Pro-lif­ers await next Congress to score se­ries of vic­to­ries

Planned Par­ent­hood sees ‘fight of our lives’

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

For six years, Rep. Diane Black has fought a los­ing bat­tle against Planned Par­ent­hood and its pro-choice al­lies in Congress, but the Ten­nessee Repub­li­can says that dy­namic is about to shift.

Pro-life Repub­li­cans like Ms. Black are ready­ing an am­bi­tious agenda in an­tic­i­pa­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, who threw his sup­port dur­ing the cam­paign be­hind key mea­sures such as ban­ning most abor­tions at 20 weeks and de­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood as long as it per­forms abor­tions.

“Women de­serve bet­ter than Planned Par­ent­hood,” Ms. Black said in a state­ment Tues­day, “and I look for­ward to work­ing with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to stop the flow of your tax dol­lars to this abor­tion gi­ant.”

That’s not all. Mr. Trump has also promised to ap­point pro-life jus­tices to the U.S. Supreme Court; make per­ma­nent the Hyde Amend­ment, which bans tax­payer fund­ing for abor­tions; and re­al­lo­cate fund­ing from Planned Par­ent­hood to

com­mu­nity health cen­ters that pro­vide the same ser­vices with the ex­cep­tion of abor­tions.

Planned Par­ent­hood Pres­i­dent Ce­cile Richards warned in a Tues­day fundrais­ing plea that pro-choice ad­vo­cates can ex­pect “the fight of our lives” in a world with­out Pres­i­dent Obama.

“We’re just weeks away from a fright­en­ing, un­prece­dented mo­ment,” said Ms. Richards. “The United States will in­au­gu­rate a new pres­i­dent with no ex­pe­ri­ence in gov­ern­ment, who was re­jected by the ma­jor­ity of vot­ers af­ter run­ning a cam­paign built on fear, di­vi­sion, and mis­trust.

“We don’t know ex­actly what Pres­i­dent Trump will do when he takes of­fice,” she said, “but if we take him at his word, we can ex­pect some of the worst threats to re­pro­duc­tive rights and health care we’ve ever faced.”

Miles ahead of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment are the states, where the grow­ing ranks of pro-life Repub­li­can gov­er­nors and leg­is­la­tures have thrived dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, of­fer­ing a pre­lude to the anti-abor­tion agenda now likely to un­fold on Capi­tol Hill.

On Tues­day Ohio’s John Ka­sich be­came the lat­est Repub­li­can gov­er­nor to sign a bill lim­it­ing abor­tions in most cases to 20 weeks, the age at which some stud­ies have shown the fe­tus can feel pain, fol­low­ing 15 other states with “pain-ca­pa­ble” laws.

At the same time, he ve­toed a mea­sure that would have re­stricted abor­tions af­ter a fe­tal heart­beat can be de­tected.

The heart­beat can some­times be de­tected as early as six weeks, lead­ing Mr. Ka­sich to con­clude that the state

would lose an in­evitable le­gal chal­lenge in fed­eral court, thus en­tail­ing “hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to cover the le­gal fees for the pro-choice ac­tivists’ lawyers.”

“Fur­ther­more, such a de­feat in­vites ad­di­tional chal­lenges to Ohio’s strong le­gal pro­tec­tions for un­born life,” said Mr. Ka­sich in his veto mes­sage.

Abor­tion op­po­nents have also learned from their de­feats, as shown by the fight over ramp­ing up over­sight at abor­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

In June the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a Texas law re­quir­ing a doc­tor with hos­pi­tal ad­mit­ting priv­i­leges to be on site dur­ing pro­ce­dures at abor­tion clin­ics, say­ing the mea­sure rep­re­sented an “un­due bur­den on women’s ac­cess to abor­tion.”

The Cen­ter for Re­pro­duc­tive Rights, which fought the Texas mea­sure, called it the “most sig­nif­i­cant abor­tion-re­lated rul­ing from the court in more than two decades.”

But abor­tion foes aren’t fin­ished: Amer­i­cans United for Life swung back Tues­day with a 135-page re­port called “Un­safe,” com­pil­ing 754 vi­o­la­tions of health-and-safety laws at abor­tion clin­ics in 32 states since 2008.

The group’s anal­y­sis comes as a di­rect chal­lenge to Jus­tice Stephen G. Breyer’s as­ser­tion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Heller­st­edt (2006) that “abor­tions tak­ing place in an abor­tion fa­cil­ity are safe,” which AUL’s Denise Burke de­scribed Tues­day as “the lie of the year.”

“This re­port will equip leg­is­la­tors with ev­i­dence of the need for health safety stan­dards, as well as sup­port for calling for com­pre­hen­sive clinic in­spec­tions in all 50 states,” said AUL’s act­ing pres­i­dent and le­gal coun­sel, Clark Forsythe.

Cit­ing the Heller­st­edt rul­ing, the Ok­la­homa Supreme Court moved Tues­day to over­turn its nearly iden­ti­cal state law, signed by Gov. Mary Fallin in May

2014 but never im­ple­mented pend­ing the law­suit. Sim­i­lar laws in Mis­sis­sippi and Wis­con­sin have also been blocked.

No gov­er­nor has been more ac­tive than Ms. Fallin: Since 2011 she has signed 19 pro-life bills, earn­ing Ok­la­homa the top spot in Amer­i­cans United for Life’s 2016 rank­ing of the states.

Nancy Northrop, pres­i­dent of the Cen­ter for Re­pro­duc­tive Rights, ap­plauded the court’s de­ci­sion, blast­ing the law as a thinly veiled at­tempt to shut down clin­ics.

While her group has been over­matched in the leg­is­la­ture, she’s had bet­ter luck in the courts, cit­ing eight suc­cess­ful law­suits against Ok­la­homa’s abor­tion-re­lated laws.

“We will con­tinue to stand with Ok­la­homa women in beat­ing back these re­lent­less po­lit­i­cal schemes de­signed to make the right to safe, le­gal abor­tion a right that only ex­ists on pa­per,” Ms. Northrop said.

The sting from Tues­day’s set­back at the Ok­la­homa Supreme Court didn’t last long for the state’s pro-life move­ment. On the same day, the state board of health took up a newly passed law re­quir­ing pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties to post signs di­rect­ing preg­nant women to health care ser­vices.

“[W]hile our abor­tion rate is ac­tu­ally rel­a­tively low, each year there are still thou­sands of un­born chil­dren whose lives are ended through abor­tion,” said the bill’s spon­sor, state Sen. A.J. Grif­fin, in a state­ment. “I be­lieve many of those women felt like they had no al­ter­na­tive, but they’ll be haunted by the pain and guilt of that de­ci­sion for the rest of their lives.”

Af­ter its de­feat in the Heller­st­edt de­ci­sion, Texas of­fi­cials bounced back in Novem­ber with reg­u­la­tions re­quir­ing aborted fe­tuses to re­ceive a burial in­stead of be­ing dis­posed of in land­fills.

Shortly there­after, the cen­ter filed a law­suit, calling the reg­u­la­tions an at­tempt to “shame women.”

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