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Can Anti-Abortion ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Snag Federal Family-Planning Funds?


Can Anti-Abortion ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Snag Federal Family-Planning Funds?

Can Anti-Abortion ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Snag Federal Family-Planning Funds?

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For the most part, crisis pregnancy centers stay away from offering or even recommending any kind of “artificial” birth control.
Photo: Adam Hart-Davis/Getty Images/Science Photo Librarary

Like nature, federal funding streams abhor a vacuum. So when the Trump administration pushed Planned Parenthood out of women’s family-planning programs by stipulating that recipients could not refer patients to (or have an organization connection with) abortion providers, a pot of about $60 million a year suddenly became available to anyone who could supply the stipulated services without running afoul of the new regs.

For the most part, the anti-abortion movement’s favorite alternative to Planned Parenthood clinics, its huge (an estimated 2,750 of them) network of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” don’t really pretend to offer “family planning” or women’s health services. They mostly exist to talk or coerce pregnant women into carrying pregnancies to term, providing (at most) limited services (ultrasounds, of course, and perhaps neonatal health advice and adoption referrals) to make that choice seem morally or religiously obligatory. In addition, most of these centers are backed by, or enjoy some sort of support from, religious authorities that to varying degrees and for varying reasons oppose the general distribution of contraceptives. No wonder 13 different national organizations involved with CPCs recently made it clear they will not “offer, recommend, or refer for abortions, abortifacients, or contraceptives” as a matter of “staying true to the standards set forth in the Bible for sexual behavior.”

But whether its the lure of filthy federal lucre or a sincere interest in family planning that doesn’t involve abortions, a group of Texas “Christian pregnancy centers” has decided to offer contraceptives and apply for the money Planned Parenthood can no longer receive, as the Washington Post reports:

Eight independent Texas-based pregnancy centers merged earlier this year to form a chain called The Source. With Christian women’s health centers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, the nonprofit organization plans to offer a full array of medical services, to include testing for sexually transmitted diseases, first-trimester prenatal care and contraception choices …The decision to provide contraception is a huge cultural shift for Christian centers that, for religious reasons, do not normally offer birth control. But it represents what some in the antiabortion movement say is a much-needed rebranding for pregnancy centers — away from emphasizing ending abortion and toward placing women’s health care front and center. Many younger conservative Christians, in particular, are concerned with how the movement treats women.

Trouble is, there is no universal position concerning contraception among people who are fighting legalized abortion. The Roman Catholic Church, of course, formally opposes “artificial” methods of birth control (i.e., only abstinence-based “natural” approaches like the “rhythm method,” jocularly known as Vatican roulette, are permitted), although it’s a moral teaching that is very heavily ignored by Catholic laity in this country. Protestants traditionally have had no general problem with contraception, other than its use outside marriage (to the extent that they opposed sex itself outside marriage). Before Roe v. Wade, of course, most Protestants, even conservative Evangelicals, tended to favor more liberal abortion laws. But gradually, conservative Evangelicals drifted into the anti-abortion camp, and in the pews at least, they are now vastly more likely than Catholics to oppose reproductive rights.

Perhaps by osmosis, or via a general alienation from the mores of secular society, many conservative Evangelicals now have gone from accepting contraceptives so long as they don’t facilitate alleged promiscuity to opposing their distribution to the unmarried and then to refusal to accept some contraceptives as anything other than “abortifacients.” Famously the Evangelical-oriented for-profit enterprise Hobby Lobby secured a landmark Supreme Court decision acknowledging a “religious liberty” exception for employers with a religious objection to Obamacare’s contraception coverage mandate. As Sarah Posner noted, treatment of some contraceptives as abortion mechanisms was central to their argument:

Unlike Catholic plaintiffs, which oppose covering all methods of birth control, Hobby Lobby is refusing only to cover intrauterine devices and the emergency contraceptives Ella and Plan B, which they claim are abortifacients. Hobby Lobby says that its deeply held religious conviction is that “life begins at conception.” Because, it claims (contrary to medical evidence), emergency contraception and IUDs can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, it considers these drugs and devices “abortifacients.” (Conservative activists have taken to calling the contraception coverage requirement the “abortion pill” or “abortion drug” mandate.)

Interestingly, the Source is following some but not all of this precedent for anti-abortion Evangelical religious activists:

[T]he Source centers will all offer pills; injections; intrauterine devices, or IUDs; and other contraceptive methods beginning in March, a move that Source chief executive Andy Schoonover said will help reduce unwanted pregnancies by preventing them before they take place …The centers will not provide emergency contraceptive pills such as the Plan B “morning after” pill, because Schoonover said they consider the drugs to be a form of abortion. 

Like many CPCs, of course, the exact religious provenance of the Source’s facilities is kept a bit vague, as the Post’s description of its Austin center attests:

Small Bibles and “Our Daily Bread” devotionals are strategically placed on tables throughout the center, which is decorated with mid-century modern furniture. Staffers must sign a statement of faith, although because of government funding requirements, employees are to discuss faith only if a client brings it up. A small box labeled “prayer requests” sits next to the intake window.

Time will tell whether this experiment works, with the Trump administration blessing this new model of anti-abortion pregnancy center, and others emulating it. In many respects, it parallels the efforts in recent years of Republican politicians to rebrand themselves and their party as anti-abortion but pro-contraception, most famously by two U.S. senators who are at some risk of losing their seats in 2020:

Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) re-introduced the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act, paving the way for contraceptives to be sold over-the-counter without a prescription. The Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act incentivizes manufacturers of routine-use contraceptives to file an application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell their products over the counter (OTC). These incentives apply to any contraceptive the FDA deems to be safe and effective for routine OTC use and available to adults over the age of 18. Additionally, the legislation ensures OTC contraceptives would not be unfairly taxed. 

I suppose the trend represented by both the Source and these vulnerable Republican pols is a good thing in itself insofar as it makes certain reproductive services available to women who might not otherwise have access to him. But in the end, supporting some reproductive or women’s health services while opposing any right to them and to others is sort of like being half-pregnant: It’s not a real thing.

Can ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Snag Federal Funds?

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Tonight in Berlin

Photo: Fireworks erupt over the Brandenburg Gate during celebrations on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2019 in Berlin. From 1961 until 1989 the Berlin Wall, built by the communist authorities of East Germany to prevent people from East Berlin fleeing into West Berlin, divided the city. Its opening in 1989 quickly led to the collapse of the East German communist government and the eventual reunification of Germany in 1991.


The darkness in the heartland
In farm country, mental health experts say they’re seeing more suicides as families endure the worst period for U.S. agriculture in decades. Farm bankruptcies and loan delinquencies are rising, calamitous weather events are ruining crops, and profits are vanishing during Trump’s global trade disputes.A 2017 study found that farm owners and workers were three to five times as likely to kill themselves on the job compared with other occupations. Researchers studying more recent data have not yet determined if farmer suicides are increasing, but leaders and social workers in rural America say that, anecdotally, they’re seeing more of these deaths. Calls to suicide hotlines around farm country have risen, prompting new federal and state programs targeting farmers’ mental health, including support groups, public awareness campaigns and funding for counseling.The Agriculture Department is setting up the first $1.9 million phase of a farm and ranch stress support network to expand emergency hotlines, training and support groups for farmers and ranchers. In addition, the department started a $450,000 pilot program to train some of its workers in how to help farmers in extreme distress and make mental health referrals for them.


30 years later.

The values on which Europe is based — freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, safeguarding human rights — these are anything but self-evident. They must be experienced and defended anew again and again. In times of far-reaching technological and global change, this is more relevant than ever. …The Berlin Wall is gone and that teaches us that no wall that excludes people and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it cannot be broken through.
—German Chancellor Angela Merkelin a speech at the Berlin Wall memorial on Saturday

vision 2020
Bloomberg to Follow the Not-So-Successful Giuliani Strategy in the Primaries
By Ed Kilgore

Like Rudy, Bloomberg is a poor fit for his party, pursuing a doomed strategy, unless he just wants to damage Sanders and Warren.


Another flip-off for asylum seekers, Dreamers, and permanent residents
The Trump administration on Friday proposed an unprecedented series of new fees for asylum-seekers and immigrants hoping to stay in the US, aiming to become one of just four countries in the world to charge for an asylum application. …The US has never before charged for asylum and, if enacted, the proposal issued Friday would make the country one of only four in the world to do so, joining Iran, Fiji, and Australia. It appears to be the latest move by the Trump administration to overhaul the asylum process and the immigration system itself, a focus of the president’s since taking office. …Specifically, the rule would add a $50 fee for those looking to apply for affirmative asylum applications filed from within the US. There is currently no fee to enter an “affirmative asylum” application. The new fee would not apply to those who claim a fear of persecution at ports of entry or those who apply for the protections while in deportation proceedings. There would be no waiver for those who cannot afford to pay the $50 fee.One USCIS official told Buzzfeed that it would cost more to collect the fees than they would earn. More from the Times:The rule, which will be published on Thursday and will have a monthlong comment period, would increase citizenship fees more than 60 percent, to $1,170 from $725, for most applicants. For some, the increase would reach 83 percent. The government would also begin charging asylum seekers $50 for applications and $490 for work permits[.]It would also increase renewal fees for hundreds of thousands of participants of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. That group, known as “Dreamers,” would need to pay $765, rather than $495, for a renewal request. The fee hike comes days before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the validity of President Trump’s justification to terminate DACA.


The mayor from the minors
As Mr. Buttigieg, the millennial mayor of a town smaller than a New York City Council district, rises in the polls, he has struck a nerve with his Democratic rivals.Many of their campaigns have griped privately about the attention and cash directed toward Mr. Buttigieg. They say he is too inexperienced to be electable and that his accomplishments don’t merit the outsize appeal he has with elite donors and voters. His public punditry about the race has prompted eye rolls from older rivals who view him as a know-it-all.And in a field where most candidates find themselves strapped for cash, they snipe at his ability to raise more than anyone else in the primary field except for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.More than a dozen participants in the Democratic campaign — including rival candidates and campaign aides — spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss their views about Mr. Buttigieg candidly. They conveyed an annoyance at the McKinsey consultant certitude with which Mr. Buttigieg analyzes and makes pronouncements about the primary.


Before long, they’ll probably add Hillary Clinton to the list as well
House Republicans plan to call Hunter Biden, the Ukraine whistleblower and a range of other witnesses to testify in the upcoming public Trump impeachment hearings, according to a witness list obtained exclusively by Fox News.It is unclear, at this point, how many of the Republicans’ proposed witnesses will be approved by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and the Democrats, because the newly-approved resolution governing the impeachment inquiry give the approval power to the chairman and the members of the majority.There was also this bit of theatrics from Nunes on Friday:The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has formally requested that the panel’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., testify in a closed-door setting as part of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. … A GOP source told Fox News this week that it’s unlikely Democrats would go along with the efforts to call Schiff – who is essentially leading the impeachment probe.

The Senseless Death of Deadspin
By James D. Walsh

Dramatically shifting the website’s priorities didn’t make sense from a business perspective. Was something else going on?

vision 2020
Could Biden Lose Iowa and New Hampshire — and Still Win the Primary?
By Benjamin Hart, Ed Kilgore, and Eric Levitz

Intelligencer staffers discuss how rocky the path to the nomination might be for the former veep.


This does not exactly sound like a foolproof strategy

Bloomberg will not contest first four states in Democratic nominating process. “If we run, we are confident we can win in states voting on Super Tuesday and beyond, where we will start on an even footing,” says Bloomberg adviser Howard Wolfson.


Nate Silver unconvinced that Bloomberg will have much of an impact

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A *partial* list of candidates who, if they entered the race at the last minute, would probably have more impact than Bloomberg:Michelle ObamaSherrod BrownStacey AbramsAndrew CuomoAlso all of the past nominees (Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Kerry, etc.)

Can Anti-Abortion ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Snag Federal Family-Planning Funds?
By Ed Kilgore

One branch of the anti-abortion movement is trying to rebrand itself as pro-contraceptive, just like Republican politicians.

How Bon Appétit YouTube Videos Brought Back This One Weird Knife
By Brian Feldman

Fans inundated the manufacturer with so many requests that they put it back into production.


Ya don’t say

On Fox, former President George W. Bush calls this an “unsettled period” for the country.

vision 2020
Michael Bloomberg’s Ego Is an Agent of Socialist Change
By Eric Levitz

The longer the Democratic Establishment refuses to accept that Joe Biden is their only hope, the better Sanders and Warren’s chances will be.

vision 2020
Three Years Later, Trump Has Lost the Element of Surprise
By Ed Kilgore

Memories of the shock of Election Night 2016 could become a strategic asset for Democrats, who sure won’t get over-confident in 2020.


Ahead of impeachment, Republicans get their best (?) man on the case

BREAKING: “Leader McCarthy Appoints Jim Jordan to Intelligence Committee”

11/8/2019interesting times

interesting times
Andrew Sullivan: This Is No Ordinary Impeachment
By Andrew Sullivan

It’s a deeper reckoning. It’s about whether the legitimacy of our entire system can last much longer without Trump being removed from office.


Gordon Sond-who now?

Trump on Gordon Sondland: “I hardly knew the gentleman.”!!!


“Little”? Again?

And we’re off: “There’s nobody I’d rather run against than little Michael,” Trump says of Bloomberg.


Republican president won’t campaign against Republican candidate

Trump says he won’t campaign against Sessions, per pool report from South Lawn. “I’ll see how it all goes. We’ll see what happens. He’s got tough competition.”

11/8/2019the national interest

the national interest
New GOP Ukraine Defense: Trump Was Just a Patsy for Sondland
By Jonathan Chait

“There is no direct linkage to the president of the United States.”

Matt Bevin Was Unpopular Because of His Policies
By Sarah Jones

Matt Bevin was a uniquely unpopular governor. It’s important to understand why.

The Next Fight for Cory Remsburg, the Wounded Veteran Obama Made Famous
By Terence Szuplat

In 2014, a White House speechwriter made a brain-injured soldier a symbol of resilience. Now he finds the story didn’t end so neatly.


A second person has accused Representative Jim Jordan of ignoring their report of sexual abuse
A professional referee says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that disgraced doctor Richard Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a wrestling match at Ohio State University, and he reported the encounter directly to Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who was then the assistant coach.“Yeah, that’s Strauss,” Jordan and then-head coach Russ Hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit, when the referee, identified in court papers as John Doe 42, told them about the incident. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Ohio, implies that Jordan’s response to the incident, which the referee said happened in 1994, was essentially a shrug.John Doe 42 is the second person to say he told Jordan directly about either being approached or molested by Strauss, who was found by independent investigators to have sexually abused 177 male students over two decades.


Buttigieg has put out a new economic plan
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled a plan Friday to make tuition at four-year public colleges free for families earning up to $100,000. The move is part of a package of new economic policies aimed at boosting the fortunes of middle- and working-class Americans and positioning Buttigieg as a clear alternative to more liberal candidates.While Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have proposed making college free for everyone, Buttigieg is taking a more targeted approach of giving free tuition only to families he considers middle-class and lower. His new policy calls for reduced tuition at public universities for families earning $100,000 to $150,000 and no tuition for those below that threshold. Like several in the Democratic field, Buttigieg also proposes expanding Pell Grants to help low-income students pay for housing and fees and investing $50 billion in historically black colleges.Buttigieg’s new economic plan includes proposals for universal prekindergarten, greater college access, major expansions of affordable housing and job training, and a bigger tax credit for the working poor. He plans to fund the $2.1 trillion worth of new expenditures over the next decade by hiking taxes on the top 1 percent of earners.


Another classic from Donald Trump Jr., least self-aware man in America
President-elect Trump and the new first family were at Arlington National Cemetery, where Trump was to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns.“I rarely get emotional, if ever,” Trump Jr. wrote in his new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” “Yet, as we drove past the rows of white grave markers, in the gravity of the moment, I had a deep sense of the importance of the presidency and a love of our country.”He also had another revelation as he watched his father standing in front of the tomb, surrounded by more than 400,000 graves, listening to the Army Band bugler playing taps: The Trump family had already suffered, he recalled thinking, and this was only the beginning.“In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed — voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office,’” Trump Jr. wrote.


A new clue about the identity of the anonymous Trump op-ed writer: he really admires John McCain
Besides, everything in the text of “A Warning” suggests a dyed-in-the-wool establishment Republican. There’s the typical talk about American exceptionalism and national security. There’s the eternal complaint that President Barack Obama was “out of touch with mainstream America.” There’s a wistful elegy for “our budget-balancing daydreams.” Yes, Anonymous is happy about the conservative judicial appointments, the deregulation, the tax cuts; what rankles is the “unbecoming” behavior, the “unseemly antics.”A big tell comes early on, when Anonymous reveals what “the last straw” was. It wasn’t Mr. Trump’s response to the right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when a white supremacist killed a woman and the president talked about “the violence on many sides.” It wasn’t even the administration’s separation of migrant families at the border. These examples might have left Anonymous appalled, but the truly unforgivable act was when Senator John McCain died last year and Mr. Trump tried to hoist the flag on the White House above half-staff: “President Trump, in unprecedented fashion, was determined to use his office to limit the nation’s recognition of John McCain’s legacy.”

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