"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Fetal Personhood Ploy”: Anti-Choice Lawmakers In South Carolina Want Pregnant Women To Arm Themselves To “Protect The Unborn”

A state Senate panel in South Carolina advanced legislation Thursday that states a pregnant person has a right to use deadly force to protect the “unborn … from conception until birth.” The measure is called  the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act,” and it is model legislation written and disseminated by Americans United for Life.

As usual, the words “pregnancy” and “protection” are red herrings.

First, South Carolina’s “stand your ground” law already allows for the use of deadly force anywhere a person claims to fear for their lives or the life of someone around them. (It is a terrible and dangerous law.) So opponents of the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” have rightly pointed out that this measure is entirely redundant.

But the bill does serve a serious purpose for anti-choice policymakers and activists working to endow fertilized eggs with personhood status and legal rights, a move that would suppress the rights of pregnant people and likely ban abortion and most forms of contraception. The measure tries to accomplish this — or at least open the door to these possibilities — by defining life as beginning at conception.

Here’s the language from the bill:

(1)    ‘Pregnant’ means the female reproductive condition of having an unborn child in the female’s body.

(2)    ‘Unborn child’ means the offspring of human beings from conception until birth.

The measure also pays considerable lip service to the very real threat of violence faced by women and pregnant people, but does nothing to strengthen existing anti-violence laws, create additional funding for domestic violence service providers or increase actual resources to aid people in violent situations.

None of this was lost on the opponents of the measure. “No one disputes that violence against pregnant women is a concern in our state and few would deny the need for swift action to stop any instances of further violence,” Emma Davidson, spokeswoman for South Carolina Coalition for Healthy Families, told the Aiken Standard. “But it is hypocritical to introduce legislation claiming to protect victims of domestic abuse, rape and violence while simultaneously outlawing emergency contraception, a key treatment option for those victims.”

And for those looking for further proof that the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” is just a fetal personhood ploy, the committee also debated a fetal personhood measure during the same session.

The “Personhood Act” would outlaw abortion outright by granting legal rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses.

By defining life as starting at conception, Davidson explained, the measure could also outlaw birth control and emergency contraception. And as University of South Carolina family law professor Marcia Zug told the Aiken Standard, the bill could ban abortions without exception. “A fetal personhood bill which would outlaw abortions in even the most life-threatening of circumstances has never been an option with the Supreme Court. It is clearly unconstitutional,” Zug said.

And if lawmakers are really interested in reducing rates of domestic violence in the state, they may instead want to focus their efforts on funding domestic violence service providers who have had to reduce services in the face of budget cuts. According to a nationwide survey on domestic violence service providers, in a single day in South Carolina, 16 requests from domestic violence victims were turned down because programs did not have the resources to provide them emergency shelter, housing, transportation, childcare or legal representation

More women are killed by men in South Carolina than any other state in the nation; the rate of women killed by men in South Carolina is more than double the national average.


By: Katie McDonough, Salon, April 11, 2014

April 12, 2014 Posted by | Anti-Choice, Personhood | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Pretzel Logic Of The Right”: Another Perceived Attack On The Sovereignty Of America, God And Family!

It’s hardly news any more when conservatives oppose ratification of a treaty reflecting widely shared American values. Concern for U.S. “sovereignty,” often based on conspiracy theories about the United Nations and other multinational organizations the U.S. helped create, has become a reflexive excuse for a kind of rigid unilateralism once associated with the John Birch Society or even older, isolationist conservatives.

But the current conservative fight to kill ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is especially interesting because the most avid opponents are the cultural conservatives who often profess solidarity with the disabled as part of their fight against legalized abortion. Anti-choicers and home-schoolers, however, have declared war on the convention on the theory that it confirms the “reproductive rights” of people with disabilities, and/or might confer other rights upon them that intefere with the absolute power of the family (presumably a servant-leader male-directed family) to raise children as they wish.

Thus it’s not surprising that Rick Santorum is at the head of this particular parade in the Senate, which raises the ire of WaPo’s Dana Milbank:

The former presidential candidate pronounced his “grave concerns” about the treaty, which forbids discrimination against people with AIDS, who are blind, who use wheelchairs and the like. “This is a direct assault on us,” he declared at a news conference….

[Mike] Lee, a tea party favorite, said he, too, has “grave concerns” about the document’s threat to American sovereignty. “I will do everything I can to block its ratification, and I have secured the signatures of 36 Republican senators, all of whom have joined with me saying that we will oppose any ratification of any treaty during this lame-duck session.”

Lame or not, Santorum and Lee recognized that it looks bad to be disadvantaging the disabled in their quest for fair treatment. Santorum praised Lee for having “the courage to stand up on an issue that doesn’t look to be particularly popular to be opposed.”

Courageous? Or just contentious? The treaty requires virtually nothing of the United States. It essentially directs the other signatories to update their laws so that they more closely match the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even Lee thought it necessary to preface his opposition with the qualifier that “our concerns with this convention have nothing to do with any lack of concern for the rights of persons with disabilities.”

Their concerns, rather, came from the dark world of U.N. conspiracy theories. The opponents argue that the treaty, like most everything the United Nations does, undermines American sovereignty — in this case via a plot to keep Americans from home-schooling their children and making other decisions about their well-being.

And so, Santorum brought his famous daughter Bella, who suffers from a severe birth defect, to the hearing where he fought against acknowledgement of the rights of people like her.

This is where the pretzel logic of the Right can lead.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, November 27, 2012

November 28, 2012 Posted by | Anti-Choice, Conspiracy Theories | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Women, Watch Your Back: Anti-Choicers Are Gambling With Your Life

In a medical emergency, the last thing we should be worried about is whether a  hospital is going to put ideology ahead of the care we need to protect our  lives and health. But if anti-choice lawmakers get their way, women and their loved ones will have to watch their backs.

Yesterday the House passed an unprecedented bill that would allow hospitals to let women die at their doorsteps. It sounds almost unbelievable — but utter disregard for the well-being of women who need abortion care has tragically reached new levels in the House.

The  bill, the so-called “Protect Life Act” does anything but.  Indeed, it gambles with women’s lives.  It could allow hospitals to ignore the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) which requires that  patients in medical emergencies receive appropriate medical treatment, including abortion care if that’s what’s medically indicated.

The  bill’s proponents will first tell you that this is necessary to protect  religiously affiliated hospitals, and then claim that there’s no such thing as  emergency abortion care (which begs the question of why they’re so intent on  overriding it).  They’re wrong on both fronts.

First,  the denial of appropriate medical care to a woman suffering from emergency pregnancy complications can be devastating.   The following story recorded in the American  Journal of Public Health is just one example:

A woman with a condition that  prevented her blood from clotting was in the process of miscarrying at a  Catholic-owned hospital.  According to  her doctor, she was dying before his eyes, her eyes filling with blood.  But even though her life was in danger, and  the fetus had no chance of survival, the hospital wouldn’t let the doctor treat  her by terminating the pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat ceased of its own  accord.  She ended up in the I.C.U.

Second,  even the Catholic Health Association, the leadership organization for Catholic  hospitals — hardly an anti-religious or pro-choice lobby — has told Congress  that they don’t “believe that there is a need for the [refusal] section to  apply to EMTALA.” The very  institutions on whose behalf this heinous provision has been proposed are  saying “don’t do this.” But so  far, the bill’s sponsors remain unmoved.

Every representative who voted for this bill should hear from you and be made to think about the woman, mid-miscarriage, bleeding and scared out of her  wits, who rushes to the nearest hospital only to be told by her doctor that he’s  not allowed to treat her.  Think about  that woman, and then tell us — what  are you going to do?


By: Sarah Lipton-Lubet, Policy Counsel, ACLU Legislative Office, Published in RH Reality Check, October 14, 2011

October 14, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Anti-Choice, Congress, Conservatives, Democracy, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Health Care, Ideologues, Politics, Pro-Choice, Republicans, Right Wing, Women | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Industry Writes State Law: How Business Lobbies Bought All The Laboratories Of Democracy

It sure is funny that, at basically the same time, state legislatures across the country began passing a slew of similar measures attacking collective bargaining, undocumented immigration and abortion, right? Just a weird coincidence, I’m sure, this sudden nationwide war on public employee unions and immigrants and women.

Hah, I am just kidding. We all know it’s because of lobbyists and the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is sort of a for state lawmakers and the nation’s worst industry lobbies. The Center for Media and Democracy’s ALEC Exposed project has a handy list of the hundreds of bills ALEC pushes in every state in the union, on subjects ranging from school vouchers to gutting environmental regulations to opposition to the National Popular Vote Compact. (Yeah, that one I don’t even get.)

Here’s how the ALEC process works: GOP state legislators go to fancy conferences where they sit down with lobbyists and right-wing activists and draft right-wing legislation together. They return home and introduce it without mentioning the source. The lobbies then throw some cash at the legislators working to advance their agenda. Then, these days, the bill passes, and everyone else gets around to getting outraged about it, long after their outrage would do much good. Repeat.

This is how incredibly similar anti-immigration bills end up passing, independently, in Arizona and Tennessee. This is how bills against public employee collective bargaining end up passing in Wisconsin and Indiana. This is the process behind state resolutions banning the establishment of “Obamacare.” Our biggest national wars are being fought, and largely won, in the statehouses, with liberal activists not even joining the fight until after they’ve lost it.

Liberals aren’t this good at local politics. Unions and low-income organizations like ACORN used to take care of lobbying and politicking at the state and community level, but, oh, look what’s happened to them. Defunded!

It took a while for Democrats to figure out that they should have their own Heritage Foundation, and so far, they seem to be taking just as long to decide to create their own ALEC. (Of course the Democratic ALEC will probably also push “school reform” and pro-telecom bills and whatever else rich Democratic donors want.)

As a result of that late adoption, the famous laboratories of democracy are now often the places where massive, monied interests — along with their odd allies in the religious right — can implement their political agendas piece by piece, instead of trying to get their dream bills through the U.S. Congress, where all the cameras and journalists are. The sudden death of the small- and midmarket newspaper certainly helps. Your average local TV news doesn’t really do sophisticated policy analysis.

The closest thing liberals even have to a state to experiment with is … California, with its property-tax cap and public rejections of gay marriage and marijuana legalization. (Right-wingers know better than to trust legislating to the popular ballot, even though they’re quite good at organizing and spending huge sums of money to win ballot measures.)

Oh, the record number of bills restricting access to abortion services nationwide? That one might just be the natural Republican enthusiasm for controlling women’s bodies. I mean, the right-to-life groups obviously jumped into action when the GOP came into power and lobbied for all of the 162 new restrictions on reproductive rights enacted since the start of the year, but I’m not sure any specific business lobby benefits from it.

By: Alex Pareene, Salon, July 14, 2011

July 15, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Anti-Choice, Businesses, Class Warfare, Collective Bargaining, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Democrats, Equal Rights, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Immigration, Lawmakers, Media, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Effect Real Change: Retake State Legislatures

As we ponder whether Obama’s offering to cut Social Security represents a betrayal of Democratic values, whether it’s an as-of-yet-unexplored opening in yet another 11th-dimensional chess match, whether a decrease of an increase is really a cut or not  or whether, in the words of Paul Krugman, the president is executing an “anti-Corleone” by making the Republicans an offer they can’t accept, Democratic values are being systematically destroyed. But the source of the destruction isn’t coming from Washington; instead, it is happening state by state.

The lion’s share of coverage has appropriately focused on the unrelenting extremism of Speaker Boehner’s House majority, but the gains Republicans made in our nation’s statehouses have been no less devastating. In 2010, the GOP made historic gains rivaled only by the wave in 1994. There are now 26 states where Republicans control both legislative chambers; Republicans also occupy the governor’s mansion in 21 of those, compared to 15 and 11 respectively for Democrats. Not coincidentally, 26 states enacted further restrictions on abortion rights. Some of them are particularly odious, such as Louisiana’s measure that would deny malpractice insurance coverage to doctors performing abortions, or a now-blocked law in Kansas that would impose a series of unnecessary licensing restrictions that would have resulted in the closure of two of the three clinics in the state.

At an economic level, the Republican legislators of Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan are proceeding toward accomplishing at a state level longstanding objectives that they could never realistically accomplish at a federal one: specifically, achieving unilateral political disarmament by hamstringing a key funding source of Democratic campaign funding, or selling off public assets without any bidding process to whichever crony they deem appropriate. In Minnesota, Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives, and won control of the State Senate for the first time in history. The result? A government shutdown that is costing the state and its hardworking public employees just so the richest two percent of Minnesotans don’t have to contribute their fair share to help the state function.

Not that states with Republican-dominated legislatures are the only ones with problems. In California, Republicans dominate the budgetary aspects of the legislature despite having only about 35 percent of the seats in either chamber because of Proposition 13, the absurd rule that a two-thirds vote in each chamber must be required to raise revenues. Because it is as impossible to secure a sane legislative Republican in Sacramento as it is in Washington, California’s budget has been consigned for many years to be a series of ever-deeper cuts to the social safety net, public education, and the state park system.

This is a redistricting cycle, and the change in state lines could change some of these equations, but right now, the number of victories required to stop the damage, if not reverse it, is comparatively small. In California, a takeover of two seats in Assembly and Senate would be enough to prevent the Republican minority from continuing to hold the state hostage during every budget negotiation. In Wisconsin, a net gain of three Senate seats from the nine recall elections on Aug. 9 would stop Gov. Scott Walker from destroying Wisconsin any more than he already has. Retaking the lower chambers in Michigan and Ohio would be a slightly more difficult task, but no less achievable given previous history.

A child in an overcrowded classroom in Los Angeles. A Madison teacher fighting for her economic rights. A maintenance worker in Detroit. A scared, pregnant teenager in Orlando who will soon be required to notify her parents if she wants to exercise her rights. They are all being affected far more by what their state governments are trying to do to them, or cannot do for them, than by anything that Speaker Boehner has done since January.

This isn’t to say that retaking the House, re-electing Barack Obama and holding onto our Senate majority is not important. It most certainly is. But a Democratic Congress would not have stopped these state-level Republicans from attempting to enact their sweeping, destructive agenda. The only way to stop them is to raise enough money and awareness so as to defeat them and undo the massive damage that they have managed to accomplish in only six months of governance. Retaking the Wisconsin Senate on Aug. 9 will be a significant victory, but it must be viewed not as an endgame, but as an important first step in a much larger campaign.

By: Dante Atkins, Daily Kos, July 10, 2011

July 11, 2011 Posted by | Anti-Choice, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Democracy, Democrats, Economy, Elections, GOP, Gov Scott Walker, Government, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Union Busting, Unions, Voters, Women, Womens Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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