Court Victory for LA Ultrasound Before Abortion Act

 August 19, 2010.  Baton Rouge, La.   Yesterday, a Temporary Restraining Order entered against the Louisiana “Ultrasound Before Abortion Act” at the request of New York abortion lawyers was dissolved by order of a federal court judge.  Bioethics Defense Fund, a public-interest legal organization that drafted the legislation and provided legal consultation in the court proceedings, applauded the court’s ruling allowing the ultrasound law to into effect immediately.

 Dorinda Bordlee, Senior Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, stated:

We congratulate the Louisiana Attorney General’s office for successfully obtaining a judgment that clears the way for informed decisions.  Science tells us when life begins, but the real question is when love begins. Legislative testimony confirmed that for many abortion-minded women, love began when they had the opportunity to see their unborn child on an ultrasound screen.  Various forms of ultrasound legislation are enacted in approximately fifteen states. 

The abortion clinic’s claims for declaratory and injunctive relief were dismissed with prejudice, and the federal court judge ordered that the abortion clinics were not entitled to attorney fees.

The court’s order was based on a Joint Stipulation filed by all parties specifying that Louisiana’s newly enacted ultrasound law requires, among other things, that the person performing the mandatory pre-abortion ultrasound must read a script offering the woman the option to receive an ultrasound print, and that the law does not require the provider to compel the woman to accept the photo.

The law also requires Louisiana abortion clinics to provide the woman with a list of facilities that provide ultrasound services free of charge at least 24-hours before a scheduled abortion.   The Joint Stipulation provided that this provision will be enforced only after the abortion clinics receive the list, which is in the process of being prepared and distributed by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

In his order dated August 18, 2010, U.S. District Judge Ralph Tyson of the Middle District of Louisiana dismissed the Louisiana officials named as defendants, including Attorney General James D. Caldwell, Interim Secretary Tony Keck of the Department of Health and Hospitals, and several officials referred to as the “Medical Board Defendants.” 

Bioethics Defense Fund provided pro bono legal advice to the Attorney General’s office on behalf of the bill’s author, Senator Sharon Weston Broome, who stated in legislative committee that “[t]his is a bill that empowers women.” 

Nikolas T. Nikas, President and General Counsel of Bioethics Defense Fund, said,

Ultrasound Before Abortion legislation in the states provides an excellent opportunity for pro-life progress.  Bioethics Defense Fund is available to provide pro bono legal consultation to legislators and policy-makers who wish to enact the ultrasound legislation just upheld by a Louisiana federal court.

  • A summary and link to the text of the BDF-drafted LA ultrasound law can be found here

 

 Bioethics Defense Fund
Law in the Service of Life

Contact:  Dorinda C. Bordlee, Senior Counsel, Bioethics Defense Fund, dbordlee@bdfund.org, (504) 231-7234

http://www.BDFund.org

August 19, 2010 at 5:54 PM 2 comments

Ultrasound bill Challenged in LA Federal Court; Touted in Wash Post Column

Science tells us when life begins. The real question is when love begins. For many abortion-minded women, love began when they had the opportunity to see their unborn child on an ultrasound screen. 

Pulitzer Prize winner Kathleen Parker has focused her syndicated Washington Post column on a growing trend that has the potential to both change hearts and save lives – ultrasound before abortion legislation – an approach that recognizes that “abortion truthfully presented would eliminate itself or vastly reduce its numbers.”

The column features a bill drafted by Bioethics Defense Fund, and recently signed into law by La. Governor Jindal.  The column also touches on the newly enacted Oklahoma law that now faces a court challenge from the abortion industry.  Addressing powerful legislative testimony from post-abortive women, and women who had chosen life after viewing a free ultrasound, Parker concludes that “as an advocate for informed choice, I can’t rationalize ignorance or denial as preferable options for women in need of sound counseling. Or for a nation that wants to make abortion rare.”  

BILL SUMMARY:

The BDF/La. law gives every woman seeking abortion two chances to choose life: 

1.  At least 24 hours before an abortion, the woman must receive from the abortion provider a list of places that offer FREE ULTRASOUND SERVICES.  This list will be compiled by the State’s Department of Health, and will include mainly pro-life pregnancy care centers. 

2.  If the woman returns, the abortion provider must perform an ultrasound at least 2 hours before the abortion to determine fetal viability and issues related to the woman’s health.  At that ultrasound, the woman must be read a script that gives her three options:

  – The option to view the ultrasound screen

  – The option to hear an explanation of the images

  – The option to get a print out of the image of her unborn child

 These options are offered by a script that the ultrasound tech must read to the woman in the examination room prior to the beginning of the ultrasound examination.  (BDF drafted the script so that the abortionist could not negatively influence the woman by saying things such as, “You don’t want to see this, do you?”)

Because the ultrasound provisions are amended into the currently existing “Woman’s Right to Know” law, the abortionist will be subject to civil and criminal penalties if the woman is denied these options. 

The script is included in the bill, which can be read here: http://www.legis.state.la.us/billdata/streamdocument.asp?did=723252

  Legislators and policy makers who want to pursue ultrasound legislation in their state may contact BDF Senior Counsel Dorinda Bordlee at 504-231-7234 or  dbordlee@bdfund.org.

August 10, 2010 at 1:17 AM 5 comments

Louisiana Makes Waves with Obamacare and Ultrasound Laws

Together, we’re making waves for LIFE.  In Ms. Magazine’s article entitled, “Louisiana Approves Wave of Anti-Abortion Legislation,” the pro-abortion journal begrudingly reports on significant life-affirming bills drafted by BDF that pro-life Governor Jindal signed into law this week: 

  – an Obamacare Opt-Out bill that recognizes abortion shouldn’t be subsidized with our tax-dollars (along with our report on a lawsuit that could find Obamacare unconstitutional); and

  – an Ultrasound Before Abortion bill  that empowers women to choose life.

Obamacare Abortion Coverage Opt-Out Act  (La. H.B. 1247)

Thanks to your support, BDF drafted and provided legal testimony on a new law that makes Louisiana the fourth state to opt-out of the tax-subsidized abortion coverage provided in the future Louisiana Obamacare Exchanges (IF Obamacare survives the court challenge discussed below).

Bioethics Defense Fund was the only legal organization providing on-the-ground drafting and legal expertise to the Governor’s staff and the bill author, Rep. Frank Hoffmann (R-West Monroe), who carried the bill through both committees and the House floor.  BDF also helped prepare Senator Gerald Long (R-Winnfield) to carry the bill on the Senate floor.  Both of these legislators are outstanding and articulate heroes for life.  Read more about the La. H.B. 1247 here.

 OBAMACARE COURT CHALLENGE:  The Obamacare health insurance exchanges are set to begin in 2014 IF they survive pending court challenges.  Bioethics Defense Fund will be keeping you posted on a case that we believe has a very strong foundation, Thomas More Law Center, et al. v. Obama, et al.  The judge has set a July 21, 2010 hearing in the Eastern District of Michigan to hear oral arguments on whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

 BDF will be representing the Catholic Medical Association in an amicus brief on appeal regarding the law’s improper mandate that citizens in states who have not opted-out must use their personal dollars to buy abortion coverage, whether they want that coverage or not.  Stay tuned.

Ultrasound Before Abortion Act  (La. S.B. 528)

Thanks again to your support, BDF drafted and provided legal testimony on a bill signed this week by Governor Jindal that empowers every woman seeking abortion with the same information the abortionist often denies to her — an obstetric ultrasound.  Angie Thomas of the Woman’s New Life Center testified in the Senate committee that abortion-minded women who have the opportunity to see the ultrasound of their unborn child choose life over 65 percent of the time.

At the request of the heroic bill sponsor, La. Senator Sharon Weston Broome (D-BR), BDF’s Dorinda Bordlee drafted an ultrasound bill that gives every woman two chances to choose life: 

1.  At least 24 hours before an abortion, the woman must receive from the abortion provider a list of places that offer FREE ULTRASOUND SERVICES.  This list will be compiled by the State’s Department of Health, and will include mainly pro-life pregnancy care centers.

2.  If the woman returns, the abortion provider must perform an ultrasound at least 2 hours before the abortion to determine fetal viability and issues related to the woman’s health. At that ultrasound, the woman must be read a script that gives her three options:

  – The option to view the ultrasound screen

 – The option to hear an explanation of the images

 – The option to get a print out of the image of her unborn child

 These options are offered by a script that the ultrasound tech must read to the woman in the examination room prior to the beginning of the ultrasound examination.  The abortionist will be subject to civil and criminal penalties if the woman is denied these options.
 
Read more about the BDF-drafted Ultrasound law .  Policymakers who are interested in passing this “window on the womb” law in their state can contact Dorinda Bordlee at dbordlee@bdfund.org.

July 11, 2010 at 1:41 PM 3 comments

Why Kagan Can’t Stop Pro-Life Progress

June 30, 2010

We ask you to take a moment to read about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s flagrant disregard for life, law and science, and then read on about why significant pro-life progress cannot and will not be stopped.

How Kagan Manipulated Medical Evidence

It has come to light that while working for the Clinton administration, Elena Kagan actually manipulated a statement of a national medical organization to protect the gruesome atrocity of partial-birth abortion.

In a 1996 memo, Kagan identified as “disastrous” the original ACOG statement which said that the organization of ObGyns “could identify no circumstances under which this procedure . . . would be the only option to save the life or preserve the health of the woman.”

Crossing every boundary between science and politics, Kagan took the shockingly brazen action of actually proposing a rewrite of the ACOG statement to read that partial-birth abortion “may be the best or most appropriate procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or preserve the health of a woman.” The notoriously left-leaning ACOG accepted Kagan’s re-write on behalf of the Clinton administration.  This deceptive statement was then introduced again and again into evidence during the litigation of over 30 partial birth abortion cases across the nation.

Ultimate Victory Upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban

As attorneys, we had to deal with this deceptive evidence in case after case.  Nikolas T. Nikas and Dorinda C. Bordlee actively litigated partial birth abortion cases from 1997 to 2000, including Nikas preparing the Attorney General of Nebraska for oral argument in the Supreme Court.  We then filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court on behalf of physicians in the federal partial birth abortion case which resulted in the 2007 victory where the Court upheld the federal ban.

Along with other pro-life attorneys, we persevered in presenting accurate medical evidence that partial birth abortion is never medically necessary, as acknolwedged by the AMA .  Kagan’s ACOG statement was ultimately discredited by the Congress and the Supreme Court, yet this is the person who is poised to represent “Justice.”

Why a Justice Kagan Can’t Stop the Culture of Life

Even if Kagan is confirmed as expected by the liberal Senate, there are pro-life victories that she cannot stop.  Remember that Kagan will be replacing another activist Justice – therefore, the votes on the Court are not at this point going to change significantly.  Here’s what you should know:

  • A majority of the Court ruled in the 2007 case of Gonzales v. Carhart that  “Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child.  The [Partial Birth Abortion] Act recognizes this reality as well.” A Justice Kagan would remain in the minority of that decision, which reaffirmed that legislators may pass laws that promote childbirth over abortion.
  • With your support, Bioethics Defense Fund will continue to draft and help states enact life-saving laws, such as the Ultrasound Before Abortion laws, Obamacare abortion coverage limits, Parental Consent, Woman’s Right to Know, and Healthcare Rights of Conscience protections.
  • Bioethics Defense Fund will continue to lead the way in helping states enact laws that protect the dignity of human life in science, including recently enacted laws that Ban Human Cloning, Ban Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Ban Human-Animal Hybrids, and limit the exploitive practice of Egg Harvesting from our healthy college girls.
  • BDF will continue to educate litigators and university/law students on cutting edge life issues.  In the next couple of weeks, Nikolas Nikas will educate attorneys at a Litigation Academy in Chicago, and students at the Phoenix Institute at the University of Notre Dame.
  • And Bioethics Defense Fund will continue consulting with attorneys and representing pro-life physicians and scientists as amici in challenges to:

1) the pro-abortion Obamacare scheme, and

2) the Obama taxpayer funding of destructive human embryo research.

On July 21, 2010, a federal court in Michigan will hear oral arguments to decide whether the individual mandate violates the Commerce Clause.  Bioethics Defense Fund will keep you posted on the case Thomas More Law Center v. Obama, in which we will represent the Catholic Medical Association as amici on appeal.

We will also keep you posted on the case of Sherley v. Sebelius, where a federal appeal court recently upheld the right of adult stem-cell researchers to challenge whether the immoral funding of human embryo destruction is in violation of federal law.

If Kagan is confirmed, she will be considering the merits of these cases.  We can expect her to continue to put ideology first.  But she can expect YOU and BDF to persevere in advocating for the dignity of every human life using accurate medical and scientific facts.  Keeping in mind that Kagan’s ideology was ultimately defeated on the partial-birth abortion issue, we will continue to work toward victory through litigation, legislation and education.

Together, we are hope in action.  Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Nikolas T. Nikas, President and General Counsel

Dorinda C. Bordlee, Vice President, Senior Counsel

June 30, 2010 at 5:57 PM Leave a comment

La. Ultrasound Bill Clears Final Committee

Baton Rouge Advocate, June 4, 2010

Dorinda Bordlee, Sen. Sharon Broome, Ben Clapper

Broome’s measure would require a patient to be told by the physician prior to the ultrasound that she has the option to view the screen, hear an oral explanation of what the image shows and receive a print of the image.

Ultrasound bill goes to House

  • By MARK BALLARD
  • Advocate Capitol News Bureau
  • Published: Jun 4, 2010 – Page: 6A
  •  

    A Louisiana House committee Thursday approved Senate-passed legislation that would require physicians to perform ultrasounds prior to an abortion.

    Senate Bill 528, which was approved without objection or amendment by the House Health and Welfare Committee, goes to the full House for debate and a vote. If approved without any further changes by the full House, the legislation would head for the governor’s desk.

    SB528 amends the state law that generally forbids abortions 24 weeks after conception. The ultrasound, to be performed two hours before an abortion procedure, would determine the age of the fetus.

    Ultrasound is a medical imaging technology that can visualize tissues and bones. It is often used on pregnant mothers to check the condition of their unborn child.

    Broome’s measure would require a patient to be told by the physician prior to the ultrasound that she has the option to view the screen, hear an oral explanation of what the image shows and receive a print of the image.

    Broome said her SB528 follows up on a law passed about 15 years ago that requires that prior to an abortion, the woman be told about possible dangers with the procedure and alternative choices.

    “I felt it was necessary for us to go farther,” Broome said. “I call it an empowerment piece of legislation for women.”

    Benjamin Clapper, executive director of the Louisiana Right to Life Federation, said about 30 to 40 clinics provide free ultrasounds in the state. He testified that his group’s studies show that most abortion facilities already do ultrasounds as part of their regular routine.

    “This is a very modest proposal,” Clapper said.

    Fifteen other states have variations of a law requiring ultrasounds at some level, said Dorinda C. Bordlee, senior counsel in Metairie for the Bioethics Defense Fund. The fund calls itself a national public-interest law firm dedicated to drafting anti-abortion legislation. Bordlee said she helped Broome draft SB528.

    Julie Mickelberry, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana, testified that the legislation intrudes on the relationship between doctor and patient by imposing a specific treatment. Doctors, not legal mandates, should decide what it is the best practice for specific situations, she said.

    Also, the bill “doesn’t do anything to reduce the cause of abortion, which is unintended pregnancy,” Mickelberry said.

    Broome took exception to Mickelberry’s suggestion that she should put more effort into combating unintended pregnancies.

    “You don’t know me or what I have done to help women in this community and throughout the state,” Broome said, turning to Mickelberry.

    “We have no physicians who have come in opposition to this bill from any of the statewide organizations, and I think that speaks volumes,” Broome said.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:08 AM Leave a comment

    La. Obamacare Abortion Opt-out Bill Faces Final Hurdle

    Committee Testimony submitted by BDF Senior Counsel Dorinda C. Bordlee; La. Senate Health and Welfare Committee, 5/26/2010

    Note: H.B. 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman passed by a vote of 5-2 and will be heard this week on the Senate floor before it heads to Governor Jindal’s desk.

    House Bill 1247 by Representative Frank Hoffman is a common-sense, common-ground bill that simply takes advantage of an express provision found in the recently enacted federal health care overhaul bill.  HB 1247 addresses health plans that cover elective abortion in the so-called “Exchanges” that will be created in each State under the federal bill called “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

     “Exchanges” will basically be Expedia-like markets where consumers can compare various health insurance plans before buying.

    Contrary to current federal policy, the new Obama healthcare law will allow citizens by the year 2014 to use tax-subsidies in the state Exchanges to purchase insurance plans that cover elective abortion.

    However – and this is the important part – Section 1303 of the new federal health care law expressly gives Louisiana and all other states the power to opt-out of allowing health plans in the Exchange to cover elective abortion. The law provides as follows:

     ‘‘SEC. 1303. ‘‘(a) STATE OPT-OUT OF ABORTION COVERAGE.— ‘‘(1) A State may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such prohibition.

     In April of this year, Tennessee and Arizona became the first states to enact this “Abortion Opt-out” law.  Bills have also been recently passed and sent to the Governors of Missouri, Mississippi, Florida and Oklahoma. 

     Louisiana must pass HB 1247 if the state wants to take advantage of the option to prohibit tax-subsidized abortion through health plans in the Louisiana Exchange.

     Abortion is about taking human lives, not saving them.  That’s why abortion is not healthcare.  And that is why overwhelming majorities in Louisiana and across the nation oppose the use of scarce tax dollars to fund other people’s elective abortions.

     ______________________________
    Dorinda C. Bordlee
    Vice President, Senior Counsel
    Bioethics Defense Fund
    Human Rights from Beginning to End
    www.BDFund.org

    dbordlee@bdfund.org
    (504) 231-7234

    June 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM 1 comment

    Kagan Presumed to meet Obama’s Abortion Rights Test

    May 10, 2010.  As reported by the Washington Post after the retirement announcement of Justice Stevens, “President Obama forcefully stated his desire to nominate a Supreme Court candidate who supports abortion rights.”

    Bioethics Defense Fund takes the President at his word, and therefore presumes that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan meets with the President’s stated agenda.

    As reported in the Washington Post:

    Asked whether he would consider someone who opposes abortion rights, Obama replied: “I am somebody who believes that women should have the ability to make often very difficult decisions about their own bodies and issues of reproduction.”

    “I will say the same thing that every president has said since this issue came up, which is I don’t have litmus tests around any of these issues,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “But I will say that I want somebody who is going to be interpreting our Constitution in a way that takes into account individual rights, and that includes women’s rights.”

    As a public-interest legal organization dedicated to advocating through litigation, legislation and public education against human rights violations such as abortion and it’s negative impact on women, children and families, Bioethics Defense Fund will continue to inform the public about relevant life issues in the upcoming hearings on the Kagan nomination.

    What we’re reading:

    May 10, 2010 at 2:31 PM 1 comment

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