By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, July 14, US Representative Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) spoke out on the floor of the US House of Representatives about a hidden video where a top Planned Parenthood official appears to be suggesting that she is admitting to the possibly illegal practice of harvesting and trafficking of fetal organs after abortions. On Wednesday, July 15, Rep. Roby joined Pro-Life members of Congress in calling for hearings and a full investigation.
Congresswoman Roby told her colleagues in the House, “Mr. Speaker, I rise to raise awareness about a disturbing development. Today video surfaced of Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director for medical services, admitting – in fact bragging – about the harvesting and trafficking of fetal organs after abortions.”
Rep. Roby continued, “To those who haven’t seen the video, I encourage you to watch. But be forewarned. The casual, callous way she details how babies can be killed in such a way that their tiny hearts, lungs and livers can be taken and sold for profit is simply horrifying. To quote Doctor Nucatola “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver… so I’m not gonna crush that part.” “I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
The conservative Alabama Congresswoman said, “It is honestly hard to believe a human being could bring themselves to believe this is okay. Of course, this is completely illegal, but that apparently isn’t stopping Planned Parenthood. Mr. Speaker we have long fought to prohibit federal funding to Planned Parenthood, and we will continue to. But this admission of barbaric behavior warrants a closer inspection of this organization.”
Rep. Roby concluded, “This is one of those moments that – as a nation and as a people – we have to ask ourselves, “Who are we? Are we really going to tolerate this inhumanity? Are we going to look the other way while babies are brutally killed and organs harvested for profit? These aren’t specimens! These are babies for goodness’ sake! I may only have one minute today, but I promise we are not finished talking about this. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”
On Tuesday, hidden camera video surfaced allegedly showing Planned Parenthood senior director for medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola (who also performs abortions for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles), describing in detail, over lunch, how abortion procedures can be altered to preserve hearts, lungs and livers so they can be sold. A sale which might violate existing federal law.
Dr. Nucatola says on the video to the two undercover investigators posing as representatives of a fetal tissue collection agency, “I’d say a lot of people want liver. We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver,” she said, having noted that it depends on placing the graspers above and below the unborn child’s body cavity, “because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
On the transcript, Dr. Nucatola appears to describe something similar to an illegal partial birth abortion where a living baby is delivered feet first except for the head, which is crushed by the doctor.
The video was released by the Center for Medical Progress claims that this is proof of a, “criminal conspiracy.” Whether this is illegal or not is not entirely clear. You can not sell human body parts under federal law, but tissue donation is perfectly legal and on the video Dr. Nucatola stated that their goal “is to give patients the option without impacting our bottom line,” and that this “should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that’s not what it is.” Dr. Nucatola suggested a price of $30-100 per “specimen.” “(T)hey want to come to a number that doesn’t look like they’re making money. They want to come to a number that looks like it is a reasonable number for the effort that is allotted on their part,” referring to Planned Parenthood affiliates.
Dr. Nucatola said, “At the end of the day, it is all just sitting there, it’s all just going to be wasted otherwise. That’s what it is, it’s a waste. It’s a complete and total waste.”
Louisiana Governor and GOP Presidential Primary candidate Bobby Jindal (R), announced an investigation into Planned Parenthood, “I have instructed Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals [DHH] to conduct an immediate investigation into this alleged evil and illegal activity and to not issue any licenses until this investigation is complete.”
On Wednesday, Pro-Life members of Congress including Rep. Martha Roby said, “I appreciate the House Leadership and the Committees of jurisdiction for quickly laying the groundwork for investigations and hearings. Congress is right to use its oversight capacity to get to the bottom of this and hold this organization to account, but I think this warrants a criminal investigation – a serious one. I don’t care how much political weight Planned Parenthood throws around this town, no one is above the law.”
Congresswoman said, “If we’re going to be ‘perp walking’ soccer officials, how about let’s bear down on harvesting and trafficking of babies’ body parts.”
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias said in a statement: “It is stomach-churning to hear a top doctor for the national Planned Parenthood organization admit, on videotape, that Planned Parenthood abortionists can and will alter late abortion procedures to facilitate the harvesting of intact baby body parts – she specifically mentioned hearts, lungs, livers, even intact heads – in order to fill specific pre-orders. Numerous statements by Dr. Nucatola cry out for probes by Congress and other investigatory agencies – and quickly.”
NRL President Tobias continued, “For example, Dr. Nucatola specifically describes abortionists manipulating unborn children in order to remove them feet first, to facilitate obtaining an intact head, apparently to preserve an intact brain. This statement and others raise a host of ethical questions, including whether pregnant women are being given detailed information in advance about exactly what is going to be done to them and their babies. Planned Parenthood’s political arm is a major backer of many Democratic members of Congress. Lawmakers who have enjoyed Planned Parenthood’s backing should now be asked whether they will continue to oppose pending legislation to restrict the abortion of pain-capable unborn children after 20 weeks fetal age, as Planned Parenthood insists – and if so, whether they are motivated in any degree by a desire to preserve Planned Parenthood’s ability to deliver intact, well-developed baby body parts to order.”
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.
(Original reporting by the ‘National Catholic Register’s Peter Jesserer Smith contributed to this report)
Tuberville calls for term limits, balanced budget and lobbying reform
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville’s campaign began emphasizing key structural reforms that the Republican nominee hopes to advance if elected to the U.S. Senate including congressional term limits, withholding lawmakers’ paychecks unless a balanced budget is passed and a ban on former officials becoming lobbyists.
“Only an outsider like me can help President Trump drain the Swamp, and any of the proposals outlined in this ad will begin the process of pulling the plug,” Tuberville said in a statement. “Doug Jones has had his chance, and he failed our state, so now it’s time to elect a senator who will work to fundamentally change the way that Washington operates.”
Tuberville has also made a major media buy across the state to trumpet this message.
“You know Washington politicians could learn a lot from the folks in small town Alabama, but Doug Jones … he’s too liberal to teach them,” Tuberville added.
Polls consistently show that term limits are popular with people across both political parties, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that imposing term limits would be adding a qualification to be a member of Congress and that can only be done by constitutional amendment.
It is an unspoken truth that when Americans send someone to Congress they never come back. They either keep getting re-elected like Alabama’s own Sen. Richard Shelby, who is in his sixth term in the Senate after four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. On the other hand, they may become lobbyists getting paid to influence their colleagues on behalf of corporations, foreign governments or some well funded non-government organization.
Tuberville said he would ban that practice.
A balanced budget amendment almost passed in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.
Since that failure, Congress has increasingly passed bigger and bigger budget deficits. The U.S. government borrowed more money during the eight years of President George W. Bush’s presidency than the government had borrowed in the first 224 years of the country combined.
President Barack Obama followed and the TARP program propped up the post-Great Recession economy. Rather than cutting the deficit, President Donald Trump invested billions in the military and a tax cut without cutting domestic spending. The 2020 coronavirus crisis has further grown the budget.
The government has borrowed trillions to prop up the economy and provide stimulus while investing billions into medical research and treating the virus victims. Congress is currently debating a fifth stimulus package that would add more to the deficit.
Both a balanced budget amendment and a term limits amendment would have to be ratified by the states if passed by Congress. Tuberville is challenging incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama.
House passes General Fund Budget
By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama House of Representatives passed the state General Fund Budget on Tuesday.
The General Fund Budget for the 2019 fiscal year is Senate Bill 178. It is sponsored by Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose. State Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, carried the budget on the House floor. Clouse chairs the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.
Clouse said, “Last year we monetized the BP settlement money and held over $97 million to this year.”
Clouse said that the state is still trying to come up with a solution to the federal lawsuit over the state prisons. The Governor’s Office has made some progress after she took over from Gov. Robert Bentley. The supplemental we just passed added $30 million to prisons.
The budget adds $50 million to the Department of Corrections.
Clouse said that the budget increased the money for prisons by $55,680,000 and includes $4.8 million to buy the privately-owned prison facility in Perry County.
Clouse said that the budget raises funding for the judicial system and raises the appropriation for the Forensic Sciences to $11.7 million.
The House passed a committee substitute so the Senate is either going to have to concur with the changes made by the House or a conference committee will have to be appointed. Clouse told reporters that he hoped that it did not have to go to conference.
Clouse said that the budget had added $860,000 to hire more Juvenile Probation Officers. After talking to officials with the court system that was cut in half in the amendment. The amendment also includes some wording the arbiters in the court lawsuit think we need.
The state General Fund Budget, SB178, passed 98-1.
Both budgets have now passed the Alabama House of Representatives.
The 2019 fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2018.
In addition to the SGF, the House also passed a supplemental appropriation for the current 2018 budget year. SB175 is also sponsored by Pittman and was carried by Clouse on the floor of the House.
SB175 includes $30 million in additional 2018 money for the Department of Corrections. The Departmental Emergency Fund, the Examiners of Public Accounts, the Insurance Department and Forensic Sciences received additional money.
Clouse said, “We knew dealing with the federal lawsuit was going to be expensive. We are adding $80 million to the Department of Corrections.”
State Representative Johnny Mack Morrow, R-Red Bay, said that state Department of Forensics was cut from $14 million to $9 million. “Why are we adding money for DA and courts if we don’t have money for forensics to provide evidence? if there is any agency in law enforcement or the court system that should be funded it is Forensics.”
The supplemental 2018 appropriation passed 80 to 1.
The House also passed SB203. It was sponsored by Pittman and was carried in the House by State Rep. Ken Johnson, R-Moulton. It raises securities and registration fees for agents and investment advisors. It increases the filing fees for certain management investment companies. Johnson said that those fees had not been adjusted since 2009.
The House also passed SB176, which is an annual appropriation for the Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The bill requires that the agency have an operations plan, audited financial statement, and quarterly and end of year reports. SB176 is sponsored by Pittman and was carried on the House floor by State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chatham.
The House passed Senate Bill 185 which gives state employees a cost of living increase in the 2019 budget beginning on October 1. It was sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville and was being carried on the House floor by state Rep. Dimitri Polizos, R-Montgomery.
Polizos said that this was the first raise for non-education state employees in nine years. It is a 3 percent raise.
SB185 passed 101-0.
Senate Bill 215 gives retired state employees a one time bonus check. SB215 is sponsored by Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Guntersville.
Rich said that retired employees will get a bonus $1 for every month that they worked for the state. For employees who retired with 25 years of service that will be a $300 one time bonus. A 20-year retiree would get $240 and a 35-year employee would get $420.
SB215 passed the House 87-0.
The House passed Senate Bill 231, which is the appropriation bill increase amount to the Emergency Forest Fire and Insect and Disease Fund. SB231 is sponsored by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, and was carried on the House floor by state Rep. Kyle South, R-Fayette.
State Rep. Elaine Beech, D-Chathom, said, “Thank you for bringing this bill my district is full of trees and you never know when a forest fire will hit.
SB231 passed 87-2.
The state of Alabama is unique among the states in that most of the money is earmarked for specific purposes allowing the Legislature little year-to-year flexibility in moving funds around.
The SGF includes appropriations for the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the courts, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, the Alabama Department of Corrections, mental health, and most state agencies that are no education related. The Alabama Department of Transportation gets their funding mostly from state fuel taxes.
The Legislature also gives ALEA a portion of the gas taxes. K-12 education, the two year college system, and all the universities get their state support from the education trust fund (ETF) budget. There are also billions of dollars in revenue that are earmarked for a variety of purposes that does not show up in the SGF or ETF budgets.
Examples of that include the Public Service Commission, which collects utility taxes from the industries that it regulates. The PSC is supported entirely by its own revenue streams and contributes $13 million to the SGF. The Secretary of State’s Office is entirely funded by its corporate filing and other fees and gets no SGF appropriation.
Clouse warned reporters that part of the reason this budget had so much money was due to the BP oil spill settlement that provided money for the 2018 budget and $97 million for the 2019 budget. Clouse said they elected to make a $13 million repayment to the Alabama Trust fund that was not due until 2020 but that is all that was held over for 2020.
Clouse predicted that the Legislature will have to make some hard decisions about revenue in next year’s session.
Day Care bill delayed for second time on Senate floor, may be back Thursday
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
The day care bill, which would license certain day care centers in Alabama, was once again delayed on the state Senate floor after one lawmaker requested more information.
Its brief appearance Tuesday ended with state Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, saying a compromise had not yet been worked out with the bill’s detractors.
Alabama’s Senate has been hesitant to act on the legislation because of complaints of state Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, who has been an opponent of the bill since its introduction last year. The bill’s delay on Tuesday marks the second time its been taken off the Senate’s agenda.
The bill has had a rocky time in this year’s session, but the bill’s sponsor state Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said she is still confident about its passage out of the Legislature.
Warren, D-Tuskegee, filed the bill this session with the support of influential lawmakers including Gov. Kay Ivey, who told reporters last year that she though all day cares should be licensed.
Mainly sparked by the death of 5-year-old boy in the care of a unlicensed day care worker, the bill had great momentum coming into this year’ session.
Despite the growing support from lawmakers, Religious groups had concerns that the bill would increase state-sponsored reach into religious day cares in churches and non-profit groups.
Spearheading the dissenters was Alabama Citizens Action Program, a conservative religious-based PAC.
Warren, proponents, and ALCAP announced a compromise to the bill while it was still in the Alabama House.
Announced by ALCAP originally, the new bill was a weaker version in that it did not require that all day cares in the state be regulated. Instead, religious-based day cares would only need to be registered if they received federal funds. At a Senate committee meeting in February, Warren said a similar requirement was about to come from federal law in Congress.
The bill moved through the House in a overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee a few weeks ago.
Warren, speaking to reporters after its passage from the House, said she was unsure if the bill would encounter resistance in the upper chamber.
It was the Senate that killed the daycare bill last year amid a cramped last day where senators took the bill off the floor. The bill may face similar complications this year, as lawmakers seem to be preparing to adjourn within a few weeks.
Fantasy sports bill fails on Senate floor
By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter
Would-be Fantasy Sports players in Alabama will have to wait to legally play in the state following a Senate vote on Tuesday.
The Alabama Senate decisively killed a bill to exempt fantasy sports from the state’s prohibition on gambling.
Not even entertaining a debate on the Senate floor, the proposal was killed during a vote for the Budget Isolation Resolution, which is usually a formality vote preluding a debate.
Fantasy sports are contests where participants select players from real teams to compete on fantasy teams using the real-world players’ stats.
Since 2016, the practice has been illegal in Alabama following a legal decision by the Attorney General’s Office that categorized it as gambling.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Paul Sanford, R-Huntsville, predicted the bill’s failure during a committee meeting two weeks ago, where the bill passed unanimously.
- Sen. Paul Sanford speaks to reporters after a Senate Committee meeting on Feb. 28, 2018. (Samuel Mattison/APR)
Speaking to reporter’s after the committee meeting, Sanford said the decision to file the bill was mainly a philosophical belief that the practice shouldn’t be illegal.
Sanford, a fantasy sports player before its ban, said that fantasy sports are a way to bring people closer together and not a means to win money. The Huntsville senator is not seeking re-election.
The bill’s failure in the Senate follows its trajectory last year too. A similar version of the bill, also sponsored by Sanford, failed in the Senate during the final days of the 2017 Legislative Session.
Since Sanford is retiring, it is unclear if the bill will even come back next session, or if it will even have a Senate sponsor.