WIN FOR LIFE: Alabama Governor signs bill to ban abortion into law

MONTGOMERY, Al. (Al.com) —

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed the bill to make abortion a felony in Alabama, the governor’s office announced.

“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God,” Ivey said in a press release.

The Senate gave final passage to the bill on Tuesday night, sending it to Ivey’s desk.

The bill says it will take effect in six months. But the sponsors said their intent was to trigger litigation that could lead to a challenge of Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court.

ACLU of Alabama and Planned Parenthood have said they would sue to block the law.

Here is Ivey’s full statement:

“Today, I signed into law the Alabama Human Life Protection Act, a bill that was approved by overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.

“To all Alabamians, I assure you that we will continue to follow the rule of law.

“In all meaningful respects, this bill closely resembles an abortion ban that has been a part of Alabama law for well over 100 years. As today’s bill itself recognizes, that longstanding abortion law has been rendered “unenforceable as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

“No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.

“I want to commend the bill sponsors, Rep. Terri Collins and Sen. Clyde Chambliss, for their strong leadership on this important issue.

“For the remainder of this session, I now urge all members of the Alabama Legislature to continue seeking the best ways possible to foster a better Alabama in all regards, from education to public safety. We must give every person the best chance for a quality life and a promising future.”

The Republican majority in the House and Senate passed the bill over opposition from Democrats. The law makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion. The woman would not be criminally liable. The law includes an exception to allow abortions in cases of serious health risks to the woman.

In recent days, Ivey had said she would wait to see the final version of the bill before deciding to sign it.

The bill does not include an exception to allow abortions for victims of rape and incest.

Randall Marshall, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, issued this statement:

“By signing this bill, the governor and her colleagues in the state legislature have decided to waste millions in Alabama taxpayer dollars in order to defend a bill that is simply a political effort to overturn 46 years of precedent that has followed the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. We will not allow that to happen, and we will see them in court. Despite the governor signing this bill, clinics will remain open, and abortion is still a safe, legal medical procedure at all clinics in Alabama.”

Staci Fox, president and CEO at Planned Parenthood Southeast, also issued a statement:

“We vowed to fight this dangerous abortion ban every step of the way and we meant what we said. We haven’t lost a case in Alabama yet and we don’t plan to start now. We will see Governor Ivey in court. In the meantime, abortion is still safe, legal, and available in the state of Alabama and we plan to keep it that way.”

 

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Mike Cason of Al.com contributed to the contents of this report.

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READ THE DOCS: Virginia abortion bill would allow third-trimester abortions up until moment of birth

HB 2491 Abortion; eliminate certain requirements.

Introduced by: Kathy K.L. Tran |

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:

Abortion; eliminate certain requirements. Eliminates the requirement that an abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy and prior to the third trimester be performed in a hospital. The bill eliminates all the procedures and processes, including the performance of an ultrasound, required to effect a woman’s informed written consent to the performance of an abortion; however, the bill does not change the requirement that a woman’s informed written consent be first obtained. The bill eliminates the requirement that two other physicians certify that a third trimester abortion is necessary to prevent the woman’s death or impairment of her mental or physical health, as well as the need to find that any such impairment to the woman’s health would be substantial and irremediable. The bill also removes language classifying facilities that perform five or more first-trimester abortions per month as hospitals for the purpose of complying with regulations establishing minimum standards for hospitals.

 

FULL TEXT: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?191+ful+HB2491

BATTLE OVER ABORTION: Trump interviews four Supreme Court candidates as final decision looms; Democrats say fight over Roe v. Wade certain

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he had interviewed four potential Supreme Court nominees as he inches closer toward selecting a replacement for soon retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Speaking during a White House press event with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Trump said he intends to meet with two or three more candidates but should announce his final decision “over the next few days.”

“They are outstanding people. They are really incredible people in so many different ways,” the president said of those currently under consideration. “I had a very, very interesting morning.”

Trump’s chance to replace Kennedy with another conservative, say many legal analysts, will allow him to turn control of nation’s highest court firmly to the right.

The White House confirmed Monday that Trump’s in-house lawyer, Don McGahn, has been charged with overseeing the nomination process, which includes vetting the current nominees and briefing the president on his findings.

Whoever the president’s pick is to replace Kennedy, he or she will likely face a brutal confirmation process, particularly in the Senate, although Republicans currently hold the majority.

A hot topic issue since Kennedy’s retirement announcement has been whether or not the president will appoint a justice who is likely to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion in the United States.

Democrats say they will oppose any justice nominee who has voiced an opinion that the controversial ruling should be overturned.

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PLANNED PARENTHOOD SMACKDOWN: SCOTUS rules in favor of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers in battle over First Amendment

Washington, D.C. — The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers affirming that a California law passed in 2015, which requires the centers to inform clients about free or low-cost abortion services, violates the centers’ First Amendment rights to free speech.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court invalidated the California law, putting in peril similar laws on the books in Hawaii and Illinois.

The Golden State law, which targeted centers that provide abortion alternative counseling, mandated that such centers prominently post information on how to obtain abortion and contraception.

Centers that failed to comply with the law were fined $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense, under California law.

Pro-life groups fiercely challenged the regulations, arguing that they violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment. The court concurred. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously rejected that argument.

“California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it,” Justice Clarence Thomas said in his majority opinion, referring to the regulations as “unjustified and unduly burdensome.”

Thomas was joined in his findings by fellow conservative justices John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch. Liberal justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan each dissented.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra spoke out after the high court’s decision was announced, calling the ruling “unfortunate.”

“When it comes to making their health decisions, all California women — regardless of their economic background or zip code — deserve access to critical and non-biased information to make their own informed decisions,” Becerra said in a statement.

“Today’s Court ruling is unfortunate, but our work to ensure that Californians receive accurate information about their healthcare options will continue.”

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THE FIGHT FOR LIFE: SCOTUS rejects Planned Parenthood bid to block Arkansas restrictions on abortion

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block an Arkansas law which bars pill-induced abortions, effectively denying an appeal by two Planned Parenthood clinics who argued the state would be left with only one abortion provider.

The rejection frees up the 2015 measure to shortly take full effect, though the clinics may file argument over the matter again at a lower court level.

The ruling came in a one-line order, without dissent, suggesting the court’s more liberal justices intentionally decided to hold back at any objections.

Planned Parenthood further argued unsuccessfully against current law, which mandates that clinics that perform medication abortions have a contractual relationship with a doctor who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Attorneys arguing on behalf of Planned Parenthood claimed no obstetrician in the state will agree to the required contract.

The Planned Parenthood clinics in question, located in Little Rock and Fayetteville, currently offer only medication-induced abortions, which can be performed until the ninth week of pregnancy. The state’s only other clinic, also located in Little Rock, performs surgical abortions as well and advocates for the law argued that the clinic could continue to offer that service, regardless of the outcome.

The ruling is a blow to abortion rights advocates, who abortion-rights advocates, who won a similar Supreme Court fight in 2016 over a Texas law that threatened to shut down operations in three-quarter of the state’s clinics.

Despite arguments from attorneys representing Planned Parenthood that the Arkansas case “presents virtually identical factual and legal issues” as the Texas case, the court ultimately ruled in favor of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge who urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, saying that “there is no right to choose medication abortion.”

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FIGHTING FOR THE UNBORN: Trump to revive Reagan era policy that denies federal funding to clinics that promote abortion

Washington, D.C. (AP) — The Trump administration will resurrect a Reagan-era rule that would ban federally funded family planning clinics from discussing abortion with women, or sharing space with abortion providers.

The Department of Health and Human Services will announce its proposal Friday, a senior White House official said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to confirm the plans before the announcement.

The policy has been derided as a “gag rule” by abortion rights supporters and medical groups, and it is likely to trigger lawsuits that could keep it from taking effect. However, it’s guaranteed to galvanize activists on both sides of the abortion debate ahead of the congressional midterm elections.

The Reagan-era rule never went into effect as written, although the Supreme Court ruled that it was an appropriate use of executive power. The policy was rescinded under President Bill Clinton, and a new rule went into effect that required “nondirective” counseling to include a range of options for women.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure. Doctors’ groups and abortion rights supporters say a ban on counseling women trespasses on the doctor-patient relationship. They point out that federal family planning funds cannot be currently used to pay for abortion procedures.

Abortion opponents say a taxpayer-funded family planning program should have no connection whatsoever to abortion.

“The notion that you would withhold information from a patient does not uphold or preserve their dignity,” said Jessica Marcella of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, which represents family planning clinics. “I cannot imagine a scenario in which public health groups would allow this effort to go unchallenged.”

She said requiring family planning clinics to be physically separate from facilities in which abortion is provided would disrupt services for women across the country.

But Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America said, “Abortion is not health care or birth control and many women want natural health care choices, rather than hormone-induced changes.”

Abortion opponents allege the federal family planning program in effect cross-subsidizes abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood, whose clinics are also major recipients of grants for family planning and basic preventive care. Hawkins’ group is circulating a petition to urge lawmakers in Congress to support the Trump administration’s proposal.

Known as Title X, the nation’s family-planning program serves about 4 million women a year through clinics, at a cost to taxpayers of about $260 million.

Planned Parenthood clinics also qualify for Title X grants, but they must keep the family-planning money separate from funds used to pay for abortions. The Republican-led Congress has unsuccessfully tried to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and the Trump administration has vowed to religious and social conservatives that it would keep up the effort.

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Associated Press writer David Crary in New York contributed to this report.

TRUMPPLANNEDPARENTHOOD

 

THE FIGHT FOR LIFE: South Carolina Senate votes to outlaw virtually all abortions

Columbia, SC (The State) — The S.C. Senate voted Wednesday night to outlaw virtually all abortions in South Carolina.

The Legislature’s upper chamber voted 28-10 to allow exceptions only in cases of rape, incest or medical emergencies that could seriously harm the pregnant woman or threaten her life. The bill still faces long odds to passage, up against a Democratic filibuster that could put off a final Senate vote until after lawmakers adjourn for the year.

If passed, the new law almost certainly would spark a court challenge. But that is the goal, according to Senate Republicans who want to overturn the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming abortion rights.

“It’s designed to give the court an opportunity to revisit Roe v. Wade,” said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R-Edgefield.

The proposal likely would ban some 97 percent of the roughly 5,700 abortions performed in South Carolina each year, according to the Democrat who suggested Republicans adopt it.

“It’s clearly unconstitutional from my point of view,” said state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg.

Just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, Hutto proposed the expanded abortion ban as an amendment to a House bill outlawing “dismemberment” abortion, a rare procedure used to terminate 22 pregnancies in 2016.

Hutto said his aim was to give Senate Republicans a chance to vote on the bill they really want so the S.C. Legislature doesn’t continue to be bogged down year after year with debates on more nuanced abortion restrictions.

Settling the abortion issue would mean S.C. lawmakers can get to other important topics, including South Carolina’s $9 billion nuclear fiasco, Hutto said.

“It’s an attempt to get it to the courts so we don’t have to keep debating it over and over and over,” said Hutto, an attorney who said he is confident the courts would strike down the abortion ban in a court challenge.

Debate on the “dismemberment” ban had lasted two days in the Senate, and Democrats were planning to filibuster another several days — potentially until the end of the legislative session next week.

Shortly after Hutto proposed his amendment, it was adopted 24-1. State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, cast the lone vote opposing the amendment as most Democrats sat on the sidelines.

The Senate voted for the overall bill 28-10 about an hour later. It still needs one more vote to pass the Senate, and Republicans expect Democrats to filibuster the amended proposal.

If the bill passes the Senate, it will head back to the GOP-controlled House for approval of the proposal, as amended by the Senate.

If approved there, it would go to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who has pledged to sign into law any pro-life bills the General Assembly sends him.

The Senate proposal completely replaces the previous House bill under debate, which would have made illegal so-called dismemberment abortions, rare procedures in which a doctor uses forceps to pull apart a fetus and remove it piece by piece.

Those procedures — used to terminate late-term pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother or abort a non-viable fetus — accounted for 22 of the 5,736 abortions in South Carolina in 2016, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

On the Senate floor, Hutto told Senate Republicans to drop the “dismemberment” debate and vote for the law they really wanted.

“If you want to vote on it, this is your vote,” Hutto said. “If you want to dance on this one, you can see it on the commercials when you get home for your next election.”

MARCH LIFE WASHINGTON

 

‘EVERY CHILD IS A PRECIOUS GIFT FROM GOD’: Trump becomes first sitting president to address anti-abortion March for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Friday became the first sitting president in U.S. history to lend his support to the March for Life movement.

Addressing a crowd of tens of thousands who had gathered at the nation’s capital, President Trump said it was his “honor” to speak out on behalf of the unborn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfgByiC057k).

The annual event, held in Washington, protests the 1974 “Roe v. Wade” decision, which cleared the way for legal abortions in the U.S.

“Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence and that is the right to life,” Trump said while speaking from the Rose Garden.

During his speech, the president directly targeted a gruesome procedure referred to as “partial-birth abortion” during which a late-term baby can be aborted as last as during the ninth month of a woman’s pregnancy.

“That is why we march, that is why we pray, that is why we declare that America’s future will be filled with goodness, peace, joy, dignity and life for every child of God,” said Trump, referring to the procedure as “wrong”, saying it “has to change.”

‘We are with you all the way. May God bless you,” the president said to those at the march, many of whom had come from all over the country to attend.

The move symbolized the president’s change in view on the issue of abortion after having been vocal in his pro-choice stance in years past.

Indeed, during his opening remarks before introducing the president, Vice-President Mike Pence referred to Trump as “the most pro-life president in American history”.

Pence, long known for his pro-life stance, had represented the Trump administration by addressing the crowd last year.

Organizers of the movement praised the president for his pro-life efforts.

“He has been great on pro-life public policy,” March for Life’s president, Jeanne Mancini, told POLITICO. “He doesn’t lack courage. He’s been leaning into this issue in a way that’s refreshing.”

The president has been challenged by the left on his evolution when it comes to the matter of abortion. But it was a personal experience, he said while on the campaign trail in 2016, that caused him to “see the light”.

“What happened is friends of mine, years ago, were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances,” Trump said. “I am (now) very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.”

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