Federal judge crushes “moderate Republican” John Kasich’s latest attempt to defund Planned Parenthood

A federal judge on Friday blocked an Ohio law that would have defunded Planned Parenthood — by kicking it out of state grant programs for public health and education services, like maternal health and HIV prevention programs.

“Today’s ruling supports the rights of all Ohioans to access needed health care,” said Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, in a statement. “This law would have been especially burdensome to communities of color and people with low income who already often have the least access to care.”

…Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says he will appeal, blah, blah, blah…Not only was Planned Parenthood a major provider of these health services that couldn’t easily be replaced but the bill was also written so poorly that it could have accidentally defunded Ohio’s public health departments in the process of trying to go after Planned Parenthood…

The law would have blocked Planned Parenthood, and other entities connected to abortion services in almost any way, from receiving funding for:

The “Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies” program that supports mostly black mothers before, during, and after pregnancy. The program is aimed at reducing abysmally high infant mortality rates in Ohio, which are the highest in the nation for black Americans

Several federal programs that help low-income people access breast exams, Pap smears, and screenings and treatment for STIs and HIV

Funds from the Violence Against Women Act to provide education for high school–age youth, including youth who are in jail or foster care, on domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and healthy relationships

“The defunding law in Ohio would have stopped Planned Parenthood from providing HIV tests, cancer screenings, and assistance for poor mothers with newborn infants,” said Kellie Copeland, president of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio…

Attorney General DeWine did claim — falsely, as it turned out — that Planned Parenthood improperly disposed of fetal remains…The state of Ohio was forced to pay Planned Parenthood’s legal fees as a result.

Couldn’t happen to a more representative leader of liars and bigots. America’s conservative politicians – mostly led by Republican godly pretenders like John Kasich – specialize in a War on Women that ranges from rationalizing inequality in wages to blocking access to education, health and well-being.

Illegal abortions are killing women in developing countries and restrictions demanded by the USA make it worse

In developing countries, the maternal mortality rate is a staggering 239 per 100,000 women, with an estimated 303,000 women dying in 2015. One in 10 of all maternal deaths are caused by unsafe abortions; an estimated 20 million unsafe abortions are performed every year.

We know that providing access to legal terminations would stop women dying, but this remains an issue that provokes huge debate. Women who can’t access them legally still have abortions, but they have to pay bankrupting sums, often risking their lives.

Backstreet abortions are usually done in an unclean and unsafe environment. If they don’t kill women, they often put them in hospital with horrific complications, leaving them infertile, facing major abdominal surgery and enormous medical bills.

What is stopping women from accessing safe abortions? The first is restrictive laws in their own countries, which can extend to a ban…Ludicrously, this problem is compounded by the fact that countries with the most restrictive abortion laws often have the poorest family planning provision.

The second barrier is the tight regulation governing donor aid. The US has a ban on any of its funding being spent on terminations for women. The Helms amendment, a 43-year-old law, stipulates that abortions cannot be funded as a method of family planning. This means that no US foreign aid is spent on the provision of abortions or even advising or promoting abortion services for women. Recent headlines suggest that the US will not even allow its funds to be used to provide terminations for women who have been raped by Isis fighters…

We know that abortions, when performed legally, are cheap and safe. Yet the grim reality is that tens of thousands of women who die in the developing world each year from unsafe abortions do so because policymakers have decided their lives are not worth saving.

With changes in this policy, maternal mortality could be reduced for a low cost. The technology exists and is affordable. A misoprostol pill that induces an early stage abortion costs less than a dollar. This is not an issue of resources and funding, but a value judgment on what women may or may not do with their lives.

Another look back to the world of the Republican Party and the ideology of patriarchal religion held dear to the heart of 19th Century conservatives.

The United States still relies on a model generated by a religious bigot who hated equal rights for non-white Americans as much as he opposed reproductive rights for women. Jesse Helms was a racist thug kept in office beyond any reasonable function except to stand in opposition to the concept of equal opportunity for class after class of Americans. The Republican Party still honors his memory.

FDA agrees with doctors, not Republicans, on abortion pill.

On Wednesday, the medical abortion pill got a new label from the Food and Drug Administration—one that finally reflects the way doctors have been prescribing it for years. In the process, Republicans lost at least one strategy that they’ve used to block women’s access to abortion.

In the political tug-of-war over this pill — as in most every fight over abortion — legislators have inserted themselves into consummately routine aspects of medical practice. In this case, they interfered with the common and totally legal practice of off-label prescription, in which doctors use the most up-to-date medical information and their own best instincts to dictate how patients should use a drug, deviating from often outdated FDA guidelines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 1 in 5 prescriptions written are for off-label use. That didn’t stop Republicans from banning it in the case of the abortion pill, mifepristone, when best practice evolved beyond the guidelines that the FDA wrote upon first approving the drug in 2000.

Mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex) terminates pregnancy by blocking the necessary hormones; doctors prescribe it with a second pill, misoprostol, which induces contractions to start what resembles a heavy period. When the FDA originally wrote the protocol for the drug, it specified a dose of 600 milligrams. Over the years, however, doctors have found that a 200-milligram dose is just as effective and causes fewer unpleasant side effects… Republicans…passed laws in six states — still in effect in North Dakota and Ohio—that forced practitioners to stick to the FDA guidelines or stop offering the procedure altogether.

The new FDA guidelines vindicate doctors, embracing the 200-milligram regimen and reflecting several other changes in the way practitioners have been prescribing the drug that broaden women’s access to abortion…

The new label for mifepristone also says that the drug should be “ordered, prescribed and dispensed by or under the supervision of a healthcare provider who prescribes and who meets certain qualifications.” Crucially, the guidelines do not contain the word physician. Here, the FDA has given at least subtle backing to the argument that women’s health groups—and the World Health Organization—have been making for years: that midlevel providers, such as midwives and nurse practitioners, should be able to administer medical abortions….As abortion clinics across the country continue to close because of targeted GOP legislation, expanding the circle of who can prescribe this pill could be invaluable for many women.

Good news for everyone who wants their healthcare to be guided by modern medicine, sound science – instead of Republican politicians, pundits and populists mired in the backwaters of history and hysteria.

Catholic hospitals put women having miscarriages in danger

The woman inside the ambulance was miscarrying. That was clear from the foul-smelling fluid leaving her body. As the vehicle wailed toward the hospital, a doctor waiting for her arrival phoned a specialist, who was unequivocal: the baby would die. The woman might follow. Induce labor immediately.

But staff at the Mercy Health Partners hospital in Muskegon, Michigan would not induce labor for another 10 hours. Instead, they followed a set of directives written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that forbid terminating a pregnancy unless the mother is in grave condition. Doctors decided they would delay until the woman showed signs of sepsis – a life-threatening response to an advanced infection – or the fetal heart stopped on its own.

In the end, it was sepsis. When the woman delivered, at 1.41am, doctors had been watching her temperature climb for more than eight hours. Her infant lived for 65 minutes.

This story is just one example of how a single Catholic hospital risked the health of five different women in a span of 17 months, according to a new report leaked to the Guardian.

The report, by a former Muskegon County health official, Faith Groesbeck, accuses Mercy Health Partners of forcing five women between August 2009 and December 2010 to undergo dangerous miscarriages by giving them no other option.

All five women, the report says, had symptoms indicating that it would be safest for them to deliver immediately. But instead of informing the women of their options, the report says, or offering to transfer them to a different hospital, doctors – apparently out of deference to the Mercy Health Partners’ strict ban on abortion – unilaterally decided to subject the women to prolonged miscarriages.

As a result, the report claims, several of the women suffered infection or emotional trauma, or had to undergo unnecessary surgery. None of the women were pregnant beyond 24 weeks, when an infant can survive outside the womb.

The report has not previously been made public. And it offers a disturbing look at how religious restrictions may interfere with emergency care. Catholic control of US hospitals has ballooned in the last 15 years, and with it, patient advocates warn, the risk that the US Bishops’ bans on abortion, contraception and sterilization will prevent thousands of women from receiving critical healthcare…

Healthcare watchdogs have documented isolated instances in which Catholic hospitals denied women birth control or sterilization procedures. But this report details some of the the most systematic collisions of religion and medicine ever to surface in public.

RTFA. It’s long and scary.

It behooves you to check out the policies of Catholic hospitals in your neck of the prairie. If you live somewhere like the city of Santa Fe – here in New Mexico – the only Emergency Room within 50 miles is Christus Saint Vincent.

Suffice it to say, the hospital’s name on the streets of Santa Fe is Saint Victims.

Colorado Planned Parenthood reopens after terrorist rampage

A Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic reopened on Monday, seeing patients nearly three months after a deadly shooting rampage at the facility left three people dead and nine wounded.

“Today, we opened our doors in Colorado Springs. We didn’t back down. We didn’t disappear. We returned, stronger and with more conviction than ever,” the clinic said in a statement.

The clinic was closed on Nov. 27 following a bloody five-hour siege that police said began when a gunman opened fire with a rifle outside the building and then stormed inside. He was taken into custody by law enforcement at the scene…

The facility was resuming its work providing a range of healthcare services, including abortion, to the community of Colorado Springs, Cowart said…

The gunman accused of carrying out the attack, Robert Lewis Dear, 57, faces 179 felony counts, including charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault.

In a court appearance in December, he declared himself guilty and a “warrior for the babies.” He has also told a judge he distrusts his lawyers and wants to represent himself.

Like a tiny segment of Christians, Dear apparently feels he is doing the work of the God he believes in – by murdering people. Following the semantic logic of some Republican presidential candidates, that would make him a Christian terrorist.

Indiana says miscarriage is abortion – woman sentenced to 20 years in prison

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Depending on trimester, abortion is illegal in the United States. So is having a stillbirth – not officially, perhaps, but thanks to a case in Indiana, we’re halfway there. On Monday, Purvi Patel, a 33 year old woman who says that she had a miscarriage, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for neglect of a dependent and feticide. She is the first woman in the United States to ever be sentenced for such a crime.

In July 2013, Patel went to the emergency room with heavy bleeding. She eventually admitted to miscarrying a stillborn fetus and placing it in a bag in a dumpster. (Patel lived with her religiously conservative parents who did not believe in premarital sex.) After police searched Patel’s cellphone, they found text messages that suggested she bought abortion-inducing drugs online.

Despite the fact that no traces of any abortifacent were found in Patel’s blood work taken at the hospital, the prosecution argued that she had taken the drugs mentioned in her text messages and caused her miscarriage at 23-24 weeks of pregnancy. And, in legal maneuvering that defies imagination, Patel was charged not just with fetal homicide, but with neglecting a child. As the Guardian reported last year, these charges are completely contradictory: neglecting a child means that you neglected a live child, and feticide means that the baby was born dead.

But logic has never been at the center of the draconian laws and arrest policies that target pregnant women: control is. As Lynn Paltrow, the executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, told me last year about laws aimed at drug-using pregnant women, this kind of prosecution “is about making pregnant women – from the time an egg is fertilized – subject to state surveillance, control and extreme punishment.”

And, as with other laws that hurt pregnant women, Indiana’s feticide law was not intended (explicitly, anyway) to be a policy that affected women: it was supposedly designed to target illegal abortion providers. But despite the anti-choice insistence that women are “victims” of abortion providers, the history of how similar laws are used show just how much it’s women – and women of color in particular – who are directly impacted by “fetal protection” policies.

We may never know what really happened in Patel’s case. She has repeatedly said that she had a miscarriage which, if true, means that the state is sending a woman to jail for not having a healthy pregnancy outcome. But even if Patel did procure and take drugs to end her pregnancy, are we really prepared to send women to jail for decades if they have abortions? Even illegal ones?

We live in a nation governed almost exclusively by white males led around by the nose by an ideology inspired by the writing of hallucinating white men back in a century not yet up to the level of science and technology required to invent the flush toilet.

Since the first day of a slightly more enlightened Supreme Court ruling on behalf of women’s rights versus theocrats – in Roe v Wade – individuals and groups dedicated to rule by a 14th Century tome produced by royal committee have dedicated millions of dollars, millions of hours, to restoring the subjugation of women.

As a political crime, that commitment stinks on ice. As ideology, cant, rote obedience to patriarchal politics, every progressive tendency in American politics must address this conflict as thoroughly as we confront racism. This is a lifetime commitment. There is no other choice in a nation where political issues still revolve around questions of “stupid or ignorant”.

Purvi Patel is a political prisoner of the state of Indiana.

Limbaugh still confused as ever by contraception

Back in August 2012, Rachel Maddow explained, “Apparently nobody ever explained to [Rush Limbaugh] how birth control works.” Over a year later, the radio host’s contraception confusion seems to be getting worse.

The most obvious example of this came when Limbaugh went after Sandra Fluke, arguing, “The women in her law school program are having so much sex, they are going broke buying birth control pills.” In the radio host’s mind, women apparently are supposed to take birth control pills with every sexual experience. (Note: that’s not how birth control works.)

Yesterday, Limbaugh made matters worse. You may have seen reports that some researchers believe a version of Plan B emergency contraception may be less effective for women over 165 pounds. As Samantha Wyatt noted, this led the radio host to an odd conclusion:

“Now we have learned that American women, 166 pounds and up, the Plan B pill doesn’t work. What will their option be? 166, 170 pound woman, pregnant, she wants to go ahead and get her morning-after pill, and then she’s told, ‘Sorry, you’re too big. You’re too heavy. It won’t work.’ What are her options? Well, she can either go on a diet, or she can get an abortion.”

This just doesn’t make any sense. To hear Limbaugh tell it, pregnant women seek emergency contraception, but that’s plainly wrong – the point of emergency contraception is to prevent pregnancy. It’s why it’s called “emergency contraception.”

Contraception really isn’t that complicated, and yet, Limbaugh continues to say things that suggest he doesn’t understand birth control at all. I’m sure if he asked nicely, Planned Parenthood could send him some brochures that would help him with the basics?

Americans who consciously dedicate their adult lives to superstition and ideology that refuses to confront advances in learning – much less embrace scientific change – are doomed to find themselves painted into corners like this.

If you don’t open your eyes, open your mind, it’s pretty much guaranteed you will harm yourself by running into reality-based immovable objects. The sad bit is that True Believers running along behind the stupidity-bus will likely experience even more injury – unprotected by a money cushion like the one surrounding Limbaugh.

Threats aside, Catholic Church admits to already paying for contraception coverage for employees

As the nation’s leading Roman Catholic bishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been spearheading the fight against a provision of the new health care law that requires employers, including some that are religiously affiliated, to cover birth control in employee health plans.

But even as Cardinal Dolan insists that requiring some religiously affiliated employers to pay for contraception services would be an unprecedented, and intolerable, government intrusion on religious liberty, the archdiocese he heads has quietly been paying for such coverage, albeit reluctantly and indirectly, for thousands of its unionized employees for over a decade.

The Archdiocese of New York has previously acknowledged that some local Catholic institutions offer health insurance plans that include contraceptive drugs to comply with state law; now, it is also acknowledging that the archdiocese’s own money is used to pay for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion for workers at its affiliated nursing homes and clinics…

The archdiocese agreed to cover its own health workers long before Cardinal Dolan became archbishop of New York, and even today insists that it has no choice. As a result, about 3,000 full-time workers at ArchCare, also known as the Catholic Health Care System, receive coverage for contraception and voluntary pregnancy termination through their membership in 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a powerful health care workers union, according to Dave Bates, a spokesman for the union.

ArchCare, which operates seven nursing homes and a variety of other health facilities, gives its 1199 union employees the same coverage they would get at over 100 other nonprofit hospitals or nursing homes in the New York area, because ArchCare voluntarily belongs to the League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes, a multi-employer organization that negotiates with the union every few years for a joint labor contract.

Bruce McIver, the president of the league since 1991, said…“Eventually, the Catholics just said, you know, we are going to ignore the issue and pay into the fund and people are going to make their own choices about contraception and so forth,” Mr. McIver said.

During union negotiations, “I don’t remember it coming up in the last dozen years or so, ever,” he said. “In a place like New York, their employees, not all of whom are Catholic, would react pretty badly…”

The root of all modern hypocrisy owes so much to the history of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Federal court strikes down Arizona ban on abortion after 20 weeks

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A federal court on Tuesday struck down Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, absent a medical emergency.

The 9th US circuit court of appeals said the law violated a woman’s constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before a foetus is able to survive outside the womb. “Viability” of a foetus is generally considered to start at 24 weeks; normal pregnancies run about 40 weeks. Nine other states have enacted similar bans, starting at 20 weeks or earlier. Several of those bans have been placed on hold or struck down by other courts.

Judge Marsha Berzon, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel on the San Francisco-based court, said such bans before viability violated a long string of US Supreme Court rulings starting with the seminal Roe vs Wade decision in 1973. The judge wrote that “a woman has a constitutional right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before the foetus is viable”.

“The challenged Arizona statute’s medical emergency exception does not transform the law from a prohibition on abortion into a regulation of abortion procedure,” Berzon wrote. “Allowing a physician to decide if abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term.”

Cathi Herrod, the head of a Christian social conservative group that championed the 2012 legislation, said the ruling – blah, blah, blah…

Janet Creppe, a lawyer who argued against the ban in court for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Tuesday’s ruling affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion before viability. “These laws are all unconstitutional,” she said. “This is not a close legal question at all. These laws are unconstitutional.”

The most significant ethical practice dealing with attempts to reverse Roe v. Wade after all these years? Fundamentalist Christians and conservatives alike are devout liars.

They are afraid to confront the reality of their backwardness head-on because they know the courts will rule against patently anti-science ideology. So, they gather together in klaverns to conspire against a woman’s freedom to direct her own life by constructing convoluted rationales designed to confuse the ignorant – and TV talking heads who apparently believe what lying politicians say is news.

Republican War on Women – New Mexico style

If a Republican legislator in New Mexico gets her way, women who have abortions after being raped could face jail time for “tampering with evidence.”

State Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad) introduced a bill yesterday that requires rape victims to see their pregnancies through during the course of their sexual assault trial, or be charged with third-degree felony evidence tampering.

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.

If convicted, a rape victim could face up to three years in prison.

The dimwit Republican who introduced this piece of crap legislation has changed her story a couple of times over the course of the day as it finally sank into her brain that normal human beings were outraged. By this evening’s news cycle, she was trying to claim that someone in the legislature printing office must have misprinted her bill. She will withdraw it – “correct it” – and reintroduce it, tomorrow.

Just another link in the chain that Republicans would fasten to the ankles of every American woman – if we let them.