Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed sweeping anti-abortion legislation Friday, giving his state a new law to block tax breaks for abortion providers, ban sex-selection abortions and declare that life begins “at fertilization.”
Many provisions take effect in July, though the tax changes will be effective for 2014. The measure cleared the Republican-dominated Legislature by wide margins earlier this month.
The GOP governor is a strong abortion opponent who urged lawmakers to create “a culture of life” after taking office in January 2011.
“All human life is sacred. It’s beautiful,” Brownback said just before signing the measure, flanked by abortion opponents. “With this, we continue to build this culture of life in our state.”
An Associated Press photo taken before the signing shows a page of notes about the bill on Brownback’s desk that included a handwritten message at the top: “JESUS + Mary.” Further down the page were typewritten notes spelling out Brownback’s belief that the bill would create “a culture of life.”
While it does not explicitly name Planned Parenthood or any other organization, the bill would bar all Arkansas state funds from going to any entity that provides abortions, refers patients to abortion providers or contracts with any group that does so.
The measure cleared the state Senate on a mostly party-line 19-11 vote, and now moves to the Republican-controlled House, where it is expected to gain final passage.
Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, has not said whether he would sign the bill. But the Arkansas legislature last month overrode his veto of two previous bills placing new restrictions on abortions, including one to ban most abortions from being performed after the 12th week of pregnancy.
Kansas legislators gave final passage to a sweeping anti-abortion measure Friday night, sending Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that declares life begins “at fertilization” while blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and banning abortions performed solely because of the baby’s sex.
The House voted 90-30 for a compromise version of the bill reconciling differences between the two chambers, only hours after the Senate approved it, 28-10. The Republican governor is a strong abortion opponent, and supporters of the measure expect him to sign it into law so that the new restrictions take effect July 1.
In addition to the bans on tax breaks and sex-selection abortions, the bill prohibits abortion providers from being involved in public school sex education classes and spells out in more detail what information doctors must provide to patients seeking abortions.
Comments about “legitimate” rapes and pregnancies that “God intended” got several GOP politicians in trouble last year, and cost the party at least two seats in the Senate. But now one of the country’s most extreme anti-abortion groups is encouraging Republican politicians to keep talking about rape. Personhood USA—the group behind efforts to grant fertilized eggs the same rights as adult humans—announced last week that it is launching a new campaign to push lawmakers to strip rape exceptions from federal abortion laws.
Although abortion has long been a fraught issue in American politics, many anti-choice politicians have felt compelled—either out of personal belief or because of public pressure—to allow for narrow exceptions to all-out bans on abortion in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. Federal policy has, for the most part, aligned with those exceptions. The Hyde Amendment, the legislation that governs much of the federal government’s relationship with abortion providers, forbids federal funding for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is endangered. But Personhood USA’s new “Save the 1” campaign wants to eliminate those exceptions, and eventually make all abortions—even for rape victims—illegal.
The attorney for a Marshfield man accused of plotting to kill a Madison abortion doctor will use the insanity defense in attempt to find his client, Ralph W. Lang, not guilty.
Federal Defender Michael Lieberman filed the required notice Monday which stated, “I intend to introduce expert evidence relating to a mental disease or defect.”
Lang, 64, has been ruled competent to stand trial in federal and state courts in connection with statements he allegedly made to Madison police in May 2011 that he intended to kill abortion providers at an east-side Planned Parenthood clinic.
However, mental competency and legal insanity have different functions in criminal cases, said U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil.
“Insanity, is at the time of the offense, that day, did you understand the wrongfulness of what you were doing … Competency determines whether you can understand the proceedings in court and can you assist your lawyer in your defense,” he said.
A lady votes for president based on how horny she gets in her period time. According to CNN, women vote in national presidential elections depending on how “sexy” they feel, with those sexy feelings shifting over the course of the menstrual cycle. CNN reported on a study in Psychological Science showing that “hormones may influence female voting choices” and that “during the fertile time of the month, when levels of the hormone estrogen are high, single women appeared more likely to vote for Obama and committed women appeared more likely to vote for Romney.” That’s because when single women are ovulating, they “feel sexier” and “therefore lean more toward liberal attitudes on abortion and marriage equality.” But when married women “feel sexy,” they overcompensate for “the increase of the hormones motivating them to have sex with other men” and vote Republican as “a way of convincing themselves that they’re not the type to give in to such sexual urges.” CNN later retracted the story, but the question remains: Can campaign strategists game future elections by gathering undecided female voters in the same dorm room and administering them absentee ballots at their horniest?
Rape victims’ bodies “have ways” of preventing impregnation by rapist sperm. This election season, failed Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin taught us that allowing victims of rape to secure abortions is unnecessary, as “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Women who do become pregnant as a result of rape can rest easy—according to Akin, they were not really raped, not “legitimately” anyway, and are free to be forced to raise the child with the baby’s daddy, who is, at worst, an illegitimate rapist. Failed Indiana Tea Party candidate Richard Murdoch advanced the theory, noting during his own senatorial campaign that on the rare occasion that rape does result in pregnancy, it is a beautiful miracle that “God intended to happen.” Previously, Akin contributed these insights to the field of gynecology and obstetrics: People make babies by taking an embryo and adding “food and climate control, and some time”; abortion providers provide abortions to “women who are not actually pregnant.”
Michigan Republicans are going for broke this week, as the lame-duck session winds down in the state legislature. No sooner had state lawmakers successfully pushed through a new right-to-work bill when they advanced a grab bag of anti-abortion measures that has been called the “greatest assault on reproductive rights” in the state’s history.
On Wednesday, the state Senate approved what has been called an “abortion mega-bill.” HR 5711 includes measures requiring anyone providing more than 120 abortions per year to do so in facilities that meet the same standards as “ambulatory surgical centers”—a provision often referred to as “targeted regulation of abortion providers” (or TRAP), because they single out abortion providers for standards far stricter than other medical facilities. The building codes alone could shut down many abortion providers in the state.
Other provisions of the bill would require a doctor to be physically present to dispense the drugs used for a medication abortion, which would make it illegal to provide telemedicine abortions. It also implements new rules for the disposal of fetal remains that would require them to be treated like the body of a dead person, rather than treating them like other forms of medical waste.
Once again, anti-choice religious zealots are after both Planned Parenthood and women’s right to choose in decisions on birth and abortion in Texas:
Currently, Texas law prohibits abortions during the third trimester unless the health or life of the mother is at stake or if there are fetal abnormalities. A study by the Texas Medical Association published in 2005 found ‘evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.’
Blake Rocap, the legislative director for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said his organization would fight such a bill, and that decisions about abortion should be left to a woman, her family and her physician. ‘This legislation appeals and panders to a very narrow slice of the most socially conservative primary voters in the state,’ Rocap said
Joe Pojman, the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said his organization’s ‘big goal’ in the upcoming session is to ‘continue to defund Planned Parenthood’ by banning health providers affiliated with abortion providers from participating in the state’s Medicaid program.
Last session, lawmakers approved a similar rule for the Women’s Health Program, a Medicaid waiver program for low-income women, which is still being legally contested by Planned Parenthood. The move prompted the federal government, which jointly finances Medicaid with the state, to pull money for the program — an indication that the Obama administration would have little patience for a similar measure applied to the full Medicaid program.
Pojman also supports a bill filed by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston and the author of last session’s abortion sonogram law, that would require doctors to be physically present to administer the two prescription drugs used to induce abortions during the first seven weeks of pregnancy.
More on how badly Dan Patricks’ bill affects rural women at The Texas Tribune
The rate of abortions in the United States fell by 5%, the largest single-year decrease in a decade, researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The decline is outlined in the annual abortion surveillance data for the year 2009, the latest available. It was published on Wednesday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
About 18% of all pregnancies in the United States end in abortion, the CDC noted. Factors from the availability of abortion providers, state laws, the general economy and access to health services including contraception, can all influence the abortion rate, according to the CDC. An important way to reduce abortions is to eliminate unwanted pregnancies.
‘Despite these multiple influences, given that unintended pregnancy precedes nearly all abortions, efforts to reduce the incidence of abortion need to focus on helping women avoid pregnancies that they do not desire,’ the survey states. ‘Providing women and men with the knowledge and resources necessary to make decisions about their sexual behavior and use of contraception can help them avoid unintended pregnancies.’
The CDC has been reporting annually on the number and rate of abortions since 1969. The annual numbers are based on voluntary reports from states and some other municipalities. A few states, such as California, which is the most populous, do not report. That explains why the CDC said there were about 785,000 abortions in 2009, while other estimates put the number at more than 1 million.