Headlines for Friday, February 4, 2011
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Republicans withdraw attempt to redefine rape
Republican efforts to deny rape victims federally supported abortion services have been knocked back, after sponsors of the controversial HR3 changed some of the most restrictive language. Currently there are exemptions for bans on federal funding for rape and incest. But HR3, the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” changed that language to read for “forcible rape or, if a minor, and act of incest.” This change could exclude rapes where women are unconscious, coerced, drugged, or in instances of statutory rape.
GOP leadership now says it will drop the word “forcible” from the bill, but pro-choice advocates are still concerned that the legislation will make the Hyde Amendment permanent. Hyde first banned the use of federal dollars to fund abortions in 1976. Since then, Congress has had to renew it each year.
VA Planned Parenthood denies wrongdoing in “sting” tape
Planned Parenthood is one organization whose federal funding is at risk if HR3 passes. In recent weeks, the pro-life group Live Action released controversial secretly recorded video of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Perth, New Jersey. Yesterday the conservative group released another video, this time from Virginia. But Planned Parenthood of Virginia responded today, saying the heavily edited video does not prove anything. Brad Kutner has the story from Richmond.
With members acting as a pimp and an under-aged prostitute, Live Action's goal was to expose Planned Parenthood as aiding and abetting the sex-trade of minors. But Courtney Jones, Manager of Grassroots Organizing for the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, said they did nothing wrong.
"In Virginia, minors can seek information about contraception and STI testing in a confidential setting and that’s what occurred."
According to Jones, it wasn't until the end of the meeting that the Live Action activists admitted to being in the sex trade and that some of their workers were minors. Following the organization’s protocol, the Planned Parenthood employee contacted her supervisor, local police, and the FBI after the incident.
According to Virginia Law, it is illegal to secretly record someone if they have a "reasonable expectation of privacy," as is the case of a confidential medical meeting. Brad Kutner, FSRN, Richmond
Rights group criticizes Gitmo policies in wake of detainee death
US Officials at the Guantanamo detention center say that 48-year-old suspected Taliban commander Awal Gul has died of an apparent heart attack. Gul had been held at Guantanamo since 2001, but never charged with any crimes. In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights said Gul’s death illustrates what the facility has become – quote –“a prison where Muslim men are held indefinitely until they die because the president lacks political courage to release or charge them in any forum.”
Unemployment rate sinks to 9%
New unemployment numbers show that the US rate dropped to 9% in January, the lowest rate in nearly two years. The alternative unemployment number, which includes those who have stopped looking for work and those working part-time but want fulltime work, was 16.1% in January. That rate has dropped one full percent since September of 2010.
Protest planned to raise awareness of human trafficking around Super Bowl
And finally, child welfare organizers are planning a rally to raise awareness of the problem of human trafficking around this weekend’s Super Bowl.
“This year the Super Bowl is in Dallas-Ft. Worth, a leading hub for sex trafficking. Fifteen percent of all calls to the national hotline come from this area. Research shows that a major sporting event such as this can increase the demand for sexual trafficking by up to 80%.”
The Texas-based group Traffick911 is organizing Saturday’s protest. Activists and law enforcement cite annual spikes in underage sex trafficking before the Super Bowl. They suspect thousands of girls will be trafficked around this year’s game.