Monday, December 9, 2013
The New York Times editorial: When Bishops Direct Medical Care:
Beyond new state efforts to restrict women’s access to proper reproductive health care, another, if quieter, threat is posed by mergers between secular hospitals and Catholic hospitals operating under religious directives from the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. These directives, which oppose abortions, inevitably collide with a hospital’s duty to provide care to pregnant women in medical distress. This tension lies at the heart of a federal lawsuit filed last week by the American Civil Liberties Union. . . .
ThinkProgress: Don’t Fall For The GOP’s Fake Controversy Over Obamacare’s Expansion Of Abortion Coverage, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that under the health reform law, most of the plans offered to congressional staff now include abortion coverage. “Lawmakers and their staffs now appear to be the only federal employees with access to abortion coverage through their government-supported health insurance plans,” the AP notes.
Predictably, the news is making the rounds on right-wing outlets, sparking controversy among abortion opponents who say it proves Obamacare is allowing federal funding to finance this type of reproductive care. “This is just another example of how Obamacare expands taxpayer funding of abortion,” the president of the Susan B. Anthony List said in a statement.
In fact, the AP’s story is misleading. Although this issue has surfaced several times over the last few months, it’s an entirely manufactured controversy — largely stoked by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), whose allegations form the basis of the AP’s new coverage, and furthered by the conservative media. Here’s what you need to know about how abortion coverage actually factors into Obamacare: . . .
Saturday, December 7, 2013
SFGate: Supreme Court birth control ruling could ripple widely, by Bob Egelko:
If a corporate employer can refuse on religious grounds to provide workplace insurance for contraception, what about employers with religious objections to blood transfusions or vaccinations? Or those who believe in healing by prayer?
Those questions lurk below the surface of the challenge the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review to regulations in the new federal health care law requiring employers to make contraceptive coverage available to their employees. That mandate, two groups of corporate owners argue, violates their freedom of religion. . . .
Friday, December 6, 2013
Al Jazeera America - op-ed: The French Abortion Compromise, by Jill Filipovic:
I could live with stronger restrictions on abortion, if the U.S. improved reproductive and maternity benefits for women
Is an abortion compromise possible? After decades of political fighting between pro-choicers and pro-lifers, most Americans would surely like to see the issue laid to rest. And yet, all signs point to there being no end in sight. . . .
Thursday, December 5, 2013
ThinkProgress: Pregnancy, Birth, And Abortion Rates For U.S. Teens Have All Hit A Record Low, by Tara Culp-Ressler:
There’s some encouraging news in the Centers for Disease Control’s latest report about pregnancy rates among U.S. women. According to the agency, teen pregnancies have been steadily declining over the past two decades — hitting a new historic low in 2009, the most recent year with data on the subject. That’s led to new lows for the rates of teen births and abortions, too. . . .
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
ABC News: Judges in Chicago Question Wisconsin Abortion Law, by Michael Tarm:
An appellate court on Tuesday questioned a lawyer for the state of Wisconsin about why lawmakers singled out abortion clinics in requiring their doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, as judges heard arguments about the hotly debated law.
The sometimes-contentious, hourlong hearing before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was meant to help a three-judge panel decide whether to lift a temporary block on the law imposed by a lower court. . . .
The New York Times: Bishops Sued Over Policies on Abortion at Hospitals, by Erik Eckholm:
The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence.
The suit was filed in federal court in Michigan on Friday on behalf of a woman who says she did not receive accurate information or care at a Catholic hospital there, exposing her to dangerous infections after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. . . .
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Bloomberg Businessweek: The Vanishing Abortion Clinic, by Esmé E. Deprez:
Amy Hagstrom Miller fired 34 people in November. “It’s hard to look people in the eye and say they don’t have a job anymore, not because of anything they or we did incorrectly or because we weren’t caring for women in a fabulous way,” she says. “It’s illogical.” Miller, founder and chief executive officer of Whole Woman’s Health, based in Austin, had to stop or sharply curtail abortions at four of her six Texas clinics because a new state law requires doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. To get an abortion, the mostly poor women who relied on Miller’s establishment in McAllen, on the state’s border with Mexico, will now have to drive 150 miles to Corpus Christi or to the local flea market, where illegal, do-it-yourself drugs start at $15 a pill. . . .
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Media Matters: Fox Uses Hobby Lobby Case To Falsely Call Morning-After Pill Abortion, by Brian Powell & Samantha Wyatt:
Fox News repeatedly conflated the emergency contraceptive Plan B (also known as the morning-after pill) with abortion while covering two Supreme Court cases brought by companies that object to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control coverage benefits. However, experts agree that the morning-after pill is not abortion -- it prevents pregnancy but cannot stop pregnancy after fertilization takes place. . . .
The New York Times: Abortion Cases in Court Helped Tilt Democrats Against the Filibuster, by Jeremy W. Peters:
Within hours of each other, two federal appeals courts handed down separate decisions that affirmed sharp new limits on abortion and birth control. One on Oct. 31 forced abortion clinics across Texas to close. The other, on Nov. 1, compared contraception to “a grave moral wrong” and sided with businesses that refused to provide it in health care coverage.
“These are the kinds of decisions we are going to have to live with,” a blunt Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, warned his caucus later as it weighed whether to make historic changes to Senate rules. . . .
Balkinization: The Establishment Clause and the Contraception Mandate, by Micah Schwartzman, Richard Schragger, and Nelson Tebbe:
Yesterday the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, which ask whether large, for-profit corporations and their religious owners can assert rights of religious free exercise under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and, if so, whether their rights are violated by the government’s requirement that they pay for health insurance that includes coverage for various forms of contraception. . . .
The Daily Beast: The GOP’s Late-Term Abortion Strategy Is Backfiring, by Sally Kohn:
Right wing politicians who are push laws to restrict a woman’s access to later-term abortions presumably do so because they don’t want women having abortion after 20 weeks. But new research from medical school-based scholars finds that other policies that conservative Republicans are pushing, including restrictions on access to clinics as well as constrained access to health insurance, actually result in more women seeking later-term abortions. In other words, not only are Republicans hypocrites—but their hypocrisy is backfiring.
Diana Greene Foster and Katrina Kimport are professors in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. Between 2008 and 2010, Foster and Kimport studied the cases of 272 women who had received an abortion at or after 20 weeks of gestation, as well as of 169 women who received first-trimester abortions. These women were interviewed just one week after their abortions and asked a variety of questions including what led to the delay in their medical care. The results are striking and profoundly important for those who seek to promote—or constrict—the rights of women to access and exercise their own reproductive freedom. . . .
Friday, November 29, 2013
The New Yorker: The Stakes in the Hobby Lobby Birth-Control Case, by Amy Davidson:
Is the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, which the Supreme Court agreed to hear this week, about health-care mandates or about religion? Hobby Lobby’s owners, who are Christian—they buy ads in newspapers on Easter recommending that people get to know Jesus Christ—feel that their right to worship freely is being denied by the Affordable Care Act. Hobby Lobby is a privately held for-profit company, with five hundred stores selling arts-and-crafts supplies and thirteen thousand full-time employees, not all of them Christians. . . .
New Emergency Contraception Label Undermines Corporations' Objections To Health Plans Covering the Pills
As I was saying in my last post, the evidence shows that emergency contraceptive pills work before fertilization, not after (contrary to the claims of corporations like Hobby Lobby). Now European health authorities are changing the labeling to reflect this information.
The New York Times: New Birth Control Label Counters Lawsuit Claim, by Pam Belluck:
European health authorities have made two significant changes to the label of an emergency contraception pill that is equivalent to Plan B One-Step. One of the changes could be relevant to two cases that the Supreme Court added to its docket on Tuesday.
The new label of the drug, Norlevo, says it “cannot stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb,” contradicting a claim by some abortion opponents that has fueled their objections to the Affordable Care Act.
The new label also warns that Norlevo loses effectiveness in women weighing more than 165 pounds and does not work in women over 176 pounds.
Norlevo is not sold in the United States, but Plan B One-Step and two generic versions are identical to it. . . .
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The New York Times: Justices Take Companies’ Cases Challenging Contraception Rule, by Adam Liptak:
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations’ owners. . . .
In June, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in Denver, ruled for Hobby Lobby, a corporation owned by a family whose members have said they try to run the business on Christian principles. The company, which operates a chain of arts-and-crafts stores and has more than 15,000 full-time employees of many faiths, objected to a requirement in the health care law requiring large employers to provide their workers with comprehensive insurance coverage for contraception. . . .
Hobby Lobby's objection is to "drugs and devices that can prevent embryos from implanting in the womb." However, the best available evidence indicates that emergency contraceptive pills work before fertilization, not after. More information on how different types of emergency contraception work can be found here.
Monday, November 25, 2013
NBCNews.com/Reuters: Putin signs law banning advertisements for abortion in Russia, by Ian Bateson:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning advertisements for abortion, the Kremlin said on Monday, a step activists said would infringe on the reproductive rights of women.
Putin has made stemming a post-Soviet population decline a priority during 14 years in power and struck a conservative tone in his new term, praising what he calls traditional values and holding up the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral guide. . . .
The Wall Street Journal: Abortion Fight Hits Tennessee, by Cameron McWhirter:
The battleground over abortion is shifting to Tennessee, where campaigns are heating up on a referendum that is a year away.
The referendum, pushed by anti-abortion groups for years, would add an amendment to the state constitution stating, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion." The amendment would apply to all abortions, including those stemming from "circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother." . . .
Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Meant To Shield Religious Practices from Government Intrusion, Is Now Invoked by Corporations to Discriminate Against Women
The Los Angeles Times: 1993 religious freedom act is at heart of contraception case, by David Savage:
When the Supreme Court confronted the case of Native Americans who were fired for smoking an illegal drug during a religious ceremony, Justice Antonin Scalia called a halt to granting religious exemptions under the Constitution's protection for the "free exercise" of religion. It "would be courting anarchy" to permit "religious objectors" to ignore the law, he said.
But Democrats in Congress rose up to overturn his decision and to bolster religious freedom.
Backed by a broad coalition, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Christian Legal Society, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law 20 years ago this month. It declared that the government may not "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless it had a "compelling" reason to do so.
Now, that little-known law is at the center of a major "religious liberty" challenge to President Obama's health insurance overhaul and its requirement that employers pay for full contraceptive coverage for their female employees. . . .
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Miami Herald: Unsafe abortions: Haiti’s abortion crisis, by Jacqueline Charles:
. . .Abortion is illegal in Haiti but women and girls are losing their uteruses and their lives as they turn to clandestine, increasingly deadly ways to terminate their pregnancies. These unsafe abortions are leading to a public health crisis in a region with one of the world’s highest rates of unintended pregnancies, experts say. . . .
news.com.au: Tas abortion reform removes stigma: govt:
TASMANIA'S new abortion laws will help remove the stigma around the procedure, the state's health minister says.
Minister Michelle O'Byrne's private members bill to remove abortion from Tasmania's criminal code has resulted in the state becoming the third jurisdiction in Australia to do so, joining Victoria and the ACT.
Ms O'Byrne said abortion should be dealt with as a health matter, not a criminal matter. . . .
The Guardian (opinion column): Abortion in Tasmania is decriminalised, but it wasn't an easy battle, by Briony Kidd:
Tasmania has removed abortion from its criminal laws after seven months of deliberations in parliament – but politicians have had to face a barrage of anti-choice tactics in the process
In the last days of her prime ministership this June, Julia Gillard attempted to warn of "abortion [becoming] the political plaything of men who think they know better” and was smacked down hard, first by the media and then her own party, for "cynically" raising the issue.
That same month in Tasmania, Labor health minister Michelle O'Byrne and pro-choicers were facing fierce opposition as they spearheaded a bill decriminalising abortion. The bill, which had passed through the lower house in April, was now debated by the largely conservative upper house. It finally passed this week. . . .