May 22, 2013
Four Different Appeals Courts Will Consider Federal Contraceptive Coverage Mandate
Politico: Courts to hear birth control mandate lawsuits, by Kathryn Smith & Jennifer Haberkorn:
Obamacare’s birth control mandate will go before four different appeals courts over the next three weeks as private businesses that object to the policy on religious liberty grounds bring a barrage of lawsuits that opponents hope to get before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this fall.
On Wednesday, two for-profit companies will ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike the requirement that they provide employees with insurance coverage that includes birth control and other drugs that they say can cause abortion. Three other companies will present oral arguments in different appeals courts by early June. . . .
May 20, 2013
In Midst of Plan B Uproar, Availability of Condoms Isn't Questioned
The Los Angeles Times - op-ed: A birth control double standard, by Meg Waite Clayton:
Condoms are readily available without identification. Why not Plan B?
In the uproar about making the morning-after contraceptive known as Plan B available to our daughters, there has been no similar outcry about condoms and our sons. Anyone of any age can walk into a drugstore — as well as most grocery and big-box stores — and buy condoms. . . .
May 14, 2013
Catholic/Secular Hospital Mergers Threaten Access to Reproductive Health Care
The New York Times: Hospital Mergers Reset Abortion-Access Battle, by Kirk Johnson:
Politicians seeking to restrict access to abortion, a marked trend this year from North Dakota to Arkansas, tend not to get much traction in this part of the country.
Washington is heavily Democratic, leaning left especially on social issues. A majority of voters even put into law a statutory right to abortion in 1970 — the only state ever to do that. The governor, Jay Inslee, a Democrat, is pushing the Legislature even now to pass a law at a special session on Monday requiring health insurers to pay for elective abortions, another first for the state if it makes it to Mr. Inslee’s desk.
But now a wave of proposed and completed mergers between secular and Roman Catholic hospitals, which are barred by church doctrine from performing procedures that could harm the unborn, is raising the prospect that unelected health care administrators could go where politicians could not. . . .
H/T: Grayson Barber
In addition to prohibiting abortions and certain kinds of end-of-life care, Catholic hospitals also refuse to provide contraception (often including emergency contraception for rape survivors), sterilizations, and infertility services. For more about the threats posed by these mergers, see the MergerWatch website.
May 10, 2013
Federal Judge Rejects as "Frivolous" Government's Request to Delay Order on "Morning After Pill"
Bloomberg: 'Morning-After' Pill Judge Won't Delay Ruling for Appeal, by Christie Smythe:
A federal judge rejected as “frivolous” a government request to delay the effect of his order giving girls of all ages access to the so-called morning after-pill.
U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman in Brooklyn, New York, refused today to put the ruling on hold while the government appeals his decision that the contraceptive doesn’t require a prescription. He gave officials until May 13 to seek a delay from the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. . . .
Caroline Corbin on Compelled Disclosures
Courts have faced a wave of compelled disclosure cases recently. By government mandate, tobacco manufacturers must include graphic warnings on their cigarette packages, doctors must show and describe ultrasound images of fetuses to women seeking to abort them, and crisis pregnancy centers must disclose that they do not provide contraception or abortion services. Although applying the same compelled speech doctrine to similar issues, appeals courts have reached very different results in challenges to these laws. Drawing from First Amendment theory, this Article first identifies why compelled disclosures undermine free speech values. It then applies those insights to the specific examples above. In doing so, it examines not only compelled text but the new phenomenon of compelled images, particularly compelled images designed to provoke an emotional response. The Article concludes that recent appeals court decisions have it backwards: It is mandatory abortion counseling laws that offend free speech principles, not laws requiring cigarette warnings or crisis pregnancy center disclosures.
May 09, 2013
Federal Judge Admonishes Obama Administration for Its Insistence on Limiting Access to Emergency Contraceptive Pill
The New York Times - The Caucus blog: Judge Criticizes Obama Administration as It Appeals Contraception Decision, by Michael D. Shear:
A federal judge on Tuesday angrily accused the Obama administration of hurting poor and minority women by seeking to restrict their access to morning-after contraceptive pills. . . .
Judge Korman, of United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, said he would decide this week whether to freeze implementation of his order while the appeal proceeds. But for the second time in a month, he used his perch on the bench to lecture the Food and Drug Administration and President Obama for their efforts to restrict access to the drug by very young women. . . .
May 06, 2013
Large Majority of Women Favor Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill
Reuters (Health): Most women back over-the-counter birth control pill, by Genevra Pittman:
Close to two-thirds of women favor making contraceptive pills available over the counter, according to a new nationally-representative survey.
In addition, about 30 percent of women using either no birth control or a less effective method - such as condoms - said they would likely take the Pill if it was sold without a prescription, researchers found. . . .
May 02, 2013
U.S. Will Appeal Federal Court Ruling Invalidating Age Limits on Emergency Contraceptive Pill
The New York Times: U.S. to Defend Age Limits on Morning-After Pill Sales, by Pam Belluck & Michael D. Shear:
The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge’s order to make the most common morning-after contraceptive available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.
The announcement came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said that one well-known morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step, would be made available without a prescription for girls as young as 15 — instead of only to girls ages 17 and over, as has been the case. . . .
The Los Angeles Times: Government will appeal Plan B emergency birth control ruling, by Monte Morin:
The U.S. attorney's office announced late Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge's decision to make Plan B One-Step and related emergency birth control pills available to consumers of all ages without a prescription. . . .
May 01, 2013
FDA Announces It Will Make Plan B Available OTC to Women 15 and Older
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: FDA approves 'morning-after pill' for women 15 and up, by Sam Baker:
The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that the contraceptive known as Plan B should be available without a prescription for all women 15 and older.
The move is sure to stir controversy among social conservatives, some of whom view Plan B as a form of abortion. Unlike other forms of birth control, Plan B is intended for use after sex, rather than before. . . .
The Hill - Healthwatch Blog: FDA pressed to go further on Plan B, by Sam Baker:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is under pressure from political activists — and some doctors — to remove all age restrictions on the over-the-counter sale of Plan B.
The FDA made waves Tuesday by allowing the sale of Plan B without a prescription to women 15 and older. Its previous policy had restricted the drug to patients 17 and older.
Women's-health advocates said the move from 17 to 15 was a good first step, but doesn't go far enough. . . .
RH Reality Check: Administration Again Fails on Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception, by Jodi Jacobson:
Today, in a proposal that can best be described as adding insult to injury, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved making emergency contraception (EC) available over-the-counter for teens and women ages 15 and up. This convoluted proposal from the Obama administration comes despite a court order in early April by U.S. District Court Judge Edward R. Korman to make EC available over-the-counter to all ages within 30 days of his decision. It comes from an administration which pledged to make science the cornerstone of public policy and instead has consistently flouted a wealth of accumulated evidence on emergency contraception. It also comes after several studies showing that current policy requiring prescriptions for some groups and not others has confused so many pharmacists that access to EC has been denied to many who were in fact legally eligible to obtain it quickly. In practice, the new policy will almost certainly perpetuate, not resolve, that confusion. . . .
The Nation: Hey, FDA: Drop the Plan B Restriction, by Jessica Valenti:
Yesterday, the FDA announced that it will make Plan B—also known as emergency contraception (EC) or the morning after pill—available over the counter to women older than 15 years old who can prove their age. This decision comes less than a week before the end of a thirty-day deadline imposed by a federal judge mandating EC be available without a prescription to women of all ages. So despite the FDA’s announcement, the Obama administration still needs to appeal the judge’s decision or request a stay by Monday. . . .
April 25, 2013
Proposed Rules Would Drop Contraception Training Rule for Family Practice Doctors
NPR: Family Doctors Consider Dropping Birth Control Training Rule, by Julie Rovner:
One of the more popular provisions of the federal health law requires that women be given much freer access to prescription methods of birth control. That includes not only the pill, but implants and IUDs as well.
But what happens if there are not enough doctors to prescribe those contraceptives?
That's exactly what worries some reproductive health advocates, as efforts are underway to rewrite rules governing the training of the nation's family doctors. . . .
Listen to the story here.
April 21, 2013
Should All Birth Control Pills - Not Just Emergency Contraception - Be Available Without a Prescription?
The New York Times: Is It Time for Off-the-Shelf Birth-Control Pills?, by Elizabeth Rosenthal:
WHEN a federal judge recently ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the morning-after pill available to women of all ages without a prescription, the ruling was a political embarrassment for the Obama administration and unleashed protests from abortion foes and abstinence advocates. But that controversy may look like a tempest in a teapot compared with a broader and no less heated discussion that is roiling the medical community: should birth-control pills of any type require a doctor’s prescription? Or should they be available, like Tylenol, on pharmacy shelves? . . .
April 15, 2013
Missouri Bill Could Affect Availability of Contraception
Branson Tri-Lakes News: Birth control availability may decrease, by Kris Collins:
Missouri legislators are in the process of passing a bill that could affect the availability of birth control in Missouri.
Senate Bill 126, filed by Sen. David Sater, states, “no pharmacy licensed in this state shall be required to carry or maintain in inventory any specific prescription or nonprescription drug or device.”
“This is a pro-business bill,” Sater said. “I just want to make sure businesses have freedoms. This is a pro-life bill, also.”. . .
NYC Launches Sex Education iPhone App for Teens
Fox News Latino: New York City Launches Teen Sex Education iPhone App:
New York City has pulled out all the stops in recent months to make sure the city’s teens are informed when it comes to their sexual health.
Most recently, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has launched the “Teens in NYC Protection +” app.
The app helps teens find clinics throughout the New York City area that offer everything from condoms to STD, HIV, and pregnancy tests. . . .
April 09, 2013
Boston College Cracks Down on Safe Sex Group's Distribution of Condoms
The New York Times: Ban on Free Condoms Jeopardizes Group’s Work With Catholic College, by Jess Bidgood:
Chelsea Lennox, a junior at Boston College, the Gothic university overlooking this natty Boston suburb, picked up a bouquet of brightly colored condom packages and put them into the envelope that she views as a tiny beacon of sexual health resources at the deeply Catholic institution.
“We have S.T.I. facts, birth control choices, how to choose one, and then Planned Parenthood locations and resources,” Ms. Lennox said of the contents, ready for distribution. . . .
April 05, 2013
Federal Court Rules Government Must Remove Restrictions on Emergency Contraception
The New York Times: Judge Orders Morning-After Pill Available for All Ages, by Pam Belluck:
A federal judge ruled Friday that the government must make the most common morning-after pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger. In his ruling, he also accused the federal government of “bad faith” in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available. . . .
March 25, 2013
Rulings on Contraceptive Mandate Reflect Differing Views of Corporations' Rights
The Washington Times: Corporation rights drive divergent rulings on contraception, by Tom Howell Jr.:
A federal judge has rejected a Michigan company’s urgent plea for protection from the contraception mandate in President Obama’s health-care law, noting that a corporation’s rights are not always the same as an individual’s.
Yet a different judge in the same U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan took a starkly different approach less than two weeks ago in granting a similar request — although not on an emergency basis — from another corporation. In that ruling, the judge evoked the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision that reiterated that corporations have First Amendment speech rights. . . .
March 22, 2013
Pope of 1276 Promoted Contraception
The Huffington Post - The Blog: Pope Promotes Birth Control, by Michael Zimmerman:
Recent media coverage of the papal transition has focused heavily on the past.
For example, when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, one of the points the media highlighted was the fact that he was the first pope to resign in 600 years.
Similarly, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, the media promoted the fact that he was the first non-European pope in 1,272 years.
Given the long history of the Roman Catholic Church and the rarity of both of these events, it isn't surprising that such stories would predominate. There is another papal anomaly, however, that also deserves our attention. This story, one which has largely been overlooked in all current reporting, also stretches back well into the past. Indeed, we need to reach back 737 years, to 1276, for the events in question. . . .
March 21, 2013
Contraception Brings Multiple Benefits to Women, Families, and Society
Salon: Report: Contraception is good for the economy, everything else, by Katie McDonough:
A comprehensive review finds that a woman's ability to control her own fertility is good for women -- and society
Women with reliable access to contraception tend to delay and space out when they have babies. And according to a new Guttmacher Institute review of more than 66 studies conducted over three decades, a woman’s ability to control her fertility affects much more than just if and when she’ll start a family; contraception plays a big a role in the financial, professional and emotional lives of American women, too.
In fact, access to contraception was found to be related to all sorts of positive outcomes in family, mental health, children’s well-being and general life satisfaction. . . .
March 18, 2013
Federal Judge Blocks Contraception Mandate in Suit Brought by Tom Monaghan and Domino's
Bloomberg News: Michigan Judge Blocks Health-Care Birth-Control Mandate, by Margaret Cronin Fisk:
The U.S. health-care reform’s mandate requiring employee insurance plans to provide coverage of contraception was blocked by a federal judge in Michigan.
Tom Monaghan and his property-management company, Domino’s Farms Corp., sued the U.S. government in December, contending that complying with the mandate would require him to violate his religious beliefs as a member of the Catholic Church. Domino’s Farms would have to provide contraceptive products, including an abortion-inducing drug, or be forced to pay $200,000 a year as a tax or penalty, the plaintiffs said. . . .
March 16, 2013
Mother Sues for Child-Rearing Costs After Qualitest Mislabeled Birth Control Pills
The Huffington Post: Shanta Russell Sues Qualitest Pharmaceuticals For Child-Rearing Costs After Birth Control Pill Error, by Harry Bradford:
A Georgia mother claims the pharmaceutical company that mislabeled her birth control pills should pay the $400,000 cost of raising her now year-old daughter and sending her to college.
Shanta Russell faces a huge hurdle in her lawsuit against Alabama-based Qualitest Pharmaceuticals. A well-established legal principle holds that bringing a baby into the world is a good thing, no matter how conceived.
“The majority of courts see the birth of a child as an unmitigated blessing,” Caitlin Borgmann, a law professor at City University of New York Law School and editor of the Reproductive Rights Prof Blog, told The Huffington Post. . . .