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Abortion access

Developments during 2016-JAN to AUG:

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2016-JAN: California enacts a law requiring Crisis Pregnancy Centers to be open and transparent about their services:

There are on the order of 1,200 Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC's) across the U.S. They are generally religiously-motivated groups that attempt to counsel women who are in crisis because of an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy. Their main goal is to persuade their clients to continue their pregnancy, to give birth, and either to raise the child or give the child up for adoption. Some have been accused of being less than open about their actual goal and about the services that they provide.

During 2015-OCT, the Governor of California signed into law Assembly Bill #775, the  Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act. 1The act requires licensed pregnancy-related centers in the state to display a brief statement with a number to call to access free or low-cost birth control and abortion. Unlicensed centers are required to disclose that they are not medical facilities with the following notice.

"This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services." 1

During April, Rebecca Plevin of the local National Public Radio affiliate KPCC surveyed eight clinics and estimated that six were violating the FACT act. 2

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a conservative Christian legal defense group that represents many CPCs. Matt Bowman, ADF's senior counsel, stated in an email that requiring faith-based clinics to:

"... communicate messages or promote ideas they disagree with, especially on life-and-death issues like abortion ... [violates their] core beliefs and threatens their free speech rights. The First Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] protects all Americans, including pro-life people, from being targeted by a government conspiring with pro-abortion activists."

However, Open Arms Pregnancy Center in the San Fernando Valley has posted the required notice prominently in their waiting room. Their executive director, Debi Harvey, said:

"To us, it’s a non-issue. We don’t provide abortions. We’re an abortion-alternative organization, we’re very clear on that. But we educate on all options."

During July, the Los Angeles City Attorney, Mike Feuer, served notices to three LA clinics for alleged lack of compliance with the law. They were: Harbor Pregnancy Help Center, Los Angeles Pregnancy Services, and Pregnancy Counseling Center. 2

The fine for the first infraction is only $500. Subsequent infractions will cost $1,000. Rather than comply with the law, CPCs may simply absorb the fines as part of the cost of doing business in California. 1

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2016-JUN-01: Fourteen states have passed a total of thirty anti-abortion bills during the first five months of 2016:

Many state legislatures ended their 2016 sessions by the end of May, having passed a total of thirty laws that restrict abortion in fourteen states since the beginning of the year. 3

Forty-three years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade. That ruling requires that women be given free access to abortions during the first trimester. It allows states to restrict access to various degrees later in pregnancy. Over the 43 years since the ruling was issued, Republican-controlled state legislatures have accelerated the rate of passing anti-abortion laws. They have passed one quarter of all of the laws restricting abortions since 2011. 3

  • Nine states introduced bills to ban most or all abortions in their state. These bills were clearly unconstitutional because they directly violate the 1973 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. Of the nine bills, eight failed to be passed by the legislature. Oklahoma's bill passed, but was vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards (D).

  • Two additional states -- Kentucky and Louisiana -- have banned all abortions after 20 weeks gestation. The laws were based on the belief of many pro-lifers that a fetus can feel pain at that time during pregnancy. There is a near consensus in the medical community that the higher brain functions necessary for the fetus to feel pain only become operational about 24 or 25 weeks into gestation. In fact, until recently, anesthesia was not even advocated for the circumcision of newborns. 4

  • Thirteen states attempted to ban the most common type of second-trimester abortions. These bills were signed into law by the governors of Alabama, Mississippi and West Virginia. A similar law was also passed by the Louisiana legislature and was on the governor's desk awaiting signature or veto.

  • Louisiana and Kentucky passed laws increasing the time interval that women must wait after applying for an abortion before she is allowed to have the operation.

  • In excess of 90% of pregnant women whose fetuses are diagnosed as having Down Syndrome (a.k.a. Trisomy 21) elect to have an abortion. The syndrome is caused by a genetic disorder in chromosome 21. It causes physical disability, developmental & intellectual delays, and a shorter life span for the child. It occurs in about once in 2,000 live births for mothers aged 20, rising to about 1 in 10 for mothers aged 49. 5 Indiana passed a law to prohibit such abortions. The same law bans abortions based on the fetal race or gender. 3

Elizabeth Nash, a senior researcher with the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion research group said:

"There are not enough attorneys to challenge all these restrictions." 3

Dawn Laguens of Planned Parenthood said:

"These laws are part of a broader agenda to ban safe, legal abortion completely." 3

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2016-JUL-22: Beliefs of Senator Tim Kaine, the presumptive candidate for U.S. Vice President for the Democratic Party:

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, selected Senator Tim Kaine (D, VA), age 58, to be her running mate. 3 She tweeted:

"Tim Kaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it." 6

Both are strong supporters of women's access to abortion. However, Senator Kaine has often said that he personally opposes abortion in principle.

Simply put, he appears to be pro-choice in that he wants every woman to have access to an abortion if she is well informed, has thought the matter through thoroughly, and decided that an abortion is her least-worse choice. But he is pro-life in terms of his personal beliefs and supports many pro-life programs, as long as they don't limit women's abortion access.

More information on Senator Kaine's beliefs concerning abortion access.

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This topic continues with information on the
last four months of 2016 in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. "AB-775 Reproductive FACT Act.(2015-2016) ," California Legislative Information, 2015-2016, at: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/
  2. Nichol Knight Shine, "Three Crisis Pregnancy Centers Served for Breaking California Law," Rewire, 2016-JUL-28, at: https://rewire.news/
  3. Amber Phillips, "14 states have passed laws this year making it harder to get an abortion," The Washington Post, 2016-JUN-01, at: http://washingtonpost.com
  4. "Circumcision and Anesthesia," Male Circumcision Guide...," 2013, at: http://www.circinfo.net/anesthesia.html
  5. "What is Down Syndrome?," The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome, 2012, at: http://www.ndss.org/
  6. Tré Goins-Phillips, "Hillary Clinton Taps Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine As Her Running Mate Ahead of DNC," The Blaze, 2016-JUL-22, at: http://www.theblaze.com/
  7. Laura Goldman, " 'Bridget Jones’s Baby' Misses By Not Discussing Abortion," The Huffington Post, 2016-SEP-14, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  8. Jonathan Swan & Sarah Ferris, "Trump toughens anti-abortion stance," The Hill, 2016-SEP-16, at: http://thehill.com/
  9. Steve Holland & Emily Stephenson, "Trump finally backs off Obama birth claim, falsely says Clinton started it," Reuters, 2016-SEP-16, at: http://www.reuters.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-JUL-27
Latest update : 2016-JUL-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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