I see. There's something about "existing plans being grandfathered" and they won't be required to provide the coverage on the same schedule.
I foresee a huge scramble to get that "grandfather" exemption, but for sure, this is a HUGE step in the right direction for women's health.
After the debacle of the debt ceiling capitulation agreement, this was a GREAT day to remind many of us of the absolute requirement to hold on to the Presidency. This ruling would never have happened - even though it was recommended almost unanimously by a panel of medical experts - under a GOP president of the current stripe.
The chill in the air? The Administration is weighing a "conscience clause" that allows insurers to exempt themselves from the provision on "religious grounds." Am I the only BCBS customer who firmly expects the company to "get that old time religion" forthwith?"
The reception hosted by Mrs. Obama for Ms. Ledbetter was held in the State Dining Room. Most of the folks from the signing ceremony walked across the hall to mix and mingle. Your faithful pooler observed several members of Congress included Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, House Speaker Pelosi, Axelrod, Donna Brazile, among others. President Obama also mingled with the crowd. He left, though, at around 10:54am, before his wife made her remarks. (He was not present for her remarks.) Mrs. Obama’s staff said that the representatives of about 150 advocacy organizations were also there.
Note; Not one Alabama Senator or Congressman/woman is present. Oh wait, with the exception of Congressman Artur Davis, they didn't vote for the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act! They voted against it! My bad.
The NRCC is banging the good old culture wars drum today, sending out a raft of press releases asking if rookie Dems from conservative districts back the inclusion of anti-sexually transmitted disease programs.
We keep getting reminded in the comments left here by conservatives and by cons in general that the Democrats now “own it”. In light of the fact that we run the White House, Senate, and House, we’re responsible.
That goes to the very heart of the difference between the left and the right. The right likes to campaign, and when they are successful they govern by the same simple slogans they campaign with. Then they’re totally shocked when praying to Tax Cut Jesus, weakening our infrastructure, and following the foreign policy instincts of the insane leads to a mess.
The gop had a hissy fit because family planning for poor women was included in the economic stimulus bill. So much so, President Obama had it removed from the bill in an attempt to appease republicans. When is Obama going to learn that appeasement doesn't work? There is nothing he can do or say that will make republicans co-operate. They want him (our country) to fail. Obama should have left family planning in the bill. Read Stimulating Discussion: The Economic Stimulus Plan and Birth Control.
The point is that by providing birth control to lower-income women, the state provides economic relief to everyone in society. Essentially, providing birth control has the same effect as providing the $275 billion in tax relief that Republicans insisted be part of the package. This conversation does not revolve around morality, but instead the serious economic hardship of a society deep into a recession.
I was listening to this story on NPR Wednesday and it really ticked me off. Oklahoma recently passed one of the toughest local immigration laws in the nation, making it a felony to transport (carpool with), harbor (share a house with), or aid (give medical assistance to) an illegal immigrant. It's apparently having the desired effect because many illegal workers have left Oklahoma altogether.
The result is a lot of construction sites are quiet because the workers have left the state. NPR's Jason Beuabien interviewed a construction supervisor who said that prices would be going up because there was now a labor shortage. Here's the part that steamed me:
It takes a certain amount of workers to keep economies growing. And we've had too many birth control pills and not enough workers coming in. So we need more workers than we've got.
Listen here -- you'll hear it if you start at about 1 minute 30 seconds.
Did you get that ladies? Illegal immigration is all the fault of liberated women taking the pill and having careers instead of babies. Abortion too, even though he didn't specifically mention it. Plus we could use more soldiers in the Middle East so y'all need to flush those pills down the toilet right now and get busy getting pregnant and turning out cheap little workers to support the economy and soldiers for the war machine to chew up. That's the proper role for the female of the species.
If you have a womb you're a baby factory. Unless you're a member of the upper class in which case your kids don't need to serve or work those dirty jobs. On your backs and quit griping about wanting your kids to have a better life than yours, or even a decent life at all. As an extra added benefit, who needs health care with plenty of cheap babies?
The guy who rolled out this piece of crap didn't even think twice about it. If you don't believe there are some hardcore conservatives out there who want to turn back the clock on women's rights, think again. Some of them are even on your radio.