It was a motley crew: the leader was a guy with a theory of "post-abortion syndrome" & a Home Ec degree. Others included: the plastic surgeon who screwed up Linda Tripp's face lift; a male emergency room doctor who needs to be "told" why a woman has come to the hospital with complications; a sociologist who thinks it's no big deal if poor women have to travel hundreds of miles & spend days in hotels in order to get a legal medical procedure; & a North Carolina obstetrician & professor who travels the country (for money) supporting TRAP laws as "the current standard of care."
Let's start with the ringleader: Vincent Rue, who collected a whopping $82,890 from Alabama during 2013 & 2014.
Rue has a long and sordid history as a professional "anti-abortion expert." He's a psychotherapist (or is that "psycho" therapist?) who coined the term "post-abortion syndrome" to refer to a form of mental illness women experience after getting an abortion. Which would mean, essentially, that he believes one in three American women is mentally ill. He's also a proponent of giving men veto power over their partner's abortion (because of the "damage" abortion does to men, you understand), meaning that he thinks men have a "right" to control women's reproductive choices. Hey girls! They may transfer the sperm to you, but they still own it!
Rue, who holds a doctorate in family relations from the University of North Carolina School of Home Economics, has claimed that "abortion reescalates the battle between the sexes" and "abortion increases bitterness toward men." For decades, he has strived to convince mainstream researchers to recognize "post-abortion syndrome," a supposed mental illness resulting from abortion.
But "after submission for peer review by scientists with the Center for Disease Control, the National Center for Health Statistics and other scientific institutions, [Rue's] study was found to have 'no value' and to be 'based upon a priori beliefs rather than an objective review of the evidence,'" according to Daniel Huyett, a federal judge who disregarded Rue's testimony in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a landmark 1990 abortion case that eventually ended up before the Supreme Court. "His testimony is devoid of…analytical force and scientific rigor," Huyett added. "Moreover, his admitted personal opposition to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, suggests a possible personal bias." Rue "possesses neither the academic qualifications nor the professional experience of plaintiffs' expert witnesses," another federal judge wrote in 1986 after hearing Rue's testimony in another landmark abortion case, Hodgson v. Minnesota.
Rue has testified, written reports, and coached witness during abortion lawsuits since the mid-1980's. In the past two years alone, he's pocketed over $200,000 in taxpayer money from Alabama, North Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Next up, we have emergency room physician Dr. James Anderson, who was paid $16,350 to essentially repeat testimony that Vincent Rue prepared for him. Anderson defended the "admitting privliges" requirement in Alabama's TRAP law because women might be "embarrassed" to admit they'd had an abortion (reckon why?) and he wouldn't know why they were bleeding unless the doctor who performed the procedure was on hand. What a medical marvel he is!
Dr. Anderson has a history of being Rue's mouthpiece (think of the scene in "Chicago" where Roxie sits on lawyer Billy Flynn's lap). From the Mother Jones article:
Rue engaged James C. Anderson, a Virginia emergency room physician, to testify not only in Wisconsin, but also in Alabama, Alaska, North Dakota, and Texas.
Rue often drafts written testimony for his star witnesses. In Alabama, Anderson testified that Rue had written his supplemental report to the court—Anderson had merely signed his name to it. When pressed by the judge, Anderson revealed that Rue had provided most of the research for his main report, too.
According to Anderson, Rue helped coordinate witnesses to defend Alaska's 2010 parental notification law.
A few days earlier, in Alabama, Anderson testified that he didn't know courts had disregarded Rue's testimony.
"You say you don't know his employment or any organizations that he belongs to," the judge asked Anderson. "Why do you trust him?"
Another member of Rue's crew, Dr. John Thorp, is a North Carolina ob/gyn & professor at Chapel Hill. He collected $34,131.25.
Dr. Thorp has allegedly researched the "physical harm" done to women by abortions. His study on that harm was refused by peer-reviewed journals & only saw print when he placed it in a "pay to publish" journal.
Thorp ran into some trouble when he testified in Wisconsin. Turns out he has problems with decimal places:
We missed Congresswoman Sewell's July 1 statement on the SCOTUS ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, but it's well-worth sharing after the fact. Sewell highlights many of the important elements in the decision & warns about the long-term impact on all employees of "closely held corporations - not just women.
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell released the following statement following the Supreme Court’s ruling that the government can’t require “closely held” corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage to their employees:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to allow select corporations to withhold health care options to their female employees is a disappointing setback for women’s health in our country. This decision represents a broad and dangerous precedent and is a slippery slope that could allow corporations to cherry pick which laws to abide by now and in the future.
I fully believe that employers, insurers, and politicians have no place in a woman’s health care decisions. Make no mistake – the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage requirement does not force a corporation to provide contraceptives or even encourage their use, but rather to simply provide their employees with health coverage so they can make their own health care decisions. Given that 90 percent of America’s businesses are ‘closely held,’ I am confident that millions of American women and their families will be immediately affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement.
The federal government must take action immediately to ensure that all women have affordable access to comprehensive health care without interference from their employers. I will continue to fight on behalf of America’s women to ensure they have full access to the fundamental health care they need and deserve.”
The statewide group Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates (ARRA) has received multiple requests for assistance from North Alabama women this week. Prohibited from receiving medical care in their own community by Alabama's TRAP law, they're faced with traveling to Nashville, Tuscaloosa, or even Columbus, GA.
Several members of the group have helped these women with personal donations, driven hours with them to appointments in other cities/states, and cobbled together groups of volunteers who are willing to offer free lodging and/or transportation. As one frustrated volunteer noted: "It's like we're setting up a $%$# Underground Railroad."
During the federal court hearings this spring on the TRAP law, a witness predicted just this situation, calling the laws, "a tax on women."
ARRA sent us this plea for assistance & asked if our LIA community members can help by donating online here.
"As many of you know, our women's clinic in Huntsville was unable to meet the building requirements of the TRAP law. We are starting to get calls for help from young women needing an abortion. We want to start this fund to help with travel expenses and a partial funding of the abortion when needed. It will also cover pregnancy tests or Plan B (the morning after pill) for those that can't afford it. West Alabama Women's Center in Tuscaloosa has agreed to take the Huntsville patients until the clinic is reopened.
Thank you SO much!!
Tuscaloosa is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Huntsville and Alabama has a 48 hour waiting period law (because, you know, pregnant women are flighty, right? We have to stop them from just pulling into an clinic and impulsively getting an abortion). That means women who travel there either have to pay for meals & hotels or make two trips, for a total of 10 hours travel time, 2 days lost from work/school, and added cost for gas. The extra travel cost is not insubstantial: 600 miles total at 30 miles/gallon is 20 gallons of fuel and adds about $70 to the cost - more than a day's pay for a minimum wage worker who's probably already missing work to travel.
No donation is too small - no donation is too large! It all goes to help women facing situations that are already difficult both financially and emotionally. Thanks to the Alabama Legislature, the whole experience is just that much harder.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a closely-held company can be exempt from the contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
The closely watched case pitted the administration and its allies, including women’s health advocates, against the religious right, which has repeatedly accused President Barack Obama of waging a war on religion in the public square.
Hobby Lobby Stores, an Oklahoma-based, evangelical-owned craft chain with about 13,000 employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a small Mennonite-owned cabinet maker in Pennsylvania, were two of the 49 for-profit companies that said the requirement violated their religious freedom.
The Obama administration had provided exemptions for the law for houses of worship and an accommodation for religious nonprofits (the subject of pending litigation) but not for for-profit corporations.
Well, well, well... shouldn't we now expect a lot of for-profit businesses to "get religion?" Why, what if your personal religion prohibits blood transfusions, organ transplants, vaccinations, or what not? Oh, the court specifically ruled that this decision doesn't cover those religious objections. Just birth control. Nice work, guys.
As Mitt Romney famously stated: "Corporations are people, my friend." And now they control not only an employee's economic future, but, thanks to SCOTUS, employee's access to womens' health care needs as well.
Expect to hear more about this from Democrats in the fall campaign. Republicans running against birth control is a winning issue - for Democrats. And the justices who voted in the majority were appointed by Republicans.
If for no other reason, it's why the GOP can never again gain control of the Senate or the Presidency.
This is a short post, but an important one. The state & anti-choice protestors will do whatever is necessary to keep the Huntsville women's clinic closed. That's an action that leaves a gaping hole in abortion services in Alabama. It's a hole that stretches from Tuscaloosa to Nashville.
Campers... will we permit this? NOOOOOO!
This is easy. You don't have to show up anywhere to escort (although that would be nice). You don't have to write a letter (although you could do that too).
This is in response to the TRAP bill passed by the legislature this session. Clinics have new requirements to meet - requirements that do NOT apply to most other outpatient facilities, hence the name "Targeted Regulations Against Abortion Providers."
Clinic officials did submit blue prints for a new location to move the clinic off Sparkman Drive for approval from the state Department of Public Health.
According to Brian Hale, Deputy General Counsel with Alabama Department of Public Health, the blue prints have not been approved yet because they're waiting for response from the clinic's architect on making minor alterations to the interior.
It's not clear if that can be done by Tuesday's deadline.
"The clinic is still going through the approval process with the state," said Clinic Administrator, Dalton Johnson, "We will continue the fight to re-open at the new facility while we continue to follow every letter of the law."
"It will be a sad day for us to close our doors because it means women of North Alabama will no longer have access to the multiple health care services we provide, not just abortions," said Johnson.
The clinic has already jumped other hurdles in the law requiring its physicians to have admitting privileges to area hospitals and adhering to the 48-hour waiting period requirement for women to have the procedure.
While this is a sad event, it's not the end of the story. Without the tireless efforts of pro-choice activists & volunteers, the original clinic might have closed well before the TRAP bill passed. So it's a good time to give a shout out to the dedicated group of volunteer clinic escorts who have showed up no matter what the weather (literally, the last time I was there, it was sleeting and about 20 degress outside, but the experienced escorts weren't fazed a bit), no matter how many antis thronged the sidewalks (adults & kids who sang the delightful "happy birthday dead baby" song), and kept their heads no matter what the provocation.
Here's some of our coverage of these local heroes:
The ACLU of Alabama invites you to its third annual "Roe on the Rocks" happy hour. It's a fun, informal event where you can meet ACLU staff and network with like-minded people. The event itself is free, with a cash bar.
Huntsville anti-choice protesters are worried about the "impact on children" if the city's lone women's clinic moves from its present location to a new building that complies with the state's TRAP law. The problem, they assert, is that the new location is directly across from a middle school and so represents both a safety and moral hazard for the children.
Well, if anyone should recognize a "moral hazard," it's this group of zealots.
Oddly though, they haven't raised this particular concern about the current location, which is 2 blocks from Huntsville Middle School and two buildings away from Huntsville Hospital's child care center. And, as clinic supporters point out, nobody could distinguish either the current or future location from any other medical facility if it weren't for the protesters out front waving signs, passing out fetus dolls, and busing in school children to sing such ditties as "Happy Birthday, Dead Baby" to women entering the building.
In their rather unusual version of logic, bringing their own small children to stand on the sidewalk in front of a busy 5-lane road and busing in children from local Christian shools is fine, but having children attending the school across the 5-lane road, who are inside the building learning most of the day, is a problem. They also weren't worried about it when they picketed this very same building last year because the doctor who occupied it was pro-choice.
Publicity-hungry politico, Chris Horn, joined the group in a protest yesterday outside the new clinic location and complained about the effect on neighborhood property values. Trouble is, the current clinic location is next to the historic Twickenham District, one of the most pricey and exclusive areas of the city. If the clinic and the sign-waving "counselors" out front haven't been an issue for residents there, it's unlikely that the new location will be an issue either.
Now, the problem here is that the building is already zoned for a medical facility, the clinic's owner has completed the purchase, and it complies with the new anti-abortion TRAP laws. That means the anti-choice people had to find a new complaint, so they went with the easy choice: racism.
Abortion advocates are targeting the black community in northwest Huntsville with plans to relocate its downtown clinic to a facility on Sparkman Drive, anti-abortion protestors said Saturday.
Yes campers, locating a reproductive health clinic that provides affordable services to women including pap smears, STD screenings, pregnancy tests, birth control, and abortion in an existing building that's zoned as a medical clinic and happens to be in a low-income, mostly African American neighborhood is now a racist act. The clinic welcomes all women - even if they don't have health insurance, which many do not since our state declined to expand Medicaid. Have you ever tried to call a local OB/GYN and make an appointment? The first question is "What kind of insurance do you have?" See how much farther you get if the answer is "none."
What are these protesters doing to help those women? Nothing.
But don't expect to hear any of that from the Huntsville Times reporter, Paul Gattis, whose article on the protest was rightly condemned as biased. He defended himself in the comments this way:
Yep. All you "pro-abortion" harridans stop yer whinin'! If y'all want to get out and wave picket signs and block the sidewalk in front of legal businesses, we'll be happy to give you the coverage you deserve.
EXCEPT.... remember the Women's Rights rally in Huntsville in April? The one that we covered with these posts that included video and partial transcripts of the speeches:
You saw none of that from the local newspaper, although several TV stations did stop by. So apparently, when hundreds gather to rally for women and statewide candidates for office attend, it gets a "yawn" from Mr. Gattis & his fellow reporters. But when a couple of dozen protesters scream about reproductive choice being some sort of racist plot, they're all over the story.
Speaking in Huntsville on Sunday, State Rep. Joe Hubbard discussed his candidacy for Attorney General & castigated the GOP legislative supermajority for "using women as a stepping stone" to political power. He also discussed his support for a bill to allow certified midwives to legally deliver babies in Alabama.
Rep. Hubbard voted in favor of HB489 (the 48 hour waiting period bill) this year both in committee and on the floor of the House and was one of 7 Democrats who voted in favor of the TRAP (targeted regulations against abortion providers) bill last year. In this speech however, he castigated the GOP members who push such bills:
They pursue punitive legislation that inserts government in the bedroom and into the decisions solely between a woman and her partner and her God. For me, that's unacceptable.
Every day, we hear Republicans and TEA party members complaining about over-intrusive government, but the reality is, on their issues, they want government to be as big as possible. That's what we call hypocrisy.
Refreshingly - for an Alabama Attorney General anyway - Hubbard also said this about Attorneys General across the country who have refused to defend unconstitutional laws in court.
The Attorney General of a state has to stand up and defend laws. But if a law is unconstitutional, it's unconstitutional! We're not in the business of passing laws just to get headlines.
Somebody needs to tell that to the Alabama Legislature.
Here's the video. In it, Hubbard looks good, is articulate, and touches on many important points. As with any candidate, it's our job to let him know that we're listening to what he says now & expect that he will follow through when in office.
Kathy Wells has worked on women's health & domestic violence issues for 35 years, & that surprises her. "I thought if we worked hard enough, we could end the violence. That thought lasted about 6 months, until I spoke to a group of men who laughed through the entire presentation."
Yesterday, the Alabama Senate Health Committee voted 7-1 in favor of a package of anti-choice bills - including one that effectively outlaws all abortions in Alabama with no exceptions. Supporters expect to bring them to the floor of the Senate tomorrow and opponents don't have the votes to stop the GOP supermajority.
Today, HB31 (the so-called Conscience Clause bill) is on the Senate calendar for a vote. That's the bill that allows any health care worker to deny a woman treatment or prescriptions just by citing religioius belief - but ONLY if the treatment is associated with ladyparts.
It used to be that the Alabama Senate was where good bills went to die. Now it's where bad bills go to catch an express train to Federal court.
Here's a short clip of Kathy Wells explaining the challenges women face both here in world wide.
As one attendee described today's public hearing, it was "7 white guys, 1 black woman, and 1 white female secretary" in session to pass discuss laws that affect the women of Alabama. And the guys decided that they know better than the gals & their doctors how to handle the female reproductive system.
Democratic Senator Linda Coleman was the only dissenting vote, but she's not the only Democrat on the committee. Once again, we get screwed by the "leaders" in our own party as they happily jump on the "pass unconstitutional bills & cost the state money" gravy train for lawyers. The full roll calls should be available tomorrow. Two senators who have opposed such legislation in the past - Democrat Billy Beasley & Independent Harri Anne Smith - skipped the hearing.
Kudos to those who stood up against the bills, including Joann Cummings and Dr. Hines from Shelby County ER, who spoke from experience as a medical professional:
"These bills intrude into medical care of our patients."
"You are trying to criminalize my job to my patients."
Like that's ever bothered the Legislature before. The Senate is in session now & could take up the 48-hour waiting period bill. Because, of course, that's more important than passing an actual state budget.
It may take all week to edit and upload the terrific speeches from yesterday's rally in Huntsville, but we want to lead off with the comments of Sharon McClendon Price of Guntersville. She's a constituent - and nemesis - of State Senator Clay Scofield, an unmarried chicken farmer from Marshall County who was responsible for 2012's vaginal ultrasound bill.
Scofield was totally unprepared for the wrath of his constituents - particularly Ms. Price. If you wonder why his intense interest in ladyparts dimmed after that dust up, you need look no farther than this awesome video.
Thank you, Ms. Price! You did a tremendous service to the state of Alabama and we thank you for it.
Note, we'll have video up later today & throughout the week of other speeches & the remarks of candidates who attended - including AG candidate Joe Hubbard, 5th District Congressional candidate Mark Bray, and Gubernatorial candidate Parker Griffith.
Organizers of tomorrow's Women's Rights Rally in Huntsville have announced an impressive lineup of speakers including Lt. Gov. candidate James Fields, AG candidate Joe Hubbard, & Gov. candidate Parker Griffith. In addition, the crowd will hear from legislative candidates, Democratic leaders, enjoy music, and a parade.
A good time will surely be had by all, and this is a terrific opportunity to meet candidates in person and hear their views.
Parker Griffith will no doubt be asked to comment on this recent AL.com story about his candidacy and comment that he's a "pro-life Democrat."
Bring your checkbooks because the Huntsville women's clinic defenders will be raising money with a bake sale and great buttons, jewelry, and other merchandise. Other Democratic Party & community groups will have information tables as well. It's a great networking opportunity.
The rally is in Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville from 2-4pm. The weather is expected to be lovely, so come join us and be sure to stop by the Left In Alabama table to say hello!
Just when you thought it was safe to look away from the uterati trainwreck that's the current Alabama Legislative session, Senator Shadrack McGill strides onto the scene with a "personhood" bill (SB414 - PDF). Hold on to your eyes so they don't roll out of your head. He (or someone literate enough to actually author a bill) defines a zygote as a full person from the moment of fertilization.
This bill would define the term "persons" to include all human beings resulting from the union of the male sperm with the female egg either from sexual intercourse or in the case of in vitro fertilization, the fertilized egg or eggs relied on by a physician for implantation in the uterus.
So that means, from the moment of conception, an egg with fewer than a hundred cells has the same legal and civil rights as... well.... your average male in Alabama. Those cells better enjoy their status, because, at birth, if they have two X chromosomes, they'll find themselves subject to the whims of Alabama Legislators who can barely spell "chromosome," much less legislate effectively on medical matters.
Like your current birth control pills? This law may outlaw them.
Find the IUD to be a reliable, non-hormonal method of birth control? Forget it, sister.
Desperately want to have a child, but stymied by fertility problems of either you or your spouse? Hope you want a litter, because all those eggs need a home, hon.
State Senator Shadrack McGill, himself a graduate of "Quack University," has a long and sordid history with "ladyparts legislation." One of his legislative goals from the 2013 session was to proscribe how infertility doctors could conduct their practice:
Among those goals, said state Sen. Shadrack McGill, is strengthening the state's definition of the beginning of life to state that life begins at conception, even if that conception occurs in a laboratory.
"We need to let physicians know: Any eggs that are fertilized need to be placed in a mother's womb," McGill said. "And another thing: People say it's a woman's body and she has a right to kill the life inside of her womb. But she can't ask the abortionist to kill her, too. Our laws protect you from your own self."
In case this bill sound all-so-dreadfully familiar... it is. The same extremist legislation has been defeated in other states, including MISSISSIPPI! Obviously, McGill has forgotten that Alabama's unofficial state motto is "Thank God for Mississippi," and hopes to take our state where even Mississippians feared to tread.
Cmon... be honest: do you trust this man with your uterus?
This whole, dreadful session can't end soon enough, and campers.... we're only about halfway there!
The bill passed the Alabama House on Jan. 21 by a vote of 71-24. It's pending in the Senate. If it passes there, the "rights" of this guy in the video (who is a nurse anesthetist at Huntsville Hospital) will be elevated above your "right" to medical care.
This was filmed at the Women's Clinic in Huntsville yesterday. It sure puts the lie to "sidewalk counseling," doesn't it? Because he clearly says he wants to be heard "inside the building."
All patients deserve to receive the highest quality of care when they seek medical treatment and a health care provider should never deny information or needed care because of his/her personal beliefs. While this bill would not allow a doctor to abandon a woman on her deathbed, it does not provide adequate protections for her health and safety. As medical professionals, we have an ethical duty to ensure that patients have accurate information and are able to make their own medical decisions. The right of a patient to access information and services should always come first.
Unless you want the guy in the video on your surgical team, you better be contacting your senator and talking to everyone you know about the dangers of HB31.
More video of this nurse is on the flip.
NOTE: The original post credited the protestor as working at Crestwood Hospital in Huntsville as well, but our source contacted us to say that they're trying to verify that information. Until they can, we've removed that part of the post. we've confirmed that he does NOT work at Crestwood, but is employed by Huntsville Hospital.
Health care workers take note: Alabama wants you to know that your conscience doesn't matter - unless someone else's uterus is involved. Then, legislators are totally on your side & vow to protect your delicate sensibilities.
So says HB31, sponsored by Rep. Becky Nordgren and passed out of committee yesterday. The bill would allow health care providers to refuse to "perform or participate in any medical health care service" that violates their "moral, religious, or ethical principles," as long as the health care "service" is related to:
Any phase of patient medical care, treatment or procedure that is limited to abortion, human cloning, human embryonic stem cell research, and sterilization, and is related to: Patient referrals, counseling, therapy, testing, diagnosis or prognosis, research, instruction, prescribing, dispensing or administering any device, drug, or medication, surgery, or any other care or treatment rendered or provided by health care providers.
It's pretty clear that Rep. Nordgren is far more worried about ladyparts than she is anyone's conscience. Otherwise, why limit this medical conscience clause to reproductive procedures?
The Jehovah's Witness who doesn't want to work during a blood drive or perform a transfusion will find that that Legislature doesn't care about his/her conscience.But the pharmacist who doesn't want to fill a prescription for Plan B or who thinks unmarried women shouldn't be obtaining birth control is.
So is the white supremacist doctor who can presumably refuse to perform sterilization procedures on white patients or even prescribe birth control pills to white women because he agrees with Pat Buchanan about population trends.
For some reason, the State of Alabama thinks it's fun and easy to pick on women and limit their health care choices, but the wording of this bill, cuts both ways (so to speak). What's going to happen the first time a doctor refuses to prescribe Viagra for an unmarried man or a pharmacist denies his prescription refill based on the "moral" belief that an aging single guy doesn't have any business tomcatting around?
And, for a political party that likes to tout its "business friendly" policies, can you imagine what a nightmare this law would be for hospitals, medical offices, and pharmacies? Imagine trying to draw up a work schedule:
"Let's see, Sally won't fill birth control prescriptions without seeing a marriage license first, but Joe will, so we'll put them on shift together. Bob won't assist with fertility treatments unless the couple is Christian, married, and heterosexual and Kelly is morally opposed to sterilization and refuses to assist with tubal ligations....."
How about this as a solution to the so-called "conscience" problem? If you're opposed to providing health care services that patients need, then don't enter the health care profession. Problem solved. No conscience violated. No stupid law required.
Really, Alabama, let's start applying a variation of Occam's Razor to some of these state "problems." Often, the simplest solution is the best for all concerned.
Sunday night's debate was grueling, and the bill's sponsor stopped answering questions after she got into trouble denying Democratic amendments. When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, explained why she felt it was unnecessary.
"In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out," she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. "The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development."
Her apparent confusion about "rape kits" — a phrase generally used to describe the equipment used by medical personnel during forensic examinations to gather physical evidence following allegations of rape or sexual assault — sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.
Now there's a solution! When you don't understand the issue in front of you - even though you're the sponsor of the darn bill - just refuse to answer questions.
Mary Sue McClurkin... are you paying attention?
Let's take Julie's apt framing of the issue for McClurkin from February and update it a bit:
We want to help, MarySue Jody Really. Because you are sitting down in Montgomery Austin writing law. You are sitting down in Montgomery Austin meddling in the physician-patient relationship. You are meddling in things about which you have no knowledge whatsoever, and that means you are a danger to society.
Fortunately, voters also have a way to get things "cleaned out:" elections.
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?