Monday, January 31, 2011

Federal Judge Declares Entire Health Care Law Void

Wash. Post: Judge strikes down entire new health-care law, by N.C. Aizenman & Amy Goldstein:

A federal judge in Florida on Monday became the first to strike down the entire law to overhaul the nation's health-care system, potentially complicating implementation of the statute in the 26 states that brought the suit.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson represents a more sweeping repudiation of the law than the December ruling in a suit brought by Virginia that found the requirement that most Americans purchase health insurance to be unconstitutional.

As in the Virginia case, Vinson held that Congress had overstepped its authority by compelling nearly all Americans to be insured or pay a fine. But Vinson went further: Likening the law to "a finely crafted watch" in which "one essential piece is defective and must be removed," he ruled that the insurance mandate cannot be separated from the rest of the statute and therefore that the entire law must be voided. . . .

January 31, 2011 in Congress, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NY Times Editorials Discuss "The Two Abortion Wars"

The New York Times editorial: The Two Abortion Wars: A Highly Intrusive Federal Bill:

House Republicans are preparing to push through restrictions on federal financing of abortions far more extreme than previously proposed at the federal level. Lawmakers who otherwise rail against big government have made it one of their highest priorities to take the decision about a legal medical procedure out of the hands of individuals and turn it over to the government.

Their primary bill —the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” — is so broad that it could block insurance coverage for abortions for countless American women. . . .

The New York Times editorial: The Two Abortion Wars: State Battles Over Roe v. Wade:

Away from Washington, another ominous anti-abortion battle is accelerating in the states. Anti-abortion forces have been trying to take advantage of the 2007 ruling in which the Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on a particular method of abortion.

In 2010, more than 600 measures were introduced in state legislatures to limit access to abortion and some 34 secured passage, according to tallies by Naral Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Rights. November’s elections made the outlook even bleaker. . . .

January 31, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Anti-Choice Movement, Congress, Contraception, Politics, Poverty, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House Republicans' Bill to Ban Federal Funding for Abortion Redefines "Rape"

Mother Jones: The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape, by Nick Baumann:

Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.

For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.

With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. . . .

Emily's List: An open letter to the GOP, by Hilary Nache: 

Congress Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, and the Republican House Caucus:

What are your priorities? I ask because, while you have talked about an economic mandate from the voters, I see instead a dangerous anti-woman agenda at work. Just look at H.R. 3. This bill includes an attempt to redefine rape, causing unspeakable harm to the one in six among us who are victims of sexual assault.

Last fall, you claimed that you were brought to power to "reign in government" and to help revitalize the American economy. You spoke of creating jobs and putting American businesses back on the path to recovery. But, the reality is that, over the past month, we've watched as you avoided critical economic issues. Instead, you’ve chosen to continue your party's decades-old crusade against women and our families. . . .

January 31, 2011 in Abortion, Congress, Sexual Assault | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Federal Judge Declares Pregnancy Center Disclosure Requirement Unconstitutional

The Baltimore Sun: Judge rules pregnancy center ordinance unconstitutional, by Mary Gail Hare:

Gavel & flag A federal judge has struck down the city ordinance requiring faith-based pregnancy counseling centers to tell clients upfront that they won't help them get an abortion.

Baltimore drew national attention 14 months ago with the legislation, sponsored by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake when she was City Council president, that required the centers to post signs saying that they don't refer clients for abortions or birth control.

In a decision issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis wrote that the requirement violates the centers' constitutional right to free speech. Ruling in a lawsuit brought against the city by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore and a counseling center it supports, he declared the ordinance "unenforceable.". . .

January 31, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Contraception, In the Courts, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Young Black and Hispanic Women More Likely to be Tested for Chlamydia than their White Peers

LA Times: Young black and Hispanic women may be tested for chlamydia more often than their white peers, a study finds, by Jeannine Stein:

Young black and Hispanic women may be screened at higher rates for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia than young white women, a study finds.

The study included 40,000 young women ages 14 to 25, and researchers looked not only at screening rates, but also at what types of health insurance the study participants had.

More black and Hispanic young women were tested for chlamydia compared with white young women -- the numbers were 65%, 72% and 45%, respectively. Black young women were 2.7 times as likely and Hispanic women were 9.7 times as likely to be screened for the diseased as their white counterparts

Insurance also played a role in who got screened. Young women with public and public pending insurance had a better chance of getting screened for chlamydia than those who were privately insured. When researchers looked at screenings based on public or private insurance status only, they found that young black and Hispanic women still had a greater chance of being screened than young white women. . . .

January 28, 2011 in Race & Reproduction, Sexually Transmitted Disease | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AZ State Senator Linda Gray Blames Abortion Rights for Giffords Shooting

Linda Gray The Huffington Post: Arizona State Senator Cites Abortion Rights As Factor In Tucson Shooting, Nick Wing:

Linda Gray, a Republican state senator from Arizona, claimed over the weekend that abortion rights preserved by Roe v. Wade were more of a contributing factor to the shooting in Tucson earlier this month than the state's gun-control laws.

Asked Sunday on George Washington University Radio's "Political Pulse" what "we can do and people can do and lawmakers can do to prevent something like this from happening, if the answer is not stricter gun control laws," Gray seemed to suggest that legalized abortions had caused the general degradation of "respect" for life. . . .

January 28, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, Politics, Reproductive Health & Safety, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simplified Process for States to Expand Medicaid Family Planning Services Could Improve Reproductive Health and Save Costs


State-by-State Analysis Projects Significant Improvements in Reproductive Health Outcomes, Major Savings for State Medicaid Programs

Guttmacher A groundbreaking provision included in the March 2010 health care reform law greatly simplifies the process by which a state may expand eligibility for family planning services under its Medicaid program. Using this new authority, individual states could avert thousands of unintended pregnancies, births and abortions, and realize millions of dollars in net savings, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report.

Up to now, Medicaid family planning expansions have been technically considered temporary experiments. The first such “demonstration” programs were approved in the 1990s, and over the years, a large body of evaluation research has shown that they expand low-income women’s access to contraceptive services. By doing so, the programs help more women to avoid pregnancies they do not want and boost maternal and child health by permitting women to better space their births. . . .

January 27, 2011 in Congress, Contraception, President/Executive Branch, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What 11 New Anti-Choice Governors Mean For Women

NARAL Blog for Choice: The Dangers of Anti-Choice Governors, by Thomas:

The 2010 elections that put anti-choice politicians in control of the U.S. House of Representatives also had dire consequences for the states. Just this month, 11 new anti-choice governors took over in Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Plus, there are also 15 states with fully anti-choice governments (both a majority of the legislature and the governor are anti-choice).
Many of these politicians campaigned on a platform of creating jobs and limiting government in our lives. But now that they're in office, they've switched gears and made attacking a woman's right to choose a top priority. It's only January, and already we're seeing the damage that the new anti-choice governors can do. . . .

January 26, 2011 in Abortion, Politics, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

TX Governor Makes Pre-Abortion Sonograms an Emergency Issue Before Legislature

WTAW: Perry Orders Fast Track for Pre-Abortion Sonograms, by Chace Murphy:

 Texas Gov. Rick Perry has declared an emergency issue of efforts to require a woman considering an abortion to first have a sonogram.

The Texas House received the official filing from Perry Monday. He first announced the plan Saturday at an anti-abortion rally in front of the Capitol.

Perry said that allowing a woman to understand “what’s truly at stake seems a small step to take.” . . .

January 26, 2011 in Abortion, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, State and Local News, State Legislatures, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Study of Danish Women Shows No Evidence of Emotional Harm from Abortion

MedPage Today: No Psych Risk Seen from Abortion in First Trimester, by John Gever:

Although mental disorders were more prevalent among Danish women having first-trimester abortions than among those giving birth, the finding probably did not reflect an effect of the procedure itself, researchers said. . .

Writing in the Jan. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Munk-Olsen and colleagues said the similar rates of first psychiatric contacts pre- and post-abortion indicated that the procedure was not itself a risk factor for serious mental distress. . . .

They also pointed out that unwanted pregnancies and the circumstances surrounding them are themselves a major stressor, a factor typically not taken into account in the earlier research. . . .

On the other hand, Munk-Olsen and colleagues indicated that, on the basis of their data -- as well as earlier studies -- childbirth is a clear risk factor for subsequent mental health problems, including postpartum depression and psychosis. . . .

January 26, 2011 in Abortion, Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

NJ Gov. Chris Christie Champions Anti-Abortion-Rights Cause

Chris Christie NJ Star Ledger editorial: Abortion rights, in peril in New Jersey:

The mask is off now. Gov. Chris Christie is no longer posing as a moderate voice on abortion rights, as he did during his 2009 campaign. He is now championing the anti-abortion cause, saying it is time to restrict those rights.

“This is an issue whose time has come,” he told an anti-abortion rally Monday at the Statehouse. . . .

January 26, 2011 in Abortion, Anti-Choice Movement, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More on the Case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell

Slate: The Baby Butcher, Revisited, by William Saletan:

Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, has been charged with butchering viable babies, causing a woman's death, and endangering other patients. A grand jury report details his alleged crimes. Last week, I cited the report as a challenge to several feminist writers who have lately asserted a woman's right to decide not only whether to have an abortion but how long she can wait to make that choice. Gosnell stands charged with abortions beyond the 24-week gestational limit prescribed by Pennsylvania law. I asked the feminist writers whether, in the name of women's autonomy, those charges should be dropped.

I haven't seen an answer to my question. Instead, I've been challenged by other pro-choice writers who see the Gosnell case very differently. They think I've misunderstood the scandal and its lessons. Fair enough. Let's look at their arguments. . . .

NY Times: Squalid Abortion Clinic Escaped State Oversight, by Sabrina Tavernise:

PHILADELPHIA — For years, state health officials missed some unsettling patterns at the three-story brick abortion clinic on Lancaster Avenue.

It was always open late, way past the time the pizza place next door closed at midnight. The women who emerged from it — often poor blacks and Hispanics — appeared dazed and in pain, and sometimes left in ambulances. The doctor who ran the clinic, Kermit Gosnell, had been sued at least 15 times for malpractice. Two women died while under his care. . . .

The clinic — now closed, with dead plants in its windows and old mail on its front desk — stands as a grim reminder of how degrading it was for the women who went there and how long state officials ignored their complaints. . . .

The grand jury report is available here.

January 26, 2011 in Abortion, In the Courts, Medical News, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Abortion" Missing from Obama's Roe Anniversary Statement

ACLU Blog of Rights: Really, Mr. President?, by Louise Melling:

Roe I've just read the statement the president issued for the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the right of privacy encompasses the decision of a woman to end a pregnancy. The statement includes many important sentiments. But, to me, it is most striking for what it fails to say: nowhere does the statement mention the word “abortion.”

We all know that abortion is an explosive political issue and that the president is addressing many audiences. But if we really support the right to privacy, and support women, and support the ability of our daughters to have the same rights as our sons, then the silence about abortion must end. The silence does nothing but add to the stigma that already surrounds abortion. It tells women — nearly one in three of whom will have an abortion in their life times — that what they did was unspeakable. It does little but embolden our already aggressive adversaries. . . .

January 26, 2011 in Abortion, President/Executive Branch, Supreme Court | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Approval for New Catholic Hospital in Maryland Raises Concerns About Access to Reproductive Healthcare

Catholics for Choice press release: Women’s Healthcare Services Now in Jeopardy as Catholic Entity Gets Go-ahead in Maryland, by David J. Nolan:

Catholic Hospital Today’s decision by the Maryland Health Care Commission to allow the Catholic entity, Holy Cross Hospital, to build a new facility in Montgomery County, Md., is troubling. Despite concerns from health advocates that the new hospital would be subject to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services and therefore not provide a full range of reproductive healthcare services, the commission decided to allow the Holy Cross bid to move forward.

While the Catholic healthcare system is an important provider of services throughout the US, the recent situation in Phoenix, Ariz., shows what can happen when bishops become involved in health-related decisions. The local bishop, Thomas Olmsted, intervened when a local Catholic hospital provided a life-saving abortion to a pregnant mother of four. Despite the opinion of a number of Catholic theologians and Catholic members of the hospital staff that the abortion was vital to save the woman's life, and therefore consistent with the directives that govern Catholic hospitals, Bishop Olmsted claimed he knew better, said the hospital was wrong to provide the abortion, and stripped the hospital of its Catholic designation. . . .

January 24, 2011 in Abortion, Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Staggering Cost of Unnecessary C-Sections

California Watch: Unnecessary C-sections a $3.5B problem, study finds, by Nathanael Johnson:

Caduceus What would maternity care look like if doctors only intervened when it was medically necessary?

For more than a year now, I’ve been trying to answer that question in terms of the physical health of the mother and child. But for a moment let’s forget about increasing maternal mortality and babies in the neonatal intensive care units – and look at what happens to our national health care bill.

Intermountain Healthcare released a study yesterday showing that if the U.S. cesarean surgery rate (32 percent of all births at last count) fell to the rate in Intermountain hospitals (21 percent), the country would save $3.5 billion in medical charges each year. . . .

January 24, 2011 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reflections on Abortion and New York City

NY Times: Abortion: Easy Access, Complex Everything Else, by Ariel Kaminer:

Congratulations, New York City, did you hear the news? Fire-and-brimstone predictions from across the country have been confirmed. This is officially the abortion capital of America. A health department report released last month proves it: about 40 percent of all pregnancies in the city end that way, an average of about 90,000 a year in recent years.

No one is exactly celebrating the title. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan and a group of multidenominationally horrified clergy condemned the statistics this month. Even abortion rights advocates expressed some concern about the numbers, trying to change the conversation to a broader one on reproductive health. As for ordinary citizens, many just wondered: Really? That many?

Abortion is complicated, even in its capital city. . . .

January 24, 2011 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What the Kermit Gosnell Case Reveals About Social Justice and Access to Abortion

Feministe: On second thought about Kermit Gosnell, by Jill:

 He does tell us a few things about abortion. They just aren’t what William Saletan thinks.

The Gosnell case shows us the worst of what happens when abortion isn’t accessible. Gosnell’s “clinic” was nothing short of a house of horrors, and he preyed upon women who couldn’t get abortions anywhere else or who were unfamiliar with the American medical system — poor women, immigrants, minors. . . .

January 24, 2011 in Abortion, Poverty, Reproductive Health & Safety, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Surgeon General Issues "Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding"

Chicago Tribune: More moms should breastfeed for six months, surgeon general advises, by Mary Forgione:

New mothers receive lots of advice about breastfeeding but not typically from the U.S. surgeon general. The nation's top doctor issued breastfeeding guidelines Thursday that urge more mothers to give their babies a healthy edge by breastfeeding for the first six months of their lives.

The "Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding" report by Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin's says 75% of mothers start out breastfeeding but only 13% continue to do so by the end of six months. It also says breastfeeding rates are particularly low among African Americans. . . .

January 24, 2011 in Medical News, Pregnancy & Childbirth, President/Executive Branch, Race & Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm Blogging for Choice in Honor of Roe's Anniversary

As part of its annual Blogging for Choice Day, NARAL Pro-Choice America asks: Given the anti-choice gains in the states and Congress, are you concerned about choice in 2011?

Bfcd11 I am very concerned about the right to choose abortion in 2011.  The front page of the New York Times yesterday detailed the wide variety of restrictions conservative legislators are contemplating to make abortion harder for women to get. The punitive nature of these proposals reflects conservatives' desire to make abortion as expensive, burdensome, and emotionally fraught as possible.  This attitude reminds me of me a comment Justice White made in the second oral argument in Roe v. Wade.  Contemplating a scenario in which a woman's life was endangered by a pregnancy, he questioned the Texas Assistant Attorney General's defense of a life exception in Texas's abortion ban.  Justice White suggested that the woman was "guilty," asking, "Would you choose to kill the innocent one or what?"  It's sadly evident that, for many, this attitude is still prevalent, nearly four decades after Roe was decided.

No matter how much we might wish it to be otherwise, the need for abortion will never, ever go away.  There will always be failures of contraception, pregnancies that go tragically awry, pregnancies resulting from rape, financial disaster and other unexpected personal circumstances.  The chilling case of the Philadelphia doctor, indicted for murder in connection with his provision of abortions under horrendously unsafe circumstances, should remind us of what it was like when abortion was not constitutionally protected.  Today, thanks to Roe v. Wade, that case is an aberration.  No one should want to send us back to a time when it would have been commonplace.

January 23, 2011 in Abortion | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Conservative State Legislators Optimistic About Passing Limits on Abortion

NY Times: Lawmakers in Many States Pushing for Abortion Curbs, by Erik Eckholm:

Newly energized by their success in November’s midterm elections, conservative legislators in dozens of states are mounting aggressive campaigns to limit abortions.

The lawmakers are drafting, and some have already introduced, bills that would ban most abortions at 20 weeks after conception, push women considering abortions to view a live ultrasound of the fetus, or curb insurance coverage, among other proposals. . . .

January 22, 2011 in Abortion, Abortion Bans, Mandatory Delay/Biased Information Laws, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)