Nel's New Day

June 11, 2013

Franks Moves Anti-Abortion Bill to House Floor

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:11 PM
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The most important bill immediately following the Tea Party invasion of the 112th Congress, according to its number H.R. 1, was one controlling women through preventing abortions. These Congressional members were those who promised jobs for people in the nation.

Over two years later, the House has moved into the 113th Congress after creating zero jobs bills since their 2010 elections. But their obsession with women’s reproductive rights has not flagged.

Next week, the House has  scheduled another vote on banning abortions, this one throughout the country after the fetus has reached 20 weeks.  Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) started the ball rolling in late April when he tried to stop abortions in the District of Columbia against their will. GOP states kept mirroring these efforts, and Kermit Gosnell’s murder conviction in Philadelphia convinced conservatives that they could be successful.

Franks’ 20-week bill has no exception for rape and incest victims, women whose health is endangered by pregnancy, and cases of severe fetal anomalies. The bill is especially written to ban abortions in “medically futile pregnancies” involving fetuses so badly compromised that they have no chance of survival. If this passes into law, a pregnant woman carrying a fetus with no brain or skull or lungs must go to full term: that’s over four months that she knows she is carrying a dead fetus in her body.

Franks chairs the all-male House Judiciary Committee on the Constitution that voted, one week ago, six (GOP) to four (Dems) to move the bill to the House floor. Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) objected to the bill’s debate lacking any women or doctors. “It is totally out of order for us to determine a medical question like this under the guise of acting as members of the very vital House Judiciary Committee,” Conyers said. “No good has ever come from an all-male committee deciding the law about a woman’s body. This is not appropriate.”


All six Republicans on the panel argued that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks of pregnancy, despite the lack of scientific evidence for this. Franks denied that his bill is part of the GOP “war on women.”

Last week, the House also passed a Homeland Security Appropriations bill with a GOP amendment that gives the right to an employee with no medical training in an immigration detention center can decide if a woman’s pregnancy is “life threatening.” A non-medical person would have the right to refuse an abortion using no information on whether the woman might die without one.

At this time, Franks’ bill won’t pass the Senate, and even some Republicans are complaining about the far-right House GOP members wasting time on this meaningless gesture. A year ago, Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) and Robert Dold (R-IL) angrily confronted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) after he scheduled a tough abortion vote. 

Some conservatives think that bringing up the vision of Gosnell’s gruesome abortions will give them control in the anti-abortion war. Gosnell could commit these horrific crimes because his facilities had not been inspected for 17 years, in opposition to law. Women’s health advocates, particularly those who work at health clinics, are extremely concerned about ensuring that women receive the highest standards of reproductive care. Clinics that help women terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester of pregnancy, frequently with just medication or a less-invasive surgical procedure, are different from Gosnell’s clinic, which typically performed incredibly late-term, illegal abortion services.

Conservatives who seek to pass restrictive anti-abortion laws are literally endangering women’s lives. Their over-regulating clinics operated by Planned Parenthood, with their safe care, will limit women’s options instead of keeping them safe. More women will be forced to find clinics like the one that Gosnell operated. With no legal abortions, the nation will return to thousands and thousands of dangerous, back-alley abortions as occurred in the twentieth century before abortion was decriminalized in 1973 through Roe v. Wade.

North Dakota is an example of a state that is endangering women’s health. Three abortion restrictions signed into law in late March will ban abortion in the entire state. One is the unconstitutional “fetal heartbeat” ban that would outlaw abortions after just six weeks of pregnancy. Most women don’t know that they are pregnant when the fetus is at six weeks. Another law, known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP), pretends to ensure women’s safety, but the unreasonable restrictions, such as forcing abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges, will prevent safe care for women. The third law places a “personhood” amendment, banning all abortions altogether, on the 2014 November ballot.

North Dakota isn’t alone. States such as North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Kansas, and Virginia are advancing TRAP laws. To demonstrate how horrendous these the state laws are, Mother Jones has prepared this list of legislation as of last March. Only one state, Oregon, has not created its own monstrous law against abortion. Most of the laws won’t hold up in court, as shown by Arizona, Idaho, and Georgia laws that have been struck down. But women have to sue in order to keep their reproductive rights.


Medical practitioners are finally getting riled about legislators telling them how to practice medicine. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a national organization representing thousands of women’s health experts, has issued a policy opposing this legislative interference. The group’s Executive Board issued an official statement opposing all laws that “unduly interfere with patient-physician relationships” and compromise patients’ health care for political gain.

The statement specifically criticized laws including forced ultrasound laws that require women seeking abortions to look at an image of their fetus before continuing with the medical procedure, “disclosure” laws that require doctors to tell women about the scientifically disputed link between abortion and breast cancer, and laws that require doctors to use an outdated procedure for administering the abortion pill.

According to ACOG, these laws allow legislators, instead of doctors, to set medical protocol. If politically-motivated laws keep doctors from following the best accepted medical practice, patients cannot be provided the best quality of care. The group’s president, Dr. Jeanne A. Conry, said, “Many of these laws are dangerous to patients’ health and safety. Government should stay out of imposing its political agenda on medical practice.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) showed that he is completely clueless about the restrictions on women’s reproductive rights in the United States. When a constituent asked him about the possibility of putting microchips in government workers and students for tracking purposes, Grassley, said:

“No. First of all, nothing can be done to your body without your permission. It’d be a violation of the constitutional right to privacy if that were to happen.”

Although the Constitution does not explicit guarantee the right to privacy, Roe v. Wade ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment protects privacy as a liberty when it states that states many not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia said, “There’s no right to privacy in the Constitution—no generalized right to privacy.” NARAL gave Grassley a “0” pro-choice in 2011. His statement about a “violation” is an argument for not overturning Roe. 

Texas legislative committees have suffered a proliferation of anti-choice bills this year, most of the 24 from Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The state had 694 provisions about reproduction from January to March—an average of seven each day. The huge difference from other years and other states is that not one measure reached either the House or the Senate floor.


June 20, 2012

Should Women Be Stopped from Saying ‘Vagina’?

On alternative media (where you can get real news), the story about the two female Democratic state representatives being banned from talking on the Michigan legislative floor hasn’t gone away. Instead it’s gotten better.

The problem for the male Republican lawmakers started when two women fought the vicious anti-choice omnibus bill and talked about vaginas and vasectomies. Rep. Barb Byrum even shouted at the speaker when he refused to let her address an amendment that would put restrictions on vasectomies in the same way that the men wanted to restrict abortion.

Early statements from the Republicans protested Rep. Lisa Brown’s use of the objectionable word “vagina” on the state legislative floor. It may have been difficult for them to object to the use of “vagina” because the bill uses the term three times. Since then, they have searched for another reason to dissent that might be more acceptable to the public.

Rep. Wayne Schmidt said, “It wasn’t about body parts. It wasn’t about dissent. It wasn’t about anyone’s religious beliefs. It was that last comment that took it a step too far, and that’s what crossed the line about … The ‘no means no’ comment. That went a step too far. As I said to someone up north here, it’s like giving a kid a time out for a day, you know. Hey, time out.”

Thus Schmidt wants to treat a colleague like a bad child and, at the same time, tell women that they have no right to say “no.” He’s saying that women must be silenced if they want to say “no,” that they must have a time out because women don’t have the right to say “no.” If women try to say no, then they will be banned from speaking at all.

Dahlia Lithwick has injected a bit of black humor into the situation. In this bit of satire she supports the silencing of women in the following manner:

The scourge of women being allowed to speak the word vagina in a legislative debate over what happens when women use their vaginas must be stopped. And if women are not capable of regulating their own word choice, the state should regulate it for them. To that end, we propose that the Michigan House promptly enact HB-5711(b)—a bill to regulate the use of the word vagina by females in mixed company.

The bill will include Part A(1)(a) providing that any women who seeks to use the word vagina in a floor debate be required to wait 72 hours after consulting with her physician before she may say it. It will also require her physician to certify in writing that said woman was not improperly coerced into saying the word vagina against her will. Section B(1)(d) provides that prior to allowing a female to say the word vagina a woman will have a mandatory visit with her physician at which he will read to her a scripted warning detailing the scientific evidence of the well-documented medical dangers inherent in saying the word vagina out loud, including the link between saying the word vagina and the risk of contracting breast cancer.

Because some women who say the word vagina in legislative proceedings occasionally come to regret having used the word, Part C(7) provides that there will also be mandatory counseling with counselors who have never used the word vagina in their lifetimes, and who would indeed die before they ever used such a word. Moreover the state health code is to be amended such that no woman who says the word vagina may do so out loud or in mixed company until and unless she is in a facility with full surgical capabilities. Objections that speech is not in fact a surgical procedure notwithstanding, it’s clear that the risk of saying the word vagina out loud is such that it should not be undertaken without proper medical safeguards to guarantee against any and all risks of negative consequences.

There is to be no exception in the event that a woman uses the word vagina as a result of rape, incest, or to preserve her health or ability to have future pregnancies. If women were intended to use the word vagina, there would be a word for vaginas.

Also, provision d(9)(a) of the bill would amend the current law to ensure that if any listener who hears the word vagina spoken aloud—although it may be the medically correct term for a woman’s reproductive organs—feels any religious objections to such speech, that speech may be curtailed in the interest of preserving the listener’s religious freedom as detailed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Any other marginally relevant provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution are herein rescinded as needed.

Finally, Michigan state health statutes shall be amended by provision 12(b)(6) which provides that prior to speaking the word vagina out loud, any female resident of Michigan shall undergo a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound procedure, during which she must watch such ultrasound while listening to a government-scripted speech about the grave dangers of speaking anatomically correct words, aloud, in an enlightened democracy.

Such speech will, by necessity, include the word vagina.

You can join the people who object to Wayne Schmidt’s statement.


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