August 28, 2015
"Lawmakers Are Convinced That Women Are Having Abortions For The Wrong Reasons," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Lawmakers who oppose abortion rights "seek to restrict abortion from all angles" and "[n]ow, a new battleground is emerging: Anticipating why a woman may choose to have an abortion, and then outlawing ending a pregnancy for this particular reason," Culp-Ressler writes. For example, "first-of-its-kind legislation [HB 135] currently up for debate in Ohio would prohibit a woman from having an abortion because she found out her fetus has a Down syndrome diagnosis," she writes, adding that the measure likely will be approved this fall. According to Culp-Ressler, the bill -- like restrictions in other states "that prohibit women from ending a pregnancy based [on] the characteristics of her fetus," such as race or sex -- come from Americans United for Life, a group that writes antiabortion-rights model legislation and "shops [it] around to conservative lawmakers." Meanwhile, "[o]pponents of Ohio's proposed bill are expressing concern that it would position abortion doctors as gatekeepers, requiring them to determine whether their patient is seeking an abortion for a reason deemed acceptable by the state legislature," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that physicians who break the proposed law "could face felony charges, possible jail time, and the loss of their medical license." She adds that, according to abortion-rights supporters, such bills aim to "ultimately play into larger narratives about who is allowed to have an abortion" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/25).
"Catholic Hospital Caves Under Threat of Lawsuit and Approves Woman's Procedure," Elizabeth Gill, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": "Under the threat of a potential lawsuit, a Catholic-affiliated hospital in California's largest hospital network made an unexpected move," authorizing "a previously denied doctor's request to perform a post-partum tubal ligation," Gill writes. Gill explains that Rachel Miller, a patient at Mercy Medical Center, decided she would like to have a tubal ligation "after she gives birth ... in late September." However, the hospital denied a request from Miller's physician to perform the procedure, noting that the hospital "operates under binding 'ethical and religious directives' issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops," which prohibits "sterilization for the purpose of contraception." According to Gill, the hospital "agreed to grant an exception" for Miller after ACLU submitted a letter warning of a possible lawsuit, but "there remains a clear conflict between the best interests of patients and the directives of the Catholic hospital system." Catholic hospitals in the U.S. "are increasingly ubiquitous ... and they are often the only health care option for women," Gill writes, adding, "[A]s long as Catholic hospitals are allowed to apply the ethical and religious directives, many women will be denied care because Catholic bishops are telling medical professionals how to operate" (Gill, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 8/25).