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On Thursday September 15th, the Virginia Board of Health passed new regulations for the twenty-three abortion clinics within the state. The new measures impose regulations on the clinic itself, including rules about ceiling height, hallway width, size of operating tables, and number of parking spaces. Proponents of the plan deem it necessary for safety reasons, but the majority of abortions performed in Virginia clinics occur during the first trimester. First trimester abortions are extremely safe and rarely present complications.
These regulations are expensive and threaten to close many of the clinics. The Family Foundation, a group of anti-abortion advocates, celebrates these potential closures as a pro-life victory. The organization issued a public statement; “Virginia’s abortion centers now face the choice of either spending their profits on meetings standards or no longer doing abortions at their facilities”. Meanwhile, thousands of Virginia women, including many low-income women and minority women, confront the real threat of losing reliable providers.
The Virginia regulations are the newest anti-abortion laws in a string of state-level legislation passed since the 2010 elections. Earlier in the year, Kansas also began regulating abortion clinics, while Utah and Nebraska restricted the abilities of private insurers to cover abortions. South Dakota proposed some of the most radical legislation, introducing a bill that includes harm to a fetus under the umbrella of “justifiable homicide”, which opens the door to legally protected murder of abortion providers. The bill ultimately did not pass, but South Dakota did implement a law that requires women to undergo a three-day waiting period before receiving an abortion. Backed by the new Republican majorities in many state legislatures, restrictions on abortion are becoming increasing common.
Young adults, traditionally the group most unlikely to be insured, are gaining health coverage faster than predicted since the passage of the 2010 health care law, according to three new surveys, including two released Wednesday. The 2010 Affordable Care Act allowed most under age 26 to be listed as a dependent on parents' insurance.
One of these surveys, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that in the first quarter of 2011 there were 900,000 fewer uninsured adults aged 19-25 than in 2010. A separate survey by the CDC released this morning shows that the trend may have accelerated in the first quarter of 2011. The Census Bureau reported that the percentage of young adults aged 18-24 without health insurance dropped 2% in 2010, to 27.2%.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services projected that 650,000 uninsured young adults would gain coverage in 2011. According to the recent surveys, this underestimated the number by at least 250,000.
The gain in insurance coverage comes despite the harsh effects of the recession, which has left young adults unemployed at almost double the rate of older Americans and incomes sliding faster than the national average. Despite the new measures, young Americans remain uninsured at roughly double the national average.
On Thursday, the House voted to approve the "Protecting Jobs from Government Interference Act," a Republican-backed bill prohibiting the NLRB from trying to block Boeing from moving to a new non-union 787 production line in South Carolina. The labor board would be barred from seeking to have an employer shut, transfer or relocate employment or operations "under any circumstances." The vote, 238 to 186, fell largely along party lines.
Building on Thursday's House vote, Republicans are now attempting to attach a rider barring the agency from pursuing any order threatening Boeing's new production line to the NLRB budget. The Senate Appropriations Committee has a narrow 16-14 Democratic majority, and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), a member of the panel, has said that he is "leaning toward" the GOP amendment. The amendment, drafted by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is clearly aimed at the Boeing case, but its language would also impact the NLRB's powers in other cases where employers are shown to have moved facilities in order to retaliate against workers for union activities.
Boeing claims that the new South Carolina facility was built for cost reasons, but the company's executives have made past comments expressing concern over strikes and walkouts organized by unionized workers in the Seattle area. The NLRB's counsel found that Boeing's decision to locate in the right-to-work state of South Carolina constituted illegal retaliation against its union workers.
After nearly two decades, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be formally repealed on Tuesday. The 1993 directive allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military only as long as they stayed in the closet, sparking debate and anger from both conservatives and liberals. Over the 17 years of DADT, more than 14,000 service members were discharged from the military under the Clinton policy.
On Monday, the Army said in a letter signed by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler III, Gen. Raymond Odierno, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, and John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, that the repeal means that "gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve." According to Pentagon spokesman George Little, the military is already accepting applications from openly gay recruits, though they will wait to act on them until after the ban is lifted.
The repeal, a campaign pledge of President Obama in 2008, was approved by Congress last year, signed the President, and given final authorization by military leaders this July.
Read the Politico article here
A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, lead by Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a hearing today on new state laws across the country that restrict access to the ballot, including Voter ID laws and laws cutting down on the days and times for early voting. America Votes President Joan Fitz-Gerald filed written testimony for the hearing, which can be read here.Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) was the first in-person witness. He spoke about the new state laws in Florida that will make it more difficult for groups to register voters and will restrict the days and times that citizens will be able to vote early.
The Senate sided with Gov. John Lynch Wednesday in supporting his veto of SB129, the Voter ID bill.
From the Union Leader story:
The Senate voted 17-7 to sustain Lynch in his stance against Senate Bill 129. Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, were among those voting to sustain the veto.
Bragdon and Bradley both voted to pass the bill three months ago, when it passed 14-9 in the Senate.
Some Republicans said they support the idea of requiring photo ID from voters, but that they oppose the system of provisional ballots that the House added to their bill. A provisional ballot would have been required of anyone who could not present a valid state or federally-issued photo ID card.
Town clerks said the provisional ballots would force extra work on their offices, with longer hours, additional staff, late counting and less ballot secrecy for voters...
America Votes, a coalition of groups opposed to SB 129, said the veto "reinforces the integrity of elections in New Hampshire and ensures fair and equal access to the ballot."
Today, We Are Ohio announced the campaign will begin airing its first television advertisement today in major media markets and cable all across Ohio. The announcement was made in Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Dayton and Marietta by local first responders who will vote NO on Issue 2 to reject Senate Bill 5, the unfair and unsafe bill that will hurt their local communities.Watch the add below:
You know it's bad when GOP candidates are dropping the gloves with Fox News hosts.
The Public News Service put out a story today about the lack of transparancy in the redrawing of congressional lines in New Hampshire.
You can read and listen to the full piece here.
This is the second update from America Votes staffers on the ground in Wisconsin for the recall elections.
The progressive energy in my home state of Wisconsin is unlike anything I saw here in 2008 or 2010. There is a clear consensus among the voters I've met these past couple days: they want a government that represents their values, not an extreme administration. Today I knocked on many doors in rural parts of the state and talked to farmers who felt the Wisconsin government agenda has been"sneaky."
I'm amazed at the number of people I've met that are stepping up to volunteer with a campaign for the first time ever - let alone a special election. One man walked up to the phone bank sign-up table at the We Are Wisconsin Madison office, still wearing his bike helmet, and asked me how he could help. He wasn't a union member and had never volunteered for a campaign in the past. He said, "I was just out for a ride and saw you guys here, and I decided that I have to do something."
The inspiring number of volunteers I've seen the last few days have taught me why Wisconsin's official motto is "forward." The people of this state don't settle when things get out of hand - these people work hard for the change they want to see.