Tag Archives: Planned Parenthood

Dean’s Back In My Mailbox: Sweet Children Edition

I’m starting to develop a theory concerning politicians, photographs, and pro-family policies.  The theory is congealing along this line:  The more adorable small children are shown in close proximity to the politician in the campaign photographs, the less likely the politician is to be a true advocate for policies which benefit women and children.

Case in point:  Dean Heller’s latest addition to the contents of my mailbox.

This latest contribution is a flyer with nice photos of Senator Heller (R-NV) and lots of nicely clad, well groomed children, all looking familial. Very familial.  So, it’s no surprise that the “content” portion of the campaign piece highlights domestic violence; pregnant workers; veterans; and sexual assault survivors.

Lest I become too excited at the prospect of Heller as a prime champion of these causes, it’s time for a bit of context.

About those domestic violence survivors…  According to Heller, Heller “broke with his party” to pass the Violence Against Women Act.  If we are discussing the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2012, then Senator Heller wasn’t exactly the first to line up:

“Bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reached a critical point Tuesday, as Nevada Republican Dean Heller became the 60th Senator to cosponsor the legislation.  The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act was introduced in November by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

“The Violence Against Women Act has always been, and continues to be, a bipartisan priority,” said Leahy.  “I am grateful that Senator Heller has joined as a cosponsor of this important bill.  Every victim of violence deserves to access the resources available through VAWA.  Congress should act, without delay, to approve this commonsense legislation.” [IndLaw]

Thus, Senator Heller wasn’t among the first co-sponsors of S. 1925 in 2012, he was more like the 60th, and he voted in favor of the bill’s Senate passage along with 15 other Senate Republicans.  Fast forward to 2018 and the VAWA is about to expire in the summer months.  Indeed, it is due to expire in September 2018. There are 12 bills related, one directly others tangentially, to the VAWA in the 115th Congress, all have about a 3% chance of passage.   HR 6545, the reauthorization for 2018 has about a 7% chance of passage  However, Senator Heller is shown in the pictures with lots of nice looking children.

Pregnant workers... I like the title “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.”  Although are there any other kinds of pregnant workers than women?  Senator Heller says he is working with his colleagues in the Senate on this one, specifically that would be Senator Casey (D-PA) the sponsor of S 1101.   The bill has two co-sponsors (Shaheen and Heller) and a 3% chance of passage.   Not to put too fine a point to it, but I’m not wagering any portion of my piggy bank contents on this one getting past the committee stage. Senator Heller is shown with several well scrubbed kiddies in the flyer.

America’s Veterans...  by Senator Heller’s lights he’s helped over 15k veterans with their issues, however we don’t know, for example, how many of these are directly related to issues with the VA; how many are directly related to health issues? Housing issues? Educational benefits issues? Other issues? Nor do we know when the count started, are we speaking of the last year or for every year Senator Heller has spent in D.C?  He’s also claiming “leadership” in resolving VA backlog issues, but then so is every other member of Congress.  The jury’s out on this one, but the Senator is shown with children in a nice sylvan setting.

Sexual Assault Survivors...  Republicans seem intent on talking about that rape kit testing backlog and I’m all for that. Both paring down that backlog and talking about it.  However, I’d be happier still if more Republicans would start talking about preventing sexual assault in the first place.  I’m not hearing all I’d like about making reporting instances of assault and molestation easier on the victims.  Nor am I hearing as much as I’d prefer about extending the statute of limitations on assault, molestation, and harassment, for the perpetrators of these crimes.  And then…there’s the not-so-small-matter of getting firearms out of the mitts of domestic abusers.  Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a gun.  Not only are spouses and ex-spouses abused, but if the situation escalates then the lethality increases five-fold.  There are lots of children in that sylvan setting with Senator Heller.  What has Senator Heller done to make life safer for the children who aren’t in the photograph?

Then there’s the  unspoken part … Planned Parenthood … which Senator Heller would have us “defund.”

Does he know that if a woman doesn’t have medical insurance she can receive low cost or free pre-natal care at a Planned Parenthood facility?  Does he realize that Planned Parenthood can help women find affordable health insurance so their children can get off to a good start?  Does he understand that Planned Parenthood also supports post partum care?  There are some profoundly good reasons for a woman to have a post partum check up and for the infant to get his or her check ups too.  Perhaps we could have fewer glossy photos and more attention to providing medical services for more women and their children?

And now I’ll search for more data with regard to my developing theory: The more adorable small children are shown in close proximity to the politician in the campaign photographs, the less likely the politician is to be a true advocate for policies which benefit women and children.

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Filed under Gun Issues, Health Care, Heller, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics

The Great Community Health Center Scam portion of the ACA Repeal

We have the House version of a repeal bill, such as it is. Why it took some seven years to compile a batch of pre-existing Republican conditions remains a mystery. However, there is a section which calls for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the “cover” for so-called ‘moderate’ Republicans is the “community health center” scam.  Gee, the argument goes, we could be funding community health centers instead of providing support for an organization that may provide abortion services.

First, a hat tip to Vox for an excellent summary of Planned Parenthood funding and its sources and uses.  There’s no reason to replicate the argument here when it is well presented elsewhere.  Further, the community health centers are not the answer to PPA services for several reasons.

About two years ago the Republicans distributed a “map” showing some 13,540 clinics which purportedly could perform the medical services provided by Planned Parenthood. Not. So. Fast.

Those who compiled the list did not specify their criteria for a replacement clinic, so most of the clinics listed on the map didn’t have an ob/gyn on staff. Nor did most have the equipment and staff on board to provide reproductive health care services.

Not only were they not staffed and equipped for reproductive health care services many were not set up to take on a massive influx of patients transferred from PPA to the community clinics.  Private clinics would also have to accept Medicaid patients, which many do not because of the reimbursement rate. Mother Jones summarized the situation:

“Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in a report issued earlier this month that if Planned Parenthood were defunded, as many as 650,000 women “in areas without access to other health care clinics or medical practitioners who serve low-income populations” would lose their reproductive health care. And a survey by the Guttmacher Institute found that women often value specialized family planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood over primary care clinics for reasons such as affordability, increased confidentiality, and a greater range of contraceptive options. Guttmacher also reports that in 103 counties, Planned Parenthood is the only “safety net” family planning service, meaning that a large portion of their patients are either uninsured or reliant on Medicaid.”

Many Republican members of the Congress, Senator Dean Heller included, are relying on the community health care clinic argument to deflect the contention that they are opposing contraception and family planning services.  The community health clinic as a replacement for Planned Parenthood reproductive health care medical services is founded on mischaracterizations of both the actions of PPA and the capacity of the community clinics. It is also a deflection from the real argument about the necessity of family planning services — in short, it is a way to say the individual opposes family planning services without coming right out and saying, “I am opposed to the prescription of contraceptives and other reproductive health care services by Planned Parenthood without having to say I am against Planned Parenthood.”

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Filed under Health Care, health insurance, Heller, Medicaid, Politics, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Reasons to Write and Call: Horrible House Bills and other Monday

The House Republicans keep coming up with yet more reasons to put their phone numbers on speed dial, a brief list:

HR 370 — A bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores (TX17) bill sent to committee January 9, 2017. Flores’ district includes Waco and College Station.

HR 354 — A bill to defund Planned Parenthood, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (TN6), a district covering north central Tennessee.

HR 147 — A bill to criminalize abortion, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, (AZ8), northern suburbs of Maricopa County.

Then there are HR 861 to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and HR 610 to voucherize public education. Add HR 899 to eliminate the Department of Education, and HR 785 to enact a “right to work” act at the national level.


Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA22) chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence is now officially the water-carrier for the Trumpster administration telling the press that his committee will investigate the unsubstantiated tweet rant concerning the Obama Administration authorizing a tap (that’s tap with one p) on Trump Tower.  This appears to be a somewhat desperate attempt to validate a right wing conspiracy theory seeking to legitimize the twitterer in chief, and play “You Did It Too.”  The problem with this ‘investigation’ is that (1) there was no There There; and, (2) if there was a tap (with one p) there must have been a reason presented to a FISA court, and that might not be something Agent Orange wants out in public view?  This is yet another reason for an independent commission.


Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) wanted us to know that as of February 15, 2017 his faith in the president is not lessened by reports of administration connections with Russia. This would presumably include the purchase of Russian steel to construct the Keystone Pipeline?  The president’s comments about ‘Buy American’ are now not supposed to be pertinent to purchases contracted before he told the public (twice) that American steel would be used… Then there’s the explanation from the White House that “the steel is there it would be hard to go back (on the contracts).” This would be fine if it weren’t that there are pictures of the first shipment of Russian steel being unloaded at the Paulsboro, New Jersey dock on March 3, 2017.


Meanwhile the empowered white supremacists are using the moments since November 2016 to increase their recruiting on college campuses according to the ADL.

“White supremacists have consciously made the decision to focus their recruitment efforts on students and have in some cases openly boasted of efforts to establish a physical presence on campus,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “While there have been recruitment efforts in the past, never have we seen anti-Semites and white supremacists so focused on outreach to students on campus.”

And the attacks on Sikh Americans continue.


Recommended reading:

“ICE isn’t just detaining ‘bad hombres’ they’re scooping up everyone in their path,” Vox March 3, 2017.

“White House wants it both ways on travel ban,” Politico March 6, 2017.

 

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Filed under Politics

No, I’m not all that thankful, not really

If you haven’t read the outstanding rant by Charles M. Blow, please click over there as soon as possible and read it.  There are many things for which I am thankful this season, and the editorial opinions of Mr. Blow are among them.  However, there are several things for which I am definitely  NOT thankful.

I am not the least bit thankful that the Executive Office is going to be host to rubbish like Steve Bannon and his ilk.  There is no “normalizing” Nazis.  There is no way to white-wash over the anti-Semitic, racist, and corporatist ideology which moves him.  These people aren’t conservative, and definitely aren’t Conservative. Nothing about them reminds any sentient being of William Buckley or even Lewis Powell.  They aren’t populist or even Populist. They aren’t anything like Mary Elizabeth Lease or William Jennings Bryan.  To label them “populist” is a measure of the lack of historic knowledge imparted to or retained by our journalists and political writers.  Honest Conservatives were worried Bannon would bring this collection of misfits and simpletons into the White House.  They were correct. No sooner did the Trumpster move toward the Oval Office than the neo-Nazi were in full Heil Trump form.

I am not thankful for any suggestion that there’s even a remote way of legitimizing “registries” for members of minority groups.  When Trumpster spokesperson Carl Higbie suggested that the internment of Japanese Americans set a “precedent” for the registry of Muslim Americans, alarm bells should have gone off all over the country.  This country, in one of its worst moments, rounded up approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans along the west coast and herded them into internment camps. They sold their homes, their businesses, their farms, mostly at a fraction of their value.  And, now we have Chris Kobach inches from the Trumpster’s ear calling for a repetition of the failed NSEERS program to register Muslims in America.

“The program was considered a failure, both within the Bush administration and by outside experts. By the time the Bush administration ended the domestic registration portion of the program in December 2003, it had registered nearly 100,000 men and led to the deportation of nearly 14,000 ― many of them for overstaying visas or ignoring previous deportation orders. It did not lead to a single terrorism charge against any individuals.” [HuffPo]

That’s correct: 100,000 registrations; 14,000 deportations, and not a single terrorism charge against any individual.

I am not thankful that anyone near the White House should spout such nonsense as “I don’t know any woman who can’t afford birth control.”Just Google it.”  If that weren’t enough, there’s Wayne Allen Root, Trump supporter extraordinaire, who thinks any woman who seeks public assistance, food assistance, or gets free or inexpensive contraceptives should be struck from the voter rolls. [RWW]  This level of misogyny and sexism is long out of date, and way beyond the pale.  I am thoroughly tired of the blatantly mischaracterized attacks on Planned Parenthood.  They are manufactured out of heavily edited, purposefully misleading, and dubiously sourced material – whole cloth as it were.  I am not the least bit thankful for that.

No, I’ll continue to call neo-Nazi’s Neo Nazis.  I’ll call sexists Sexists. I’ll call racists Racists.  Remember when the Right was so sensitive to politically correct speech?  Let’s be politically accurate – a Nazi is a Nazi; a Sexist is a Sexist, and an Anti-Semite is an Anti-Semite.

No matter how much “nuance” the editors and publishers may want to cover over those matters with some tasteless seasonal canned gravy.

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans

Some Assembly Required, but Cortez Masto Can Win

Masto Flip It Dem My Lord How The Money Rolls In!  On behalf of Representative Joe Heck from his friends the Koch Brothers and their associated efforts.  The result?

“I had a feeling this US Senate race would be hard fought, but I didn’t think it would turn this nasty this quickly. We’ve seen these Republican & Koch groups play quite fast & loose with the facts (to put it very politely) this summer, and it looks like they crossed a line about two weeks ago. Former Nevada Attorney General & long-time Republican George Chanos condemned this line of attack against Cortez Masto last week. And now, we see this.

Will this be enough? Or will Cortez Masto & Nevada Democrats need to do even more to counter these attack ads? As I’ve said before, it’s always a tough tightrope walk that’s necessary to counter attacks like this. One must find a way to quash the narrative and not amplify it. Can Cortez Masto & her allies pull it off?” [LTN]

Heck Trump Hat

Not that there isn’t a strong tie between Representative Heck and the Koch Brothers Money Machine. It’s well documented here, and here, as well as here.  The Las Vegas Sun covered the connections, so did the Huffington Post.  The next questions is: Have the Koch Brothers gotten their money’s worth for the donations and support to Heck’s campaigns? That would be yes:

“… he has joined his fellow Republicans in Congress to consistently advocate for a special interest, self-serving agenda at the expense of Nevadans. This point is exemplified by Heck consistently voting for the Koch Brothers agenda in Congress, where in 2013 alone Heck voted with the Kochs 100% of the time.” [SMPac]

Indeed, Representative Heck has been part of the Kochtopus for some time, and remains so today.  (also here)

Can former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto meet the challenge from the Koch Brothers and their ever-so-willing puppet Representative Heck?  Possibly.

Heck’s gone hat and all into the Trump Camp.  This means writing off a significant portion of the Nevada electorate – that portion of Hispanic voters who come from 27% of the total state population, 59% of whom are native born. [PewHisp]  Persistent immigrant-bashing and a surrogate who warns that if Trump isn’t elected “there’ll be a taco truck on every corner” (as if that wouldn’t be a very nice and convenient thing to have) aren’t going to impress Nevada’s Hispanic citizenry.

Then there’s that Women’s Thing.  Heck is anti-choice and his record demonstrates that position.  Was Catherine Cortez Masto correct in calling this out?  The response from Politifact was “mostly true.”  Representative Heck was pleased to vote to defund Planned Parenthood – despite the FACT that most of what the organization does is to provide preventative, prenatal, and women’s health care in underserved communities.  By voting to defund the organization Heck is essentially saying that contraception, women’s cancer screening, healthy child check ups, vaccinations, and other services provided by Planned Parenthood are less important than demonstrating that he’s a good little GOP soldier in an obstructionist misogynistic Congress.  49.8% of Nevada’s population is comprised of women.

The numbers.  The voting registration numbers aren’t a clear advantage for Cortez Masto, but they do lean Democratic.  As of August 2016 there were 531,104 registered Democrats in the “active column,” and 459,467 in the active voter Republican column. She would still need to get a chunk of the 261,750 non-partisan registered voters.

Again using the active voter count,  Cortez Masto has the most potential support in the region with the most Democratic voters – Clark County, with 398,951 registered Democrats and 275,920 registered Republicans.  The next largest area in terms of population is Washoe County which by comparison brings only 89,770 active Democrats and 94,767 active Republicans.

The key to this election will be what it always turns out to be – Turn Out.  A depressed turn out like the 2014 midterm elections with a dismal 45.55% participation rate benefits Heck, a turn out similar to the 80.81% 2012 election benefits Cortez Masto.

Phone banks, canvassing, and well organized support could put Cortez Masto into the U.S. Senate.  For all the expense associated with the media side of campaigning, the election results are often a function of good old fashioned neighbor to neighbor political talks.

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Filed under Nevada politics

Numbers of the Day

Barn Door Closing 1,205: The number of corporate entities subject to a request for information regarding a “Resignation of Registered Agent” inquiry as representatives of Mossack-Fonseca.  [LVRJ]  Translation: The number of companies associated with the Panama Papers operations of Mossack-Fonseca.  But, here’s the kicker:

“Corporate filings are administered by the secretary of state’s office, although laws governing their oversight are enacted by the Legislature. Nevada and states such as Delaware and Wyoming have some of the most liberal corporation laws in the nation. They do not require proof of identification when setting up a company, a task that can be accomplished in a few hours by paying only a few hundred dollars.”  [LVRJ]

The Secretary of State announced she’s putting together a “working committee” to review statutes pertaining to business registration – How about requiring some identification? To registered agent requirements, and concerning “the maintenance of related records.”

It’s nice to be “business friendly,” but it would also be nice to know that Nevada isn’t being used by tax evaders, swindlers, hucksters, money launderers, and other frauds as a “friendly place to do business.”

Gee Whiz Graph 1 9: The number of graphs tweeted out by Donald Trump to “prove” the Obama Administration’s a failure.  0: The number which are accurate and not misleading. [Washington Post]

 

 

Curiel 1953: The year Judge Gonzalo Curiel was born in Indiana.  The judge hearing the Trump University case has come in from some anti-immigrant bashing from Mr. Trump. Interesting because Curiel’s father came to the U.S. in the 1920’s while Mr. Trump’s mother didn’t get here until the ‘30s and didn’t become a citizen until 1942. [TPM]

Starbucks 2: The number of African Americans associated with Seattle University who were racially assaulted in a Starbucks by a man spitting and yelling racial epithets. 0: the number of restaurant patrons who protested against the assault. 1: Restaurant manager who assisted in the filing of a police report. [C&L]

Unemployment BLS

The unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 4.7 percent in May, and nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+38,000). Employment increased in health care. Mining continued to lose jobs, and employment in information decreased due to a strike.” [BLS]

Yes, 38,000 is not a major indicator of job creation, but take a look at what was happening during the Recession 2006-2009. 

Blackburn 3: The number of entities (two Planned Parenthood facilities and  StemExpress Inc. who are being investigated by Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s committee for violations of HIPAA requirements.

“These accusations are the latest step in an investigation that has never had any reason to exist. The House panel was formed after the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, released deceptively edited videos purporting to reveal that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue for profit. Since then, repeated investigations have found no evidence that Planned Parenthood did anything wrong, and members of the Center for Medical Progress have been indicted for their activities.” [NYT]

Enough.

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Filed under abortion, Economy, Nevada, Politics

Candles, Fireworks, and Failures: The Colorado Springs Killings

candles

There is purity in light.  Light illuminates all it touches.  We light candles in hope, in celebration, in reverence, and all too often in sorrow.  There will be candles in Colorado Springs, Colorado, some in the festive spirit of the season, others in sorrowful remembrance of those whose own light expired before its time.

French author Jean Paul Satre said of words: “Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”  Words created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Silence created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Words and silences with consequences.

Anti-abortion radicals provided the words.  Edited words in the smear propaganda videos produced by the nefarious Center for Medical Progress. [C&L]  Provocative words from radical politicians in Congress as they launched five investigations into the activities of Planned Parenthood. [NYT]  Incendiary words, generating as the saying goes “more heat than light,” from Republican presidential candidates. [NYT] Manipulated, provocative, incendiary words created the darkness instead of providing illumination.  Worse still those manipulated, provocative, incendiary words were spread across the nation without filtration. [C&L]

It was almost as if the journalists and broadcasters who amplified these words had forgotten the power of the pen, or in these days, the pixel.  Someone decided that the “heavily edited words” in the propaganda videos counted as “news.”  And the words were unleashed before any illumination took hold. Yes, the tapes were edited for effect, certainly not for edification.  Yes, the tapes were controversial. However, no, the tapes were not authentic, truthful, or informative.  And  the message was further enhanced by the failure of editors and publishers to require that what they broadcasted and printed was authentic, truthful, and informative.

It  seems as though the editors, producers, and publishers were content with fireworks – ephemeral bursts of gaudy light, instead of a steady but less glamorous illuminating candle.

Words can challenge or comfort us.  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words caused some to remember that since 1977 there have been eight murders, seventeen attempted murders, forty-two bombings, and one hundred eighty six arsons against abortion clinics and providers. [Vox] Others noted that in just the last four years states have enacted two hundred thirty one pieces of abortion restriction legislation. [Guttmacher]  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words comforted and validated not only the radicals among us but also the  murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists.

Our words are our own. Once uttered they are released forever, and in the case of some media outlets may be repeated almost endlessly, looping along with stock footage and graphics.  There is a vast difference between freedom of speech, and freedom from criticism which is not always evident in the reactions to radical hyperbole.

The Center for Medical Progress, the creator of the propaganda videos, denounced the attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center, but without any acknowledgment that the attack may very well have been informed by the very videos and controversy it created. [HuffPo]  The attack began and ended at the Planned Parenthood center.  Three lives were extinguished there.

Are the radical anti-abortion advocates asking us to please don’t think ill of them because they never intended their words (and pictures) to inflame the murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists?  We’re cautioned about using scatological language in case “small ears” might be listening; do we take as much care when it’s possible small minds might be attending to the messages?

Words can’t be deflected easily.  Most of the Republican candidates sought refuge in generalizations — “everyone should tone down the rhetoric.” But whose rhetoric called abortion providers, “exterminators,” or “a criminal enterprise,” or “killers?”  [NewYorker] No one is arguing that all members of the so-called “pro-life” movement are murderers, bombers, or arsonists – only that the heated verbiage of the radicals provides inspiration and validation for those who are inclined in that direction.

And then there were the silences.

When those 231 pieces of anti-abortion legislation were being considered in State Legislature – how many voices were heard in opposition? How many pro-choice advocates crafted letters to members of those assemblies? To local editors? To local media outlets?  How many legislators decided it was safer to “go along to get along” with radicals rather than risk their wrath?

When the controversy over the video tapes flamed into the news, how many editors and producers succumbed to the temptation to air what was dramatic, flashy, and provocative before vetting the material for authenticity?  We might ask how many times news organizations must get “used” by political groups before they realize that the words and pictures they are disseminating are  propaganda and not really newsworthy?  How many times are these outlets cowered into the shallows of self referential exculpation, as in the convenient “both sides do it” narrative?

The best feature of a candle is its capacity to provide continuous illumination, without flares and flashes.  It may be dim in comparison to electric bulbs, but no illumination is without shadows.  However, to paraphrase Satre: Every candle has the capacity to illuminate. Every darkness the power of destruction.

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Filed under abortion, media, women, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Sound and Fury Signifying Something: Nevada Republicans vote against funding Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood Stand

It doesn’t take much imagination to guess how Nevada’s Republican Representatives in Congress voted on H.R. 3134, the bill to defund Planned Parenthood.  Yes, they all voted in favor of the resolution. [LTN]  This would primarily impact three centers in the Las Vegas metropolitan area (2), and one in Reno.  Let’s be clear about what the Nevada Republicans wanted to “de-fund.”  Those public funds come from two programs. Medicaid, a health care program for lower-income Americans, and Title X, a federal family planning program which also serves lower-income individuals  constitute most of the funding appropriated, with Medicaid getting the largest portion.   What is almost beyond understanding is why the resolution was necessary – other than as a vehicle for political grandstanding:

“The 1977 Hyde Amendment dictated that federal Medicaid funds could only be used to fund abortions in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. However, some states have expanded cases in which they will provide funds. Currently, 17 states allow funds to be used for “medically necessary” abortions. In those cases that these states count as medically necessary but that are not permitted by the federal guidelines, states cover the cost alone.” [KNPR]

Thus, in essence, what the Republican contingent from Nevada is saying is that they do not wish to adhere to the Hyde Amendment, and instead wish to deny Medicaid funding for abortions resulting from rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.  If this isn’t a radical position it would be hard to imagine what might be.

We could go a step further and say that what the Nevada Republicans are saying is that a wealthy woman who would obviously not qualify for Medicaid is perfectly free to have any medical procedure she can afford – BUT lower-income women who depend on the services of clinics such as those established by Planned Parenthood have NO options in cases of rape, incest, or the need to protect the very life of the mother.  Again, if this isn’t elitist, it’s hard to imagine what would be.

Another element which makes this entire issue devolve into the inane is that there are, in fact, sliding scale payment and free clinics in Nevada which offer some family planning and medical services.  In the Reno area there are about ten such clinics, but only one which provides “abortion referrals.” That would be the Planned Parenthood clinic.  Of the 29 free or reduced cost clinics in the Clark County area only two advertise either abortion services or abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood. One advertises post abortion services, and other referrals.   However, if one is a radical advocate for forced birth, then defunding the only abortion procedure providers would be a desirable thing?

For those who believe that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare” the notion that de-funding will be some kind of blessing is illogical, irrational, and perhaps even deadly.

Nevada’s Republican Representatives, no matter the political spin they may attempt to apply, have aligned themselves with the Forced Birth radicals, and in doing so have decided that low-income women should be forced to carry pregnancies to term even if they are (1) the result of rape; (2) incest; (3) or are perilous to the life of the mother.

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Filed under abortion

“Small Government,” my lady parts!

Happy Hour Debate

For a political party to stake its flag in “No Big Government” territory and then countenance government interference between a woman and her physician is just about as far into the Hamlet of Hypocrisy as one can inhabit.  And, there they went again, as expected, into the manufactured poutrage over the debunked Planned Parenthood video.  First, the Happy Hour:

“This is absolutely disgusting, and revolts the conscience of the nation,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said of secretly-recorded videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing fetal tissue research. “We just, earlier this week, kicked them out of Medicaid in Louisiana as well, canceled their provider contract,” Jindal said. Then, seemingly undermining his case that the undercover videos related to his decision, Jindal added, “They don’t provide any abortions in Louisiana.” [MSNBC]

Yes, what’s “absolutely disgusting” and “revolts the conscience of the nation,” is that anyone would fall for the manufactured propaganda piece in the first place.  Additionally, to blunder into the questions associated with fetal tissue research AND note that PPA doesn’t provide abortion services in Louisiana is about as silly as it gets.  However, Jindal’s found a way to cut Medicaid in his state by canceling their provider contract – which means that the 80% of PPA clients who avail themselves of PPA medical services won’t be getting any help avoiding unwanted pregnancies.  Nor will they be getting STD/HIV/AIDS screening, or cervical cancer screenings, or breast cancer screenings. [PPA]

Former NY Governor George Pataki should have known better:

“You know, Hillary Clinton’s always saying how Republicans don’t follow science? Well, they’re the ones not listening to the scientists today, because doctors say that at 20 weeks that is a viable life inside the womb,” Pataki said. “And at that point, it’s a life that we have the right to protect, and I think we should protect.” [MSNBC]

Not so fast!   The science is a bit different than what Gov. Pataki is asserting. The New York Times reported the latest research results:

The study, of thousands of premature births, found that a tiny minority of babies born at 22 weeks who were medically treated survived with few health problems, although the vast majority died or suffered serious health issues. Leading medical groups had already been discussing whether to lower the consensus on the age of viability, now cited by most medical experts as 24 weeks.” 

Get the “tiny minority” and “vast majority” observations?  And, the part about “leading medical groups” citing 24 weeks as a minimum.  The American Academy of Pediatrics adds, “Determining the survival prognosis for the infant of a pregnancy with threatened preterm delivery between 22 and 25 completed weeks of gestation remains problematic.”    There are at least 8 pre-natal screening tests [ACOG]  There’s a reason for the problems, an ultra-sound ‘fetal anatomy survey’ is a test used at 17 to 20 weeks.  If a woman opts for blood screening tests the ‘sequential integrated screen’ is done at 10-13 weeks, and the second blood test is performed between 15 and 20 weeks.  The ‘serum integrated screen” is performed at 10 to 13 weeks, and the second between 15 and 20 weeks.  [Healthline] Noticing a pattern here? It should be noted that the “anomaly ultrasound” is usually completed around 18-20 weeks. [CDC] Most of the second tests are performed at or around 20 weeks, the results may be in the works when the clock runs out if the forced-birth folks have their way. 

No one is contending that a woman must have an abortion if a fatal defect is discovered in the second trimester.  Perhaps it would help the politicians to remind them that 0-13 weeks is considered the first trimester, 14-26 weeks the second, and 27 – 40 the third.  What rational people are asking is that the woman and her family be the ones who decide if between 20 and 26 weeks  an abortion is necessary to prevent the woman from having to carry a fetus with a fatal birth defect to term.  Governor Pataki should review some of the medical information easily available online before buying into the Radical Right Anti-Choice propaganda.

And then there was Senator Lindsay Graham.

“I don’t think it’s a war on women for all of us as Americans to stand up and stop harvesting organs from little babies,” he said, referring to a legal process by which women can donate the fetal remains after abortion for the purpose of medical research.” [MSNBC]

No, Senator, this isn’t Harvest Time.  We are talking about fetal tissue, donated by women voluntarily for medical research. Tissue which helped find a vaccine for polio, and which is assisting researchers find cures and treatments for such conditions as  Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS),  and macular degeneration. [See previously DB]

Senator Graham is a lucky man – he was born July 9, 1955,  after the (inactivated) injected polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk (1953) and after about 2 million children participated in the 1954 field trials, and after the April 12, 1955 Ann Arbor, MI, press conference announcing the success of those trials.  Between 1955 and 1957 the incidence of polio declined in the United States by 85% to 90%. [AmHistSci]  There would be no more reports, as there were in the 1940’s and early 1950’s of some 35,000 children and adults contracting the dread disease every year. [CDC] And this, because some courageous and compassionate women donated fetal tissue for medical research.

And then there was former Senator Rick Santorum. Who sidestepped the question and went straight for promoting a Partial Birth Abortion Ban law, heedless of the fact that this is NOT a birth, that survival rates for infants actually born weighing 500 grams or less is 14%, [Slate] and that “partial birth” isn’t a medical term, it’s a political term coined by anti-abortion activists. [NPR]

Once the Happy Hour was complete, the main show included Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker proudly announcing that he’d closed down Planned Parenthood in his state four years ago.   Correction: He still has 22 PPA centers in the state, but five did have to close after the state withdrew $1 million in funding from any facility that provided abortion services. [CBS]

The true danger to himself and others is former Governor Mike Huckabee, who wants to apply the 5th and 14th Amendment guarantees to the unborn. Somehow, Mr. Huckabee has invented his own new pseudo-medical term: “DNA schedule.” There is NO DNA schedule. Much less is there a unique DNA schedule for every human being at conception. [CBS] But then, we have to remember that this is the same man who lashes out at any hint of equal protection (under the 5th and 14th amendments) for members of the LBGT community, but finds the Duggar Quiverfull folks perfectly acceptable.

Moving right along:

“Sen. Marco Rubio was on the defensive after debate moderator Megyn Kelly suggested that the Florida Republican would “favor a “rape and incest exception” to abortion bans.

“I have never said that,” Rubio objected. “And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection.” [CBS]

Really?  Because CBS news did a bit of fact checking:

“But he appears to be wrong about never having advocated the exception. In 2013, Rubio cosponsored a Senate bill with wide-ranging Republican support called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, and that bill had exceptions for rape, incest, and in cases when the mother’s life was threatened.”

Who’s arguing? Yes, all human life is worthy of protection, but most sentient beings include the mother in that equation.  So, Senator Rubio, are you now contending that the health and well being of the mother is of no consequence in the formulation of laws concerning abortions?  Are you perfectly willing to orphan the remaining children in the family in order to save a fetus?

And The Donald? Who knows. He jabbered for 10 minutes and 30 seconds. [HuffPo]

None of this should be surprising, other than offering “Repeal and Replace” rhetoric tossing some 19 million working men and women out of their health insurance coverage, and allowing the Banksters to avoid all those pesky regulations which might help ease if not prevent the next financial calamity (Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank), and tossing more funding into the next glorious war – they really don’t have anything on offer for climate change and voting rights…. So we’re back to the same old Trickle Down Economic Hoax, and “wedgie issues.”

Now we have 65 weeks before the 2016 general election…. Not quite long enough to cover the 91 week gestational period of an African Elephant…

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Filed under abortion, Health Care, health insurance, Lindsey Graham, Medicaid

It’s the Planning Part That Makes Them Crazy: GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood

Sanger

It must be campaign season: the Republican Party is once again attacking Planned Parenthood.  This current manufactured outrage moment was coordinated with the debunked video from a shadowy outfit whose “investigators” come complete with phony identification documents. [HuffPo]  [DemoNW] Since the GOP seems to have nothing on offer regarding national infrastructure, comprehensive immigration policy reform, Middle East Peace negotiation, manufacturing policy, minimum wage levels, job training and education, or any substantive proposals on the expansion of health insurance coverage – it must be time to look for Distractions. And, what better distraction than Planned Parenthood?

These attacks appeal to the rabidly anti-contraception/abortion advocates in the Republican base.  We can assume that this element is a small minority of the U.S. population because (1) more than 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method. (2) Approximately 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method. (3) 83% of Black women, 91% of Hispanic women, and 90% of Asian women of child bearing age currently use a contraceptive method during intercourse. (4) 92% of all women with incomes of 300% or more of the federal poverty standard are currently using contraception, as are 89% of those with incomes at 0-149% of the poverty line.  [Guttmacher]

Contraception method chartAs the statistical reports, and the chart, demonstrate, those who oppose contraception are a definite minority, and the religious argument begins to unravel when another survey is highlighted: “Some 68% of Catholics, 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals who are at risk of unintended pregnancy use a highly effective method (i.e., sterilization, the pill or another hormonal method, or the IUD).” [Guttmacher]

As with the polling and survey reports on contraception, the polling on the abortion issue also illuminates the minority position of the radical anti-abortionists.   Note the trends reported by Gallup:

abortion polling It doesn’t even require a calculator to see that as of 2015 approximately 80% of the U.S. population believes that abortion is acceptable, at least under some circumstances.  Only 19% believe the medical procedure should be illegal in any situation.  [Gallup]

Thus we have circumstances in which 99% of those women who have had sexual intercourse using some form of contraception, and 80% of the nation believing that under some circumstances (usually involving the welfare of the mother) abortion procedures should be legal.  Why would a major political party attempt to use contraception/abortion as a political issue?

If it worked before – it will work again?  Republicans have utilized “wedge issues” with some effect before – gay marriage, gun safety, contraception/abortion.  And, Thomas Frank’s book concluded:

“…the Republicans use social issues in a bait-and-switch routine: people are enticed into voting Republican over social issues like abortion or gay marriage, and then Republican pols, once elected, ignore all that and govern like the pro-business, rich-people’s party that they are at heart.”  [Atlantic]

The problem for Republicans is that while they are the pro-corporate (not small business) party of the hedge fund managers and the large banks, the bait is becoming harder to find.  Therefore the need to find another way to access the anti-contraception/abortion vote – let’s try fetal tissue research!

The GOP has two problems with this wrinkle – first, they were for it before they were against it. [Think Progress] and secondly, who wants to argue that fetal tissue should be turned into medical waste instead of having the family opt for tissue donation for medical research?

Nor is fetal tissue medical research a new thing – it’s been done since the 1930s, and the 1954 Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded for work with fetal tissue that lead to the development of the polio vaccine. [USNWR] Current work with fetal tissue involves studies related to birth defects, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s Disease, eye diseases, and HIV/AIDS. [Reuters] Fetal tissue research also yielded vaccines for chicken pox, rubella, and shingles. [CNN]  If one is truly “pro-life” in the comprehensive meaning of the term, then the research into finding a vaccine for rubella is instructive:

“From 1964-1965, before the development of a vaccine against the disease, a rubella epidemic swept the United States. During that short period there were 12.5 million cases of rubella. Twenty thousand children were born with CRS: 11,000 were deaf, 3,500 blind, and 1,800 mentally retarded. There were 2,100 neonatal deaths and more than 11,000 abortions – some a spontaneous result of rubella infection in the mother, and others performed surgically after women were informed of the serious risks of rubella exposure during their pregnancy.”  (CRS = Congenital Rubella Syndrome) [HistVac]

Interesting isn’t it: The use of fetal tissue in medical research to develop a vaccine against Rubella meant FEWER abortions (both natural and medical)  and 2,100 fewer neo-natal deaths.  OK, now stand at a podium and tell the voters that you are in favor of bringing all fetal tissue research to a grinding halt even if it means more miscarriages and abortions? In the name of “Life?”  There’s a purpose for fetal tissue research at the other end of the age spectrum:

“Stem cell therapy for retinal disease is under way, and several clinical trials are currently recruiting. These trials use human embryonic, foetal and umbilical cord tissue-derived stem cells and bone marrow-derived stem cells to treat visual disorders such as age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease and retinitis pigmentosa. Over a decade of analysing the developmental cues involved in retinal generation and stem cell biology, coupled with extensive surgical research, have yielded differing cellular approaches to tackle these retinopathies…” [NCBI]

The radical anti-abortionists haven’t mentioned the research into how to attack the 2.7 million cases of macular degeneration in the U.S. [NEI]  Do we dare tell them that most of those cases are among Caucasian Americans?

Mac Degeneration by race And, here we have it: attacks on an organization, often the target of radical anti-abortionists, which lawfully provides fetal tissue to medical research facilities  currently working on ways to prevent, cure, or alleviate diseases prevalent in America, many of which are  deadly (ALS, Parkinson’s) or debilitating (macular degeneration).  All for what?

For an issue most Americans don’t have at the top of their priorities?

abortion issue

To attract 21% of the respondents in the 2015 polling?  To appease those for whom family planning is anathema?  Nothing better illustrates the hold over the Republican Party like its pandering to a small minority in the national audience, a minority like Quiverfull (see Duggars), for whom women are merely the instruments of men’s procreation?  To appeal to those who follow the Army of God manual and bomb abortion clinics or kill providers? To address those ignorant enough to miss the connections between significant medical research and the use of fetal tissue?

Or, to appeal to those who firmly believe that the Little Woman should be barefoot and pregnant – in the kitchen – not the Senate or the House.  Families which plan for their children, which can assume two incomes, which can maintain intimacy without unintended pregnancies, and who can afford the $3500 it costs for the average uncomplicated birth of a child in a hospital [Parents] are generally better off, and so are their kids.  Here we hit the rough patch. 

Planning is Everything.   It’s impossible to attack those families which are practicing birth control for rational reasons —  in the face of irrationality.  Critics of social welfare programs offer, “If you can’t afford them then you shouldn’t have them.”  If we accept this criticism, then what rational premise might one have for defunding the organization which promotes responsible parenting by making contraception available? 

However, “If you give’em birth control they’ll just be promiscuous!”  Notice the emphasis is on the female, “boys will be boys.”  It’s hard to separate this attitude from good old fashioned garden variety misogyny.  If we actually want fewer unplanned pregnancies, especially among younger women, then what is the rational argument for cutting funding for clinics like those sponsored by Planned Parenthood which inform young women about contraceptive options?

Only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s medical procedures involve abortion at any stage and in any manner. For the radicals this is 3% too many.  For the deluded among us – every woman must carry every pregnancy to term, no matter the cost to her physical well being or to her mental health. Every pregnancy must end in a birth – even if the fetus is so badly deformed that it won’t survive outside the womb for more than 24 hours?  How many of the radicals are even aware of anencephaly,  exomphalos and gastroschisis? [Patient]  Pre-natal care is required in order to detect abnormalities like anencephaly, and where do women – especially low income women – get pre-natal care? From their local Planned Parenthood clinic.  Which, we should add, provides pre-natal care for the pregnancies, planned or unplanned, of many middle and lower income women.

If the Republicans who are chanting for Investigations! Funding Cuts! and other assaults on Planned Parenthood understood just how ridiculous they sound, and how close to the radicals associated with the Army of God and the  Quiverfull movement they’ve moved, then they’d have a much better grasp as to how counter-productive their shift to the radical right will be received in a general election.  In their attempt to manufacture another “crisis” in “poutrage” and to generate a wedge issue, they’ve only succeeded in forming alliances with the most misogynistic elements of the Right Wing: Those who neither want nor countenance Planning in family relationships. 

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Filed under abortion, health, Health Care, Politics, public health, religion