Bills decimate women’s rights

Published 12:00am Saturday, February 23, 2013

How do you decimate the rights of women in Alabama? You do it one bill at a time.

Tuesday, women all over this state were busy, as we are most days, going about our everyday lives. Home, kids, work, for most of us it’s a continuous balancing act just to make it through the week. Who has time to worry about what some legislators in Montgomery are doing when we all lead such busy lives? The thing is, while we were all distracted Tuesday with the important tasks that we do every day, our legislators were busy too — busy stripping away our rights one bill at a time.

HB57, the bill to put excessive restrictions on women’s health clinics that no other clinic has to follow, has passed the Alabama House and is on its way to the Senate for debate. This bill will have the effect of shutting down all five women’s clinics in Alabama. These are clinics that serve the less fortunate women of our state by providing safe access to needs like counseling, birth control, cancer prevention, treatment for STDs and family planning services. Abortion is less than 5 percent of what they do.

If this bill were about protecting women, as the sponsor Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin has stated, then all medical clinics in the state would be required to meet the same standards. There are numerous outpatient surgeries performed in clinics; invasive skin cancers and tumors removed by surgery, vasectomies, colon exams, oral surgery (performed with far more risk), stent insertion, and many, many more. No other clinics, offices, surgical centers, or even hospitals that perform equally invasive procedures or far more invasive procedures are subject to these regulations.

HB108 (Religious Liberty Act) passed as well, which will give employers the right to deny women in Alabama contraception coverage if a company’s shareholders object to birth control on religious grounds. This means that if your employer files for a religious exemption, you could be in the position of having to make a case to your boss in order for your health insurance to cover birth control that is prescribed for medical reasons. They will not have to cover birth control for contraceptive purposes.

In addition to the bills referenced above, Alabama politicians are trying to push a “Personhood” bill (SB205). The law of unintended consequences should temper our resolve when tinkering with laws impacting people’s lives. When you define a person at the moment of conception, then contraceptives like the pill and IUDs (which prevents the egg from implanting in the uterus) are tantamount to murder weapons. Only condoms would likely be allowed since they intervene before the fertilization. Personhood legislation would also have many other unintended consequences such as making in vitro fertilization illegal, preventing many women from being able to become pregnant.

Alabama women deserve better than to have politicians “play doctor” and take away our abilities to make personal, private medical decisions for ourselves. Women should have the power and the legal right to make their own reproductive decisions.

Rep. Mike Jones (334-242-7739) voted yes on both of the bills that passed in the House on Tuesday. These bills will be coming up for debate and vote in the Senate very soon. I would encourage each of you to call Sen. Jimmy Holley (334-242-7845) and ask him to please vote no. Ask him to trust women. Do it for your mother, your sister, your daughter, your aunt. Do it for any woman that you love.


Teresa Tolbert

Red Level

  • andygriffin

    You put a percentage on the abortion, but neglected to put a percentage on the number of women who are prescribed birth control for “medical reasons”.

    This is entire article is about pushing a secular progressive agenda. I remember Nancy Pelosi speaking about forcing Obamacare on our nation, and how the left would make it happen no matter what.

    This article has NOTHING to do with genuine sincere care for anyone’s rights or genuine sincere care for anyone’s health.

    I pray that our state Senators will consider the unborn babies that have no voice in this matter. The unborn babies that are meaninglessly murdered by irresponsible people.

    “I’ve noticed that everyone who is pro-choice has already been born.” – Ronald Reagan

    Andy Griffin – Red Level, AL

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  • SagaciousYokel

    The point is why women choose to take birth control, whether it is for medical or contraceptive reasons, should not be the business of the government or a woman’s employer.It is nobody’s business but mine what I use birth control for. I can take it because I’d rather not be pregnant. I can take it for PCOS, endometriosis, or acne. I can take it because I think the packaging is pretty or the commercial is clever. It is still nobody’s business but mine.

    Abortion is legal. It should be safe. Making it illegal will not stop it, but it will make it unsafe for the women who choose it. You don’t have to choose to have an abortion but you don’t get to make that choice for others.

    Today we pray for the men in our lives, that they may offer their loving, kindness and support for women’s difficult decisions.

    Teresa Tolbert

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  • andygriffin

    If it were a case in which the woman was purchasing birth control with her money, fair enough. As long as it is legal, then the governement and employer have no say so in why the woman is using birth control.

    However, if it is a matter of birth control being included in health insurance provided to the woman, WHOEVER is providing the health insurance has WHATEVER say they want in what will be provided.

    At the end of the day, abstinence could prevent most of this banter. But, instead of taking a proactive approach to these issues we want to pierce our youth with the reactive choices that are “legally” available.

    Planned parenting, especially in the form of abortion, is the killing of human life or potential human life out of convenience a majority of the time. I know that the defense is that some abortions are to protect the mother. This is fact. Yet, the VAST MAJORITY of abortions that take place in the USA are out of personal convenience. It is legally murdering someone simply because the person does not want that baby or the responsibility that it carries.

    Yeah, abortion is legal. Does that make it morally sound or something that we should approve of because it is legal?

    In WWII, the killing of Jews was legal in Germany. Did that make it morally sound or something that should have been approved of because it was legal?

    In short, if you pay for the birth control…use it for whatever reason you want. If someone else is expected to pay for the birth control…expect them to have a say so in whether they want to buy it for you and why you should use it.

    All in my humble opinion…

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  • SagaciousYokel

    If a business can opt of birth control because it conflicts with their religious beliefs then a Scientologist employer can deny psychiatric coverage; a Jehovah’s Witness can deny blood transfusions; a Mormon can refuse to cover medicine containing alcohol. That’s merely the beginning. Why can’t I start my own church denying workplace safety standards or minimum wage? At some point religious freedom swallows every other right.

    Abstinence can prevent most of this banter? Both sides of the abortion debate would like to see fewer abortions. Where we diverge is what to do to reach that common goal. The pro-choice faction wants to do pragmatic things like promote comprehensive sex education and wide availability of contraception. Those are proven avenues to the goal of fewer abortions. The other side of the debate wants to make abortions illegal. That’s it.

    If you think that planned parenthood is the killing of human life or potential human life then there isn’t anything that I can say to disabuse you of those crazy ideas. My paternal grandmother died two months before I was born. A factor in her poor health was the fact that in her short life she had given birth to twelve children. We will not go back to that.

    In short, it’s most often those who oppose legal abortion that also oppose the things that would prevent unwanted pregnancy to begin with. They somehow believe that if we don’t talk about sex in a frank manner or pretend it doesn’t exist or outright forbid it in a way that, frankly, goes against nature, no one will have sex except for the purpose of procreation, with the lights off, in the missionary position, through a hole in a sheet. And don’t get me started on the people who oppose abortion even in cases of rape, incest, severe defect, or when the health of the mother is at stake. It’s this position that truly gives an insight into the bronze-age, barbaric view that some of these individuals have of women.

    Also, appropriating the struggle of an ethnic/religious/cultural/whatever group for political means that are inconsistent with the beliefs of the majority of them is antisemitic. Congratulations.

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  • andygriffin

    Yet I digress…

    If someone pays for their birth control, they can use it for whatever reasons that they want.

    If someone expects their employer to pay for the birth control, then they should expect their employer to have a say in whether they should but it for you and why you should use it.

    The problem with liberals is that they deflect questions. They magnify the very small percentage of instances. “For example, in cases of rape, or incest, or severe defect, or health of mother”. Yet, they refuse to discuss the larger percentage of abortions. The ones where the parent(s) choose to murder the baby out of convenience. You call it a crazy idea, I call it morally correct.

    I remember some years ago, a woman drowning her children in a bathtub. Dimissing the fact that murdering born people is illegal, did you see anything wrong with her doing that?

    Another fundamental issue with liberals is that they do not care about whose rights or beliefs they infringe upon, so as that their agenda is pushed forward. They normally resort to name calling, belittling, and condescending remarks towards anyone who differs in opinion.

    The fact remains that it is legal for an unborn child to be killed because the mother does not want it and there are no other limitations to it…just doesn’t seem morally right to me.

    The fact remains that there are people who want something paid for by “other people”, yet they also don’t want the “other people” to have a say so what gets paid for…just doesn’t seem morally right to me.

    You wrote that promoting sex education and wide availablity of contraceptives is the proven avenues to reducing abortions, what about abstinence? Would that help in preventing abortions?

    Your defense of your beliefs are rock solid. You have said all of the things that indicate that you are passionate about these issues.

    I’m just stating that I am passionate about the opposite. Yeah, I may be “barbaric” or “crazy” or “antisemitic”. However, I have a right to my opinion regardless of what someone else says about me. I have the right to say that abortion is wrong even if it is legal. I have the right to support religious beliefs. I have the right to teach my children that sex should be between a responsible married woman and man.

    I also have the right to continue to stand against people who are morally corrupt and selfish beyond measure. The people who want to spew venom towards the people that are not.

    (Report comment)

  • SagaciousYokel

    I understand that you really believe in your heart that abortion is murder. The problem is this isn’t founded in reality; it’s your belief and personal beliefs have no place in our laws. Prohibition taught us that you can’t legislate individual morality based on religious dogma.

    These regulations are clearly intended to make it so expensive to comply that these clinics will be forced to close. Whereupon women will then find less-than-safe places/means to obtain an abortion.

    Making abortion illegal will not stop it, it will just make it less safe. It goes underground, and becomes dangerous, dicey, dirty sexualized vigilante punishment of women and girls, a kissing cousin to honor killing. Either you are okay with that, or you are not.

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  • Byron B. Mathews Jr.

    Congratulations Teresa on a well-reasoned and eloquently written letter.

    The War on Women is a losing proposition that has relegated the Republican Party to the right-wing fringes of the American political scene. By a large majority, Americans support the right to privacy in sensitive matters revolving around sex, family, and personal autonomy.

    There is no scientific evidence that life begins at conception. The Supreme Court has held that only when the fetus is capable of living outside the womb can a state’s interest in protecting life outweigh a woman’s right to make a personal decision concerning carrying the fetus to term.

    While people have the freedom to personally believe that life begins at conception, they do not have the right to impose their religious beliefs on others. This is not a liberal versus conservative issue, but one of basic freedom that people of all ideological beliefs should share. The statement by Mr. Griffin that liberals “do not care about whose rights or beliefs they infringe upon,” is odd for someone who wants to impose his religious beliefs on others. It was not a liberal who killed an Ob/Gyn doctor in Pensacola or bombed a Women’s Clinic in Birmingham, but men driven by religious madness to believe in the righteousness of their opinions.

    Requiring employee health plan to provide benefits for family planning does not infringe on the religious beliefs of the employer, rather it advances sound public health policies. Most employee health plans provide coverage for male vasectomies and erectile dysfunction medications, but no employer to my knowledge has complained of any of these coverages.

    Should these bills introduced by the Republicans in the state legislature be adopted and signed by the Governor, they will in short order be held unconstitutional by the federal courts. The cost to the state of defending these laws, plus having to pay the attorney’s fees and costs of the prevailing plaintiffs, will be staggering. This expense comes at a time when needed services to infants and children are being cut back because of budget restraints.

    My hope is that reason, like that shown in Teresa Tolbert’s letter, will eventually win out.

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  • andygriffin


    Have I stated my religious beliefs to you or the lady that wrote this letter? Or, were you just assuming?

    You obviously claim to be a man of reason, so I’d like to get your thoughts on this issue….

    An institution offers, at it’s own tremendous expense, subsidized buckets of water to anyone who wants them. If you want to buy a bucket of water, you can pay for it at a much cheaper rate than what the institution has paid for them. Well, the customers that are buying the buckets want the institution to add in flavor to the water and demand the institution do it…without the institution having any say so in it. The institution, regardless of how much the flavor will cost them, is demanded to offer the flavored water versus just water. The customers feel entitled to it being offered, because…well because they want it.

    Is the customers demand within reason?

    I don’t need a long list of two dollar words with you trying to expand to the audience your extensive vocabulary. A simple yes or no will suffice.

    (Report comment)

  • SagaciousYokel

    I’m lost. How are buckets of water germane to the issue under review? Or to put it more colloquially — what the devil does that have to do with the price of eggs?

    Alabama women should be outraged, and taxpayers should be demanding accountability from their elected officials for wasting expensive legislative time and the inevitable legal fees for defending these unconstitutional measures. These elected officials do this not with any hope their laws will stand, they do this only to keep the religious right riled up and voting for them.

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  • andygriffin


    Your use of the words germane and colloquially made me chuckle. I must say that your pen”woman”ship is one for the ages.

    The stuff about buckets of water was not directed to you. It had to do with reason, something that Byron claims to have and something I’m afraid that you lack.

    I’m still unsure as to why a company’s or organization’s unwillingness to pay for someone else’s birth control is unconstitutional. No one is saying that a woman cannot buy birth control. No one is denying that at all. This is about people being required to foot the bill for an entitlement that they don’t agree with. Can you please point to the part in the constitution that states a someone should be required to pay for someone else’s birth control without having any say so in the matter?

    Pretty please, pretty please.

    Why should anyone be required to pay for someone else’s birth control? Why? Why can’t the person who wants the birth control buy it themselves?

    You do bring up a good point, however. Taxpayers should be outraged. Outraged at the fact that there is a continuous outpouring of tax money tagged for entitlements such as healthcare provided birth control and programs like planned parenthood. Outrage doesn’t begin to explain my feelings for the use of my tax dollars. This country is in such bad need of reform that it’s to the point of non-repair. Entitlement reform, tax reform, tort reform…it goes on and on and on.

    As long as my tax dollars are wasted, I’ll continue to stand up for how I believe they should be used.

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  • Rhee

    Few employers these days cover the full cost of an employee’s insurance – the employee usually pays a percentage and often a hefty one. And even if the employer does cover the entire cost of the insurance premium, they aren’t paying for birth control; they are paying to ensure the employee’s health…all of it. Teresa and Byron have both touched on the following but I will spell it out.

    Would you still agree with your previous statement if it read:

    “If someone expects their employer to pay for in vitro fertilization, then they should expect their employer to have a say in whether they should buy it for you and why you should use it.”
    Should an employer really have the power to compel an employee to spell out 1.) why they want children 2.) the details as to why they can’t conceive the traditional way 3.) why they prefer not to adopt and 4.) what arrangements they have made for fertilized eggs that aren’t implanted? And, provided the employee does jump through all those hoops, should the employer still be allowed to deny the couple access to their chosen treatment?

    “If someone expects their employer to pay for erectile dysfunction drugs, then they should expect their employer to have a say in whether they should buy it for you and why you should use it.”
    Can you really imagine a man being called into his employer’s office and asked to explain to his employer’s satisfaction why he wants or needs a prescription for Viagra?? Human resource managers should be cringing at the thought.

    “If someone expects their employer to pay for a chiropractor, then they should expect their employer to have a say in whether they should buy it for you and why you should use it.”
    And if your employer believes that chiropractors are quacks on par with witch doctors, should he or she be able to block that avenue of treatment even if you know it is effective for you?

    Answering yes to any of those questions inserts an outsider – who is seldom a trained medical professional – smack dab in the middle of decisions that should be made by the individual and his or her family and doctor.

    You also asked: “You wrote that promoting sex education and wide availability of contraceptives is the proven avenues to reducing abortions, what about abstinence? Would that help in preventing abortions?”

    There is nothing wrong with encouraging abstinence as an option to reduce the number of pregnancies and thereby the number of abortions. But study after study has proven that education about and access to reliable birth control is far more effective in reducing pregnancies (and thereby abortions) than teaching abstinence alone. You will never, ever, ever be able to convince everyone to remain celibate until they are married AND have reached a comfortable income level.

    Why to I mention income? Because a majority of those choosing abortion live below the federal poverty level.

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  • andygriffin


    When I spoke of subsidizing, I was talking about employers paying a percentage of the healthcare cost along with the employee paying a percentage. How that “spells it out”.

    I’ll just give my opinion on all of your hypotheticals at once instead of answering to them redundantly.

    All that I am saying is that organizations or institutions that are paying for healthcare, wholly or subsidized, should have a say in what is offered under their healthcare policies. Whether it’s chiroprator visits, in vitro, emergency surgery, RXs, birth control, or abortions….it does not matter.

    If the employees were paying for this stuff out of pocket, no one would be arguing. The issue is that there are people who want someone else to pay for something.

    I’ve had 3 people reply to my comment, but no one will answer me. Why should anyone be required to pay for someone else’s birth control? Why? Why can’t the person who wants the birth control buy it themselves?

    I guess I’m just used to creating my own circumstances instead of letting someone else do that for me.

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  • SagaciousYokel

    Health insurance is one form of payment for work, a benefit provided in return for work just like wages. Companies MUST pay workers, and under the law, must pay minimum amounts; overtime, holiday pay, etc. So, the government can control what employers must pay- if the government passes a law that says one aspect of pay must come in the form of health insurance that provides coverage for contraception, the employer cannot dictate whether the employee is provided that option based on the employer’s religious beliefs anymore than an employer can come between an employee and her doctor to say “I paid you that money, you cannot buy the pill with it.”

    The argument to allow public non-religious organizations exclusions based upon religious beliefs will not stand up to judicial review. Opening the door to a single religious exception will invite numerous other requests from those who have objections to blood transfusions and other medical procedures they deem against their religious beliefs. It’s open season on employees if anyone can claim a “religious belief” and have the right to impose it on a secular work force.

    I hope I answered your question Mr.Griffin.

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  • andygriffin

    So, it’s constitutional for the government to mandate that employers buy insurance, or for that matter anything under the sun, from private individuals, regardless of the employers religious beliefs? (This question is rhetorical)

    For anyone to consider that line of thinking as constitutional is un-American. Otherwise, why would the general population not be allowed to vote on the healthcare bill?

    Folks want to blame everyone else for their own bad choices. They want someone else to foot the bill for their own misfortunes. Sure, there are people who genuinely need assistance, but this is never about those.

    It’s about folks that are absent of any morals, that are anti-relious, that have no care whatsoever for the very foundation of our country…that go around talking of “war on women”…all the while knowing that deep down this has nothing to do with their care for women’s rights.

    It’s the forward movement of a secular progressive crowd that wants society so twisted in what is right and wrong that no one truely knows the difference between right and wrong. As soon as someone states that a mother should be allowed to murder her baby, regardless of the mother’s reason…well that someone loses complete credibility in my eyes.

    All Americans have a right to pursuit of LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. The murdering of babies is denying them that right.

    You know where I stand, and I know where you stand. No more need of exchanging barbs.

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  • Byron B. Mathews Jr.


    You asked me to give you a one word answer to your hypothetical. Here it is: Yes.

    The people buying the bucket of water deserve it and society as a whole deserves it.

    It is hard to know where to start to try and get you to think in a rational way about this issue. Let’s start with some real facts that exist in the real world and not some ideas about buckets of water.

    First, you have to understand that the American health care system operates as a single integer whose components are fully integrated into the whole. If you choose not to carry health insurance coverage, don’t use preventative care or treat your illness at an earlier stage until you are sick enough to go to the hospital ER for care (because hospitals have a duty to treat everyone in the ER in need of emergency care), people who have purchased health insurance end up paying for your care. The cost of treating uninsured individuals doesn’t just vanish in thin air, it is spread across the spectrum of the costs incurred by Providers in providing care to everyone. In the health care business this phenomenon is known as cross-subsidization. When doing their underwriting, health insurers factor in to the cost of premiums the cost of uninsured care they are having to bear because of cross-subsidization.

    Historically, health insurance was based on the concept of a “spell of illness.” In other words, it paid for only sick care, not preventive care for those who were well. Efforts to change this practice and mandate that insurers cover preventative health services has been underway for a number of years. That’s why children can get MMR shots without their parents paying a deductible or why women after a certain age can have mammograms without out of pocket payments. The cost of these preventative services is high value – for a relatively little money now you save a lot of medical expense down the road. Experts in the medical profession and the American Public Health Association for years has been advocating that family care planning be one of those preventative services that is covered without co-pays or deductibles.

    Dr. Hal C. Lawrence III, who is in charge of the practice guidelines for the American College of Ob/Gyn Physicians, said during consideration of the Affordable Care Act that contraceptives fit any reasonable definition of preventative health care as their use improves maternal and child health by reducing infant mortality, complications from pregnancy, and even birth defects (yes, there is scientific proof of this).

    The requirement that health insurance plans cover contraceptives will in the long run lower the nation’s overall health care expenses. This, in turn, will lower the premiums on health insurance, not only for that hypothetical employer selling “buckets of water,” but all employers offering health coverage to their employees.

    Here is a position paper by the American Public Health Association that might help you and others reading this understand what I am talking about: As you can see, contraceptive coverage is something that virtually every expert in the public health field believes is a good thing – although I’m sure you have heard Fox News tell you that this was Obama’s idea as he want to give away free condoms to people so they would vote for him.

    Public health care policy should be decided by experts based on scientific evidence, professional experience, and valid medical studies. Not by someone who thinks he is applying some kind of folksy common sense that in really just cockeyed thinking.

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  • andygriffin


    I understand that you were simply going to serve as a recourse for Teresa…

    I get it now. You, in your infinite wisdom, think that this is about lowering the cost of healthcare…regardless of whose rights this infringes upon. You obviously feel that morality and common sense should also be left out as well.

    Your elitist type thinking would advocate euthanasia. Am I right? Just kill off someone who has any type of disease, just so as to save a bunch of money on healthcare insurance.

    I’m not sure exactly where government involvement becomes unconstitutional, but it’s before private healthcare mandates, and darn well short of type of coverages.

    You, like Teresa, are complete strangers to me. I have no idea about where in Alabama you live. But, I know that here in Covington County we could push a completely legal and proven method that prevents unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and all the things that have been mentioned here. If we all put the same efforts in to advocating abstinence as we did forcing birth control and abortion on people, it may become a more popular choice among future generations.

    I understand that you are a close minded, big-governement, anti-religious, unAmerican liberal who spends his days looking down his nose at the people who don’t think like him. I get it. I really do. We have an editor at this very newspaper who could be your clone.

    But I’m telling you….we’re not all sheeple. My sun does not rise and set on what you or any other person says I should and shouldn’t believe. And anyone who tries to impede that should expect me to boldly defend my rights and what I believe is right for me and my family.

    (Report comment)

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