Latest from The Spokesman-Review
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today ruled that Idaho's law imposing felony penalties on women who obtain abortions in the state that don't follow all the state's legal guidelines likely is unconstitutional, a win for a Pocatello woman who was charged after obtaining abortion drugs over the Internet and inducing an abortion. “There can be no doubt that requiring women to explore the intricacies of state abortion statutes to ensure that they and their provider act within the Idaho abortion statute framework results in an 'undue burden' on a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus,” the appeals court wrote in its decision. That leaves in place an injunction barring a prosecutor from reimposing the charges against the woman, which had been dropped but could be refiled.
However, the court also ruled that the woman didn't have standing to challenge another Idaho abortion law, banning all abortions after 20 weeks on the basis of presumed fetal pain; that law was passed after her case occurred, and exempts the pregnant woman from its criminal penalties, instead imposing them on providers. The woman's attorney, who also is a physician, still is challenging that law. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone; you can read the court's ruling here.
A federal judge on Wednesday left in place an injunction blocking a new law in Mississippi that could effectively shut down the state’s only abortion clinic, located in Jackson, Miss.
U.S. District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III extended the injunction but did not say how long it would remain in effect. The law, passed by the Republican-led legislature in April and made effective July 1, requires anyone performing an abortion to be a certified obstetrician/gynecologist with admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Doctors who perform abortions at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization are OB/GYNS, the clinic says, but they must travel from other states – and don’t have local admitting privileges. The clinic has said the law would cause “irreparable harm” because local hospitals have not said when, or if, they would grant privileges. More.
Do you think Mississippi will become and “abortion-free” state?
The first challenge to the constitutionality of the so-called fetal pain anti-abortion laws enacted in several states has come from an unlikely place; so has the second, reports the Associated Press. Rick Hearn, the lawyer in the center of this fight, represents an Idaho woman challenging her state's abortion laws in an effort to avoid future prosecution. The same Rick Hearn, who also is a physician, is attempting to jump into the case as a plaintiff using his status as a doctor, even though he has never terminated a pregnancy, in an effort to make sure that if the case is successful, it applies broadly enough to get his client off the hook for good, reports AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
Idaho is among more than half a dozen states that have recently passed legislation banning abortion after 19 weeks of pregnancy based on disputed scientific testimony about ability of fetuses to feel pain at 20 weeks. Idaho's law passed last year; it's now being challenged in federal court. Click below for Boone's full report.
NPR reporter Jessica Robinson reports that the arrest of a Pocatello women for using RU-486 purchased on the Internet to self-administer an illegal abortion is proving to be an uneasy one for both sides in the abortion issue. Even as Jennie Linn McCormack prepares to take her case to federal court - and her attorney says he's willing to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court - neither pro-choice nor pro-life groups are making much of the case, for a variety of reasons. You can read Robinson's full report here.
Idaho Sen. Chuck Winder has landed in Garry Trudeaux's “Doonesbury” Web page “Say What?” feature. Dan Popkey/Idaho Statesman writes: “Winder, the sponsor of the stalled ultrasound mandate measure, Senate Bill 1387, is quoted in the comic strip's online “Say What?” feature. Winder's statement in Monday's Senate debate on the bill has made him an international object of derision. “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 spoke with Winder, R-Boise, on Thursday, who is chagrined by all the attention and saddened that it may have contributed to the sidetracking of his bill in the House. More here.
Question: At this point, what would you do if you were Chuck Winder?
I may be in error, but the legislative response of halting the proposed House hearing on the bill, now being reported by the national press, may well be a tactical time-out rather than a strategic stop. The national press will go home. And the Idaho House of Representatives will also prepare to go home … But my call is that prior to the close of the session the House will quickly take up the matter, pass it and let the Dem's in the House and Senate bear the weight of this bill at the polls. It will indeed be a case of political theater, but more accurately: a poltical theater of war/Dennis Mansfield. More here.
- Traffic police as Perry Mason?/Adam's Blog
- Respect for Sen. Nicole LeFavour/Idaho Conservative Blogger
- Tough sledding for Idaho 'Speaker' Brian Cronin/Dan Popkey
- Boomer Sioux-ners: Saudi Arabia of the Great Plains/Marc Johnson
- It's over when it's over/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press
- Best left unsaid/Chris Carlson, Ridenbaugh Press
Question: Do you really think legislation requiring a pre-abortion ultrasound is dead for the year?
Statement of Hannah Brass, legislative director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest re: ultrasound demonstration scheduled in Idaho Legislature Wednesday: “Broadcasting an ultrasound isn’t testimony—it’s political theater. Tomorrow’s unprecedented ultrasound display at the Idaho statehouse has nothing to do with women's health or women's safety, but instead has everything to do with scoring political points. “This is a political stunt using women’s health as theater and women’s bodies as a stage. Politicians in Boise have no business playing politics with women's health in this way. “Forcing doctors to use ultrasounds for political, and not medical, reasons is the very definition of government intrusion. Women who seek to terminate a pregnancy do so prior to 12 weeks gestation 90 percent of the time. An abdominal ultrasound would not provide the detail or the heart beat sounds required by law. (Idaho Legislature photo: Sen. Chuck Winder, bill sponsor)
Question: What do you think about the ultrasound demonstration planned for the Idaho Statehouse Wednesday?
The Senate has voted 23-12 in favor of SB 1387, the pre-abortion ultrasound requirement. Retiring Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, rising to explain her vote, said, “You know, fellow senators, as a woman, and as a person of faith, this bill makes me want to cry. I want an end to abortion as well as all of you do, and I am totally opposed to abortion except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother. But I find this bill to be intrusive into my faith and it is punitive as a woman. This senator votes no”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. And: How they voted.
- Closing debate: Winder compares abortion to U.S. war casualties
- Senate debate: 'An abdominal ultrasound would be limited'
- Hammond: Hope this bill isn't another litmus test to prove you're conservative
- Senate debate on ultrasound bill: 'Needed for women's rights & dignity'
- Senate takes up pre-abortion ultrasound bill
Question: Agree/disagree with the bill?
OLYMPIA – Nearly all medical insurance plans in Washington that offer maternity care would be required to cover abortions under a bill supporters described as a minor adjustment to adjust to new federal laws but opponents denounced as an infringement on religious liberties.
HB 2330 has broad support in the House, where it has 33 co-sponsors. But it's also a target of abortion opponents who held their annual rally earlier this week on the Capitol steps.
Rep. John Ahern, (center with back to the camera) addresses the March for Life rally on the north Capitol steps Tuesday.
OLYMPIA — A couple of inches of sloppy snow did not keep pro-life groups from participating in the annual March for Life this afternoon.
The event featured speeches from several legislators, including Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, and Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane.
Ahern asked demonstrators to support a bill he has introduced that would require any woman seeking an abortion to be shown a sonogram of the fetus.
Washington State Patrol officials estimated the crowd at about 450, which is down from some previous years with better weather.
Bryan Fischer, the former Boise pastor now with the American Family Association, is making headlines again by attacking presidential candidate Herman Cain re: abortion statements. Dan Popkey/Idaho Statesman quotes Fisher from Michelle Goldberg in The Daily Beast. Writes Goldberg: “That could have come right out of the Planned Parenthood playbook,” Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association says of Cain’s comments. “To us, it’s like somebody saying, ‘I’m personally opposed to gassing Jews, but if you want to do that I’m not going to stand in your way.” You can read more from Popkey here.
Question: What do you make of Herman Cain's abortion stand?
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order to keep a prosecutor from refiling charges against a woman accused of having an illegal abortion. Jennie Linn McCormack sued over Idaho's so-called “fetal pain” law banning abortions after 20 weeks and over a law that effectively prohibits women in her region from getting a medication-induced abortion. She filed the lawsuit in federal court after Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Heideman charged her with a felony, saying she obtained an abortion drug over the internet and administered it to herself. Those charges were later dropped without prejudice, allowing the prosecutor to refile the charge if he chose. On Friday, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a 14-day restraining order barring the prosecutor from refiling charges as McCormack's federal lawsuit moves forward.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An eastern Idaho woman who was briefly charged with having an illegal abortion is suing in federal court, contending that Idaho's so-called “fetal pain” law and other abortion bans violate the U.S. Constitution. Jennie McCormack's lawsuit against Bannock County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Hiedeman is believed to be the first to directly challenge the constitutionality of a new Idaho ban on abortions done after 20 weeks, based on the premise that a fetus may feel pain at that point. Idaho is one of six states that have enacted the bans. Heideman could not be immediately reached for comment. McCormack was charged with a felony in June after police said the Pocatello woman took pills to terminate her pregnancy last December. A judge later dismissed the criminal case for lack of evidence. Click below for the full AP report.
The latest national Gallup poll on social attitudes reports a new number one issue that most divides the American public. For years the issue has been abortion. Today it is physician assisted suicide (PAS). While 48 percent of the respondents said the matter was “morally objectionable all the time,” some 45 percent said it could be morally acceptable. The issue has gained sufficient attention that the nation’s Catholic bishops finally issued a policy statement deploring its increased public acceptance at their annual summer meeting in June in Bellevue, Washington/Chris Carlson, The Carlson Report. More here.
Question: Which issue is more important to you — abortion or assisted suicide?
The Washington Supreme Court disbarred a prominent Spokane attorney Thursday after his client complained the lawyer charged him $25,000 to settle a minor dispute over the lease price of a car.
The high court ruled unanimously to uphold the disbarment of Russell Van Camp, who has represented National Right to Life advocates and anti-abortion activists throughout the West. The court said he misled his client about the nature of the $25,000 fee and didn’t follow through with the client’s desire to quickly settle the case.
Van Camp (pictured in 2004) gained national attention in 1994 when he took on the case of a baby born with dead kidneys, possible brain damage and other health problems. Doctors tried to withhold lifesaving dialysis and persuaded the family to let the baby die, but they hired Van Camp instead, and the case gained national media attention.
A 1994 Spokesman-Review profile of Van Camp described him as not being known in Spokane legal circles for his legal mind, rather “Van Camp relies on his people skills.”
“I have maximized the average intelligence I have,” he said at the time. “A good trial lawyer’s an actor upon the stage. I’m just a glorified vacuum cleaner salesman.”
In response to discipline by the Washignton State Bar Association, Van Camp said in 1994 that the association and other attorney were cliquish, jealous of his practice and bitter about losing to him.
A Pat Robertson delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention, Van Camp said he also believes he’s unpopular because he’s one of the country’s few Christians who have made lawyering a success.
“I make no apologies for the person I am. I yam what I yam,” Van Camp says in a bad Popeye impression. “I’m winning and making money.”
With hours to go before a threatened U.S. government shutdown, Republican and Democratic leaders remained deadlocked over federal support for Planned Parenthood and other spending as they narrowed their differences over the size of proposed budget cuts. President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to reach a last- minute deal to avert a government shutdown today. Democratic officials said a dispute over financing for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions among other services, was preventing an agreement over more than $30 billion in overall spending cuts/San Francisco Chronicle. More here. (AP photo: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington Thursday)
Question: Do you believe the federal government will shut down today?
Here is our view.
What this bill really represents is an effort to circumvent the standard of fetus viability established in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which is generally around 22 to 24 weeks. Resetting the point where states could intervene to 20 weeks would have prevented six abortions in Idaho in 2009. But this isn’t about stopping those rare occurrences; it’s about establishing an earlier entry point so that government can limit a pregnant woman’s right to make a highly personal decision. From there, other strategies can be employed to make abortion even more restrictive or outright illegal.
The bill makes no exceptions for rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality or the mental or psychological health of the mother; only when the pregnancy threatens the mother's life or physical health could a post-20-week abortion be performed. An Idaho Attorney General's opinion said the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the Roe vs. Wade decision regarding state restrictions on abortions prior to the point of fetal viability; but backers said they're prepared to defend it in court. “Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?” asked Rep. Shannon McMillan (pictured), R-Silverton. “It didn't ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Do you support this bill?
The House State Affairs Committee has voted along party lines to pass SB 1165, the 20-week abortion ban, sending it to the House with a recommendation that it “do pass.” Rep. Carlos Bilbao, R-Emmett, said, “Anyone, anyone who denies the existence of life at the beginning is wrong in mind. And when it comes to a standard that the courts say, my standard is life, my standard is what God gave me to make a right choice, and I'll make the right choice today”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: According to a tweet from S.L. Fisher (who was listening to State Affairs discussion), lawsuits filed against unconstitutional anti-abortion legislation has cost Idaho $4.1M. Should Idaho pass legislation simply to make a statement re: its stand on abortion?
A Spokane man could serve his sentence on home dention after pelading guilty Wednesday to threatening a Colorado doctor who offers late-term abortions three weeks after the killing of a Kansas doctor who also provided the procedure, according to a plea agreement.
Donald Hertz, 70, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Spokane to one count of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act and one count of transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.
The charges carry up to six years in federal prison and up to $350,000 fine at his Oct. 27 sentencing, but the plea agreement says prosecutors won’t oppose Hertz’s request to serve an incarceration sentence in home detention.
Hertz admitted that he intentionally intimidated Dr. William Hern of the Boulder Abortion Clinic and his employees. According to court records, Hertz contacted the clinic and stated that two of his associates were driving to Boulder, Colo., to kill members of the doctor’s family.
Hertz made the threat just after the May 2009 killing of Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita, Kan., physician who was one of a few doctors in the nation who performed late-term abortions.
“The defendant’s conviction should sent a clear message to others who would carry out similar criminal acts that they will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Perez said in a news release.
Allred tried to toe the line between the partisan divide on some policy issues. When asked about civil unions for gays and lesbians, he said that their rights should be honored and protected, but didn’t call for overturning the state’s constitutional amendment against same sex marriage. On abortion, he said the practice isn’t an appropriate form of birth control, but that it should be allowed in rare instances, including rape, incest, and threat to a woman’s health. The Democratic candidate levied some attacks at the Republican Party and at the governor. He said the GOP platform took party extremism to whole new levels and that some of its proposals, including a repeal of the 17th Amendment and transition back to using gold and silver, ideas that would take Idaho 100 years into the past/Brad Iverson-Long, Idaho Reporter. More here.
Question: Do you agree with Allred’s approach to social issues?
A Spokane man accused of threatening to kill family members of a Colorado abortion doctor is scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges.
Donald Hertz, 70, is scheduled to enter the plea on April 5. He was too ill to attend a plea hearing that had been scheduled today in Denver, according to court documents.
Hertz is required to attend the court hearings in person after a judge denied his request to transfer to the case to Eastern Washington District Court. His doctors have written letters saying that travel and Colorado’s high elevation could be hazardous to Hertz’s ongoing medical issues.
Hertz was charged in August for a phone call authorities say he made on June 23 to the Boulder Abortion Clinic that threatened members of Dr. Warren Hern’s family. Hern is a friend of slain abortion doctor George Tiller.
Two days before Hertz allegedly made the threats, The Spokesman-Review ran a front page story detailing Hern’s late-term abortion practice and the increase in business he’s seen since Tiller’s murder.
Hertz is charged with making an interstate threat and violating a 1994 law that protects access to reproductive health services. He faces up to six years in prison.
Rep. Steve Kren, R-Nampa, proposes legislation to ban abortions based on reasons of race or gender.
Rep. Steve Kren, R-Nampa, presented legislation to the House State Affairs Committee this morning to ban abortions for reasons of gender or race; the committee voted 12-5 along party lines to introduce the bill, though several members raised questions about the wording and legal implications of the bill. More here. Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise
What do you think about Kren’s proposed legislation?
A Kansas jury deliberated for all of 37 minutes before finding Scott Roeder guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Roeder, who shot Tiller in the head during services at his church, was relying on a so-called necessity defense, that is, he was innocent because Tiller posed an immediate threat to the fetuses he would abort. Even Fox News analysts were saying Thursday that defense didn’t wash. The jury obviously agreed. Thirty-seven minutes is about enough time to pass out pencils and paper. Roeder will be sentenced in March.
OLYMPIA — Opponents of abortion filled the Capitol steps Tuesday as legislators urged them to fight against federal health care mandates and proposals that would set new rules for their crisis pregnancy clinics.
A crowd estimated at more than 4,000 by the Washington State Patrol marched from the nearby gardens under banners representing the Orthodox Church, Catholic parishes, the Knights of Columbus or the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Demonstrators carried crosses draped with rosaries or adorned with roses, professionally printed octagonal red signs that said “Stop Abortion Now” or hand-lettered messages such as “Which are more protected, Babies or Whales?”
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Greenacres, asked for their help to pass HB 1688, which would require every minor considering an abortion to have an ultrasound and another, HB 2669, that would nullify the effects of any national health care legislation in Washington.
“If we get life issues wrong, we get every other issue wrong,” Shea said.
Sen. Val Stevens, R-Arlington, urged them to lobby against a bill that she said would require so-called Crisis Pregnancy Clinics to include abortion as an option when talking to patients. That’s a violation of both freedome of speech and freedom of religion, Stevens said.
SB 6452 requires what it calls “limited service pregnancy centers” to tell patients that they do not offer abortion or comprehensive birth control services, to give only “medically and scientifically accurate” information and to tell a patient if a pregnancy test is an over-the-counter test which she can administer herself.
Lt. Mark Arras of the WSP estimated the crowd at more than 4,000, and said it was the largest protest at the Capitol since last spring, when the Tea Party had about 5,000 attend a tax protest.
About a dozen abortion-rights protesters stood across the parking area on the steps to the state Supreme Court building, sometimes banging a drum, other times chanting “My Body, My Choice” or “Keep it Safe and Legal.” But they were easily drowned out by the anti-abortion crowd spelling out “L-I-F-E, Life!” or “We are, we are Pro-Life” to the cadence of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” About the only time they could be heard for a prolonged period was when the abortion protesters were hushed for the opening prayer.
DENVER (AP) — A Spokane man accused of threatening relatives of a Colorado doctor who performs late-term abortions is considering a plea deal.
Federal court documents filed in Denver said Donald Hertz indicated he was willing to accept the offer with minor modifications.
His attorney Russell Van Camp said Wednesday he doesn’t want Hertz to go to jail. Hertz is accused of calling the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Boulder, Colo., on June 23 and threatening to kill members of Dr. Warren Hern’s family.
The call came within weeks of the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, who operated a similar clinic in Wichita, Kan.
Hertz faces charges of making an interstate threat and of violating a law protecting access to reproductive health service.
Read a previous story here.
Item: Pro-life leaders denounce murder of abortion doctor George Tiller/FoxNews.com
Bryan Fischer/Idaho Values Alliance: As much as we can understand the energy generated by the heinous nature of Tiller’s crimes, Christians cannot be true to the Scriptures and sanction the bombing of abortion clinics or the murder of abortionists. The answer to homicidal violence, in other words, is not more homicidal violence. The solution rather is for the pro-life community to work ceaselessly for legal and judicial reform so that the monstrous things Tiller did under color of law become unthinkable once again. The place to begin, certainly, is to use our influence to see that the next Supreme Court justice understands that the primary purpose of the legal system is to protect the unalienable right to life. More here.
- Fischer to join American Family Association/IVA
- Monday 6.1/Unequivocal Notion
- Risch and the Middle East/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press
- Crapo takes a bold — and politically risky — stand for salmon/Kevin Richert
- The woman who could topple Otter/Adam’s Blog
Question: Do you think the strong denouncements of George Tiller’s murder by pro-life groups are sincere?
Forgot to post this before going home last night:
More than 4,000 people crowded the Washington state Capitol steps Tuesday to decry abortion.
“Let’s make sure the Supreme Court can hear all of us today,” newly elected state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Mead, said. He dismissed the dozen counter-demonstrators on the state Supreme Court steps as “static” and led the crowd in a chant: “Life, life, life, life!”
Organizers have long held annual anti-abortion rallies at the Capitol, but Tuesday’s gathering was the largest in recent years. Buses crowded the Capitol lawn, and the crowd spilled over the Capitol steps. Many people came with church groups.
“If your neighbor is thinking about abortion, talk her out of it,” said state Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace. “… Because the economy’s in the tank, the abortion problem is going to get worse unless we work to prevent that.”
At Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest, public policy director Jet Tilley said she’s not anticipating any major efforts to restrict abortion in the statehouse this year.
“We have a pretty solidly pro-choice House and Senate,” she said. The main issue, she said, will be trying to protect funding for family planning. It’s particularly critical in rural parts of the state far from other health care, she said.
“We’re really looking to protect patients and protect the family planning safety net,” she said.
Also speaking at Tuesday’s rally was new state Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy. She recounted the story of a woman who kept a child even though the doctor said the baby probably wouldn’t live.
“That young mother is now my mother-in-law,” Short said, and the baby is her husband, Mitch.
Across a small lawn, the dozen abortion rights demonstrators shouted back at the crowd.
“I love my rights!” they chanted.
“If you don’t like abortion, don’t have one,” one woman said.