Molly Redden

Molly Redden

Reporter

Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

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Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

Mississippi May Become the First State Since Roe v. Wade to Be Without a Single Abortion Provider

| Mon Apr. 28, 2014 2:02 PM EDT

Mississippi's sole abortion clinic, the Jackson Women's Health Organization, has been on the brink of closure since 2012, when state legislators passed a law specifically designed to shut it down. On Monday, abortion rights advocates will argue before a federal court in a final attempt to block the law and keep Mississippi from becoming the first state in 41 years—since Roe v. Wade—to be without a single legal abortion provider.

And the odds don't look good.

The law, HB 1390, requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital or face criminal penalties. Obtaining admitting privileges, however, poses an impossible burden, since most of Mississippi's providers travel to Jackson from out of state and local hospitals have all refused to be associated with abortion.

Abortion rights advocates have managed to keep the doors of the Jackson Women's Health Organization open since 2012 through a series of court battles. In summer 2012, a judge blocked the law's penalties from going into effect while providers begged local hospitals to give them admitting privileges. In April 2013, after all seven local hospitals turned the clinic's doctors down, a federal judge blocked the relevant part of the law, saying that it would "result in a patchwork system where constitutional rights are available in some states but not others."

But the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is hearing arguments from lawyers for the Jackson Women's Health Organization, is likely the end of the line. Short of intervention from the US Supreme Court, a three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit will have the final word on whether Mississippi's law will take effect.

And the court has not been friendly to abortion rights in the past. The Fifth Circuit is the same venue where a three-judge panel upheld a very similar Texas law, made infamous by state Sen. Wendy Davis's filibuster, in March. Appeals courts in the Fourth and Eighth Circuits have upheld admitting privilege laws, too.

In the years since HB 1390 passed, the Jackson Women's Health Organization did not fail to get admitting privileges for lack of trying. (The health clinic already had a patient-transfer agreement with an area hospital for rare cases in which a patient required hospitalization.) As Mother Jones detailed in 2012:

The doctors' applications have been rejected by every hospital they've approached. Two hospitals wouldn't let them apply at all. Five others denied the applications for "administrative" reasons, before even completely reviewing the doctors' qualifications. Their rejection letters cited their policies regarding abortion and "concern about disruption to the hospital's business within the community." The clinic wrote follow-up letters to make sure the hospitals understood that the doctors were only seeking privileges to comply with the new law and wouldn't actually be providing abortions at the hospital, but no dice.

The problem isn't just that hospitals don't want to become targets for anti-abortion protests. Abortion clinics simply don't admit enough women to hospitals to meet the usual requirements for admitting privileges.

"Women across the state will be plunged back into the dark days of back-alley procedures that Roe was supposed to end" if HB 1390 goes into effect, Julie Rikelman, the attorney for the Jackson Women's Health Organization, said Monday. "The devastating impact of this unconstitutional law couldn’t be clearer."

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Cardinal Defends Hobby Lobby: "All You Have to Do Is Walk Into a 7-11" for Contraceptives

| Mon Apr. 21, 2014 10:47 AM EDT

On Sunday, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, culture warrior extraordinaire, made a curious argument for why the Supreme Court should allow Hobby Lobby to eliminate the morning-after pill from its employee health care plan: if you want contraceptives, "all you have to do is walk into a 7-11 or any shop on any street in America and have access to them."

The East Coast's top Catholic made his comments Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation. "I think they're just true Americans," he told host Norah O’Donnell of Hobby Lobby's owners, who claim that providing emergency contraceptive pills violates their religious beliefs. "Is the ability to buy contraceptives, that are now widely available—my Lord, all you have to do is walk into a 7-11 or any shop on any street in America and have access to them—is that right to access those and have them paid for, is that such a towering good that it would suffocate the rights of conscience?"

Couple of things:

  • The owners of Hobby Lobby are proposing to eliminate one kind of contraception from the company's employee health care plans: the morning-after pill. The Greens, who own the company, do not have a problem with all contraception. In fact, the company plan still covers birth control pills.
  • Birth control pills are a form of contraception that isn't available without a prescription. They are not sold on any shop on any street in America.
  • If Dolan is talking about emergency contraception, we would note that only one type of morning-after pill for sale in the US without a prescription: Plan B One Step and its generics.
  • These are also not sold on any shop on any street in America.
  • These are not sold at 7-11.

It's almost as if Dolan doesn't know very much about the contraceptives he opposes. Either that, or he hasn't been to a 7-11 since giving up Go-Go Taquitos for Lent.

GOP Senate Candidate Endorses a 9/11 Truther's Questions: "Things Like This Have to Be Asked"

| Mon Apr. 21, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

In 2012, Greg Brannon, who is now a North Carolina Republican Senate candidate, wouldn't say whether he thought the attacks on September 11, 2001, were an inside job—but, he said, "Things like this have to be asked."

Brannon, an OB-GYN endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a leading contender in the GOP primary to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), made that comment as a guest on a local conservative talk show. At the time, Brannon was running Founder's Truth, a North Carolina tea party organization. A caller offered up a conspiracy theory about September 11, and as the host, Bill LuMaye, tried to redirect the conversation, Brannon answered:

John, caller: I'm a 9/11 truther. And I had a friend of mine…tell me, look on the internet, Google "the Pentagon" and show me where the plane hit the Pentagon. Where is the plane? There's all kinds of pictures of that building smoldering, and fire trucks everywhere. There's no plane. So I did research on the size of planes, of the engines that ran this plane. These things are 12,000 pounds, these engines that would have flown off—that's six tons—and put a hole in something. There's nothing there.

Bill LuMaye: Well, without getting into—

John: There's a hole in the building and there's no broken glass.

LuMaye: Well, I'd rather not get into a discussion on whether 9/11 was an inside job or not. I really, I mean, we can save that for another day, I have no problem with that, it's just—

Greg Brannon: These questions, again, actually, that's what [9/11 commission vice-chair] Lee Hamilton said. And he just said, there's other questions that need answering. The guy who got all the information…a Democrat and a Republican, were the co-chairmen of the 9/11 commission, and when they got done, they did not put their stamp of approval on the commission. They said, 'There's data that we did not put in there.' So things like this have to be asked.

LuMaye: Well, I appreciate your call, John.

Brannon: Thanks, John.

It's true that Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, the chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 commission, said that the commission's investigation of the September 11 plot was incomplete. But their complaint was that government agencies blocked the commission from assessing how badly prepared the United States was for the attacks, and which US agencies were responsible for failing to prevent the attacks—not that the US was hiding its own involvement.

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