A federal judge just blocked a medically unnecessary “Texas-style” law in Alabama that would have severely restricted access to safe, legal abortion by forcing all but 2 health centers to stop providing abortions.
Laws like these place onerous restrictions on doctors and health centers, are politically motivated, and do nothing to advance patients’ health — instead, they put women in danger.
Last week, Peter introduced us to the field of biblical economics, the Religious Right’s effort to claim scriptural backing, however tenuous, for conservative economic policies.
And now, out of Alabama, we get a perfect example of biblical economics at work. AL.com reports on a press conference delivered by officials from the Alabama Public Service Commission and the Republican National Committee yesterday at which they argued against new EPA coal plant regulations by claiming that “coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.”
“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” asked commissioner-elect Chip Beeker.
The paper notes that the “press conference was held in the offices of the Alabama Coal Association.”
Two members of the Alabama Public Service Commission, a member-elect and an Alabama representative to the Republican National Committee said proposed EPA regulations that aim to reduce power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent represent “an assault on our way of life” and are a purposeful attempt by the Obama administration to kill coal-related jobs.
"We will not stand for what they are doing to our way of life in Alabama," said PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. "We will take our fight to the EPA."
At their news conference today Cavanaugh and PSC commissioner-elect Chip Beeker invoked the name of God in stating their opposition to the EPA proposal. Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a PSC seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.
"Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?" he said.
Cavanaugh called on the people of the state to ask for God’s intervention.
"I hope all the citizens of Alabama will be in prayer that the right thing will be done," she said.
Also speaking in opposition to the EPA plan were PSC Commissioner Jeremy Oden and Paul Reynolds, an Alabama representative to the Republican National Committee.
One of the commissioners at the press conference, Twinkle Cavanaugh, last year kicked off a meeting on power rates with a prayer against marriage equality .
Cavanaugh will testify today at an Atlanta EPA hearing on the regulations.
H/T: Miranda Blue at RWW
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who leads the DNC, said it had received proposals from Birmingham, Alabama; Columbus, Ohio; Cleveland; New York; Philadelphia and Phoenix. Wasserman Schultz said the committee had “fantastic options” and a group of DNC officials will evaluate the cities and make
site visits as the committee considers its options.
The contenders include large cities familiar with holding major conventions and potential out-of-the-box picks.
New York’s proposal would stage the convention in Brooklyn, the home of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and a liberal stronghold. The New York bid creates the possibility that Clinton, the former secretary of state and the leading Democratic contender for president, could claim the party’s nomination in the state she once represented in the Senate.
New York officials have said they would hold the convention at the Barclays Center, the new home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
With two cities in the mix, Ohio Democratic officials have pushed to hold the convention in their state, which remains among the nation’s most pre-eminent presidential battleground states.
Phoenix would give Democrats a way to connect with voters in Arizona, long eyed by the party as a potential swing state. Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to carry Arizona in a presidential election in 1996 but before that, Democrats had lost every presidential race in that state since Harry Truman in 1948.
Philadelphia was the site of the 2000 Republican convention, where George W. Bush was first nominated, and would allow Democrats to hold its event in the city where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution was adopted.
Birmingham represented a surprise bid and would bring Democrats into a reliably Republican state. The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Alabama was Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Fifteen cities were invited to submit bids but several deciding not to seek the convention, including Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Florida, and Chicago, the home of President Barack Obama.
Many factors determine the selection, most notably whether the city has the facilities to stage the pageantry and whether there are enough hotels to house the delegates and media descending on the region.
Republicans are considering four cities for its 2016 convention: Dallas, Denver, Cleveland and Kansas City, Missouri.
h/t: Ken Thomas at TPM
Two years ago, the nation was introduced to Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old widow in Pennsylvania who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite has voted in nearly every election for the last-half century – right up until 2012, when the state told this African-American woman she wouldn’t be allowed to cast a ballot because Republicans policymakers had created a voter-ID law to combat voter fraud that didn’t exist.After Applewhite’s story garnered national attention, election officials helped get her situation straightened out – and more recently, the law itself was struck down as unconstitutional – but the incident was a reminder about the real-world impact of unnecessary voter-ID laws.Two years later, Zachary Roth introduces us to a similar face – of the same age – in the “war on voting.”Willie Mims, 93, showed up to vote at his polling place in Escambia County Tuesday morning for Alabama’s primary elections. Mims, who is Africa-American, no longer drives, doesn’t have a license, and has no other form of ID. As a result, he was turned away without voting. Mims wasn’t even offered the chance to cast a provisional ballot, as the law requires in that situation.Jenny McCarren of Empower Alabama, a progressive group that gave Mims a ride to the polls, recounted the story for msnbc. McCarren said Mims’s voter file showed he has voted in every election since 2000, as far back as the records go.How many Alabamans lack ID isn’t known – in part because the state made no effort to find out before the ID law. But nationwide, most studies put the figure at around 11%, and as high as 25% for African Americans.Up until last year, there’s no way Alabama’s voter-suppression law would have been cleared by the Justice Department, but because a narrow Supreme Court majority gutted the Voting Rights Act, Alabama’s voter-ID law was never subjected to federal scrutiny.It’s against this backdrop that the Alabama Republican Party is “so desperate” to prove imaginary voter fraud exists, GOP officials are offering cash rewards.Tuesday is the first test of Alabama’s voter ID law – and the state’s Republicans are desperate to dig up some voter fraud. So desperate, in fact, that they’re offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who helps them find any. […]Bill Armistead, the Alabama GOP chair, wrote on the party’s website Monday that Republicans will fork over the cold hard cash to anyone who provides “information that directly leads to a conviction of a felony for voter fraud.” Signs saying “Reward – Stop Voter Fraud,” and directing people to call a toll-free hotline, will be placed at polling sites around the state both for Tuesday’s primaries and November’s general election, Armistead added.I can appreciate the degree to which party leaders are eager to substantiate their reckless voter-suppression tactics. These laws, the harshest voting restrictions seen in the United States since the Jim Crow era, are impossible to defend if they address a problem that doesn’t exist.But there’s no reason to believe the Alabama Republican Party will have to pay up anytime soon – voter fraud is still a problem that exists solely in the minds of far-right imaginations.As for 93-year-old Willie Mims being turned away before he could participate in his own democracy, now would be an ideal time for Alabama officials to feel ashamed of themselves.
Local businesses are ending their association with an Alabama ice cream maker after the owner’s brother made a series of anti-LGBT comments on Twitter. Jack-O-Lantern Farm and Lyons Coffee Roasters said they would not do business with Shirey Ice Cream…
YES, THERE IS ONE TOO RADICAL FOR THE GOP: The Abortion Restriction That’s Too Radical For Republicans
So-called “fetal heartbeat bills,” a radical proposal to cut off legal abortion services at just six weeks, are failing in states across the country.
Over the past several years, state legislatures have enacted a record-breaking number of abortion restrictions. That pace hasn’t abated during this year’s legislative sessions, as lawmakers are rushing to pass measures to shut down abortion clinics and create additional red tape for women seeking abortions. But even though the assault on reproductive rights has been steadily gaining ground, there’s one type of restriction that hasn’t been able to win enough support, even among some anti-choice Republicans.
So-called “fetal heartbeat bills,” a radical proposal to cut off legal abortion services at just six weeks — before many women even realize they’re pregnant — are failing in states across the country. Although the far-right abortion opponents who push six-week bans claim that the procedure should be outlawed after a fetal heartbeat can first be detected, they can’t always get their other colleagues to sign onto the effort.
Last year, North Dakota and Alabama became the first states in the country to pass abortion restrictions banning the procedure after the detection of fetal heartbeat (although Arkansas’ ended up being amended to a 12-week ban). Perhaps observing that those two laws have both been blocked from taking effect because they blatantly violate Roe v. Wade, at least five state legislatures have declined to advance fetal heartbeat bans so far this year:
ALABAMA: Lawmakers in Alabama introduced a package of several anti-abortion restrictions, including a six-week abortion ban, on the same day in February. The legislature rushed to approve two of those measures before the state’s session came to a close this week, but the Senate didn’t take up the heartbeat ban. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) said he’s waiting to see how the legal challenges to six-week bans in other states before Alabama passes its own version “and spends dollars we don’t have as a state.” The lawmaker who introduced the bill said she’s “very, very disappointed” that the legislature “didn’t have the fortitude” to approve it anyway.
MISSISSIPPI: Mississippi has been trying and failing to enact a heartbeat ban for several years in a row. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has already indicated that he’s eager to sign one. “It would tell that mother, ‘Your child has a heartbeat,’” he told supporters at an anti-abortion event last year. But so far, this bill has repeatedly failed to make it out of committee. The state recently passed a 20-week abortion ban, but the heartbeat bill — which would have banned abortion at 12 weeks, like the one in Arkansas — remains a step too far.
KANSAS: Top Republican lawmakers in Kansas have decided to block a six-week abortion ban this year because they’re not interested in provoking a legal fight. Even though the legislature has strong GOP majorities, the politicians there are taking their cues from Kansans for Life, the most influential anti-choice group in the state. Kansans for Life doesn’t support the proposed fetal heartbeat ban because they’re nervous that a court battle would end up striking it down. “We’re just being cautious,” House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey (R) explained when asked why the legislature hasn’t scheduled a vote on the measure.
KENTUCKY: A fetal heartbeat measure was introduced again in Kentucky this session, after failing to advance last year, but abortion opponents haven’t had much luck this time around either. The measure is currently stalled in committee with little chance of passing. Pro-choice Kentucky lawmakers have been able to successfully block proposed abortion restrictions for several years in a row, so there’s little chance that a radical six-week abortion ban will make it through.
OHIO: Republicans in Ohio have long been divided over whether to adopt an aggressive anti-abortion strategy, and attempt to enact a harsh fetal heartbeat ban, or take a more subtle and incremental approach to chipping away at reproductive rights. This split has prevented the state from approving a six-week ban for the past several years, although it continues to be re-introduced. Senate President Keith Faber (R) says he won’t schedule a vote on the measure this session because he’s worried it will trigger a court challenge.
Indeed, legal battles over unconstitutional abortion restrictions come with a cost. North Dakota is gearing up to spend at least $600,000 to defend its stringent anti-abortion laws in court, while Kansas and Idaho have both accumulated legal fees in this area that top one million dollars.
In general, abortion opponents haven’t decided whether it’s better to continue gradually chipping away Roe v. Wade piece by piece, or whether it’s necessary to take a bold stance to ban nearly all abortions. So far, feuds over this divide are bubbling to the surface in political races in Georgia and Kentucky. And some Republicans will need to adopt a particularly hardline stance against abortion if they want to court support from thecountry’s major anti-choice groups before the upcoming presidential primaries.
But so far, anti-choice lawmakers have actually had more success with the first, incremental strategy. That’s largely because radical restrictions like six-week bans, which are obviously extreme on their face, tend to capture headlines and spark outrage — while more subtle efforts to undermine abortion rights are able to slip under the radar.
On Tuesday evening, the Alabama House of Representatives approved four abortion restrictions that threaten to cut off women’s access to reproductive health care in the state. Taken together, the package of anti-choice measures represents some of the harshest legislation in the nation.
The most controversial of the four measures would ban abortion after just six weeks. This type of law is known as a “heartbeat ban” because it outlaws abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can first be detected — even though that occurs before many women even realize they’re pregnant. North Dakota passed the country’s first six-week ban last year, but it’s currently blocked from taking effect for violating women’s right to choose.
But the Alabama legislature isn’t concerned about provoking a similar court challenge for overstepping Roe v. Wade. The lawmaker who’s spearheading the six-week ban, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), has repeatedly likened her quest to ban abortion to the civil rights movement’s push to integrate public schools.
“This one would make it such that they would realize there’s a life, if there’s a heartbeat, there’s a life they’re killing,” McClurkin, who’s considered to be the “queen of pro-life legislation,” said on Tuesday.
In addition to the heartbeat ban, Alabama lawmakers also voted to advance separate bills that would extend the state’s abortion waiting period from 28 hours to 48 hours; make it more difficult for a minor to obtain an abortion; and require women choosing to end a nonviable pregnancy to receive more information about hospice centers that can care for their infant before it succumbs to its fatal conditions. Alabama does not currently have any of these hospice centers within its state borders, so this particular bill would force doctors to give grieving women more information about services that aren’t particularly helpful to them.
Hayley Smith, the associate advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told ThinkProgress that the state’s latest assault on abortion rights is “moving at an alarmingly fast pace.” These bills are headed to a full vote in Alabama’s Senate less than three weeks after they were first introduced. Although the separate measures were proposed by different Republican lawmakers, Smith and her colleagues see them as part of a larger coordinated strategy.
“These four bills were introduced together on the same day, heard in committee on the same day, and they all passed out of committee together. The intent is clear. As a package, they’re clearly intended to block access to abortion in Alabama,” she explained. “We’re extremely concerned about all of them.”
The senator will introduce the resolution on Jan. 14 when the state Senate convenes for the next session.
In the resolution, Fielding lauds Robertson and his family as “ambassadors of the love and grace of the Heavenly Father through their exemplary lives on and off the camera.”
h/t: TPM Livewire
Alabama Delays Approval of History Texts After Anti-Muslim Groups Complain They Promote Jihad | Right Wing Watch
Alabama’s state board of education delayed an approval vote on 12 middle school history textbooks last week after the anti-Muslim groups Eagle Forum of Alabama and ACT! For America claimed that the books promoted Islam over Christianity.
The Anniston Star reported that ACT’s Larry Houck found it an “insult” that the books said that “Jesus walked on the earth teaching his ideas”:
The board had planned to hear recommendations from a state committee that has spent months looking at possible textbooks for use in social studies classes. Superintendent Tommy Bice asked for a postponement after the groups Eagle Forum and ACT for America complained of alleged pro-Muslim and anti-Christian bias in 12 of the textbooks, all of which were produced by major textbook publishers. Most of the disputed textbooks were for seventh, eighth and ninth grades.
Larry Houck, president of ACT for America, said the books’ passages on Christianity implied doubt about the divinity of Jesus.
"They said ‘Jesus walked the earth teaching his ideas,’" Houck said. "That’s just an insult."
Bice described the objections as “last-minute,” and said the board needs time to consider them. School officials supplied The Star with a packet of textbook reviews supplied by ACT for America and Eagle Forum, which was dated Dec. 4.
According to AL.com, Houck wrote in a letter to the school board that sections of the textbooks devoted to Islam had “more and better pictures” than those devoted to other religions, which he described as part of, in the words of the paper, “a non-violent Jihad in America that relies [on] Islamic influence over textbook publishers.”
Specific concerns raised by the groups in a letter sent Dec. 4 to school board members included that the books under reported the positive impacts of Christianity and failed to accurately represent the spread of Islam through violence.
"Islam was spread by the sword in most every case. The Muslims have killed millions in their 1,400-year history and enslaved millions more," wrote Larry Houck, the founder of ACT! for America’s Birmingham chapter.
Houck said after the meeting he has been researching Islam since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and his goal is to tell Americans “what’s really going on,” describing a non-violent Jihad in America that relies Islamic influence over textbook publishers.
He also complained that the books dedicated more space to Islam and that sections on Islam usually have more and better photographs when compared to sections on Christianity and Judaism.
"Why is so much text devoted to Islam? It appears to be deliberate efforts to proselytize for Islam and this is dangerous for our younger generations?" Houck wrote to the school board.
AL.com provides a list of the challenged books, all of which are from major, mainstream textbook publishers. But many of them were included in a “report” that ACT released last year arguing that “the typical treatment of Islam” in the books “amounts more to indoctrination than to education.”
It’s not the first time ACT has led this kind of campaign. This summer, ACT convinced the school board of Brevard County, Florida, that its history textbooks were “flawed and biased on the subject of Islam.” In response, the board convened a “committee to provide supplemental material to counter-balance the textbook errors”…and invited an ACT! for America member to join the committee.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
The Alabama Republican Party voted Saturday against a proposed rule that would have removed a junior member from its steering committee because of her support of gay marriage, the Associated Press reported.
The measure was aimed at Stephanie Petelos, the chairwoman of the Alabama College Republicans, who had made public comments in support of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. Petelos told the AP she hopes her ordeal “doesn’t scare or shy anyone away from the party.”
Bonnie Sachs, an executive committee member who proposed the rule change, told the AP that steering committee members need to serve “in such a way that we don’t go to the media with an agenda that we may have.” Other committee members said they didn’t share Petalos’ view on gay marriage, but did respect her First Amendment right to expressing that view.
"We’re not the Taliban. We’re not the Third Reich," committee member Clay Barclay told the AP.
Dean Young, one of nine Republicans running in a special election to replace long-time Rep. Jo Bonner (R) in Alabama’s first Congressional district, wants his fellow candidates to sign a pledge to discriminate. And the pledge he is pushing them to all sign would also require them to affirm that they belong to a church whose tenants include opposing marriage equality — a sort of “religious test” in direct conflict with the spirit of the Alabama constitution.
Young’s “Pledge to Oppose Gay Marriage” states that it is “time for men and women of faith to stand for the founding Christian values and morals that made our nation great, to defend our families and the sacred holiness of marriage.” Therefore, each signer must affirm:
1. I believe that the only marriage is between one man and one woman.
2. I believe the Biblical condemnation of homosexuality and thereby gay marriage.
3. The tenants [sic] of my church oppose gay marriage.
4. I oppose gay marriage.
5. As a member of Congress, I shall take active steps to oppose gay marriage.
6. I support the by-law change to expel any member of the Republican Executive Committee who opposes the party position by supporting gay marriage.
AL.com reported Thursday that Young circulated the pledge this week and encouraged his eight primary opponents to join him in signing it. He believes this pledge is necessary because he considers same-sex marriage “a corruption which seeks to destroy the concept of the family,” and sees no place in the Republican Party for candidates who support “homosexuals pretending like they’re married.”
Young, who pledged to introduce articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama, garnered more than 24 percent of the vote in a 2012 primary challenge to Bonner. His campaign website boasts of an endorsement from Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was unanimously removed by his fellow judges during a previous term for failure to comply with a court order to remove an unconstitutional display of the Ten Commandments monument from the state’s judicial building.
Young currently leads the 2013 contenders in reported cash-on-hand thanks to more than $129,000 in self-financing. The Republican primary will be held on September 24.
New restrictions have been popping up in states across the south since the Voting Rights Act was essentially gutted last month.
It’s one more reason why the right to vote needs to be protected: http://on.msnbc.com/17iLp32
Which state are you most concerned about?
Maps featuring Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin regarding how many clinics will close down in the states affected.
Three of those mentioned were won by Obama both times (Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia) and a fourth (North Carolina) was won by Obama in 2008, then Romney in 2012.
The Alabama legislature passed a bill on Tuesday that will heavily restrict abortion, potentially shutting down all five of the state’s abortion clinics. The state House and Senate passed the bill by votes of 68-21 and 22-10 respectively, and Governor Bentley is expected to sign it soon.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, argued in February that this new law was necessary to protect women because “abortion removes the largest organ in a woman’s body.”
That comment was neither scientifically accurate nor did it explain what Alabama’s Women’s Health and Safety Act is designed to do, so here it is: The bill, which copies legislation passed in Mississippi in 2012, mandates that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This gives local hospitals the leeway to flat-out deny doctors these privileges. The doctors at Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, for instance, were rejected at all seven hospitals they approached for admitting privileges.
Williams says she expects women’s rights advocates in Alabama will also head to court to try and keep the state’s last few clinics open.
h/t: Mother Jones
March 21, 1965: Civil Rights Demonstrators Begin March to Montgomery, Alabama
On this day in 1965, two weeks after “Bloody Sunday,” civil rights demonstrators began their third attempt to march to Montgomery, Alabama from Selma. The march’s purpose was to denounce unfair state laws and local violence that kept African Americans from voting.
On March 25, 25,000 marchers arrive at the State Capitol building in Montgomery. Soon afterward, the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, forcing states to end discriminatory voting practices.
Visit American Experience’s Eyes on the Prize site to explore the milestones of the Civil Rights Movement.
Photo: Participants marching in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. (Library of Congress)