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Posts tagged "Louisiana"

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health


Attacks on women’s reproductive rights have spread rapidly across the country, as state legislatures have enacted a record-breaking number of restrictions on abortion over the past several years. Last summer, all eyes were on Texas while activists protested against a harsh anti-choice measure that’s now forcing clinics to close. This year, there are some new battlegrounds to keep an eye on.

The following states have each approved new abortion restrictions within the past month that represent serious threats to women’s right to choose:

1. Oklahoma

On Wednesday, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) approved a measure requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a local hospital — the same exact measure that was recently enacted in Texas. Although admitting privilege requirements are cloaked in the language of women’s health and safety, doctors agree that they’re entirely medically unnecessary, a thinly veiled tactic for eliminating access to legal abortion.

It’s not hard to see the potentially catastrophic impact of the new law, thanks to the precedent that’s been set by the Lone Star State. Since Texas’ admitting privileges law took effect, multiple clinics have been forced out of business, and some doctors have lost their licenses because they can’t comply with the medically unnecessary policy. That’s left a huge swath of the state without access to a single reproductive health facility.

“If this law is allowed to stand, it will further expand the massive areas of the United States where women’s constitutional right to safely and legally end a pregnancy is under siege by politicians attempting to make abortion nearly inaccessible by driving more and more good health care providers out of practice,” Nancy Northrup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, warned in a statement.

2. Louisiana

Just like nearby Oklahoma, lawmakers in Louisiana recently approved an admitting privileges bill that’s directly modeled on the one in Texas. It’s still awaiting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature, but the Republican leader has already confirmed he plans to sign it. The measure is expected to close at least three of the state’s five abortion clinics.

And that’s not all. The Louisiana legislature has been busy attacking reproductive rights from all angles during this current session, and lawmakers have advanced several other anti-choice measures. In addition to the clinic restrictions, the state also approved a bill this week that will bar abortion providers from distributing any health information in public schools. The measure is intended to directly target Planned Parenthood, even though the women’s health organization is the largest sex ed provider in the country.

Reproductive rights activists in the state are pressuring Jindal to veto the two pieces of legislation. “Over and over we’ve witnessed numerous attacks on women, men, adolescents and families’ health. By now, it is clear that legislators are playing politics instead of increasing much needed access to health care and health education,” a petition from Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast reads.

3. Missouri

Halfway through May, lawmakers in Missouri approved a measure that will triple the state’s current waiting period for an abortion, requiring women to wait a full three days before being allowed to have the procedure. Only two other states, Utah and South Dakota, currently have waiting periods that long.

Similarly to Louisiana, the abortion opponents in Missouri haven’t been content with just one bill attacking abortion rights. This session, the legislature has considered over 30 separate abortion restrictions. Since the state already has just one abortion clinic left, lawmakers are essentially focusing all of their attention on regulating a single building.

Women’s health activists have also been frustrated with lawmakers’ attitudes this session, accusing male politicians of making condescending assumptions about women’s inability to make health care decisions for themselves. One GOP representative compared choosing an abortion to buying a car, suggesting that women simply need more time to think to prevent them from making a hasty decision. His female colleagues called the comparison “extremely offensive” and “demeaning to women,” and activists protested by dressing up as cars in a legislative hearing.


It’s important to put newly approved abortion restrictions in the context of the anti-choice laws that are already on the books in surrounding states. For instance, if Louisiana and Oklahoma both enact admitting privileges requirements, they’ll join several other Southern states — Mississippi, Alabama and Texas — that have already approved them. Although Mississippi and Alabama are in the midst of legal challenges that have temporarily blocked their laws from taking effect, the country isn’t too far off from a future in which harsh restrictions on abortion providers are in place throughout the South. Slowly but surely, Southern women’s access to abortion clinics is disappearing.

“You’re looking at huge swaths of the country where women’s options are becoming severely limited,” Amanda Allen, the state legislative counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, recently pointed out.

Source: Tara-Culp Ressler for ThinkProgress


The Lone Star State, which now contains a 400-mile swath without a single abortion provider, has become somewhat of a symbol for what happens when harsh state laws force reproductive health clinics out of business. But Texas is hardly the only state that’s successfully advancing this type of anti-choice agenda. In Louisiana, for instance, lawmakers have been quietly laying the groundwork to shutter clinics for the past several months — and they’re currently poised to accomplish that goal.

The latest installment of this saga involves Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), who is currently pushing for a state investigation into Baton Rogue’s only abortion clinic, alleging that it violated federal privacy laws. On Tuesday, Vitter sent a letter to the state’s health department along these lines. Even though the letter doesn’t contain any specific allegations, it asks the department to “impose serious consequences” on the clinic if the accusations are proven true.

Reproductive rights advocates are questioning the timing of Vitter’s concerns. On Wednesday, state lawmakers are scheduled to hear House Bill 388, a measure that’s directly modeled after the new abortion restrictions in Texas. Vitter’s letter, which was released just one day before the final vote, may be intended to influence state lawmakers by reinforcing the myth that reproductive health facilities need tighter regulations.

“It seems like very suspicious timing that David Vitter would release information about an investigation the day before the House hears the bill for final passage,” Ellie Schilling, the lawyer who represents Louisiana’s abortion clinics, told the Times-Picayune. “I’m not really sure why David Vitter is involving himself in this.”

HB 388 would require the abortion providers in the state to obtain admitting privileges from a local hospital, a medically unnecessary requirement that’s often impossible for clinics to comply with. It will likely force the majority of Louisiana’s five clinics to close.

This type of legislation is known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP. It’s an indirect method of restricting women’s access to abortion by making it too complicated and costly for clinics to remain operating. In reality, abortion clinics are alreadyhighly regulated and extremely safe. But conservatives’ rhetoric around “women’s health and safety” has helped advance TRAP laws across the country anyway.

And in Louisiana, abortion opponents have furthered this framework through several different means. At the beginning of this year, the state’s Department of Health and Hospitals attempted to regulate abortion clinics out of existence by imposing complicated and burdensome new rules on abortion providers with little public notice. Those rules were eventually rescinded after a massive outcry. But it’s not hard to see why HB 388, which essentially seeks to accomplish the same goal, has been able to advance so easily this session. The state is all too eager to follow in Texas’ footsteps.

In addition to the admitting privilege requirement, HB 388 includes several other problematic provisions that would limit women’s access to reproductive health care. It would impose a mandatory 24-hour waiting period for surgical abortion procedures. It would also limit the number of abortions that private doctors are allowed to perform before they’re officially considered to be an “abortion provider” — an obscure policy change that could actually have huge implications for women’s access to the procedure, as the number of clinics dwindles and women increasingly turn to private physicians for first-trimester abortions.

Ultimately, these type of restrictions on the medical procedure end up having a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable women, who already struggle to afford the cost of an abortion. Even though Roe v. Wade is still technically the law of the land, an increasing number of harsh state laws ensure that women’s ability to exercise their reproductive rights depend mainly on her bank account and her zip code.

“The New Orleans Abortion Fund is outraged by this bill, which will push women and their families further into poverty,” Amy Irving, a founding board member of the organization, which provides financial assistance to low-income individuals who need to end a pregnancy, told ThinkProgress. “Louisiana lawmakers continue to pass laws that erode our communities’ social safety net and demonstrate that they do not trust women to make decisions about their healthcare and abortion, in particular. This bill will penalize low income women, especially.”

In a previous interview with ThinkProgress, Irving said she’s noticed an uptick in the number of New Orleans women resorting to potentially dangerous methods of ending a pregnancy, like buying abortion-inducing drugs on the black market, as they lose access to legal clinics. That dynamic is already unfolding in Texas in the aftermath of its recent clinic closures, and there’s no reason to think the trend won’t continue in Louisiana if the state passes a similar law.

If Louisiana lawmakers approve HB 388, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is expected to immediately sign it into law. When it was first introduced, the governor’s office released a statement praising the legislation, saying “these reforms will build upon the work Governor Jindal has done to make Louisiana the most pro-life state in the nation.”

Source: Tara Culp-Ressler for ThinkProgress

h/t: Catherine Thompson at TPM


Smile, you’re on Candid Camera! It’s a different day so there’s a different Christian Conservative politician getting caught not practicing what he preaches. Rep. Vance McAllister won his seat by touting his marriage and Christian conservative values to the voters, but apparently those values don’t include extramarital affairs. Who woulda thunk it?

The Ouachita Citizen

Fifth District Congressman Vance McAllister, who campaigned for office last fall as a devout Christian and devoted husband and father, was caught in video surveillance two days before Christmas passionately embracing and kissing one of his congressional aides.

The Ouachita Citizen obtained the video recording from an anonymous source. The video can be seen at incident occurred at roughly 1:39 p.m. on Dec. 23, 2013, inside McAllister’s congressional office at 1900 Stubbs Ave., Suite B, in Monroe.The woman who McAllister, 40, was caught kissing for almost half a minute is Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock, 33, of 400 Zachary Way, Sterlington. She is McAllister’s district scheduler.

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Uhh, Mr. Diaper Boy, the Koch Brothers are two of the most treasonous Americans ever in the history of our fine nation, NOT “heroes” or “patriots.”

H/T: Daniel Strauss at TPM

Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne offers state aid to keep Duck Dynasty on the air (via Raw Story )

Jay Dardenne, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana whose responsibilities include promoting tourism, wrote an open letter to cast of Duck Dynasty in which he offered “to use his influence among Louisiana’s growing motion picture industry to seek…


h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT

Major newspapers in Louisiana have been largely silent about the burgeoning state political career of Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins, mostly ignoring the hate group leader’s history of extreme anti-LGBT politics.

Perkins’ Rise In Louisiana Politics

Perkins’ political ascendance in Louisiana began nearly two decades ago, with his election to the state House of Representatives. He served in that body from 1996 to 2004, making an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2002. During his time in the legislature, Perkins founded the right-wing Louisiana Family Forum out of a reported ”concern about the influence of the homosexual movement.” He cemented his role as a social conservative leader when he assumed the presidency of the FRC in 2003.

While the FRC is based in Washington, Perkins has always kept one foot in Louisiana, commuting to Washington from the state every week, Perkins considered launching a primary challenge to Republican Sen. David Vitter in 2010, ultimately opting to sit that race out. Perkins has cultivated a close relationship with Gov. Bobby Jindal, who appointed Perkins to the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family in 2008. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), however, notes that Perkins skipped all of the commission’s meetings.

Perkins’ dismal attendance record notwithstanding, Jindal announced this September that he was naming Perkins to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, which is responsible for awarding grants, officer training, and law enforcement regulation. Slate noted that in a state where anti-sodomy laws remain on the books and gay men have recently been arrested for having sex, the virulently anti-gay Perkins now has a role overseeing law enforcement.

Within weeks of his appointment to the law enforcement commission, Perkins expressed interest in seeking the open U.S. House seat from Louisiana’s sixth congressional district in 2014. Perkins would join what’s likely to be a jam-packed field of Republicans vying for the seat, but he says he finds it “an attractive prospect to be closer to home.” 

If past is indeed prologue, social issues will be at the forefront of a Perkins congressional campaign. During his decade at the helm of the FRC, Perkins has amassed a record as one of the country’s most rabid opponents of LGBT equality. The FRC’s malicious, baseless smears against LGBT people led the SPLC to designate the organization an anti-gay hate group in 2010, and Perkins’ own history of anti-LGBT commentary helps illuminate why.

To Perkins, gay people are ”intolerant,” “hateful,” “vile,” “spiteful” and “pawns” of “the enemy.” Perkins has spread the myth that there’s a link between homosexuality and pedophilia, calling the sexual abuse of children “a homosexual problem.” He has called the It Gets Better project to affirm LGBT youth a “disgusting” ploy to “recruit” youth into the gay “lifestyle.” The punishment for being part of that “lifestyle”? "Eternal damnation," according to Perkins. 

Perkins doesn’t merely oppose marriage equality as a matter of public policy. He says it’s nothing short of a grave "evil." And not only did Perkins vigorously oppose lifting the ban on open service by LGB soldiers; he proclaimed that members of Congress who voted to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had the "blood of young Marines" on their hands.

Given his apocalyptic take on what LGBT equality would mean for the country, it came as little surprise when Perkins warned of a "revolution" if the Supreme Court were to legalize same-sex marriage.

In addition to his record of anti-LGBT extremism, Perkins also has ties to white supremacist groups. 

While managing Woody Jenkins’ 1996 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the phone bank used by former KKK leader and 1991 GOP gubernatorial nominee David Duke. The phone bank was maintained by Impact Mail Ltd., in which Duke held a financial stake. Perkins claimed not to know “the complete Duke connection” at the time of the purchase. However, upon discovering the connection, he rerouted the payment through Courtney Communications, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported in 2002. “[P]olitically, we didn’t want to be connected with Duke,” Perkins explained. According to the SPLC, Jenkins’ campaign ultimately paid a $3,000 fine for filing false disclosure forms as part of a failed attempt to cover up its ties to Duke.

Perkins’ links to white supremacists didn’t end with Duke. In 2001, the SPLC notes, Perkins spoke before a meeting of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens. Perkins later feigned ignorance of the group’s white supremacist beliefs, but a photo from the event shows him speaking in front of a Confederate flag.

h/t: MMFA

Duck Dynasty's role in the LA-05 GOP v. GOP runoff gets discussed on tonight's Maddow

From the 11.18.2013 edition of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show:


"Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson resisted entreaties to run in a special congressional election this year, but he’s still getting involved in the race.

Robertson is out with a new 15-second ad endorsing businessman Vance McAllister (R), the underdog in the race to replace former congressman Rodney Alexander (R-La.).

McAllister faces state Sen. Neil Riser (R) in a runoff Saturday. Riser was the top vote-getter in the open primary, taking 32 percent, compared to McAllister’s 18 percent.

The 5th district is home to the Robertsons, who have the most popular cable TV reality show of all time, and they have previously appeared at events for McAllister.

Here’s more on their matchup from Roll Call.

Will Family Research Council president Tony Perkins run for US Congress next year? LaPolitics reports that Perkins, a former Louisiana state representative, is considering a run to succeed Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who is running for US Senate against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

Just how extreme is Perkins? While leading the FRC, he has:

  • Praised a Ugandan bill that made homosexuality a crime punishable by death or a long prison sentence as a “laudable” effort “to uphold moral conduct
  • Compared homosexuality to alcoholism and called gay rights advocates “pawns” of Satan
  • Lamented the ties between Democrats and the “Jewish lobby
  • Attacked Islam as an “evil” religion

But seeing that Perkins is already a leading Religious Right figure who most recently was involved in crafting the GOP’s government shutdown strategy, it’s safe to guess that Perkins will remain an influential figure whether he is elected to Congress or not.

h/t: RWW