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With Abortion in Jeopardy, Minority Women Have Most to Lose

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FILE - The Mississippi director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Tyler Harden, tells an audience of reproductive rights supporters that efforts to limit abortion access are "just another form of oppression" for women of color, at a rally in Smith Park Jackson, Miss., on Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — If you are Black or Hispanic in a conservative state that already limits access to abortions, you are far more likely than a white woman to have one.

And if the U.S. Supreme Court allows states to further restrict or even ban abortions, minority women who already face limited access to health care will bear the brunt of it, according to statistics analyzed by The Associated Press.

The potential impact on minority women became all the more clear on Monday with the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggesting the court’s conservative majority is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion. The draft decision is not yet final but it sent shockwaves through the country. Overturning the Roe v. Wade decision would give states authority to decide abortion’s legality. Roughly half, largely in the South and Midwest, are likely to quickly ban abortion.

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EDITOR’S NOTE — This is an updated version of a story released earlier this year.

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When it comes to the effect on minority women, the numbers are unambiguous. In Mississippi, people of color comprise 44% of the population but 81% of women receiving abortions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks health statistics.

In Texas, they’re 59% of the population and 74% of those receiving abortions. The numbers in Alabama are 35% and 69%. In Louisiana, people of color represent 42% of the population, according to the state Health Department, and about 72% of those receiving abortions.

“Abortion restrictions are racist,” said Cathy Torres, an organizing manager with Frontera Fund, a Texas organization that helps women pay for abortions. “They directly impact people of color, Black, brown, Indigenous people … people who are trying to make ends meet.”

Why the great disparities? Laurie Bertram Roberts, executive director of the Alabama-based Yellowhammer Fund, which provides financial support for women seeking abortion, said women of color in states with restrictive abortion laws often have limited access to health care and a lack of choices for effective birth control. Schools often have ineffective or inadequate sex education.

If abortions are outlawed, those same women — often poor — will likely have the hardest time traveling to distant parts of the country to terminate pregnancies or raising children they might struggle to afford, said Roberts, who is Black and once volunteered at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.

“We’re talking about folks who are already marginalized,” Roberts said.

Amanda Furdge, who is Black, was one of those women. She was a single, unemployed college student already raising one baby in 2014 when she found out she was pregnant with another. She said she didn’t know how she could afford another child.

She’d had two abortions in Chicago. Getting access to an abortion provider there was no problem, Furdge said. But now she was in Mississippi, having moved home to escape an abusive relationship. Misled by advertising, she first went to a crisis pregnancy center that tried to talk her out of an abortion. By the time she found the abortion clinic, she was too far along to have the procedure.

She’s not surprised by the latest news on the Supreme Court’s likely decision. Most people who aren’t affected don’t consider the stakes.

“People are going to have to vote,” said Furdge, 34, who is happily raising her now 7-year-old son but continues to advocate for women having the right to choose. “People are going to have to put the people in place to make the decisions that align with their values. When they don’t, things like this happen.”

Torres said historically, anti-abortion laws have been crafted in ways that hurt low-income women. She pointed to the Hyde Amendment, a 1980 law that prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in rare cases.

She also cited the 2021 Texas law that bans abortion after around six weeks of pregnancy. Where she lives, near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, women are forced to travel to obtain abortions and must pass in-state border patrol checkpoints where they have to disclose their citizenship status, she said.

Regardless of what legislators say, Torres insisted, the intent is to target women of color, to control their bodies: “They know who these restrictions are going to affect. They know that, but they don’t care.”

But Andy Gipson, a former member of the Mississippi Legislature who is now the state’s agriculture and commerce commissioner, said race had nothing to do with passage of Mississippi’s law against abortion after the 15th week. That law is the one now before the Supreme Court in a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Gipson, a Baptist minister who is white, said he believes all people are created in the image of God and have an “innate value” that starts at conception. Mississippi legislators were trying to protect women and babies by putting limits on abortion, he said.

“I absolutely disagree with the concept that it’s racist or about anything other than saving babies’ lives,” said Gipson, a Republican. “It’s about saving lives of the unborn and the lives and health of the mother, regardless of what color they are.”

To those who say that forcing women to have babies will subject them to hardships, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, a white Republican, said it is “easier for working mothers to balance professional success and family life” than it was 49 years ago when Roe was decided.

Fitch, who is divorced, often points to her own experience of working outside the home while raising three children. But Fitch grew up in an affluent family and has worked in the legal profession — both factors that can give working women the means and the flexibility to get help raising children.

That’s not the case for many minority women in Mississippi or elsewhere. Advocates say in many places where abortion services are being curtailed, there’s little support for women who carry a baby to term.

Mississippi is one of the poorest states, and people in low-wage jobs often don’t receive health insurance. Women can enroll in Medicaid during pregnancy, but that coverage disappears soon after they give birth.

Mississippi has the highest infant mortality rate in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black infants were about twice as likely as white infants to die during the first year of life in Mississippi, according to the March of Dimes.

Across the country, U.S. Census Bureau information analyzed by The Associated Press shows fewer Black and Hispanic women have health insurance, especially in states with tight abortion restrictions. For example, in Texas, Mississippi and Georgia, at least 16% of Black women and 36% of Latinas were uninsured in 2019, some of the highest such rates in the country.

Problems are compounded in states without effective education programs about reproduction. Mississippi law says sex education in public schools must emphasize abstinence to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Discussion of abortion is forbidden, and instructors may not demonstrate how to use condoms or other contraception.

The Mississippi director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, Tyler Harden, is a 26-year-old Black woman who had an abortion about five years ago, an experience that drove her to a career supporting pregnant women and preserving abortion rights.

She said when she was attending public school in rural Mississippi, she didn’t learn about birth control. Instead, a teacher stuck clear tape on students’ arms. The girls were told to put it on another classmate’s arm, and another, and watch how it lost the ability to form a bond.

“They’d tell you, ‘If you have sex, this is who you are now: You’re just like this piece of tape — all used up and washed up and nobody would want it,’” Harden said.

When she became pregnant at 21, she knew she wanted an abortion. Her mother was battling cancer and Harden was in her last semester of college without a job or a place to live after graduation.

She said she was made to feel fear and shame, just as she had during sex ed classes. When she went to the clinic, she said protesters told her she was “‘killing the most precious gift’” from God and that she was ”‘killing a Black baby, playing into what white supremacists want.’”

Harden’s experience is not uncommon. The anti-abortion movement has often portrayed the abortion fight in racial terms.

Outside the only abortion clinic operating in Mississippi, protesters hand out brochures that refer to abortion as Black “genocide” and say the late Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and a proponent of eugenics, “desired to eradicate minorities.” The brochures compare Sanger to Adolf Hitler and proclaim: “Black lives did not matter to Margaret Sanger!”

The Mississippi clinic is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, and Planned Parenthood itself denounces Sanger’s belief in eugenics.

White people are not alone in making this argument. Alveda King, an evangelist who is a niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is among the Black opponents of abortion who, for years, have been portraying abortion as a way to wipe out people of their race.

Tanya Britton, a former president of Pro-Life Mississippi, often drives three hours from her home in the northern part of the state to pray outside the abortion clinic in Jackson. Britton is Black, and she said it’s a tragedy that the number of Black babies aborted since Roe would equal the population of several large cities. She also said people are too casual about terminating pregnancies.

“You just can’t take the life of someone because this is not convenient — ‘I want to finish my education,’” Britton said. “You wouldn’t kill your 2-year-old because you were in graduate school.”

But state Rep. Zakiya Summers of Jackson, who is Black and a mother, suggested there’s nothing casual about what poor women are doing. Receiving little support in Mississippi — for example, the Legislature killed a proposal to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage in 2021 — they are sometimes forced to make hard decisions.

“Women are just out here trying to survive, you know?” she said. “And Mississippi doesn’t make it any easier.”

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Black Lives

Former Louisville Cop Pleads Guilty in Breonna Taylor Case

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FILE - This undated file photo provided by Taylor family attorney Sam Aguiar shows Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot by police in her Louisville, Ky., apartment in March 2020. A former Louisville police detective who helped write the warrant that led to the deadly police raid at Taylor's apartment has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge. (Courtesy of Taylor Family attorney Sam Aguiar via AP, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Louisville police detective who helped falsify the warrant that led to the deadly police raid at Breonna Taylor’s apartment has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.

Federal investigators said Kelly Goodlett added a false line to the warrant and later conspired with another detective to create a cover story when Taylor’s March 13, 2020, shooting death by police began gaining national attention.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was shot to death by officers who knocked down her door while executing a drug search warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend fired a shot that hit one of the officers as they came through the door and they returned fire, striking Taylor multiple times.

Goodlett, 35, appeared in a federal courtroom in Louisville on Tuesday afternoon and admitted to conspiring with another Louisville police officer to falsify the warrant. Goodlett briefly answered several questions from federal judge Rebecca Jennings Grady.

Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, was in the courtroom Tuesday but did not speak after the proceedings.

Three former Louisville officers were indicted on criminal civil rights charges earlier this month by a federal grand jury. Goodlett was not indicted, but charged in a federal information filing, which likely means the former detective is cooperating with investigators.

Goodlett will be sentenced Nov. 22. Grady said there may be “extenuating circumstances” that may move the court to push back the sentencing date. Part of the plea hearing was also kept under seal and was not discussed in open court Tuesday. She faces up to five years in prison for the conviction.

She resigned from the department Aug. 5, a day after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced new federal charges in the Taylor case.

Former officers Joshua Jaynes and Kyle Meany were indicted on charges related to the warrant used to search Taylor’s home. A third former officer, Brett Hankison, was charged with using excessive force when he retreated from Taylor’s door, turned a corner and fired 10 shots into the side of her two-bedroom apartment. He was acquitted by a jury on similar state charges earlier this year. Jaynes, Meany and Hankison have all been fired.

The three former officers face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the civil rights charges.

Federal prosecutors said in court records that Jaynes, who drew up the Taylor warrant, had claimed to Goodlett days before the warrant was served that he had “verified” from a postal inspector that a suspected drug dealer was receiving packages at Taylor’s apartment. But Goodlett knew this was false and told Jaynes the warrant did not yet have enough information connecting Taylor to criminal activity, prosecutors said. She added a paragraph saying the suspected drug dealer, Jamarcus Glover, was using Taylor’s apartment as his current address, according to the court records.

Two months later, when the Taylor shooting was attracting national headlines, the postal inspector told a media outlet he had not verified packages for Glover were going to Taylor’s apartment. Jaynes and Goodlett then met in Jaynes’ garage to “get on the same page” before Jaynes talked to investigators about the Taylor warrant, court records said.

They decided to say Sgt. John Mattingly, who is identified in the court records as J.M., told them Glover was receiving packages at Taylor’s home, according to prosecutors. Mattingly was shot in the leg during the raid at Taylor’s apartment.

Meany, who signed off on the Taylor warrant and was still a Louisville police sergeant when he was indicted on Aug. 4, was fired by Louisville Police Chief Erika Shields on Friday.

Shields said in a statement that Meany has not yet had his case heard by a jury, but “he is facing multiple federal charges after a lengthy investigation by the DOJ” and should not “expect continued employment under such conditions.”

Hankison was the only officer charged who was on the scene the night of the killing.

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Black Lives

A Black State Rep. Wants ‘Swift Action’ Against a White State Senator for Calling Him the Governor’s ‘Little B***h’

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Rep. James Bush speaks alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis during the bill signing ceremony at William A. Kirlew Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist K-8 school in Miami Gardens, on Thursday, May 9, 2019. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald.

MIAMI, Fla. (FNN) – Who’s responsible when a lawmaker insults another lawmaker in public?

On August 5, 2022 an article published by POLITICO, written by Matt Dixon, quoted Senator Jason Pizzo (D-Miami) referring to Representative Dr. James Bush III (D-Miami) as the Governor’s “little b***h.”

Where is the outrage from the Florida Democratic Party, or the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida? Are their heads in the sand or will they call on the senator make a public apology?

Who decides to police the behavior of what lawmakers can’t say? Who’s next on the Senator’s little b***h list?

Was it okay for Republican Congressman Ted Yoho to call Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “f*****g b***h” a reporter reported in 2020?

State Representative Dr. James Bush III is the longest serving black state lawmaker (since 1992) in Florida and is calling for action against State Senator Jason Pizzo.

Representative Bush, along with pastors, community leaders, and organizations will be condemning the derogatory statement made by Senator Jason Pizzo in a press conference Tuesday, August 16, 2022, at 10am at the Historic Hampton House 4240 NW 27th Ave Miami, FL 33142.

Rep. Bush’s press release Monday stated that “the community, along with Representative Bush, are demanding swift action be taken against this blatantly disrespectful statement not only toward Representative Bush but the wom[en], families, children, and constituents in District 109 and the entire State of Florida.”

Bush, whose service in state government dates back three decades, has drawn anger in recent years over his increased support of GOP-backed legislation endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that critics decry as bigoted and harmful.

Bush was the sole Democrat who voted yes for the controversial law restricting classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual preference (popularly dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law). He was also the only Democrat to vote with Republicans on Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape, incest or human trafficking victims.

Those two major votes put Bush at odds with his fellow Democrats, turning some to support his Primary opponent this year, lawyer Ashley Gantt, including Sen. Pizzo. Gantt is holding her own press conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Joseph Caleb Center in Miami to highlight how her progressive credentials contrast with Rep Bush’s.

Here’s Pizzo’s whole commentary to POLITICO:

“The Governor seems to have issues with Black folks,” he said, referring to DeSantis’ new congressional map critics say reduced the number of Black-performing districts in the state and legislation he called for targeting “woke” indoctrination in public schools and private workplaces.

“But instead of (Bush) leveraging his relationship with the Governor to help, he is the Governor’s little b**ch.”

 

COMMENTARY: IS OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE AN APPROVED STANDARD FOR DEMOCRATIC LEADERS?

Political disagreements are inevitable. Lawmakers are human beings–individuals–who will support or oppose measures based on the combination of their own experiences and intelligence, plus the needs of the people they’ve been elected to serve. At a tertiary level, they’ll also factor in the objectives of any special interest groups who’ve chosen to back them. That said, not every lawmaker will vote along party lines 100 percent of the time–not if they have a mind of their own and are not a political plant.

It’s one thing to disagree with and then attack a person’s voting record. The Democrats and Sen. Pizzo are displeased with the way Rep. Bush chose to vote. That’s fine. That’s political discourse. That’s how the legislature works.

It’s another–and unacceptable–thing to attack a person’s character simply because you don’t like their voting record…or simply because you don’t like them.

That’s immature. That’s what we saw in 2020 with US Rep. Yoho attacking AOC.

And here’s the dangerous part: If Democratic Party leaders or the Democratic Black Caucus don’t speak out on this, white elected officials, regardless of age or level of experience, attacking elected officials of color will become a norm (perhaps again). And this will mean that this deplorable behavior has become the new norm for the Democratic Party as a whole, proving that they no longer care about the people they represent, but their own agenda.

This isn’t Sen. Pizzo’s first attack against Rep. Bush. In tweet supporting Bush’s Primary opponent Gantt back in July, Sen. Pizzo stated, “Florida ‘Democrat’ James Bush is a shill for the Florida Republicans. Voting against Democratic values and kissing the Governor’s ass — all day, everyday. Join me in letting politicians know that their actions have real consequences.”

The Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate are not high school. Such antics as what we’re seeing from Sen. Pizzo need to be called out and held accountable–not just for elected Democrats, but for the candidates, too.

If a candidate like this goes to Tallahassee, as former State Rep. Bruce Antone, who’s running for Florida House District 41, stated on Facebook Monday: “These type[s] [of] legislators operate in a perpetual state of protest and they are ignored the moment they begin speaking.”

Is this the direction the Democratic Party wants to go in? Prioritizing “dissenting voices”–as Antone put it–over effective lawmaking?

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

 

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2022 Midterm Election

Orlando Sentinel Endorses Angel Perry for Florida House District 36

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Florida House District 36 candidate Angel Perry. Photo: Angel Perry campaign.

SANFORD, Fla. – The Angel Perry campaign announced today that the Orlando Sentinel has endorsed the Republican candidate in her bid for Florida House District 36.

Perry’s campaign priorities include following and protecting the Constitution, including keeping the Second Amendment intact; protecting and paying our first responders well, creating more programs for our veterans so that they can live out their days in success and prosperity, creating more opportunities for small businesses to thrive, and transparency and accountability for all elected officials.

Perry has a chance to make history with a November win–it would make her the first African American Republican woman from Central Florida to be elected to the Florida House. She has two Republican opponents in the August 23rd Republican primary for House District 36: Richard Santos and Rachel Plakon.

The Orlando Sentinel lavished cautious praise in their endorsement of Perry.

“Angelique “Angel” Perry has her eyes on the prize. Her positions are every bit as conservatively dogmatic as Plakon and Santos. And her calm demeanor and focus could make her a formidable presence in Tallahassee, where she’d bring a welcome fresh perspective on the challenges facing Florida in the coming two years. That’s not to say we agree with her, because there are few areas where we do… If voters want solid Republican ideology, free of baggage and uncertainty, she’s the best choice.”

 

“For too long the government has done nothing but in-fighting while the work of the people is not getting done,” Angel Perry said in her press statement. “I don’t have to reach across the aisle–my record shows I can work with all viewpoints without compromising my beliefs.

“We the people mean everyone together. There is no way forward without that. A left-leaning newspaper’s endorsement of a right wing conservative is proof in the pudding and I am very grateful for the Orlando Sentinel’s endorsement.”

For more information, visit angel4florida.com.

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