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With many people spending time with family during the holidays this time of year, abortion rights supporters are craving deep conversations with people they love, and they have committed to engaging in what can be hard talks to help crack through the misinformation and disagreements about abortion.

In this post-election landscape, the National Network of Abortion Funds(NNAF) has been asked many times how people can help our mission and support our work. One of the best ways is to have discussions about your support for abortion access. With many people spending time with family during the holidays this time of year, abortion rights supporters are craving deep conversations with people they love, and they have committed to engaging in what can be hard talks to help crack through the misinformation and disagreements about abortion. Here are a few starting points from some of our member funds.

One-on-one conversations: “One-on-one is key—I’ve made the mistake of jumping into it at Thanksgiving on a topic where I was the only one in the family who felt the way I did, and it did not go well. Yes, we have a duty to speak up, but we have to be strategic in how we do that,” says Nan Kirkpatrick of the Texas Equal Access Fund. Have these conversations with your loved ones in smaller, less charged groups. It reduces the chance for angry conversations and allows people to ask you questions or frame their ideas with less defensiveness. It also gives you the space to converse beyond talking points and rhetoric, and share what your full vision for the future and full reproductive justice for everyone would look like.

Find common ground: Many people share common values, and the information we’ve been given about these topics often automatically divides us more than encourages us to find the issues we do agree on. Rather than assuming the person can’t or won’t share your core values, recognize the building moments that can happen. Prosper Hedges of the Magnolia Fund says, “I take a quick mental survey of our shared values and emphasize those first. My grandparents are vehemently anti-choice Catholics and cornered me earlier this year about the work I do. They said such inflammatory things (like ‘heart rate begins an hour after conception’), but from their teary eyes and clasped hands I could tell that a quick, scientific takedown would only ostracize them further. However, I know that part of their faith is a firm default to the judgment of a higher power, and a refusal to cast the first stone. I told them that my faith is similar—I always have faith in the ability of the person I’m speaking with to assess their own needs, and I don’t need to understand more than that. This opened up a conversation about birth control and sex education that I never would have thought possible prior.”

Maia Elkana of the Gateway Women’s Access Fund says “my family is ‘pro-choice’ so I’m lucky in this regard, but abortion funding was new to them, as is a reproductive justice framework. My dad watches a lot of Fox News and has come to believe some of the more offensive things he hears on TV, but he’s a father who raised two girls mostly on his own and he’s naturally a caring and empathetic person. Talking about access to care and the economic impact on women and families, and widening it out to violence prevention and school readiness, to make the connection to my day job work as a social worker, has really helped me in my conversations with him.”

Almost always, these will be years of continuing conversations rather than one persuasive argument you can make that will hit them like lightning and change their mind. You have to be invested enough in change to meet people where they are and keep pushing.

Oriaku Njoku of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast says, “Having family who is religious and from Nigeria, talking about my work was a bit frightening at first. But the thing that made it easier was being grounded in the reproductive justice framework. Being able to use intersectionality to make connections between abortion access and race, gender, poverty, and other issues impacting folks in our community makes this conversation easier. It’s more than choice. It’s more than abortion. In fact, my mom went from being someone who was damn near pro-life to wanting to open a pregnancy resource vector like All-Options Pregnancy Resource Center in Bloomington because she sees how it’s all connected. Pretty cool …”

Be a resource for information when people have questions: When you come across a great article or book, bookmark it and save a list for the moments when people ask you for resources.  Refinery29 recently hosted a Tumblr Q & A session with reproductive rights leaders—including NNAF Executive Director Yamani Hernandez and We Testify abortion storyteller Jack Qu’emi Gutierrez—and the resulting answers are a really incredible conversation about the logistics, laws, barriers, and feelings around abortion, from people with real questions. They are worth keeping and sharing with people who need answers. Angie Hayes of Clinic Access Support Network says, “I also like to make ‘trades’ with my family to get them to read things. I say, ‘I’ll read something you give me (on a topic they are trying to change my mind on); if you read this, then we can discuss,’” and she shares this piece with people who might be questioning anti-abortion faith movements. Trina Stout of The CAIR Project says, “With racism a barrier to access, and not a lot of white people connecting those dots, white people have a lot of work to do talking to other white people. Here’s a resource.

Remember people are listening: Even if a conversation isn’t going well , often there are others around you who are silently gathering strength from you. Statistics tell us that everyone loves someone who’s had an abortion. When someone else is vocally anti-abortion, what they’re telling those around them is that they’re not safe spaces to share abortion experiences or feelings. That’s heartbreaking. The good thing is you can be the opposite. When you affirm that you trust people in their reasons for having abortions, that you know there are barriers to access that can make the experience difficult, and that you are a safe space for conversations, questions, and crisis, you’ve just comforted someone around you, maybe without even knowing.

“I remember one Christmas when my family was having a heated discussion about the women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault. Some of my family members said they were only sharing their stories for greed, and I became upset,” explains Renee Bracey Sherman, senior public affairs manager at NNAF. “I told my family, “There are people in our family who have experienced sexual assault and when they hear you talk like this, it makes them not want to come forward. It’s why I didn’t come forward about a toxic relationship I was in. It’s why I kept my abortion a secret for so long.’ After I said that, the conversation calmed down, and a few people started realizing how their words might be impacting others around them.”

“Even when I’m being disrespected or disagreed with, I think about the younger people in my life. I think about my cousins that are listening, teens that might hear or read what I’m saying, family members who may not feel comfortable sharing their experiences,” says Lindsay Rodriguez of NNAF. “I never want them to think the people who are judging them for decisions or questions are the only voices out there. Even if they never need me, I want them to know I’m here if they do. I want other people around me to know I trust them, and I’ll fight for and with them every day. The worst thing we can do to people seeking abortions is make them feel alone.”

NNAF members are often well-versed in these conversations; we have family like everyone else, and not all of them are as supportive as we’d like them to be. But often they are curious as well. Many abortion funders have experiences with family and friends who want to ask questions, and for the first time have someone to turn to. Often, one of the biggest ways abortion rights supporters can help move the cause forward is by voicing your support, often and without judgment; the people in your life who have questions will find you. We all have experiences with people we’d least expect asking us questions, sharing stories, and quietly voicing their support to us.

These conversations are critical for people who don’t feel like they have other safe spaces to talk about abortion. We can be harbors of support, springs of information, vaults of stories. Abortion funds are raising money to ensure people are getting access to abortion, but they’re also doing critical culture change work; abortion funders are expanding the often singular narratives and deepening empathy. And those are things we can all do. In times of stress and strain, our conversations and our relationships will nourish us.

https://rewire.news/article/2016/11/23/talk-family-abortion-holidays/

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel accused lawmakers of requiring a patient seeking a second-trimester abortion to undergo an “unwanted, risky, invasive, and experimental procedure.”

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that parts of a Texas law banning the most common type of second-trimester abortion care are unconstitutional.

The permanent injunction from U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel was handed down just hours before the temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing the provisions was set to expire. The act, Yeakel wrote, “intervenes in the medical process of abortion prior to viability in an unduly burdensome manner.”

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that the ruling was the latest blow delivered to an “unrelenting and coordinated political agenda” that seeks to restrict reproductive rights.

“The court’s decision once again makes clear that politicians cannot force their way into private medical decisions that should stay between patients and physicians,” Northup said. “Access to vital reproductive health services should not depend on a woman’s zip code, and today’s decision ensures Texas women can continue to seek the care they need and deserve.”

Among other provisions, SB 8 prohibits physicians from performing a so-called dismemberment abortion—a phrase popularized by anti-choice organizations—unless necessary in a medical emergency. The law targets a procedure known as dilation and evacuation (D and E), the most common method of performing second-trimester abortions.

The provisions were based on copycat legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, an anti-choice organization that has successfully lobbied GOP lawmakers in eight states to pass similar bills.

Judge Yeakel, appointed to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote in the 27-page opinion that the act would require pregnant people to “endure a medically unnecessary and invasive procedure,” creating an undue burden.

The judge specifically took issue with the state’s claim that the D and E procedure could be performed if a physician induced “fetal demise.” Physicians who testified during the five-day trial earlier this month characterized that requirement as “uncharted territory” that would increase risk and delays, reported theTexas Tribune.

“The court concludes that requiring a woman to undergo an unwanted, risky, invasive, and experimental procedure in exchange for exercising her right to choose an abortion, substantially burdens that right,” Yeakel wrote.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) in July filed the lawsuit on behalf of several Texas abortion providers.

Among the plaintiffs is Whole Woman’s Health, the abortion provider that became synonymous with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in which the court struck down the anti-choice omnibus law known as HB 2.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, said in a statement that the ruling was a victory for women and families in Texas.

“Today the court ruled on the right side of medicine and was just another step in ensuring that all Texans are given the dignity and respect they deserve to make their own healthcare decisions,” Hagstrom Miller said.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced shortly after the ruling that his office had already filed a notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

“We will defend Senate Bill 8 all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary,” Paxton said in a statement.

https://rewire.news/article/2017/11/22/judge-rules-unconstitutional-texas-ban-method-abortion/

“I think Georgia must explain exactly how granting tax payer dollars to CPCs will improve maternal health outcomes in our state, with no regulation or accountability attached, all while we still have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.”

Georgia is the latest state to provide taxpayer funds to anti-choice fake clinics, commonly known as crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which use misinformation to dissuade people from seeking abortion care.

But new research on Georgia’s fake clinics found that organizations eligible to receive millions in state funding often advertise limited health care services and provide medically inaccurate or misleading information.

The study, published Monday in Women’s Health Issues, found that most anti-choice clinics in Georgia offer few services beyond pregnancy testing and counseling. A majority of these facilities, according to the study, promote false or misleading information to pregnant people.

“Our analysis revealed numerous concerns about advertised services and accuracy of the health information presented on Georgia crisis pregnancy center websites,” Andrea Swartzendruber, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at the University of Georgia College of Public Health, told Rewire in an email.

“Although our study does not provide information about the types and quality of services actually provided at Georgia’s crisis pregnancy centers, it reveals that they often offer false and misleading, and potentially harmful, health information,” Swartzendruber said.

The researchers identified 87 fake clinics in the state and analyzed the content of 64 websites.

Nearly every anti-abortion clinic in the study advertised pregnancy options counseling and pregnancy testing. But just 42 percent of the websites informed clients that the organizations do not provide or refer clients for abortion services.

The study found that 53 percent of fake clinics’ websites included “false or misleading statements regarding the need to make a decision about abortion or links between abortion and mental health problems or breast cancer.”

Seventeen clinics provide abortion services in Georgia, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The Feminist Women’s Health Center in Atlanta offers a full spectrum of reproductive health care. Like most Georgia facilities that provide abortion care, it’s located in a major metropolitan area.

Kwajelyn Jackson, community education and advocacy director at the Feminist Women’s Health Center, told Rewire she believes anti-choice clinics are “not equipped” to give medically accurate information or advice to the clients they serve.

“We have heard from people who went to CPCs for wanted pregnancies who were still lectured about abortion during their visits, given inaccurate information, and misdiagnosed, sometimes to devastating results,” Jackson said.

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a bill in April 2016 to establish the “Positive Alternatives for Pregnancy and Parenting” grant program to promote pregnancy and parenting services as alternatives to abortion care.

Life Resources of Georgia, a self-described “pro-life Christian organization,” was awarded a $189,400 contract in August to distribute $3 million in grants. Life Resources can exercise a significant degree of discretion in determining which organizations receive funding.

Life Resources of Georgia did not respond to requests for information or comment.

There are about 70 “pregnancy assistance organizations” in Georgia that may qualify for grant money, according to Georgia Life Alliance. The state health department lists 50 organizations, provided to the department by Georgia Life Alliance in 2015, that offer free ultrasounds for pregnant people.

Nancy Nydam, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Public Health, told Rewire in an email that the department’s Family Planning program oversees the contract awarded to Life Resources of Georgia. The organization, she said, is “working to have the subcontracts in place” by December 1.

The Georgia Department of Public Health’s Family Planning program offers residents assistance in accessing comprehensive services, including “effective contraception methods.”

But, according to the study’s findings, none of the anti-choice clinics’ websites advertise contraceptive methods approved by the FDA. The contraceptive services advertised on fake clinic websites were limited to counseling about emergency contraception and natural family planning—on 11 percent and 3 percent of anti-choice clinic websites, respectively.

Swartzendruber said the services described on fake clinics’ websites do not appear to align with prevailing medical guidelines.

“The study’s findings suggest that careful monitoring and increased regulation of Georgia’s pregnancy resource centers may be warranted to ensure quality health information and services and fiscal responsibility of public funds,” Swartzendruber said.

Jackson also asked for more accountability from the state of Georgia.

“I think Georgia must explain exactly how granting taxpayer dollars to CPCs will improve maternal health outcomes in our state, with no regulation or accountability attached, all while we still have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country,” Jackson said.

Georgia also has one of the highest rates of HIV infectionsteen pregnancy, and infant mortality.

https://rewire.news/article/2017/11/21/study-georgia-funds-anti-choice-fake-clinics-doling-potentially-harmful-information/

“Location, location, location,” St. Gerard’s board chair and medical director, Dr. Judith Mascolo, said. “It’s all about business. We go where the women are.”

In Hartford, Connecticut, two doors face each other across a brick courtyard.

Signs in similar colors and font bear the names “Hartford Women’s Center” and “Hartford GYN Center.”

Behind one of these doors is an abortion clinic; behind the other, a crisis pregnancy center (CPC), or fake clinic, whose purpose is to deter patients from abortion.

When patients arrive for appointments at Hartford GYN, the abortion clinic, anti-choice protesters and CPC volunteers try to corral them into the fake clinic. There, according to testimonies collected by pro-choice advocates, representatives frighten these patients with misinformation, telling them that abortion is a sin and that they might not make it out alive. So aggressive are the clinic’s tactics that they even once waylaid a bewildered payroll company employee on her way to a meeting with another organization in the same complex, telling her that they could help her.

Hartford Women’s Center is part of St. Gerard’s Center for Life, an affiliate of Heartbeat International, which describes itself as the largest network of crisis pregnancy centers in the world. Its members are trained to conceal their true intentions by opening near abortion clinics and ditching religious content. The clinic’s name and location, and the medical scrubs sometimes worn by its representatives, appear designed to confuse people into mistaking it for the abortion clinic that stands just yards away.

Now city officials are trying to address the misinformation.

Hartford is the latest city to consider legislation to prevent fake clinics from deceiving patients. Similar attempts have faced legal challenges, including a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court that could determine whether these clinics can keep lying to patients nationwide. Hartford officials say they are confident their measure will stand up in court—and they are willing to fight to defend it.

The ordinance would ban fake clinics from using false or misleading advertising and require them to disclose in the entrance, waiting area, and on advertisements whether they have a licensed medical provider on the premises, with penalties of up to $100 a day for non-compliance.

On Monday, scores of people packed into a public hearing on the ordinance at Hartford City Hall, some in purple “Trust Women” shirts and others in yellow with stickers showing their support for the state’s crisis pregnancy centers. Among Hartford residents, who were allowed to speak first, ordinance supporters outnumbered opponents by a ratio of about three to one.

Among those supporters was Erica Palmer, who said she has been targeted by individuals gathered outside the fake clinic while walking in the area with her son.

Erica Palmer speaks at Hartford City Hall.

“Just this summer, I’ve been followed on foot by the representatives who demanded to know whether I was there for an abortion or birth control, been told that my choices were damning me to hell, estrogen and birth control cause cancer, and that they can reverse the [abortion] pill,” Palmer said.

Abortion pill reversal, an unproven protocol promoted by anti-choice groups, is among the services listed on St. Gerard’s advertisement cards, along with free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and “help recovering from post-abortive trauma,” a purported condition that is unsupported by evidence.

Palmer also read aloud a statement by her 9-year-old son, Donovan, about how the anti-choice people “stalked us to the car” and “made me feel worried for my mom and anxious.”

Another Hartford resident who supports the ordinance, Kamora Herrington, told the city council about how she saw an ad for pregnancy support when she was pregnant at the age of 18. After calling the number on the ad, she realized that the person on the other end of the line had an anti-choice agenda.

“When I got off the phone with that person, I was more lost than I was when I got on the phone,” Herrington said. “I believed that there was truth in advertising.”

St. Gerard’s denies that it engages in deceptive practices and says that the medical services it offers—pregnancy tests and ultrasounds—are performed by licensed medical personnel who undergo ultrasound training from anti-choice organizations.

Rewire asked St. Gerard’s executive director Leticia Velasquez why the organization chose the name “Hartford Women’s Center.”

“Some women, when they see a saint’s name, even devout Catholics, they feel that they’re going to be judged,” Velasquez said, adding that the organization is in Hartford, and, “We love women.”

Pressed on whether the new name was chosen for its similarity to the abortion clinic’s, Velasquez demurred.

“We like to say that this is who we are,” she said. “We have a right to it.”

When asked why the center was located so close to Hartford GYN, St. Gerard’s board chair and medical director, Dr. Judith Mascolo, told Rewire that it’s “where the women are.”

“Location, location, location,” Mascolo said. “It’s all about business. We go where the women are.”

In public Facebook comments, Velasquez has touted the CPC’s coffee bar as a tactic “to lure abortion minded women off the path to the abortion clinic.” Asked by Rewire about the postings, she said she regrets using that phrasing.

“That was a poor choice of words,” she said. “But I want them to come in, because we want to love them.”

Hartford’s debate comes at a pivotal moment for efforts to regulate these centers.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the right-wing litigation mill Alliance Defending Freedom’s challenge to a California state law that requires fake clinics to disclose if they are not licensed medical facilities, and display information about free or low-cost access to abortion and contraception.

Other efforts to regulate these centers in Hawaii; Baltimore and Montgomery County, Maryland; and Austin, Texas, have also faced legal challenges.

But Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city modeled its measure on city ordinances that have withstood such challenges in New York City and San Francisco.

An appeals panel this year upheld San Francisco’s ordinance banning false or misleading advertising by fake clinics, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld New York City’s requirement that these clinics inform patients whether they have a licensed medical provider on staff. That’s the same court that could consider Hartford’s ordinance.

“I think it’s a pretty simple and pretty basic proposition that women who are making decisions about their health care and their future should not be subject to deception,” Bronin told Rewire in an interview.

But Rewire found enforcement of these measures has been uneven at best.

Just last week, the agency charged with enforcing New York City’s ordinance testified before a city council committee that it has issued only two notices of violation after fielding complaints about nine facilities and conducting 21 inspections. Most of the facilities visited were not required to post the disclosure because regulators determined they did not meet the legal definition of pregnancy resource center—which the Hartford ordinance copies.

That definition requires facilities to offer ultrasounds or prenatal care, or to meet two of six criteria indicating it appears to be a medical facility, in order to be subject to the law. New York did not start enforcing its ordinance until last year, due to the litigation.

Planned Parenthood of New York City said its examination has shown no crisis pregnancy centers in the city have actually posted the required disclosure.

In San Francisco, the city attorney’s office told Rewire it has sent just one warning letter to a crisis pregnancy center—and that was in 2011, when the ordinance was first introduced. It’s been in effect for six years.

Hartford Mayor Bronin told Rewire he will work with the city’s incoming director of the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure enforcement is “effective and appropriate.”

Meanwhile, organizers at Hartford GYN have boosted their escort program, positioning volunteers outside to usher the clinic’s patients in the right direction. They have also been documenting the stories of patients who are waylaid by the fake clinic.

“They have been given false medical information, they’ve experienced shame, they’ve been pressured about their decision, and have not known in the beginning that they were in the wrong place,” Erica Crowley, who serves as both an organizer for NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut and volunteer coordinator for Hartford GYN, told Rewire.

One 21-year-old patient told Crowley how a fake clinic representative told her that abortion was a sin that she would regret, and that she might not make it out alive if she had one.

Leticia Velasquez told Rewire her counselors do not use that kind of terminology. Another patient said she was offered $50 and a free ultrasound; Velasquez acknowledged that the center did offer such compensation during its ultrasound training.

The stories Crowley has collected also include that of the payroll worker who was on her way to a meeting with NARAL, which is in the same complex. When the worker asked for directions to NARAL, people outside “acted confused as if you were several blocks away,” the employee later told Crowley. “They asked me if I wanted to speak to someone at their office and [said] that they could help me.”

Velasquez did not dispute that account.

“We might have thought she was pregnant,” Velasquez told Rewire. “Saying ‘we can help you’ is not saying ‘you have an appointment.’”

But abortion clinic patients who have mistakenly entered the fake clinic say that volunteers there have referred to them as patients with appointments, Hartford GYN escorts testified at Monday’s hearing.

Hartford’s ordinance takes aim at this kind of deception.

“It’s not a question of whether you agree with abortion or not personally,” Sarah Croucher, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, told Rewire in an interview. “It’s a question of whether you think that when someone is deliberately seeking a certain kind of appointment they should just be able to go to that appointment, and not be misled on their way.”

https://rewire.news/article/2017/11/21/hartford-ordinance-anti-choice-tricking-abortion-patients/

Tom Tancredo’s anti-abortion stance in a general election would likely work against him in a state that has voted down so-called personhood amendments three times.

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who this month jumped into Colorado’s crowded race for governor, is known nationally for his hard line positions on immigration, but he’s also staunchly anti-choice, having supported federal and state fetal “personhood” abortion bans during his political career.

Tancredo’s extreme anti-abortion stance in a general election would likely work against him in a state that has voted down so-called personhood amendments three times. Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected fetal “personhood” amendments in 20082010, and 2014. In 2012, anti-abortion activists fell tens of thousands of signatures short of qualifying for the ballot.

Close to 60 percent of Colorado adults say abortion care should be legal in most or all cases.

But in Colorado’s Republican primary, which attracts the state’s most ardent opponents of abortion rights, Tancredo’s anti-choice stances would work in his favor, said John Straayer, a professor of political science at Colorado State University.

“A lot of people who are drawn to someone who is virulently anti-immigration would share his views on reproductive choice,” Straayer told Rewire. “I think there’s a pretty high level of overlap.”

Anti-choice activists say their issue can propel Republican candidates in the primary.

“I definitely believe his support of personhood will help him with people who are pro-life, and there is a big pro-life base here in Colorado,” said Jennifer Mason, a spokesperson for Personhood USA, which has backed multiple personhood amendments in Colorado. “Personhood is really just an acknowledgment that every human life has value. So I definitely think that will help him.”

Dick Wadhams, a conservative pundit and former leader of Colorado’s Republican Party, said Tancredo, who once ran for president on an anti-immigration platform, has a loyal base of support.

“Tom Tancredo starts off with 20, 23 percent … a rock-hard base of support among Republican primary voters,” Wadhams said on KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Show November 8. “And no one else is even close to that. Everybody else is down at 10 [percent] or below.”

That’s a big advantage in a primary with five or six candidates, Wadhams said.

The pro-choice stance of one of Tancredo’s opponents, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, was reported for the first time last week by a Denver TV station. Coffman immediately came under attack by conservatives like KNUS radio host Caplis, who suggested that Coffman might have lied about her pro-choice position to be elected by Republicans in 2014.

Another Republican in the gubernatorial race, businessman Victor Mitchell, responded on Facebook to Coffman’s pro-choice stance with the statement that the Colorado Republican Party “should nominate pro-life candidates” and to do “otherwise is to abandon our values.”

Coffman is unlikely to win the GOP gubernatorial primary unless there’s a “really substantial turnout” of Republican primary voters, which “could bring out the moderates,” Straayer said. A new Colorado law allowing unaffiliated voters to participate in the party primaries may facilitate a larger turnout, Straayer said, but he predicts this won’t happen, allowing a more conservative candidate to win the nomination.

One organization that supports Latinas in Colorado is so troubled by Tancredo’s gubernatorial run that it made an exception to its usual policy of not commenting on candidates.

“We are concerned about what will happen if the leadership of our state is put into the hands of someone who would like to see Roe v. Wade overturned and abortion access taken away, someone who does not support providing sanctuary protections or advancing compassionate immigration reform and instead would beef up the fear mongering and violence that result from the federal policies from our broken immigration system, someone who is associated with a white supremacist group that helped to organize the deadly, racist rallies in Virginia this past summer,” Karla Gonzales Garcia, policy and program director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), said in a statement to Rewire. “This is not only the wrong direction for Colorado to move in, but is a very real threat to many of the women and families that we work with each and every day.”

Tancredo was on the board of VDARE Foundation, an organizer of the Charlottesville white supremacist rally. He was scheduled to speak at a VDARE conference that was canceled in August. But he resigned from the board shortly after announcing his campaign for governor, telling a Denver Post columnist he’d “goofed” by associating with the white supremacist organization.

Pro-choice activists say Colorado will reject a Republican with Tancredo’s anti-choice views.

“Tom Tancredo is as extreme and at odds with Colorado values on abortion rights as he is on everything else,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “His beliefs are a retrograde throwback to the days before [Roe v. Wade] and even the days before Colorado became the first state to allow safe, legal abortion 50 years ago.”

Tancredo, in an interview with Rewire, confirmed his opposition both to Roe v. Wade and to public funding for Planned Parenthood. He continues to support federal and state personhood measures that have proven widely unpopular, he said.

“What we see on that ultrasound picture is indeed life,” he said.

Along with Coffman, Mitchell, and Tancredo, Colorado’s GOP gubernatorial candidates include former Trump organizer Steve Barlock; Mitt Romney’s nephew, Doug Robinson; and state treasurer Walker Stapleton, who’s a second cousin of former President George W. Bush.

https://rewire.news/article/2017/11/21/fetal-personhood-backer-enters-colorados-gop-gubernatorial-fray/

 

 
SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – El Salvador should apply a moratorium on laws that punish women with harsh jail terms for having an abortion while it reviews cases of those already incarcerated in the socially conservative Central American country, a top U.N. official said Friday.

Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement he spent part of his two-day trip meeting with women imprisoned for the crime of “aggravated homicide” due to what he described as obstetric emergencies.

“I am appalled that as a result of El Salvador’s absolute prohibition on abortion, women are being punished for apparent miscarriages and other obstetric emergencies, accused and convicted of having induced termination of pregnancy,” he said in a statement.

He called on authorities to review all cases of women detained for offenses related to abortion, which the local Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion puts at 27 cases in which exclusively poor women have been sentenced to jail terms of six to 35 years.

Al Hussein proposed that the review be conducted by presidential decree and carried out by an expert committee that would include international members.

Calls to El Salvador’s communications ministry seeking comment on Al Hussein’s comments were not immediately returned.

Since 1997, the Central American country has had one of the most severe laws targeting women and people who assist with abortions.

Last year, the party of leftist President Salvador Sanchez Ceren proposed that Congress reform the country’s abortion law to allow for exceptions to the blanket prohibition.

The exceptions would include instances when the life of the mother is at risk, when the pregnancy resulted from rape or human trafficking, or when the fetus suffers from a malformation that would render it inviable.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-el-salvador-abortion/u-n-calls-on-el-salvador-to-stop-jailing-women-for-abortion-idUSKBN1DI001

Pro Life supporters rally at a Planned Parenthood facility, Downtown, in February.

A federal judge has upheld a Pittsburgh ordinance establishing a 15-foot “buffer zone” designed to keep abortion protesters away from clinic entrances  — the latest round in a three-year legal fight.

In a 26-page opinion Thursday, U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon wrote that the city’s 2005 ordinance “imposes only a minimal burden” on protesters trying to persuade women not to have abortions.

While the ordinance bars protesters from following women across a brightly painted 15-foot boundary, she said, clinic protesters’ “own records reflect not only that they are able to communicate with patients, but, in some instances, have persuad[ed] women not to have abortions.”

The protesters argued that they could persuade more women not to abort “if they could walk alongside patients all the way to and from the entrance of the clinic,” Judge Bissoon added. But they “offer no concrete evidence to support this claim.”

Abortion-rights supporters and city officials hailed the decision.

“We thank the court for this decision, which retains a great benefit for women and health care access in Pittsburgh,” said Timothy McNulty, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto.

“No women should have to endure threats, confrontation or even violence when they seek basic reproductive health-care services,” said Kimberlee Evert, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. “This court decision ensures those who need medical counseling or treatment will have safe, unfettered access to our clinics.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented clinic protesters, remained defiant. “The government can’t stifle free speech simply because some pro-abortion politicians or activists demand it,” it said in a statement. “We are consulting with our clients regarding the possibility of appeal.”

The fight over the buffer zone began in 2014. That June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an expansive statewide buffer zone law in Massachusetts. That opened the door to renewed scrutiny of similar buffers elsewhere. Pittsburgh’s buffer was challenged in that September, when Nikki Bruni and other self-described “sidewalk counselors” said it violated their First Amendment rights.

Judge Bissoon initially dismissed the case, but in June 2016, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it. The appellate judges ruled that before the case could be decided, the city had to justify its buffer zones by showing they served a legitimate public interest and that it had reasons for not using other approaches that might be less restrictive.

Judge Bissoon’s decision Thursday laid out that groundwork, citing 2005 City Council testimony that, in the nine months leading up to the 2005 ordinance’s passage, there had been “13 cases of aggressive pushing, shoving and hitting, and 30 complaints of harassing behavior” outside clinics. The city, she wrote, had tried other approaches — such as stationing police at clinics — that had proved to be impractical. And the city’s buffer zones, she said, were smaller than those overturned in Massachusetts.

Since “the current law burdens very little speech to begin with,” she concluded, “there is no reason to believe that [other] measures would burden substantially less speech.”

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2017/11/17/abortion-clinic-buffer-zone-Pittsburgh-ordinance-legal/stories/201711170293