March 13, 2017

Texas lawmakers have advanced a bill that would functionally allow doctors to lie to pregnant women about fetal abnormalities if they feel the truth might lead to an abortion, The Washington Post reports. The bill, which a state Senate committee passed unanimously last week, eliminates "wrongful birth" as a cause for legal action; under the "wrongful birth" rule, parents of disabled children could sue their doctor for not informing them of the unborn child's complications before birth.

Supporters say the law would protect the rights of medical professionals and unborn disabled children: "We believe that a lawsuit that begins as its premise that 'we should've had the opportunity to kill our disabled child' sends a terrible message to those disabled children in Texas," said Jennifer Allmon, executive director for the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.

Opponents say the law would allow doctors to withhold information from pregnant women with impunity, allowing them to impose their personal religious beliefs on their patients: "Eliminating the wrongful birth claim is an unreasonable restriction on the constitutional right of a woman, in consultation with her physician and family members, to make an informed decision about whether or not to have an abortion," said Margaret Johnson, a representative of the Texas League of Women Voters. Other critics of the new bill insist knowledge of a fetal abnormality allows parents to pursue prenatal treatment or financially prepare for the costs of raising a disabled child.

The law will now go on to the full state Senate for a vote. Nine states currently ban wrongful birth lawsuits, The Dallas Morning News reports, and in Texas, such suits are "rare, even nonexistent." Kelly Gonsalves

4:39 p.m.

A DC comic series has been axed after allegations of sexual abuse emerged against its writer.

The series Border Town will cease production, and the final two issues of the comic will not be published under DC, The Hollywood Reporter wrote on Friday. The announcement comes after toy designer Cynthia Naugle published a statement saying she had been "sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused" by an unnamed person. The figure was later identified on social media as Border Town writer and co-creator Eric M. Esquivel, per the Reporter.

Two artists for the comic have since released statements on Twitter, with color artist Tamra Bonvillain calling Esquivel's actions "disgusting and inexcusable." Esquivel has not yet publicly commented on the allegations.

Border Town opened this year's relaunch of the DV Vertigo line, which publishes more mature content about hot button topics. The comic sold out and was met with critical acclaim, per the Reporter. Marianne Dodson

4:27 p.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed legislation Friday stripping some powers from his Democratic replacement, and in the process, revealed his misunderstanding of a very elementary math concept.

Ever since Wisconsin's GOP lost the executive branch but retained the legislative one, lawmakers and the outgoing Walker have embarked on a lame-duck quest to limit the incoming administration's powers. Legislation passed by the state's legislature and signed Friday by Walker will stop governor-elect Tony Evers (D) from controlling a state economic commission and reduces time for early voting, among other things. It's very "inside baseball," as the state Senate's majority leader said, so Walker tried to explain it in a Venn Diagram.

Graduates of middle school math would notice all the "authorities" listed on both sides of the graph should go in the middle, and all the executive powers Walker just signed away should be listed only in his. But to be fair, "not understanding the most basic of graphs" is something both Democrats and Republicans could put between their two circles in a Venn diagram. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:03 p.m.

George Papadopoulos doesn't see why being sent to jail for lying to the FBI should get in the way of his plans to run for Congress.

The former foreign policy adviser to President Trump's campaign told The Telegraph on Friday that he will run for Congress in 2020, saying he always intended to use his connection with Trump "as a platform to run for office myself." Papadopoulos said his "end game remains the same," even though "things just took a different direction," by which he means he was convicted for lying to federal investigators and is on supervised release for the next year.

He didn't specify where he's going to run, but it sounds like he's not picky, saying, "I just have to find a little Republican enclave somewhere in this part of the world, in this part of the country I should say, and run there." In fact, he claims he already has "some support."

On Twitter, Papadopoulos doubled down, tweeting a simple message to those who have suggested the best time to launch a congressional bid isn't necessarily seven days after getting out of jail: "It is true," he wrote. "I will be running for Congress in 2020, and I will win. Stay tuned." Brendan Morrow

3:58 p.m.

Time is up on not having enough diversity in the room.

The Time's Up organization, which seeks to combat inequality and improve workplace culture for women, is taking a $500,000 grant received from CBS and putting it toward an initiative to diversify the producer and executive pool in Hollywood, per The Hollywood Reporter.

The initiative, dubbed "Who's in the Room," will try to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity among producers and execs by selecting mentees in entry-level and assistant positions and pairing them with industry mentors. The initiative will also provide instruction and, if needed, financial aid. The first class will have 10 mentees for a duration of nine months, followed by a second class of 50 individuals for two years.

Time's Up, founded by celebrities who were responding to the "#MeToo" movement in Hollywood, is one of 18 advocacy organizations receiving a portion of $20 million from CBS. The media broadcasting company is distributing the money as part of its separation agreement with former CEO Les Moonves, the Reporter writes. Marianne Dodson

3:54 p.m.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he doesn't care about President Trump's alleged crimes. Now, he's taking it back.

Earlier this week, ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for financial crimes, among them campaign finance violations in which he implicated the president while pleading guilty. CNN's Manu Raju stopped Hatch in a Senate hall to ask his thoughts on the sentencing, and Hatch responded by brushing off Trump's alleged crimes. "I don't care, all I can say is he doing a good job as president," Hatch said, adding that he didn't think Trump did anything wrong.

But in a follow-up statement Friday, Hatch called his remarks "irresponsible and a poor reflection" of his "dedication to the rule of law." While Hatch doesn't believe Cohen is a "reliable voice," he does have "confidence" in Special Counsel Robert Mueller and wants him to continue investigating Trump's ties to Russia, he said. As for his previous implication that "you can make anything a crime under the current laws," Hatch explained that America's "criminal code is simply too large" and he'd like to "simplify" it. Read his whole statement below. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:51 p.m.

President Trump's organization reportedly received money from the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 2017, with at least one organizer expressing concern that they were being overcharged.

ProPublica reported Friday that the inaugural committee paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals, and event space at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and Ivanka Trump herself was involved in working out the price. While it's unclear what price was ultimately settled upon, ProPublica published copies of emails between one lead planner, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, and inauguration chairman Rick Gates.

"I wanted to follow up on our conversation and express my concern," Wolkoff writes to Gates, going on to remind him that "when this is audited it will become public knowledge." The committee had been offered a price of $700,000 to use the hotel for four days.

The report notes that if the Trump Organization overcharged the inaugural committee, that could be a tax law violation, as this would be an example of a person with influence over a non-profit charging it above market rates. A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump told ProPublica that she recommended charging a "fair market rate."

Federal prosecutors are reportedly already investigating whether the inaugural committee misspent money and whether foreign entities may have donated to the committee in an attempt to buy access to the administration. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that the committee "doesn't have anything to do with the president or the first lady." Read more at ProPublica. Brendan Morrow

2:56 p.m.

Outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed legislation Friday limiting the power that newly-elected Democrats will have when they take office.

Dubbed a "power grab" by many, the bill was signed with no changes after Walker previously stated he was considering partial vetoes, Politico reports. The bill has been met with criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, with governor-elect Tony Evers (D) and former Republican Gov. Scott McCallum both urging Walker to veto the bill.

The bills will limit the governor's oversight on previously approved laws and give the state legislature control over a state economic development agency, per The Huffington Post. The legislation also reduces the amount of time for early voting, capping it at two weeks statewide. A flood of early voters were reportedly influential in toppling Walker in favor of Evers in the midterm elections.

Walker fought back against critics before signing the bill, saying that the issue has been sensationalized.

"There's a lot of hype and hysteria, particularly in the national media, implying this is a power shift," Walker said. "It's not."

Evers criticized Walker's decision to "ignore and override the will of the people of Wisconsin," and said the controversial decision will be Walker's legacy. Marianne Dodson

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