October 31, 2014
"Pennsylvania May Drop Birth Control Coverage for Thousands of Low-Income Women," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Women's health advocates in Pennsylvania are concerned that Gov. Tom Corbett (R) will let a "special Medicaid program" that provides "free reproductive health coverage" to low-income state residents expire on Dec. 31 "without ensuring that [beneficiaries] can maintain uninterrupted access to their birth control," Culp-Ressler writes. The program, SelectPlan for Women, "is essentially an experiment in putting Medicaid dollars toward women of reproductive age, hoping that preventing their unplanned pregnancies will ultimately lower health costs," she writes, noting that it provides "birth control, emergency contraception, breast exams, Pap smears, and STD treatment at no cost to women whose incomes fall below 214 percent of the federal poverty line." However, Corbett has not yet indicated if he will apply for an extension of the program, and, according to media reports, "women's health groups in the state have been told to prepare for SelectPlan's termination," she writes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/29).
"Abortion Options in North Dakota Are Dwindling," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress": A North Dakota State Supreme Court decision that requires physicians "to follow the federal recommendations for administering [medication abortion] sounds logical on the surface," but it actually "requires doctors to adhere to the FDA's outdated protocol for administering the abortion pill" even though "women have been safely taking [the off-label version] for years," Culp-Ressler writes. "In reality, this type of requirement often functions as a back-door ban on medication abortion -- which is exactly what's playing out in North Dakota, where women no longer have this option for terminating a first-trimester pregnancy," she writes, noting that the state's sole abortion clinic has stopped providing medication abortion. She writes that other states have enacted medication abortion restrictions that have "sparked similar legal challenges," suggesting that the issue "could make its way up to the Supreme Court" (Culp-Ressler, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 10/30).