Chad’s Morning Brief: Supreme Court Refuses to Block Texas Abortion Restrictions, North Texas Drivers Stopped at a Roadblock and Asked for Blood and Saliva, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of November 20, 2013. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
Supreme Court and Abortion
It was a good day for the State of Texas yesterday and for those who favor the abortion restrictions that have been passed in Texas. According to FOX News, yesterday the Supreme Court went against Planned Parenthood and left in place Texas' abortion laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block controversial Texas abortion restrictions that have been called some of the strictest in the country and have led a dozen abortion clinics in the state to stop performing the procedure.
The court by a 5-4 vote denied a request by Planned Parenthood to block a ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing key parts of the Texas abortion law to stay in effect while the lawsuit challenging the restrictions moves forward.
The four liberal justices who voted in favor of the request said they would have overturned the appeals court's Oct. 31 ruling that allowed the law to take effect.
In its 20-page ruling, the panel of appeals court judges acknowledged that the law's provision requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital "may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions."
However, the panel said that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that having "the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate" a law that serves a valid purpose, "one not designed to strike at the right itself." The provision has led at least 12 clinics in the state to stop performing abortions since the ruling.
A spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General's Office said Tuesday said the office is "pleased" with the Supreme Court's ruling.
"These are commonsense - and perfectly constitutional - regulations that further the state's interest in protecting the health and safety of Texas women," Lauren Bean said.
Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry also said he was happy with the court's decision.
"This is good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers operating in dangerous conditions," Perry said.
The appeals court panel left in place a portion of a previous judge's order that prevents the state from enforcing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol for abortion-inducing drugs in cases where the woman is between 50 and 63 days into her pregnancy. Doctors testifying before the court had said such women would be harmed if the protocol were enforced.
The appeals court's order is temporary until it can hold a complete hearing, likely in January.
The restrictions gained notoriety when Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis launched a nearly 13-hour filibuster against them in June.
The law also bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and beginning in October 2014 requires doctors to perform all abortions in surgical facilities.
According to NBC DFW, drivers in North Texas were subjected to a roadblock by the feds this past week. According to the report, drivers were offered money for their blood or saliva.
Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood.
It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.
"It just doesn't seem right that you can be forced off the road when you're not doing anything wrong," said Kim Cope, who said she was on her lunch break when she was forced to pull over at the roadblock on Beach Street in North Fort Worth.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said participation was "100 percent voluntary" and anonymous.
But Cope said it didn't feel voluntary to her -- despite signs saying it was.
"I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn't let me and forced me into a parking spot," she said.
Once parked, she couldn't believe what she was asked next.
"They were asking for cheek swabs," she said. "They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that."
At the very least, she said, they wanted to test her breath for alcohol.
She said she felt trapped.
"I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave," she said, adding she received no money.
Fort Worth police earlier said they could not immediately find any record of officer involvement but police spokesman Sgt. Kelly Peel said Tuesday that the department's Traffic Division coordinated with the NHTSA on the use of off-duty officers after the agency asked for help with the survey.
"We are reviewing the actions of all police personnel involved to ensure that FWPD policies and procedures were followed," he said. "We apologize if any of our drivers and citizens were offended or inconvenienced by the NHTSA National Roadside Survey."
NBC DFW confirmed that the survey was done by a government contractor, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which is based in Calverton, Md.
A company spokeswoman referred questions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
An agency spokeswoman sent an email confirming the government is conducting the surveys in 30 cities across the country in an effort to reduce impaired-driving accidents.
She did not respond to another email from NBC DFW asking specific questions about the program..
But a Fort Worth attorney who is an expert in civil liberties law questioned whether such stops are constitutional.
"You can't just be pulled over randomly or for no reason," said attorney Frank Colosi.
He also noted the fine print on a form given to drivers informs them their breath was tested by "passive alcohol sensor readings before the consent process has been completed."
"They're essentially lying to you when they say it's completely voluntary, because they're testing you at that moment," Colosi said.
He also questioned the results of the "voluntary" survey -- speculating that drivers who had been drinking or using drugs would be more inclined to simply decline to participate.
Cope said she is troubled by what happened.
"It just doesn't seem right that they should be able to do any of it," she said. "If it's voluntary, it's voluntary, and none of it felt voluntary."
Asked Tuesday if she accepted the police department's apology, Cope said she would wait to see what the review showed.
"They need to make sure this doesn't happen again," she said.
This sounds like one of those stories that is hard to believe, but it is real. Sadly I doubt many people knew their rights in this case and instead gave up information about themselves.
Sorry folks, I don't care what kind of research is going on. I'm not going to sell a sample of my blood to the federal government.
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