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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Va Sen. Steve Martin (R) Leads the Fight in War on Women

Virginia Republican Says A Pregnant Woman Is Just A 'Host,' Though 'Some Refer To Them As Mothers'


Another Republican shows his utter contempt for women, referring to them as "the child's host (some refer to them as mothers)."  Note that Sen. Steve Martin (R, of course) has attempted to cover his tracks, changing "the child's host" language to "the bearer of the child." Unfortunately for Martin, there's such a thing as "screen shots," so he can run but he can't hide.  Here's the current language on his page...we'll see how many more times he tries to change it, or delete it or whatever. Also, I can't wait to hear the condemnations from other Virginia Republicans for Martin's appalling misogyny.

It's not surprising that a republican would have so little regard for women. It's not surprising he's from the South. What is surprising is that misogynists like him are elected to public office.

A pregnant woman is just a "host" that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views.

Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women's bodies on his Facebook wall last week in response to a critical Valentine's Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates.

"I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive," Martin wrote.   "However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it."   Martin then changed his post on Monday afternoon to refer to the woman as the "bearer of the child" instead of the "host."

Here is Martin's original post.

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 Martin voted for Virginia's mandatory ultrasound bill and supported a fetal personhood bill, which would ban all abortions and could affect the legality of some forms of contraception. The Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition had sent him a Valentine's Day card asking him to protect women's reproductive health options, "including preventing unwanted pregnancies, raising healthy children and choosing safe, legal abortion."
Martin reacted strongly to their letter.

"If it's your expectation that I should support such nonsense, I will be breaking your heart," he wrote. "You can count on me to never get in the way of you 'preventing an unintentional pregnancy.' I'm not actually sure what that means, because if it's 'unintentional' you must have been trying to prevent it."

Martin said Monday that he edited the original wording calling women hosts because people took it the wrong way, even though he felt it was clear he was being sarcastic. "I don't see how anyone could have taken it the wrong way," he said. "It was me playing their argument back to them. Obviously I consider pregnant women to be mothers."

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told The Huffington Post in an email that Martin's rant reveals the "contempt" that anti-abortion lawmakers have for women.

"Sen. Steve Martin obviously has zero understanding of the reality of reproductive choice and what it means for women to have control over their bodies, families, and lives," Keene said. "His remarks demonstrate what exactly these extreme lawmakers mean when they talk about 'personhood' - that pregnant women are no more than vessels. Even more outrageous, he also fails to understand how he as a lawmaker can help empower women to reduce unintended pregnancies -- something that should be a common goal for all."

This story has been updated with news that Martin changed his post and with a statement from Martin.

A pregnant woman is just a "host" that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, so says Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R)
Another clueless Republican male politician. Like Todd Akin (Republican; U.S. Representative for Missouri's 2nd congressional district, running for U.S. Senate seat) who remarked:  "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Republicans voted twice to slash federal family planning funds for low-income women, moved to prevent women from using their own money to buy insurance plans that cover abortion, introduced legislation that would force women to have ultrasounds before receiving an abortion and, most recently, passed a bill that will allow hospitals to refuse to perform emergency abortions for women with life-threatening pregnancy complications.

This is not about balancing the budget nor bringing down the debt.   This is about Republicans forcing their antiquated quasi-religious agenda down the throats of American women.   This is about trading good medicine for bad religion.

SICKO Virginia Republicans

The Views Of Virginia Republicans, state Senator Dick Black and Delegate Barbara Comstock.   Black has a controversial record on rape, women’s health, slavery, and LGBT rights, Comstock stands for ultra-conservative policies, too, particularly when it comes to restricting abortion and women’s health.

1. Abortion is like slavery and the Holocaust: According to Black, contraception is “baby pesticide” and a “toxic method of eliminating a child” (even though contraception prevents abortions). In addition to saying abortion is worse than slavery, Black has compared abortion clinics to Nazi concentration camps. Without making such stark comparisons, Comstock drew comparisons between abortion, infanticide, and execution in a 2008 NBC interview.

2. Denying abortion even if it puts the mother at risk: Comstock answered simply that the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade should be overturned to deny abortions even if the mother’s health is threatened. She insisted that the woman be forced to carry to term, even if late-term pregnancy complications put lives in danger.

3. Allowing guns in bars: Comstock’s record on guns has earned her an “A” NRA rating. Her voting record on guns include allowing firearms inside bars that serve alcohol. The bill passed the legislature, making Virginia one of at least six states permitting loaded guns in some of the most dangerous circumstances.

4. Spousal rape and military rape is fine: Mother Jones pointed out that Black defended spousal rape, saying he “did not know how on earth you could validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape, when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth, there’s no injury, there’s no separation or anything.” After that comment, Black only clarified he was not “taking a position for or against marital rape.” Before that, Black — a former military prosecutor — dismissed rape in the military “as predictable as human nature.” “Think of yourself at 25,” he said. “Wouldn’t you love to have a group of 19-year-old girls under your control, day in, day out?”

5. Same-sex couples pose danger to the public In Virginia’s state Senate, Black promoted a slew of bills discriminating against gay men and women.   On gay people serving in the military, Black has said “It’s a question of whether we will force soldiers to bond with homosexuals in the showers and the barracks, knowing that doing so will result in sexual bullying, male rape and forcible sodomy.”   He has proposed a bill to ban same-sex couples from adopting children, using the reasoning that they are more likely to be violent and suicidal. He has attempted to ban same-sex couples from applying for public home loans. Black has even said public discussion of gay relationships puts children at risk of contracting HIV.    Polgyamy, he says, is “more natural” than being gay.
Once again, Republicans forcing their antiquated quasi-religious agenda down the throats of American women.   This is about trading good medicine for bad religion.  

 Republicans Say There Is No War On Women, It's Not Their First Lie

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Republican legislators have introduced a wide array of laws designed to either outlaw abortion outright or to discourage it by making ridiculous and sometimes humiliating requirements of women who might consider having a pregnancy terminated.   These include so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) regulations.

Republicans in the House proposed a bill (HR 1179) called “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011.”   The bill, introduced by Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb), allows health care providers and pharmacists to deny birth control to women if it conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.   The Senate is expected to vote on its version of HR 1179 during the week of February 27 where it is known as S. 1467, whose primary sponsor is Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and has become an amendment to Transportation Authorization Bill S. 1813.   The Blunt Amendment was defeated in the Senate on a narrow vote of 51 to 48 on March 1, 2012.

In Texas, Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, has proposed a bill (House Bill 2988) that would prevent any abortion except in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother.

In Georgia, a bill, the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (SB 209) sponsored by Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, would close all abortion clinics in the state and require abortions to be performed in hospitals. This bill was tabled by the rules committee on March 11, 2011.

 South Dakota wants to require “spiritual” counseling (House Bill 1217) at religious centers before allowing an abortion to take place.   The bill was signed into law in March 2011 and challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU in May.  We still haven’t heard what the courts will decide in this case (though a federal judge has suspended most of the law in the interim) and Republicans aren’t waiting to find out.   The South Dakota House of Representatives approved a bill on February 13 sponsored by Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon that changes counseling requirements. Women seeking abortions will still have to wait 72 hours and endure spiritual counseling but now requires those counselors be licensed.   The consulting doctor will now have to decide if it is likely the woman will develop mental health problems as a result of the abortion.   As a side note, in both 2006 and 2008 voters rejected attempts to outlaw most abortions.

Also in South Dakota, H.B. 1166, which was enacted in 2005, was, says, billed as an “informed consent law,” but what it really mandated was misinformation, requiring doctors “to tell a woman seeking an abortion that she faces an ‘increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide,’ a claim for which there is absolutely no scientific or medical evidence.” On September 2, 2011, “Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out important provisions of a South Dakota law that literally forced doctors to lie to their patients.”

The Texas State House of Representatives has passed the Sonogram Bill (HB 15), a measure requiring women to get a sonogram before ending a pregnancy, forcing even victims of rape to have a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure. Gov. Rick Perry has signed the bill into law, which takes effect September 1, 2011. There are exceptions in cases of rape and incest. As Planned Parenthood reports: “While a woman can opt-out of seeing the sonogram image and hearing the heart tone, she cannot opt-out of a medically unnecessary sonogram, nor can she opt-out of the fetal description except within very narrow parameters for situations of rape, incest, judicial bypasses, and fetal anomalies.”

Also from Texas, the passage of SB 257, passed by House and Senate on May 5, 2011 and signed by the governor on May 17, 2011 provides for “Choose Life” license plates. As explained by Planned Parenthood: “The state will now produce “Choose Life” license plates and distribute revenue from the sale of the plates to anti-choice groups such as crisis pregnancy centers (CPC). The “Alternative to Abortion” program currently receives $4 million dollars a year in taxpayer money through the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) that is distributed to CPCs. CPC are unregulated anti-choice organizations that do not provide any medical services and are known to spend nearly half of the tax dollars they receive on advertising and administrative costs, not client services.”

Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin has introduced a bill that would not only make abortion illegal but would make miscarriages illegal.

Indiana (House Bill 1210) wants to force doctors to lie to women about abortion causing breast cancer despite medical evidence to the contrary in order to discourage women from having abortions Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” (HR 3) that would limit the rape exemption for abortion to “forcible rape” which would have defined many rapes, for example, statutory rape of a minor, as non-forcible and therefore not covered by federal assistance.   Mother Jones has reported another aspect of this legislation, that the IRS would be turned into abortion-cops: “Were this to become law, people could end up in an audit, the subject of which could be abortion, rape, and incest,” says Christopher Bergin, the head of Tax Analysts, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit tax policy group. “If you pass the law like this, the IRS would be required to enforce it.”

Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) introduced a bill (HR 358 – the “Protect Life Act”) would allow states to deny insurance coverage for birth control meaning hospitals could deny abortion procedures and transport to a facility that would provide a woman with an abortion even if failure to provide an abortion would mean the death of the woman. The “Let Women Die Act” passed the House on 10/13/11.

Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, in what he calls a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, wants to make both women and doctors who have and perform abortions guilty of the crime of “feticide”.    This “personhood amendment” (House Bill 587)would make no exceptions for cases of danger to the health of the mother, incest or rape but would for “medically necessary” abortions. Feticide is currently punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison. LaBruzzo once wanted to pay poor women $1,000 to have their tubes tied because he was afraid they were “reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government,” says   Update: HB 587 became HB 645 on May 25, 2011 and to the relief of sane people everywhere eventually derailed in the state House.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed (by a 234-182 vote) an amendment sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC) prohibiting teaching hospitals from receiving federal funding if they teach doctors how to perform abortions.   Unfortunately, as a result of this legislation new physicians will not receive the training needed to save women’s lives.   As puts it, “234 members of the House voted to ban the teaching of medical procedures that are vital in saving the lives of women who have miscarried, or have complications that endanger their health, or who aren’t even pregnant.”

In Ohio, Janet Porter’s “Heartbeat Bill” criminalizing abortion and which was backed by Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann, passed the Ohio State House on June 28, 2011.   “It prohibits abortions after only about six weeks, a time when many women do not yet even know they are pregnant,” said Armond Budish, leader of the Democratic caucus in the House.   The bill is currently being held up in the Senate. See the latest update on Porter’s antics at Right Wing Watch.

Also in Ohio, The state budget, approved June 28, 2011 by the Senate, bars state hospitals from performing abortions.   Mother Jones reports that “Every abortion provider in the state of Kansas has been denied a license to continue operating as of July 1 [2011].”   This is the result, according to Mother Jones, of passage in April of a law “directing the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to author new facility standards for abortion clinics, which the staunchly anti-abortion GOP governor, Sam Brownback, signed into law on May 16.”    It turns out that if you want to know how these new rules were developed, you can’t, because the Republicans don’t want to tell you, and won’t.

On July 1, 2011 a budget impasse shut down the government of the state of Minnesota.   The Republican majorities in the house and senate refuse to negotiate in good faith, insisting that a list of social issues be included in the budget, including abortion restrictions.

In Arizona, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 2443 sponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Montenegro, on February 21, 2011.   The bill, if passed into law, would criminalize abortions being performed because of the race or sex of the fetus. Montenegro claims that “there are targeted communities that the abortion industry targets.”   If made law, HB 2443 would require that “women seeking abortions in Arizona will have to sign a statement declaring that race or sex was not the reason they sought the procedure.”

Also from Arizona, there is House Bill 2036 which would ban abortions after 20 weeks.   It was passed by the Senate on March 29, 2012 and will now go before the House for consideration.   As Mother Jones reports, the legislation “is modeled on the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” designed by the National Right to Life Committee” and the ACLU has called it the “most extreme bill of its kind.”   Update: Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2036 on April 12, 2012, which as Raw Story points out, “takes Nebraska’s 20-week abortion ban one step further by starting the clock on pregnancies at the woman’s last last menstrual period, which could be two weeks before fertilization.”   In other words, your pregnancy legally begins before conception!   Take that, science!

And another gem from Arizona is House Bill 2800, introduced in February and now referred to the Senate Rules Committee, which would deprive Planned Parenthood of public funds, depriving women of healthcare unrelated to abortion. Update [4.24.12]: the Arizona State Senate approved the bill on Tuesday, April 24; the House has previously approved it. Planned Parenthood says the ban would affect some 19,000 women in the state.

Oh, and we can’t forget Arizona’s House Bill 2625, which as reports, “would allow companies to opt out of covering contraception in their health-care plans for religious reasons,” proving once and for all that Arizona Republicans are legislating religion in violation of the Constitution, and that their religion trumps your beliefs.

In Illinois Rep. Darlene Senger, R-Naperville in March 2011 submitted a bill – anti-abortion legislation mind, which would require clinics that perform more than 50 abortions a year to meet the same regulatory requirements as other medical outpatient surgery clinics – to the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee.    Why, you ask?   Because the agriculture committee is dominated by conservative downstate Democrats and Republicans. And guess what?    They passed it:  unanimously.

In Florida, during a debate about a bill “that would prohibit governments from deducting union dues from a worker’s paycheck,” Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) said “if my wife’s uterus was incorporate” the legislature “would be talking about deregulating.”   Rep. Randolph was then taken to task for using the word “uterus” by the House leadership, which said that the word was “language that would be considered inappropriate for children and other guests.”

 In Florida Republicans passed House Bill 501 redistributes funds from “Choose Life” license plates to the Ocala-based Choose Life, Inc, which the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates says will “result in more funds being given to ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ anti-abortion organizations that falsely market themselves as professional health facilities.”

In Virginia, RH Reality Check reports that “Governor Bob McDonnell found time to issue regulations for first trimester abortion providers that go well beyond any existing regulations seen in other states, including South Carolina, according to the Virginia Coalition to Protect Women’s Health.”   Apparently, these “draft” regulations ” (SB 924) were formulated under an emergency process that bypasses public review and comment periods and standard economic assessments for new regulations and is undemocratic on its face.”   They will be put into effect up to 18 months to 2 years in advance of any permanent regulations.   In a blatant attempt to eliminate first trimester abortions, reports RH Reality Check, the regulations “contain what can only be called ridiculous mandates for abortion providers, such as requiring specific sizes of rooms and lengths of hallways which have nothing to do with either patient care or safety.” See also the article in Mother Jones about how these new rules would affect the Falls Church Planned Parenthood Clinic.

In the U.S. House the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) otherwise known as HR 3541, is being called a “civil rights” bill by its Republican sponsors. Under this bill, physicians would be banned from performing abortions based on the race of the fetus, something that does not happen anyway, apparently, since nobody could offer any evidence that it did. reports that “A Cabarrus County lawmaker wants to bring back public hangings in North Carolina as a deterrent to crime, and he says doctors who perform abortions should be in the line to the gallows.”   According to WRAL, “Republican Rep. Larry Pittman, who was appointed to the District 82 House seat in October, expressed his views in an email sent Wednesday to every member of the General Assembly.” Pittman said in his email: “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them.   For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.” Pittman calls himself a pastor and says he didn’t mean to send the email to everybody, only to Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. Republicans need to learn to be careful around demon-technology.

In Iowa, House File 2298, introduced by Rep. Kim Pearson, R-Pleasant Hill, would criminalize all abortions, including those resulting from rape and incest and would make no exceptions for the life of the mother when put at risk by her pregnancy.   The punishment for ending a life (excepting of course the life of a mother) would be life in prison and women who miscarry will face criminal investigation.

In Georgia, Senate Bill 434, sponsored by Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, (he proposed calling it the “Federal Abortion Mandate Opt-Out Act”) would ban healthcare providers from covering abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.
Also in Georgia, Senate Bill 438, sponsored by Sen. Mike Crane (R-Newman), would “provide that no health insurance plan for employees of the state shall offer coverage for abortion services.”

Again in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on February 15, 2012, “A bill to limit abortions is also being considered in the House. House Bill 954, sponsored by Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, was filed last week and is what is commonly referred to as a ‘fetal pain’ bill. It says that a fetus can react to pain at 20 weeks, and it seeks to outlaw abortions at or past 20 weeks of pregnancy.”

Kansas Republicans have unleashed a blitzkrieg on women’s reproductive rights.   A Kansas house subcommittee will began considering a bill Wednesday that draws inspiration from anti-abortion laws in Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona.   Reports HuffPo: “The bill includes provisions similar to those found in other state laws now facing federal lawsuits, including Texas’ requirement that the mother hear the fetal heartbeat, and Oklahoma’s mandate that mothers be told about a potential risk of breast cancer with an abortion.   It also would replicate Arizona’s provision prohibiting tax deductions for abortion-related groups.” Women would also have to undergo a sonogram before having an abortion.   The bill’s sponsor is Kansas’ House Federal and State Affairs Committee.   The Kansas City Star reports that “The bill is one of four abortion-related measures pending in the Legislature.”

Think Progress reports that “In the escalating war on women’s rights in statehouse across the country, Iowa state Rep. Kim Pearson (R) may have just dropped the biggest bomb yet.” House File 2298 introduces the crime of “Fetacide”: “Any person who intentionally terminates a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary onsent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy where death of the fetus results, commits feticide.   Feticide is a class “C” “A” felony.   Any person who attempts to intentionally terminate a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after the end of the second trimester of the pregnancy where death of the fetus does not result, commits attempted feticide. Attempted feticide is a class “D” “B” felony.”   A class A felony is punishable by life in prison, class B by 25 years.   Keep in mind abortion is legal in the United States (see Roe v. Wade).

Louisiana seems intent on following the general Republican practice of taking extreme stances against abortion.   Case in point: a new piece of legislation (SB 330), filed March 1, 2012 by Sen. Rick Ward III, D-Maringouin, would outlaw abortion by anyone but a licensed physician and label any abortion performed “by any individual who is not a physician licensed by the state of Louisiana” would be deemed a brand new crime: “dismemberment” (“aggravated criminal abortion by dismemberment” to be precise). Violators, reports, “would face a prison term of one to five years, a fine of $5,000 to $50,000 or a jail sentence and a fine.” The bill “defines a physician as someone who holds a medical or an osteopathic degree from a medical college in ‘good standing with the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners’ and has a license, permit, certification or registration issued by the board to practice medicine in the state.”

Also in Louisiana, reports Planned Parenthood, “House Concurrent Resolution 54, by Rep. Frank Hoffman (West Monroe – R), aimed to encourage Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, but was tied up in Senate Finance at the close of the [2011 legislative] session” which ended June 23, 2011. Hoffman claims, reports, that “that giving the organization federal funding for services such as screenings for breast and cervical cancer indirectly helps Planned Parenthood provide abortions.”

A last item from Louisiana: On July 6, 2011, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law Rep. Frank Hoffman’s HB 636. As Planned Parenthood reports: “HB 636 requires Abortion providers to post coercion prevention/abortion alternative signs and gives DHH the authority to develop a new abortion alternatives website.   Visitors to the website will not receive comprehensive information about pregnancy options; agencies that provide comprehensive pregnancy options education or provide abortion care will not be allowed to post information on the site.”

A New York Times editorial calls into question a recent Republican brainstorm on Capitol Hill: “The Judiciary Committee in the Republican-controlled House held a hearing to promote a mean-spirited and constitutionally suspect bill called the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act.”   This bill would create “a mandatory parental notification requirement and 24-hour waiting period on women under 18 who travel outside their home state” to get an abortion and punish anyone who helps the minor with “criminal and civil penalties that include up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.” As the editorial points out, “It is both an attack on women’s rights and on the basic principles of federalism.”  And of course, it won’t create one single job.

In what can only be seen as a punitive and hateful punishment of women who have abortions, Georgia Republican Rep. Terry England, in support of a bill which would ban abortions after 20 weeks (HR 954), says (video here) that women should be forced to carry dead fetuses to term.  Why?   Because cows and pigs have to do it and that’s apparently how his god wants it.   Never mind the health risk to mothers being forced to carry dead fetuses to term. Republicans hate mothers and want them to die early and often.

In Tennessee, in yet another attempt to shame and punish women and doctor’s who have the audacity to disagree with fundamentalist religious views, the Life Defense Act of 2012 (H.B. 3808) would reveal the names not only of doctors who perform abortions but would also identify women who have abortions, posting that information on the Internet.   According to HuffPo, the information revealed would include the woman’s “age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant.”   The legislation is sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesboro) after it was suggested by Tennessee Right To Life.   Since Republicans control both House and Senate, the bill will in all likelihood pass, despite the ruling of the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000 that abortion is a right protected by the state constitution.

From Alaska comes HB 363, which, as Planned Parenthood tells us, “forbids full disclosure of pregnancy options and referrals for abortions, in flagrant violation of requirements made by federal funding laws,” further pointing out that “[a]bortion is a fundamental right in Alaska, as protected by two State Supreme Court rulings in 1997 and 2001.   Any law limiting access, particularly one such as HB363 that targets poor women, is an attack on our Alaskan values: individual freedom from government interference, privacy and fair treatment under the law.”

In the TRAP department, Minnesota Republicans want to prove to America they’re as hateful as any GOP misogynist when, says MPR,    “The Senate Health and Human Services Committee [on February 27, 2012] advanced two bills that would place restrictions on clinics that provide abortions.” S.F. 1912 (H.F. 2341), authored by Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-Brainerd, would ban doctors from administering RU486 without being present in the room (currently it can be done by webcam) on the grounds that it is deadly, yet as the StarTribune reports,   “Opponents countered that the death rate from medication abortions is approximately one out of every 100,000 women who take RU-486. The death rate for Viagra, by contrast, is approximately 5 for every 100,000.” An attempt by “Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, offered an amendment to the bill that would have put men’s sexual activity under the same scrutiny as women’s. Her amendment would require medical supervision when men take Viagra.” The Republican dominated House voted down the amendment 95-28, showing the true punitive purpose behind the bill. Governor Mark Dayton (D) vetoed the bill, pointing out that it targets “only facilities which provide abortions.”

The other bill, S.F. 1921 (H.F. 2340), authored by Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, would require facilities that perform 10 or more abortions per month to be licensed and subject to random inspections. On April 18, 2012, the bills passed the Minnesota House and Senate. yet Minnesota does not require licensing of clinics providing outpatient surgery. As MRP reminds us, “Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed several abortion bills during last year’s legislative session.” The good news is that the state legislature lacks the votes to overturn a veto. Currently, at least six states, including North Dakota and South Dakota, have bans on so-called “webcam abortions.”

Wisconsin Republicans are convinced that women are being coerced into having abortions and they are determined to put a stop to it.    Their answer is SB 306, “Voluntary and informed consent and information on domestic abuse services”, authored by Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Rep. Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh). The bill also “protects” women from RU-486 (but not men from Viagra). SB 306 was signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker on April 6, 2012. As a result, Planned Parenthood has done exactly what Wisconsin Republicans desire and suspended non-surgical abortions in Wisconsin. The lesson is: TRAP laws work. Rose v. Wade says abortion is legal; TRAP laws make it impossible in practice.

Also in Wisconsin on April 6, 2012: Gov. Scott Walker signed into law SB 92 “relating to: prohibiting coverage of 2abortions through health plans sold through exchanges.” This is an anti-Obamacare bill, pure and simple, and it states “This bill prohibits a qualified health plan offered through any exchange operating in this state from covering any abortion the performance of which is ineligible for funding from the state, a local government, or a long-term care district or from federal funds passing through the state treasury.“

In Mississippi Republicans think they have found a way to eliminate abortion in their state without directly challenging Roe v. Wade: Having said that he plans to make his state abortion-free (the state already has only one abortion clinic), Gov. Phil Bryant signed Mississippi House Bill 1390 on April 16, 2012, which requires all physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and board certification in obstetrics and gynecology. Bryant said: “I believe that all human life is precious, and as governor, I will work to ensure that the lives of the born and unborn are protected in Mississippi,” Apparently, the lives of mothers aren’t important in Mississippi. State Rep. Adrienne Wooten (D-Jackson) told the men in the House:”Now, if you’re that concerned about unplanned pregnancies, go get snipped,” The bill takes effect July 1, 2012.

That’s not all from Mississippi. Planned Parenthood tells us that “In addition to the abortion law signed by Bryant today, on Tuesday the House passed a backdoor “personhood” amendment to a bill intended to protect Mississippi children. If enacted, the amended bill could outlaw birth control, infertility treatments and all abortions — no exceptions. After passing the House, Senate Bill 2771 is now in the Senate for a concurrence vote.”

In Ohio, Republicans are about defund Planned Parenthood, having made certain that Gov. John Kasich’s (R) mid-budget review bill contains language that prevents the organization from receiving federal funding worth $1.7 million because the funding is administered by the state Department of Health (blame and shame for the language should attach itself to Rep. Kristina Roegner of Hudson, Rep. Cliff Rosenberger of Clinton County and House Finance Chairman Rep. Ron Amstutz of Wooster).   This is supposed to be a move to stop abortions but the money can’t be used for abortions (and only 3 of the state’s 37 clinics actually provide abortion services) so in fact it is a blatant attack on Planned Parenthood itself and therefore against Ohio women. reports that “The budget bill is on a fast track, with majority-party GOP lawmakers expected to pass the legislation before Memorial Day.”

Arguing that it is “morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions,” Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind, introduced a bill (HR 217) in the U.S. House of Representatives to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, despite the many other services Planned Parenthood provides to both men and women, including contraception and STD testing.

Legalizing the Murder of Abortion Doctors

South Dakota flirted with a law to make the murder of an abortion doctor legal as self-defense.

When South Dakota was forced to drop the idea of murdering abortion doctors, Nebraska and Iowa picked up the idea
See also HB 3308 Life Defense Act of 2012 above, which has implications in this regard.

Abstinence Education

A total of 37 states mandate abstinence education while contraception falls increasingly under attack by Republican legislatures.   According to the Guttmacher Report, “Mississippi, which had long mandated abstinence education, adopted provisions that make it more difficult for a school district to include other subjects, such as contraception, in order to offer a more comprehensive curriculum.   A district will now need to get specific permission to do so from the state department of education.”

According to the Guttmacher Report, “A new requirement enacted in North Dakota mandates that the health education provided in the state include information on the benefits of abstinence “until and within marriage.”

 Utah, unsurprisingly, has opted for abstinence-only sex ed, which really is kind of the antithesis of sex-ed, isn’t it?   But that is precisely what the state legislature has done – it has voted that the birds and the bees are X-rated and have no role in schools.

If HB 363, sponsored by Rep. Bill Wright, is signed into law, schools won’t be able to teach children about contraception. It is unknown if Gov. Gary Herbert will sign the bill.

The Taliban has taken over Tennessee.    From ThinkProgress: “Senate passed SB 3310 (HB 3621), a bill to update the state’s abstinence-based sex education curriculum to define holding hands and kissing as ‘gateway sexual activities.’   Just one senator voted against the legislation; 28 voted in favor.”   This is Tennessee’s answer to increased Teenage pregnancy: not promotion of contraception; just don’t hold hands. Welcome to Afghanistan, Tennessee. The law takes effect July 1, 2012, otherwise and henceforth and forever known as Talibanesseee Day.

“Personhood Laws” and Fetal Rights and Mandatory Ultrasounds

In 2011 the trend in anti-abortion legislation was passage of laws that would give fertilized eggs the rights of “personhood” – in other words, fertilized eggs would have the same rights as you or me – a blatant ploy to attack women’s reproductive rights.

Florida, Montana and Ohio will have “personhood” on the ballot in 2012 and according to CNN “efforts in at least five other states are in the planning stages.” Mississippi has just rejected one such extremist measure and Colorado and South Dakota have also rejected them.   Robin Marty at RH Reality Check examines 20-week bans and points to the flaw at the heart of this type of legislation.   In 2012, mandatory ultrasounds have become the rage. However, Republican legislators seem to be realizing that voters aren’t exactly jumping on the bandwagon.

In Iowa a pregnant woman was arrested for falling down a flight of stairs.   Yes, for falling down a flight of stairs. You see, following a fight on the phone with her husband, Christine Taylor fell down a flight of.   Like any responsible pregnant woman would, she went to the hospital to check on the fetus – and was arrested thanks to one of the many state laws that grant fetuses rights separate from the mother.   Iowa has a “feticide” law that pertains to the second trimester and beyond, and since Taylor confessed that she had contemplated abortion but had chosen to have the baby, the nurse and doctor at the hospital decided to phone the police and accuse her of trying to terminate her pregnancy illegally.   She was fortunate not to be charged with a crime – for falling down the stairs.

Nebraska banned abortions after 20 weeks on the unscientific grounds that fetuses feel pain at that gestational age.    Shortly thereafter, Danielle Deaver discovered at 22 weeks she had a pregnancy that could not result in a living baby.   Yet Nebraska law denied her an abortion.   Nebraska is not alone, and Deaver will not be alone.   Legislators in 12 other states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oregon — are considering similar laws.   But banning abortion could not save Deaver’s fetus: With undeveloped lungs, the baby likely would never survive outside the womb, and because all the amniotic fluid had drained, the tiny growing fetus slowly would be crushed by the uterus walls. On Dec. 8, Deaver delivered 1-pound, 10-ounce Elizabeth, who, as doctors had predicted, lived for only 15 minutes outside the womb.

Idaho is the latest state, inspired by Nebraska’s example, to put such a law on the books. Senate Bill 1165 bans abortion after 20 weeks but leaves no loophole even for cases of rape.   Their justification?   The bill’s House sponsor, state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, told legislators that the “hand of the Almighty” was at work. “His ways are higher than our ways,” Crane said. “He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples. And Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton says, “Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked “It didn’t ask to be here.   It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own.”[...]

On February 11, 2011, the North Dakota House of Representatives passed House Bill 1450; a bill which seeking to define a fertilized egg as a human being.    As Planned Parenthood reports, “HB 1450 is backed by a national activist group, Personhood USA, working to make North Dakota the epicenter of a heated national debate.”

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 94 to 2 to a ban on abortion’s later than 20 weeks of gestation similar to Nebraska’s in what it called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Bill 1888 was signed into law in April 2011 by Republican governor Mary Fallin, who signed every anti-abortion bill that came to her desk in 2011.   Oklahoma became the third state “to restrict abortions on the basis of fetal pain” (joining Kansas and Nebraska) reported the Oklahoman at the time.

A personhood bill in Louisiana sponsored by Republican State Rep. John LaBruzzo that would have banned all abortions in the state was defeated when a House vote sent it to the House Appropriations Committee, which shelved the measure.   This is not the end, however, as this fall a referendum on a personhood amendment.

Ohio has joined the personhood amendment sweepstakes. Personhood Ohio is gathering signatures to add an abortion ban to the state’s constitution in 2012, defining as a person even fertilization of an egg.    Even a fertilized egg apparently as inalienable rights.

The measure would not only ban abortion, but contraception. Personhood Ohio hasn’t announced any plans to see to the caring of all the resultant births.

In Virginia, State Del. C Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock) described abortion as nothing more than a “lifestyle convenience” for women during a debate in support of a bill (SB 484) that would require women to receive trans-vaginal ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion.   The patient will be shown not only an image of the fetus but the audio of its heartbeat.   The Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill, making Virginia the seventh state to require such ultrasounds.   Texas and Iowa are also considering such measures.

A recent development is the sudden oppositionby Governor Bob McDonnell to the trans-vaginal ultrasound provision.  The bill now mandates external ultrasound.   The bill will now go back to the Senate.

In Arizona, Republican social conservatism has reached new heights in the “punish women for even thinking about it” frenzy. This bill almost requires its own category. State Rep. Terri Proud (R-Tucson), in an email to Arizona legislators, said that wants women to be forced to watch an abortion before having one. “Personally I’d like to make a law that mandates a woman watch an abortion being performed prior to having a “surgical procedure”. If it’s not a life it shouldn’t matter, if it doesn’t harm a woman then she shouldn’t care, and don’t we want more transparency and education in the medical profession anyway?    We demand it everywhere else.   Until the dead child can tell me that she/he does not feel any pain – I have no intentions of clearing the conscience of the living – I will be voting YES.”

Of great interest to most liberals are the way in which many anti-abortion bills target victims of rape and incest.   This is bad enough, but an Idaho Republican has taken things to a whole new level: Senator Chuck Winder (R-Boise), sponsor of S. 1387, which would force mandatory ultrasounds on women seeking abortion, which passed the Idaho senate, wants to be certain women were really, really raped. From the Spokesman Review: In his closing debate in favor of SB 1387, Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, said, “This bill does not require a trans-vaginal exam. … It leaves that up to the patient and the physician to make that determination.” He said, “Rape and incest was used as a reason to oppose this. I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape.   I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on.”    In other words, we have to assume they are lying.

For Washington D.C. the GOP has the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, or H.R. 3803, introduced in the House on January 23, 2012, by Congressman Trent Franks (R-Az.)   It was introduced in the Senate on February 13 by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), as S. 2103.   This legislation would ban abortion after 20 weeks on the basis of fetal pain and as National Right to Life

News Today admits without appropriate shame, “is based on an NRLC model bill that has already been enacted in five states—Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama.” Nothing like exporting Bible Belt religious extremism to the innocent citizens of the nation’s capital.

In Nebraska, the Republican Party attempted to put limits on “personhood” after birth and struggled with their pro-life stance on the one hand and hatred of immigrants on the other – LB599 reports the Journal Democrat, “will provide prenatal medical assistance for women not covered under Medicaid, including illegal immigrants and women in prison. According to the bill’s fiscal note, 1,162 unborn babies will be covered annually.” Republican Gov. Dave Heineman vetoed the bill. “In a letter explaining his veto, Gov. Dave Heineman said he opposed the bill because it gave taxpayers’ benefits to illegal immigrants.” Heineman said it was “misguided, misplaced and inappropriate.”   But the legislature overrode his veto and Mike Flood (R), speaker of the chamber (and abortion opponent) pointed out that the babies will be U.S. citizens and said, “If I’m going to stand up in the Legislature and protect babies at 20 weeks from abortion, and hordes of senators and citizens are going to stand behind me, and that’s pro-life, then I’m going to be pro-life when it’s tough, too.”

Oklahoma: an Oklahoma House committee (Republican, of course) has passed a personhood bill (of course), SB-1433, introduced on January 18, 2012.     The bill, co-authored by Rep. Lisa Billy (R-Lindsay) would grant “personhood” status to human embryos, asserting:   “The life of each human being begins at conception” and that “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.” On April 19, 2012, Speaker Kris Steele’s office announced that the bill will not come up for a vote. According to Sarah Morice-Brubaker at Religion Dispatches, SB 1433 died under the weight of amendments even “pro-lifers” couldn’t live with. According to the speaker’s office, Oklahoma has already “passed at least 30 various pro-life measures in the past eight years alone.”

Tennessee Republicans also want to criminalize miscarriages: the state House of Representatives has approved on a vote of 80-18, a bill (House Bill 3517) that would allow homicide and assault charges to be filed in case of the death of an embryo to the first eight weeks of pregnancy.  This is problematic.  As the Tennessean reports: “According to the National Institutes of Health, roughly half of all fertilized eggs die before reaching full term, with the rate highest during the embryonic stage.   As a result, it will be difficult for prosecutors to prove that an embryo miscarried because of someone else’s action and not from natural causes, predicted Rep. Jeanne Richardson, D-Memphis.”    In other words, if a woman miscarried or even had a period, she could be prosecuted.

In Mississippi, a ballot initiative, Measure 26 (The Personhood Amendment), would have, if passed (it fortunately did not) defined zygotes, embryos—even a fertilized egg—as a person. Women would have been unable to have an abortion even in the case of rape or incest – even if her life is in danger, and IUDs, birth control pills and other forms of contraception would have become illegal.

Update: Mississippi tried it again: House Concurrent Resolution 61 aka “The Right to Life Amendment of 2012,” (HC 61) would “provide that the right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person; to provide that the world ‘person’ applies to all human beings from conception to natural death.” TPM reports that the bill “was co-authored by three Republicans and one Democrat.” Fortunately, this bill died in committee on March 6, 2012; for the time being, women’s reproductive rights will enjoy a reprieve in Mississippi.

In California, conservatives are peddling the “California Human Rights Amendment“. It is okay to condemn people after they’re born but you must let them be born first. This latest personhood gimmick claims the “inherent human rights, dignity and worth of all human beings from the beginning of their biological development as human beings” but its real goal is to make abortion illegal – even in cases of rape or incest (“regardless of the means by which they were procreated”), or fetal anomaly. In other words, taking away women’s reproductive rights is a promotion of human rights.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Sanctity of Human Life Act (HR 212) proposed by Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-Ga.) “includes” reports Mother Jones, “language that directly parallels that of the Mississippi personhood amendment.” According to HR 212, “the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent…at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”

In Florida, Personhood Florida, with support from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), is moving forward with a petition to put a personhood amendment on the 2014 general election ballot.

In Oklahoma, eggs are about to become people. The bill (HJR- 1067) introduced on January 12, 2012, bears a resemblance to the recently rejected Mississippi law (see Measure 26 above, this category). Republican Rep. Mike Reynolds, the author of the bill, says it won’t apply to miscarriages or to cases where the mother’s life is threatened, but no exceptions are made for rape or incest (though he claims there are), and it would ban birth control and in vitro that “kills a person.” If approved by the legislature, the bill will appear on the ballot in November. The legislature convenes on February 6. Oklahoma requires only a simple majority in both House and Senate. Update: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has said “Oh no you don’t” by ruling that the proposed amendment violates a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision and “is clearly unconstitutional.”

In Virginia, a bill to establish Personhood (HB-1) was introduced on January 18, 2012 stating that “The life of each human being begins at conception.” Introduced by Robert Marshall (R-Prince William), a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, HB-1 is also based on Mississippi’s failed Measure 26. The bill passed out of committee on February 10 and went to the House for a vote on February 14, 2012 passing on a vote of 66 to 32.

In Wisconsin, AJR-77, which would legally define “personhood” from the moment of fertilization and outlaw all abortion in Wisconsin, was introduced on November 16, 2011. It’s chief sponsor is Republican Andre Jacque. A Planned Parenthood press release dated January 26 states: “AJR 77 a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw abortion, IVF services, stem cell research, and birth control which was so extreme it failed to pass in the most conservative state in the nation- Mississippi. “

Kansas has also gotten into the Personhood Act by way of HCR5029, which states that, “the state of Kansas shall hereby guarantee the inalienable rights, equal protection and due process of law of every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being, including fertilization.” The bill was introduced by 25 state House members. Including one Democrat.  The bill requires a two-third majority vote in both House and Senate to appear on the ballot in August.

In Alabama, State Sen. Phil Williams (R-Madison) pre-filed a personhood bill for the Feb. 2012 legislative back in December of 2011. SB-5, yet another bill taking after Mississippi’s Measure 26, would define humans as persons “from the moment of fertilization and implantation into the womb.”

In Pennsylvania, The “Women’s Right to Know Act” House Bill 1077, which was authored by state Rep. Kathy Rapp (R), is being called even more restrictive than Virginia’s transvaginal ultrasound bill. Raw Story reports: “The bill faces a vote in the full Pennsylvania state house in mid-March, when the legislature is back in session. A petition at has collected nearly 15,000 signatures opposing the legislation.” In keeping with the Republican practice of trying to slip legislation past the public, no public hearing was held. The bill does offer exceptions for victims of rape and incest.

Utah was all set to jump on board the vaginal ultrasound bandwagon but as the Spokesman reports, “Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, said the original version of his [mandatory ultrasound] bill specifically mentioned that procedure, but he removed it. ‘It didn’t require it, but in my opinion it was confusing … so we took it out,’ Winder said.”

However, the Idaho Statesman reports: “But Sara Kiesler, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said the measure would still require transvaginal exams, though the explicit reference to the procedure has been excised.” The revised draft will leave it up to the patient and doctor “whether to employ an abdominal or transvaginal sonogram to the patient and her provider.”

Says Winder: “That’ll be up to the physician and the patient as to what they want to do,” admitting the invasive procedure “went too far.”

In Alabama, Republican Clay Scofield (R-Huntsville) has introduced a mandatory ultrasound proposal for women seeking abortions.   According to the Montgomery Advertiser: “Physicians who failed to administer the ultrasound prior to an abortion or an attempted abortion could face up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. In addition, the law would allow the woman, the father of the fetus or the grandparents to sue the physician for “actual and punitive damages.” Scofield stated that the whole point of the procedure was to make the woman uncomfortable, essentially, to punish her for her decision to have an abortion. The unsurprising backlash over his words has caused him, publically, at least, to rethink his position: “I want to offer legislation that will simultaneously protect life and show respect and compassion towards women.”   Given his lie that the ultrasound would not be a vaginal probe, his words should be taken with a grain of salt. The Alabama bill allows no exceptions in case of rape or incest.
Alaska has joined the state-sponsored rape lollapalooza with its SB 191, which as Planned Parenthood points out, “mandates that the physician perform an ultrasound regardless of its medical necessity prior to performing an abortion—even though the Alaska Supreme Court has stated repeatedly that Alaska laws may not place unnecessary burdens on a woman’s right to an abortion.”
o War on Birth Control/Contraception

Republicans have tried to define contraception not as a health but as a religious issue, claiming that the availability of contraception is a violation of their religious beliefs.

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives is attacking the Department of Health and Human Services new guidelines that require insurance companies to cover contraceptive services free of charge. Committee Chairman Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) claims the new rules do not protect religious groups who object to contraception. He claims the government is taking, “coercive actions to force people to abandon their religious principles.” As part of the Republican War on Women, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) has introduced a bill, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011, which would allow providers to throw women under the bus on religious grounds.

In Utah, 45 Republicans voted for state Rep. Bill Wright’s (R) HB363 which, as Raw Story reports, “would effectively ban comprehensive education about human sexuality, forcing schools to teach abstinence or nothing at all.” Eleven Republicans and 17 Democrats opposed the bill, in defense of which Wright stated, “We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex, about having sex and how to get away with it, which is intellectually dishonest. Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?”

From Arizona comes the “Tell Your Boss Why You’re on he Pill” Bill. House Bill 2625 authored by Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, reports, “would permit employers to ask their employees for proof of medical prescription if they seek contraceptives for non-reproductive purposes, such as hormone control or acne treatment.” Lesko says this is about freedom of religion – the GOP’s so-called “rights of conscience” – but it’s really about Lesko legislating not only his misogyny but his religious views, mandating that the rest of us set aside our own beliefs and abide by his instead.

In late February, seven states (Nebraska, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas) went to court over the Obama administration’s birth control mandate and asked a federal judge to block it, telling the U.S. District Court of Nebraska that the rule violates the First Amendment Rights of those who, for religious reasons, object to the use of contraceptives. Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning (of course he’s a Republican!) said, “We will not stand idly by while out constitutionally guaranteed liberties are discarded by an administration that has sworn to uphold them.” Apparently, their right to oppose contraceptive use trumps our right to use it – what about our First Amendment rights? Not to be outdone, Alabama joined up with this unholy cause, Attorney General Luther Strange filed a motion March 22, 2012 to join that federal lawsuit.

Taxing Abortions

The newest rage, direct from 13th Century Kansas, seeks to squeeze profit from abortions by taxing them.

In Kansas, H.B. 2598 would levy a sales tax of 6.5% on all abortion procedures, reports RawStory: “”Why not slap a $100, $200, $300 tax on an abortion?” Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, the largest anti-abortion advocacy group in Kansas, asked Raw Story on Friday.   “I’m completely against most forms of taxation, but abortion is such an abhorrent procedure, I would like to see it wiped out with a $2,000 or $3,000 tax on every abortion that happens in Kansas.” HB 2598, punitive in nature like all GOP anti-choice legislation, would give doctors immunity from malpractice, do away with tax credits, and like Indiana’s law, force doctors to lie to patients about non-existent risks of breast cancer.   It would also force women to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus before undergoing an abortion. RawStory underscores the financial burdeon created by this monstrous (68 page) bill, saying that it “could also make late term abortions to save the life of a mother, which can run up to $20,000, wholly cost prohibitive, even for middle class women.”   This would effectively make this bill a “kill the mother” bill, a theme that runs through much of the GOP’s anti-choice legislation. Rick Perry crony Governor Brownback plans to sign the bill into law if passed.

The War on Human Fetuses in Food

Yes, you read that correctly.   And no, there are no human fetuses in food.   But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have laws against them being there – if you’re a Republican, that is.   The Associated Press reports that Oklahoma State Senator Ralph Shortey, infamous for authoring failed bills, has proposed a bill “that would ban the use of aborted human fetuses in food, despite conceding that he’s unaware of any company using such a practice,” and even Republican Sen. Brian Crain, a self-professed “pro-lifer” and the chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee says, “I’d hate to think we’re going to spend our time coming up with possibilities of things we need to stop.” The FDA, of course, says it is “not aware of this particular concern.”   Ridiculous as it sounds, the bill does also outlaw stem cell research.

The War on Divorce

From Wisconsin comes Rep. Don Pridemore is co-sponsor of Senator Glenn Grothman’s (R-West Bend) bill (SB 507) that would list “nonmarital parenthood” as a cause of abuse. The bill states “In promoting those campaigns and materials, the [Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board] shall emphasize “nonmarital parenthood” as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” The bill is bad enough – TodaysTMJ4 tells us that “Senator Grothman claims there’s an epidemic of single parenthood, and he’s pointing a finger at women for it.”   But what’s worse is Pridemore’s defense of it; he says that women in abusive relationships – the reason so many of them are single parents in the first place – ought to just take a beating and stay married: ‘If they can refind those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help.’

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News


ACV Blog

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Republicans Buy One-Way Ticket on the Crazy Train

Mary Helen Sears, Crazy as a Loon and a leader in the Michigan Republican Party.   A chip off the old GOP Block.

A new candidate for a Michigan seat on the Republican National Committee wants gays "purged" from the GOP and claims homosexuality is a "perversion" created by Satan himself.

Mary Helen Sears of Houghton County in the state's Upper Peninsula, elected vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party's 1st District last year, posted a rant in April on the Schoolcraft County GOP website -- preceded by a warning asking readers to "please use your discretion before taking any decisions based on the information in this blog."

In the post, Sears claimed that homosexuals prey on children, argued that "Satan uses homosexuality to attack the living space of the Holy Spirit" and advocated that Republicans "as a party should be purging this perversion and send them to a party with a much bigger tent."

Michigan's representatives on the Republican National Committee have lately stirred other controversy, mostly due to Dave Agema, a former state lawmaker who has regularly made anti-gay comments and has been condemned by fellow Republicans, including Gov. Rick Snyder.

Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak issued a joint statement asking Agema to step down from the RNC "for the good of the party."    Instead, Agema's Michigan co-chair on the RNC, U.S. Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land (who had condemned Agema's anti-gay comments), resigned her seat, saying she wanted to focus on her campaign.    Under party rules, the state GOP must pick a woman to take Land's place, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Enter Sears, who is running for Land's vacated RNC seat. She's, "if anything, to the right of RNC Committeeman Dave Agema on the political spectrum," wrote Macomb Daily columnist Chad Selweski.

Sears, in her post on the Schoolcraft County GOP website, wrote that Communist college professors were indoctrinating young people and claimed that Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory "gave rise to Hitler’s Third Reich, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s Russia."

"If the GOP continues down this trend and stand for perversions and the daily social fad ... The GOP will be truly dead and Satan will have had his day," Sears wrote.

Darren Littel, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party, told The Huffington Post the GOP supports a traditional definition of marriage, "but we also believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect and these comments clearly don’t reflect those principles."

The prospect of Agema and Sears heading the Michigan delegation on the RNC is apparently striking fear in the hearts of some Republicans, according to the Macomb Daily:

Apparently some Republican insiders are so shaken by the prospect of having Agema and Sears as Michigan’s two representatives on the RNC that they’re growing concerned about two mainstream Republicans in the three-person field splitting their votes, thereby allowing Sears to claim victory.    When the GOP State Committee meets to select Land’s replacement, Sears’ competitors are expected to consist of Ronna Romney McDaniel, daughter of Ronna Romney, and Sandra Kahn who, I’m told, is the aunt of state Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and the ex-wife of Sen. Roger Kahn of Saginaw Township.

Ronna Romney McDaniel, incidentally, is the niece of Michigan native and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.   The RNC will choose a new national committeewoman on Feb. 15.

Although some Michigan Republicans may agree that Sears' views are extreme, at least one GOP group has taken to social media to express fear that a pro-gay agenda is taking over the Michigan Republican Party.

The Delta County Republican Party recently published a list proclaiming that influential GOP pols like Priebus, Schostak and Senate candidate Land had surrendered to a "homosexual and stealth jihad agenda."

Our local republicans here in Amherst County are supporting these hard right nut jobs by voting for republicans and keeping the house in GOP control.     They don't give a tinkers dam what republicans do or stand for, just that they have an R after their name. 

Crazy Rand Paul Compares Food Stamps to Slavery
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) equated government programs that prevent people from dying of starvation with slavery in a new profile of his medical practice published today, revealing himself to hold a view of the role of government so limited as to nearly define the state out of existence.

Paul’s philosophical excursus is buried in the midst of the too-friendly-for-parody article (it ends with a patient waxing poetic about how Paul “loves people“), but the words are unmistakably Randian.    “As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care,”  Paul allowed, “but it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge, it’s servitude, you’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do.”

The comments are an echo of his 2011 claim that accepting a human right to health care “means you believe in slavery,” but the Senator’s new variation on the theme is notable because it puts the reasoning behind the crazy in stark relief.    Particularly, this line: “You don’t have a right to anyone else’s labor.    Food’s pretty important, do you have a right to the labor of the farmer?”

The basic idea is that if slavery means forcing people to do things, and saying people have a right to food means the government should require farmers to provide it to them, then a right to food means the enslavement of farmers.    A moderately bright high school student could spot the leap of logic here: no one’s forcing anyone to farm against their will. In a democratic-capitalist economy, people have a right to choose their career and, as it turns out, enough people end up being farmers that there’s generally enough food to go around.    A socially-accepted “right to food” merely means the government should pay for the provision of food to those who can’t afford it.   No stealing, and definitely no slavery.

But skip over the logic for a second and think through what Paul’s saying here.    Because a farmer produced the food, no one but that farmer can have a right to it (“you don’t have a right to anyone else’s labor”).    Presumably, because Paul believes in a market economy, whatever money the farmer makes from selling the fruits of his labor is also his and only his.   Taxation in this worldview isn’t just theft; it’s slavery.    Because what is the government taking money you’ve earned if not the Leviathan forcing you to work part-time for its profit?

The really bizarre part of Paul’s formulation of this principle is his use of food (and medical care) as an example.    The thing about starvation and illness is that they make it impossible for you to participate either in the market economy or in democratic governance; generally, people with distended bellies and 103 degree fevers aren’t in good shape to contribute to civil society or the economy.    

Don’t take my word for it; economist and libertarian icon Friederich Hayek believed in a basic guaranteed income and a social safety net (including health care) to ensure a fair democratic society.    Here’s the key passage from The Road to Serfdom:

    There can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. … Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individual in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision.

He made the same point in a less popularly known work, Law, Legislation, and Liberty, where he writes that “a sort of floor below which nobody need fall even when he is unable to provide for himself, appears not only to be wholly legitimate protection against a risk common to all, but a necessary part of the Great Society in which the individual no longer has specific claims on the members of the particular small group into which he was born.”    In a modern society, Hayek’s saying, we’re obligated to collectively take care of the people who aren’t being provided for by the people immediately around them.

Paul has somehow ended up to the right of a guy who believed that the government’s monopoly on currency production was destroying democracy.    Taken seriously, the implications of Paul’s “food rights are slavery” view are that there’s no public good, no matter how basic it is to the functioning of a democratic society, that people have a right to demand from the government.    It’s even hard to make the traditional hard-libertarian exception for the justice system and military stick in Paul’s schema; how can you justify “enslaving” a pacifist to pay for an army whose very existence they reject?

I’m not just picking on a few stray sentences here.    The backlash against Paul’s 2011 comments in this line (including from more tempered libertarians) was immense.    If he was going to bow to political pressures on the “rights are slavery” argument, he would have already done so.    Indeed, Paul openly acknowledges in the article appearing today that this debate “often gets me in trouble:” he’s used to getting heat on this one and just doesn’t care.    It’s what he believes.

So an influential Senator, a much-ballyhooed candidate for his party’s nomination for the presidency, has been consistently espousing a worldview, reflected in his budget, that logically implies virtually all major government programs are slavery.    And we live in times where that’s acceptable enough that it’s buried in the middle of a piece about volunteer ophthalmology.

If you examine Rand Paul's thoughts you will reach the conclusion he makes no sense.

Winter cold snaps — an inconvenience for most — are an existential threat to people with no shelter.

This was tragically on display last month, when at least five homeless people froze to death in a single week.   Even in generally
warmer areas of the country like California, at least seven homeless people died from cold weather late last fall.

When temperatures drop, many cities take extra precautions to try to get homeless people out of the cold and into shelter.    For example, between November 1 and March 31, Washington D.C. mandates that any homeless person who seeks it be given shelter when temperatures fall below 32 degrees (with wind chill).

However, a survey by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) found stark disparities in the temperatures at which different cities will declare a hypothermia alert and provide additional shelter for the homeless — with no good medical explanation.

The most accommodating cities are Denver, Berkeley, and Mobile, all of which set their threshold at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.    (Still, because hypothermia can set in at temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, even this level is dangerous for people who have no shelter.)    The most restrictive city identified by NCH is Baltimore, which waits until temperatures drop to 13 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chill) before opening its winter shelters:

“Lives are saved when communities open additional shelters during spells of cold weather,” NCH’s Director of Community Organizing Michael Stoops told ThinkProgress.    “Keeping shelters open all winter long and not just when the temperature drops below a certain threshold would be the best way to help the homeless community get through the cold weather season.”

A good percentage of the homeless are vets.     Have we as a society ever kept our promises to the war vets?

 Lets Put the Poor in Prison after we Break Them.

The right wing and big business have invented a new way to get rich off of the poor.   These conservatives have to be stopped before they destroy the country.   This get rich scheme on the backs of the poor sounds like something from some third world country and yet it is going like gangbusters in the red states of the United States of America.   The red states are the states controlled by republicans, in case You Didn't Know.

For those who can afford it, many misdemeanor violations and traffic violations are punished with a fine that can be paid the very same day.    But for those who can’t, those same offenses may become subject to a punishment much more menacing, in a profit-driven system of private probation that imposes interest and fees with a threat of jail time on those who are often least able to pay.

In one Georgia instance documented in an extensive new Human Rights Watch report, a man who stole a $2 can of beer ended up in jail for failure to pay a $200 fine that ballooned into more than $1,000 under the supervision of a private probation firm.    Thomas Barrett’s entire income — which included selling his own blood plasma — was less than the monthly fee imposed by the private probation firm.

In Mississippi, a woman who had paid off her entire $377 fine for driving without a license was being threatened with arrest for failure to pay so-called “supervision fees” being charged by a private probation firm.    Court officials told Human Rights Watch the firm had no authority to threaten arrest.

In Alabama, judges have enforced the threats of probation companies to impose jail time for those who fees and fines that piled up from private probation.

More than 1,000 courts around the country are shifting the burden of monitoring payment of fines to private probation firms, sentencing hundreds of thousands of individuals each year to their supervision.    In what is perhaps the most extensive documentation of the practice of privatizing another aspect of the criminal justice system, Human Rights Watch finds that these firms are subject to scant monitoring by local governments and courts, free to impose fees and fines in amounts that are not regulated by any government entity.

Among the monthly fees lobbed onto probation are monthly “supervision” fees, even where the only supervision mandated by the court is collection of a fee, rather than other probationary terms that would impose a cost on the company.    Other times, it is the heavy cost of electronic monitoring or drug tests.

In the case of Barrett, the man who stole a beer, he was put on electronic monitoring at a cost of $360 per month.    Barrett was living on subsidized housing and food stamps.    Even using the money from sale of his blood plasma, Barrett could not keep up with the payments.    But the most perverse thing about the scenario was that Barrett’s alcohol consumption was being monitored, even though his probation terms did not include a ban on alcohol.    “As Augusta attorney Jack Long put it in an interview with Human Rights Watch,  ‘He could have sat around and drank beer all day and it would have monitored that but it would not have been a violation of his probation.’ ”

In another instance in Augusta County, Ga., a homeless man was placed on electronic monitoring that required him to have land line, and spent 52 days in jail because he could not physically comply with the monitoring order.    Companies also order weekly drug testing, sometimes at a cost of $25 per test, or $1,250 per year.

While probation is typically aimed at those who would otherwise go to jail if they were not subject to monitoring, these private firms have expanded their purview to glorified debt collection — with jail time as punishment for failure to pay.    This practice of jailing those who can’t afford to pay — so-called “debtors’ prisons” was invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court more than 30 years ago.    Probation company officials and courts claim to comply with this court ruling by assessing ability to pay, but in many instance they use factors such as a defendant’s possession of a pack of cigarettes or two cell phones that they can pay, even where they are homeless, on public assistance, or otherwise make clear that they have no sufficient sources of income.

“In fact, the business of many private probation companies is built largely on the willingness of courts to discriminate against poor offenders who can only afford to pay their fines in installments over time,” the report explains.

As the Human Rights Watch report explains, this phenomenon emerged in part from a resource squeeze throughout the criminal justice system.    State resources focused on probation for felony offenses punt misdemeanors to county and municipal governments, who cannot afford to oversee probation services.    Private probation firms offered to fill those gaps at no cost to the municipalities, and many jumped at the opportunity.

So-called “offender-funded” probation means that the private firms shoulder the cost of monitoring an individual by charging that individual interest.    Private probation firms then impose interest and fees as they see fit, and “make probationers’ freedom contingent on paying those fees.”    Some states such as Montana have publicly run “offender-funded” probation systems.    The difference, however, is that if fees collected are insufficient to cover the costs of the system, public resources cover the balance.    “Only private probation firms can offer courts a probation service that is guaranteed to cost them nothing,” the report explains.

The industry has also been encouraged by an ideological preference for privatizing government services, tracking the proliferation of privatized prisons and prison services.    And while the probation services claim to be free of cost, jailing those offenders for nonpayment of fees imposed by the private firms costs an average of $50 a day.

The report found that the practice of jailing those who can’t afford to pay violates both constitutional and international law.

Several courts have invalidated particularly questionable practices, including illegally extending probation sentences and one Alabama judge even invalidated imprisonment of those who don’t pay their fees, rebuking the firm for running a “debtors’ prison.”

But in many jurisdictions, the absence of even the most basic monitoring prevents jurisdictions from knowing how these firms are operating. 

 Ohio Supreme Court Tells Judges To Stop Reviving Debtors’ Prisons

To reverse an Ohio trend in which courts are sentencing individuals who can’t afford fees and court costs to probation or jail, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed this week to instruct all of its judges that they cannot jail defendants for failure to pay fees and court costs, nor for their inability to afford a criminal fine.

An April American Civil Liberties Union report documented in Ohio what has become an increasing trend around the country — the revival of so-called debtors’ prisons in which those who cannot pay fines face incarceration.    The ACLU found that judges were illegally imposing jail time on the poor in two ways:   First, they were threatening criminal punishment for those who don’t pay a non-criminal fee, such as court costs, a civil fine, or other fees. Second, they were failing to assess whether an individual ordered to pay a criminal fine has the ability to pay that fine before sentencing them to jail time — a violation of a 30-year-old U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

A new “bench card” that the Ohio Supreme Court will disseminate to all judges explains that imposing either one of these sentences is illegal.    “An offender CANNOT be held in contempt of court for refusal to pay fines,” the memo states.    “Accordingly, unpaid fines and/or court costs may neither be a condition of probation, nor grounds for an extension or violation of probation.”

In many places, this trend has been significantly exacerbated by private firms that handle probation while charging all sorts of monthly fees with the threat of jail time. Probation firms sell their services by offering a cost-free mechanism of collections;   they make all their money by extra fees charged directly to the individuals who owe fines — often those least able to afford them.

But the ACLU’s reports on debtors’ prisons in Ohio and elsewhere have pointed out that the cost of jail far exceeds the cost of an unpaid fine. 

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News



Friday, February 7, 2014

Feb. Meeting of Amherst Democratic Committee

Ned says Sorry, will reschedule for later safer date.    If this storm plays out the way the weather dept. is describing it we won't be on the roads unless absolutely necessary.    Get prepared, there is a good chance the electric power will go out in the ice portion of the storm.

Our next meeting will be held at What a Blessing Bakery in the Ambriar Shopping Center, Amherst.  A dinner Buffet will be available at $15 per person, including beverage, from 5:30 PM until 7 PM, and will be a time for socializing and sharing ideas.  If you plan to have dinner, please let Ned Kable know by the Tuesday before, as the restaurant needs to plan for the food.    Tel: 434-989-2846 or email

Mark Robert Warner (born December 15, 1954) is the senior United States Senator from Virginia, in office since 2009. He is a member of the Democratic Party.  Warner was the 69th Governor of Virginia.

We will have Nominating Petitions available for Mark Warner, and we urge members to take a petition and obtain signatures from registered voters within our Congressional District, District 6.

At 6.45 PM we will have a brief business meeting, and at 7 PM will introduce our speakers for the evening, newly elected County Supervisor John Marks, and newly reelected County Supervisor Claudia Tucker.  We have asked them to give us their thoughts on the challenges facing the County this year.  There will be a question and answer period following their presentations, and we hope that a fruitful dialogue will develop.

The public is invited and encouraged to attend the Supervisors' presentation portion of the meeting.

Ned says Sorry, will reschedule for later safer date.    If this storm plays out the way the weather dept. is describing it we won't be on the roads unless absolutely necessary.    Get prepared, there is a good chance the electric power will go out in the ice portion of the storm.

Ned Kable, Chair

Amherst County Democratic Committee


Thank You for your interest in the Amherst County Democrats.  

Our mailing address is:

Amherst County Democratic Committee
P.O. Box 1411
Amherst, Va 24521

Add us to your address book

Democratic Candidate for President 2016
Hillary Clinton

Joe Biden but only if Hillary does not run.

The Leading Republican Candidates 

Bush:   "There's a time to make a decision. You shouldn't make it too early, you shouldn't make it too late. There's a time. There's a window. And this is not the time for me. This is the time to show a little self-restraint."

Christie:   "I am not going to declare tonight ... that I am or I'm not running for president. I won't make those decisions until I have to." — October 2013.

Cruz:   "My focus is entirely on the U.S. Senate." His standard disclaimer.

Jindal:   "I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2016."

Paul:   Americans want "for example, someone like myself" in 2016 if he chooses to run.

Perry:   "Second chances are what America has always been about" — referring to his ill-fated 2012 campaign and chances he'll try again.

Rubio:   "I told people I haven't even thought about that. That's a decision far in the future."

Ryan:   "If I'm going to do a job as chairman of the Budget Committee, as a leader of my party, I cannot let my mind be clouded with personal ambition. I'm going to make those decisions later."

Santorum:   "A year from now, I'll have to make that decision," he said in November. Is he open to running? "Sure."

Walker:   "Right now, my calling is to be the governor. ... I don't rule anything out."

Huckabee:   Fox news conservative religous base.

Romney:   Growing crowd pushing another run for Mitt

West:   Hard right backing

McCain:   Considering another run.

Pawlenty:   Former governor and moderate pretend conservative

Cain:   The old pizza maker rides again.

Gingrich:   Running is good for his speaking engagements

Bolton:   Recess appointment by GW Bush, Fox Talking head

(Ron) Paul:    GOP favorite, doesn't want to run

There are a dozen other republicans running who don't stand a cold chance in hell of capturing the nomination.

Potential Republican Nominees, Tons of em

The Republican National Committee has begun polling potential nominees for president in 2016, telling its supporters, "The battle for the White House has already begun."

The group sent an email Friday to a select number of its subscribers and asked them to pick their top three choices among a vast array of possible 2016 presidential candidates. While the field of 32 Republican lawmakers mostly included the usual suspects, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas), it also presents a few unusual options, such as former Florida Rep. Allen West.

A handful of previous GOP presidential candidates also made the cut: Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain.

After people take the survey, an email from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus asks for donations in order to "secure Republican victories" and help build the group's ground game.

"Like you, I believe Americans deserve better than President Obama’s big-spending, big-government, liberal agenda," Priebus writes.

"Now more than ever, principled Republican leadership is needed in America."     What Reince refers to as
principled Republican leadership is a great mystery.    It could not be anything that happened during the George W Bush years.

Priebus also mentions the transformation of the GOP into the Growth and Opportunity Project, a reference to the autopsy report commissioned by the RNC after former presidential nominee Mitt Romney's loss to President Barack Obama in 2012.    Critics have charged that a year later, Republicans have done little to adopt the recommendations of the 100-page document.

If republicans could find a dumber chairman than Priebus they surely would, but that would be a near impossibility.

The RNC has been quietly working behind the scenes to overhaul the 2016 primary process by shortening the calendar and number of debates among Republican candidates.    The idea is to prevent less-viable candidates from holding national headlines and potentially forcing the inevitable nominee into far-right positions that could later undermine his or her national appeal.

The real problem the GOP faces with picking a candidate thru their primary system is known as garbage in, garbage out.    Too many republicans run for the publicity, to write a book or to increase their speaking fees.    Just look at some of the jerks who have thrown their hats into the ring.    They know themselves that their run is just folly.

The RNC already led a successful campaign against CNN and NBC in August after the networks announced plans to air a documentary and miniseries on Clinton.    Both CNN and NBC announced in September that production on the Clinton projects had been canceled, although they declined to attribute their decisions to pressure from the RNC.    How long will the GOP fight television stations and news outlets, thinking this will lead to the white house?

In terms of its opposition, the RNC has already zeroed in on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the probable Democratic nominee for president.    The 32 candidates on the republican side of the election will beat each other's brains out on the road to the parties nomination.    Good.

                                                         FIRST FAMILY

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News



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