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Featured Blog: Protecting Access to Medication Abortion: A Good Option for Women

Bryan HowardBy Bryan Howard, President, Planned Parenthood Arizona

Women's health care opponents have targeted medication abortion since it became available in the United States more than a decade-and-a-half ago. As I think about this aggression, at least three tragic results come to mind.

First, these barriers are incredibly mean-spirited because many, many women managing unintended pregnancy truly appreciate medication abortion. They have told me how they feel more in control of their own care, and that medication abortion feels more “organic.” More »

September 19, 2014


"Iowa's Telemedicine Abortions Can Continue -- for Now," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "Telemedicine abortions can continue in Iowa for now, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, blocking a rule by the Iowa Board of Medicine that threatened to shut down the use of video-conferencing technology to help rural Iowans access abortion care," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, abortion-rights supporters have said the rule, if permitted to take effect, would mean that abortion access in the state would be limited "to Des Moines and Iowa City, with some patients in rural and medically under-served areas forced to travel more than 500 miles round-trip, multiple times, to access care." She writes that while opponents of the rule consider the decision a victory for women in the state, the decision only blocks the requirements while an appeal of a lower court's ruling -- which "would have allowed the rule to take effect" -- is reviewed (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 9/17).

What others are saying about abortion access:

~ "'I Feel Like I Was Tricked': New Documentary Uncovers How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie to Women," Jenny Kutner, Salon.

September 16, 2014


"Texas Planned Parenthood Clinics Rebrand in Hopes of Public Funds," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check: "[T]his month, the entity formerly known as Planned Parenthood of Hidalgo County," Texas, "is making a major branding switch: from now on, the provider will be known as Access Esperanza Clinics," to better reflect that the center is, in many cases, patients' primary health care provider, Grimes writes. She notes that the changes are in response to a state law that barred Planned Parenthood affiliates from "receiving public funding to provide reproductive health care" and dramatically cut the state's family planning budget, "effectively cutting off tens of thousands of low-income Texans' access to affordable Pap smears and contraception." According to Access Esperanza Clinics Community Services Director Kathryn Hearn, the rebranding will enable the clinic to once again apply for state funding to provide family planning and primary care services to Hidalgo County residents (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 9/15).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Tennessee is the Next Major Abortion Battleground," Callie Beusman, Jezebel.

September 12, 2014


"Doctors Aren't Dummies: Support the Patient Trust Act," Kate Michelman, Huffington Post blogs: The Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee this week discussed a bill (HB 2303), introduced in July, that "says that politicians have no business putting words that are 'not medically accurate and appropriate for the patient' into the mouths of doctors," writes Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and co-chair of WomenVotePA. She writes that the legislation is important because "politicians have made it difficult -- and in some cases even illegal -- for doctors to keep that sacred obligation," such as through measures "proposed by lawmakers trying to disguise their opposition to contraception and abortion by disingenuously claiming that these laws promote women's health and safety." Michelman cites a report that found a majority of states have passed such laws and concludes, "It's time for politicians to stop masquerading as ideological ventriloquists" because "[w]omen need to be able to trust that the voice they're hearing is from their physician" (Michelman, Huffington Post blogs, 9/10).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:

~ "Texas' Radical Anti-Abortion Law Faces Hearing Friday," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

September 5, 2014


"Abortion Rights Aren't Safe in the South," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": While "abortion rights supporters have won several key victories in federal court ... the wins aren't likely to be permanent," Culp-Ressler writes. She notes that while federal judges recently have blocked restrictive abortion legislation in Alabama, Texas and Louisiana, their decisions "aren't the final word on the matter." Texas has already appealed and Louisiana is waiting to see "whether its law will be permanently enjoined," meaning that "there's 'a real risk' looming in subsequent court decisions," Culp-Ressler writes. Further, if the issue goes before the Supreme Court, "the nation's highest court can't necessarily be counted on to protect reproductive rights," given the "current make up of the bench," Culp-Ressler concludes (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 9/2).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "A Huge Abortion Win in Texas," Emily Bazelon, Slate's "Jurisprudence."

~ "National Right to Life President: Texas Abortion Bill Intended To Shutter Clinics," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.


"Montana Charges Woman With 'Criminal Endangerment' at Just 12 Weeks Pregnant," Robin Marty, Care2: The arrest of Montana woman Casey Gloria Allen for child endangerment for testing positive for drugs while just 12 weeks pregnant "has left a lot of questions unanswered," including whether Allen's physician alerted the police, Marty writes. "If we want pregnant women to obtain prenatal care and drug-treatment therapies, they have to trust that a trip to the doctor won't end with the police at her doorstep," she argues. Marty wonders if Allen knew she was pregnant, asking, "How can someone be charged for committing a crime against a 'person' that she either might not have known existed or had no intention of giving birth to?" Marty continues, "By promoting a series of laws that punish a pregnant person by granting legal rights to the embryo or fetus," abortion-rights opponents "are pitting pregnant people against their own pregnancies, and leaving them no option but to terminate that pregnancy in order to avoid stiffer penalties from law enforcement" (Marty, Care2, 9/2).

September 2, 2014


"Illinois Commits To Protect Pregnant Workers," Emily Martin, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake": Although "most women continue working throughout their pregnancies with no need for changes in their jobs, some -- particularly those in physically demanding jobs -- will need temporary adjustments to continue working safely," writes Martin, vice president and general counsel at NWLC. These women often "need only a simple accommodation -- like avoiding heavy lifting for a few months, being permitted to sit occasionally during a long workday, or staying off high ladders" -- but many employers refuse to accommodate their requests and "fire pregnant workers or push them onto unpaid leave," Martin writes. Other women continue working without accommodations, putting their health at risk, "because they cannot afford to lose their income," she adds. Martin applauds Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) for signing a new law that "will protect pregnant workers in Illinois" and urges Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (S 942), which is pending in the House and Senate, to "require employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant workers who need it so that they can continue working safely through their pregnancies" (Martin, "Womenstake," NWLC, 8/26).


"'Hobby Lobby' Aftermath: Illinois Seeks To Expand Birth Control Access," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: Wilson reports on new regulations proposed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services that aim to "directly address the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hobby Lobby" by expanding access to contraception for low-income state residents. Wilson writes that the policy changes, scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1, "would increase Medicaid funding for health-care providers to provide" contraception, including doubling "[p]ayments for vasectomies and intrauterine devices." The new rules would also "requir[e] health providers that object to contraception to refer patients to providers that will provide contraceptive care," he writes (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 8/26).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "The Awesome Idea That Led to a Huge Drop in Teen Births," Judy Molland, Care2.

~ "Why the Right Will Reject the Administration's Latest Birth Control 'Fix,'" Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

August 19, 2014


 "Abortion Opponents Caught on Tape Explaining How To Violate Patient Privacy," Robin Marty, Care2: "According to the Austin Chronicle's Mary Tuma, anti-abortion action groups in [Texas] have been having training sessions to ensure that patients going to the few remaining clinics in the state don't find the process easy," Marty writes, citing a training session recorded by Progress Texas that encouraged abortion-rights opponents to "make the most intimidating clinic atmosphere they can" and track the license plates of patients and staff members. Marty notes that "anti-abortion activists claim that the license plate tracking is innocuous, since it is simply to note which patients do return after the mandatory 24 hour waiting period, and isn't used to learn their identity or violate their privacy." However, the protesters "admi[t] that they are tracking providers with the information, as well, and that in those cases they are most definitely seeking out the person's identity so that they can determine who they are and if they have the now mandatory hospital privileges," she adds (Marty, Care2, 8/18).

August 15, 2014


"California Parents Complain That Sex Ed Textbook is 'Equivalent To Pornography,'" Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Comprehensive sex ed materials often spark controversy for being too sexually explicit," Culp-Ressler writes, noting that a California school district recently "agreed to temporarily shelve a ninth grade sex education textbook" after some parents "compared the book to porn." The district's superintendent said the textbook was picked "because it 'provides current, accurate, factual and relevant information our students need to make responsible decisions about their health,'" she adds. Culp-Ressler writes that "from a public health perspective, experts suggest that kids should actually learn accurate information about sexuality from a very early age," but "most teens don't receive" such information "until after they've already started having sex" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 8/12).

August 5, 2014


"Repro Wrap: TRAPs Are Working, Buffers Aren't, and Clinics Just Keep Closing," Robin Marty, Care2: Marty reviews a number of targeted regulation of abortion providers measures, noting the "biggest news" last week was a decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges could not be used to close Mississippi's only abortion clinic. Several states "are finding themselves wondering if their own laws" regarding abortion restrictions "are constitutional or not," Marty writes, noting that Louisiana and Oklahoma are "trying to convince their residents" that TRAP laws there "won't be blocked," she continues. She adds that "clinics are shuttering as they admit they can't adhere to the strict and medically unnecessary regulations," such as facilities in Texas, Kansas and Ohio. At the same time, the "eroding of buffer zones" is "making it that much more difficult for patients to access the front doors" of clinics "without harassment," she writes (Marty, Care2, 8/1).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Another Independent Texas Abortion Provider Shuts its Doors," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

~ "Federal Court Rules Alabama Admitting Privileges Requirement Unconstitutional," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

August 4, 2014


 "Mass. Governor Signs Abortion Clinic Access Bill Into Law," Rachel Walden, Our Bodies Ourselves' "Our Bodies, Our Blog": Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) on Wednesday signed a bill (S 2281) into law "to protect access to health clinics where abortions are performed," Walden writes. The law, which "will be implemented immediately," was "passed quickly through the legislative process following" the Supreme Court decision striking down the state's "buffer zone" law, which the "[j]ustices said ... went too far in restricting free speech," Walden explains. "Under the new law, protesters may not block access to a clinic entrance or driveway," and it "prohibits the use of force, physical act or threat of force to injure or intimidate someone attempting to enter or leave a reproductive health care facility," she adds (Walden, "Our Bodies, Our Blog," OurBodies, Ourselves, 7/30).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions and access:

~ "Good News: Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic Can Remain Open," Callie Beusman, Jezebel.

~ "Putting More Restrictions on Abortions Doesn't Magically Inspire Women To Embrace Their Pregnancies," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "XX Factor."


"'It's Hard for Them To Accept That I Do Abortions Because I'm a Christian,'" Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: Willie Parker is "one of the two doctors who flies in from out-of-state to work at Mississippi's sole embattled abortion clinic," and his "decision to become an abortion provider is deeply rooted in his Christian faith," Dusenbery writes. She recommends and excerpts a recent Esquire profile that describes Parker as a practical physician who gave up a "'fancy career to become an abortion provider.'" The profile "captures Dr. Parker's motivation for doing this work and the great care and empathy he brings to it," Dusenbery writes (Dusenbery, Feministing, 7/31).

What others are saying about the abortion-rights movement:

~ "We're Fighting for Access, Not Choice," Dawn Laguens, Huffington Post blog.

July 25, 2014


 "Number of Texas Women Living 200 Miles From an Abortion Clinic Has Jumped by 2,800 Percent," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": The omnibus antiabortion-rights package (HB 2) approved in Texas a "year ago this month" has "wreaked havoc on reproductive health access in the state, and half of Texas' clinics have been forced to shut down," writes Culp-Ressler, citing research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. According to TPEP's research, "the new abortion law is compromising women's ability to exercise their right to choose," as demonstrated by a "13 percent decline in the legal abortion rate in the Lone Star State," Culp-Ressler writes. She adds that because the rate is "steeper than the recent declines in the number of abortions observed across other states," it suggests that "the decreased access to clinics is preventing some Texas women from being able to have the medical procedure," an unsurprising finding given that "the number of women of reproductive age who live at least 200 miles away from an abortion clinic has skyrocketed by 2,800 percent -- jumping from 10,000 women in 2013 to 290,000 women in 2014." Culp-Ressler adds, "[I]t's important to remember that the new report focuses solely on legal abortions obtained in clinics, and doesn't reflect the number of women who may be resorting to illegal means of ending a pregnancy" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 7/23).