Women in the US military face unfair abortion challenges


A new study shows that women in the US military face unique hurdles when considering abortion, including negative health and emotional consequences resulting from the abortion policy.

“Women performing US military service have a higher rate of unintended pregnancy than civilians, yet the Pentagon does not provide health coverage for abortion, except in limited circumstances,” said Lisa McCormick, an advocate for reproductive freedom. “America is not supporting the troops if we leave them unable to make a perfectly legal and responsible health care decision.”

“Abortion has been legal throughout the United States since it was declared a constitutional right by the US Supreme Court in 1972,” said McCormick.

The experiences among military women with abortion care have received little research attention but a new study examines their plight.

Twenty-one in-depth interviews with servicewomen who had had an abortion during active-duty service in the prior two years were conducted between January 2015 and July 2016 by experts at Ibis Reproductive Health, an international nonprofit organization with a mission to improve women’s reproductive autonomy, choices, and health.

“Our research shows that women in the US military face unique hurdles when considering abortion, including negative health and emotional consequences resulting from the abortion policy,” said Kate Grindlay, co-author of the paper. “For some, the policy led to delayed access to services or feeling stressed or alone in the process when they did not have formal military support. Others noted the potential for women receiving substandard care when they are deployed and must seek services on their own.”

Logistical and financial concerns were also raised by women in the study. Servicewomen had to travel to an outside clinic, often located an hour or more away from their base, because military facilities do not perform abortions in most circumstances.

Almost all of the women interviewed paid out of pocket for the procedure, which cost an average of $493. In some of the cases with a higher out-of-pocket cost, the procedure cost represented a full paycheck.

“Whether stationed domestically or overseas, servicewomen can face barriers to accessing abortion care. Many military bases in the United States are located in states with restrictive abortion policies, where servicewomen face the combined impacts of military restrictions and local obstacles to care. Women who are deployed abroad or at sea can face even greater geographic barriers,” said Grindlay.

Most servicewomen in the study believed that the military should provide and cover abortion, reporting that the current exclusion from their health coverage is unfair.

“We don’t always plan to break our leg, but the government still pays to manage and take care of us when that happens,” said one participant in the study.

At the same time, female soldiers also reported apprehension about the military being involved with abortion care, fearing possible negative career impacts and privacy concerns.

McCormick said a number of actions by the Trump administration have reinforced its disdain for women, disregard of proven scientific evidence  and she condemned federal efforts to strip away women’s rights and access to health care.

McCormick said the Department of Health and Human Services’ new strategic plan redefined life as beginning at conception, contradicting the US Supreme Court.

Other examples are Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department moves to expand the rights of employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraception, among other restrictions.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening the health and lives of millions across the country by denying women insurance coverage for birth control.

“The weakening of insurance regulations and giving employers power for denying birth control coverage to their workers turn back the clock on health care in this country and threaten the lives of women,” McCormick said.

Let’s go around Congress to fix corruption


The American Anti-Corruption Act sets a standard for city, state and federal laws that break big money’s grip on politics. It will:

  • Stop political bribery by making it illegal for lobbyists to lobby a politician and donate to their campaign. You can lobby, or you can donate, but you can’t do both.
  • End secret money so Americans know who is buying political power.
  • Fix our broken elections so the people, not the political establishment, are the ones in control.

Together, we’re building a nationwide movement to fix corruption.

NJ religious fanatic stirs Trump abortion controversy


A political appointee from New Jersey is the right wing religious fanatic at the center of a controversy between the federal government and human rights groups that want to enforce a court order allowing women detained by immigration authorities to get an abortion if they want one.

President Donald Trump appointed Edward Scott Lloyd to be the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

ORR provides services to refugees and individuals who have been granted asylum in the United States, as well as care and assistance for aliens in the United States who are the victims of trafficking; torture victims who have immigrated to the United States; and unaccompanied alien children in federal custody while their status is being resolved.

Lloyd, who goes by the name Scott, was born and raised in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lloyd is systemically and illegally denying young immigrant women their rights to safe abortion care.

“The administration went as far as to claim that ‘there is no constitutional right’ for an immigrant minor to get an abortion while in federal custody,” said an ACLU statement.

The ACLU said forcing young women to undergo pregnancies against their will is not only clearly unconstitutional – it’s unconscionable.

The ACLU took Lloyd and the administration to court for blocking a 17-year-old, immigrant woman, identified in court papers as ‘Jane Doe,’ from getting an abortion after a judge ruled that she could.

The court said it was ‘astounded’ by the government’s position and agreed with us immediately: forcing a young woman to carry a pregnancy to term against her will violates the U.S. constitution and is clearly illegal.

The Trump administration is still preventing Jane Doe from getting the abortion she needs and government lawyers filed an appeal of the judge’s order, so the ACLU is going back to court to seek justice for the young woman.

Jane Doe’s story is not isolated, according to the organization and New Jersey choice advocates, such as Lisa McCormick.

“The Trump administration’s no-abortion policy applies to all unaccompanied immigrant youth in its custody, and many of them have horrifying stories,” said McCormick. “That’s why people need to speak up. We have to change the administration’s brutal policy about the health of young immigrant women.”

“What kind of country will we be if we allow this to continue?” asked McCormick. “The administration must stop forcing its ideological agenda, driven by personal religious views, on young people who are being held in custody.”

McCormick said she posted a petition online to let citizens tell Scott Lloyd and the Office of Refugee Resettlement to stop breaking the law by denying young immigrant women their right to safe abortion care.

“A woman’s right to choose a safe, legal abortion is protected by the US Constitution,” McCormick said. “I encourage everyone who cares about liberty and justice to visit my website at www.lisamccormick.org to sign our petition to protect the right to choose.”

The American Civil Liberties Union prevailed in court last week on behalf of a young woman in federal custody in Texas since she was caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in early September, who has been prevented from accessing abortion care by the Trump administration.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement has prevented a 17-year-old, who is being held at a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant minors in Texas, from getting an abortion. The ACLU challenged the obstruction and the judge has ordered that the young woman be permitted to get the abortion she decided on and requested weeks ago.

“At last, our client will be able to get the care she needs without federal officials standing in the way,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Her courage and perseverance are incredible, but no one should have to go to court to get a safe, legal abortion. And no one should be held hostage to the extreme anti-abortion views of a handful of government officials.”

“Janes everywhere are rejoicing that their dignity and humanity have been recognized and respected by the federal court,” said Susan Hays, legal director of Jane’s Due Process, a legal referral source for teens facing unintended pregnancies in Texas.

The emergency order issued by the federal courtOctober 18, 2017, pertains specifically to the one woman but ACLU lawyers also asked the court to strike down the government’s policy preventing young immigrants who want one from obtaining an abortion.
http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/local/judges-order-in-abortion-case/2590/

On Monday, Members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services asking for answers about ORR’s treatment of the ACLU’s client and other unaccompanied immigrant minors.

Attorneys on the case include Amiri, Meagan Burrows, and Daniel Mach from the ACLU; Arthur Spitzer and Scott Michelman of the ACLU of the District of Columbia; Jennifer Chou and Mishan R. Wroe of the ACLU of Northern California; and Melissa Goodman of the ACLU of Southern California.

More information about the case is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/garza-v-hargan-challenge-trump-administrations-attempts-block-abortions-young-immigrant-women

Garza v. Hargan complaint is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/garza-v-hargan-complaint-injunctive-relief-and-damages

The New Jersey religious fanatic Lloyd said in an email in March that federally funded shelters “should not be supporting abortion services pre or post-release; only pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.”

The judge pointed out that the federal workers took the teenager, against her wishes, to a Christian pregnancy facility for counseling aimed at persuading her not to abort, and also informed her mother about the pregnancy. Both steps potentially violated the girl’s constitutional protections, Chutkan said.

An appeals court in Washington D.C. issued a ruling Friday that allows the government to delay the 17-year-old undocumented woman’s ability to get an abortion until October 31.

“Justice is delayed yet again for this courageous and persistent young woman. She continues to be held hostage and prevented from getting an abortion because the Trump administration disagrees with her personal decision,” said Amiri, her ACLU attorney. “Our client and women across this country should be able to access a safe, legal abortion without federal officials stepping in to interfere. We are investigating all avenues to get justice for her.”

 

 

Prior to joining ORR, Lloyd was Senior Policy Coordinator to the Knights of Columbus a Catholic fraternal and charitable organization, where he served as an attorney in the public policy office.

During the Bush Administration, Lloyd worked in the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services where he co-authored the 2008 “conscience rule” that allowed health care workers, hospitals and even entire insurance companies to decline to perform, refer or pay for any practice that violates a ‘religious belief or moral conviction.’

But opponents of that rule argued that it would threaten patients’ health.

“This is a very wide, broadly written regulation that upsets what has been a carefully established balance between respecting the religious views of providers, while also making sure that we’re guaranteeing patients access to health care,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Richards raised as one example, state laws requiring that rape victims treated in hospital emergency rooms be offered the option of taking emergency contraceptive pills to prevent pregnancy.

The Bush administration rule let providers who don’t approve of birth control to refrain from telling women about that option.

Women who are the victim of sexual assault either would not be guaranteed either information or health care access to emergency contraception.”

Trump tax scheme robs middle-class America


Democrat Lisa McCormick released the following statement on the congressional Republicans’ and President Donald Trump’s tax reform proposal:

“The is the opposite of Robin Hood. Republicans was to rob the poor and give to the rich despite the fact that instead of a middle class comprised of 65 percent of Americans, that economic class now includes only 40 percent of the United States’ population. They continue to lie to the people by promising economic benefits from tax cuts for the rich, after every attempt to accomplish this sort of trickle down magic has failed.”

“National Economic Council director Gary Cohn declined to say whether President Donald Trump should keep his promise to release his tax returns, declared there is ‘No room to negotiate’ a proposed corporate tax cut from 35 percent to a 20 percent, and said he ‘can’t guarantee’ middle-class families won’t pay more taxes.  We deserve better than that. We should see the President’s tax returns, force corporate tax dodgers to pay their fair share of the cost of government and make sure working families share in the prosperity that has yielded record high profits for the rich and negligible gains for everyone else.”

“After President Trump struck a deal with Senator Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on spending money for hurricane aid, raising the federal borrowing limit and funding the federal government through December, it seemed that Americans might hope for a change in direction but that glimmer was short lived as the administration laid out this travesty.”

McCormick chides latest GOP Death Plan & reaffirms ‘Medicare for All’ support


Lisa McCormick, a New Jersey activist who is working to recruit  pro-choice Democratic women candidates for federal, state and local offices, said the latest Obamacare repeal bill proposed by Republicans would kill Americans and leave millions unable to afford necessary medical care without going into bankrupcy. 

“Two months ago, three senior Republican Senators defied their leadership to sink what, at the time, seemed to be the last chance to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s signature health law on a purely party-line vote,” said MCcormick. “Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump are trying to whip up support for another Obamacare repeal bill introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, instead of governing like responsible adults and caring human beings.”

“There has never been a more urgent time for women to come forward and help clean up the mess made by politicians,” said McCormick. “I urge every adult woman to seriously consider being a candidate for elected office or at a minimum, joining in support of our movement to elect new leadership because that is necessary to save our nation from political corruption, corporate control over the economy and chaos caused by the incompetent people who have been in charge.”

McCormick said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report on the ​revised ​Graham-Cassidy-Heller health care proposal, which says it includes especially large cuts for New Jersey.

McCormick urged action because GOP plan has 49 senators on board with the Graham-Cassidy bill.

“This so-called health care plan would eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions and allow states to waive the requirement that insurance plans cover essential health benefits like maternity care,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List.

Many others have articulated what is wrong with the GOP approach, but McCormick says the solution could be achieved simply and at far less expense, by adopting a national health policy such as the Medicare for All bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. John Conyers.

 

 

McCormick on Ukrainian Independence Day:


Democrat Lisa McCormick issued the following statement on Ukrainian Independence Day:

Twenty-six years ago today, Ukraine became an independent nation. After decades of Soviet rule, Ukrainians seized the opportunity to determine their own fate but more than three years of war with Russian aggressors have demonstrated to the whole world the ability of these remarkable people to defend Ukrainian independence, which is celebrated with all the people of America, especially the one million Americans who are of Ukrainian ancestry.

On Ukrainian Independence Day, we are reminded of the fortitude, bravery and determination of the Ukrainian people as they continue the struggle for the post-revolutionary Ukrainian government’s freedom against Russia’s illegal military aggression.

While millions of people from Crimea, Sevastopol and the Donbas region will mark Independence Day today for the third time under military occupation or as refugees fleeing a war zone, Ukrainians have not wavered in their courage.

Real Americans will always stand with Ukraine in their fight for freedom. Our previous president took practical steps to help Ukraine by providing military aid and imposing sanctions against Russian officials responsible for the war.

We continue to call for measures that result in freedom and independence even if we must drag the White House along due to the unexplained collaboration among President Donald Trump’s inner circle with agents of the Kremlin.

Fortunately, Defense Secretary James Mattis said America stands with Ukraine at a press conference with President Petro Poroshenko, but he stopped short of promising to provide the weapons needed to remove at least 3,000 Russian troops now on its soil.

President Trump is said to be actively reviewing the possibility of sending weapons to Ukraine, but his comments have appeared to recognize Crimea as part of Russia and there are many unanswered questions about potentially criminal collusion during the election campaign.

On behalf of the people of the United States of America, if not all elements of our chaotic government, I am expressing my best wishes on Ukrainian Independence Day.  Your example is an inspiration to those seeking freedom, justice and the rule of law around the world.

З Днем Незалежності України!”

American must resist endless war


Lisa McCormick released the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s August 21 address on the future of the war in Afghanistan:

President Trump outlined a vague framework for a ratcheting-up of force in the now 16-year-long conflict in Afghanistan but he failed to define what victory would look like or explain why any American should lose his or her life fighting in that remote part of the world.

The president’s pronouncement that disclosing troop levels, military strategies and timelines may weaken the United States’ ability to fight terrorism is an excuse to put additional U.S. troops at risk without giving details on their missions or telling us how we can measure their success.

That is a cop out, not a long-term approach in America’s best interest.  Americans are exhausted by what seems to be an endless war so we need to ask why our nation should be responsible for the intentional death of any teenager from Iowa or Kabul. It is time to stop killing.

America invaded when the Afghans refused to turn over Osama bin Laden. The al-Qaeda leader was killed by US Navy Seal Team 6 on May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  Our mission there is over. Nothing in Afghanistan today is worth another American life.

Our effort to restore order to Afghanistan has been welcomed with rampant corruption, weaknesses of the central government, and ethnic tensions that fuel the insurgency.  We owe all members of our military who have served there an extraordinary debt of gratitude but we have lost too many brave young Americans without a defining reason to stay. Our local allies may be rewarded with wealth, weapons, food, technology or the means to exit the area but America’s departure is long overdue.

It is imperative that the President consult with Congress before moving forward with any major new actions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Our citizens demand a clear mission that defines victory and measures success, not a vague plan to continue the failed strategies of the past.

President Trump is echoing President Bush and President Obama, instead of commanding the Pentagon to show how we can win this war or acknowledging that all we can achieve with deadly force has been done, so it is time to leave.

It is time for the president to present a compelling plan for regional stability, world peace and an end to American military involvement. If President Trump fails to do that, then Congress must be more assertive.

Congress can restrain the imperial presidency and curtail war powers granted to the executive branch. This is a time to do that.

Any real threats to the United States in Pakistan and Afghanistan have been neutralized. We must not be motivated by unfounded fear. While we maintain a right to self defense and share an obligation to help our brothers and sisters around the world, we must not continue killing innocent people or sacrifice America’s blood and treasure unless there is a clear and present danger.

Sinister suspects lurking in the shadows are the stuff of nightmares, not American Dreams. Today, guerrilla insurgent groups active in Afghanistan and Pakistan pose virtually no existential threat to the United States of America or its vital interests, except soldiers we put in their way. It is time for the United States to wake up and move to replace endless war with an honorable peace.

I repeat my call for Congress to enact restrictions on any one person’s ability to launch a nuclear war. I repeat my call for an audit of the Pentagon.

 

Reflecting on issues during a summer afternoon


Education

As a mother, I care passionately about our schools, our children and their future. From the age of three to a college degree, Americans should be guaranteed a free public education of the highest quality. We cannot have a free and prosperous nation without a fully educated citizenry, so the learning process must be adjusted to fit the amount of information known to humanity.

Corruption

We’re sick and tired of the seemingly endless string of corruption scandals that flow from city halls to the White House.  I’m embarrassed to explain to my children every time another elected official or political party leader is arrested for corruption and abusing the public trust to line their own pockets.  It is time to take elections off the auction block and restore integrity to democracy.

Property Taxes

While politicians are more than happy to take our hard earned tax dollars, we are not getting back our fair share from Washington DC. This a bad deal that hurts New Jersey families and hinders their ability to survive. I’ll fight to restore fairness to America’s tax system, starting by making global corporations pay their share for the security and justice they expect from the United States government.

Heroin epidemic

We need to put an end to the drug crisis that is preying upon our children and destroying families. I’ll make sure first responders and emergency personnel have the tools they need to help people in crisis. I will work to insure that health care is a right for every American. I will also strive to reform our approach to drugs so that people who need help can get it without fear of being branded as criminals.

Storm Preparedness

I will never forget the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy. The storm caused devastation for so many of our neighbors, but the unacceptable and burdensome relief process left so many families stranded when they should have felt the comfort of Americans coming together. I will always defend families as they work to rebuild their lives. 

Protecting our water and our environment

Our water supply is critical to our health and to our property values. I’ll fight to make polluters pay so we have the resources to clean up the toxins that threaten the air we breathe, the land we live on and the water we drink. I will also establish tougher laws to prevent corporate criminals from poisoning our families.

 

I welcome your feedback on these and other issues of concern to our community. Please write to lisa@njdems.com and let me know what you think.

The Pentagon needs an audit


Men and women in the armed forces are held to the highest standards and taught discipline, respect and service to our country but those high standards are not reflected by the way that the Pentagon conducts its fiscal affairs and record-keeping.

Recent failures in the Department of Defense’s bookkeeping procedures have resulted in the military wasting enormous sums of taxpayer dollars and maintaining inaccurate government records.

Those inaccuracies have far-reaching consequences, according to budgetary critics and good government advocates.

One report from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) shows the Pentagon spent $458 million between 2010 and 2015 to train Afghan intelligence officers.

SIGAR states, “It is almost impossible to assess whether this assistance was worth the $457.7 million spent on these programs.”

The Pentagon did not have measures in place to track how well the program was working, and in the end had no idea whether the program was successful.

Unfortunately, this is becoming something of a trend at the DOD.

Between 2011 and 2015, the DOD spent an estimated $900 million on contract workers at the Pentagon and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the Pentagon cannot confirm the extent to which these contract workers were used because information was not accurately recorded in federal databases in the first place.

The report explicitly states, “The extent to which DOD awards personal service contracts is unknown.”

When records are incorrectly entered in government databases, it can make contractors appear to be federal employees, leading to further inaccuracies.

“The Department of Defense (DoD) is the largest government agency with the largest discretionary budget and yet it has never been audited,” said Democrat Lisa McCormick. “Taxpayers deserve more accountability from an agency with 2.8 million employees and an annual budget of $580 billion.”

Ferreting out waste is important on its own, but this is about more than dollars and sense.

Wasteful spending and government inefficiencies threaten our military’s readiness. To protect our national security, it is crucial that the Pentagon streamline its processes, increase efficiency and use our tax dollars wisely as it works to strengthen our military.

McCormick urged Congress to mandate a full audit of the DOD and eliminate excess infrastructure through a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.

McCormick urging Democrats to pursue progressive agenda


Lisa McCormick is asking Democrats in Congress to sign on to eight bills that define a better future for America and show the nation what life could be like with a progressive majority running things instead of the greedy and corrupt cartel of billionaires who are driving the Republican agenda.

McCormick said every Democrat in Congress should support public campaign financing, Medicare for All, college tuition for all, a $15 per hour minimum wage, equal access to abortion, expanded voting rights, ending private prisons, taxing Wall Street and protecting our environment.

“Resisting the Trump Republicans will not move our country forward, so Democrats should campaign on a bold agenda that creates an America that works for everyone,” said McCormick. “If Democrats want to take our country back from the billionaire class and Republicans in 2018, we need to speak to the concerns of our people.”

“We’re fighting for a Congress that will put people before profits in an America where everyone has access to health care, free public education, and a job that pays a living wage,” said McCormick. “A livable planet, justice, peace and prosperity were handed down to us and we must preserve them to pass them on to our children and future generations.”

McCormick said all Democrats in Congress should co-sponsor the following bills:

Public Campaign Financing: S.1640 – Fair Elections Now Act , introduced by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill).

Health Care: H.R. 676 Medicare For All Act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich).

Education: H.R. 1880 College for All Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).

Worker Rights: H.R.15 – Raise the Wage Act, Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Women’s Rights: H.R.771 – Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Lee, Barbara (D-CA-13).

Voting Rights: H.R.2840 – Automatic Voter Registration Act, introduced by Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI-1).

Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights: Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2017, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) in 2017.

Tax on Wall Street: H.R. 1144 – Inclusive Prosperity Act, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Climate Change: Environmental Justice Act of 2017’ introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07).

“What many people overlook is that much of these bills would protect rights to access service we have always had,” said McCormick. “Elections must not be for sale, health care is a human right, Americans have had free public education for more than a century while our body of knowledge has grown, while fair voting and immigration have been part of our culture.”

“The private prison business started in 1984 when one Tennessee county awarded the first contract allowing a corporation to take over and run a jail,” said McCormick. “Time has proved it was a bad idea so prisons for profit should be abolished.”

“What the Republicans are doing is allowing billionaires to take what we have had and we must once again fight to protect our freedom and equality,” said McCormick.