Pro-Life Centers Forced to Promote Abortion by New California Law?

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill, called the Reproductive Fact Act, that requires anti-abortion pregnancy centers to post information about where patients can avail of free or low-cost abortion services. This new bill that took effect January this year has been faced with both criticisms and support.

Pro-life clinics are calling this bill “unconstitutional,” saying that it violates their rights of free speech. Why would an anti-abortion clinic promote abortion services? And as reported by The New York Times, a number of pregnancy centers in California have yet to comply with this new law. Setting fines of $500 and $1,000 per offense, the law also mandates pro-life centers (some of which do not need a medical license) to post the following notice: “This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.” This, according to some pro-life groups, casts doubts on the credibility of these centers.

The supporter of this law, however, say that giving patients information about government-supported abortion services may be essential to “an informed decision.” After all, abortion is indeed one option pregnant women may consider. There are also claims that several pro-life centers actually give misleading information regarding abortion. Some are saying these centers incorrectly link abortion to breast cancer and increased risk of premature births. So for others, this law in a way helps in bringing awareness as regards the true pros and cons of abortion.

The legal battle between pro-life advocates and the law still continues. So far, three federal and one state courts have deemed the law constitutional. But representatives of the pro-life centers vow to bring this issue to the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, NARAL Pro-Choice says that it plans to monitor compliance with this new law and encourage action from city and county lawyers.

This issue seems to bring to light how differing views create divide and problems to causes that at the end of the day similarly seek to protect the welfare of those who may benefit them. Can one really not enjoy all his rights without stepping on someone else’s? Is a compromise possible for both sides? Think about it.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/us/pregnancy-clinics-fight-for-right-to-deny-abortion-information.html?_r=0
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB775
http://lawnewz.com/high-profile/judge-says-pregnancy-clinics-must-provide-abortion-info/
http://dailysignal.com/2016/02/11/new-california-forces-pro-life-pregnancy-centers-to-advertise-abortions/

New California bill requires full disclosure of police misconduct reports

police man driving police car

Sen. Mark Leno has recently introduced a bill giving Californians greater access to law enforcement records, not excluding those on misconduct of police officers. Files involving police shootings and sustained misconduct of officers would be available to the public under the proposed Increasing Law Enforcement Transparency Bill. This new bill aims to increase public confidence in law enforcement.

Leno said, “Failing to disclose such important information can fuel mistrust within our communities and threaten public safety.”

What will be made public are records from all investigations of cases wherein an officer has engaged in misconduct violating the legal rights of the public, including sexual assault, planting evidence, and unlawful arrest. The public will also have access to investigations of police uses of force that result in deaths or serious injury. The bill also requires releasing of records when an officer is found to have engaged in job-related dishonesty. Local governments will also be allowed to decide to hold public hearings when officers appeal disciplinary action. In addition, citizens who filed complaints against the police will also be able to follow whether their complaint was sustained and if corrective actions are imposed. However, in cases wherein there is a danger to any officer or individual involved in the misconduct, the bill allows the court to withhold law enforcement records.

This new bill seeks to assure the public that the persons responsible for keeping their community safe can in fact be trusted.

However, opposition from police unions is to be expected.

The bill has various pros and cons. It seems ironic too how it expects to increase public trust by airing the police’s possible dirty laundry. But given the numerous cases of police-related violence in the past years, maybe transparency is really needed. What do you think?

Sources:
LA Times
SF Examiner

Are California women to expect a future of over-the-counter birth control pills?

young woman holding a pack of birth control pills

Currently in California, women are required to see their physician for birth control, be it an intrauterine device or even a daily pill. Although majority of insurance plans cover birth control, the long process of having to see a doctor is often what keeps women from accessing contraception, according to healthcare experts.

Aiming to simplify the current healthcare system, a new law seeks to ease women’s access to birth control.
Expected to go into effect in April, this new law will finally allow women to buy birth control pills sans prescription from their physicians. Under this new law, pharmacists will be able to dispense self-administered hormonal contraception like pills, patches, and vaginal rings. Once the law gains regulatory approval, California will be the third state to allow pharmacist-issued birth control.

Many women welcome the convenience of just going to their neighborhood pharmacy and picking up birth control. However, many are worried that this convenience may keep women from seeing their physician and undergoing preventive tests for sexually transmitted infection, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and the like. But supporters of the bill insist that women are smart enough to know when to see a doctor. Also, before giving out birth control, pharmacists are required to administer a screening questionnaire and to recommend seeing a physician if medical guidance or assistance is deemed necessary.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has also expressed opposition towards this new law. The group’s president, Dr. Mark S. DeFrancesco, stated, “We do not think this law goes far enough.” What they would like to see is birth control becoming truly over-the-counter, that is, not requiring permission from a doctor or a pharmacist.

Ultimately, for many, this new law seems to be a step towards the right direction. It has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies, which make up almost half of the pregnancies in the country.
How about you, are you in favor of this new law?
Source:
http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-birth-control-pharmacies-20160214-story.html

Things to Know About California’s Aid-in-Dying Law

open hand with multiple pills

In June 9, Californians will already be able to request prescriptions from their physicians for lethal medications.

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” Gov. Jerry Brown wrote about signing the End of Life Option Act in October last year. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

According to the law, you can request for the prescriptions if you are a California resident, at least 18 years of age, and terminally ill with no more than 6 months to live. Once you are deemed terminally ill and mentally competent by two physicians, you can ask for prescriptions from any licensed medical doctor from California. While it is easy for many to confuse this with euthanasia, the law prohibits referring to the practice as euthanasia, mercy killing, assisted suicide, or homicide. Unlike in euthanasia wherein the physician administers the medication or treatment to end the patient’s life, in aid-in-dying the patient ingests the medications him/herself.

It should be noted that physicians are not required to comply to this law, nor refer patients to doctors who will provide a prescription. Also, insurance companies are not required to cover this treatment. Private insurance companies are still figuring out how to implement the law. Medi-Cal, the state’s health plan for low-income residents, on the other hand, will cover the treatment. However, both Medi-Cal and insurance companies are barred from informing the patients that the treatments are covered due to a controversy in Oregon, the first state to allow physicians to prescribe lethal medications.

If the state Legislature will not act to renew it, the law will expire in 2026.

New California Law Boosts Paid Family-Leave Benefits

sales person handing over purchase to customer

California Governor Jerry Brown has recently signed a new law increasing time-off pay for employees who have to leave work to care for their family. This, according to Gov. Brown, is a step towards compensation for the gross inequality experienced by many workers.

The newly signed AB908 provides workers with higher compensation (compared with the current program’s 55% of their wages) for up to six weeks.

The new law will allow employees earning close to minimum wage to be paid 70% of their salary while on leave, while those with higher pay, up to $108,000 yearly, will receive 60% of their salary while on leave. This change is expected to take effect in 2018.

President Obama praised the new law and urged federal lawmakers to provide “this basic security.” He said, “Congress needs to catch up to California—and to countries all over the world—by acting to guarantee paid family leave to all Americans.”

This new development is definitely a step towards the right direction. We are optimistic that this is just one in a series of steps taken to ensure that the issue on income inequality is addressed.

Sources:
LA Times
Wall Street Journal

California Bill to Raise Smoking, Vaping Age to 21

man lighting a cigarette

California lawmakers have voted to increase the legal to purchase and use tobacco from 18 to 21, putting the state on the brink of becoming one of only two states (the other Hawaii) with a higher age limit.

Lawmakers agreed that the bill will help keep teenagers from forming addictive behaviors towards tobacco at an early age. This will also prevent 18-year-olds from buying cigarettes for their younger friends, which seems to be a common trend among the young. Furthermore, they said that this new bill will also help save billions of dollars in direct health care costs and ultimately save lives.

The bill has received approval despite opposition from tobacco interests and Republicans, who said that the government should respect people’s freedom to make their own health decisions even if those decisions are harmful.

E-cigarettes or vaping devices are treated as tobacco products and are subject to the same restrictions. The package of bills would also expand smoke-free areas to include bars, workplace breakrooms, small businesses, warehouses, and hotel lobbies and meeting rooms. Also, counties would be able to raise their own cigarette taxes beyond the state’s $0.87 per pack.

The bill is still awaiting signature from Gov. Jerry Brown before it could become law.

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/california-lawmakers-vote-raising-smoking-age-21-37538583

http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2016-03-10/california-lawmakers-near-vote-on-raisingsmoking-

age-to-21

http://www.lawyerherald.com/articles/37362/20160307/california-lawmakers-approve-bill-raisingsmoking-legal-age-21.htm

Medically Assisted Suicide Will Finally Be Legal in California on June 9

female doctor holding patients hand

Months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation allowing terminally patients to request life-ending medications from their physicians, the End of Life Option Act will finally be put into effect on June 9. That’s 90 days after a special legislative session on health care ended earlier this month.

So what does this new law imply?

Simply, as stated earlier, the terminally ill can request life-ending medications from their physicians. This law requires that two doctor agree that the patient has indeed only six months or less to live before prescribing the drugs. Patients must be able to swallow the drug by themselves and must affirm in writing 48 hours before taking it that they will do so. Although the law has received a great deal of support especially from those experiencing terminal illness or those with terminally ill loved ones, it is not without opponents. One of the groups who fought hard against the passage of the act, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, feared that this new law will be a gateway for abuse. The group plans to focus on protecting people from abuse and coercion and educating medical professionals and pharmacists about their right to opt out.

However, some terminally ill patients are relieved. A patient with stage 4 colon cancer, Elizabeth Wallner, said it gives her “peace of mind to know that I will not be forced to die slowly and painfully.”

Sources:
http://www.capradio.org/articles/2016/03/10/right-to-die-foes-law-may-lead-to-early-suicide/
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/12/california-right-to-die-law-gets-june-go-ahead/
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/10/469970753/californias-law-on-medically-assisted-suicide-totake-effect-june-9

Apple fights and will continue to fight FBI’s order to unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Last year, the whole country grappled with the horrific San Bernardino attack which killed fourteen people. Today, the FBI continue their investigation on the two attackers. But they hit a roadblock: they cannot access the iPhone used by one of the attackers. So naturally, the FBI reached out to Apple for assistance.

In a letter to costumers, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote, “The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

So what exactly is this “unprecedented step”?

In order for FBI to crack the terrorist’s iPhone, Apple would have to create a new version of its operating system which will override the phone’s encryption feature. This, according, to Apple, is dangerous.

“The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe,” Tim Cook said. In other words, this step could eventually be a gateway for hackers and criminals to easily access other iPhones, thus putting all other iPhone users’ safety at risk.

Tim Cook also added, “And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

And so the legal battle continues. The government is using the 1978 law called the All Writs Act to force compliance from Apple. The law says the government can order someone to do anything to comply to an existing writ, as long as the request is not “unduly burdensome.” But Apple insists that engineering a whole new iOS system is indeed “unduly burdensome.”

How this whole issue pans out is still uncertain. What is certain though is that how this will be decided can affect us. After all, this case is dealing with terrorism and national security and personal security.

Do you stand behind Apple in their refusal to comply? Are do you trust that the FBI when successful will only use this new system for this case?

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2016/02/18/fbi-iphone/
http://www.apple.com/customer-letter/
http://time.com/4227236/apple-fbi-san-bernardino-encryption/
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/18/technology/apple-timothy-cook-fbi-sanbernardino.html

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