Trump remaking federal policy on women’s reproductive health
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and DAVID CRARY
WASHINGTON (AP) — Step by methodical step, the Trump administration is remaking government policy on reproductive health — moving to limit access to birth control and abortion and bolstering abstinence-only sex education.
Social and religious conservatives praise the administration for promoting “a culture of life.” But women’s-rights activists and some medical experts view the multi-pronged changes as a dangerous ideological shift that could increase unintended pregnancies and abortions.
“When I ran for office, I pledged to stand for life,” President Donald Trump said in a recent speech to the Susan B. Anthony List, which backs political candidates who oppose abortion. “And as president, that’s exactly what I’ve done. And I have kept my promise, and I think everybody here understands that fully.”
Most of the changes involve rules and regulations under the administration’s direct control, such as a proposal to forbid federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions and separately allowing more employers who cite moral or religious reasons to opt out of no-cost birth control for women workers.
Trump also is appointing numerous new federal judges endorsed by anti-abortion groups.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, the president’s only appointment to the Supreme Court so far, has a sparse record on abortion, but has drawn praise from anti-abortion groups and criticism from abortion rights supporters. Unlike regulatory changes, judicial appointments cannot be reversed by a future president.
Democrats say Trump is changing policy in ways that could disrupt access to family planning for some women.
A recently proposed rule would make major changes to Title X, the family-planning program, including banning clinics from sharing physical space and financial resources with abortion providers. Providers like Planned Parenthood could be forced out.
“It’s across the spectrum of women’s health services,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Col. “They’re proposing abstinence-only sex education —which study after study has shown doesn’t work— restrictions to family planning, and more and more restrictions to abortion.”
Title X serves about 4 million low-income people, mainly women. Disruptions could affect women’s access to long-acting contraceptives, such as implants and IUDs. Those are more effective than daily pills that can be forgotten but also much more expensive up-front.
Eight professional groups representing doctors, nurses, midwives and physician assistants say the administration’s Title X proposal “dangerously intrudes” on the patient-provider relationship.
“The strange thing about this is that people who want to decrease the number of abortions are taking away access to the very services that help prevent them,” said Dr. Hal Lawrence, CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one of the eight groups. Among the others are the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Speaking at a recent rally organized by women’s health advocates in Phoenix, Karina Romero recalled how she had no health insurance and about $20 in her bank account when she sought birth control at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the city’s suburbs.
The federal program enabled her to get a long-lasting contraceptive implant.
“They have allowed me to pursue a higher education without having to worry about how I’m going to pay for my birth control, or how I’m going to pay for just a regular check up every year,” said Romero, who studies online at Northern Arizona University.
The administration says it supports family planning and isn’t cutting funding — merely drawing a “bright line” between birth control and abortion. Officials say the doctor-patient relationship is protected because if a woman asks for an abortion referral, Title X doctors could offer a list of pregnancy services providers, including some who perform abortions.
Abortion is legal, but under longstanding law and regulations, taxpayer money cannot be used to pay for abortions. Planned Parenthood, a major provider of both kinds of services, can receive federal family-planning grants while separately providing abortions.
Trump’s changes come at a time when U.S. rates of births overall, births to teens, and abortions are low.
“If we were seeing skyrocketing abortion rates and wildly high numbers on teen births, you could say we have a crisis, but this is just the opposite,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama, and a supporter of abortion rights. “This is playing politics and putting people in a very precarious situation.”
In addition to the proposed changes to Title X, other regulatory actions include:
— Proposing a shift in the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program to emphasize an abstinence-only approach.
— Proposing new criteria for federal family-planning grants that would favor applicants who promote “natural family planning” and abstinence.
— Expanding a ban on U.S. funding to foreign organizations that promote or provide abortions.
Professor Michael New, who teaches economics at Ave Maria University in Florida, agrees there’s a major policy shift. But New, who opposes abortion, dismisses claims of dire consequences as “false and frankly absurd.”
“President Trump is decidedly pro-life and it is his administration’s prerogative to use federal funding rules to incrementally build a culture of life,” said New. “The administration is seeking to redirect tax dollars away from entities like Planned Parenthood that treat abortion as a method of family planning and toward entities that affirm life and provide more holistic health care services.”
Planned Parenthood, which survived attempts by congressional Republicans to deny it funding, says the administration’s proposed changes to Title X could be another way of achieving the same goal. Planned Parenthood serves 41 percent of program clients, and operates 13 percent of the clinics.
Such facilities have become a specialized niche. Research from Texas after that state moved to oust Planned Parenthood showed that other local providers like community health centers were not able to easily fill the gap.
Dr. Stephanie Ho works for Planned Parenthood at a clinic in Arkansas that will have to stop offering medication abortions because of a state law that the Supreme Court this week allowed to take effect. The combination of state restrictions and administration actions worries her.
“They’re pushing their views on everyone,” she said. “They’re ignoring scientific evidence and expert medical opinion.”
Top Planned Parenthood officials say they will fight to remain in Title X, and will consider litigation if necessary to challenge new rules. HHS is expected to announce funding awards for the $260-million program this fall.
At a time when social mores on human reproduction continue changing across the world, some see the U.S. in a time warp.
“A lot of social conservative activists are still fighting the battles from the ’60s and the sexual revolution,” said Adam Sonfield, policy manager at The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. “That’s their ultimate goal — that some people will just give up and stop having sex.”
But Kristi Hamrick, spokeswoman for Students for Life of America, said one result of the policy changes “may be that American women will find that life goes on without Planned Parenthood.”
Crary reported from New York. Melissa Daniels in Phoenix also contributed to this story.
Statement on Trump Administration Decision to Impose Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum from Canada, the European Union and Mexico
Trade Restrictions With Our Leading Allies Will Harm Downstream Manufacturers and U.S. Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Anne Forristall Luke, President and CEO of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA), today released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, the EU and Mexico.
“We are deeply disappointed by the Trump Administration’s decision today. Already we are seeing swift retaliation and proposed countermeasures from our closest trading partners which is harmful to America’s manufacturers, the U.S. economy and our global relationships. In addition, our members have been clear about the impact of such tariffs on the growing U.S. tire manufacturing industry. These tariffs could undercut future domestic growth, limit the availability of high-quality steel and impact American tire manufacturing jobs.”
“More specifically, the $27 billion U.S. tire industry is responsible for more than a quarter million domestic jobs. Our companies operate 57 tire-related manufacturing facilities in 18 states. We have enjoyed years of sustained growth, expanding our footprint across the U.S. It’s vital we maintain this domestic growth and economic impact, and yet this action today has the real potential of decelerating these positive trends.”
“Finally, imported high-quality steel is critical for tire production. U.S. tire manufacturers depend on grades of steel which are unavailable domestically to produce tires. This is why effective trade policies with countries like Canada and the EU are vital to our business operations.”
About U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association: The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for tire manufacturers that produce tires in the U.S. Our 12 member companies operate 57 tire-related manufacturing facilities in 18 states and generate over $27 billion in annual sales. We directly support more than a quarter million tire manufacturing U.S. jobs – totaling almost $20 billion in wages. In 2017, USTMA members accounted for 82 percent of the 316 million passenger, light truck and truck tire shipments in the U.S.
Ohio Society of CPAs Endorses Mike DeWine for Governor
COLUMBUS– The Ohio Society of CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) today (May 31) announced their endorsement of Mike DeWine and Jon Husted for Governor and Lt. Governor of Ohio in the November 2018 General Election. The organization represents CPAs and accounting professionals who are the strategic financial advisors to Ohio’s leading businesses.
The Ohio Society of CPAs endorses DeWine for Governor, Husted for Lt. Governor
COLUMBUS– On behalf of its more than 27,000 members, The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA) is proud to endorse Mike DeWine for Governor and Jon Husted for Lt. Governor.
“Mike DeWine’s broad experience, positive track record of tackling tough issues and vision for what Ohio needs to succeed makes him the clear choice for Ohio’s next governor,” said OSCPA President and CEO Scott Wiley, CAE. “And, Jon Husted’s strong history of leadership, driving economic development and helping Ohio businesses succeed are equally impressive.”
OSCPA’s 19-member Statewide Endorsement Screening Committee and 15-member Executive Board separately evaluated the candidates before unanimously endorsing the DeWine/Husted team.
“Together, DeWine and Husted make a proven, solid leadership team for our state – one that’s ready on their first day in office to cut suffocating regulations, drive positive outcomes and operate government efficiently and effectively immediately,” Wiley said. “I’m confident they will be successful in their efforts to attract, retain and grow employers and the skilled workforce needed for Ohio’s economy to thrive.”
OSCPA is looking forward to continuing its long partnership with DeWine and Husted to find practical, commonsense solutions that will make Ohio an even better state for families to live and businesses to grow.
The committees cited the candidates’ strong leadership in working with Ohio businesses and look forward to working alongside the candidates to strengthen Ohio’s economy.
The American Way of War: Evolution Stops Here
By Robert C. Koehler
America does what it wants.
This is obvious, except it’s also monstrously unnerving. Let’s at least add some quote marks: “America” does what it wants — this secretly defined, self-obsessed, non-elected entity that purports to be the United States of America, all 325 million of us, but is, in fact, a narrowly focused amalgam of generals, politicians and corporate elites who value only one thing: global dominance, from now to eternity.
Indeed, they’re capable of imagining nothing else, which is the truly scary part. Until this changes, “peace” is a feel-good delusion and “disarmament” (nuclear and otherwise) is the butt of a joke. The American empire may be collapsing, but the war games continue.
So I realized with a sudden start as I read Nick Turse’s analysis of a collection of U.S. military documents, which the TomDispatch website got hold of via the Freedom of Information Act. The documents contained a detailed description of the 33rd annual Joint Land, Air, and Sea Strategic Special Program, “an elaborate war game,” Turse explains, “carried out in 2016 by students and faculty from the U.S. military’s war colleges, the training grounds for its future generals and admirals.”
The war game was wrapped around a fantasy future of “dystopian dangers,” set in 2020, in which, “as the script for the war game put it, ‘lingering jealousy and distrust of American power and national interests have made it politically and culturally difficult for the United States to act unilaterally.’”
In other words, as Turse explains, quoting the war game’s summary, the threat to America’s near-future security is completely a matter of maintaining its global hegemony in the face of scientific and military advances “by both state and non-state actors” that “have increasingly constricted U.S. freedom of action.”
There’s nothing particularly surprising here, yet something jolted me into a new level of shock and awe, you might say, about the deep state apparatus that controls the national direction. There’s nothing in this controlling consciousness devoted to creating — or imagining — a world without nuclear weapons or a world free of war and poverty. That’s just not part of the future “America” has any interest in envisioning. The next war is utterly unquestioned. “Us vs. them” is utterly unquestioned. There will always be enemies. What would we do without them?
While the invisible state may fear losing its global dominance, it seems to be completely in control of its domestic dominance.
And peace is out of the picture, at least the evolving concept of that word: peace that transcends militarism and is not based on armed enforcement. As long as the generals and war profiteers have it their way, peace is merely the lull between wars or, even more cynically, that brief pause while the combatants reload.
In other words, we are moving into the future committed — financially, politically, ideologically — to continuing to do what has failed in the past: wage war, dominate, win.
And in countless ways, we are losing. The empire is collapsing. The consequences of armed dominance are eating us alive and destroying Planet Earth. But no matter. As long as we’re not aware that we’re causing our own destruction, we (I mean “we”) can continue to do so, in the process reaping not merely profit but a sense of purpose.
“Two years after the war game was conducted,” Turse writes, “in a time of almost metronomic domestic mass killings, President Trump continues to spotlight the supposedly singular danger posed by ‘inadequately vetted people’ in the U.S., although stovetops and ovens, hot air balloons, and burning pajamas are far more deadly to Americans.”
Apparently our national sense of identity would collapse without an enemy, and the enemy du jour is the terrorist (no longer the communist, no longer the “savage”). So we’re not only fighting endless wars across Africa and the Middle East, we’re intensifying our deportation of “illegals” and amping up “border security,” all in order to keep America safe.
One reason the nation’s leaders are able to keep waging wars that do not, in fact, keep America safe is because the harm they cause is almost totally borne by the other. And as long as the messy details are seldom in the news, Americans need not let their awareness of government policy stray beyond the clichés of patriotism.
Regarding Mexican border security, for instance, the Trump administration has implemented a policy of separating children from parents seeking asylum in order to send a Keep Out message to other would-be immigrants. The cruelty of such a policy has been magnified by a recent ACLU report, based on documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, showing widespread abuse of children in U.S. custody.
And in point of fact, the abuses are pre-Trump. The documents cover 2009-2014, during the Obama years. Dominance and racism may be more blatant under the current president than they’ve been for a while, but they have always been part of national policy.
According to the report: “The documents show numerous cases involving federal officials’ verbal, physical and sexual abuse of migrant children; the denial of clean drinking water and adequate food; failure to provide necessary medical care; detention in freezing, unsanitary facilities; and other violations of federal law and policy and international law. The documents provide evidence that U.S. officials were aware of these abuses as they occurred, but failed to properly investigate, much less to remedy, these abuses.”
Abuses listed in the report include children kicked in the ribs, punched in the head, shot with a stun gun (causing a boy “to fall to the ground, shaking, with his eyes rolling back in his head”) and run over with a patrol vehicle. A pregnant minor “was denied medical attention when she reported pain, which preceded a stillbirth.” A 16-year-old girl was subjected to a search in which they “forcefully spread her legs and touched her private parts so hard that she screamed.”
My God, it was like they placed these children in Gitmo!
These are the war games we play that aren’t games, but real-world actions. From cruelty at the border to nuclear testing, a philosophy of dominance over the enemy creates nothing but a poisoned planet and endless war. Paradoxically, a primary qualification for being a national leader is not knowing this.
Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.
Trump Blames Dems For His Own Policy Of Separating Families At The Border
By Matt Shuham | May 26, 2018
Talking Point Memo
President Donald Trump on Sunday blamed Democrats for his own administration’s policy of separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents when they are arrested at the border.
In fact, it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions who flagged the policy in a speech earlier this month, when he pledged to criminally prosecute as many illegal border crossing cases “as humanly possible.”
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen used similar language in congressional testimony a week later.
“Our policy is if you break the law, we will prosecute you,” Nielsen said. “You have an option to go to a port of entry and not illegally cross into our country.”
By prosecuting undocumented immigrants criminally, rather than processing their cases through civil immigration courts, the Trump administration has ensured that the many children of such criminally-charged migrants would technically become unaccompanied minors and would be put in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.
The announced change to formal policy came after months of examples of migrant families being separated.
HHS admitted last month that nearly 1,500 unaccompanied minors were unable to be accounted for during a recent survey.
And a recent report from the ACLU and the University of Chicago Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, the result of years of litigation over a request for government documents, detailed hundreds of cases of alleged physical and emotional abuse made by unaccompanied minors during the Obama administration against U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBP called the reports claims “unfounded and baseless.”