Pro-choice activists, politicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood gather on Feb. 25 for a news conference and demonstration at City Hall in

Pro-choice activists, politicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood gather on Feb. 25 for a news conference and demonstration at City Hall in New York against the Trump administrations Title X rule change. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images North America)

Trump edict would deny family-planning services to the poor

In a 1983 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held that federal agencies that make significant changes in their administrative rules must be able to establish that their decisions were based on “reasoned analysis” and “relevant data.” Under this standard, the Trump administration’s decision to change the rules of a government program funding free and low-cost reproductive health services for poor people is indefensible. Clinics receiving grants under the Title X program will now no longer be able to recommend abortion providers. The rules also forbid Title X services and abortion providers from sharing offices — which has the effect of disqualifying the Planned Parenthood centers that provide more than 40 percent of Title X services.

Contrary to the daft claims of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these changes will decrease access to health care for poor people, especially in rural areas. That alone means they can’t be justified as based on “reasoned analysis.”

The real rationale is plain: The administration is heeding the anti-abortion advocates who are a key part of President Donald Trump’s political coalition. That is the “relevant data” here.

— The San Diego Union-Tribune

The US is reportedly compiling dossiers on journalists at the border

A San Diego television station recently obtained some troubling documents that seem to show that the U.S. government, working with Mexican officials under a program called Operation Secure Line, has created and shared dossiers on journalists, immigrant rights lawyers and activists covering or involved with the so-called caravans of migrants moving from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Worse yet, the government then detained some of these people for questioning (one photojournalist was held for 13 hours), barred some of them from crossing the border and interfered with their legitimate efforts to do their jobs. NBC 7 also received a copy of a purported government dossier on lawyer Nicole Ramos, refugee program director for a migrant rights group, that included a description of her car, her mother’s name, and details on her work and travel history. That’s not border security, that’s an intelligence operation and, as the American Civil Liberties Union pointed out, “an outrageous violation of the First Amendment.”

The ACLU noted correctly that it is impermissible for the government to use “the pretext of the border to target activists critical of its policies, lawyers providing legal representation, or journalists simply doing their jobs.”

It’s unclear when the intelligence gathering began, or how widespread it is, but the Committee to Protect Journalists reported in October that U.S. border agents, using the broad power the law gives them to question people entering the country, seemingly singled out journalists for in-depth examinations, including searching their phones, laptops and cameras — all without warrants, because they’re generally not required at the border. These are troubling developments deserving of close scrutiny by Congress and, if warranted, the courts.

The name of the report leaked to NBC 7 was “Migrant Caravan FY-2019: Suspected Organizers, Coordinators, Instigators, and Media.” The only thing suspect here is the government’s actions.

— Los Angeles Times

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