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Vox: Voices for Planned Parenthood

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One of Vox's main goals is to educate the LSU and Baton Rouge community about the political issues revolving around our mission.  These issues include access to safe and reliable health care, comprehensive sex education in Louisiana high schools, continued access to FDA-approved contraception, and to secure a woman's right to choose.

 

 

 Abortion bills born in both houses

New law would ban a certain procedure

The Times-Picayune

Friday, May 18, 2007

By Bill Barrow< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">

 

BATON ROUGE -- Convening for the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a ban on a specific form of abortion, many lawmakers appear eager to adopt new laws that would reinforce Louisiana's place among the states that most aggressively restrict and regulate a woman's ability to terminate a pregnancy.

Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, and Rep. Gary Beard, R-Baton Rouge, are pushing similar bills that would establish a state ban on the procedure that opponents call partial-birth abortion and known in the medical profession as dilation and extraction, which accounts for as many as 300 of the about 11,000 abortions in Louisiana each year, according to state government figures.

Their effort comes after the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision last month in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood, in which the high court upheld the federal "Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003."

Separately, Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, is proposing that all new editions of Louisiana's "Right to Know" brochure, distributed under a 1995 law to women seeking an abortion, include a statement about the ability of a fetus to feel pain.

Each man said he has no interest in using his legislation, either in the current form or with amendments, to enact restrictions that are unconstitutional. Louisiana legislators have in the past attempted such maneuvers, effectively fishing for a court challenge with designs on seeing the high court overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that first legalized abortion nationwide.

Louisiana lawmakers first approved a near-outright abortion ban in 1991, overriding the veto of then-Gov. Buddy Roemer to enact a law that was immediately challenged and eventually struck down. Nevers introduced another ban last year, but through amendments the bill emerged as a prohibition that would take effect immediately upon any reversal of the Roe decision. That version passed both chambers with minimal opposition and Gov. Kathleen Blanco, a staunch abortion opponent, quickly signed it into law.

Some are cautious

Among the Legislature's most vocal social conservatives, Crowe said he and his colleagues have opted for last year's "lock-and-load" approach, while leaving other states, such as South Dakota, to test their wholesale bans in federal court.

Nonetheless, abortion rights supporters point to the Legislature's historical pattern as a reason to be wary, and a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta argued that the Nevers bill already goes beyond the new constitutional boundaries set in the Gonzales ruling.

Legal interpretations aside, Julie Mickelberry said, "All three of these bills show an utter disregard for women's health and safety. And they all let legislators, rather than doctors, practice medicine."

Nevers and Beard said House Bill 614 and Senate Bill 161, both of which are expected to win approval in their respective chambers' health committees in coming weeks, are designed only to give state law enforcement officials a way to prosecute those who perform what is referred to in the medical community as dilation and extraction, a procedure usually used only after the first trimester.

President Bush signed the national ban in 2003, but it was not enforceable until the Supreme Court ruling. Still, without a Louisiana statute, enforcement would be left only to federal authorities.

 In the controversial abortion procedure, a doctor makes an incision, collapsing the skull of the fetus, and the fetus is then pulled through the birth canal. Nevers' bill, which he said essentially mirrors a 1997 Louisiana law that was struck down in 1999 by federal courts, is less specific, banning "the intentional performance of a procedure . . . whereby a living fetus or infant is partially delivered or removed from the female's uterus by vaginal means and then killed prior to complete delivery or removal."

Nevers said he plans to amend his bill to address any concerns about its constitutionality.

Both the federal ban and Nevers' proposal include an exception allowing procedures necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, though not for preservation of her general health.

Nevers said he sees few problems for his bill, though Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth and chairman of the Senate's Health and Welfare Committee, said he expects at least some controversy.

Crowe's House Bill 25 has already cleared the House on a lopsided vote, but it faces a less certain path in the Senate, and Mickelberry said she maintains hope that Planned Parenthood is gaining some traction: The 83-16 vote, despite the margin, included 16 more dissents than Crowe's bill drew last year in the lower chamber before it languished in the Senate without a vote. And, the Senate is run by a doctor, Donald Hines, D-Bunkie, to whom Mickelberry plans to pitch her argument about unnecessary interference in doctor-patient communication.

Efforts to reach the Senate president for comment Thursday were not successful.

Under the bill, the "Right to Know" brochure would include this statement: "By 20 weeks of gestation, the unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain. There is evidence that by 20 weeks gestation unborn children seek to evade certain stimuli in a manner which in an infant or an adult would be interpreted to be a response to pain. Anesthesia is routinely administered to unborn children who are 20 weeks gestational age or older who undergo prenatal surgery."

The bill would also require that a woman be told of her option to view ultrasound images.

Crowe cast the measure as "informational only . . . telling a mother as much as possible so she can make an informed decision." But he also confirmed a criticism from some of his colleagues: that he's simply trying to limit abortions. "Absolutely," he said. "And I'm proud of that."  

Said Mickelberry, "We should be communicating medically accurate information."

Volume 294, No. 8, of the Journal of the American Medical Association reported: "Neither withdrawal reflexes nor hormonal stress responses to invasive procedures prove the existence of fetal pain . . . while electroencephalography suggests the capacity for functional pain perception in preterm neonates probably does not exist before 29 or 30 weeks."

It continued, "Limited or no data exist on the safety of (anesthesia) for pregnant women in the context of abortion. Anesthetic techniques currently used during fetal surgery are not directly applicable to abortion procedures."

Crowe has said he plans to have doctors testify in favor of his bill when it comes before the Senate health committee. But he acknowledged he may face difficulty getting his bill past Hines, whom he blamed for preventing a vote last year, only to add: "I don't want to make this personal and say anything that jeopardizes my bill."

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Federal Abortion Ban

 

April 18, 2007

Law Threatens Women's Health; Criminalizes Safe, Early Abortions

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the federal abortion ban in the cases Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood and Gonzales v. Carhart.  The ban, passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003, criminalizes abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy that doctors say are safe and the best to protect women's health.  Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) denounced today's ruling. 
 
"This ruling flies in the face of 30 years of Supreme Court precedent and the best interest of women’s health and safety," said PPFA Deputy Director of Litigation and Law Eve Gartner, who argued Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood.  "Today the court took away an important option for doctors who seek to provide the best and safest care to their patients.  This ruling tells women that politicians, not doctors, will make their health care decisions for them." < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">

“Today's decision is a shocking setback for women's health," added Gartner. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her dissent, ‘…the Court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety.’

When President Bush signed the federal abortion ban in 2003, PPFA, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG), the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Abortion Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union challenged it in federal district courts around the country.  Leading ob/gyns at major medical institutions testified against the ban because it would prevent them from providing the care that is best to protect their patients' health.  The < xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Nurses Association and many other medical groups oppose the federal ban.  Until now, every court that examined the ban struck it down because, among other things, it fails to protect women's health.

"This ban was driven by anti-choice politics, and unfortunately, the ruling does not respect women's health,” said PPGG President Dian Harrison.  "While the Bush administration has been appointing justices to the Supreme Court who threaten women’s health, Planned Parenthood has been focused on our top priorities: the health and safety of our patients.  We will work to ensure women are provided with the best and safest possible care under this law."

Just seven years ago, the Supreme Court had struck down a very similar abortion ban enacted in Nebraska because it did not have a health exception, with Justice O'Connor providing the critical vote that upheld protections for women's health and safety.  Since then, Justice O’Connor retired and was replaced on the court by Justice Alito.
"The new Bush court turned its back on women's health and safety with this ruling," said PPFA President Cecile Richards. "It's 2007. Americans need Supreme Court justices who recognize the importance of women's health."

For more information, visit
www.federalabortionban.org.

  

Louisiana Governor’s Program on Abstinence (GPA)< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" prefix="o" namespace="">

  • Governor Kathleen Blanco implemented an abstinence-only curriculum for junior high and high schools, after the prompting of President George W. Bush and his emphasis on abstinence-only sex education to prevent teen pregnancy and STIs among school-aged youth.

 

Out-of-wedlock births and sexually transmitted diseases have reached staggering proportions.  It is incumbent upon us to lead a fallen generation back to ordered liberty.  It’s time for a return to responsibility, healthy lifestyles, and a bright future.  It’s time for Abstinence—The New Sexual Revolution!”—GPA

 

  • In George Bush’s 2004 State of the Union address, he discussed the need for abstinence education: “We will double federal funding for abstinence programs so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.”
  • Though it is true that abstinence is the only way to guarantee a successful prevention of STIs and pregnancy, the truth is that teens have sex.  Abstinence–only education that is provided in schools is irresponsible and unrealistic.  If we do not educate the youth about sex, how will they be prepared to make their own personal decisions and healthy choices?

  

Louisiana’s Existing Anti-Choice Laws

  • On June 17, 2006 Governor Kathleen Blanco signed into law a trigger ban criminalizing almost all abortion, with life and limited health exceptions. 
  • Louisiana law prohibits the use of public funds for abortion unless the procedure is necessary to preserve the mother’s life or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
  • Money generated from the sale of specialty “Choose Life” license plates supports the activities of anti-choice “crisis pregnancy centers.”

 

< xml="true" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" prefix="st1" namespace="">U.S. Congressional Delegation

U.S. Senators:

·         Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D) is mixed-choice.

·         Sen. David Vitter (R) is anti-choice.

U.S. House of Representatives:

·         Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) is anti-choice.

·         Rep. Richard H. Baker (R) is anti-choice.

·         Rep. Charles W. Boustany (R) is anti-choice.

·         Rep. Bobby Jindal (R) is anti-choice.

·         Rep. William J. Jefferson (D) is mixed-choice.

·         Rep. Jim McCrery (R) is anti-choice.

·         Rep. Charlie Melancon (D) is anti-choice.

Governor and Legislature

·         Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) is anti-choice.

·         The Louisiana House is anti-choice; the Louisiana Senate is anti-choice.