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.
In a major victory for the pro-life movement in Argentina, Pope Francis’ home country has refused to legalize elective abortion, reports CNN. The Argentine Senate voted down a bill which would have enabled women to abort their babies in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The measure failed by a seven-vote margin, 38 to 31.
The public announcement of the vote sparked celebrations by pro-life demonstrators, who launched fireworks outside of Argentina’s National Congress building in Buenos Aires. Crowds of people donned blue, a color which symbolizes Argentina’s “save both lives” movement, and cheered when they heard the Senate’s official verdict.
In the aftermath of the announcement, some pro-abortion protesters clashed with police, who detained at least eight people. Demonstrators lobbed rocks and bottles at security forces, who attempted to quell the unrest with tear gas and water cannons.
The abortion bill had narrowly passed through Argentina’s lower house in June, and lawmakers expected the measure to face even greater opposition in the more conservative Senate. The weekend before the vote, a senator from Argentina’s opposition party withdrew her endorsement of the bill.
During the Senate debate, the Catholic Church conducted a “Mass for Life” in Buenos Aires, while pro-abortion demonstrators rallied in front of the Congress building.
Conservative lawmaker Marta Varela highlighted Argentina’s robust pro-life movement while addressing her colleagues in the Senate. “Today I feel like never before that I’m part of a wide sector of our people who defend life in general, from the moment of conception and until death,” she stated.
In March, as proceedings on the abortion bill began, Pope Francis had urged his homeland to “make a contribution in defense of life and justice.” Thanks to the integrity of Argentina’s pro-life senators, the country has done just that.
As Argentina’s Senate prepares to debate a bill on expanding abortion access, hundreds of physicians have demonstrated against infanticide, reports the Voice of America. Doctors carried signs stating, “I’m a doctor, not a murderer,” and laid white medical coats in front of the presidential palace.
Doctors for Life, which boasts 1,000 members, has helped organize the pro-life demonstrations. Other organizations which oppose the abortion measure include Argentina’s Academy of Medicine, which issued a statement affirming the personhood of unborn children: “to destroy a human embryo means impeding the birth of a human being,” the statement reads. “Nothing good can come when society chooses death as a solution.”
Officials from nearly 300 medical centers and private hospitals have also decried the proposed legislation, which would legalize abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, and prohibit medical institutions from refusing to perform abortion procedures.
“The defense of life is at the very foundation of our institution,” explained Ernesto Beruti, an obstetrician at Austral University Hospital. “We see ever more doctors joining [the protests].”
Should Argentina’s proposed measure become law, pro-life doctors would have to register as conscientious objectors with government authorities. As a result, some physicians fear professional discrimination and ostracism from colleagues who favor abortion.
Even pro-abortion doctors could face legal consequences under the statute, if they fail to meet the measure’s five-day deadline for responding to an abortion request. “Doctors can’t work under the threat of prison time,” stated Maria de los Angeles Carmona, head of gynecology at Eva Peron Hospital, a government-run institution.
Despite the threat posed by Argentina’s abortion bill, pro-life physicians in the country remain committed to their values. “How far are we willing to go to? Jail,” Ernesto Beruti stated. “Even if the law is passed, I’m not going to eliminate the life of a human being. The most important right is the right to live.”
A proposal to ban state-funded abortions via a state constitutional amendment will appear on Oregon’s ballot this fall, reports The Oregonian. According to state election workers, supporters of the proposal submitted 117,799 valid signatures. Initiatives which involve a constitutional amendment require at least 117,578 signatures to appear on the ballot.
Marylin Shannon, a chief petitioner for the taxpayer-funded abortion ban, clarified the proposal’s impact on abortion providers in Oregon. “We’re hoping we’ll win on the issue,” Shannon stated. “What we really want people to know is that this measure will not outlaw abortion in Oregon. It only stops the public funding of it.”
Nevertheless, pro-abortion groups have described the measure in sweeping terms. “The right to health care is the foundation of freedom and opportunity for women and their families,” said Grayson Dempsey, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, an abortion rights group.
The state-funded abortion ban will likely appear on Oregon’s ballot as Measure 106. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon has joined NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon in an effort to rally public employee unions against Measure 106. Public employee union workers receive health insurance plans which use tax dollars to cover abortions.
However, pro-abortion big money groups may struggle to defeat Measure 106, which enjoys considerable grassroots support, according to Jeff Jimmerson, the initiative’s chief sponsor. “It’s been a truly monumental effort, lasting six-plus years [and] thousands of volunteers,” Jimmerson stated.
The dedication of activists like Jimmerson brings Oregon’s pro-life community one step closer to implementing constitutional protections for unborn children in the state.