Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban into law on Wednesday, effectively banning the procedure except in cases where a pregnant person’s life is at serious risk. The law does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest and doctors could face 99 years in prison for performing abortions. We speak with Dr. Yashica Robinson, the medical director of the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, one of only three clinics left in the state that offer patients abortion services. She is one of only two abortion providers living and working in Alabama. Under the new Alabama law, she could spend the rest of her life in prison for doing her job.
Reproductive rights groups decry Trump’s latest announcement, saying it further restricts women’s rights.
The Trump administration says it will prohibit taxpayer-funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions, a move likely to be challenged in court by abortion rights supporters.
The administration’s plan would also prohibit family planning clinics from being housed in the same location as abortion providers.
The policy released Friday by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) pleased religious conservatives, a key building block of President Donald Trump‘s political base.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has said the administration appears to be targeting them, and called the policy a “gag rule”.
“The implications of the Trump-Pence administration’s attack on Title X with a gag rule are staggering,” tweeted Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s president.
“It compromises the oath I took to serve my patiens and help them make the best decisions about their health,” she added, using #NoGagRule.
The final regulation was published Friday on an HHS website but would not be official until it appears in the Federal Register.
The department said there could be “minor editorial changes” to the regulations while a department official confirmed to the Associated Press it was the final version.
Known as Title X, the family-planning programme serves about four million women annually through independent clinics, many operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates.
The grant programme costs taxpayers about $260m a year.
Abortion is a legal medical procedure in the US, but federal laws prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of a woman.
Friday’s announcement was the latest move by President Donald Trump to restrict women’s reproductive rights.
Reproductive rights groups say Trump has waged a war against them, employing policies that have harmed women’s right to choose.
Since taking office, Trump has reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, which bans international organisations that receive US funding from providing abortion services or offering information about the procedure.
Trump has also appointed well-known anti-abortion rights activists to key posts within federal departments dealing with women’s health.
Last month, a US judge in California blocked a Trump administration birth control coverage rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control, from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, DC.
“It’s 2019, yet the Trump Administration is still trying to roll back women’s rights,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said following the ruling. “Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive healthcare they are guaranteed under the law,” he added.
But Friday’s announcement was praised by abortion opponents.
“We are celebrating the newly finalized Title X rules that will redirect some taxpayer resources away from abortion vendors,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement.
Although federal family planning funds by law cannot be used to pay for abortions, religious conservatives have long argued that the programme indirectly subsidises Planned Parenthood.
A group representing family planning clinics decried the administration’s decision.
“This rule intentionally strikes at the heart of the patient-provider relationship, inserting political ideology into a family planning visit, which will frustrate and ultimately discourage patients from seeking the healthcare they need,” Clare Coleman, head of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement.
Chief Justice Roberts joins court’s four liberals to block Louisiana from enforcing law, pending full review of the case
Protesters on both sides of the abortion issue gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC during the 2018 March for Life [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]
A divided Supreme Court stopped Louisiana from enforcing new regulations on abortion clinics in a test of the conservative court’s views on abortionrights.
The justices said in a 5-4 decision late Thursday that they will not allow the state to put into effect a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in putting a hold on the law, pending a full review of the case.
President Donald Trump‘s two Supreme Court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were among the four conservative members of the court who would have allowed the law to take effect.
Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion in which he said the court’s action was premature because the state had made clear it would allow abortion providers an additional 45 days to obtain admitting privileges before it started enforcing the law.
If the doctors succeed, they can continue performing abortions, he said. If they fail, they could return to court, Kavanaugh said.
The law is very similar to a Texas measure the justices struck down three years ago. Roberts dissented in that case.
But the composition of the court has changed since then, with Kavanaugh replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted to strike down the Texas law.
Restrictions would close clinics, providers say
Louisiana abortion providers and a district judge who initially heard the case said one or maybe two of the state’s three abortion clinics would have to close under the new law. There would be at most two doctors who could meet its requirements, they said.
But the federal appeals court in New Orleans rejected those claims, doubting that any clinics would have to close and said the doctors had not tried hard enough to establish relationships with local hospitals.
In January, the full appeals court voted 9-6 not to get involved in the case, setting up the Supreme Court appeal.
The law had been scheduled to take effect Monday, but Justice Samuel Alito delayed the effective date at least through Thursday to give the justices more time.
The justices could decide this spring whether to add the case, June Medical Services v Gee, to their calendar for the term that begins in October.
Trump had pledged during the campaign to appoint “pro-life” justices – judges who are opposed to abortion rights – and abortion opponents are hoping the more conservative bench will be more open to upholding abortion restrictions.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Trump called for legislation to limit what he and anti-abortion rights activists describe as “late-term abortion”.
While such legislation at the federal level is unlikely, research at the Guttmacher Institute shows that about 20 states already have laws in place that restricts abortion after about 20 weeks post-fertilisation.
Since Trump came to power, a number of states have also introduced measures that seek to restrict abortion access.
Other states, including New York, have passed laws to ensure that abortion access would still be protected if the Supreme Court were to overturn parts or all of Roe v Wade, a 1973 decision that blocks states from prohibiting abortion.
In a historic midterm election, Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives, flipping more than two dozen seats. This gives Democrats subpoena power for the first time since President Donald Trump was elected two years ago. While the Democrats will control the House, the Republicans picked up two more seats in the Senate. The midterms were a groundbreaking election for women. At least 100 women will serve in the U.S. House for the first time in U.S. history, including the first two Native American women and the first two Muslim women.
U.S. Secret Service agents met with a Democratic lawmaker from South Portland who posted a Facebook rant against President Trump that included a threat against the president, the lawmaker said Friday.
Rep. Scott Hamann said he met with agents Thursday at his home.
But Hamann, who said he has received hundreds of threatening calls, is still facing blowback from the post, which he has since deleted.
On Friday, House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said Hamann had been kicked off two legislative committees on which he served: Health and Human Services and the Marijuana Legalization Committee.
In a statement Friday, Gideon said the repercussions for Hamann should send a signal to other lawmakers that such comments will be met with swift action. Gideon notified Hamann of her decision Thursday evening, she said.
In the Facebook post, Hamann criticized Trump on several fronts, particularly his treatment of women, and wrote, “Trump is a half term president, at most, especially if I ever get within 10 feet of that (vulgar term).”
Meanwhile, President Trump was blasted on social media over what many are calling “creepy” and sexist comments about French first lady Brigitte Macron. Video posted to President Macron’s Facebook page shows Trump looking the first lady up and down before commenting, “You’re in such good shape,” and repeating, “She’s in such good physical shape,” adding, “Beautiful.” Trump has a long history of sexist comments. He previously called comedian Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” and boasted in a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video about sexually assaulting women.