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Around the Blogosphere

The Imperative to Challenge Public Policies that Criminalize Pregnancy Outcomes

FarahDiazTelloRHW5-27By Farah Diaz-Tello, Senior Staff Attorney, National Advocates for Pregnant Women

By now, most reproductive rights, health and justice activists have heard of Purvi Patel, the Indiana woman sentenced to decades behind bars after what she maintains was a miscarriage. Her case is still being fought in the courts, but supporters have recognized it as a wake-up call about what a post-Roe America might look like, with bedside interrogations and trials that pry into emotional responses to pregnancy loss.
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Lawmakers Should Take a Walk in Her Shoes

Chavi6-17.RHWBy Chavi Koneru, Policy Director, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

On June 5th, with the stroke of a pen, Governor Pat McCrory restricted the rights of North Carolina women by signing a bill imposing a 72-hour mandatory delay on abortions.
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June 30, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"2 Sneaky Ways Women's Rights Are Being Threatened Right Now," Georgeanne Usova, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely": "Two harmful new policy riders" in separate House spending bills "make ... crystal clear" that House lawmakers are "discriminating against women in the name of religious liberty," Usova writes. She explains that one budget bill rider, a "sweeping provision called the Health Care Conscience Rights Act ... would allow any employer or insurance company to deny health insurance coverage for any health care service they have a religious or moral objection to, even if it's required by law," including "mental health screenings, vaccines, or tests for cervical cancer, HIV, or Type 2 Diabetes." Further, she notes that the provision "would also expand and entrench an existing policy rider called the Weldon Amendment that already obstructs women's access to abortion care, with language that could allow health care providers to deny patients basic services and information about their health and treatment options and would open the door to frivolous lawsuits." Meanwhile, Usova writes that the same House committee that approved that budget bill also "voted to add language to another funding bill that would block a [Washington, D.C.,] nondiscrimination law [Act 20-593] that protects employees in the nation's capital from workplace discrimination based on their reproductive health care decisions." Usova adds, "Both spending bills, riders included, are now poised for the House floor" (Usova, "Speak Freely," American Civil Liberties Union, 6/26).

FEATURED BLOG

"This State's Attempt To 'Regulate Abortion Out of Existence' Is Flying Under the Radar," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Ohio lawmakers "have pursued a successful incremental strategy that helps their attacks on abortion fly under the radar" and side-step national attention, Culp-Ressler writes. Comparing Ohio abortion restrictions to those passed in Texas, she notes that Ohio lawmakers are "currently making similar attempts to restrict the procedure and shutter clinics" via "several complex provisions to the state budget [HB 64]." According to Culp-Ressler, the 2013 state budget (HB 59) included a provision "requiring abortion clinics to have 'transfer agreements' with private hospitals," which frequently "are Catholic-affiliated and won't partner with abortion providers on religious grounds." She explains that while clinics "unable to get a transfer agreement ... can apply for a waiver through the Ohio Department of Health," the department "has been stacked with several anti-abortion activists" and has used the process to close down "half of the state's abortion clinics" since the law took effect. "Now, the new budget seeks to make this process even more difficult for clinics" by "stipulat[ing] that 'transfer agreements' are only valid if the hospital is within 30 miles of the clinic" and "ensur[ing] that applications for waivers are automatically denied after 60 days," she writes. Further, Culp-Ressler adds that state lawmakers "have also been advancing a 20-week abortion ban" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 6/29).

FEATURED BLOG

"Court Blocks Texas Abortion Law," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog: "Splitting five to four, the Supreme Court on Monday afternoon temporarily blocked Texas from enforcing two new requirements that abortion clinic operators say will force many of them to close," Denniston writes. Specifically, the order temporarily blocks provisions of Texas' antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) that would have "require[d] all doctors performing abortions in the state to have the right to send patients to a nearby hospital" and "require[d] all abortion clinics in the state to have facilities equal to a surgical center," he writes. According to Denniston, the rules were upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and were scheduled to take effect on Wednesday." He notes that "the Justices did not explain why they were postponing the law" and "the order will be lifted" if the high court later decides not to review the provisions. However, "if review is granted," the order "will stay in effect until a final ruling emerges." Meanwhile, he notes that the high court has not yet decided whether it will review a separate case involving an admitting privileges requirement (HB 1390) in Mississippi (Denniston, SCOTUSblog, 6/29).

June 23, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Texas Abortion Case Reaches the Court," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog: "Abortion clinics and doctors in Texas asked the Supreme Court on Friday night to delay enforcement of a 2013 state abortion law [HB 2] while an appeal to the Justices is pursued," Denniston writes. According to Denniston, the request followed a refusal by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday "to delay its June 9 ruling upholding most of the Texas law," although it did grant "one clinic -- in McAllen, in the Rio Grande Valley -- more time to adapt to the new restrictions." In the latest request, advocates noted that "[w]ithout a postponement ... more than half of the existing nineteen clinics in Texas will have to close on July 1, and some of them might never reopen," he writes. Denniston notes that the high court is likely to act on the request soon since "the law is now due to go into effect" on July 1. Following that decision, "[t]he clinics and doctors will be filing a formal petition for review," which likely would not be considered by the Supreme Court "until its next Term, starting in October" (Denniston, SCOTUSblog, 6/19).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Court Upholds Planned Parenthood's Telemedicine Abortion Program in Iowa," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing.

~ "Judge: Ohio Anti-Choice Law Unconstitutional, Rules Clinic Can Remain Open," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.

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"Montana Abortion Clinic Vandal Sentenced to Prison," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "Following three days of hearings, a man with connections to a local anti-choice group was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison for vandalizing a Kalispell, Montana reproductive health-care facility in 2014," Wilson writes. According to Wilson, "Zachary Klundt broke into and vandalized All Families Healthcare, a family medicine and reproductive health-care facility" in March of last year. In addition to the prison sentence, Klundt has been ordered to pay Susan Cahill -- the clinic's owner and manager, who was "forced to close the clinic indefinitely" following the vandalism -- $669,000 in damages, according to Wilson. Meanwhile, Wilson noted that a new report "this year found that abortion clinics nationwide face significant threats, and that threats of violence against abortion providers have doubled since 2010" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 6/19).

FEATURED BLOG

"All States Should Offer One-Year Supplies of Birth Control," Chris Sosa, Care2: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) has signed a bill (HB 3343) "allowing birth control to be dispensed in [a] full-year supply instead of 30 or 90-day packs," Sosa writes. He explains that 12-month supplies would give women who do not have "local access or [whose] work or family schedules preclude them from being able to easily travel to a pharmacy for their prescriptions on a monthly basis ... much-needed freedom in their already-full schedules." Further, he cites research "from the Institute of Medicine that shows access to birth control limits infant and maternal fatalities" and adds that contraception "is also used to treat a host of medical conditions, including Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and amenorrhea." Sosa praises Oregon's "positive example," noting that the state also is considering another bill (HB 2879) that would "remove the requirement for doctor visits to access birth control altogether" by authorizing pharmacists "to prescribe birth control themselves." Sosa writes, "It's absolutely critical that women are able to access birth control without barriers, which are political in nature and medically unnecessary" (Sosa, Care2, 6/21).

June 5, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Women Are Being Forced To Wait Longer and Longer To Get an Abortion," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Among the new abortion restrictions being imposed by [conservative] legislatures this session, a clear trend is emerging: New laws that significantly lengthen the period that women must wait before they're allowed to proceed with an abortion," Culp-Ressler writes. She notes that "[d]ozens of states have already enacted" 24-hour mandatory delays, "but now, lawmakers in several states are working to make the requirement even more stringent, lengthening their [mandatory delays] to force patients to wait multiple days." According to Culp-Ressler, state legislators in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah all have moved to impose mandatory delay periods longer than 24 hours. Culp-Ressler quotes Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues associate at the Guttmacher Institute, who said states are extending mandatory delays because they implemented "a record-breaking number of abortion restrictions" last year and now are trying "'to make them more burdensome'" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 6/4).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Doctors Challenge Unscientific Abortion Laws That Force Them To Practice Bad Medicine," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

~ "Why Is Arizona Forcing Doctors To Lie to Women Who Need Abortions?" Andrew Beck, American Civil Liberties Union's "Speak Freely."

June 2, 2015

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"Ninth Circuit Court Strikes Another 20-Week Abortion Ban," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check: "[M]arking the latest legal defeat for radical state-level abortion bans," the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down an Idaho law "banning abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, the case involves a woman, Jennie Linn McCormack, "who was charged in 2011 under the state's 'unlawful abortion' statute, a law that required all second-trimester abortions occur in a licensed hospital." Mason Pieklo explains that the 9th Circuit in September 2012 ruled that both the "unlawful abortion statute" and the 20-week abortion ban were unconstitutional but held that McCormack lacked the standing to challenge the 20-week ban because it "had not been in effect when [she] terminated her pregnancy." However, "Dr. Richard Hearn, an abortion provider and McCormack's attorney, intervened to challenge Idaho's 20-week ban on behalf of himself and future patients," which "gave the court the opportunity to affirm its September 2012 ruling that Idaho's 20-week ban is unconstitutional because it bans abortions prior to fetal viability," Mason Pieklo writes. According to Mason Pieklo, the "decision comes at an important time politically for abortion rights" because, while courts have ruled that "pre-viability bans like Idaho's are unequivocally unconstitutional, [conservative] state legislatures this year have introduced 19 laws banning abortion at or after 20 weeks" (Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check, 5/29).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "North Carolina Republicans Advance 72-Hour Waiting Period Bill," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.

~ "Texas Lawmakers Further Restrict Access to Legal Abortion Care for Minors, Cancer Screenings," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

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"The Supreme Court May Take up a Case That Could Be a Game Changer on Abortion Access," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "Looming questions about exactly how far states can go to restrict access to abortion services are inching closer to the Supreme Court, as the nation's most powerful justices are currently deciding whether to take up a case regarding a Mississippi law [HB 1390] that threatens to close the only abortion clinic in the entire state," Culp-Ressler writes. Under the Mississippi law, physicians who perform abortions must "obtain admitting privileges from local hospitals, a complicated bureaucratic arrangement that is difficult for physicians to comply with," Culp-Ressler notes, adding that such measures are part of a "legislative strategy -- known as the 'Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers,'" that "has been very successful on the state level." However, she notes that if the court decides to hear the case, "[t]he majority of Supreme Court justices aren't likely to side with a state law that completely eliminates access to legal abortion within a state's border." She explains that, under Roe v. Wade, the state must "provide a way for its residents to exercise their reproductive rights," an argument that lower courts "have used" to block the law in the past. Meanwhile, she writes that if the Supreme Court opts not to take the case, "legal experts agree that the justices will still be poised to weigh in on the broader issue of admitting privileges sometime soon," as "[t]here are similar legal challenges against TRAP laws in states like Texas [HB 2], Louisiana [Act 620], Oklahoma [SB 1848], and Wisconsin [Act 37]" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 6/1).

May 29, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"One of the Strictest Abortion Bans in the Country Was Just Stopped in its Tracks," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit struck down parts of an Arkansas law (Act 301) that banned abortion "after just 12 weeks of pregnancy, " which is "significantly before the point of viability that serves as the current cut-off point for legal abortion services under Roe v. Wade," Culp-Ressler writes. According to Culp-Ressler, state lawmakers in 2013 "overrode their governor to approve the 12-week ban -- which, at the time, represented the strictest abortion ban that had ever passed on the state level," although it was "quickly surpassed" when North Dakota "approv[ed] a six-week ban [HB 1456] later that year." She adds that the Arkansas law "has never been allowed to take effect" because a federal judge "blocked, and later permanently struck [it] down," but "state lawmakers have continued to appeal those decisions." Meanwhile, she notes that Arkansas officials have "found plenty of other ways to impede residents' access to" abortion. She writes, "This spring, the Arkansas legislature led the nation in the number of abortion restrictions proposed on the state level," advancing legislation "stripping funding from Planned Parenthood, toughening requirements for parental consent ... restricting the use of" medication abortion and "requir[ing] doctors to tell women about an unproven theory regarding 'abortion reversal,' effectively enshrining junk science into law" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 5/27).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Louisiana Lawmakers Clash as GOP Fails To Advance Anti-Choice Measure," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check.

~ "Texas Republicans Fall Short on Abortion Insurance Ban," Andrea Grimes, RH Reality Check.

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"Is Anti-Choice Ideology Driving Malpractice Lawsuits?" Byron Calhoun and the Phantom Fetal Skull," Imani Gandy, RH Reality Check: Gandy writes about how Byron Calhoun, an ob-gyn in West Virginia who is "known for promoting junk science ... to undermine access to abortion," helped to spur a malpractice lawsuit based on potentially false claims in an effort to "cast abortion in a negative light." She explains that Calhoun told a former patient, Itai Gravely, about a year after treating her for complications following an abortion that "he had found a 13-week old fetal skull in her uterus." Gandy says the information prompted Gravely to file a lawsuit, but "[t]he pathology report which was conducted after her treatment ... established that there was no fetal skull present in Gravely's uterus" and a judge dismissed all of Gravely's claims. Gandy writes, "Based on the evidence, it's hard to avoid a conclusion that Calhoun ... lied to Gravely, dragging the young woman and her most personal information into a bitter public fight over abortion care, using her as a prop in his own ideological campaign." Further, noting how the discredited lawsuit was timed to capitalize on abortion-rights opponents' reaction to the Kermit Gosnell trial, Gandy also points out how, since Gravely's lawsuit was filed, "anti-choice legislators in West Virginia have stepped up their efforts by introducing more than 30 regressive laws, even overriding Gov. [Earl] Tomblin's [D] veto to pass a 20-week abortion ban [HB 2568] that is flatly unconstitutional" (Gandy, RH Reality Check, 5/26).

What others are saying about the antiabortion-rights movement:

~ "What Was the Worst State for Women This Week?" Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "The XX Factor."

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"California Lawmakers Vote To Make it Harder for Crisis Pregnancy Centers To Lie to Women," Jenny Kutner, Salon: California's Assembly on Tuesday voted 49-26 to approve a bill (AB 775) that would "require crisis pregnancy centers to stop actively misleading women" by "mak[ing] it more difficult for CPCs to use traditional tactics (such as straight-up lying) to prevent women from terminating their pregnancies," Kutner writes. She explains that the measure would "requir[e] centers that do not have medical licenses to disclose that they do not have medical licenses" and "also requir[e] that licensed medical facilities ... 'notify patients that the state has programs that offer free or affordable abortion services, as well as help with family planning and prenatal care.'" Kutner notes that a NARAL Pro-Choice investigation has found that California's CPCs "routinely and purposely lie to clients about their pregnancy options," adding that the proposed legislation, "which now heads to the California Senate, would require that non-medical facilities make clear they cannot provide medical counseling, and help women learn about all options -- whether they decide to terminate their pregnancies or not" (Kutner, Salon, 5/27).

FEATURED BLOG

"Texas Abortion Provider Launches Program To 'Shift' Abortion Stigma: A Q&A With Amy Hagstrom Miller and Amanda Williams," Grimes, RH Reality Check: Grimes interviews Amy Hagstrom Miller -- founder of a new not-for-profit called Shift and former CEO of the Texas-based Whole Woman's Health, an abortion clinic that closed in the wake of one of the state's antiabortion-rights measures (HB 2) -- and Amanda Williams, Shift's program manager, to learn "about their vision for Shift, why they've chosen to launch in Texas, and what the end of abortion stigma might look like in [conservative] states." In the interview, Hagstrom Miller explains that Shift is an organization "'working to strategically shift the stigma around abortion in our culture'" and that it is "'committed to fostering open and honest conversations, lifting up all communities, and advocating for reproductive freedom.'" According to Hagstrom Miller and Williams, Shift will focus on efforts such as bringing "'advocates, patients, and providers together in a statewide way,'" launching "'billboards or some web campaigns that'" advertise abortion resources and helping to address areas in crisis because of abortion clinic closures in the state, Grimes writes (Grimes, RH Reality Check, 5/27).

FEATURED BLOG

"Colorado Is Shuttering the Birth Control Initiative That Made it A National Leader & Here's What 5 Horrified Health Professionals Have To Say," Lauren Holter, Bustle: "Despite being an obvious success, the ... Colorado Senate voted to end the Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) in late April, which provided free or reduced long-term birth control, like [intrauterine devices] and implants, to low-income women," Holter writes. She explains that since the program launched "in 2009, Colorado's teen pregnancy rate dropped 40 percent and the teen abortion rate fell 35 percent, which saved the state money in healthcare for teen moms and food programs for low-income parents" and "made Colorado a national leader in family planning." However, "the 68 clinics across the state that used the program's funds to provide birth control for low-income women [now] are scrambling to find other sources of money to sustain the initiative," she writes, noting that if they are unable to do so, "Colorado will take a major step backwards on family planning." Holter cites the dismayed responses of several health care providers and women's health leaders, including Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Susan Levy, executive director of the Boulder Valley Women's Health Center, where the initiative first launched. For example, in one such response, Holter cites Liz Romer, director of Adolescent Family Planning at Children's Hospital Colorado, who criticized the decision, pointing out that lawmakers "'can't be against abortion and contraception at the same time'" (Holter, Bustle, 5/29).

What others are saying about contraception:

~ "Republicans Are Pushing for OTC Birth Control, and That's a Bad Thing," Robin Marty, Care2.

May 26, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Will a 48-Hour Wait for Abortion in Tennessee Hold up in Court?" Robin Marty, Care2: Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) has signed into law a new mandatory delay measure (SB 1222) that "forc[es] a patient seeking out an abortion to make two separate clinic visits at least 48 hours apart," Marty writes. Marty notes that the law is the "first attempt to test" a new amendment to the state constitution, which "states that Tennessee does not recognize a right to an abortion, a change that abortion opponents hope will now allow legislative restrictions on the procedure to stand up in court." Further, antiabortion-rights lawmakers in the state have planned for the possibility that the 48-hour delay could be blocked by a court challenge, Marty notes, explaining that lawmakers added "a trigger into the legislation that would immediately scale the 48 hour wait into a 24 hour one, a requirement that has already been upheld by the courts and so would be unlikely to be enjoined." Marty writes that, "In all likelihood, as of July 1, Tennessee as a state will mandate two trips to an abortion clinic, with appointments at least 24 hours apart if not more." She notes that the law would be a "massive encumbrance not just to the people of Tennessee seeking terminations, but [also to] those in Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and other surrounding states who ... go to Tennessee" for abortion care (Mary, Care2, 5/20).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Abortion Providers Are Not Sex Offenders -- No Matter What the Alabama Legislature Implies," Stephanie Gilmore, RH Reality Check.

May 19, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Texas Lawmakers Want Women To Present IDs Before They Get Abortions," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": Culp-Ressler writes about a measure (HB 3994) passed by the Texas House that would "make it extremely difficult for minors to obtain an abortion in a state that's already severely restricted reproductive rights." Among other restrictions, the "omnibus" bill would "requir[e] abortion doctors to assume that all of their patients are minors and request a government-issued ID to verify their age," Culp-Ressler writes, adding that the provision "threatens to pose an especially large burden for younger teens and immigrant women who may not have a drivers license." Culp-Ressler also describes how the bill would tighten a state law that allows pregnant minors to obtain a court's permission to have an abortion instead of obtaining parental consent for the procedure. Citing reproductive-rights proponents, Culp-Ressler notes that the "judicial bypass process is intended to serve as a safety net for vulnerable teens, and it's cruel to place even more restrictions on young women who are in difficult situations" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 5/15).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Which State Was the Worst for Women This Week?" Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "The XX Factor."

~ "South Carolina Republican: 20-Week Abortion Ban Isn't Harsh Enough," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.

~ "Anti-Choice Groups Try 'Texas Playbook' in Attempt To Block Health Care Access in California," Jessica Mason Pieklo, RH Reality Check.

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"Exploiting the Black Family: A Divisive Campaign of the Anti-Woman, 'Pro-Life' Movement," Cherisse Scott, RH Reality Check: Scott, founder and CEO of SisterReach, writes about how the placement of "three anti-choice billboards" in underserved and "predominantly Black ... neighborhoods of Memphis, Tennessee ... represent[s] another attempt by the anti-choice movement to guilt Black mothers about their personal reproductive health-care decisions while pitting Black fathers against us." According to Scott, such billboards, used by antiabortion-rights groups since 2010,"com[e] at a time when Black people everywhere are forced to remind the world that Black lives matter, especially the quality of those lives." She adds that "these anti-woman, anti-choice supporters are nowhere to be found when advocates are working to change the lived conditions of Black communities." Further, the antiabortion-rights groups "forego consulting Black communities about what we need in terms of support or resources to change the daily conditions of our lives," Scott writes, noting that "80 percent of Black Americans believe abortion should remain legal." She adds, "If the anti-choice movement is actually concerned about Black lives, they will take the billboards down and instead re-route those resources into productive efforts to achieve the complete health and well-being of Black families in Memphis and throughout the country" (Scott, RH Reality Check, 5/15).


May 8, 2015

"Oklahoma Governor Signs 72-Hour Waiting Period Bill," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill [HB 1409] into law Wednesday mandating that a person seeking an abortion must wait 72 hours for the procedure," making it "the fourth state in the country -- joining Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah -- with a 72-hour" mandatory delay, Wilson writes. Further, Wilson notes that the law, which takes effect on Nov. 1, also requires physicians to share "so-called informed consent materials" with patients. Wilson cites concerns of several reproductive rights advocates, including Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who said, "'The message that this [law] really sends is that the [Oklahoma] Legislature and the government are second-guessing a woman's ability to decide for herself." Wilson adds that similar bills "have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide to create or increase [delays] before a woman can seek abortion care" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 5/6).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Colorado Democrats Defeat Fetal 'Personhood' Legislation," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check.

~ "California Lawmakers Won't Allow Insurers To Opt Out of Abortion Coverage," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.

May 8, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"One in 15 Students at a West Texas High School Has Chlamydia," Amanda Marcotte, Slate's "The XX Factor": An incident "in rural West Texas" in which 20 cases of chlamydia were confirmed among a group of 300 high school students is "the least surprising thing ever," Marcotte writes. She explains that "the combination of a repressive culture and a small population where everyone is up in everyone else's business all the time makes it hard for people -- especially teenagers -- to take necessary precautions against disease transmission: getting tested, communicating openly with partners, obtaining condoms." Further, according to Marcotte, "The area's repressive attitudes toward sex are illustrated in the school's sex education program, which takes up three days in the fall semester and, of course, is focused on abstinence." She writes that the media attention around the incident "might finally embarrass locals enough to consider changing their ways" when it comes to sexuality education instead of insisting on a "chlamydia-friendly strategy of telling kids to wait until marriage" (Marcotte, "The XX Factor," Slate, 5/5).

What others are saying about sexuality education:

~ "New Orleans Students Could Soon Have Accurate Sex Ed Information," Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check.

FEATURED BLOG

"Colorado's Top Doctor Seeks Funds for Pregnancy-Prevention Program Rejected by GOP," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check: "Days after Republicans in Colorado's [S]enate voted down funds for a successful teen-pregnancy prevention program, Colorado's chief medical officer has vowed to find donors to continue the program," according to media reports, Salzman writes. He notes that Larry Wolk, CMO and executive director at Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment, said the agency is working with private foundations to fund the program and already has garnered some "'preliminary interest.'" The program's success "has caught the eye of foundations in Colorado and nationally ... in part because Colorado is the only state in which more than 20 percent of young women attending Title X clinics used long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), like intrauterine devices," Salzman writes, drawing on Wolk's assessment. Overall, Salzman notes that the program is "credited with reducing teen pregnancies by about 40 percent and teen abortions by 35 percent" during its initial "five-year test phase." However, Wolk has warned that if the initiative cannot find funding, the program's "success in reducing teen pregnancy could easily be reversed," Salzman writes (Salzman, RH Reality Check, 5/6).

FEATURED BLOG

"Oklahoma Governor Signs 72-Hour Waiting Period Bill," Teddy Wilson, RH Reality Check: "Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill [HB 1409] into law Wednesday mandating that a person seeking an abortion must wait 72 hours for the procedure," making it "the fourth state in the country -- joining Missouri, South Dakota, and Utah -- with a 72-hour" mandatory delay, Wilson writes. Further, Wilson notes that the law, which takes effect on Nov. 1, also requires physicians to share "so-called informed consent materials" with patients. Wilson cites concerns of several reproductive rights advocates, including Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, who said, "'The message that this [law] really sends is that the [Oklahoma] Legislature and the government are second-guessing a woman's ability to decide for herself." Wilson adds that similar bills "have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide to create or increase [delays] before a woman can seek abortion care" (Wilson, RH Reality Check, 5/6).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Colorado Democrats Defeat Fetal 'Personhood' Legislation," Jason Salzman, RH Reality Check.

~ "California Lawmakers Won't Allow Insurers To Opt Out of Abortion Coverage," Nina Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check.

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"Virginia Attorney General: Abortion Clinics Don't Need To Comply With TRAP Regulations," Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check: Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) has issued a legal opinion stating that "Virginia abortion clinics don't have to comply with the harsh targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) regulations" that "threate[n] to shut down all of the state's 18 clinics," Liss-Schultz writes. She explains that the 2013 regulations, which are currently under state review, require "clinics performing five or more first-trimester abortions per month to conform to the same architectural standards as hospitals." According to Liss-Schultz, Herring's predecessor, Ken Cuccinelli (R), had said the rules would "apply to all abortion clinics, not only clinics yet to be built," meaning that "established clinics ... would have to renovate or risk closure." However, Herring's opinion reverses that interpretation and "allow[s] current clinics to essentially hold tight while the rules are amended," she writes, adding that clinics -- which currently all have waivers exempting them from the rules -- also "will no longer need to re-apply for waivers after their year of exemption is over" (Liss-Schultz, RH Reality Check, 5/5).

May 5, 2015

FEATURED BLOG

"Think the 'Personhood' Issue Is Over? Think Again," Kathleen Turner, RH Reality Check: Despite the defeat of "personhood" measures in Colorado (Amendment 67) and North Dakota (Measure 1), opponents of abortion rights are pushing ahead with passing abortion restrictions that "eliminat[e] the right to choose not by fiat ... but by red tape," Turner writes. She says that efforts of "personhood" advocates have resulted in other abortion-rights opponents deceptively appearing "more 'moderate,' providing cover for more incremental abortion restrictions that make it much harder for women to access abortion," such as "TRAP laws and similar recent anti-choice measures [that] have already created drastic inequality by eliminating abortion access for far too many." Turner adds that "when those measures pass, 'personhood' advocates get closer to their goal: Without access to safe and legal abortion, a woman's right to choose is essentially meaningless" (Turner, RH Reality Check, 5/1).

What others are saying about abortion restrictions:

~ "Texas Lawmaker Introduces 'Coerced Abortion' Bill so Extreme That Even Her GOP Allies Are Running for the Hills," Jenny Kutner, Salon.

~ "Abortion Opponents Are Winning," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."

FEATURED BLOG

"This State Is Actually Protecting Reproductive Rights," Meredith Clark, Refinery29: "In the conversation around state regulations on women's reproductive rights, it's been almost all bad news in recent months, but there's one state that has quietly fought off attempts to reduce abortion access," Clark writes. Specifically, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) last week "vetoed three bills that would have restricted abortion access in the state," she notes. According to Clark, the vetoed measures (SB 349, HB 479, HB 587) "would have placed restrictions on private insurance coverage for abortions, forced doctors to use fetal anesthesia for abortions at 20 weeks (a practice based on medically inaccurate claims about fetal pain), and banned healthcare providers from using telemedicine for medication abortions, which helps women in rural states that have few abortion providers, like Montana." Clark writes, "The first months of 2015 have seen more than 300 attempts by legislators to restrict abortion access, including laws signed by governors in Arkansas and Arizona that require doctors to give women medically inaccurate information," adding that such "[a]ttacks ... only underscore the importance of Governor Bullock's moves in Montana" (Clark, Refinery29, 5/4).