Weekly Pulse: Abortion Doctor’s Assassin Goes to Court

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium Blogger

The man who admitted to gunning down Dr. George Tiller in church last May went on trial in Kansas on Friday. Tiller was one of a small number of doctors performing late term abortions in the U.S.

Scott Roeder admitted to shooting the Tiller, but he is pleading not guilty to murder, as Robin Marty reports in RH Reality Check. Yesterday, Judge Warren Wilbert shocked observers by allowing Roeder’s lawyers to argue that their client is guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not premeditated murder.

Kansas law allows the accused to plead “imperfect self-defense” if he had an “honest but unreasonable belief” that deadly force was necessary to protect innocent third parties. Roeder says he killed to protect the unborn. Pro-choice activists are alarmed that the judge allowed Roeder to use this defense. If he beats the murder rap, Roder could face just five years in prison. In the unlikely event that his legal gambit is successful, the precedent could be tantamount to declaring open season on abortion providers.

No doubt Nidal Hussein sincerely believed that he was protecting innocent lives when he murdered 12 soldiers at Fort Hood last November. Somehow, I doubt the Army will be as deferential to Hasan’s crazy religious ideas as Judge Warren Wilbert has been to Roeder’s.

In other health care news, Robert Reich of TAPPED asks whether the rich or the middle class will pay for health reform:

There’s only one big remaining issue on health care reform: How to pay for it. The House wants a 5.4 percent surtax on couples earning at least $1 million in annual income. The Senate wants a 40 percent excise tax on employer-provided “Cadillac plans.” The Senate will win on this unless the public discovers that a large portion of the so-called Cadillacs are really middle-class Chevys—expensive not because they deliver more benefits but because they have higher costs.

Reich cites a shocking statistic: Less than 4% of the variation in the cost of insurance coverage is based on differences in benefits provided. Most of the difference in price is based on the perceived riskiness of the beneficiaries. So, if you’re in a high risk pool comprised of, say, retired autoworkers, you’re going to pay a lot more for the same benefits than someone in a younger, healthier risk pool. When you look at it that way, it seems unfair to pay for reform on the backs of people who are already paying more for the same thing due to circumstances beyond their control.

President Barack Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are meeting with top labor leaders on the “Cadillac tax,” as Brian Beutler of Talking Points Memo reports. Obama and Sebelius are trying to hash out a compromise that would be acceptable to the unions, who so far, have been implacably opposed to taxing expensive health care plans. The unions are reluctant to give any ground on this issue because so many of their members have accepted expanded health care benefits in lieu of wage increases over the years. Taxing those benefits now would effectively erase some hard-won gains by workers. Obama and the unions are reportedly discussing some kind of grandfather clause proposal that would exempt existing plans and only tax new plans.

Elsewhere in our high-deductible democracy, it turns out that health insurers secretly steered more than $20 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose health reform while publicly professing to support the effort, according to Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones. The bagman was America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). While AHIP was soliciting donations to run attack ads, AHIP’s top lobbyist, Karen Ignagni penned an op/ed in the Washington Post assuring the public that AHIP supported reform.

Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly hopes that the scandal will give ammunition to Democrats in the last big push to pass health care reform: “Policymakers struggling to resolve differences on the final reform bill may want to keep a simple adage in mind: Don’t let AHIP’s duplicitous campaign win.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

False Choice: Protecting Women's Rights and the Future of the Abortion Debate

By  Rachel Johnson

Cross Posted from FaithfulDemocrats.com discussion on Abortion.

After decades of being mired in trench warfare in the country's battle over abortion, a sea change is occurring that has the potential to allow both sides to lay down their weapons and work for a common purpose.  For the first time there is constructive dialogue about the need to address the root causes that contribute to abortion.  This common ground discussion has the potential to shed light on the many economic and social obstacles still facing women and to dramatically lower the nation's abortion rates.

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Abortion: Different Moral Positions

By William Ellis Hill

Cross posted from Faithful Democrats' discussion on abortion

"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the great pumpkin." These are the wise words of the great philosopher Linus, in Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.  The issue of abortion involves two out of the three and in most cases should be excluded from the norms of conversation. And, as a male, who can neither get pregnant nor attempt birth, I am hesitant to wade into these forbidding waters as I cannot possibly understand what the female gender must endure with this particular choice. However, as a Christian and as a Democrat, I am compelled to draw the distinctions between the moral and political.

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McCain/Palin Under Consideration

Wow.....wow....I wrote a comment just a few days ago (I'm sure it is HR by now) stating I didn't think the Republicans would do it. I was wrong. I also said I would at least consider McCain if he chose a woman who was pro-choice because it would make him more palatable to a larger group of democratic women. Well I was wrong on that one too. He chose a woman who is pro-life. I am a Democrat is who pro-life. As of today McCain/Palin can consider themselves under consideration for my vote.

I have said before and I will say it again. People come to the process for different reasons. Some women were in it this cycle to support the political aspirations of a woman who was qualified but found the party did not support their efforts. Democratic women have been unsuccessful in building coalitions to support their efforts to get women elected beyond the U.S. Senate.

The Republicans are willing to do what Democrats are unwilling to do; put a woman in the White House as VPOTUS with the long term look at becoming POTUS.

This is change I can believe in.

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Women who support McCain are actually asking for government to control their bodies...

I was amazed last night watching Chris Matthews' show on MSNBC to hear a Hillary supporter saying she would be voting for McCain because Obama won the Democratic Primary. I was amazed because anyone who looks at the Old Man's record will see that he is totally against the rights of women to have any personal control over their own lives.

Tu wit: an article by Sarah Blustain in the New Republic called "Life Sentence". Here's a quote:

Sharlene Bozack was public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona between 1989 and 1995. One day, she came to D.C. for PPFA's annual day of lobbying and encountered McCain on the Hill. "I relive it every time I see the man on TV," she told me over the phone from Phoenix. She and Feldt had run into McCain, introduced themselves, and asked if they could speak with him. He agreed, and they got on the train that runs between Capitol buildings. Bozack was talking to him about international contraception access. Suddenly, she recalls, he was no longer calm, cool, and collected. "He turned toward me and put his index finger out and started pounding me in the chest saying, 'You know my position on this,' and 'How dare you ask me about this,' and 'You are just trying to intimidate me.'"

While you may not hear McCain come out and actually say where he stands on issues concerning women's rights, that is, as Blustain says, so as"not to alienate the Clinton middle--and perhaps in order to keep his foot out of his mouth--McCain has not voluntarily spoken on the campaign trail about many issues dear to social conservatives." And, of course, his tendency to put his foot in his mouth has been more than evident in other areas such as foreign policy and economics.

What he has done, however, is create a 48-member "Justice Advisory Committee" to consider which judges would be nominated under a McCain Presidency. Blustain again:

That committee features a host of legal minds from the Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 administrations. Its headline names include senators Sam Brownback, Jon Kyl, and Trent Lott, all of whom have thoroughly pro-life pedigrees. Other members include William Barr, who wrote a Department of Justice opinion in 1992 opposing the Freedom of Choice Act on both anti-abortion and federalist grounds; Charles Cooper, who under Reagan headed the Office of Legal Counsel, where he helped draft regulations that would prevent family-planning clinics that take federal funds from providing abortion counseling; Charles Fried, solicitor general under Reagan, who helped write a lengthy administration brief in Thornburgh v. ACOG that made the case for overturning Roe on anti-abortion and states-rights grounds; and Thomas Merrill, who was U.S. deputy solicitor general and co-author of the Reagan administration's amicus brief in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services asking the Court to overturn Roe. No member of the committee who has been active on reproductive health issues represents a pro-choice or even a moderately pro-life position.

If the Hillary supporters who are saying they are not voting for Obama (now at about 23%, apparently) vote for McCain they are actually asking to overturn strides made by many women's organizations over the last 4 decades... certainly not in their own interest and, overall, a self-destructive stance.

McCain is uncompromisingly pro-life... a zealot. He will not listen to women or their representative organizations in his desire to repeal Roe v. Wade or in his campaign to end abortion for ANY reason.

I believe that Hillary realizes that the situation is, at the least, dangerous to the Democratic Party. How she (and Bill) will handle this when speaking to Clinton supporters during the Convention will be closely watched.

Under The LobsterScope

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