SCOTUS Hears Case of Anti-Choice Group’s Right to Lie

This morning, the Supreme Court heard a new case that could significantly impact future political campaigns.

Extremist anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List is challenging a longstanding Ohio law that prohibits false statements about candidates.  In 2010, the group had planned to run billboards claiming that then-representative Steve Driehaus supported taxpayer-funded abortion, despite the fact that Driehaus is staunchly anti-choice.  Driehaus filed a petition to prevent the ads, which prompted the owner of the billboards to refuse to display them.

The main issue brought up by the arguments today is whether or not the Ohio law banning false statements is a violation of protected free speech under the First Amendment.  Susan B. Anthony List claims that it is, while Driehaus is arguing that the billboard constituted defamation and that claims made by the group resulted in a loss of his livelihood (Driehaus ultimately lost the election).

About a dozen states other than Ohio also have similar laws, although they vary in degree and level of enforcement. The Ohio law itself has historically not been enforced often.

A ruling on the issue is likely to come down this summer.

Hot News Stories (4/22/14)

San Francisco Chronicle  (San Francisco, CA)
The anti-choice Louisiana House has passed legislation that would require women seeking an abortion in the state to receive a pamphlet that describes possible psychological effects of the procedure, though medical studies have disproven the supposed effects. The bill moves next to the Senate for consideration.

The Florida Times-Union
 (Jacksonville, FL)
A Florida Senate committee on Monday approved an anti-choice bill that could prohibit certain abortions now legal in Florida, sending the measure to the full Senate.

Encouraged by a recent European Union court decision banning the patenting of technologies that use human embryonic stem cells, a group of anti-choice organizations has launched an initiative which, if it passes, will cut funding of embryonic stem cell research in the E.U.


Hot News Stories (4/21/14)

Pew Research (USA)
The teen birth rate has been on a steep decline since the early 1990s and that trend accelerated during the recession of 2007-2009 and the years following, reversing a brief uptick that began in 2006. What’s behind the recent trends? More contraception and more information.

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, CA)
New abortion restrictions that would require doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital easily cleared the Louisiana House, despite criticism they would shut down three of the state’s remaining five abortion clinics. The bill awaits debate in the Senate.

News Press (USA)
“It seems every year the Florida Legislature wants to interfere with and test the legality of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court decisions, impacting a woman’s legal right to choose to have an abortion. This year is no different.”

RMC Responds: Prevention Over Politics

This week, Facebook commenter Heather made a simple but important statement about prevention: “Birth control and family planning aren’t necessarily moral decisions.  They’re medical decisions which people choose to overlay with moral constructs.”  Heather’s comment is so significant because in today’s tense political environment, it is far too easy to loose sight of the real issues and forget how Americans actually feel about this important family issue.rmc_responds1

In the aftermath of the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood hearings before the Supreme Court, it is easy to get caught up in the politicization of and moral discussions surrounding contraception.  In reality, however, most people recognize the basic necessity of family planning, and that prevention is, after all, a personal family issue, not a political one.  A recent survey published by the Pew Research Center reveals what Americans of all backgrounds actually think about birth control.  The results of extensive polling show that only 7% of Americans think contraception is morally unacceptable. And among Republicans 92% do not think contraception is morally objectionable. The results are clear – Americans recognize that family planning is an important part of personal medical decision making. Over one-third of those surveyed don’t even think that birth control is a moral issue at all.

Conversations about contraception belong in the doctor’s office, not in the political arena.  And extremists who oppose birth control on moral grounds make up only a tiny fraction of the American population. Far-right social extremists may be loud, but they clearly do not speak for most people.  It surely is time to start putting prevention before politics and stop tolerating birth control being caught up in moral debates. Most Americans have made it clear that cost-saving preventive family planning is too important to politicize.

Hot News Stories (4/18/14)

Alaska Public Media (Juneau, AK)
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell has signed an anti-choice bill that restricts state Medicaid payments for abortions even in emergency situations.  The new law also limits the term “medically necessary” to cases where a woman’s life or physical health is at risk. The regulations put lawmakers between patients and their doctors.

Austin News (Austin, TX)
A judge has reinstated temporary admitting privileges to two doctors who perform abortions. Their privileges were stripped from them by a Dallas hospital after a court upheld strict new Texas abortion restrictions.

San Francisco Chronicle  (San Francisco, CA)
Roman Catholic organizations in Wyoming are trying to block the birth-control coverage requirement in the federal health care overhaul. A federal judge has now allowed the pro-choice groups to file briefs in the lawsuit.  


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