The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed Missouri to enforce laws which restrict abortion, reports The Hill.
The court overturned a previous ruling which blocked the regulations. As a result, abortion doctors in Missouri must now maintain affiliations with local hospitals, and clinics must obtain ambulatory surgical center licenses.
In 2016, Planned Parenthood disputed the regulations in court, arguing that the restrictions served no purpose and unduly burdened women seeking abortions.
“Look no farther than Missouri to see what kind of harm courts can inflict on women’s rights and freedoms,” said Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president. “[J]udges on the 8th Circuit continue to re-write the books on abortion access. Today’s ruling threatens to eliminate abortion access at all but one health center in the state.”
Pro-life lobbyist Samuel Lee expressed a different view. Missouri’s abortion law does not jeopardize women’s access to healthcare, but in fact “protects the health and safety of women who are seeking abortions in Missouri without imposing an undue burden on them,” Lee explained.
Indeed, U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd found that a lower court improperly struck down Missouri’s regulations. That court did not consider the potential benefits of the state’s hospital affiliation requirement, Shepherd wrote in the majority opinion for the 8th Circuit.
Shepherd condemned the lower-court judge for relying on “slight implication and vague conjecture.” The lower court should instead have based its decision on “adequate information and correct application of the relevant standard.”
Shepherd’s ruling provides precedent for further restrictions on abortion. As the 8th Circuit Court’s decision demonstrates, abortion rights litigators may fail to mount a sound legal counterattack to abortion limits.
Missouri officials have forced a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Kansas City to stop performing abortions, reports local NPR affiliate KCUR. The clinic attempted to renew its operating license before August 10, but state health officials could not conduct a complete inspection of the facility.
Emily Wales, Planned Parenthood’s general counsel, believes political motivations prompted the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to shutter the clinic. “It’s hard for me to imagine how this isn’t for purposes of delay,” Wales stated.
A partial state inspection of the abortion clinic revealed that the facility failed to meet state guidelines regarding patient care. Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokeswoman Emily Miller protests that the clinic should be able to “go above and beyond” such guidelines. “That’s the best way to serve our patients,” Miller explained.
Missouri health officials, however, retain considerable control over abortion providers in the state. For example, medication abortion providers must contract with back-up ob-gyn doctors who enjoy admitting privileges at a hospital close to the abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit to block that regulation, but a federal judge dismissed the suit. Planned Parenthood had failed to show that Missouri women faced “a substantial burden” because of the regulation, the judged ruled.
Planned Parenthood’s midtown facility hopes to resume abortion procedures soon, and has hired a new abortion physician. However, the new provider lacks admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, so thanks to Missouri law, the clinic may not be able to perform abortions even if it secures a new license.
9/12/18 Update: Missouri officials now plan to renew the clinic’s license, but will require the facility to comply with additional regulations.
Republican candidate Kevin Cramer and his Democratic opponent, Heidi Heitkamp, continue to clash over abortion in North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race.
Heitkamp’s support for late-term abortion presents an easy target for Cramer, in a state where 56% of voters favor a late-term abortion ban.
Cramer recently launched a TV ad on the subject, reports The Atlantic. In a 30-second spot titled “Respecting Life,” Cramer’s pregnant daughter criticizes Heitkamp for her opposition to a late-term abortion ban in the Senate earlier this year. The ad features footage of Heitkamp celebrating with Democrat Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor after the bill failed.
“She looked like she was celebrating. Late-term abortion, can you imagine?” Cramer’s daughter asks as she places her hands on her pregnant belly.
Late-term abortion has remained at the center of North Dakota’s Senate race as Republicans have continued to highlight Heitkamp’s vacillating views on the issue. In 2012, during her first Senate contest, the Democrat stated that she opposed late-term abortion “except when necessary to save the life of the mother.” By 2015, however, she had voted to block a second-trimester abortion ban.
When John McCormack, a Weekly Standard reporter, asked Heitkamp about her evolving views, she refused to discuss the topic.
Heitkamp’s weaknesses offer hope for North Dakota Republicans, who helped Donald Trump to a 63% victory in the state in 2016. A victory for Cramer could increase Republicans’ Senate majority in November. Current polls put the contest within the margin of error: Inside Elections, a nonpartisan campaign analytics organization, has reclassified the race from “tossup” to “tilts Republican.”
President Trump plans to visit North Dakota later this week to fund-raise for Cramer. The White House had encouraged Cramer to abandon his House seat to run against Heitkamp–a political gamble which appears increasingly likely to pay off.
Like many other summer camps, Oregon’s Camp Odakoda features a swimming hole, a fire pit, and canoes. The camp’s culture, however, is unique.
“Here, no one judges you, not even a tiny bit,” explains Zander Cloud, a 16-year-old camper. “There can be people who you have the same common interests with, and it just makes you feel connected in some way, and more involved than you would sometimes do in school.”
Zander is one of 85 young adults affected by autism spectrum disorder who gathered at Camp Odakoda for a week of fun and fellowship. The camp is the only facility in the Pacific Northwest which caters specifically to youth on the autism spectrum.
Misti and Ian Moxley founded the camp in 2010 to provide more opportunities for their autistic son. “That’s what we were looking for is–where can we take our son where he can find friends that really get him, and he can understand that maybe he’s different, but he’s not less important, that he’s not less of a person, that he just has to find his people,” Misti told KATU news.
Camp Odakoda staff members work to connect campers who have similar interests. Two kids who both enjoy fishing, for example, may share a room.
The camp strives to create a stress-free environment for all youth by maintaining a high counselor-to-camper ratio, and by eliminating surprises from the daily schedule. Camp staff also enforce a no-tolerance policy with regard to teasing.
“They do not tolerate bullies at all here, so you can be whoever you want to be,” explains 14-year-old Alex Witzens. “It’s really important, ’cause I’ve been bullied a lot and it’s nice to go somewhere, for one week you won’t be bullied and you can just let loose, have fun and be yourself.”
Staff member Jonathan Chase understands the challenges faced by young adults such as Alex. Jonathan himself was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 14. “We didn’t have camps like this when I was growing up,” he told KATU. “When I became an adult, I looked back and I thought how different it would’ve been if there was somebody there who understood me, who is standing up for people who are different.”
Now, Jonathan helps teens enjoy the relationships he lacked as a child. Youth at Camp Odakoda look up to Jonathan, who has successfully navigated the transition to adulthood, and lives independently. Zander and Alex plan to follow in his footsteps by becoming camp counselors after graduation: “you get to help people and you can be really friendly,” Zander explains.
Jonathan sums up his message to youth affected by autism. “I’m here as a reminder for the kids and for the adults that where we start isn’t where we finish,” he says. “Autism isn’t a ceiling, it’s just a hurdle.”
When doctors diagnosed J.J. Hanson with terminal brain cancer, he considered sparing his family, and himself, needless pain and suffering.
“I was done,” Hanson recalled. “Would this be easier if I just gave up–if I just said, ‘This is too much of a burden on my family, the pain is difficult, I don’t want to deal with this?’ What if I just said I’ve had enough and ended it.”
Hanson passed away in December 2017–but not from a lethal dose of medication. Rather, he spent his final days vigorously opposing physician assisted suicide.
Hanson was president of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, an anti-euthanasia organization, during his battle with cancer. He ultimately chose to fight that battle to the end: “Every single day is a gift, and you can’t let that go,” Hanson explained in a video released by the organization.
Hanson received his cancer diagnosis in May 2014, after an MRI scan revealed two lesions on his left temporal lobe: evidence of Grade 4 glioblastoma. Doctors deemed the tumors inoperable, and gave Hanson four months to live.
Hanson and his wife Kristen faced “overwhelming grief” but sought a second and third opinion. They eventually located a neurosurgeon who was willing to operate on Hanson’s tumors. “We were so grateful,” Kristen recalled. “We had hope that with treatment we could get time together.”
After a successful operation, Hanson entered a clinical trial to receive chemotherapy and radiation. Initially, Hanson appeared to respond to the treatment. However, optimism soon gave way to despair: in 2014, Hanson caught a common cold, which resisted his body’s efforts to beat it back.
“Those were dark days,” Kristen told reporters. “He questioned everything–whether it was worth fighting, whether he was too much of a burden to his family and whether it would be better for everyone if he gave up.”
Ultimately, however, Hanson decided that the answer to each of those questions was “no.” He continued treatment, and by 2015 doctors found no evidence of his tumors.
“My hope and my fight is to keep [the cancer] at bay for as long as possible,” Hanson stated at the time. He had reached a clear conclusion regarding physician-assisted suicide: “You can’t unmake that choice. Once you do it, it’s done,” Hanson said.
Hanson’s heroic battle against his disease and against euthanasia won him valuable time with his family. Hanson lived to welcome his newborn son Lucas into the world. “Life was good,” Kristen told The Washington Post. “It was a gift to have all that time that we never expected.”
Although Hanson eventually passed away in 2017 after his cancer returned, Kristen feels grateful that her husband chose to live his life to its natural conclusion.
“It was time I would never give back for anything,” she said.