Sitting on Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson‘s desk is legislation that, if signed into law, would allow a vast array of healthcare workers including doctors and pharmacists, hospitals, and even students to deny service to LGBTQ people or anyone else for any reason, including religious or moral, if doing so would violate their conscience.
SB 289, the “Medical Ethics and Diversity Act,” is sponsored by Republican state Senator Kim Hammer, a Missionary Baptist preacher and hospice pastor who earlier this year declared war on Democrats after then-President Donald Trump had been impeached.
Should it become law, a physician could refuse to treat a transgender person, a mental health professional could end treatment with a young teenager who just revealed to them he is gay, a pharmacist could refuse to dispense contraceptive medication even if prescribed for non-pregnancy-related illnesses, and a student nurse could refuse to assist with an abortion, even if it were medically necessary to save the life of a woman.
But that’s not all. The legislation is so broad that it allows hospitals and even insurance companies to refuse service for – including refusing to pay for – anything their polices claim violates their conscience. Catholic hospitals for decades have been refusing to allow abortions to be performed, but now an insurance company could refuse to pay for HIV medications, or even PrEP. They could refuse to pay for gender confirmation surgery.
The wrongly-named legislation – it has nothing to do with supporting ethics or diversity – has the support of an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The Arkansas Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill, saying if it becomes law “we position ourselves as being not open and welcoming like we’ve portrayed ourselves to be,” the AP reports.
“Driving out doctors, nurses, and other medical providers because of their faith means fewer health care options for patients at a time when our nation’s health care system is overstretched and experiencing a dire shortage of providers,” ADF attorney Stephanie Nichols said, The Advocate reports.
The legislation offers only one narrow exception: during a hospital emergency or birth.
If Governor Hutchinson “takes no action within five days from receiving the bill, it becomes law without his signature. If he vetoes it, a simple majority of legislators can override the veto,” The Advocate adds. The bill’s final passage was Thursday, making Tuesday, March 23 the fifth day. Hutchinson has not indicated if he will sign it or not.
UPDATE: 03.24.21 –
Apparently things move slowly in the Arkansas legislature. Despite the bill being passed by the Senate two weeks ago and the House last Thursday, the “paperwork” was delivered to the governor’s desk only today, Wednesday, a week after passage.
So, if my math is right, Hutchinson has until Monday to sign SB354 (Sunday doesn’t count in the 5 days)
He has until Saturday to sign SB289, the medical conscience bill. https://t.co/RQFY0m0eIu
— Andrew DeMillo (@ademillo) March 23, 2021
This article has been updated to include the new date the bill was delivered to the governor, and to add “hospital emergency” to the exceptions list.
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Second Most-Powerful Senate Republican Says Bill to Fight Domestic Terrorism After Buffalo Is Too ‘Partisan’ to Pass
Senate Republican Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota immediately poured cold water on a just-passed House bill to help fight rising domestic terrorism, in the wake of his past weekend’s massacre of ten Black people in Buffalo by a self-avowed white nationalist and antisemite and a California church shooting deemed a “politically motivated hate incident” by local law enforcement.
The House bill passed with all Democrats and just one Republican voting for it. 203 Republicans voted against the legislation that would establish new offices across three federal agencies to help identify and combat domestic terrorism. Three of the Republicans who voted against the legislation are original co-sponsors of the bill, and many who voted for a very similar bill two years ago voted against this bill Wednesday. The final tally was 222-203.
CNN’s Manu Raju reports Senator Thune, the second-most-powerful Senate Republican, is “skeptical the domestic terrorism bill that passed the House will get 10 GOP senators,” which it would need to pass, assuming all 50 Democrats vote for it.
“He noted that it was a ‘pretty party-line vote.’ Said he had not studied the details of the bill yet but noted the outcome in the House makes him think it is ‘largely a partisan bill.'”
Republicans have a long history of blocking any attempt to curtail or get out in front of preventing domestic terrorism, despite – or because of – the vast majority of extremist-related murders are committed by right-wing extremists.
Republicans’ opposition to addressing right-wing extremism and domestic terrorism goes back at least as far as 2009, when, as Wired reported, “an analyst at the Department of Homeland Security focusing on far-right extremist groups” published this report about the danger of right-wing extremism. Outrage was so dramatic DHS was forced to retract it.
In 2016 Politico reported Congressional Republicans also in 2009 “succeeded in pushing to shut” down a DHS program, an intelligence unit “called the Extremism and Radicalization Branch.” Its mission? “Studying and monitoring sub-sections of the population for potential signs of ideological and political radicalization.”
Buffalo Killer’s Worldview Has Become ‘Increasingly Central to the Identity of the Republican Party’: NYT Editorial
The twisted view of the world that spurred the 18-year-old gunman to seek out and murder Black people in a Buffalo supermarket increasingly is at the core of the Republican party’s identity, argued a scathing New York Times editorial on Tuesday.
The New York Times editorial board is calling out GOP politicians, especially those in leadership positions, for amplifying the false white supremacist conspiracy theory that there is an orchestrated effort is underway to displace white Americans.
The newspaper points out that a recently published poll revealed that almost half of all Republicans believe there is a concerted effort by a group of powerful people in this country who are trying to permanently alter the culture and voting strength of native-born Americans by bringing in large groups of immigrants.
Just like Payton Gendron, those who committed mass killings in recent years in El Paso, TX, Charleston, SC, Pittsburgh and elsewhere all shared the same racist worldview, the newspaper notes.
“American life is punctuated by mass shootings that are routinely described as idiosyncratic,” the editors write. “But these attacks are not random acts; they are part of the long American history of political violence perpetrated by white supremacists against Black people and other minority groups. Politicians who have employed some of the vocabulary of replacement theory generally do not make explicit calls for violence. The office of one of those politicians, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, said in a statement that the Buffalo attack was an ‘act of evil’ and that she ‘has never advocated for any racist position.'”
But as the Times points out, in September, Stefanik’s re-election campaign “paid for a Facebook ad that combined imagery of immigrants with the accusation that ‘Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.’ Ms. Stefanik’s ad continued, ‘Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.’”
The Times editorial underscores what Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was kicked out of a GOP leadership role after denouncing former President Donald Trump and the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection, tweeted on Monday: “The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”
‘Feel of Disgraced General Going on the Attack’: Former Prosecutor on Mike Flynn’s Alleged $50 Million Claim Against DOJ
Disgraced Trump National Security Advisor turned QAnon promoter Mike Flynn has allegedly filed a $50 million claim against the U.S. Dept. of Justice, alleging “malicious prosecution” and “emotional distress” despite having repeatedly confessed, including in court before a federal judge.
Glenn Kirschner, a former United States Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) prosecutor and federal prosecutor is weighing in on the news.
Flynn is a retired United States Army lieutenant general who grew close to Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign while being paid to lobby for the benefit of the government of Turkey. He served in the Trump administration for just 22 days.
He was forced into retirement in 2014 while serving in the Obama administration, and outgoing President Barack Obama reportedly cautioned Trump against allowing him to serve in the White House, a suggestion Trump ignored.
Flynn resigned after allegedly lying about conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn agreed to a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making false statements to the FBI. He was never sentenced and President Trump pardoned him before leaving office.
Now Flynn is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and Big Lie promoter who as recently as last week claimed “Donald Trump is still the president.”
He has filed a complaint against the government of the United States for $50 million, according to attorney Ron Filipkowski:
Michael Flynn has filed a $50 million claim against DOJ for malicious prosecution. pic.twitter.com/ONqHdS3Mdp
— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) May 16, 2022
“Boy does this have the feel of the disgraced general going on the attack because he fears or senses or has been told he’s going to be either indicted in federal court or returned to active duty to be court-martialed,” tweeted Kirschner, who after leaving the Army JAG Corps became an Assistant U.S. Attorney and served under Robert Mueller.
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