Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dog Bites Man

A law imposing restrictions on abortion clinics struck down? You don't say:

KC judge bars new Mo. abortion rules
By Jo Mannies

A district judge in Kansas City has issued a preliminary injunction that bars Missouri health officials from imposing new restrictions on abortion clinics. The order, issued Monday by U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith, had been sought by a Bridgeton physician, Dr. Allen Palmer, and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, in a suit contesting the state's new requirements that all clinics that perform five or more abortions a month be registered as "ambulatory surgery facilities."

Such status would require the clinics and Palmer's office to meet a lot of new standards, from parking lot size to equipment and personnel. Planned Parenthood has contended the new restrictions would force it to close clinics in Columbia, Mo., and Kansas City.

Palmer has contended the new law would put his practice in jeopardy by requiring more than $1 million in changes to his medical offices at Women's Care Gynecology Inc. in Bridgeton. His lawyers also have noted that private physicians' offices are excluded from the state law's definition of ambulatory surgical centers.

Smith order came two weeks after he conducted a hearing on the case. His order remains in effect until the lawsuit is resolved.

A spokesman for the Missouri attorney general's office, which was helping to defend the new law, said officials were studying the order to decide what action to take. The state can appeal the judge's ruling.

The case has been closely watched by abortion activists on both sides. Lawyers with national anti-abortion and abortion-rights groups are involved in the case.

Inmate Abortions

Currently pending before the 8th Circuit is this case about whether the state should have to transport inmates to get abortions: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/missouristatenews/story/6F2FD73E0CA1EF55862573600063ADD7?OpenDocument

Mo. ban on inmate abortions is argued
By Cheryl Wittenauer

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Security concerns and the state's limited resources outweigh female offenders' right to abortion, the state argued today in defense of a policy against transporting such women to an abortion clinic outside of prison.Missouri's two-year-old policy, since declared unconstitutional by a federal district judge in Kansas City, is reasonable and constitutional, Assistant Attorney General Michael Pritchett told a federal appeals court panel here.

Incarceration by definition means inmates are denied certain freedoms, including "the right to procreate, vote, and travel," he said.The American Civil Liberties Union disagreed, arguing that the state has exaggerated its security concerns and in fact, has shown it can transport offenders without incident to an abortion clinic in St. Louis despite the presence of protesters.

ACLU attorney Diana Kasdan said the state devotes more resources and security measures to accommodate the far larger number of female offenders who carry their pregnancies full term.Women, no matter what, have a constitutional right to abortion, she said, noting that a handful of courts considering the question have ruled in favor of incarcerated women seeking abortion.

Pritchett argued that an accomplice could take advantage of frequent protests at the St. Louis abortion clinic to free an offender seeking an abortion. But Kasdan said the protesters are relatively few and aren't allowed onto the clinic's parking lot. The clinic provides a separate entrance and waiting room for offenders, and a correctional officer is permitted in the procedure room, she said.

Judge William Riley asked who pays for the care of female offenders who carry their pregnancies to term. "Does that make a difference?" he asked.Pritchett said the state pays a flat contractual rate to a private vendor to provide health care to inmates, including obstetrics care.

The state used to pay to transport an inmate for an abortion, though not the procedure itself, but the policy was reversed in July 2005.The state Department of Corrections cited costs, security concerns and a 1986 state law prohibiting the use of public funds, facilities and employees to assist an abortion when it's not necessary to save the life of the woman.

Under the revised policy, the department would only transport an inmate for an abortion if her life or health were endangered.

U.S. District Court Judge Dean Whipple ordered the state to transport a pregnant inmate -- referred to in court as Jane Roe -- to receive an abortion in October 2005, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.

The case was certified as a class action, leading to Whipple's ruling last year ordering Missouri to take pregnant inmates to abortion clinics when they request the procedure.A three-judge panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Monday on appeal from Attorney General Jay Nixon.

Since September 2006, the state has transported three offenders to obtain an abortion. The state has transported a total of seven to abortion clinics since June 2005, the Department of Corrections said.

By contrast, from July 2006 to this past July, 52 female offenders -- all at the women's prison in Vandalia -- delivered babies at area hospitals.

Most children born to offenders end up living with other family members, Corrections spokesman Brian Hauswirth said. Missouri has no program to accommodate offenders and their children in prison, even for overnight visits, he said.

As you may have learned in your legal writing class, the part of a story that perhaps best sticks in the reader's head is the very beginning and the very end. Here, the last line the reader takes away is that, since the babies can't immediately be with their mothers after birth, it would obviously be better for them not to be born. Great message, eh?

Friday, September 21, 2007

This is Not a Clone of the Last Post...

Here's an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the proposed cloning ban(http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/columnists.nsf/colleencarrollcampbell/story/B4453E3751668163862573460082BDE1?OpenDocument):

The word game is up; time for a true cloning ban


Given their victories in recent years, Missouri's biotech barons should have spent 2007 celebrating. Repeated efforts by state lawmakers to enact a cloning ban had succumbed to defeat, thanks largely to biotech-friendly Gov. Matt Blunt. And last fall, biotech leaders had pre-empted those legislative threats by mounting a successful campaign to carve special protection for research cloning into the state constitution.

Their victory with Amendment Two did not come easily. The argument that has persuaded many voters to overcome ethical qualms about embryonic stem cell research — that embryos used in such research already exist and may be discarded anyway — does not apply to embryos created through cloning. Voters tend to bristle at the prospect of manufacturing embryonic human clones for the express purpose of dismembering and destroying them.

But the cloning of embryos appeals to researchers who no longer want to be limited to extracting stem cells from adult or umbilical cord tissue or from embryos created through in-vitro fertilization. Cloning promises a virtually unlimited supply of human embryos to be stripmined for their stem cells, as long as enough women can be induced to donate their eggs.

To protect research cloning without arousing voter ire, Amendment Two's authors bucked the scientific establishment's commonly accepted definition of human cloning as the creation of a cloned human embryo through Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer — the process used to create Dolly the Sheep. Instead, they defined cloning as the implantation of that cloned embryo into a uterus. So the amendment banned reproductive cloning while making the cloning and destruction of human embryos for research a constitutional right.

Despite a campaign budget of nearly $30 million and a 96-word ballot summary that made no mention of the controversial cloning definition buried in its nearly 2,000 words of fine print, Amendment Two barely squeaked to passage. When it did, backers hailed its 51 percent victory margin as evidence that Missouri's cloning wars were over.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Brave New World: The 49 percent of voters who opposed Amendment Two did not disperse as ordered. Awakened to the dangerous mix of money, media spin and scientific illiteracy that had allowed Big Biotech to sell its phony cloning ban, they began clamoring for the real thing.

Grassroots groups that had opposed Amendment Two continued meeting. Physicians and feminists who had warned that the exorbitant number of eggs needed for cloning could lead to women's exploitation continued speaking out. Bioethicists reminded the public that destroying a cloned embryo rather than allowing it to be born does not erase the ethical consequences of human cloning.

Last week, an umbrella group called Cures without Cloning launched a bid to close the cloning loophole created by Amendment Two. Its initiative, aimed at the November 2008 ballot, would not repeal Amendment Two or outlaw all embryonic stem cell research. It simply would allow Missouri to join other states that have banned human cloning by defining it the way most medical and scientific journals and popular publications do: as the creation of a cloned human embryo.

Amendment Two's champions now are in the awkward position of arguing against a cloning ban that does what their amendment only purported to do. Caught in a Catch-22 of their own making, they have resorted to grousing about their opponents' disingenuousness — a comical charge, given their own track record.

Maybe another multimillion-dollar ad blitz will allow Big Biotech and its civic boosters to squelch this latest grassroots uprising. But another could soon take its place, fueled by still more Missourians who believe our constitution is no place to play word games.

Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, television host and St. Louis-based fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her website is http://www.colleen-campbell.com/

Catching up...on Cloning

Since this blog is getting started a bit late, we have some catching up to do. For those who don't know, last fall Amendment 2 was passed in Missouri - an amendment which purported to ban human cloning. However, because of its misleading definition of what constituted "cloning," it actually enshrined in the Missouri Constitution the ability to clone embryos so long as they were not then placed in a women's womb. Thus, creating cloned embryos and destroying them is perfectly legal. In response to this, there is currently a coalition going to ban the cloning of embryos in Missouri. For more information visit:



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