State Rep. Katrina Jackson, Democrat, has proposed a bill in Louisiana that would require the state to keep a database of women who have “medication abortions," according to Salon.com. The bill is known as the “Unsafe Abortion Protection Act” and is similar to those in other states, like Oklahoma and Texas, that require abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges. However, the Louisiana bill also changes the statutory definition of the first trimester from “six to 14 weeks” to “up to 14 weeks.”
That change, according to the website Jezebel, would mean that a woman is legally considered pregnant from the day of conception. The distinction means that any woman who takes the controversial morning-after pill would have had a “medication abortion.” The woman’s information would then be reported to a state database.
The Louisiana-based blog CenLamar has excerpts from the proposed bill and cites the language that would create the database.
The excerpt in question reads, “If a physician prescribes, dispenses, administers, or provides any drug or chemical to a pregnant woman for the purpose of inducing an abortion as defined in R.S. 40:1299.35.1, the physician shall report the abortion to the Department of Health and Hospitals as provided in R.S. 40:1299.35.10.”
Salon reports that Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, supports the proposed bill.
Louisiana has seen a spate of laws and controversies concerning reproductive health recently. Jindal also threw his support behind a bill proposed by State Rep. Frank Hoffman, Republican, that would ban employees of abortion clinics from making any presentations at public or charter schools. Last month, the state's Department of Health and Hospitals decided not to pursue restrictions that would have imposed a 30-day waiting period on women who wanted to obtain an abortion.
Jackson and Hoffman’s bills are both scheduled for consideration by the legislature early this week.
In the summer of 2006, Craig Jaret Hutchinson found himself in a flagging relationship. Deciding that impregnating his girlfriend would repair the relationship, he secretly poked holes in his condoms.
When she became pregnant, Hutchison sent her a series of text messages informing her of what he had done. The girlfriend, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, called the police.
Hutchinson, 43, was taken into custody on Thursday night. On Friday morning, after nearly seven years of trials, Canada’s top court unanimously upheld Hutchinson’s sexual assault conviction.
He will serve his 18-month jail sentence on a charge of sexual assault.
The Supreme Court’s 7-0 decision decreed that Hutchinson had deprived the woman of her ability to consent to sex.
“The accused’s condom sabotage constituted fraud…the result that no consent was obtained,” wrote Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Thomas Cromwell.
Hutchinson’s case has been moving through Nova Scotia’s court system for more than six years. At his first trial, Hutchinson’s actions were deemed “dastardly,” but he was acquitted. The Crown appealed that decision, leading to a second trial in December 2011, at which he was convicted.
In January 2013, Hutchinson appealed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, claiming that his sentence was harsh and excessive, and that the woman voluntarily consented to have sex with him.
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal split its decision, which gave Hutchinson an automatic right to appeal and led to his appearance before the Supreme Court.
“The victim had consented to protected sex. Condom-protected sex. She did not consent to unprotected sex,” stated Crown prosecutor Jim Gumpert.
“It’s been hard fought and it’s been draining and so obviously it’s a disappointing outcome,” said Hutchinson’s lawyer Luke Craggs, who described the process as a very long battle. “But, at the very least, there’s a measure of closure in it.”
“I don’t know if there are going to be any other cases like this,” added Craggs. “It’s not every day that we normally hear about someone sabotaging the birth control that a woman was counting on.”
In addition to his 18-month sentence, Hutchinson also gave a DNA sample at his trial. His name was placed on the national sex offender registry.
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A state lawmaker in Maine has issued a statement saying he regrets certain comments he made in the past as a champion of ultra-conservative causes in the state. Rep. Lawrence E. Lockman, Republican, issued the statement Wednesday, according to the Portland Press Herald.
The statement came on the heels of a blog post, carried by the Bangor Daily News, by activist and columnist Mike Tipping. The post chronicled a history of untoward comments made by Lockman in the '80s and '90s.
In 1987, for example, Lockman implied that HIV and AIDS could be spread by mosquitoes and dirty bed sheets. That same year, in a letter he wrote to the Lewiston Daily Sun, Lockman argued against funding for AIDS education.
“In the overwhelming majority of cases, people are dying because of their addiction to sodomy,” he wrote. “They are dying because progressive, enlightened, tolerant people in politics and in medicine have assured the public that the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted, depraved crime against humanity.”
Perhaps the most troubling statement from Lockman’s past, though, came in 1990. As director of the Pro Life Education Association, he suggested that if abortion was legal, there was no legitimate reason that rape should be illegal.
“If a woman has (the right to abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death,” he was quoted as saying.
Such statements have led some key Democrats in Maine to call for Lockman’s resignation. Those include Maine Democratic Party chairman Ben Grant, who called Lockman’s quotes “hateful, vicious and offensive.” Grant also said Lockman was a “disturbed individual who holds some of the most abhorrent beliefs ever heard from a public official in Maine.”
House Speaker Mark Eves, Democrat, called the comments “extremely alarming” but did not call for his resignation. Eves instead argued that Lockman’s future should be left to the voters.
“I think it’s for those that elected Rep. Lockman to decide (his fate,” he said. "People of Maine do not tolerate those types of things. You’re talking about comments that are really out of character ... for any elected official to be saying."
Lockman released his written statement Wednesday in response to the uproar.
“I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret,” he wrote, stopping just short of a full apology. "I hold no animosity toward anyone by virtue of their gender or sexual orientation, and today I am focused on ensuring freedom and economic prosperity for all Mainers."
Abortion statistics recently released by the Health Department in New York City have raised some eyebrows. ABC affiliate WABC recently reported the new numbers show that 41 percent of all pregnancies in the city end in abortion. The report, titled, "Summary of Vital Statistics 2012, The City of New York," also broke down abortion rates according to race.
It showed abortion rates among minorities are even higher. The website News One reported that black women had the highest rate of abortion according to the study. So high, in fact, that more pregnancies among black women end in abortion than live births, with an abortion rate of nearly 60 percent. According to the story, out of 73,815 pregnancies in the city in 2012, 42 percent — over 30,000 — were abortions performed on black women.
The abortion rate among Hispanics was 41.3 percent; among whites, 20.4 percent; and among Asians, 22.7 percent.
Those numbers are troubling to both professionals and critics of abortion. The News One story does note, however, that the overall abortion rate has dropped 22 percent in the city since 2000.
That’s not good enough, according to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
"If 41 percent of New York babies are aborted, with the percentage even higher in the Bronx and among our African-American babies in the world, it is downright chilling,” he said in the WABC story.
The statistics raise the question of education and whether agencies in the city are doing enough to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Planned Parenthood wasn’t pleased with the high numbers in the study but issued a statement defending its education policy.
“We believe in comprehensive sex education, which by the way does include abstinence, but abstinence by itself has been proven to be ineffective,” the non-profit organization said according to WABC.
"My word, what have we done the last 30 years,” he asked. “There’s candy bowls on people's desks with condoms, they're dropping them from airplanes, yet nothing seems to improve, so they've been on the wrong track here.”
A bill banning abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and beyond is heading to the South Carolina House floor for debate, according The State website. The bill passed through the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday with a 13-8 vote.
Opponents of the bill in the House argue that it is similar to an Arizona law that was recently struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Wendy Nanney, Republican, requires physicians to determine the age of the fetus before performing an abortion. It also establishes criminal penalties for doctors, making it a felony to break the law. Nanney argues the bill is necessary because science shows that fetuses, after 20 weeks, can feel pain.
Melissa Reed, a vice president at Planned Parenthood Health Systems, characterized the proposed legislation as a “dangerous and extreme bill [with] no basis in medicine."
”The reality is that abortion later in pregnancy is very rare and often happens under heartbreaking and tragic circumstances,” she said. "Politicians have no place in that conversation."
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision permits abortions during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. The decision allows states to ban abortions after the 24th week because the fetus is then considered viable and able to live outside the womb. Exceptions must be made to provide for the woman’s health and life.
State Rep. Todd Rutherford, Democrat, said the bill is likely unconstitutional and debating it further is a “waste of taxpayers’ money.”
During the committee meeting Tuesday, Rutherford asked Nanney how she could support the bill while knowing that the 9th Circuit had already struck down a similar law.
“I’m not willing to bow down to the 9th (Circuit),” Nanney later said, adding that South Carolina’s law, if passed and challenged, would be heard by the more conservative 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to a recent AP story, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal for the decision that struck down the Arizona law. It is likely that Nanney and her allies are looking for the Supreme Court to get involved. If the South Carolina legislation is eventually upheld by the 4th Circuit Court, the Supreme Court would likely have to render a decision to clear up the discrepancies between the two lower courts.
A couple in Australia found out that their unborn child has two brains and two faces, but despite doctors' suggesting they terminate the pregnancy, the couple have decided to fight for their child’s life.
Renee Young and Simon Howie were excited when they found out they were having twins, but an ultrasound led doctors to discover that it was just one baby with a rare medical condition called diprosopus. For babies with this condition, parts or all of the face are duplicated.
"Shocked, confused, a little bit of everything," said Howie of being told about his unborn child’s condition. "I wasn't sure how to take in what he was explaining to me."
According to reports, there have only been around 35 cases of this rare disorder in recorded history, and not one has survived any significant amount of time after being born. For this reason, doctors suggested that the couple terminate the pregnancy, but Howie and Young decided they wanted to spend whatever time they could with their child.
"It'd be the same as being a child with autism or Down syndrome,” said Howie. “I don't believe in terminating the baby if it's healthy and growing fine, and everything is going to plan.”
Young agrees with Howie, adding that they are looking forward to meeting their child regardless of how long it lives.
“If I only get two days with the baby, I only get two days with the baby,” said Young. “At least I have some time with it. That's just the time we actually get to spend with the baby and its brothers and sisters get to meet their little brother or sister."
Young is currently 19 weeks pregnant. The couple says that doctors urged them to have an abortion because their child would be “looked upon as a freak.”
A bill introduced in the South Dakota House of Representatives would ban abortions after seven weeks of pregnancy.
The measure is one of the country's toughest abortion restrictions, right next to North Dakota’s six-week ban.
HB 1241 only vaguely addresses the week at which abortions can no longer be performed. Instead it targets “partial-birth” abortion procedures, which no clinics in South Dakota perform anyway, RH Reality Check reported.
Lawmakers are calling it a ban on “gruesome” abortions in the second trimester, which doesn’t begin until the 13th week of pregnancy.
It seeks to “prohibit the dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children,” ThinkProgress reported.
The bill makes it a Class 2 felony for a doctor to perform an abortion in which a living fetus is dismembered. If convicted, a doctor would face up to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
“It just makes clear that a certain procedure that is totally horrific and gruesome to any reasonable person would not be an acceptable method of ending a child’s life, and that is to dismember or decapitate a living, unborn child,” said Rep. Isaac Latterell, R-Tea.
Procedures like the one described, called intact dilation and extraction, are only used during late term abortions and it has a low rate of use, representing only 0.17 percent of all abortions in the U.S. in 2000.
Pro-choice groups say the bill is another way to slip in new restrictions on women’s reproductive rights.
“Even after South Dakota voters rejected efforts to ban abortion in 2006 and again in 2008, some legislators continue to pile restriction after restriction on a woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions,” the South Dakota Campaign for Health Families said in a statement. “Politicians in the South Dakota Legislature are intent on continuing to make it even more difficult for a woman to access reproductive health care.”
President Barack Obama has angered many of his political allies with his recent round of nominations for federal judges.
The nomination of Georgia State Appeals Court Judge Michael Boggs to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is at the center of the controversy.
Boggs’ nomination, part of a package of six judicial nominees floated by the administration in December, first gained the attention of civil rights leaders and the Congressional Black Caucus. While serving in Georgia’s state legislature, Boggs voted against a new Georgia state flag that would have removed a Confederate emblem added to it by segregationists during the Civil Rights movement. Many African-American elected officials say that vote alone is reason enough to disqualify Boggs from consideration as a federal judge.
Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Obama, teamed up with other members of Congress in urging the president to rescind Boggs’ nomination. When members of the CBC met with Obama adviser Valerie Jarret at the White House, she made it clear that removing Boggs’ name from the package was not an option.
On Wednesday, abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America joined the list of those allies against the nomination.
“We’re extremely disappointed that pro-choice President Obama nominated someone who doesn’t share our pro-choice values,” the group said in an email sent to its supporters.
NARAL is also concerned by votes made by Boggs while he was a state legislator in Georgia. According to a petition sent out by the group, Boggs voted in the early 2000s to "channel funds to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and make a parental consent law even more extreme.”
Many see the nomination as the president's caving to pressure from conservative Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. Under old Senate rules, senators effectively have veto power over judicial nominees in their home states. The deal struck between the Georgia lawmakers and Obama allowed the senators to choose four of the six judges in the nomination package.
”It's downright appalling that the Obama administration would give in to right-wing obstruction and nominate ... an anti-choice, anti-equality candidate for the federal bench," said Neil Sroka, spokesman for the progressive group Democracy for America. "Putting forward a right-wing candidate that would make George W. Bush think twice for a lifetime judicial appointment isn't horse-trading; it's caving on core progressive values, period.”
The Thomas More Society reasserted its request for officials to look more closely at the circumstances surrounding the death of Tonya Reaves. The request is part an ongoing effort by the pro-life legal organization to ensure that abortion clinics in Illinois are more closely inspected and regulated.
Reaves was 24 years old when she died as a result of a botched abortion procedure at a Chicago Planned Parenthood facility in July, 2012.
Planned Parenthood recently settled a wrongful death suit with Reaves’ family for $2 million.
The settlement upset members of the Thomas More Society, who filed a formal administrative complaint last February with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (IDPR).
“The fact that Planned Parenthood has been allowed to merely pay ‘hush money’ to the victim’s family without any further consequences is a slap in the face to every woman who walks through the doors of the nation’s largest abortion provider,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society.
The law group alleged that the Planned Parenthood facility was supposed to only offer limited services, such as birth control, abortion pills and emergency contraception. Instead, they point out, the facility was offering dilation and evacuation abortions.
That was the procedure being performed on Reaves in 2012 when she began bleeding heavily at the facility. Planned Parenthood eventually had her transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where the procedure was completed but she died of complications from a severed uterine artery.
The Thomas More Society said in their complaint the death was the result of “unprofessional care.”
"Any physician taking responsibility for performing surgery in such a sub-par setting, who inflicts the ultimate 'harm' (death) on his or her patient, is not even remotely 'properly qualified or competent' to render such potentially fatal surgical services, which is 'dishonorable, unethical or unprofessional conduct' or 'questioned activities' that flout regulatory norms,” argued the complaint.
Tom Brejcha, president of the Thomas More Society, said in a statement, last year, "It is IDPR's solemn duty to protect patients from dangerous medical treatments, and Illinois citizens sorely need dependable assurance that Tonya Reaves' tragedy will never be allowed to recur.”
There has been no known action by the IDPR to follow up to the original complaint.
Anti-abortion groups in Texas are boycotting the Girl Scouts ahead of their national cookie weekend because the Scouts listed Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Texas, as a woman who should be honored for her accomplishments in 2013.
Girl Scouts spokeswoman Kelly Parisi said Tuesday that the organization doesn’t endorse politicians or take political stances.
"We think it is appropriate for us to encourage conversation about what makes a female leader," Parisi said.
The organizer of CookieCott 2014, John Pisciotta, director of Pro-Life Waco, says there is only one thing the Scouts could be honoring Davis for.
“There’s no way to add a something else for Wendy Davis,” he told KRIS-TV, “because in 2013, the one thing she did and her claim to fame was having an 11-hour filibusters against a bill that would restrict abortion down to no more than 20 weeks.”
"It's very clear that they are not citing any pro-life leaders with any praise, even though their official stand is they are not taking any position on abortion," he said.
Pisciotta created a website for CookieCott, where people can print a flier and protest at cookie stands across the country.
He organized a similar cookie boycott in 2004 after the Waco Girl Scouts council recognized the achievements of a local Planned Parenthood leader.
That year the Waco council had the best year for cookie sales ever, said Girl Scouts of Central Texas spokeswoman Lucia Weinmeister.
"It does fire up people who are against what we do, or what they think we do," she said. "It also fires up our strongest supporters."
The main priority for Girl Scouts is the safety of their scouts. They provided girls with a flier of their own, in the event that they receive one of the CookieCott fliers, explaining that 100 percent of the cookie sales goes to the troop to fund activities, not politics.