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Hutchinson said in January that he wanted the Trump administration to end, but stopped short of calling for the former president’s



Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday that he would not support a run by former President Donald Trump for reelection in 2024.

“He’s got a good family … and they love America,” the Republican told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But I would not support him for reelection in 2024.”

“He’s going to have a voice, as former presidents do, but there’s many voices in our party,” he went on. Trump “should not define our future.”

Hutchinson said in January that he wanted the Trump administration to end, but stopped short of calling for the former president’s resignation. He also called a second set of impeachment proceedings “unworkable.”

The governor’s nephew, an Arkansas state senator, has since announced he is leaving the Republican Party due to the direction the GOP has taken.

Hutchinson called on the GOP to pivot away from Trump’s perspective and toward “a different voice for the future of our party.”

“He will only define our party if we let him define our party,” Hutchinson said Sunday. “I think it’s fine for CPAC to invite former President Trump to speak, but how about the other voices? Senator [Bill] Cassidy from Louisiana, those that have different points of view.”

To Shannon Burns, the betrayal that local Republicans felt when Ohio State wide receiver-turned-Republican-congressman Anthony Gonzalez voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump was analogous to only one other disloyalty: Suiting up for Michigan.

“This is like him playing for the Buckeyes again, getting down to the two-minute warning, running into the locker room, getting a Michigan jersey and running back out,” said Burns, who runs the Strongsville GOP, a grassroots organization that once backed Gonzalez. “It’s not that you turned your back or you did something that we didn’t like. You did the unthinkable.”

Gonzalez’s decision to join just nine other House Republicans and all House Democrats to impeach Trump in January has unearthed profound anger in his northeast Ohio district, kicking off a localized fight over the future of the Republican Party that pits the two-term congressman against irate constituents eager to expel any Republican who crosses the former President.

Numerous county parties have either censured or publicly decried him, grassroots organizations once aligned with the congressman have taken back their endorsements and fellow Republican have begun lining up to oust him in a primary.

“He’s a traitor,” said Mike Ryan, a 50-year-old Republican who voted for Gonzalez in 2020 but now wants to see him ousted from office.

Gonzalez, who easily won reelection in 2020 after first winning the seat in 2018, has remained defiant in the face of criticism, telling local outlets that he does not regret the vote and is willing to lose his seat over the decision.
People like Ryan believe he will.

Mike Ryan, a 50-year-old Republican, called Rep. Anthony Gonzalez a “traitor” for voting to impeach Donald Trump.Mike Ryan, a 50-year-old Republican, called Rep. Anthony Gonzalez a “traitor” for voting to impeach Donald Trump.

“I’m all about forgiveness,” said Ryan. “But when you sit there, and you say you didn’t make a mistake … that calls into question how you are going to represent me.”

The firestorm is just the latest example of a broader fight going on inside a Republican Party that is struggling to chart its course in the wake of Trump’s 2020 loss. Some Republicans — typified by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other national figures — are eager to move on from Trump and his caustic politics. Those efforts are running headfirst into the party’s Trump-loyal base, one that believes the path forward for Republicans is total loyalty to Trump.

It’s clear on the ground here in Gonzalez’s district that the Trump Republicans are winning this fight. And Gonzalez could bear the brunt.
Gonzalez, who declined an interview with CNN, has argued that Trump’s rhetoric at the “Stop the Steal” rally ahead of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol and the fact that Trump did little to stop those actions swayed him to back the impeachment charges.
Top party officials tell CNN that Gonzalez could lose his seat over that decision with a number of candidates actively considering a primary challenge. One Republican candidate, Jonah Schulz, has already declared a bid.
“Every member has to make their own decisions for their own reasons,” said Jim Renacci, the Republican who previously held Gonzalez’s congressional seat. “One good thing is most people only have a 30 days memory when it comes to politics. … Does he have an issue today? Of course he does.”
‘It blinded sided us’
The reaction to Gonzalez’s impeachment vote in January was swift.
Phones at local county offices across his snow-covered district began ringing constantly, with local Republicans eager to voice their disapproval. Republican officials in Medina said their office, which usually fields no more than 10 constituent calls a day, was getting six times that for weeks.
“It blindsided us,” said Lisa Woods, a Medina County Republican who runs a local grassroots organization.
Facebook groups dedicated to Republican politics in Northeast Ohio began lighting up with demands that Gonzalez resign his seat. And groups ranging from official county parties to grassroots organizations quickly began the process of censuring the Republican lawmaker.
Some top Republicans have even begun whispering that state Republicans could use the 2022 redistricting process, where Ohio is expected to lose a congressional district, to exact revenge on the congressman, effectively drawing him out of his district or making it much harder for him to get back to Congress.
Trump shirts for sale at the River Styx Market in Medina, OH on February 18, 2021.
Trump shirts for sale at the River Styx Market in Medina, OH on February 18, 2021.
Charlie Selzer, the 78-year-old owner of River Styx Market, said he was “surprised” that his congressman had crossed Trump, considering he voted for the lawmaker in November.
Selzer, through the market he has owned since 1982, has become one of the biggest purveyors of Trump memorabilia in Northeast Ohio, selling almost anything you could think of with the Trump name emblazoned on it, including Trump flags that tout his possible 2024 run. He was unambiguous when asked whether Gonzalez should keep his job.
“He’s like all the rest of them who voted for impeachment, I think they are going to find themselves out of a job in a couple years,” said Selzer, making clear that if he is forced to choose between someone like Gonzalez and Trump, he will go with the latter every time.
Charlie Selzer, 78, stands outside of the River Styx Market which he owns in Medina, OH on February 18, 2021.
Charlie Selzer, 78, stands outside of the River Styx Market which he owns in Medina, OH on February 18, 2021.
From Trump loyalty to a ‘terrible surprise’
The path that brought Gonzalez to this inflection point is unlike most lawmakers.
Gonzalez initially made a name of himself as standout high school athlete in Cleveland, building on that recognition when he decided to play football at Ohio State. After three solid years as a Buckeye, Gonzalez was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, a selection that paired him with Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Injuries cut Gonzalez’s time in the NFL short, forcing him to retire after five seasons.
Anthony Gonzalez of the Ohio State Buckeyes carries the ball during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats on September 16, 2006.
Anthony Gonzalez of the Ohio State Buckeyes carries the ball during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats on September 16, 2006.
But that time in the league was central to the pitch he made voters when he decided to run to represent Ohio’s 16th Congressional District in the House in 2018 after Renacci opted to unsuccessfully challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Gonzalez had to beat Christina Hagan, a local lawmaker and Trump devotee, in the primary, earning the reputation as an establishment candidate. But since getting to Congress in 2019, local Republicans have been enthused with how in-line Gonzalez has been with Trump.
That loyalty to Trump’s agenda had won over local Republicans — and made the sting of his decision to impeach the GOP President even harsher in the eyes of people like Burns.
The local Republican activist said he was told beforehand that Gonzalez planned to impeach Trump. Burns began working the phones and eventually spoke with the congressman’s chief of staff, imploring him to change his mind.
“It was a terrible surprise,” Burns said. He called for a meeting of his group earlier this month to decide what to do about Gonzalez. There were 110 Republicans in the room, Burns recalled, when a resolution was brought forward that condemned the impeachment vote and called on the congressman to resign.
“I’ve been involved in Republican politics in this area for 20 years or more and I have never seen a circumstance when you have 110 members together and they all agree on a topic,” Burns said.
Asked what the vote tells him about the future of the party and Gonzalez’s role in it, the local Republican added, “He is of the delusional mindset that he can run for reelection again and win a primary.”
‘A day is an eternity in politics’
The question now before Gonzalez is whether forgiveness is possible in politics.
The congressman’s district is varied — it snakes from the suburbs of Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie, down the Cuyahoga Valley into suburban communities like Strongsville and Medina and into more rural areas southwest of Akron like Wooster and Wayne County. It’s is a mix of planned suburban communities, undulating snowy covered hills and family farms.
And the area has long been solidly Republican. Gonzalez easily won the district in 2020 with more than 63% of the vote.
“We are blood red here and we like it that way,” said Doug Deeken, the chair of the Wayne County Republican Party. Gonzalez represents the entire county.
Unlike some of his Republican colleagues, Deeken, a mild-mannered leader, is more charitable to the Republican congressman, even though his county party censured him in stark terms.
“I still like Anthony Gonzalez and I still think, on balance, he has done a pretty good job,” Deeken said, recalling the “shock” he felt when he heard the congressman was voting to impeach. “But he made a big mistake and he needed to be told he made a mistake. We think he screwed up, so we told him.”
Doug Deeken, chair of the Wayne County Republican Party, described his county as being “blood red”: “We like it that way.”
Doug Deeken, chair of the Wayne County Republican Party, described his county as being “blood red”: “We like it that way.”
But Gonzalez, as multiple Republicans noted, opted to buck the party at a politically expedient time — just days after the 117th Congress began and months before any primary could come together. As Deeken put it, the congressman undoubtedly complicated his future, but “a day is an eternity in politics and there are a lot of eternities between now and when he is up for reelection.”
The looming factor in this possible redemption is Trump. The former President has made clear he wants to play a role in the 2022 midterms. And aides close to Trump have hinted that he may look to punish those Republicans who voted to impeach him — a scenario that is not lost on leaders like Deeken.
“A year from now when the filing deadline comes, who is going to remember? It could be a lot of people and it could be people who have long memories.”

“That’s what we’ve got to embrace,” he went on. Trump “has a loud megaphone, but we have to have many different voices, and in my view, we can’t let him define us for the future because that would just further divide our country and it would hurt our Republican Party.”

Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican who retired at the end of 2020, echoed Hutchinson’s sentiments on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“This is a president that lost the House, the Senate, the White House in four years,” Hurd said. “I think the last person to do that was Herbert Hoover and that was in the Great Depression. And, you know, when you look at in the 2020 election, the number of Republicans that were successful significantly outperformed President Trump.”

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Additionally, how to deal with China, taxation, illegal immigration, crime and energy policy will all be mentioned by speakers in various capacities



The 45th president is expected to go between “warming up to the idea of a 2024 run, and walking right up to the line of announcing another campaign” — though he is not expected to make an actual announcement.

It will be Trump’s first public appearance since leaving office. It is unclear to what extent Trump will relitigate the 2020 election, which he has repeatedly claimed to have won.


Trump’s speech will be closely watched both for indications of a possible 2024 run — where early polls show him the comfortable front-runner in the Republican primary if he chooses to run again — and also whether he intends to target political opponents within the Republican Party.

A source familiar with Trump’s speech told Fox News last week that Trump will speak about the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, as well as Biden’s policies on amnesty and the border.

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, recently ticked off the usual suspects when asked to list the gravest threats facing the United States today: China, Iran, Russia.

Moments later, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser offered a starkly different response to the same question.

“Right now, the most profound national security challenge facing the United States is getting our own house in order, is domestic renewal,” Jake Sullivan said in a “Passing the Baton” forum hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace late last month. 

Sullivan’s answer signals the Biden administration’s approach to foreign policy will acknowledge the appeal of former President Donald Trump’s “America First” platform, even if they reject any comparisons.

Sullivan says that to rebuild American global power, the U.S. needs to start by getting the pandemic under control, addressing racial and economic inequities, and strengthening a battered U.S. economy with massive investments in technology and infrastructure.
National Security Advisor nominee Jake Sullivan speaks after being introduced by President-elect Joe Biden as he introduces key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments at the Queen Theatre on November 24, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Show caption
National Security Advisor nominee Jake Sullivan speaks after being introduced by President-elect Joe Biden as he introduces key foreign policy and national security nominees and…
Mark Makela, Getty Images
‘Populist tinge’ to foreign policy

If it sounds more like domestic policy than foreign affairs, that’s no accident – Biden’s adviser sees the two as inextricably linked.

“Everything we do in our foreign policy and national security will be measured by a basic metric: Is it going to make life better, safer and easier for working families?” Sullivan said during a Feb. 4 press briefing at the White House.

That’s a lofty promise with a nod to reality: Americans feel deeply disconnected and often betrayed by Washington foreign policymakers — particularly the free-trade policies that decimated U.S. manufacturing towns.

In many Midwestern states, Trump tapped into a resentment among voters with his tough talk on China and his promises of an “America First” foreign policy that called for pulling back from “endless wars” and other global commitments.

“President Trump had it right on the divorce between American foreign policy elites and average Americans,” says Kenneth Weinstein, a fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute think tank.

The Biden administration, which calls its approach “foreign policy for the middle class,” is trying to give a “populist tinge” to Democratic foreign policy ideals, Weinstein says.

Weinstein says the nub of Trump’s approach was a demand for reciprocity from allies, and that struck a chord with American voters that the Biden administration cannot afford to ignore.
While debates rage on about whether the American dream is as it used to be, research certainly indicates it is not uniform across the country. While opportunities and upward income mobility exist in some areas, they are close to zero in others and have been falling sharply in recent decades.
Show caption
While debates rage on about whether the American dream is as it used to be, research certainly indicates it is not uniform across the country….
Iordache Elena Gabriela / iStock

In practice, of course, many critics saw Trump’s foreign policy as destructive – noting that he alienated allies and undermined U.S. credibility.

Jen Psaki, Biden’s chief spokeswoman, bristled at any comparison between Trump and Biden on world affairs.

“I can assure you that this president … is not looking to the last presidency as the model for his foreign policy,” Psaki said earlier this month when asked to explain the administration’s “foreign policy for a middle class.”

Biden’s approach “embraces Trump’s most important insight – that the purpose of U.S. foreign policy is to make life better for Americans – even as it rejects Trump’s divisive nationalism on international trade and U.S. alliances,” Edward Alden, an expert on global trade with the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a recent Foreign Policy magazine piece.

Biden has begun to reverse some of Trump’s most controversial foreign policy decisions – rejoining the World Health Organization and Paris climate accords, for example – and vowed to restore America’s standing as a global leader.
How the American people feel about its reputation

When it comes to U.S. military engagements, Biden will have to balance what he see as America’s national security interests with skepticism among the American public toward foreign conflicts, said Nick Gvosdev, a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College.

Americans have soured on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and public opinion is divided about whether the U.S. should be involved in nation-building in those countries.

Exclusive: U.S. counterterrorism efforts touched 85 countries in past 3 years alone

“They’re of two minds,” said Fran Stewart, an Ohio researcher who interviewed business owners, veterans and state and local government officials as part of a study about how middle-class Americans view U.S. foreign policy.

“On one hand, they don’t appreciate going into endless costly wars, because … in Ohio, we have a lot of families who were sent to serve there,” she said. They believe “there’s a high price that’s been paid for the decisions that were made elsewhere, not made in Ohio.”

On the other hand, she said, “they’re very sensitive when people start talking about cutting defense spending because they know that ultimately it can affect their own communities, their own jobs.”
Air Force veteran Mike Fitzgerald stands near an anti-war protest outside the Federal Courthouse in St. Louis.
Air Force veteran Mike Fitzgerald stands near an anti-war protest outside the Federal Courthouse in St. Louis.
David Carson, AP

Military service and jobs in Ohio’s defense industry have been a major force in fueling the state’s middle class, said Edward Hill, a professor of economic development at Ohio State University, who worked with Stewart as well as Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, on the study, which was spearheaded by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Many previous presidents have found themselves similarly torn between campaign promises to bring American troops home and the fear of leaving the U.S. vulnerable to attack, said Gvosdev, who is also a senior fellow with the Carnegie Council, an international affairs think tank in New York.

MILITARY EMPIRE: U.S. deploys thousands of troops overseas. As nonmilitary threats grow, is that the best defense?

Biden has already paused Trump’s order to withdraw of thousands of troops from Germany, seen as a check against Russian aggression.

The Biden administration’s idea is to reorient America’s role in the world from “being the global cop on the beat” to using America’s standing in the world to generate “concrete benefits” for U.S. communities, Gvosdev said.

Polls consistently show that Americans are far more concerned with proximate threats to their physical and economic security than with thorny tribal conflicts, ruthless dictators or any number of other problems abroad.

But that doesn’t mean Americans are isolationists.

69% of respondents said the United States should take a “leading” or “major” role in trying to solve international problems, according to a February 2019 Gallup poll
63% of Americans believe it’s important for the U.S. to be No. 1 in the world militarily, a February 2020 Gallup survey found

Yet there is disconnect between what Americans view as the most urgent threats facing the country — and what academics and Washington experts see as the top national security concerns.

69% of Americans think terrorism is a major threat to the U.S. compared to just 14% of international relations experts
In contrast, 88% of experts say climate change is a major threat, compared to 62% of Americans.

“I think foreign policy is often practiced with the notion that if it’s good for the nation, then ultimately it’ll be good for communities,” Hill said.

But that has not borne out – particularly when it comes to trade policy, which has benefited many U.S. corporations but devastated working families. Hill said the assumption should be flipped.

“If it is good for communities broadly across the country, then the country will benefit,” he said.
Competing with China by focusing closer to home
Nearly a billion people in China were online as of the end of 2020. The country can be Apple’s fastest-growing market in the world if it is even modestly successful in picking up share there.
Nearly a billion people in China were online as of the end of 2020. The country can be Apple’s fastest-growing market in the world if it is even modestly successful in picking up share there.
Yongyuan Dai / Getty Images

Nowhere will the Biden administration’s approach be more pivotal than in dealing with China. Lawmakers in both parties see China’s economic, military and technological ambitions as the most urgent national security threat facing the U.S.

Biden argues that the U.S. can’t compete with China (or counter Russia and other adversaries) if the American economy is in tatters, its democracy in disarray and its infrastructure dilapidated.

Take, for example, the pandemic, which has exposed the world’s reliance on China for basic medical supplies such as masks and other personal protective equipment.

Timothy Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO labor organization, said the pandemic has made foreign policy even more relevant in Ohio and other states hurt by years of globalism, where communities have been ravaged by the erosion in America’s manufacturing base and China’s predatory trade practices.

“We don’t have the ability to make our own personal protective equipment here. That is a national security issue,” said Burga, referring to masks, gowns and other medical protective clothing U.S. health care providers had to import from China during the coronavirus pandemic.

During a Feb. 11 meeting with lawmakers on infrastructure, Biden noted that China is already ahead of the U.S. in investing in key technologies, such as high-speed rail and electric vehicles.

“If we don’t get moving, they’re going to eat our lunch,” Biden said of China. “We just have to step up.”

But the conference will be a sign as to how the presidential primary field may shape up, with speeches closely watched for who is and isn’t well-received by the conservative base, and what issues are discussed.

Gov. Noem: Dems’ massive COVID-19 relief bill rewards states for ‘bad actions’Video

So far, Republicans have zeroed in, in particular, on the brewing crisis at the border and efforts to reopen schools after they were shut down in many — but not all — states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Additionally, how to deal with China, taxation, illegal immigration, crime and energy policy will all be mentioned by speakers in various capacities.

And, as previews of Trump’s speech have indicated, criticism of the Biden administration is expected to be a regular feature of conference speeches.

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How Anti-Abortion Laws Could Affect Affordable U.S. Health Care



ACROSS AMERICA — Only a handful of weeks into the 2021 legislative session, the ongoing policy wars against abortion and the facilities that provide them are already heating up in several states across the country.

It’s been nearly a half-century since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade, which granted women a constitutional right to obtain an abortion. Yet in the decades since that ruling, states have spent significant time battling its provisions.

From 2011 to 2017, 32 U.S. states enacted a total of 394 restrictions, most of which regulate or limit when, under what circumstances, and even if a woman may obtain an abortion.

This year is shaping up to be no different.

Since the start of the 2021 legislative season in January, more than 140 anti-abortion bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country, according to Rachel Sussman, vice president of state policy and advocacy for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The end result: a tangled web of abortion policy that lawmakers continue to spin, and a significant reduction in women’s access to abortion services.

“Over the past decade, there has been a jolt towards harmful, politically motivated abortion restrictions from politicians across the country,” Sussman said.

Yet nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, many have lost more than just access to an abortion clinic.

They’ve lost a vital lifeline to a suite of medical services that prevent unwanted pregnancies, provide life-saving diagnoses and help stop the spread of communicable diseases.

Ultimately, much of the legislation has further pushed basic health care out of reach, especially for people with low incomes, and those living in rural or minority communities.
Lawmakers Battle A Declining Issue

The legislative push comes as the number of women receiving the procedure is declining.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows abortions declined 22 percent over a decade, to nearly 620,000 in 2018 — or 11.3 per every 1,000 women ages 15 to 44.

While it reflects slightly different data, a 2019 report by the Guttmacher Institute underscores the CDC’s findings. Report authors also took their research a step further, suggesting that legislation is not the key driver of the decline in abortions. Instead, they cited a broader decline in pregnancies, and said it was likely a result of increased access to birth control since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2011.

“What’s true is that increasing people’s access to affordable and effective methods of birth control leads to fewer abortions,” Sussman said.

Despite the decrease, abortion foes continue to target health care facilities that provide these services.

Between 2011 and 2017, the number of clinics providing abortion in the United States declined by about 4 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The decrease seems low, yet some areas of the country were hit harder than others.

During the same period, the South saw a net decline of 50 clinics, with 25 in Texas alone. The Midwest lost 33 clinics, including nine each in Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. Seven clinics shuttered in Western states.

By contrast, Northeast states added 59 clinics, mostly in New Jersey and New York.

The South and the Midwest also had the largest share of new abortion restrictions during that period — nearly 86 percent of total enacted restrictions were in those two regions.

Today, five states — Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia — have only one remaining abortion provider each.

Despite the election of Democratic President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, 29 states currently have legislatures where anti-abortion politicians hold the majority, according to Sussman. Of the legislation introduced this session, 40 percent involves a form of abortion ban.

Kansas is an extreme example. There, voters will decide in 2022 whether the state’s constitution protects abortion rights under a ballot measure approved by the state Senate.

And in South Carolina, a bill that would ban abortion before most people even know they’re pregnant was fast-tracked through the state’s Legislature only to be blocked by a federal judge a day after it went into effect.

“Politicians are wasting no time attacking access to sexual and reproductive health care,” Sussman said. “Some are still doing everything they can to take control of our bodies, lives and futures.”
Who Stands To Lose Most

Perhaps the most notable provider of sexual health and reproductive services, Planned Parenthood has more than 49 affiliates that operate 600 health care centers across the nation. Annually, the organization provides sexual and reproductive health services to more than 2.4 million people, 39 percent of whom are people of color.

Of those, more than 541,000 patients identify as Latino and 395,000 as Black. More than 297,000 male patients also receive services. Finally, Planned Parenthood also provides gender-affirming hormone therapy for transgender patients in 31 states.

In 2018, of Planned Parenthood patients who reported their income, nearly 75 percent were living at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level — the equivalent of $37,650 a year for a family of four.

“Patients don’t come to us to make a political statement,” Sussman of Planned Parenthood said. “They come to get compassionate, expert care and education.”

Still, Planned Parenthood has frequently been the target of both state and federal lawmakers.

In 2019, Planned Parenthood dropped out of a $260 million federal family planning program rather than comply with what it called a “gag rule” imposed by the Trump administration on abortion referrals.

The order would have prohibited health clinics from receiving federal funds under Title X if abortions were performed at the facility or if specialists referred patients to centers where they could get an abortion. The administration made the call despite the Hyde Amendment which, passed in 1976, prohibits federal funding from directly paying for abortions.

While some states stepped in to cover the lost funding, others did not.

In total, providers in 34 states were forced out of the program, according to Planned Parenthood, prompting more than 1.5 million people across the country to lose access to Title X-supported services such as affordable birth control and sexually transmitted infection testing.

According to the organization’s 2018-19 annual report, abortions comprised only 4 percent of Planned Parenthood’s provided services, while sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment comprised 50 percent, contraception made up 26 percent, and 13 percent was attributed to other women’s health services such as well-woman exams and prenatal care.

Many of those who lost access to these crucial services were likely women of color. According to a 2018 fact sheet by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, women of color make up more than half, and Latinas more than a third, of all Title X patients.

“People don’t turn to politicians for advice about cancer screenings or STI treatment,” Sussman said. “The bottom line is that Planned Parenthood has been around for over 100 years, and we’re not going anywhere.”
Anti-Abortion Groups Keep Fighting

While Planned Parenthood is gearing up to challenge several pieces of 2021 legislation, anti-abortion groups are lauding the efforts already being made by lawmakers this session.

National Right to Life, a federation with 50 state affiliates and more than 3,000 local affiliates, was founded in 1968 with the goal of creating a national organization to deal with life issues on the federal level. The organization’s oldest affiliate, Virginia Society for Human Life, was founded in 1967.

While National Right For Life is most known for its stance against abortion, the organization also provides education and lobbies on legislation pertaining to other life issues such as infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.

While the organization works at a national level, its affiliates provide support, testimony and other help to states regarding anti-abortion legislation.

National Right To Life is also looking ahead to 2021, and leaders are anticipating “significant challenges” at the federal level, according to spokesperson Laura Echevarria.

Among them is the possible certification of the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In January 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment, which guarantees equal rights for women. The vote followed ratifications by Nevada in 2017 and Illinois in 2018 after four decades of inactivity.

Hurdles remain in the path of the amendment’s certification, however. The ratification deadlines that Congress set after it approved the amendment have lapsed, and five states have acted to rescind their prior approval.

The Equal Rights Amendment has come under fire by anti-abortion proponents, some of whom claim that it would require taxpayer-funded abortions. Since only women can have abortions, any restrictions on the procedure could be deemed unconstitutional under the amendment.

“Everyone knows this renewed effort isn’t about women’s rights,” the office of House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said in a February 2020 report by Politico, summarizing the message sent by the GOP caucus. “It’s about eliminating federal and state life protections and ushering in an era of taxpayer funding of abortion.”

While the certification of the amendment ultimately passed in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, it was dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Following the 2020 election, Democrats now hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate.

“We see the right to life as the leading human rights issue of our day,” Echevarria said. “Without abortion-neutralizing language, the Equal Rights Amendment would be used to expand abortion on demand. We’ve seen this happen in states that use the same language in state ERAs.”

When it comes to how anti-abortion legislation might affect access to free and low-cost health care, Echevarria said that National Right To Life typically doesn’t take a stance on health care issues unless it’s somehow related to taxpayer funding of abortion or health care plans that are forced to cover abortions.

If a woman is in need of such health care, Echevarria recommended she seek out one of more than 2,700 pregnancy centers across the United States that provide free services to women in need, most of which are manned primarily by volunteers and financially supported with private funds from individuals, religious organizations and businesses.

In recent years, states and the federal government have increasingly touted these as an alternative or safety net for women. Many have even shifted money toward them and away from other facilities such as Planned Parenthood, which typically provides a wider range of services.

According to Echevarria, these centers often work with local agencies to help women find housing, health care, jobs and even transportation. They also provide formula, maternity and baby clothes, diapers and other essentials free of charge.

The downside is that, in some cases, services at these “crisis pregnancy centers” can come with strings attached.

An investigation by Vox found that at some, prenatal and other free services were only for available if patients took parenting workshops or classes, some of which had a religious component.

Some women told Vox they found the required instruction troubling, with one saying of a parenting video, “it hurt me.”

A 2018 publication by the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics also called crisis pregnancy centers “legal, but unethical” that pass themselves off as legitimate clinics but are exempt from the regulatory oversight that applies to other health care facilities.

“They strive to give the impression that they are clinical centers, offering legitimate medical services and advice, yet they are exempt from regulatory, licensure, and credentialing oversight that apply to health care facilities. “Because the religious ideology of these centers’ owners and employees takes priority over the health and well-being of the women seeking care at these centers, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options,” the report says. “Although crisis pregnancy centers enjoy First Amendment rights protections, their propagation of misinformation should be regarded as an ethical violation that undermines women’s health.”

According to Echevarria, the services provided at most private centers are usually grounded in a right-to-life ideology and, as a result, are often condemned by abortion-rights activists.

“Many women who have had an abortion feel that if they had someone in their corner saying that they could raise a child and finish college or raise a child and pursue employment opportunities, then they would have given birth and kept their child,” Echevarria said. “Pregnancy centers can provide this real-world support.”

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Stephen King Says DeSantis Used Vaccines For ‘Political Gain



SARASOTA, FL — Horror writer Stephen King, a part-time Sarasota resident, slammed Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis on Twitter for using the state’s vaccine distribution for “political gain.”

DeSantis has been accused of favoring wealthy Floridians after a recent state-run pop-up vaccination event in Lakewood Ranch targeted two of the wealthiest ZIP codes in Manatee County.

“It seems possible — likely, even — that Ron DeSantis provided rich, Republican-leaning communities like Lakewood Ranch with priority vaccinations for political gain,” King tweeted Monday morning.

Around 3,000 doses were administered at the vaccine clinic, which was held at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch Wednesday through Friday.

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DeSantis was visibly irritated when questioned by reporters about the clinic at a Feb. 16 news conference in Lakewood Ranch, threatening to take away the county’s allotment of vaccine doses if residents were unhappy about the pop-up event.

“If Manatee County doesn’t like us doing this,” DeSantis said, “then we are totally fine putting this in counties that want it. We’re totally happy to do that. Anyone that’s saying that, let us know if you want us to send it Sarasota or Charlotte or Pasco or wherever, let us know — we’re happy to do it.”

Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who helped organized the clinic, is also under fire for the event. She hand-picked the District 5 ZIP codes targeted by the vaccination pop-up and also directed the county’s Public Safety Director Jacob Sauer to create a VIP list – which included herself; Lakewood Ranch president CEO and his father, Lawrence Jensen; and her former neighbors, Robert and Marie Keehn – to receive vaccine appointments during the event.

Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and commerce, is also among those calling out DeSantis for the exclusive vaccination event, calling it “wrong and potentially illegal” on Twitter.

“Vaccines are a public health resource – not a luxury based on political connections,” she tweeted Wednesday. “Elected officials shouldn’t be abusing their power to put themselves and their friends ahead of the public. This is why people don’t trust the system.”

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