The Supreme Court on Tuesday prepared to hear a second challenge to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, this time to decide whether employers must provide their workers with insurance coverage for contraceptives even if the owners say it would violate their religious principles.
What is likely to be the signature ruling of the court’s term presents the justices with complicated questions about religious freedom and equality for female workers. It could have long-term implications for what other legal requirements companies could decline because of religious convictions. And it asks a question the court has never confronted: whether the Constitution or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that protects an individual’s exercise of religion extends to secular, for-profit corporations and their owners.
Despite a marathon sideshow of misinformation being paraded before the Manassas City Council, in the end, common sense ruled the day. To make a very long story short, after enough discussion to sink a battle ship, Councilman Mark Wolfe offered up a motion that protected the process of good governance. It was seconded by Councilman Harrover and supported by Councilmen Way and Randolph. Clinics that offer abortion services will not have to jump through special hoops nor will those types of clinics be pushed ahead of others.
Despite more than three hours of emotional testimony from about 85 speakers, two-thirds advocating against abortion, the Manassas City Council decided Monday against requiring special approval for new medical facilities – a zoning change some said could, in effect, limit access to abortion services.
Instead, the council voted 4-2 to proceed with a comprehensive review of the city’s zoning ordinance, which has not been substantially updated since the 1940s.
The decision will put to rest, for now, the question of whether Manassas would follow Fairfax city’s controversial decision to single out medical facilities with zoning rules that require a “special use permit” regardless of where they locate within the city.
Special use permits require a public hearing and separate approval by city or county officials, a process that can open applicants to public opposition. Abortion-rights advocates consider the process politically motivated and a means of “zoning out” women’s health clinics.
Nooo, we aren’t singling out abortion clinics for special treatment. Noooooo, we aren’t blurring the lines between church and state. Found on the front page of Sentinel, a weekly newsletter from Elizabeth Anne Seton School for parents and students:
On Monday, March 10th at some time after 5:30 pm in City Hall Council Chambers, the Manassas City Council will vote on Marc Aveni’s proposal to require new medical facilities (to include abortion clinics) come before Council and the public before locating in the City. Your prayers, attendance and possible speaking during citizen time in favor of this effort are needed again.
I suppose that once again there will be a sideshow over at City Chambers where everyone will be strutting out their most pious behavior. Marc Aveni is getting himself some free advertisement for his cause. (Will I get a thank you note for providing some coverage for him?) I don’t think those of us in the County can pick up City channels so we will miss the show but I expect it will be a rendition of Brother Love’s traveling Salvation Show of Neil Diamond Fame.
Yesterday’s story actually became the story. Most of our contributors know that there is a certain decorum around here and nearly everyone goes along with it without question. I think all of our ‘in moderations’ have even been turned loose and that we all agree that the rules around here really aren’t so bad. Hell, we even let people cuss and more than a few people last week used a socially inappropriate word or two without having to sit in the naughty chair.
One of the major rules here is about county employees. I went back through the thread and its comments just to make sure that *I* had adhered to our own rules. I think I did. I think I urged others to do the same. We also encourage people to be respectful of each other as much as is humanly possible during political debate. That extends to name calling.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee on Friday defended recent comments he made about women’s libidos, saying “it was just a colorful expression” about something that’s wholesome and God-given.
“My point was, not that I believe this, but I said the Democrats act as if women are only concerned about these reproductive issues,” Huckabee said on Fox News’s “Cavuto.
Huckabee last month came under fire when he slammed Democrats for accusing the GOP of waging a war on women.
“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without ‘Uncle Sugar’ coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or reproductive system without the help of the government, so be it,” he said at a luncheon address to the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Washington.
The abortion rate in the United States dropped to its lowest point since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in all 50 states, according to a study suggesting that new, long-acting contraceptive methods are having a significant impact in reducing unwanted pregnancies.
There were fewer than 17 abortions for every 1,000 women in 2011, the latest year for which figures were available, according a paper published Monday from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights think tank. That is down 13 percent from 2008 and a little higher than the rate in 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The study did not examine the reasons for the drop. But the authors suggested that one factor was greater reliance on new kinds of birth control, including intra-uterine devices such as Mirena, which can last for years and are not susceptible to user error like daily pills or condoms.
I thought Mike Huckabee was smarter than this. Obviously, he ignores the figurative speech about War on Women. He would be ok if we didn’t have the slut-shame attempt aimed at Sandra Fluke, aspirin remarks coming from GOP high donors, and countless bills aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood and other centers that receive Title X funding. He would be ok if there weren’t efforts to deny birth control to women going around every corner. He would be OK if literally hundreds of new laws weren’t passed in state legislatures by Republican politicians that restrict reproductive rights, via any hook or crook they could think of.
Supreme Court justices on Wednesday aggressively questioned whether a Massachusetts law that creates buffer zones around abortion clinics unconstitutionally inhibits the free-speech rights of antiabortion activists.
Several justices made clear in their questioning that they felt the law’s restrictions on who can enter a 35-foot space around a facility’s entrance unfairly targets those who want to hand out leaflets or speak to the women planning abortions.
Pro-choice groups are howling over Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe’s appointment of McDonnell’s health secretary, Dr. William A. Hazel, a moderate Republican. According to the Washington Post:
RICHMOND — Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe will keep Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s health secretary on as his own, a choice that could help the new governor sell Medicaid expansion to wary Republicans but that also infuriates some abortion-rights activists.
McAuliffe (D) will announce Wednesday that he will reappoint Dr. William A. Hazel Jr., an orthopaedic surgeon from Northern Virginia who served as secretary of health and human resources under McDonnell (R), two people familiar with the decision said.
UPDATE — 12:26 p.m.: Branco gave the following statement on the cartoon to HuffPost:
I’m not against birth control or nor do I feel that it is any of my business what people do sexually. However, I do feel that contraceptives are inexpensive and accessible enough that I shouldn’t have to pay for them through my taxes. I also feel that my government shouldn’t be promoting promiscuous sex as though condoms are the answer to all STDs and promiscuous behavior.
More idiot statements. STD’s? Promiscuous sex? Government promotion of condoms? What rock does this dude live under? The use of contraceptives and condoms saves lives. I guess that is immaterial. To suggest that contraception is inexpensive is simply ludicrous and ignorant. Unless people live close to clinics with free samples, oral contraception is pretty darn expensive, in particular if one is counting one’s pennies to get by each month.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations’ owners.
The cases present a new challenge to President Obama’s health care law. The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld another part of the law, one that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.
The Obama administration has exempted many religious groups from the law’s requirements for contraception coverage. But it said for-profit corporations could not rely on religious objections to opt out of compliance with the law. The lower courts are divided over whether such corporations may object to generally applicable laws on religious liberty grounds.
These cases are totally bogus. No one is being required to use contraception.
What a contrast! When I was coming of age I don’t think people even said the word ‘abortion’ out loud. The procedure wasn’t legal and only girls “who got themselves in trouble” had them. In case you don’t believe me, watch Dirty Dancing for the refresher course.
Of course, back in those days you had to be married to get the pill. Things loosened up and you could get parental permission if you were under 21. Is it any wonder that the vintage women were the trail-blazers? Many of us simply rejected the paternalism of the medical profession and of course the state houses and have spent most of our adult lives keeping abortion safe and legal.
Abortion wasn’t the only issue. The vintage women (and men) also fought for safe reliable contraception and access to that contraception. Our issues remain, but it’s time to pass the baton to the younger set. Too many younger women took a great deal for granted. They never knew the old days, when girls got sent away to their aunt’s house to bear that shameful child out of wedlock. We were always told they were spending a year in Europe or helping out an aunt with her children because she was going back to work or some other lie.
The younger generation never knew the days when contraception was unattainable or when abortion was illegal. I think they have gotten a wake up call. Throughout the United States thousands of anti choice bills have been drafted and hundreds have made it to the governors’ mansions for a signature and have become law.
Here in Virginia, we have seen some of the most virulent anti choice legislation ever. Who has been leading the charge? Ken Cuccinelli. The Cooch Watch folks will not let him forget it either. Young women and men simply don’t have the filters that the vintage women had/have. We all but handled things like this with white gloves. Not the Cooch Watch women. They tell it like it is. While it isn’t MY way, more power to them!
A challenge to Virginia’s strident anti abortion regulations moved forward today.
Rosemary Codding is the director of Falls Church Healthcare Center. In the above video, Rosemary is shown accepting an award from NARAL for her continuing efforts in the field of reproductive rights. That night she announced that FCHC filed a petition in circuit court in Arlington to set aside the onerous TRAP laws that will close most clinics in Virginia. Today, an Arlington County circuit court judge ruled that FCHC could move forward with its suit challenging the new TRAP laws.
The Falls Church Medical Center is seeking to overturn an April decision by the Virginia Board of Health that applies strict, hospital-style building codes to the clinics. Among other things, the rules mandate the width of hallways and doorways as well as the number of parking spaces. Some providers have said costly renovations needed to comply would put them out of business.
Attorneys for the medical center argued in court that abortion clinics have been treated differently than other outpatient medical facilities. Solicitor General Earle Duncan Getchell Jr. defended the regulations, saying that the Board of Health simply followed the General Assembly’s directive and the law.
Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Kendrick denied a request by the state to dismiss the case. He predicted that the contentious lawsuit will eventually go to the state appeals court.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe has vaulted into the lead over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II in a Virginia governor’s race that has left many voters sour on both candidates, according to a new Washington Post-Abt SRBI poll.
McAuliffe leads 47 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis’s 10 percent suggesting an unrest among voters not satisfied with either major-party contender. In a one-on-one matchup without Sarvis in the mix, the poll shows a narrower, 49-to-44-percent race between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli among likely voters — but still flips Cuccinelli’s 10-point lead from this spring.
The shift in the race has come almost exclusively from female voters, who prefer McAuliffe by a 24-point margin over Cuccinelli. The candidates were effectively tied among women in a Washington Post poll in May.
McAuliffe’s strength among women is probably due in part to an intense campaign to portray Cuccinelli as a threat to women and the issues they care about most deeply. A new McAuliffe ad, for instance, features a Norfolk OB-GYN speaking directly to the camera about how she is “offended” by Cuccinelli’s position on abortion.
The challenge for Cuccinelli is stark: Nearly half of all voters view him unfavorably, and they trust his opponent as much as or more than the Republican on every major issue in the race, according to the poll. On trust to handle issues of special concern to women, McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli by 23 points.
The Virginia governor’s election is possibly the most watched race in the entire country. Far right attorney general Ken Cuccinelli is running against former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe. Neither man appears to be particularly popular with Virginia voters. Ken Cuccinelli is running against a backdrop of scandal.
In recent polls, Terry McAuliffe leads Ken Cuccinelli by 5 points. In a low voter turn out those points would not be significant. However, there is an 18 point gender gap in the governor’s race in Virginia. It is possibly the most watched race in the entire country.