Connect with us

News

Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Offer Differing Views on Bills’ Passage

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, February 4 the Alabama House of Representatives passed four bills aimed at better regulating abortions which are performed in the State of Alabama.  Pro-Life groups praised passage of the landmark legislation while abortion supporters denounced the legislation that was spearheaded by the Alabama House Republican Caucus.

Alabama Citizens for Life said in a written statement that they, “…are thankful to Republican Majority Leader Speaker Mike Hubbard for the Alabama State House today’s passage of 4 prolife bills.”

Meanwhile, the Vice President of Public Policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Nikema Williams, said in her statement, “These bills reflect an extreme and out-of-touch agenda that does nothing to make women healthier.”

The Executive Director of the ACLU of Alabama, Susan Watson, said of the passage of the abortion bills in the State House of Representatives,  “Although the fetal heartbeat bill is the most controversial, it should be noted that all of the bills present grave consequences to women.”

Director Watson said, “All of these bills are another attempt by politicians to own a woman’s body. Reproductive health choices should only be made by the woman, her doctor, her family and her faith—not by the opinions and faiths of unqualified elected officials.  They’re not in the exam room and each woman’s story is different.”

One of the Bills passed by the House was HB 494, which strengthens Alabama’s parental consent law.  The bill was sponsored by Representative Mike Jones (R) from Andalusia.  Rep. Jones said, “This bill deals with parental consent which has already been upheld by the courts.”  HB494 toughens parental consent requirements for minors seeking an abortion.”

Alabama Citizens for Life said in their statement,

Advertisement

“Parental consent legislation closes a loophole that has made Alabama an embarrassment since several video expose’ of sexual abuse cover up in Birmingham was discovered…The now temporarily closed Planned Parenthood abortion mill in Birmingham’s director was caught on audio tape by Lila Rose who posed as an underage minor seeking an abortion asked that her parents not find out. To which the Planned Parenthood employee replied they could ‘bend the rules’ meaning not even notify much less receive parental consent.  This consistent disregard for alabama parental rights laws also showed up in ADPH surveys where none of the minor girls charts had parental consent forms signed by a parent.”  Lila Rose, who was portraying to be a 14year old girl pregnant by a 31 year old boyfriend.  Center staff suggested that someone other than a parent or legal guardian could give consent for a minor to have an abortion.”

Cheryl Ciamarra, the ACLs Board Director to the national right to life committee said, “This common sense amendment will begin to put into effect the original intent of the law when passed in the late 90’s.”

Planned Parenthood complained, “HB 494 would add significant barriers to services for minors for whom it may be difficult or even dangerous to discuss sexuality with their parents.”

HB 493, sponsored by Rep. Kurt Wallace (R) from Maplesville, would require that a family that finds out that their child has been diagnosed with a fetal abnormality be given information about Perinatal Hospice and requires a 48 waiting period before that child can be aborted.  HB493 informs a woman whose unborn child has a lethal fetal anomaly of perinatal hospice services.

Rep. Kurt Wallace said on Facebook, “Woooo Hoooo! It was great day for the unborn children in the great State of Alabama tonight! All four of the Pro-Life bills easily passed the House and are now headed for the Senate. As most of you know, I carried HB493, the Perinatal Hospice Information Act, it passed by a margin of 73 – 24.”

The House also passed HB 489, sponsored by Rep. Ed Henry (R) from Decatur, the bill requires that a woman who wishes to have an abortion must be notified of the risk of having an abortion and that that waiting period be extended from 24 hours to 48 hours.

“Forcing a woman to wait even longer before she receives medical care does nothing to improve her health,” said Nikema Williams.

Alabama Citizens for Life said that their, “Primary objective for legislation has always been public education on life issues particularly giving objective information to those mothers considering an abortion decision.  ACL would like The women’s right to know amendment to include the mothers be given a list of where they could obtain a free ultrasound.  Seeing their actual babies face is the most objective information possible.  Sidewalk counselors report women are not being given the ADPH. Developed booklets with the baby development stages, which is why we have proposed a website so women can see that information in the privacy of their own homes while they consider their options.”

The Alabama House also passed HB 490, the Fetal Heartbeat Act, sponsored by state Representative Mary Sue McClurkin (R) from Indian Springs.  Rep. McClurkin said that the legislation, “Would make it unlawful for a physician to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman if a heartbeat is detected on an unborn child.”  The bill also requires that abortion clinic keep documentation showing that the fetal heartbeat test was performed.  The Fetal Heart Beat bill passed the House of Representatives 73 to 29.

Planned Parenthood argued that, “HB 490 would restrict abortion on pregnancies as early as 6 weeks — long before some women even realize they are pregnant.”

Bill Klein, the President of Alabama citizens for life said that he is especially pleased with the heartbeat bill! although he would like to see the exception for fetal anomalies amendment which was added by Joe Hubbard in the House Health Committee removed in the Senate as disabled babies lives deserve respect and should not be discriminated against.  Every innocent human life is precious and one life isn’t worth less than another due to perceived quality of life issues.

Susan Watson said, “We may not all feel the same about abortion, but it is important that we support a woman’s health and well-being.”

Ms. Williams said, “These bad bills put obstacle after obstacle between a woman and her doctor.  They waste taxpayer’s money and our legislator’s time. Our elected officials should be championing health care for Alabamians — not restricting it.”

Watson said, “On another note, when it comes down to litigation, it is going to cost the State dearly.  We can’t fix the conditions and over-crowding in our prisons; improve our schools; or even give teachers the raises that the governor is really fighting for.  If we can’t afford such simple things that effect hundreds of thousands of Alabamians, how can the State afford lawsuits of this magnitude?  Economically, it would be disastrous.  It’s callous and reckless behavior that proves that politician’s aren’t conscious of Alabama citizens or the financial catastrophe that this state is in.”

Rep. Butler said on Facebook, “They keep saying these bills will wind up in court! That’s exactly what needs to happen. That is how we get Roe V Wade overturned.”

Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R) from Auburn said in a written statement, “As long as liberal Supreme Court justices hold up Roe V. Wade as the law of the land, we will dare defend the right to life in Alabama. And what a difference four years makes. With a Republican Majority, we have reversed course and right to life legislation is not only prioritized it is passed.”  Hubbard vowed that the House Republican Caucus, “Will continue our efforts to advance the culture of life in our great State.

 

Advertisement

Health

840 hospitalized with confirmed, suspected COVID-19 in Alabama

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

Stock Photo

More than 800 people are hospitalized in Alabama with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said Friday evening that 255 people are hospitalized with a confirmed positive case of the virus. An additional 586 people are hospitalized with a suspected case of the virus, pending results of a test.

The rising number of hospitalizations, confirmed cases in nursing homes and the number of infections among the state’s health care workers — which is as high as 200 cases — contributed to Gov. Kay Ivey’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order Friday evening.

With 255 hospitalized confirmed cases, that means about 17 percent of the state’s confirmed cases are hospitalized.

Not all of the patients in the group of suspected cases will end up testing positive for the virus, though, Harris said.

Some could be flu, pneumonia or some other unknown respiratory illness. Tests will need to be completed on those to determine if they truly have the virus, but hospitals are treating them as if they do have the virus.

By Friday evening, 1,535 people in Alabama have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been at least 38 reported deaths.

APR has been analyzing data released by Alabama hospitals or provided to APR for the past two weeks in an attempt to determine how many people are hospitalized in the state.

Advertisement

Our analysis, as late as Wednesday, showed that about 120 people were hospitalized with confirmed cases.

The numbers from the state health officer today, reported by the Alabama Incident Management System, are higher than our highest estimates because our data only included ten of the state’s largest hospitals. The number of confirmed hospitalizations is also growing.

UAB said Friday afternoon that it is treating 62 positive inpatients, up from 52 at the beginning of the week.

In the middle of a severe outbreak in Chambers and Lee counties, East Alabama Medical Center said Friday that it has 32 positive patients and 20 more suspected patients. It’s already discharged 19 people from inpatient care.

The number of hospitalized patients in Alabama is expected to grow until at least April 17, when modeling from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests Alabama will reach its peak resource usage.

At that point, the modeling shows that Alabama could be short 20,000 hospital beds and short 5,000 ICU beds. Harris said the Alabama Department of Public Health has found the IHME’s modeling helpful for its timeline, but he’s hopeful that the numbers may not be so high.

“I’m not saying they’re wrong but I think that the timeline is the part that I really feel like has been most useful,” Harris said. “I think that’s the part where there’s the least amount of variability.”

via IHME

Alabama is already facing difficulty in finding new ventilators to bolster its surge capacity. Harris said Friday in an interview with APR that the state requested 500 ventilators from the national strategic stockpile, but the Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t appear likely to fulfill that request any time soon. The state has added a few hundred ventilators to its capacity by converting anesthesia machines and veterinary ventilators into ventilators that can be used for COVID-19 patients.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also looking at hospitals and other sites around the state that can be converted into field hospitals.

East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Harris said, is under particular strain already because of a large outbreak in Chambers and Lee County, contributing to its rising hospitalizations numbers.

“There’s no question that what’s going on in Opelika right now is related to Chambers County,” Harris said. “You know that hospital is really having a difficult time right now, and it is, by and large, connected to this outbreak that we’ve seen in Chambers County.”

Chambers County, by far, has the largest per capita number of cases in the state. The Montgomery Advertiser’s Melissa Brown reported Friday that the outbreak could be linked to church services. EAMC has said the same.

“There certainly seems to have been a church homecoming event that involved a large number of people,” Harris said. “It was before Jefferson County even issued their first order so you know it was kind of before it was on everybody’s radar locally in Alabama. And I think a lot of cases have been connected to that.”

East Alabama Medical Center also released its own modeling Friday, and it shows that in a worst-case scenario, that hospital alone could be faced with 1,750 patients on April 23.

That scenario is unlikely to play out because it assumes no social distancing, but even better-case scenarios suggest between 500 and 1,000 people could be hospitalized at EAMC alone if fewer 75 percent of the public adheres to social distancing.

via EAMC

“Social distancing is the number one denominator,” said Dr. Roberts, EAMC’s chief of staff.  “If we do a poor job of that—50 percent or less—then we’re in a situation where our hospital simply cannot handle the influx of ICU patients we will see or the number of ventilators we will need, and many people will die as a result. This includes even those without COVID-19 because we simply will not have the staff and equipment to keep up.”

If more than 75 percent of the population adheres by social distancing, EAMC’s modeling concludes, then the peak number of patients at the hospital at one time would be 74. But the peak wouldn’t be until June 15, so people would have to do the right thing for more than two months.

“And that only gets us to the peak,” Roberts said. “We would still have COVID-19 in the community.”

UAB’s director of infectious diseases, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, said Thursday that hospitals across the state are facing a near-term shortage of personal protective equipment — a situation she called “dire.”

“The situation is dire,” she said. “It is not just masks. It’s gloves. It’s hand sanitizer. It’s gowns.”

In some of the PPE categories, the number of days left before supplies run out is in the single digits. The hospitals may get new shipments of supplies, but if the situation deteriorates, the shortages might worsen.

“This is not a hypothetical scenario,” Marrazzo said. “This is real. And these are the people who are working to take care of you and your family in our communities every single day, who are being asked to be concerned, and sometimes even make decisions about who gets to use the various degrees of PPE.”

Alabama is one of a few states that is not regularly releasing hospitalization data. In the interview with APR Friday, Harris said the Alabama Department of Public Health is working to begin providing that data regularly.

“We are about to do that,” Harris said. “We’re not trying to not put it out. It’s just been an issue with our GIS people in trying to work it out.”

Continue Reading

Governor

Governor prohibits evictions, foreclosures during COVID-19 outbreak

Jessa Reid Bolling

Published

on

photo via Governors Office

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued an order on April 3 to suspend the enforcement of any evictions or foreclosures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The protective order is set to last for the duration of the state of emergency that was declared on March 13.

The order instructs all law enforcement officers to cease enforcement of any order that would leave someone displaced from their residence.

“Because COVID-19 mitigation efforts require people to remain at their place of residence, I find that it would promote safety and protection of the civilian population to grant temporary relief from residential evictions and foreclosures,” the order reads. 

“To that end: All state, county, and local law enforcement officers are hereby directed to cease enforcement of any order that would result in the displacement of a person from his or her place of residence. 

“Nothing in this section shall be construed as relieving any individual of the obligation to pay rent, to make mortgage payments, or to comply with any other obligation that an individual may have under a rental agreement or mortgage.”

The protective order on evictions and foreclosures was issued the same day that Ivey issued a stay-at-home order which will require Alabamians to stay at home as much as possible — except for essential outings like grocery shopping and getting medical care.

The stay-at-home order goes into effect on April 4 at 5 p.m. and will expire on Tuesday, April 30, 2020, at 5 p.m. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

News

Four UA employees, three students diagnosed with COVID-19

Jessa Reid Bolling

Published

on

The University of Alabama confirmed on Friday afternoon that four UA employees and three UA students have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a UA Alert emailed to the campus community, the four employees along with three students notified University officials of their diagnoses after students, faculty and staff left for spring break on March 13.

All of the affected individuals are quarantined and recovering away from campus.

The three students were participating in study abroad programs during the spring semester. The email did not specify where the students’ study abroad programs were located. 

The email said that if it is determined that someone who is symptomatic or who has tested positive for COVID-19 has accessed a portion of a campus facility, the University’s Environmental Health & Safety group will ensure a heightened, appropriate cleaning of the potentially affected area. 

As of April 3, there have been 1,352 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alabama, with 39 confirmed cases in Tuscaloosa County. 

The email also encouraged students and faculty still residing in Tuscaloosa to abide by the city’s 24 hour curfew and to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help flatten the curve: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others.
Continue Reading

Congress

Alabama may need 2,500 more ventilators. It’s having to compete to get them

Chip Brownlee

Published

on

Alabama may need 2,000 more ventilators than it has, and it’s being forced to compete with other states to get them on the private market.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday that the Alabama Department of Public Health is attempting to source its own ventilators as a number of hospitals in the state are already struggling and asking for more.

The state requested 500 ventilators from the federal government through the Department of Health and Human Services and the national strategic stockpile. It asked for 200 of them to be delivered urgently.

“HHS has indicated that they’re not going to fulfill that anytime soon because they’re still taking care of places like New York City,” Harris said in an interview with APR.

When Alabama nears an expected surge — say 72 hours before hospitals are expected to be overwhelmed with patients requiring life support — they may be able to make the extra ventilators available.

So Alabama, like a number of states, is being forced to try to source ventilators on its own through the private market, where hundreds of hospitals, all the other states and other countries are trying to do the same.

Harris said he signed a purchase order Thursday for 250 more ventilators.

“We’re waiting to see, and then there are others that we’re waiting to hear from,” Harris told APR. “We’re doing our best to try to source these in any way that we can.”

Advertisement

“We’re attempting to source those ourselves, but as you know, all the states are looking to source their own and in some measure competing with each other,” he said a press conference Friday evening when Gov. Kay Ivey announced a shelter in place order.

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said Thursday that Alabama will likely make additional requests, but there are only 10,000 ventilators in the national stockpile and in the U.S. Department of Defense surplus. And with every other state in the country also requesting these supplies, the federal government has said that states should not rely on the national stockpile to bolster their ventilator capacity.

By Friday, nearly 1,500 people were confirmed positive with the virus. At least 38 have died. Dire models from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington — models that influenced the state’s decision to issue a stay-at-home order — project that by mid-April, Alabama could have a massive shortage of ventilators and hospital beds.

“The timeline I think makes sense and the time when we’re expected to have a surge is the part that was most useful to us,” Harris said. “We’ve been trying very hard to get an order in place with regards to this surge that we expect to happen.”

The model estimates that Alabama could have a shortage of 20,000 hospital beds, 3,900 intensive care beds and more than 2,000 ventilators.

At least 3,500 ventilators would be needed at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-April, according to the IHME model. Last month, Alabama Hospital Association President Donald Williamson said the state has a surge capacity of about 800.

The same model projects that about 5,500 people could die from COVID-19 in Alabama by August. However, the model is live and is regularly adjusted. Earlier this week, it suggested that 7,000 people could die by August.

Harris said the state, over the past couple of weeks, has added a few hundred additional ventilators to its capacity by converting anesthesia machines and veterinary ventilators for use on those infected with the coronavirus.

“Yet, even with adding all of those ventilators, going up by a few hundred units, which means to tell you that we’re still using around the same percent of all of our ventilators even though the number [of ventilators] is going up,” Harris said. “So we know that there are more patients on ventilators.”

The state health officer said some hospitals in the state are already struggling but others are cooperating to share resources.

“They are really working hard to make sure that they have what they need, and we’re trying very hard, along with the governor’s office, to make sure that Alabama has enough inventory,” Harris said.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Authors

Advertisement

The V Podcast

Facebook

Trending

.