October 9, 2015
"Alabama Hospitals Are Quietly Drug Testing New Mothers -- Without Their Consent," Nina Martin/Amy Yurkanin, AL.com/Salon: "In Alabama, a positive drug test can have dire repercussions for pregnant women and new mothers," but "the hospitals that administer those drugs tests ... are exceedingly reluctant to disclose their policies to the public" or to patients, Martin and Yurkanin write, citing an ProPublica/AL.com investigation. According to the authors, "ProPublica and AL.com began investigating hospital drug-testing policies as part of an investigation into Alabama's chemical endangerment law, the country's toughest law targeting drug use in pregnancy." They write, "Since 2006, the law has been used to charge nearly 500 women with endangering their [fetuses]" and, "[i]n many cases, law enforcement officials cited hospital-administered drug tests as probable cause for arrest." According to Martin and Yurkanin, "Forty-two of the 49 hospitals that deliver babies in Alabama declined to answer an AL.com/ProPublica questionnaire about testing policies," and "[o]f the seven that did respond, three provided only partial information." Meanwhile, "[i]n six consent forms obtained from patients and a handful of hospitals ... drug testing is specifically mentioned in only two" and "[n]one indicate that positive results can trigger arrest and prosecution under the Alabama chemical endangerment statute," the authors write. Further, 56 "of the 110 women who responded to the reader survey said they had no idea whether they'd been drug tested." Outlining the legal background behind the drug testing of pregnant women and infants, the authors cite Sara Ainsworth, director of legal advocacy for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who said that hospitals' failure to inform "their patients about what their drug-testing policies are, particularly when those results are used to involve law enforcement in their patients' lives, that is an unconstitutional act" (Martin/Yurkanin, AL.com/Salon, 10/7).
"Why a Group of Clergy Are Blessing an Abortion Clinic," Alex Zielinski, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Zielinski writes about the Rev. Laura Young and other religious leaders, who on Thursday "bless[ed] Preterm, a local abortion clinic in Cleveland, Ohio," where abortion rights are "especially threatened," Zielinski writes. Zielinski explains that the group of religious leaders "hopes their blessing will protect the facility against the kind of abuse stemming from preachy protesters, as well as encourage the strength and bravery of those providing and relying on its services," and they hope to bless clinics in other states. Zielinski notes that while "Christianity has been predominantly used as a tool to discredit pro-choice arguments ... a growing number of religious leaders and organizations have been diligently advocating for women's health care -- especially when it comes to access to abortion." For example, Zielinski writes that "more than 50 faith-based organizations signed a letter urging the Senate to preserve Planned Parenthood's federal funding" after misleading videos targeting the organization were released this summer. According to Zielinski, "Young also spends her time answering calls on an 'all-options' counseling hotline run by clergy members," which "is jud[g]ment-free," as opposed to "other religious organizations that use the guise of counseling to discourage women from getting an abortion" (Zielinski, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 10/8).